FRUSTRATION AND DISCOURAGMENT

It’s been one of THOSE weeks. We all have them. When life is full of frustration and discouragement. When the day is far longer than our energy. The particulars are different every day. For me, this particular week has been never-ending renovations, a cold that won’t go away, family drama and too little energy.

I realize my trials are small compared to others. But I still struggle with them. Things that help—friends who cheer me on, the phone that allows me to reach out to someone, and sometimes (if I can drum up the energy) to get out of the house so the problems aren’t in my face.

I try to make a habit of counting my blessings and there are many. I especially try to remember that God has promised strength for the day. Isaiah 40:29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

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R & R

This week I took a couple of days of R&R in Banff—one of the prettiest spots in the world.

The trees were freshly brushed with green.

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It was two days of Rest and Relaxation: enjoying coffee, enjoying a quiet room with a great view.

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It was a time of Reading and ‘Riting:

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Also a time of Refuelling and Refreshing: How can one not feel renewed in the beauty of the mountain park?

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And then back to work at home. I can’t always escape to the mountains for a day or two but I’ve learned to take mini-moments of R&R—a cup of my favorite coffee in a quiet corner of the local coffee shop, a walk to the back of our property where I can see the mountains, a stop in the library to sit and think. These are the pauses that refresh.

Where and how do you like to grab days or even moments of R&R?

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THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

1. Flowers

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2. birds feeding outside my window

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3. Grandchildren at play or work.

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4. Banff

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5. Trips to the lake

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6. research trips

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7. Art of any sort

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8. Parks with benches or tables so a person feels drawn to sit and read or write.

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9. New notebooks.

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10. A finished writing project.

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These are a few of my favorite things. What are your favorite things and is that sone worming its way through your head now?

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UPROOTING

It’s been unseasonably warm for April which means it’s time for yard work. The raking, aerating, etc. of the lawns.Pulling up old-growth bushes that are too gnarly and overgrown to prune any longer. It’s an ongoing process. One corner of the yard is finished and another needs attention. But it’s worth it to see the improvement as  new growth takes root. Below is a sample of before and after. Need I say, it’s a lot of work?

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On a related note, I’ve been revising and editing for the past couple of weeks. In many cases it means uprooting and pruning certain elements, rearranging others and striving to get an overgrown story down to a tidy format. Not unlike pruning and replanting in my yard. Need I say it’s a lot of work?

I see similarities in life. We each have dormant spells in our lives and we have times of uprooting and pruning… a painful process.These past few weeks I have seen the latter in some dear friends. My prayer for each of them is God will do something beautiful and abundant in their lives.

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A TEN-DAY WEEK?

There are times when I think I would like a longer week. Perhaps an extra day tucked away somewhere between Saturday and Sunday. My hope would be that I could finally get everything done I need to do in a week.

But recently I realized I had a ten-day week in the book I am working on. I knew my characters didn’t need that long a week. I knew my editor would object and I would get all sort of letters and reviews pointing out the impossibility of it. So back to chapter one and find a way to fix it.

A little help was most welcome.

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Though I thought he could show a little less boredom.

I was grateful to get a box of books this week to remind me that I can figure out a story.

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This is one of my favorite covers. I love the pose of the hero and heroine and the pink flowers. What do you think? What sort of covers do you prefer?

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THE BEAUTY OF THE SKY

Am I the only person who takes pictures of the sky? Who has a picture file named ‘sky’? Who loves to watch a storm?

From sunrise:

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To sunset:

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From rainbow to sunbow:

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From clouds in a blue sky:

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To stormy skies:

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From Chinook arch (and no it isn’t a sign of global warning) to the sun peeking through:

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These are some of my favorites but perhaps the last is one that relates most to my writing. As I start a new book, I need the light to break through and reveal the characters’ secrets.

But more than that, when I see the sun shining through like that it makes me think of the theme of my very first published book, The Sun Still Shines, which is that God’s love is always there even when we can’t see it. Just as the sun is shining even when we can’t see it. But we get glimpses of God’s love peaking through in beautiful and surprising ways when we watch for it. My prayer is that all of us will look for and receive those glimpses and that I will be able to portray them in my stories.

I’d love to hear of your special moments when you saw this in your life.

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50 books and beyond.

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My 50th book is out this month. It’s my 30th book with Love Inspired Historicals.

Today I want to share the books being released in 2016:

1. The 50th book.

 The Cowboy's Ready-Made Family

2. The second book in the Montana Cowboys series—The Cowboy’s Baby Bond.

the cowboy's baby bond

3. Book #3 in the same series—The Cowboy’s City Girl. (I love this cover!)

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4. The reissue of my three-book series, The Buffalo Gals of Bonner’s Ferry—Glory and the Rawhide Preacher, Mandy and the Missouri Man and Joanna and the Footloose Cowboy. The collection is called Brides of Idaho.

Bride of Idaho

50th

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5OTH BOOK CELEBRATION CONTINUES

I continue to list 5 (or 10) things until I reach 50 to mark the release of my 50th book.

FIVE WAYS TO REFILL MY JOY WELL.

I try to be positive and upbeat but there are things that make it easier.

1. A trip to Sylvan Lake. Alone, with my client or with kids and grandkids. There’s just something about that place that fills me with contentment. It was hard to pick one picture of the place.

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2. Family gatherings. The fun of listening to kids reminisce and watching the growing grandkids play with their cousins. Okay, truth to tell, we mostly eat and visit. Smile

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3. Quiet walks—town or country.Alone time to think and plot and pray.

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4. Visits with old friends. Yup. There’s nothing like people with whom we have tons of history.

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5. A good day of work when I feel really REALLY satisfied with what I’ve achieved.

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FIVE WRITING CONFERENCES I HAVE ATTENDED. There have been more but I will mention 5.

1. Romance Writers of America conference in New York many years ago—before digital cameras. Loved New York but got tired of the constant noise and 1200 women lined up for anything is not my idea of a lovely time but it was good to see how the industry worked.

2. American Christian Writers conference. The last one I attended was in Indianapolis. A beautiful city.

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3.A workshop with Dara Marks in Vancouver. A good winter break too.

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4. A David Freeman workshop in San Francisco. Very intense but we did get a chance to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and ride the trolley cars.  Again, before I got a digital camera and I don’t want to dig through the stack of photo albums and scan pictures. You’ll have to take my word for it. Smile

5. Numerous workshops and conferences in Calgary, mostly put on by the Calgary Romance Writers of America. These are the most enjoyable for the simple fact I am surrounded by people I know and who have shared a similar writing journey. This is a workshop with Donald Maass.

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It’s been a great journey, full of fun and adventure.

Tell my about your favorite places and favorite conferences.

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TEN REASONS

I didn’t blog last week. And I have good reason. I will present ten of them.

1. I spent 7 hours on a plane to Maui and then 6 hours stuck in traffic as the only road over the mountains was gridlocked with an accident. Welcome to Paradise!

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2. I spent time on the beach with my granddaughter.

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3. We drove the Hana Highway (me in the backseat and not being a backseat driver). Brochures claim this area is the most Hawaiian area of Hawaii. It is a narrow stretch of road with almost no signage. In about 30 miles (which takes approximately 3 hours to drive) there are 620 curves and 59 bridges—46 of which are one lane. And one lane truly means one lane. The views were spectacular.

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4. I walked on the black sand beach.

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5. I saw the Seven Sacred Pools. If there had been rain these waterfalls would be closed because of high flow.

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6. We drove another winding road to the top of a mountain with open views. We went from sea level to 10, 023 feet in 20 minutes. According to my map no place else in the world can you reach this elevation so quickly.

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7. I viewed a dormant volcano. It was cold, and so windy I could have opened my coat and become a kite. Smile

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8. I saw lots of lava rocks, lave tubes, lava formations.

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9. I watched wild surf and marvelled at those brave enough to be out in it. Seeing a mother have one child snatched from her was frightening.

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10. I did research on missionaries in Hawaii and an old whaling village of LaHaina.

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There was so much more that I saw and did. It was a great way to spend a week. Next week I will add more to the lists of 50 things to celebrate my 50th book.

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INSTALLMENT THREE OF 5OTH BOOK CELEBRATION

I fully intended to stick to my goal of posting 10 lists of 5 things to honor the number 50. But when I started this list, I couldn’t confine it to just 5 so for this week, here is a list of 10 research trips I have taken.

I love research trips. They give me an excuse for a working holiday and I look at things slightly differently when I’m hunting for details.

In no particular order, here are some of my research trips.

1. ALASKA AND THE YUKON. I had already written the story, Klondike Medicine Woman when we made this trip and was pleased to see that my research (books and internet) was mostly accurate.

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2. IDAHO-I wrote a series set in historical Bonners Ferry (Glory and the Rawhide Preacher, Mandy and the Missouri Man and Joanna and the Footloose Cowboy). Loved researching this place and the beautiful setting.

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3. BAR U RANCH. This is the setting upon which I based the Eden Valley Ranch. Again, a beautiful place with well preserved historical buildings.

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4. MONTANA—The setting for several of my books. I’ve made several trips to this area so it was hard to pick out one or two pictures of the trip.

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5. FERNIE. A picturesque town with a history of bootlegging and mining. I haven’t figured out how to turn the setting into a story but someday I will.

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6. FORT STEELE-a place teeming with historical information. I could  move in for a week or two and write a book surrounded by authenticity.

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7. FORT MACLEOD—where the history of the North West Mounted Police and early ranching is showcased. Again, some day I am going to do a series on the early Mounties.

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8. THE DAKOTAS. Unfortunately those pictures were before my digital camera but enjoyed the museums we visited. I wrote a series set in the Dakota Territory. (Dakota Cowboy, Dakota Child.)

9. BANFF-another place I’d like to write more stories about.

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10. BENTS OLD FORT—on the Santa Fe Trail.I am already working on a series for this setting.

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This list does not include the many local museums I’ve explored or nearby cities. There are so many places to see and investigate.

If anyone has a favorite museum or historical not too far from central Alberta, I’d love to hear from you.

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