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Sunday, September 20

LIES AND SOLACE on sale for .99 cents!


LIES AND SOLACE, book one in my Love at Solace Lake series, is on sale for .99 cents! Get your copy while it's hot. The sale price is in effect only until September 23.


She can’t live with one more lie. He can’t tell the truth.

Harper Lindquist is convinced she’s found the answer to her financial prayers. Unless she pours cash into crumbling Solace Lake Lodge, she’ll lose her family’s legacy. Her would-be savior arrives in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard and she’s determined to prove to her reluctant, and trapped, financier the lodge is a sound investment. But Harper isn’t completely honest with him. And she has no idea the lake is hiding secrets of its own. 

Ethan James is a liar, but his money is very real. He isn’t convinced a broken-down inn is a smart investment opportunity. But the more he understands Harper’s dreams and desires, the more he wants to be the man to make them come true. The trauma in both their pasts means neither can fully trust the other. They must find the courage to love, to trust, and to accept, or yesterday’s sorrows will keep them apart.

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Friday, September 18

Breathing a Little Easier by Jana Richards

My daughter’s wedding was last weekend. I was looking forward to it … until the pandemic hit. Then it became a source of worry and even fear. 

But in the end, everything went off smoothly. At least I hope so.

When my daughter and her fiancĂ©, now husband, got engaged in March 2019, they chose August 15, 2020 as their wedding date, and a beautiful, elegant old hotel as their venue. After a few months of the pandemic, it became clear that August 15 wasn’t going to happen. The hotel offered them an alternative date: December 5, 2020. So, our summer wedding was now going to be a winter wedding? But then a date in September opened up and they grabbed it. The hotel kept assuring them that by September things would open up more and the government would allow more people to attend indoor functions.

But by the beginning of August, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. If they wanted 100 people at their wedding, it had to be outdoors. So, we said goodbye to the elegant hotel wedding and hello to a more rustic country wedding. 

Luckily, my new son-in-law’s sister and her husband own an acreage outside of the city. Three years ago, they had their own wedding there. They knew the people to call, like the company who put up a giant tent, and the guys who supplied the porta-potties. Basically, we started from scratch and put a wedding together in six weeks.

And it actually came together! They found the essential services like the caterer and a company that supplied the dishes for dinner. The table and chairs came with the tent, but we still needed linens for them. My daughter rented silk flowers to decorate the church and the tent. Her mother-in-law got very creative with decorating as well. When she passed a house in a small town that had hundreds of potted plants, she stopped in and asked if we could borrow some for the wedding, even though she didn’t know the owner. And this being “Friendly Manitoba”, the lady said yes. We got several beautiful, big pots of colorful petunias. We hung some of them from the tent supports and placed others strategically inside and outside of the tent. It was beautiful.

The bride and her maids

I now have a great appreciation for the people who organize such events. It’s a huge amount of work and we had to do it all ourselves. There are so many things to do! We had to try to think of everything that would be needed, including all the supplies required to stock a bar. And of course, this year, nothing was needed more than hand sanitizer. We made sure we had plenty of that. We also had a hand washing station at the porta-potties. 

We could control everything except the weather. I worried about what would happen if it rained. The whole place could turn into a mud pit. Since we had to keep some of the tent flaps open to allow for air flow, it could get very cold inside, even if didn’t rain. 

Fortunately, we lucked out. Weather-wise, it was a perfect day, not too hot and not too cold. It was about time the kids caught a break.

In the end it was a lovely wedding. But I have to admit, the worry hasn’t completely ended for me. No matter how careful you try to be and the precautions you put in place, you can’t control everyone. Once the dancing started, people got a little closer than I was comfortable with. I won’t rest easy until two weeks pass without incident.

The bride and her dad

In the meantime, things can start getting back to normal, or at least what passes for normal these days. I’m looking forward to writing again, since I haven’t had the bandwidth to concentrate on anything except the wedding all summer. 

And I’m also looking forward to breathing again. Hopefully, soon.

Tuesday, September 15

Tiny Gemstones - By Janie DeVos


          I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been getting pretty tired of this whole new world we’re living in because of the pandemic.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I DO NOT believe it’s a hoax, and I don’t believe that if we just ignore it, it will “magically go away.”  That’s ridiculous, wishful thinking, to say the least, and downright deadly to be perfectly blunt about it.  But, still, I miss the way we were.  However, a couple of blogs ago, I wrote about the fact that to everything there is a silver lining, and I continue to find that to be so true. 

My husband and I have always enjoyed having people over for dinner, or going out to eat with friends, but that’s been held to a minimum over these last months and we’ve missed it.  However, the other night, our dear friend came over for steaks on the grill, and the evening that we figured would be a low-key and uneventful one could not have been more entertaining had we had attended a Broadway show of Hamilton, with invites to the after party. 

I had just walked out on our deck when I happened to look down to see a GIGANTIC snake lying right where our yard meets the woods. 

“Julie!” (name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent) I shouted.  “You’ve got to see this snake!  It’s massive!”  

She hurried out the door with drink in hand, and then my never-curses-and-never-takes-the-Lord’s-name-in-vain precious Baptist friend exclaimed, “Oh, my God!  Look at that thing!  Shit!  I hate snakes!”  

She immediately tucked herself behind me while I hollered for my husband who was in the kitchen seasoning the steaks to come take a look.  McCormick seasoning in hand, he hurried out to the deck and immediately took over the binoculars I had trained on the reptile. 

“I think it’s a King snake,” he said, lowering them.  “But I’m taking no chances.  It could be an enormous timber rattler.  I’m gettin’ the gun!” 

Off he went to load the shotgun, but a minute later he came back out and asked if either of us knew what the red button on the side of the weapon was; whether it was the safety, or what.  I knew we were in trouble then, and that the snake had the upper hand in this situation. 

“All I know is that when we were shown how to shoot that thing,” I replied, “I memorized the order in which we had to do certain things. Press, pump, push, fire!  That’s the order.  The only problem is I don’t remember what the ‘press’ and ‘push’ parts are for.”  

“Never mind,” my husband said, waving me off.  “I’ll figure it out.  But do you know where the earplugs are?  A blast from this shotgun will blow my eardrums out.”  

“I got rid of ‘em once you started wearing that mouth guard and stopped snoring,” I replied.  “But, there may be some in your nightstand.” 

As my husband went back into the house, I looked back down to see if the snake was still there or if it had slithered into the woods.  But it was still there, all right. 

“What’s it doin’?  Why isn’t it moving?” Julie asked, still using me as a buffer for a snake that was seventy five feet away and fifteen feet down. 

“Maybe’s it’s just chillin’,” I suggested, “or sleeping.  It doesn’t feel the least bit threatened, that’s for sure.  Actually, it’s probably laughing too hard to move.” 

Suddenly, my husband reappeared wearing one of those winter caps with the furry ear flaps, and cotton balls stuck in his ears,  making him look like a cross between a trapper from the 1800’s, and a Basset hound with an ear ache. 

“Couldn’t find the earplugs, huh?” I asked, trying not to laugh at the only thing standing between a potentially deadly snake and me. 

“No, but at least this should muffle the blast.  Okay, I’m goin’ down,” he said, as if he were ready to parachute out of a plane into the night, inside enemy territory. 

“Good luck,” I called after him.  Then Julie and I stood at the railing and watched as my husband—in his winter hat with flaps and gun he wasn’t sure how to operate—inched down our steep yard to the waiting serpent below. 

Carefully, he crept toward the snake, and as he did, rather than praying for his safety, I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures, laughing and shaking my head in disbelief at the sight before me. 

Finally, my brave, faux-frontiersman husband; my grand protector and defender of my life, got to within a couple of feet of the snake then slowly bent down, reached out and…picked up a 6 ft. long crooked branch. 

“Branch!” he called, holding it up for us to see before tossing it into the woods. 

“Great!” I shouted.  “We’re hungry!  Start the grill.” 

“I need another drink,” Julie sighed, opening the door and heading for the kitchen. 

Who says this new pandemic-designed world we’re living in is boring? I thought as I followed her inside. 

It’s far from it if we just take the time to enjoy the little things in life instead of always looking for the big things to engage or entertain us.  Ironically, this pandemic has helped us to do just that by forcing us away from the maddening crowd, so to speak, and providing us with the time to enjoy those smaller things simply because we haven’t had a million other things available to distract us. 

Hopefully, we’ll have learned something during this unusual time to bring along with us into a post-pandemic world.  If we have, we’ll continue to enjoy the smaller things in life, and truly value those precious tiny gemstone moments that used to slip by us when we were just too busy to notice.








Friday, September 11

Apocalyptic Skies

 by Margie Senechal

I wish I could capture what our skies look like today, but my phone camera simply doesn't do the eerie justice. There's a layer of smokey clouds hovering over everything. Whatever sun rays manage to filter through cast a weird golden hue. The scent of an old campfire lingers in the air along with ash particles. 

We in the Willamette Valley have the worst air in the world right now. Not nation, not North America, but the entire world. We are at the hazard level of air quality. I've closed all my windows and am hunkered down inside my house. I even bought groceries yesterday so I didn't have to go out. 

I was sup
posed to be heading to the Southern Oregon Coast today to cap off my staycation with a long weekend in Coos Bay. But, we are surrounded by forest fires and the situation is precarious to even attempt to make an unnecessary trip--even if I'd been looking forward to it for months and months.

Until we were surrounded by wildfires,I had planned to share my realization about my writing. Last Friday was my short story deadline and I'm happy to tell you that I actually got it in on that Monday. And that my editor thought it was "gorgeous" and I just had a few nitpicks to fix in the editing process. I learned that my story will be the day one story in the advent box. Kind of cool.

I spent one week immersed in my story. I wrote, I thought, I focused on nothing but that story. It had been a long time since I'd been that immersed in a story. I'd forgotten how good it was for my psyche--especially in these times we find ourselves in. 

Now, I'm going to close out with another good thing. My friend, Geri, posted this on FB and it's at house downtown in Vancouver. As soon as the rain comes and clears away our skies (Monday or Tuesday, we're told), I plan to visit this site.

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, September 8

On Fresh Starts and New Normals ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

It's the first day of seventh grade for bebe and I have to tell you (as I likely have since Kindergarten) that I'm not quite sure how we've gotten here. Especially this year when school is not looking anything like what we've seen. Our schools shuttered and went virtual last spring along with most of the country. This year our district decided to pull everyone back into the classroom, no hybrid option, but they did add in an all-virtual option that families could opt in to by semester. We opted for online for an abundance of reasons, not the least of which is that our districts buildings are already overcrowded with 25 kids (minimum) in each room. Put all those kids in a hallway between classes, on buses to and just seemed like a nightmare to us. And, bebe did well with online in the spring. She's not thrilled about still being online, but she does understand the reasoning, and we did give her an option: stay in-district and do their virtual option or leave the district and do a program like K12 or Connections. She chose our district because that is where her friends are ... and hopefully this won't be forever. 

While she's been prepping for the new-normal of school, I have a bit of a new-normal for me: a new dayjob. A couple of years ago I started working at our local hospital. Well, a month or so ago, I had a new opportunity come about which would have me writing - grant writing - something I did several years ago for an environmental non-profit in Nebraska. Last week, I had my first day and while there is definitely going to be a learning curve, I'm excited to be using my skills - and to have a more 'normal' schedule that will still allow me writing time for my books. 

Speaking of, I'm working a new series there, too. A trio of cousins living on a big ranching spread out West. The new series is still in the planning stages, but I'm really having fun with it. A few of the Wranglers here will be reading for me in another week or so ... and if they approve, it's off to my editor and we'll see where this one lands. 

Last week, we were in full-on summer here on the North Coast and I'm expecting a bit of Indian Summer to hit in another two weeks or so, as it typically does, but yesterday we were awakened by thunderstorms and a crisp punch of Autumn in the air. I can feel the seasons starting to change, and as nice as summer has been, I have to say that I'm ready for another change. Another new normal. Another fresh start. I'm ready for a new challenge and I'm ready to sink into the familiar, welcome agony of writing a brand-new series and building a new world. Of helping 'my people' find their way to a home they maybe didn't know they were missing. 

I guess, I'm ready for fall.

Just don't tell me that that means winter is right around the corner. I'm nowhere near ready for that! 

What are you looking forward to this fall? 

Friday, September 4

Me? Smart as a Third-Grader?


On Wednesday, I was in charge of Grandboy’s virtual school day—he’s in third grade and he enjoys learning, but he hates, hates writing. Not the creative process—he’s an amazing storyteller; rather he hates the mechanical process of writing. The actual forming letters with a pencil. He does better at using the computer to write, however his method is hunt-and-peck. I've vowed to teach him to touch-type, so the typing isn't so arduous.

His assignment on Wednesday was to write about a small moment in a place that’s important to him. He chose our backyard as his place and his moment was when we all saw a hawk swoop down and catch a chipmunk and carry it off for his dinner. I thought that was a pretty tough assignment for an eight-year-old, so I decided to take the challenge and try it myself. So, here’s my story about a favorite place and my small moment there.

One of my favorite places in the world is Frankfort, Michigan, specifically, the beach by Point Betsie lighthouse. The beach is just below the lighthouse, which sits up on a dune overlooking Lake Michigan. If I had made a map, it would have included the white-painted lighthouse tower and its red-roofed keeper’s cottage. My small moment happened one day in 2008 when I was in Frankfort doing some research for my first Women of Willow Bay novel, Once More From the Top. This was a place I’d been so many times in my life, so I felt perfectly at home as I wandered along the beach. One of the things the area is famous for is Petosky stones—rocks that are actually fossilized coral. They’re beautiful and when they’re polished, they can be made into jewelry. I’d never found a Petosky stone before, but as I sauntered along the shore, the chill waves lapping over my bare feet, I saw one! It gleamed on the wet sand, the design clear and beautiful under the water. It was the real thing! My heart sang. I finally had my own Petosky stone!

So that’s the kind of writing my little third-grader had to do and I’m telling you, frankly, from conception to finished paragraph, it was harder than I thought it would be. Liz and I were discussing how much more advanced kids’ school work seemed to us. Although I was an avid reader from the age of four, started writing at about age nine or so, and have been writing stories for years and years, I don’t recall writing something so cerebral when I was in the third grade. In many ways, kids today are more advanced than we were.

Anyone else want to take a shot at a third-grade writing assignment? It's just one paragraph. If you decide to give it a try, I’d sure love to hear about it. Have a good holiday weekend everyone and welcome to September!