NaNoWriMo No Mo

I first heard of NaNoWriMo way back in 2009. My daughter, Carol and I had been writing together via Skype and she encouraged me to give it a try. Up until then I had written mostly non-fiction, but we had been writing 5 minute flash fiction from writing prompts and it was fun, so I thought, why not give it a try.

I had no plot going into NaNo, but wrote furiously. Throwing my characters into one situation after another, loving the twists and turns that the story was taking. I squeaked across the finish line on November 30th with just a little over 50,000 words. I had done it! I'd written a rough draft of my first novel. I was a novelist!

I let it sit for about a month and then went back to start revisions. I started reading through the manuscript and cringed about every five minutes. The writing was bad...really bad. The characters were fun, but acted inconsistently. The plot...what there was of it...was badly in need of a plot doctor.

In short, I was so overwhelmed by what it would take to fix the novel, that I put it back in a drawer and gave up.  Then I started reading book after book about writing fiction. By the next time NaNo rolled around I thought I was ready to write a real novel.

In 2010, I got to about the 10,000 word mark and fizzled out. Same with 2011 and 2012. This year thought I was ready. 2013 would be the year that I finished a NaNoWriMo novel. It didn't happen.  This year I got to 11,587 words and fizzled. I didn't know where to go next with my story. I got uptight. I liked the story so far, but I didn't want to just push through for the sake of a winning word count only to have to go back and fix the whole thing. I gave up. Not on the book, but on NaNoWriMo.

I was feeling like an utter failure until I read a post on Chip MacGregor's blog by Amanda Luedeke titled "Why I Hate NaNoWriMo" and suddenly a huge weight was lifted from my writerly shoulders.

excerpt from Amanda's post...

This is why I hate NaNoWriMo. It sets writers up to fail.
As if writers need yet another reason to question their craft. To doubt whether they’re cut out for this author gig. As if they need another reminder that they can’t do it. They’re failures. They should quit while they’re ahead.
NaNo does this to tens of thousands if not HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of writers each and every year. There are over 300,000 signed up for the program this year. Let’s say a two-thirds achieve the 50k in one month goal. That’s 100,000 WRITERS WHO HAVE FAILED.
I hate this. I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.
(read the entire article HERE)

Thank you, Amanda, for setting helping me see that failure to finish NaNoWriMo is not failure as a writer!

I'll finish my book, but I'll take my time and do it at a pace that won't make me crazy. I'll spend more time on character development and plotting and when I'm finished, I'll have a revisable book, not a heap of hopelessly confused words.

How about you? Did you start NaNoWriMo, but not finish? Did it make you feel like a failure? Are you going to finish your novel or did you give up? 

PS - for those of you who did NaNo and will finish - CONGRATULATIONS! I know it works for so many people and I'm glad. I'm just not one of them and that's OK.

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Book Review - A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman

 Just finished reading Anita Higman's newest release, A Marriage in Middlebury.

Imagine being deeply in love yet having to refuse the proposal of the man you love because accepting would mean shame and embarrassment for both of your families. To make matters worse, you can't tell him why you can't marry him.

Ten years later, that man walks back into your life with a fiancee in tow. Your feelings haven't changed, and from the look in his eyes, he's still carrying a torch of his own.

Author, Anita Higman
I thoroughly enjoyed this story about Sam & Charlotte's second chance at love. Were it not for Sam's conniving father's unimaginable cruelty, this couple would have been married years ago. On the other hand, were it not for a slightly quirky, well-meaning friend, who took matters into her own hands, Sam & Charlotte may have missed their second chance at love.

Aside from a good story, I fell in love with the little town of Middlebury. I'd love to visit Charlotte's garden behind the Tea House. Would also love to tour the Wilder home and grounds. The author brought the setting to life, drawing me right into the story.  Hoping there are Middlebury stories to come.

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Off to a great start on my NaNoWriMo novel

Stayed up last night so I could start working on my novel at 12:01am and got in 1200 words. The best part, however was chatting with Shelby, my new NaNo friend from Texas until it was time for me to start writing. She's a real sweetheart. We wrote and cheered one another on until my eyes couldn't stay open anymore.

Then I hit it hard again this morning with a write-in at Crossroads Books and Coffee (my favorite writing spot) with my pal, Leola. Enjoyed some Salted Caramel Oatmeal and a Dark-Chocolate Caribou Latte while I wrote. YUM!

Current word count is 2706 words, so I'm a little ahead of the game right now. I'm really enjoying the story so far. In fact, the last chapter I wrote included a wonderful breakfast of huevos rancheros made by Maria, the ranch cook. Made myself so hungry, I had to come home and eat some lunch. Wish it had been what Maria made!

Found a blog with a yummy looking recipe for huevos rancheros over at Check it out.

Hope your NaNo novel is going well, too.

Happy Writing!

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It's a Double Whammy!

 I'm a writing Superhero!

Just learned that MBT (My Book Thereapy) is running a "write-novel-in-30-days" campaign simultaneously with NaNoWriMo. I signed up!

Now I have twice the support, twice the fun, twice the writing community and that gives me double incentive to finish my novel in the month of November.

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It's NaNoWriMo Time!

Here we go again, friends! November is creeping up on us like a vampire on a moonlit night and we're about to spill blood on to the page as we frantically pound the keyboard with the 50,000 word goal pushing us hard.

For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, let me's CRAZY, that's what it is! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Each November, people around the globe gather at the NaNoWriMo website and sign up for the wildest, wackiest month of frenzied writing ever. You have 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel.

You're not competing against anyone but yourself and the calendar. 50,000 words sound overwhelming? It's not so difficult. If you type 1667 words a day for 30 days, you'll reach your goal and you'll be the proud owner of novel. Well, a rough (sometimes very rough) first draft of a novel. The months following NaNoWriMo are for editing, revising and polishing that novel until it's ready to send off to an agent or publisher.

So, that's what I'm doing this November...what are you doing? Ever thought of writing a novel? Pop over to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up  (it's free) and we'll do it together!

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Driven by Raging Cravings

He grabbed the sticky black receiver and dropped a quarter in the slot. Sweat poured off him as he punched in the number.


That was not the voice he was expecting.


He tried to disguise his voice.

“Uh, yeah…is Daphne there?”

“Who wants to know?”

“I’m just a friend. Is she there?”

“Is that you, Jack?”

Jack slammed down the receiver and swore under his breath. He felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin. He needed to score a hit and fast. Daphne was the only person who might still trust him enough to loan him some money.

He decided to chance it and ran the 8 blocks to her house. If she was there he might be able to get her out of the house somehow without her old man seeing him.

He was in luck. He could see her through the window of her bedroom. He picked up a few pebbles and tossed them at it.

Daphne slid the window up.

“Jack, what are you doing here? You know my father will kill you if he sees you.”

“Baby, I’m in bad shape,” he said, “I need some money.”

She shook her head, “No, Jack. I’m not going to help you feed your addiction.”

He jammed his shaking hands in to his pockets, trying to think of something to say to make her change her mind. His head was pounding.

 “Daphne, after all we’ve been through, I can’t believe you won’t help me out.”

“Jack, it was your fault I got addicted in the first place. It started with the first kiss you gave me. It was so sweet. I thought you loved me and I just wanted more and more. That just led to the bars and finally, I didn’t care. I took it any way I could get it. I starting doing the liquid stuff…drinking it straight. You were there when my parents finally found me huddled outside the convenience store with the stuff smeared all over my face and hands. It took months for them to clean me up. Go away, Jack – I’m not helping you.”

Jack was desperate. “Daphne, I know you must still have some stashed somewhere. Please…just help me this once and I won’t bother you again. I promise.”

Daphne understood his pain. She knew what it felt like to crave the stuff so badly that your mouth went dry and your mind conjured up the very smell of it. When you were that bad off, it didn’t matter if it was the brown stuff or the white stuff - you had to have it.

Reluctantly she crossed the room to her dresser drawer and grabbed the last of her stash. She didn’t know why she had hung on to it, but now she was ready to let the stuff go for good.

She dropped it out the window. “Jack, this is the last of it – now get out of here before my Dad hears you.”

Jack scrambled to pick up the package from the grass, waved and hurried to the shadow of a nearby tree.

He peeled back the foil covered and popped it into his mouth. He felt the thick rich lump begin to melt in his mouth. He swallowed and felt it begin to course through his veins.

Ah, chocolate!
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Interview with Multi-Published Author, Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson
I just finished reading Janice Hanna Thompson's new book, Writing and Selling the Great American Novel and I have to say I was both surprised and inspired. You see, I know Janice as a crack-you-up fiction writer. I laughed all the way through her Weddings by Bella series. Janice's tag line is "Love, Laughter & Happily Ever Afters, so I was surprised that she wrote a book on writing novels...surprise, but tickled pink!

Who better to write a book on becoming a novelist than someone who has published over 100 books?

I'm thrilled to post this interview with Janice because it gives us a chance to get to know her better.

Janice, I understand you’re about to debut a brand new book for novelists. Why veer from your usual comedic writing to put together a book for writers?
Because I love writers! I’ve always had a heart for novelists and want to do every thing I can to help and encourage them, whether they’re penning that first story or fifty-first. This book has information that should be helpful to pros and novices, alike. I’ve noticed a trend in recent years. Incoming writers approach me, one after the other, asking the same questions and struggling with the same problems. I’ve worn myself out giving the same answers. There are only so many times and ways you can say, “You’re head-hopping, honey!” Because of that, I decided it would be easier to compile the information into a writing text, which I’ve titled Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. I can’t wait to see what novelists think of this exciting new book.

Can you tell us a little about your background as a novelist?
Every writer hopes to write “The Great American Novel.” I started writing novels as a child, so the desire to craft “story” has always been inside of me. In the mid ‘90s I started writing with the desire to be published. After years of trial and error, my first novel hit the shelves in 2000. Since then, I’ve published nearly 100 books (about 2/3 of which are novels in a variety of genres). I’ve had a blast and will continue penning novels as long as there’s breath in me.

You’ve titled the book Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. Can you share a little more about that?
I wrestled with the title for a couple of days, wanting to get it right. In the end, I came to this decision: Writers want TWO things. First, they want to know how to WRITE their novel. The first half of the book is completely dedicated to this process and includes every single thing a novelist (established or beginning) will need to write the best possible story. The second half of the book is dedicated to SELLING the novel and includes helpful information on pitching, marketing, working with an editor/agent, and even offers a comprehensive look at self-publishing to e-Book form. To check out the books full Table of Contents, go here.

You’ve started with a chapter on understanding the genres. Why is that?
I’ve published in multiple genres. My first book was a suspense-thriller. I’ve since written historicals, contemporaries, children’s, young adult, romances, mysteries and much, much more. Because I’ve been able to successfully cross genre lines, I feel qualified to teach on the subject. Before writers can establish themselves as novelists, they must develop an understanding of the fiction genres/categories. Choosing the best genre (or genres) is critical to your success. But with so many categories to choose from, how do you know which is your best fit? This chapter will give writers a thorough introduction to genre writing and will provide them with the necessary information to choose the one(s) best suited to their literary style and voice. 

I see you’ve included a lesson on plotting. Is this based on your “Plot Shots” teaching, which you’ve offered at conferences?
Yes! I’m so tickled to finally be able to offer this teaching in a book format. I’ve become known as “that Plot Shots lady.” That’s okay. I can live with that. I’m a firm believer in laying out a great plotline. Why? Because every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Careful plotting will lead the reader on a satisfactory, realistic journey through each of those stages, creatively weaving in and out, up and down.  The "Plot Shots" method gives writers the tools they need to plot their novel in twelve easy snapshots. It’s a fun and easy approach to plotting that won’t confuse or complicate the story.

Characterization is such an important component of fiction writing. Can you tell us more about your characterization chapter?
Years ago I developed a teaching that I call “Pandora’s Box.” It’s a layered approach to characterization, which uses the illustration of multiple boxes, one inside the other. In this lesson, I lay out the need for great characterization, then present the Pandora’s Box method. After presenting the method, I take the student through the process four times, using four fictional characters as a foundation. (Each character has a different personality, so the student learns how to apply the technique to the various personalities.)

So many writers struggle with P.O.V. (point of view). Is that why you included a chapter on that very tough subject?
Point of View (P.O.V.) is a critical fiction component. Employing to your best advantage is tough. Most of the young writers I know struggle in this area. The head-hop. Oh, they don’t mean to. . .but they do! My detailed teaching on Point of View offers novelists a thorough teaching on the various P.O.V.s (omniscient, third person, second person, first person), and gives specific examples and tips so that writers can become P.O.V. purists. 

What is passive writing? Why have you included a chapter about it?
Many of the manuscripts I edit are written in passive voice. They’re loaded with passive verbs and include huge sections of “telling.” The author “information dumps,” which stops the flow of the story. Knowing the difference between active voice and passive voice is key to writing a great novel. Conquering the art of "showing" instead of "telling" will give writers an added advantage. This detailed lesson--filled with nuggets of wisdom from published authors--will give writers the tools they need to strengthen their stories and pull them into active voice. 

Ack! Backstory! It’s so tough to add to our novels. Is that why you included a lesson on the subject?
Backstory. We all struggle with it, don’t we? In so many ways, it's critical to our story. After all, the reader needs to know where our primary character has come from--what she's been through--why she acts like she does. So, do you add the backstory or not? If so, can you do so without resorting to author intrusion? And where will you place it? At the beginning of the story? Elsewhere? Will it come out in lumps or snippets? This lesson offers students an intense look at backstory and includes tips for interjecting it without stopping the action. 

Many writers struggle with finding their “voice.” Can you tell us more about that?
A writer’s “voice” is her/her “stamp.” It’s the author’s “personality on the page.” And many young writers haven’t “found their voice” yet. This lesson delves into the topic, in detail, giving perspective on this very personal issue. The lesson (titled “Themes, Style and Voice”) also covers the various themes found in popular books, as well as style components.

Can you tell us some of the top fiction mistakes?
Sure! After editing hundreds of manuscripts, I can point out some of the “top” fiction mistakes: Lack of a good hook. P.O.V. issues. Passive writing. Weak characterization. Poor plotting (no “belly of the whale” scene). Overuse of adverbs. On and on the list goes. Many writers simply don’t realize they’re making these mistakes until someone points them out. They wonder why the book keeps getting rejected. This lesson offers writers a thorough list, detailing the top twenty mistakes novelists make.

Why did you decide to add a lesson on humor writing?
I’ve been writing comedies for years and have learned so much along the way. Humor writing is tough stuff! Some writers are born with an overactive funny bone. Others have to work hard to be funny. (Ironic, isn't it?!) If you're interested in adding a little har-de-har-har-har to your novel, then you will enjoy this light-hearted lesson.

The second half of the book is devoted to pitching and promoting the book, as well as working with editors/agents, etc. Why include all of this information?
I included this information because the average novelist needs a wake-up call. We writers are solitary souls. We sit in front of our computers and lose ourselves in our stories. Then comes the time to pitch that story to an editor. We freeze. Courage eludes us. We need to proper tools to get the book through the publisher’s door and the second half of Writing and Selling the Great American Novel offers that. . .and more!

Speaking of getting a book through a publisher’s door: Putting together a book proposal is tough! What have you learned over the years?
Book deals are won or lost based on the proposal. If you've got a completed manuscript and you're ready to pitch it to an agent or editor, then this exciting lesson on query letters and book proposals will point you in the right direction, giving you all the confidence you need to submit, submit, submit! Novelists who use the information provided in this chapter can compose polished query letters and dazzling book proposals, sure to impress both editors and agents, alike.

You’ve included a section on marketing and promotion. Can you share a little about that process here?
Sure! I love marketing my books and enjoy teaching other novelists how to promote their books, as well. This section of the book is absolutely loaded with practical ideas for getting the word out about your book once it’s published. I’ve included tips related to social media, public speaking, and much more. Whether you’re working with the marketing team at your publishing house or promoting a self-published novel, you will get the tools you need to spread the word.

They will find it on amazon for the next ninety days. From September 13th – 16th (the dates of the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference) the book will sell for $3.99. On the morning of the 17th the price will jump to its “forever” price of $8.99, a real bargain for such a comprehensive text.

Where can people find you on the web?
Twitter: booksbyjanice

Thanks so much for joining us, Janice. Can I ask you to leave more information about your writing courses?
They can learn more at On that site, they will also find my “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” course, which many students have already taken. Folks can learn more about that one by clicking on this video: I offered a free webinar on the subject some time ago, and it can be found here: We’ll be adding to the course list periodically, so stay tuned for more announcements!

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Writing and Selling the Great American Novel by Janice Thompson

Just finished reading Janice Thompson’s newest book, Writing and Selling the Great American Novel, and I have a confession to make.

I’ve been working on my first novel for…well…way too long. At first the words spilled onto the page as fast as my fingers could fly across the keyboard, but then I started reading a lot of books on how to write a novel and discovered I was doing things all wrong. Of course, which mistakes I was making depended on which book I was reading at the time. There was so much conflicting information that my head was spinning.

  • Plot – don’t plot, just write
  • Edit as you go – lock your inner editor in a closet 
  • Old school dialogue – use beats with your dialogue 
  • Read what you want to write – don’t copy others 
You get the idea.

The more I read up on the craft of writing, the slower the words came, until I found myself sitting at the computer, fingers frozen over the keyboard…unable to write a single word.

I quit reading those books and I quit trying to write that novel…until today.

By the time I read the last page of Janice Thompson’s book, I was ready to open up that unfinished manuscript and start telling my story again. I feel inspired by the simple step-by-step process that Janice walked me through. I now feel equipped to…
  • Develop a story
  • Plan it out
  • Write the first draft without restraint 
  • Edit, tweak, polish and spit-shine my manuscript 
  • Write a query letter 
  • Write a proposal 
  • Find an agent & editor 
  • Build my personal brand 
  • Develop a team of supporters 
  • Promote and Market both myself and my book 
  • Pick up my dream of being a novelist again! 
Multi-published author, Janice Thompson
Author of over 100 books
shares her easy-to-understand insights
into becoming a novelist.
Why was this book different than all the others I'd read? Because it's simplified, but informative. Janice not only helped me to understand the whole process of becoming a novelist in a way that didn't intimidate me in the slightest. On the contrary, I feel empowered and confident that I will not only finish my novel, but I'll see it in print!

If you've ever thought of writing a novel or ever felt confused about the process, then this is the book for you. It's due to launch this week and I’ll let you in on a little secret.  

Right now it's listed on Amazon for $8.99 (a great price for all this info), but for just 3 days, you can pick up your copy of Writing and Selling the Great American Novel for just $3.99 (September 13th -15th), then it goes up to its regular price of $8.99.

(Shhhh – don’t tell Janice I let the cat out of the bag, but make sure you grab your copy while it's on sale!)

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Just Discovered my Writing Personality

Just read a great article by K.M. Weiland titled, What's Your Writing Personality?  It's based on the “four temperaments” approach (popularized by Tim LaHaye).

After reading it, I not only recognized my writing personality (Sanguine); I've realized why I start books with a bang and then burn out around chapter 6 or 7.

Of course, knowing that it's just my personality won't get me over the hump.  As K.M. Weiland says in her article...
"Once you’ve identified your primary personality traits and figured out your strengths and weaknesses, you can move forward with a plan of action to help you take advantage of your good points and overcome your weaknesses—in life as well as writing!"
 So, armed with this knowledge, I'm going to lay out that plan of action she talked about and finish a novel...soon.

Thank you, K.M.Weiland!

Check out her article and discover your writing personality. As an added bonus, while you're there, you can sign up to receive K.M. Weiland's monthly e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

Cool, huh? I just snagged my copy!

Happy writing,

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You'll Love These Mixed Up Mail Order Bride Stories!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a mail order bride?  No? It's just me?

Well, okay - I admit it...the idea intrigues. Traveling half-way across country by train and/or stage coach to marry a man you've only know through a few letters.  That's crazy!  But it sure makes for good reading!

I just finished reading A Bride For All Seasons - a collection of four mail order bride stories with a twist. As if marrying someone based on what they said in letter isn't wild enough, these for couples are in for a big surprise when they learn that the publisher of The Hitching Post mail order bride catalog has altered their letters, holding back important information that are "deal breakers" when it comes to marriage!

I love how things worked out for each of them, though and the underlying message that even when we think that we've made a wrong turn in life, God still orders our steps and leads us down the path He has for us as long as we are trusting Him.

Mary Connealy is one of my favorite authors and the reason I bought this book, so I quickly jumped to the story written by her (the 4th in the book)- loved it and then went back and read the other three. They were all good, so now I have 3 new authors on my list of must reads.

Thank you, Margaret Brownley, Robin Lee Hatcher, Debra Clopton and Mary Connealy for several hours of pure reading enjoyment!
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Winter in Full Bloom Free Kindle Version

Just found out that Winter in Full Bloom, by Anita Higman is


for just a couple of days! (Kindle version only)

Grab your copy today. (Will only be free for a couple of days, so make sure you check the price before downloading.

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Prairie Song Author, Mona Hodgson @ Crossroads Books & Coffee

Isn't this a beautiful display celebrating Mona Hodgson's new book release - Prairie Song? I love the homespun dress hanging above the display. Karen P., one of Crossroad's super-friendly staff members set up this up. The dress was made by Karen's mother.

Mona will be signing books and visiting with readers at Crossroads Books and Coffee this Saturday, August 24th from 11:00am to 1:00pm.

I'll be there and I hope to see any of you who live in the area. Mona loves to get to know her readers, so pop by and say hello.

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The Sooty Schoolmarm

*photo credit below
Nell leaned the broom against the wall and wiped her brow with the sleeve of her worn calico dress.  She had scraped peeling paint and scrubbed layers of dirt from the walls of the long-neglected school house all morning. The desks were as clean as she could get them and ready for her new students. Next on the agenda - shovel the old ash from the pot-belly stove and clean off the grime so it would be ready when the cold weather swept through the Montana plains.

She looked again at what she had written on the large chalk slate hanging on the front wall.

 "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." Ecclesiastes 9:10

She eyed the sooty stove with grim determination and grabbed the small shovel hanging from a nail behind the stove. "You're next," she said. Thirty minutes later, she again wiped her brow with the sleeve of her dress, smearing the soot that had collected there across her damp forehead, then she leaned down and grabbed the handle of the overflowing bucket of ash she'd just dug out of the stove.

"Thank you, Lord, for the strength you've given me this morning. Now, if you could just give me a little more," she grunted, "I'll tote this load outside and be done with it."

As she hoisted the bucket with both hands. Her eyes swept the cleaned room again...except it wasn't - clean, that is. A fine layer of black soot now dusted every freshly scrubbed desk in the room as well as her clean-swept floor.

"Oh, fiddle-faddle! I should have cleaned the stove first." she snapped, "Now, I'll have to clean everything all over again!"

A deep chuckle wafted through the open doorway, startling her so that she dropped the bucket, spilling the entire contents in a pile at her feet. Make that on her feet.

Jed Clayton stepped through the door with a sheepish grin. "Sorry Ma'am. Didn't mean to startle you."

Nell fought to keep her mouth from spitting out what her mind was thinking. It didn't work. "Jed, you big oaf, you scared me half to death!" She shook some of the soot from her shoes. "And what's with the "Ma'am" bit? We've known each other since we six years old and you've always called me by my given name. Why so formal, now?"

Jed grinned again, "Well, I didn't always call you by your given name. Sometimes I called you Nelly-Belly-full-of-Jelly, but yer a schoolmarm now, and that wouldn't be proper like, would it?"

She felt heat crawl up her neck and spread across her cheeks. Her fingers curled in on themselves. "I told you never to call me that again, Jed Clayton!" In two seconds she'd crossed the room and began pounding her soot-covered fists against the man's broad chest.

Two strong arms wrapped themselves around her, pinning her to him. She could feel his heart beating against her clenched fist. Her own pulse quicken.  She struggled to free herself. "Turn me loose, you clod!"

"Not til you kiss me Nell Jean Smith, and tell me that by the first day of school you'll be Mrs Jed Clayton."

She ceased her struggling. Neither of them spoke or moved...or breathed for several seconds.

Jed broke the silence, his voice low and husky. "Nell, darlin', I've loved you forever. From the first time we sat on the banks of the creek and spit melon seeds into the water - til the day you announced that you were going to be an independent woman with a teaching career."

"But, Jed. you said...and I quote, "No woman of mine will ever hold down a job!"

He put his finger to her lips. "Hush woman. I know what I said - I'm an idiot!"

He pulled her even closer. "Marry me, Nell. You can have your career as long as at the end of the school day, you'll be comin' home to me."

He wiped a black smudge from her lips with his fingertips, causing her heart to tremble so, that she had to look away. Her eyes fell on the words she'd written on the chalk slate earlier that morning...

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might...".

She wiggled her arms free and opened her fists. Reaching up, she cradled his handsome face in her hands, then stood on the tiptoes of her sooty little feet and kissed him with all her might.  She was, after all, a God-fearin' woman. Who was she to ignore scripture?


*Photo credit: This story was inspired by the photo above, taken by my aunt, Sandra Glaze Kisselburg

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Book Review – Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

Imagine learning that you have an identical twin sister you’ve never met, then imagine having to overcome your fear and insecurities in order to fly halfway around the world in hopes of finding her. That’s what Lily Winter sets out to do, but God has so much more in mind for her. Like the charming Texan, turned Aussie that helps in her search while showing her the treasures of Melborne.

This story had me wanting to visit Australia, eat chocolate, play the flute and fight for the resolution of relationships that need mending. I wanted to throw one character in the river and hug another.  It’s a rare writer that can so thoroughly pull you into the story that you live it right along with the characters she creates.

Anita Higman…you did a wonderful job of weaving a story of heartbreak and love, conflict and forgiveness and the sweet prospect of renewed family relationships. Thank you for the hours of reading pleasure I enjoyed while reading Winter in Full Bloom.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion in this review.
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Boney's Trail Biscuits

I've been reading Prairie Song by Mona Hodgson - a story about a brave young woman who believes that the best way to help her grieving family is for them to pack up everything and join the Boones Lick Wagon Train, heading west.

The book is filled with likeable characters. One of my favorites is Boney. He's the trail cook on the wagon train. I can just imagine Boney pulling the chuck wagon into camp, then jumping down to unload his dutch ovens and tin coffee pot. I can see him opening a big sack of flour to start mixing up biscuits to serve with a big pot of beans. I can practically smell the beans boiling and see the butter melting on the hot biscuits. It just makes my mouth water!

My Dad making biscuits.
I guess this strikes a resonant chord with me because my dad used to love to make biscuits. He also worked on a ranch in Prescott, Arizona, spent several seasons fur trapping around Williams, Arizona and worked a gold mine in Bumblebee, Arizona.

Is it any wonder that I love western fiction? Dad would have loved to join up with a wagon train and I'll just bet he would have volunteered to be the camp cook!

I was excited to see that Prairie Song author, Mona Hodgson posted a recipe for Boney's Trail Biscuits the other day, so I just had to try it. My hubby (Mr. Lee) gave me a hand because biscuits are just not as good unless a man has a hand in makin' them (IMO).

We didn't have a dutch oven, so we improvised and baked them inside, but they turned out really great. Here's how we did it...

 Measure & mix dry ingredients

Cut in the butter, then add in the buttermilk

Turn out, knead and...

...then roll out.

Cut and place on your best old blackened cookie sheet. (Do you have one of those?)  I think I will roll them out less to make the biscuits a little thicker next time.

Bake, basting with butter just before done.

Hubby thought they needed more butter basting right after they came out.

Mr. Lee wanted the leftover scraps to fry

Because his dad used to fry bread dough.

It does look yummy, but I can't eat all that fat

Then, he drizzled it with honey

So, we got Boney's Trail Biscuits - two ways

I ate mine with sugar-free blackberry jelly.

We had a lot of fun baking together, talking about our Dads (who are both gone, now) and talking about what life would have been like on the trail west. I offered to let him read Prairie Song. He asked if it was a girly romance book. I admitted that there was romance, but lots more that he would like. I doubt he'll read it, which leaves me wondering why he has such an aversion to romance!

Boney's Trail Biscuits tasted great! You can find the recipe here. (There's also a great recipe for Boney's Campfire Beans (haven't made that yet). Scroll down the page for the biscuit recipe.

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Book Review - The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

Ooo-whee! There are mail-order brides flocking into Lookout, Texas and all bent on marrying one man - the town marshal, Luke Davis. Too bad Luke doesn’t know anything about it!

His ornery cousins, Mark and Garrett thought they would help Luke get over Rachel Hamilton by finding him a new bride, but they didn’t count on so many women showing up to claim one man and they didn’t know that Luke’s heart was forever Rachel’s.

What ensues after the brides arrive is too much for anyone to handle, especially Rachel Hamilton, who runs the boarding house where all the brides are staying until this whole mess can be sorted out. How can she be expected to house and care for women who are set on marrying the only man she ever really loved?

I was confused by the title The Anonymous Bride when I first saw it, but it made perfect sense after reading the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Vickie McDonough gives us lots of characters to fall in love with. My favorite was Jack (Jacqueline), Rachel’s feisty little tomboy daughter, who’d rather run around barefoot in overalls than wear a calico dress. And she’d just as soon go fishin’ with the boys than learn to cook or do handwork. I guess I can relate to Jack because I was raised with 5 brothers and a passel of cousins – most of which were boys. You had to be rough and tumble if you wanted to survive in my family. And fishin’ was one of my favorite ways to pass a summer day – still is.

While the whole town wondered which mail-order bride the marshal would pick, I had no doubts that Luke and Rachel would iron things out and find love again. My main concern is what the other brides are going to do now. None of them can return home, so they’re going to have to find a job or another man to marry.

Since The Anonymous Bride is book 1 in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, my guess is that the other brides will find their men in one of the next two books in the series, so I’m picking up book 2 off my to-be-read shelf right after I finish this review!

Do yourself a favor and pick up the series. If you like inspirational westerns with a humorous undertone, you'll love these books.

Happy Reading,

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I am not a novelist!

 Okay, it's official (sort of) I am not a novelist.

For the past couple of years, I've been obsessed with writing fiction. Obsessed in that I think about it all the time, study the craft, start novels only to stall in the first several chapters. I have lots a few good story ideas and have about 10 novels started. No kidding - 10.

Why do I want to write a novel?
  1. I love reading good fiction
  2. When I read them, I think...I could probably do that
  3. I got this warped idea that if I write fiction, rather than non-fiction, I will be considered a real writer.
 I've prayed about it (more like begged God to give me a good idea and help me write the book), but keep hitting a wall each time I sit down at the computer.

No, that's not true. I hit the wall when I try to work on a novel, not when I sit down at the computer. You see, I'm a blogger...make that an avid blogger (7 active blogs right now, plus a web site or two, as well as maintaining a blog for the writing group I belong to and contributing to a blog for my local Christian book store), so I am writing...just not fiction.

What do I enjoy writing? Blog posts.
What do I love writing? Devotionals

So why am I making myself miserable trying to write a novel? (Because I really think I can do it...and will do it...someday, but not right now.)  For now I'm going to focus on something that's been on my heart for a while.  I'm going to write a devotional book for my family (and anyone else who wants to read it). I'm not getting any younger and my grandsons are getting older. As much as I want to be around to see them graduated, married and raising a family of their own, I don't know if I will be able to.

There's so much I want to tell them about God and life and how He makes it all worth while. About how to face the trials of life with His help. About stepping into their God-given purpose in life. I want them to have a book they can carry though life to let them know how much God loves them and how much their Grandma loved God.

Some may think this is morbid - writing a book for after you're dead, but not me. It's my legacy.

I'm praying that God inspires my writing, because He knows what they will need in the future. Feel free to pray along with me.

Perhaps devotionals were what I was mean to write all along. My first 2 books were devotionals, 2 of my blogs are devotionals and it's what seems to flow from my spirit to the keyboard. Perhaps being a real writer means writing what you are called to write.

I'll just keep enjoying the work of all those who are called to tell God's story through fiction. You're amazing writers!

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Should You Be an Indie Author?

I just read this awesome article by Randy Ingermanson titled, Should You Be an Indie Author?  For the first time, I understand the real differences between vanity publishing, traditional publishing and indy (independent) publishing.

Randy does a great job of explaining things in a fun, fictional way. Meet Sam the Plummer and his Mama, Minnie as she tries to decide which publishing option is best for her.

This article is actually part 3 of a series Randy is doing on self publishing novels.  I plan to go back and read the first 2, but this one is strong enough to stand alone and give you an overall understanding of your publishing options.

Pop over and read this article now - Randy Ingermanson's article.

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Book Review – Prairie Song – Hearts Seeking Home, Book 1, by Mona Hodgson

I’ve often wondered what life must have been like for people who traveled in a wagon train headed west. I don’t have to wonder anymore, because Mona Hodgson has given me a glimpse into the lives of those brave pioneers. Folks filled with regret for the family, friends and possessions they were leaving behind, overshadowed by an excited hope for their future – the promise of a new beginning out West.

Prairie Song lets us walk the trail along with young Anna Goben, who is hoping that the Promised Land of Californian will be just what it takes to pull her mother and grandfather from their grief over the loss of Anna’s brother. Anna is gutsy and determined to keep her mother’s secret while doing her best to keep her sober and help her grandfather regain his zest for life.  She’s just as determined to squelch her growing interest in trail hand, Caleb Reger.

Caleb clashes with that feisty little redhead, Anna Goben before they ever hit the trail. She’s independent, beautiful, and trouble as far as he’s concerned. Besides, Caleb has other things on his mind. Like Jonah from the Bible, he’s running from God’s calling on his life and his past failures. He’s hoping that five long hard months on the trail just might help him outrun his past.

But God has his own plans for Caleb and Anna. This adventure will take the though trials, tragedy and the discovery that God’s plans truly do include a hope for the future that neither of them ever dreamed of.

Visit the author online
Pre-order Prairie Song - Release date - August 6th, 2013

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