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Thursday, November 25, 2010


It's been a tough week--missing Mom. Missing Jolene. Having some things fall apart professionally. But in the words of Matt Redman, echoing Job in the Bible, "Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise."

My heart will sing praise to the Lord.
For His love endures forever.
My heart will rest in the shadow of His wings
For His love endures forever.
My soul rejoices in the Lord
For His love endures forever.
Sorrow visits for a day
For His love endures forever.
But He carries me on His shoulders.
For His love endures forever.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
For His love endures forever.
My joints may ache and my eyes may strain
For His love endures forever.
But He renews my strengths and sets me on eagle's wings.
For His love endures forever.
Friends may fail me, and I may falter,
For His love endures forever.
But I will persevere,
For His love endures forever.
Be not cast down, oh my soul,
For His love endures forever.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I recently read a devotional that reminded me that while I can't control what happens to me, I can control my reaction.

On top of that, I did a short Bible study on Hannah. As I thought about Hannah's childless status, compared to Peninnah's abundance of children, my thoughts were drawn to that other similar pair: Jacob's wives, the sisters Leah and Rachel.

In both cases, one wife had baby after baby while the other appeared barren. The barren wife conceived after God intervened. The husband loved the barren wife more than the childbearing wife.

All four women had cause to complain. Leah and Peninnah were unloved; Rachel and Hannah couldn't have children.

But how did they react?
  • With each child, Leah gave credit to God (The Lord has seen, the Lord has heard, I will praise the Lord.)
  • Rachel complained to Jacob ("Give me children or I'll die.")
  • Rachel did pray about it (Gen 30:22 [God] listened to [Rachel] and enabled her to conceive.)
  • Peninnah provoked Hannah on purpose.
  • Hannah poured out her heart to God.
  • Rachel stole her father's gods.
  • Hannah gave her miracle baby back to God.

Four women, similar problems. The heroine (in my eyes) of the first story, the unloved wife Leah, becames the villainness of the second story (Peninnah). Hannah stands out as a woman who trusted God.

The difference? How they reacted to their circumstances.

If I need encouragement to choose to trust God in spite of what is happening around me--all I need to do is to go back to these two object lessons.

***Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books as well as THE BLACKSMITH'S BRAVERY by Susan Page Davis and 16 BRIDES by Stephanie Whitson. Winners will be notified on the blog only in a posting at the beginning of each month of the previous month's winners. Check and see if you're a winner already!***

Monday, November 15, 2010


What connects my granddaughter's latest trick with this morning's sermon on church leadership as well as my blog appearance at this coming week?

Love, pure but never simple, love shown by words and deeds.

First of all, darling Jordan. She was running a bit of a fever, but even so, the ever active toddler surprised me by climbing into my lap for a good long cuddle. Next she settled next to her mother and asked her to read
Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. In the book,a baby bunny threatens to runaway. But every place he plans to go, his mother tells him how she will follow (if you're a sailboat, I'll be the wind that blows you ...) And when my dil asked, "who's the baby bunny?" Jordan pointed to herself with delight.

But while that was sweet (if you haven't read the book for any preschoolers in your house, get a copy!), something else made me giggle. My son held his wife's feet in his lap, lovingly rubbing the soles. He has told me before how much she appreciates it.

Jordan laid down next to her mother and put her feet in her lap--asking to have them rubbed. She wanted that extra show of love as well. She's catching on to love in action.

This morning our pastor preached about church leadership for the third Sunday in a row (as we head into the season where elders and deacons are elected). He opened the Bible to Acts 20, to the chapter where Paul says goodbye to the elders at Ephesus. Everyone is hugging and crying. " What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again." (v. 38) Church elders must love the Lord and His church so much that nothing else is worth a plug nickel.

Starting at midnight tonight, for a week, I will be the guest at the blog Encourage an Author. Casey Herringshaw created a blog for authors to receive some much needed encouragement. What a beautiful ministry! And I look forward to coming week. I know God will bring just the encouragement I need. (And yes, please do stop by once or several times! Even if there is no book giveaway.)

Now how can I pay love forward? God is enveloping me in His loving arms.

***Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books as well as THE BLACKSMITH'S BRAVERY by Susan Page Davis and 16 BRIDES by Stephanie Whitson. Winners will be notified on the blog only in a posting at the beginning of each month of the previous month's winners. Check and see if you're a winner already!***

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Received this week and available for all book winners: Book 2 of Maple Notch Brides, Bridge to Love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


No, I'm not talking about my two month old grandson, who weighs more than 13 lbs., thank you very much.

Not long ago, I was congratulating myself for growth in my writing career that have happened without my knowing it:

  • I've built a tribe.
  • I've developed a good instinct for what works in my writing (if my gut tells me something is wrong, I'd better listen!)
  • I've acquired a knack for discovering unusual story ideas.

I should have known a corresponding downward turn would come my way. It hit last week. My editor dislikes my last manuscript, turned in on October 1st. She sent it to a copy editor, who hates it. I don't think that's too strong a turn. She thinks the conflict is unbelievable; both the hero and the heroine are unlikeable; they are inconsistent; and then there are tons of minor questions to resolve.

Gulp. This, then, is when I prove my mettle as a professional. Can I accept and learn from harsh criticism?

This isn't just any story. This is my favorite story. One that I wrote in the last century, one that I've loved every time I've reread it.

But ... I think it also reflects where I was in the 1990s. I have grown, not only as a writer, but a believer, as a person. My hero and heroine represent who I was then. I believe my challenge is to rewrite them to reflect the person I've become.

Pray that I will write a story that honors God and turns readers to His love. Pray that I will be able to see the new growth forest arising out of the ashes of the destruction as I rewrite.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Today I welcome back Susan Page Davis with a few words about the third volume in the Ladies Shooting Club series, The Blacksmith's Bravery.

By age twelve, Vashti Edwards was orphaned and working her way west in saloons. Life in Fergus, Idaho, has given her new hope in Christian friends from The Ladies Shooting Club and an employer who turned her saloon into a restaurant. But money’s tight, and Vashti tries to get the job she’s dreamed of—as a stagecoach driver. Griffin Bane, local blacksmith, is overseeing the stagecoach line and admits he needs more help. But can a woman—even one known to be a good markswoman—handle the challenges and dangers on the trail? And can he brave the beautiful distraction she makes riding alongside him?
Vashti and her boss, Griffin, turn to the Ladies’ Shooting Club of Fergus for extra gun power when the stagecoach line is targeted by robbers. Members willing to defend the passengers and mail can ride the Fergus-to-Boise route for free. Throw a little unforeseen mayhem and romance, and you’ll find this journey unforgettable.

Now for the interview:

1. In Blacksmith’s Bravery, you not only bring back Griffin Bane, you also make an honest woman of one of the former saloon girls. What was your inspiration for the story?

I wanted to do a stagecoach story. I got reading about Silver City and the other mountain towns in Idaho, and how the stagecoaches took people up there. When I saw the actual terrain, I couldn’t believe it. Driving a car up those roads was bad enough, let alone a stagecoach with horses pulling it. I wouldn’t be brave enough, I’m sure. But when I did some more reading about the stage lines and the robberies and all of that, I knew one of my gun-toting ladies had to be in the thick of it. Vashti was a minor character in books 1 and 2, but she steps up here and takes center stage.

Also, in book 2, the owner of the stagecoach line died, so I needed a new man in charge. At first I thought of having Josiah Runnels (another minor character in the series) take it over, but my editor asked for the blacksmith—Griff Bane. A lot of readers liked Griff and wondered if he could be cleaned up and civilized, I guess. So there you go.

2. You have held many jobs on your way to becoming a full-time writer. One of them was blacksmith. Tell us about some of your more interesting jobs.

Wow, yeah—you remembered that. I didn’t shoe horses for very long. Only a few months, actually. Maybe four months after I finished my certification. Then I discovered I was expecting my first child and my hubby decided shoeing horses was probably not a good idea at that time. I never went back to it.

Other jobs I’ve had—waitress, school teacher, horseback riding instructor, clerk in a fabric shop, news correspondent, to name a few.

3. This year has brought many tests your way, including a cross country move. How do you keep going in the face of opposition?

Our move from Maine to Kentucky was actually helpful. We have less maintenance here, and our two children still at home have enrolled in school, so I have more time for writing now. But we’ve had some difficult moments, and the Lord always sustains us. A routine and work habits help when things seem out of control, too.

4. What do you like best about your new Kentucky home?

So far the climate. The people here are very open and friendly as well.

5. What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?
My Website is: Next up is a cozy mystery releasing in January. Pieces of the Past is a part of the Patchwork Mysteries series from Guideposts. The books are writing by various authors. Also in January, a collection containing all three of my Alaska books will release as Alaska Weddings (from Barbour). And Homicide at Blue Heron Lake (Book 1 in the Mainely Mysteries series my daughter Megan wrote with me) will release in hardcover, large print—from Thorndike Press. After that, look for Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, a new, standalone historical book coming in April from Summerside Press. All of these can be seen on my website or, and most of my books are also available at and fine bookstores everywhere.

Susan will be giving away one copy of The Blacksmith's Bravery. Leave a comment for your chance to win.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Last month I missed Mom because of a book she would have loved.

This month I cried myself silly, missing mother and daughter, after reading Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. A young, unmarried mother, is dying, and has to decide who will care for her daughter after her death. I raced through the book and didn't realize how close I felt to the story until the epilogue--when the daughter, now a grown woman, reads her mother's journal.

Oh, Mom. Oh, Jolene.

A wonderful, compelling story.

I also read some new authors: Dead Reckoning, by Ronie Kondig; a terrific romantic suspense; and my first "bugman" books, Shoofly Pie by Tim Downs. Both excellent!

I also recommend a thoughtful mystery called In the Wind by Barbara Fister. The mystery compares the Patriot Act with some of the government actions during the Vietnam war. No one is all good or bad in this thoughtprovoking story.

What good books have you read lately?

Friday, November 5, 2010


Today it is my privilege to welcome the talented Stephanie Whitson to my blog. The description of 16 Brides caught my attention: (and before you get far in the book, you can identify the ladies in the picture by their clothing)

In 1872, sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledging community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.

Stephanie, your tagline on your website says “A Patchwork Life.” Tell me a little more about that.

I came to writing fiction because of women’s history. Textile history--most particularly, quilt history--has always fascinated me because of the women those quilts represent. I’m an amateur textile historian (with a book on sod house homemakers and their quilts coming out next year), and patchwork has been a big part of my life for many years. I’ve had a quilt pattern company, sold and designed sewing-related pewter jewelry, been an antique quilt dealer, taken several classes in antique fabric dating and quilt appraisal, and currently volunteer at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

Patchwork provides symbolism for women’s lives and the Christian walk. As a public speaker, I offer a menu of lectures and talks. My personal faith journey, which I illustrate with quilts, is titled “A Patchwork Life.” I also do a couple of quilt lectures, “Calico Trails” about pioneer women and “Quilts and the Sod House Experience.” Both of those involve schlepping suitcases filled with quilts. I love it!

I picked up Sixteen Brides because of the rather extreme twist on the familiar mail-order bride story. What inspired this story?

Real history reflected in a 1902 article in a small town Nebraska newspaper. The text was almost exactly the same as the back cover copy on the novel. The headline read ATTRACTIVE WIDOWS (all in caps just like that!) and the article went on to talk about the women who’d arrived in town to file on claims. When I tracked down the background and the real women’s stories, imaginary women began to form in my mind, and I knew I had to pursue it. I always say that “what really happened is more interesting than anything I could make up,” and the more I read about women of the past, the more convinced I am that that’s true.

Your first book was published in 1995. Tell me what changes you have experienced first hand in the Christian fiction field.

When Thomas Nelson bought the manuscript that became Walks the Fire (and offered a three-book contract based on an unfinished manuscript) I was an unpublished first-time author without an agent. Nelson was still accepting unsolicited submissions. (Imagine that.) Since then, things have gotten much more complicated, much more competitive, and much more difficult. I cannot imagine attempting a writing life without an agent who not only knows the industry but also believes in what I’m doing.

Everyone is experiencing the results of the recent downturn in the economy, and publishers are no exception. They are being forced to be much more conservative in their willingness to take a chance on new writers and much more careful about the ratio between sales and advances for everyone else. For a mid-list author like me, it is more difficult than ever to remain published. I’ve known what it’s like to receive a three-book contract based on an idea (no synopsis, no sample chapters--just a paragraph for an editor to take into a meeting). Those days are gone for mid-list authors. My most recent contract came after several proposals were rejected. I re-wrote the one that was finally accepted several times (and with help from another very gracious best-selling author). I also waited a very long time while committees and marketing gurus pondered potentials and ran their mysterious numbers.

A “yes” is much more difficult to come by these days. Writing is more of a walk of faith than ever. It’s important for me to remember that God’s purpose for me is just as sure as it was back in the day when things seemed easier. Times are uncertain. God isn’t.

How true! What are you currently working on?

A Most Unsuitable Match, my 2011 release with Bethany House about a deceased banker’s daughter who heads up the Missouri on a steamboat in 1869 to look for her only living relative in extremely remote and rustic Fort Benton, Montana.
Quilt-themed historical romance for Barbour.
A non-fiction quilt history/pattern book for Kansas City Star Books.

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

Hearing from readers who’ve either found Christ or been encouraged in their walk with the Lord as a result of one of my books. It never ceases to amaze and humble me that God does use Christian fiction to change lives. That’s not a cliché.

How do you stay inspired as a writer, when the daily grind threatens to wear you down?

By reading real history and continuing to visit museums and historical sites. I’m working on my master’s degree in history right now, and the reading assignments are difficult, but they always seem to contain nuggets that make me wonder “what was that like?” Sometimes they also upset me with the way they seem to exclude the women’s side of history. For example, I recently read a new biography of Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan. Bryan’s wife got a law degree and learned a foreign language so she could help her husband. I think she got a total of maybe six paragraphs of mention in a book that ran for several hundred pages. GGGRRRRRR.

Grrr is right! In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

I don’t think that “success” has changed me personally, because I’ve been very careful not to take myself too seriously. By that I mean that I hold the publishing contracts and the books in an open hand, realizing that at any moment this career could be over. Writing is a strange job. The one thing that will ensure that I get to keep doing it is the one thing over which I have least control. That’s sales. Excellence doesn’t mean the books will sell. My promotional efforts don’t mean enough books will sell. However, if the books don’t sell, I won’t have a job for long. Yet another way that writing keeps me humble!

I remain an introvert who would rather hide in the archives learning about dead people than do book signings or teach writing or give public lectures or speak at women’s events. I never feel prepared enough to give a talk and I never take the opportunity lightly. Because I’m not an extrovert, I realize that all the speaking opportunities that come my way truly are from the Lord, because they aren’t something I would naturally seek out. Public speaking is the most surprising part of the writing career God’s provided me.

As a writer, I have had to change my thought process from, “this is fun,” to “this is my job and people are depending on me to do it well.” It’s become a profession with regular office hours and over-riding demands on my personal schedule. That’s something I never envisioned when, back in 1994, I began playing with an imaginary friend named Jesse King.

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

At, folks can register to receive notification about new book releases.
A Most Unsuitable Match releases in the fall of 2011.
Quilts and the Sod House Experience releases in April of 2011.

At, author friend Nancy Moser and I share anecdotes about the real history behind our stories. Nancy writes about Gilded Age New York (her recent release Masquerade is a romance about a maid and an English lady who switch places--much to the surprise of the lady’s intended :-)). I share tidbits about western pioneer women (although I did post about Secretariat the other day because I met him and wanted to talk about it). Occasionally we have a guest author share about the real story behind the story.

Thanks for being our guest today, Stephanie!

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of 16 Brides (as well as for one of my books).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I confess, I just don't get it.

A year and a half has passed since I moved from Colorado to Oklahoma. I have listened to the recent election coverage with great interest and a certain sense of disbelief. I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but their reasons for running confounded me.

People campaigning for judge ran numerous radio ads. For a judge? Interesting, informative information--but they weren't running for a statewide office.

One candidate said illegal immigration was the greatest problem facing Oklahoma. Huh? We're not even a border state.

Candidate after candidate listed their heartfelt beliefs ... and I only agreed with a few. I feel like I've moved to a different country, where I don't quite "get" the local culture. I met a mechanic who can't wait to move out to the country where he can have all the guns he wants. (Yes, I'm exagerrating. It's called hyperbole.)

I rest in the knowledge that the people elected are allowed in their positions by the Lord. And pray for them, whatever their stripe.

Jari Askins, Democratic candidate in Oklahoma's historic all-female gubernatorial race, gave a gracious concession speech. Her belief in the people of Oklahoma and her commitment to continue service, regardless of the political affiliation of the office holders, made an impression on me. "I may be leaving this office [lieutenant governor] on inauguration day, but I will not be leaving Oklahoma behind."

I can feel your heartbeat, Oklahoma, even when I don't understand. The Heartland of America is a great place to live.


There were fewers comments last month, therefore fewer winners, probably thanks to my lack of posting!

But congratulations to our October winners! Will the following individuals please contact me at belovedfranklin at msn dot com with their mailing address:

Winners of any of my books:

  • Carolyn Boyles
  • Carol Wong

Winner of Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer:

  • Barb Shelton.