Sunday, December 25, 2011
The carol service was a special blessing. I played carols while the choir sang. Jaran was there with his entire family. Jordan observed me carefully when I joined the family later, and chose the hymnal from the rack as we sang carols together. I'm not sure which one of us was prouder, me of her, or her of me. (Jaran said she seemed quite impressed that Grandma was playing the piano. I had forgotten she hadn't seen me play before.)
Friends brought me welcome gifts. A daily planner. A comforter for my bed. A box of chocolates. Jaran brought me Christmas dinner and gifts today. :) A lovely, soft, deep purple shawl, and a wireless router so that hopefully I can have faster internet service.
I''ve watched a ton of Christmas movies this season. Two stood at as being exceptionally well told (IMO). In I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, a young boy sees his mother kissing Santa Claus--and thinks his parents are getting a divorce, and tries to drive Santa Claus away by his bad behavior. Another was A Diva's Christmas, a retelling of A Christmas Carol starring Vanessa Williams. They updated the familiar story in thought-provoking ways, although the arrival of the three spirits was as unlikely as ever.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. . .
Monday, December 19, 2011
Jordan felt it was necessary to introduce me to everyone, as if I didn't know Savannah or Shannon. She didn't mention Isaiah's name. And she proudly announced her own full name, Jordan Elizabeth Franklin. (Another J.E.F., just like my beloved Jolene Elizabeth). She showed me her backpack and couldn't wait to take her place (by me, of course) at the princess-themed table. (She LOVES the princesses).
I bought enough of Pizza Hut's meaty marinara and chicken alfredo for 6-8 people, and we cleaned most of it up. When Jaran told me Shannon thought she wouldn't like either dish, we both grinned at her three helpings of alfredo. My aide bought letter candles that spelled "Happy Birthday" (since the store wouldn't decorate the cake for us). Only problem was the first candle was almost half gone before the last candle was lit . . .
Jaran slipped in the DVD for Neverending Story (how wonderful to watch my grandbabies enjoy the same movies I first discovered with my own babies). When the horse died, I pretended to cry. Jordan took one look at me and said "Oh, Grandma." She was rolling her eyes at me . . .
I recorded a book for Jordan while she was there. Jaran told me that as soon as they got home, she took out that book and listened to it over and over, and called Isaiah over. "Bubba! It's Grandma!"
Even Talia took part in the festivities, staying with the seven of us in the living room, retreating to her "safe spot" between four chair legs when Isaiah got too close. It's fun to watch Jordan protecting Isaiah.
Precious memories. Hannukah starts tomorrow evening. More to come . . .
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
At some point I stopped watched sitcoms (except in reruns, as fill in shows!) I'm not sure why. I still like dramedies . . .I'm a huge fan of Monk (Tony Shaloub is nothing short of brilliant!) and Psych and the "character" driven shows on USA. I love Simon Baker as Patrick Jayne in The Mentalist.
This season, the previews for New Girl intrigued me, so I tried it out. Tuned out after ten minutes.
Watched the entire premiere of Last Man Standing and an episode from Up All Night. I enjoyed both very much, although I haven't added them to my regular viewing habits.
I have, in those half-hour bits and pieces, also seen episodes of Seinfeld, New Adventures of Old Christine, Two and a Half Men, Frasier, even the dreaful That Seventies Show.
I think what it comes down to: I find most sitcoms unbelievable. The characters are often stereotypes; but so is Tim Allen in Last Man Standing and so certainly were all four main characters on All in the Family. Yet those actors--and the writers behind them--took the steoreotypes to a place where I could relate.
Or is it the aspect of family sitcoms? I can identify with parents raising teenagers, or even Christina Applegate's turn as a harried working mom with an infant at home. I understand the characters.
Or is it I don't want to laugh at something I find inherently distasteful--the sexual antics that abound in That Seventies Show or Two and a Half Men?
I'm not a New Yorker . . . or a young single adult . . . I don't have much in common with Seinfeld or Friends.
Am I just "humor-challenged," as I have described myself? Narrow interests? Or does the writing and acting make all the difference between what I like or don't like?
Probably a combination of all three.
***AND REJOICING IN!***
Here is the cover for A Bride's Rogue in Roma, Texas, due out from Barbour next fall:
Friday, December 2, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
My stepfather must be on my mind (I blogged about him a few week's ago). One of the movies featured a much thinner Terry Gillespie (that is the actor's name who played John Locke on Lost, isn't it?) With his cap on, he looked a lot like Leighton.
Thansgiving night I spent with Jaran and his family. What can I say? Grandma time! Jordan adores having me around. She demands all of my attention; if my eyes drift away from her, it's "Grandma! Look at me!" doing something adorable, of course. She makes up for Isaiah taking one look at me and crying . . .
The national networks actually changed games in mid-stream and broadcast the end of the Broncos' game here in OK! And to my delight, I learned that my favorite football team has won 5 games with Tim Tebow at QB. And John Elway looks as handsome at fifty as he did at forty.
Countdown time on finishing Bride's Rogue in Roma, Texas. Only about 11K words left to write. It better get done this week!
And the Christmas rush begins . . .
Sunday, November 20, 2011
A familiar topic and a familiar verse, but which struck me anew.
In everything give thanks.
And I realized anew that includes days like this one, when all my bones and joints ache as a cold front has swept through Oklahoma. (And ache is an inadequate word for the pain that permeates my body.)
I'm not sure what that looks like. Only that even in this trial, which I would gladly pass on to someone else, I must seek His strength in my weakness, and glorify Him.
God is good, all the time.
Even when it doesn't seem like it.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
He fought it and overcame it, staying sober for more than twenty years before his death. But I was thinking back to the first time I became aware that he had a problem. I spent the summer after my freshman year of college at home (they married that spring). During those weeks, his oldest son died in a car accident.
Leighton came into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of whiskey, and said "Sometimes I just have to."
At the time it happened, I had no empathy (I had never met his son and was overwhelmed with the changes the marriage had made in my life) and little sympathy. And while he was struggling with the choking hold of grief, he had to deal with me--a judgmental, bewildered and bewildering stepdaughter.
Only this morning did the correlation hit me with the proverbial ton of bricks. Leighton's son must have been close to my daughter's age when he died.
Oh, Leighton, how much more I understand. How my heart aches for you. How I wish I could revisit that summer, and be more. . .supportive. . .than I was. No parent should have to bury their child, although it happens all too often. I can even admit how hard it must have been to have me underfoot--living, breathing--when he had lost his own son.
So Leighton, if you have any awareness of what is happening down here, I offer my heart to join with yours.
And together we can reach out to other's in pain.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
(By the way, if you're looking for a good resource book, kids' book, such as If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, give you the kind of hands-on details that help to bring a book to life. Adult books concentrate on the whys and wherefores).
Talia (my cat) spent most of yesterday complaining to me. I couldn't figure out why. Clean litter, plenty of food and water. . .
Last night, all the cats and the dogs in the neighborhood camped in my back yard, creating a huge rumpus. Maybe it wasn't my back yard, but it sounded like it.
Then at 10 minutes before 11, while I'm lying down, my bed starts to shake. My lamp is shaking. Everything in the room is shaking.
Surprising Talia doesn't make a sound.
The room continues rattling for long enough for me to figure out "this must be an earthquake" and even long enough for me to begin to worry. Then it stopped (although my lamp continued trembling off and on.)
Jolene's book mentioned the strange behavior of animals on the days leading up to the earthquake. I decide that is created the three-ring circus in my backyard.
So now if I ever need to describe an earthquake, I can extrapolate from personal experience.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Sunday was one of those days.
- I slept for one hour. (Had to get up to make it to choir rehearsal before Sunday school because we were singing)
- Managed to stay awake for sermon and play piano for the choir.
- Got to the pharmacy five minutes after it closed for lunch.
- By the time we got back to the pharmacy, my credit card had dropped out of sight.
- The keys got locked in the car.
- By the time I got home, six hours after I left, I was in a lot of pain.
It was a day I don't want to repeat.
Monday was one of those days.
- I slept through the night, ten solid hours.
- I met my writing goal.
- I sent in a proposal.
- I received a lovely endorsement for my next book, A Ranger's Trail (coming out in February).
I wouldn't mind more days like Monday.
But you know what?
Both days are days the Lord made!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Oh, the joy of being with other writers. How I've needed it. How I've missed it. Between deadlines and surgery, I've only made it to two other meetings this year.
Add to the fellowship the usual "buzz" I feel after I've presented a successful workshop (Mine was on "Settings that Shine.")
Having friends from Tulsa stop by just to see me.
The energy I received! When I got home, I sat and finished a chapter that had been driving me crazy all week.
The writing community is an amazing family. Their ministry to my family at the time of my daughter's death was a great testimony to my mother. And it always amazes that among Christian writers, the denominational differences that divide so much of christendom simply melt away. A common calling and passion unite us.
The experience reminded me of the importance of staying connected via my blog, Facebook, or whatever. For my sake. And maybe I have something to offer you as well.
Monday, October 3, 2011
One of the benefits of the explosion of cable TV in recent years is that we have new programming almost year-round. I spend my summers watching TNT and USA, Lifetime and A&E. (Yes, I watch WAY too much television.)
But now it's time to settle back for the big 3 networks plus Fox. Pluses and minuses for the new series (all drama. I never seem to watch comedies except in reruns) I've also ignored the new reality entries, X Factor and Sing-Off:
Terra Nova: The story instantly drew me in (unlike this summer's Falling Skies). I also like the strong family element. It's good to envision a future where families are still at the center of our culture! And I like the way they use the children to show different reactions to going 85 million years into the past.
Unforgettable: In spite of my great liking for the mystery genre, I found this rather boring.
Revenge: I actively disliked this show. In my second Texas Trails book, A Ranger's Trail, I explore vengeance vs. justice. . . I like my take better. LOL.
The two sixties dramas; Playboy Club vs. Pan Am: I only got through about half of Playboy Club and won't go back. Besides the obvious sexual overtones, it takes a heavy-handed approach to issues ranging from homosexuality to bulimia. Pan Am,on the other hand, breathes the spirit of Camelot into the show through four well-defined and interesting stewardesses.
Charlie's Angels: I didn't watch a lot of the original series. But it's fun to watch these angels kick the bad guys' butts and Bosley is sexy this time around.
Person of Interest: I love the premise. And it's great to have Ben back with us. I enjoyed this version of a mystery!
Prime Suspect: I was curious as to how they would recreate Helen Mirren's career-making role. I find this Jayne to be sassy, smart, strong. A definite plus to the mystery genre. If nothing else, I love her hat!
What have you seen that liked? Hated? Feel free to chime in on those comedies as well.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
But oh, it feels so good to have the books in my hands.
Also, it took all week (problems with the aides helping me post-surgery) but at last I have bundled up all promised books to potential influencers and sent them out. Yay! Now I'll be awaiting interviews and reviews with baited breath.
Oh, and at the recent ACFW conference, editor Becky Germany announced they will be awarding a contract for a Christmas novella for next year, Postmark: Christmas, to Paige Winship Dooley, Kathy Kovach, Paula Moldenhauer and me. This is Paula's first book contract, so rejoice with her especially!
And I have even made progress in writing.
I can tell I'm over the surgery. My old problems are back. Leg cramps and imsomnia at night. As long as my body was healing, I fell into an instant deep sleep and stayed that way for eight solid hours. Not anymore. Sigh.
On the plus side, I've made it to choir rehearsal and ladies' Bible study for two weeks, so praise the Lord!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Are they cat people or dog people?
And if I can't answer that question, I don't know my character well enough.
Because cat people tend to be independent, solitary--introverted. They live parallel lives to their cats, with mutual support and affection, a relationship between two equals.
And dog people. . .well, dogs respond to the alpha dog. They treat their humans as their "alpha dogs." More social. A dog person likes taking care of the dog. Their relationship is more of master and servant.
I'm not saying one is better than the other. Or that one cannot like both cats and dogs. These are general remarks.
And yes, I'm a cat person.
Mom, Jolene and I went to the pet shelter together. (Oh Mom! Oh Jolene!) Mom wanted kittens; I wanted an adult cat who had a harder time finding a home. I wanted two cats; she wanted only one. So we reached a compromise. We would either get two kittens or one adult cat.
We quickly fell in love with Talia, with her Siamese blue eyes and seal point tail, ears and paws, although tiger stripes covered her face and body over a beige coat. I called her a "Si-Ti" (Siamese Tiger) mix until I learned she's a rare breed, a lynx point Siamese. She's gorgeous. She quickly filled out. All our cats do; I think it's the auto-feeder that does it.
So now Talia and I live our separate but intersecting lives in my nice cool Oklahoma home (those of you suffering the 100 degree heat with me know what a blessing that is!).
I wonder if she ever thinks of Mom (Mom 1. I'm Mom 2) or Auntie Jolene.
Oh, and by the way? In my current project, Blanche, my heroine, is a cat person, and Ike, the hero, is a dog person.
***FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY OF LONE STAR TRAIL AT http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/. Also check out my interview at rivernorthfiction.com about Lone Star Trail.***
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Then I persevered through writing my next, and as it turns out, my last book for Heartsong Presents. The bookclub which gave me my start is closing at the end of the year; I'm not certain what form my book, Pride's Fall, together with the other two titles from Carla Gade and Susan Davis in our "Love in Four Corners" collection.
But . . . now that book is finished. I am taking a week's vacation. (I slept about 30 hours in 2 days' time. Does that give you an idea how tired I was?!)
My publicist tells me I should get my copies of Lone Star Trail sometime during the third week of August! Coming oh so soon!
River North Fiction (the imprint of Moody Press) is doing things right for the Texas Trails series. We even have our own website! Check out
http://texastrailsfiction.com/. Look at the trailer while you're there . . . it's amazing. Wande is radiant and perfect!
Reviews of Lone Star Trail are popping up all over the place:
I even have my first-ever review in Romantic Times (4 stars!)
Can you tell I'm excited?!
I look forward to connecting back with my fellow authors, readers, and friends.
Monday, June 6, 2011
First let me introduce the sequel to my first-ever book, Romanian Rhapsody. Plainsong is the second book in my Colorado Melodies of Love collection . Two hopeless romantics fall in love at first sight, but can their love survive tests of faith? Plainsong will be released by the Heartsong Presents bookclub later this month. At that time, t should be available directly from Barbour Publishing (and later through Amazon).
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The question occured to me: We hear about the ones who win it all--from Super Bowl winning MVPs to the Miami Heat's Big Three to Li Na and Rafael Nadal. But how do the people at the bottom of the food chain feel: the players on the practice squad, the players who receive minimum salaries--the players whom the current NFL lookout might actually hurt. Players on the minor league level. Are they happy with their spot in the sports hierarchy? Or have only those who win it all succeeded?
I suspect a lot of players are happy just to play the game. (For anyone who's seen the movie The Rookie, about a 30-something baseball rookie who decides the minor leagues are worth it, because "Tonight I get to play baseball.")
For the past two years, I have supported myself by writing books and articles. It's taken me almost two decades to reach this point. I'm a professional writer.
I'm not the MVP. I am happy just to be a part of the team.
It's time to stand up for the little guy.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Here in the "heartland," Memorial Day is a big deal. Patriotism, Mom and apple pie are all rolled together, and we are reminded, as we ought to be, of the sacrifice men and women have made--continue to make--in defense of the freedom I enjoy.
My thoughts run to Memorial Day three years ago, when during the service, they listed the names of everyone in the church body who had died during the past twelve months. Last on the list: Jolene Elizabeth Franklin. Oh, Jolene. But it's more of a mosquito bite than a snake's venom. A mild annoyance. Instead, I thank God that my family--going back to my grandfather's service in World War I, my uncle's service in World War II, my father in the Korean war, my ex-husband during the VietNam era--all of them came through, unhurt. Neither I nor my children would be here today if they had fallen. At least not the "me" I am.
Because of the drama inherent in war, all of my historical novels have strong ties to war. Wow, I just realized that.
- Revolutionary War: In Prodigal Patriot, Josiah Tuttle is torn between honoring his (Tory) Father and following his conscience in support of the revolution.
- War of 1812: Both Calvin Tuttle (Bridge to Love) and Sam Hathaway (Beacon of Love) are veterans of the war and carry scars.
- Civil War: Daniel Tuttle (Love's Raid) lost his arm in battle and feels less than a man.
- Texas' War for Independence and the War with Mexico form the backdrop for the upcoming Lone Star Trail.
- And lastly, the Mason County War, an ugly ethnic/range war, is at the heart of my current WIP, A Ranger's Trail.
At least I have avoided the wars in my novellas . . .
Thank you, to all who have served and given their all in defense of our country.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
And speaking of thunder, the OKC Thunder are playing in the Western Conference finals. The excitement in town reminds of the buzz when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup during their first year in Denver--and several years later, when at last John Elway and the Broncos won the Super Bowl (on their fifth attempt? something like that.) Madness, euphoria--watercooler talk gone mad. Everyone in the city is talking about it.
I love sports. I think given the incentive, I would have enjoyed them as a child. However, the only sport my mother had interest in was boxing. She listened to fights on the radio with her father; maybe they heard the now-famous bout between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis.
But I remember following the Red Sox during the Yaz years. . . and I had to attend all forty high school football games as part of the marching band (in four years we only won or tied ten of those games).
In college our soccer team competed in the national tournament for Christian colleges. We were good.
But my keen interest in professional sports developed in my years as a single mother. Two events stand out in my mind:
Watching Jimmy Connors rise to the quarter-finals of the US Open--a man not much older than I was, defying the odds. I stayed up until midnight, watching him play, and then fell asleep, exhausted.
Denver was the first (the only!) four-sport city I lived in. I made it to hockey, baseball, and basketball games (both my kids got to see the Broncos. I didn't. Boo hoo)
I remember the Rockies' first year, when they played in the old Coors Field. I watched EY's (Eric Young) home runs to begin and end the season, and the "Big Cat"'s (Andres Gallaraga) pursuit of the batting title. We sat on aluminum bleechers, that thundered under thousands of stomping feet. The fence was so low, I felt like I could reach out and touch the legends of the game--stars like David Justice and Steve Avery of the World Series Champion Atlanta Braves.
I was in Denver for two Stanley Cup wins by the Colorado Avalanche, two Superbowl wins by the Denver Broncos, and one World Series appearance by the Colorado Rockies. And I loved it.
This year the Denver Nuggets played the OKC Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
I was rooting for the Thunder.
I guess I really have become an Oklahoman.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Let's just say they were brutal. And I was prepared for a quiet, but not agonizing, holiday. Jaran's focus must be on his wife, the mother of his children. I wouldn't have it any other way.
But Friday night he called with an invitation to dinner last night. The simple joys of sitting with my son, his beautiful, sweet wife, and the two grandchildren of my body . . . what more could I want?
Jordan called me "Grandma" for the first time this week--and it felt almost as special as hearing Jaran call me "mama" for the first time all those years ago.
The joys of motherhood and grandmotherhood:
- Listening to Jordan squeal as we play a game of Peek a Boo.
- Applauding for her "concert" of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
- Accepting her gift of macaroni and cheese spooned from her plate onto mine.
- Having her cry "Happy to you!" when I opened my gift
- Holding Isaiah and making him laugh
- Watching Isaiah stare at me, a smile fixed on his face, while Shelley feeds him dinner.
- Listening to my son make one of his silly jokes.
- Accepting hugs and kisses from Jordan.
- Hearing Shelley say "sometimes when Jordan laughs she looks so much like Jolene. . ."
- Enjoying music with my granddaughter--she must be my flesh and blood if she loves music (Shelley says Isaiah is the same way)
Last night, and today, I feel joy, peace, happiness, and none of the wrenching sense of loss of the last three years. I miss Mom and Jolene. But for today, I am thankful for what I have.
I thank God for today's sunshine.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
But I don't want to dwell on that so I decided to look at a famous recluse/writer: Emily Dickinson. And the little I've done blows me away. So I thought I would use her words to describe some of my recent experiences.
Glee! The storm is over!
For me, that's the latest "storm" of edits which I completed on Lone Star Trail. I don't want to complain so let's just say they were thorough ... exhaustive ... and I was glad to turn them in on Friday.
If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.
I am judging in the Carol contest again this year ... so far a couple of books have had that effect on me.
They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about spiritual drought--I appreciated everyone's feedback. Things are a little better.
Forever is composed of nows.
Jolene used to say the best advice I gave her was "seize the day." I woke her up at midnight on Millenium Eve--how few people in all of history have experienced it! Dickinson captured the same thought, in words of poetry.
And thinking of Jolene, and Mom, how about--Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.
Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.
I am aged before my years. I find myself turning into my mother. This week I had a ramp installed at the house so I no longer have to fear the stairs.
And for a final thought ... as beautiful a statement of purpose as I have ever read ... consider the poet's words: If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain
Happy May Day.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Our pastor led us in the ancient tradition of calling "He is risen!" and responding "He is risen indeed!" Nothing like hearing that cry echo across the sanctuary.
We sang my favorite Easter hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today (written by Charles Wesley the same person who wrote my favorite Christmas hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and one of my favorite hymns, And Can It Be?)
The choir lifted the Lord high with a medley of Crown Him King of Kings/Crown Him with Many Crowns (and I didn't play too many incorrect notes as I accompanied them.)
It even rained, a good, hard, drenching rain, something we have needed badly. (Of course the rain caused my hip to give out and has given me agony all day but it doesn't change the blessing of the moisture.)
Our pastor challenged us--Where is Jesus' body? He gave the obvious answer, and yet it was one I hadn't thought of. It is here. We are His body.
Just as three years ago, Jolene's death was still fresh and immediate in my heart on Easter Sunday, today, one of our church families mourned a beloved father--and rejoiced in the victory of Jesus' resurrection.
And I thought of my beloved ones--Mom, Gramma, Jolene, friends and family--already in heaven. Casting their crowns at Jesus' feet. Singing a hallelujah chorus to the risen Lamb. My beloved Jolene, who couldn't carry a tune here on earth, singing perfect praises in heaven. For she loved to sing, and she loved to praise the Lord.
The more of those I love go on ahead, the more I look forward to joining their number.
But for now, I pray that I will be faithful to the part He has given me in His body. That through my stumbling, all-too-often-inconsistent attempts, people will see His love and He will be glorified.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
- The book under development.
- The book being written.
- The book being edited
- The book being marketed.
The problem for writers is that we tend to only schedule book #2--the book being written.
I wailed and carried on but managed to submit one Heartsong and one novella on February 1st and my first book for Moody, Lone Star Trail, on March 18th. I took a deep breath, took a week off from serious writing, and dived back into A Ranger's Trail (second book for Moody). Of course, one of the consequences of submitting a manuscript is that you get it back . . . for edits, sometimes more than once. For marketing. For cover art and copy. For galley proofs.So in addition to starting A Ranger's Trail, since the first of April (hey, maybe this is my April fools' joke) I've had the following added to my to-do list.
- Develop marketing material for Texas Trails for Moody (done, except for the stuff that has to be mailed)
- Write additional material for Lone Star Trail at editor's request (done)
- Answer questions from a different editor on Lone Star Trails (done)
- Look at the changes made to Lone Star Trails and think about how I need to shape A Ranger's Trail (ongoing)
- Proof the galley for Plainsong (in process)
- Approve the cover art for Plainsong (done)
- Complete a cover art sheet for a book still not officially contracted (in process)
- Write two blog posts for the Heartsong authors blog to coincide with the release of Love's Raid next month (in process)
- Complete a proposal requested by an editor (in process)
- Write 7 devotions already contracted.
- Expecting edits for this year's Christmas novella, First Christmas in Christmas at Barncastle Inn. (expected)
- NEWS. Go over contracts for two more--count them, yes, two--books. I'll announce more later when the contracts are finalized. (in process)
Is it any wonder I've fallen a little behind on my writing goals?
Would I have it any other way?
Nah. Of course not.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
One of the first things a survivor of abuse learns is you don't feel what you feel. You don't know what you know. If I never felt low lows, I also never knew high highs either. My emotions swung through a limited range, hovering around a mild depression. The paucity of emotional connection brought my chosen career in music to an abrupt halt.
Since I have addressed most of the issues surrounding my childhood, once again I can feel enormous elation. The sale of my first book! The birth of a grandchild! The successful performance of a Christmas program!
I also feel deep grief. When the news announced that Liz Taylor died at age 79, I googled her birthdate: February 27, 1932. She was 15 days younger than my mother. I had never thought of Liz and Mom as contemporaries, but they were. And somehow the icon Taylor's death brought up grief for Mom all over again.
How about fear and confusion? I felt those in abundance, when my editor raised unexpected questions about the manuscript for Lone Star Trail.
Add physical trauma to the emotional roller coaster of the week, and I could say it's been. . .interesting. I fell down head to toe last Sunday. No broken bones but a hipful of bruised ligaments left me in pain, nearly immobile, and easily tired.
The beauty for me as a Christian is that in pain or at ease, whether in the deepest depths or dwelling on high, God is faithful. He walks with me through everything, and His grace sustains me.
Praise the Lord.
By the way. . .in spite of the changes my editor requested, she also said, "The department head is very excited about it. Historical romance is a departure for Moody and I feel that we have the best possible writing for our foray into the genre." In fact, she says they are all "abuzz" about it. Their excitement tells me all is well.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
March in Oklahoma is a delight. The dogwoods and redwoods and crabapple trees come into bloom. My lilac bush is blooming. The weather is the all-round perfect temperature, 70 degrees. It's been a gorgeous month.
Today brought April showers a few days early. We need rain, even if my bones don't like it. As I hobbled through the damp air into church, I passed a pair of geese. Our nesters have returned! What joy and anticipation they brought to us last year.
God has also brought "showers of blessings" on me this week as well. He's opened several more doors wide open for me. I'm still pinching myself that my dream of writing fulltime has come true . . . and telling myself if I continue to act totally surprised at each development, people will get tired of hearing about it. Work is always a blessing and welcome, but perhaps it's time I accept that "yes, it's really happening."
Unfortunately, today's "showers" also found me slipping on the floor of the restaurant . . . falling from head to toe on my left side. . . no broken bones, PTL! But bruised and sore muscles surrounding a severely arthritic hip. Not fun.
I'll end on a grandma note. Ate dinner with the kids on Friday night. Isaiah laughed and played with me. Jordan thumbed through my latest release (Love's Raid) from beginning to end. I suspect she was looking for pictures between the covers! Or maybe she noticed my picture at the front. And today she serenaded me with a variety of nursery rhymes. Fun times! (More showers of blessings!)
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Book Lover's Devotional includes a devotional, basic facts, and questions for further thought about sixty works of literature, from the children's book The Little Engine That Could to classics like Don Quixote to contemporary masterpieces such as Gilead. And yes, five of the devotionals are mine (The Grapes of Wrath, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Roots, A Scandal in Bohemia, and A Tale of Two Cities) The book is a gem, and I say so even though I won't make another penny no matter how many copies sell.
I told Jim, "I believe all good literature--and movies and television--includes elements of spiritual truths. It's part of what makes them so good."
For example: I have recently started watching a Scifi series called Being Human. Definitely not my usual cup of tea; I don't go in for vampire stories in general.
Being Human is about three roommates: a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost. Their central problem: They once were human; now they are not. And oh, how they long for someone to restore them to their original state.
It doesn't take long to see the connection with the gospel.
When God created mankind, we were very good. He said so. We were perfect. And then Eve and Adam sinned and no person since then has enjoyed the perfection our first ancestors did (except Jesus, of course). And like Aidan, Josh and Sally, we hunger to return.
Only God did what this TV series only dreams of: He made the way for us to be restored--through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Of course, that is the glaring lack in this series. No salvation is possible. But it points to the need.
The next time you read a wonderful book, see a powerful movie, or sit down to watch your favorite TV series, ponder the question: what about this story reminds me of eternal truths? I'd love to hear your answers.
From one who is mourning the death of her favorite author, Dick Francis. I just learned he died a year ago, about the same time Mom did. His books echo with eternal truths time and again, although they are in no way Christian literature.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
In some ways, Kayla couldn't be more different than Jolene. Tall, slender, and fair, where Jolene was short, stocky, and dark. Kayla lives with a serious physical illness, but in other respects appears to be a "normal" (whatever that means), well-adjusted teen. Jolene never fit in in all her almost twenty-four years. Although Jolene loved music, she had a deaf ear. Kayla has a beautiful voice.
But in other ways they are alike. Teachers described Jolene as "articulate," and she wrote breathtaking poetry. Kayle is a published novelist. Writers, both of them.
Both of them love the Lord and know His word. I use the present tense for that with Jolene, for surely in heaven, her love for the Lord is perfect and complete.
And for one hour on a Wednesday night at a recent writers' retreat, Kayla filled the gaping hole created by Jolene's death.
Kayla and her mother had led singing as we writers gathered in the living room at the retreat. After a prayer time, the writers scattered, and I took myself to the piano. Since I was a teenager, nothing calms my troubled spirit like song. Especially if I get to play. I played my way from one end of the hymnal to the other.
So I opened the hymnal and began to play and sing. Before long, Kayla reappeared and started to sing with me. She loved the hymns I introduced her to. Jolene loved hymns. Not all young people do. We alternated suggesting hymns, ending with "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
When Kayla sang with me, it felt like Jolene was at my side, smiling at me.
Thank you, Kayla, for your sweet spirit and the comfort you brought to me.
Thank you, Kayla.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The six books in the Texas Trails series cover snippets of Texas’s history from 1845 to 1896, seen through the lens of enduring love that springs up in one Texas family, the Morgans.
Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin (pub date: September 2011): Judson Morgan’s Texas roots are drenched in blood. His father died for Texas’s freedom during the war for independence. So when the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas (the Verein) attempts to colonize a New Germany in his country, he takes a stand against them. After her fiance marries someone else, a young fraulein determines to make a new life for herself in Texas—but can the rancher put aside his prejudice to forge a new future?
And since this is my title - isn't the Clint Eastwood look-alike a doll? I traveled through the Texas hill country last week and fell in love with the setting all over again.
The Long Trail Home by Vickie McDonough (pub date: October-November 2011). When Riley Morgan returns after fighting in the War Between the States, he’s excited to see his parents and his fiancée again. But he soon learns that his parents are dead, and the woman he loved is married. He takes a job at the Wilcox School for Blind Children, just to get by. He keeps his heart closed off, but a pretty blind woman threatens to steal it. When a greedy man tries to close the school, Riley and Annie band together to fight him and then fall in love. But when Riley learns the truth—that Annie isn’t really blind, he packs up, ready to leave. Will he change his mind and find the love he craves? Or will his stubbornness deprive him from the woman he needs?
Monday, February 21, 2011
I listened to a gentleman from North Carolina quiz the server at the hotel's breakfast. "Does everyone in this town (Denton) have horses?" "Are there a lot of rattlesnakes around here?"
Left me with the same sense of surprise as I had when a sportscaster interviewed Kevin Durant (NBA AllStar and OKC Thunder star). He asked "Was it hard adjusting to life in Oklahoma City when you grew up in an urban environment?"
No, OKC isn't a mega city. But it IS a city, maybe half a million strong? If that's not urban, what do you call it?
Preconceptions. We all have them. When the gentleman inquiring about horses and rattlesnakes said he came from North Carolina mountain country, I immediately thought "Appalachia" and all the preconceptions it implies.
When I lived in Colorado, I'd tell people I was from Maine. "Oh, it must be cold."
Go to Maine and say I lived in Colorado--their response? You got it. "It must be cold."
I grew up in New England, but after spending my entire adult life with the exception of maybe two years in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, I'm a westerner and love it.
What misconceptions do people have about the part of the country where you live?
Happy trails to you until we meet again. . .
Jett and Cord (I hope they survive the first leg of Amazing Race!) have more going for them than their cowboy good looks. . .
Sunday, February 13, 2011
And yet, here I am, a prolific writer of Christian romance. Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor!
I didn't start out writing romance, but somewhere in the course of my second book, my first novel, I discovered I had a knack for romance. Romance insisted on inserting itself into everything I tried to write. Eight Heartsong and four novella contracts, not to mention the two books with Moody, prove that inclination.
Why? How? The answer is as simple as it is complex: In a word--God.
One of the first workshops I attended on writing a love story--presented, if I remember correctly, by Carolyn Scheidies--taught that a love triangle is essential to a Christian romance: hero, heroine--with God at the apex.
Ah. Therein lies my ability to write of love. I have experienced abounding, unstoppable, love. A love that I cannot push away by my worst actions. A love that I did not, could not earn. A love that sought me and wooed me with something far better than chocolates or flowers or diamonds.
God's love. He loved me as a child when I was abused; He stepped in and said "no more!" and ended years of abuse. (My uncle disappeared.)
He loved me as a self-righteous teenager convinced I knew the "right" way Christians should ask.
He loved me when my dreams of a career (in music) and of family (with a divorce) lay shattered in the dust.
He loved me when both children were yanked out of my home and gave me a reason to continue living.
And then He restored so much that was lost and gave me so much more.
God's love. It's real.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
While I was mulling over a topic for this week's blog, a friend reminded me, "Valentine's Day is coming up."
Instant emotional connection: my mother's birthday is? was? February 12th. Next Saturday night. The same day as Abraham Lincoln, for those old enough to remember when we celebrated Abraham Lincoln and George Washington's birthdays separately instead of as "Presidents Day."
Tears sprang to my eyes. I want to cry. I still do. Because this is the first year Mom is celebrating her birthday in heaven. This is the start of the season . . . God be thanked, only a month. . .of those awful anniversaries:
- February 12th - Mom's birthday
- February 22nd - 1st anniversary of Mom's death
- March 13th - 3rd anniversary of Jolene's death
- March 16th - would have been Jolene's 27th birthday.
Life, for the most part, goes on. So much has changed. I am a grandma twice over, a full time writer, and Oklahoma begins to feel like home.
And yet . . .
I am still that person, the one started this blog in the aftermath of the worst loss of my life. I still experience times like this, where even the mention of the date makes me want to sob. I suspect I always will. When I think of what I wish I had done differently. When I miss Mom and Jolene fiercely it's a physical pain.
How little I appreciated the gift we had. . .the years the three of us spent together, our little trio of three generations, the joys of times shared. I treated those times as they would last forever. Now I want to go back and savor every moment. But of course I can't.
On the first anniversary of Jolene's death, God put me with a group of writers. Last year, the Saturday after Mom died on Monday, I spoke to my local group. This year, I will on retreat with a group of writers when the anniversary of Mom's death rolls around. I guess God knows the people I most need to hold me up in times of grief--my writing family.
So I know, although at the moment my heart is heavy, joy will return. God has given me peace and will carry me through this time of remembering.
P.S. Today is Super Bowl Sunday. I remember getting a bunch of snacks and watching the game with Jolene when she was in middle school . . . I suspect I'll be inundated with memories over these next few weeks.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
As a reward, I get--MORE WORK!
That's right, folks, I have received a two-book contract from Moody Publishers! Moody has contracted with Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, and me for a six book series titled Texas Trails--50 years, four generations, six couples. I am writing the first and fourth books of the series: Lone Star Trail, about the German immigration to Texas in the same year that Texas became a state. A Ranger's Trail jumps forward thirty years to the the "Hoodoo" or Mason County War and the hero is a Texas Ranger. Susan and Vickie take on stagecoaches, Indian captives, a cowboy strike, a school for the blind . . . lots of interesting tidbits of Texas history!
Oh, yes, these are TRADE LENGTH books--my first . . .
I am so excited.
Now, back to work . . .
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Did you read any really great Christian books in 2010? Of course you did! Share with everyone which books you think deserve recognition by voting in the Grace Awards, a new, reader-driven award for fiction that satisfies the soul. For all the details visit our website: http://www.grace-awards.com/
Friday, January 21, 2011
What a week. I stayed up until 4 AM on Thursday morning finishing the rough draft of Knight Music. Since the next step involves revising 70K words before February 1st, I printed out the manuscript for First Christmas and read it, expecting the worst.
And instead I discovered it was actually pretty good. In the story, Waverly Coe, a young unmarried mother, works as a veterinarian’s assistant to Dr. Alec Ross. In addition to his practice, he also serves as animal specialist for the Barncastle Inn. As they involve guests in celebrating the First Christmas, can they see past their circumstances to celebrate their first Christmas together?
What can I say? Relief. I've been suffering through a drought of doubt and discouragement that has lasted, more or less, for four months (ever since I handed in my last manuscript on October 1st.). Yes, I've persevered. I've had a content edit, a copy edit, and two galley proofs. I've submitted a novella proposal and completed the rough drafts of two manuscripts. All the while wondering if the bad writing that plagued my last manuscript would haunt me into my next project. Worrying that Barbour might decide they don't trust me as much as they thought they did. Despairing that I just wasn't good enough to break into longer, trade length books that would pay more.
So I sent out an email to friends, rejoicing that at last I felt the despair had lifted. And my dear, wise friend Karla J. wrote back:
Funny how . . . in the midst of it . . . courage feels exactly like fear. And faith, when you are staying true to what God has called you to do when things aren't going well . . . feels exactly like doubt.
Her comment set me back on my feet. Courage? What courage? I had worried and fretted away many days and wasted valuable time better spent pursuing leads. Faith? What faith? I had doubted I could meet my current commitments, let alone grow in new areas.
And yet. . .and yet. . .I had persevered. In spite of my fear, I wrote and wrote and wrote some more, trusting God to help me get it right, no matter how many tries it might take. And isn't that the essence of courage, acting in spite of fear? There is no courage in the absence of fear.
And believing God had something to say through me, through my mortal words, I wrote and wrote and wrote again. Braving new markets. In spite of my doubts that I will break through, I kept trying, as I have for almost twenty years. Hebrews 11:1--faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen--could have been written about me. Even during these last four difficult months.
Needless to say, I hesitate to say this. It sounds like I'm boasting. But when I am weak, then He is strong.
Whatever your struggles today--You are acting with faith and courage. Be encouraged.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Five weeks after coming down with a bad cold, I am feeling well and I can even sing more than an octave, not that I'm in normal voice yet. It felt like forever.
Last Sunday, faced with three weeks to go until I have two books due, and struggling to get any writing done, I reached a drastic decision: I would write longhand instead of on the computer. Online, I get distracted by emails and chat and facebook and games ...
After eight days, I have written 20,000 words, all but 2500 or so longhand (and then typed in). I used up one pen; it finally ran out of ink with five minutes to go in the Jets/Patriots playoff game.
I am now 75% of the way through the rough draft of the second book (I already have a draft of the novella). A major victory!
I also decided to attend a writers retreat in Texas next month, enjoying a well-deserved vacation.
Good health, a handle on work, a promised vacation. . .is it any wonder I'm feeling good?
Sunday, January 9, 2011
But after 10 days of antibiotics and with the threat of our first winter storm on the horizon, I invited myself over, together with Chinese takeout for dinner. Oh, I always have such fun.
Isaiah is now four months old. He smiled widely and rewarded Grandma with happy grins as we bounced and rocked and talked. He has turned into a blue eyed, medium brown haired baby, but he's going to be a lady killer, that one.
Jordan will only allow me so much time with her brother before she decides she wants Grandma's attention. So we spent most of the time in our special games. She had me open a special Bingo game I bought in Texas, and made much ado over the pretty cards that came with the game.
In daycare for the first time, she is discovering the need to use the language she's been accumulating for two years. So she kept insisting what sounded like "ill," possibly "bill," and pointing down the hall. Her Mom said "I don't know what she's saying."
I ran through the possible single syllable words rhyming with "ill." (Try it, bill and dill and drill all the way to will. There are a lot.) Shelley's eyes lit up with "bill." "She's saying Belle. She wants her pull up pants that have Belle from Beauty and the Beast on them, but she has to use up her Dora pull ups first."
Jordan confirmed that guess for us when she brought me her glass that had a picture of Tinkerbell on it and insisted, "Bell."
We read, we played peek a boo, she showed me her favorite toys (a baby doll stroller; the trunk compartment in her tricycle).
In fact, Jordan seems to enjoy Grandma time as much as Grandma enjoys Jordan time.
That bingo game? She packed it in her diaper bag, ready for her next adventure.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Yet, you know, that's okay. If I have learned anything through these non-traditional Christmases, it's that Christmas is about Christ, the reality of His presence in my life. And that doesn't need fancy food and even good health to celebrate.
But I am glad to be on the mend and look forward to the new year with great anticipation.
Our church has asked us to make a commitment to read through the Bible this year. Right away the second verse in Proverbs grabbed my attention: "for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair."
Wow, if there's anything I need this year, it's to acquire more discipline.
So join me on this journey of discovery, as I seek for daily nuggets of guidance for practicing discipline!