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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Up and Down and All Around

It's been an emotional week. And that is a good thing. Why do I say that?

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

Early April Showers

Carla Gade ( wrote about Maine's five seasons in a recent post: spring, summer, fall, winter--and mud. I remember Maine's "mud" season well. March held some of the promise of spring but little of the joy.

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


I recently gave a copy of Book Lover's Devotional to my church library. The gentleman who reviews library books for the church bulletin--exclusively nonfiction--raved about it to me. "I couldn't put it down. I read it in two sittings. I don't usually read fiction, but after reading this book, I might."

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


I lost Jolene three years ago tomorrow. The dance has returned to the normal ebb and flow of life, with an occasional dirge of remembrance and tears.

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


Celebrating signing the two-book contract with Moody for Texas Trails (see the banner), a six-book collaboration with Susan Page Davis and Vickie McDonough.


One Family

Four Generations

Fifty Years

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.

Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis (pub date: September 2011). On his first run as a driver for the Butterfield Stagecoach Overland Mail Company, Ned Bright comes across a woman who is nearly dead from exposure and dehydration. He takes her in his stagecoach to a mission outpost operated by Ursuline nuns. He returns to check on the patient each time he passes through and learns she was a captive of the Comanche for the last thirteen years—since she was nine years old. With some detective work, he is able to locate her family. Ned falls in love with her. He plans to reunite her with her brother, but the Comanche have other ideas, and the two end up defending the mission station.

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?