Monday, April 9, 2018

You are Beloved, even when…

The Florida Trail finish, in the midst of testing and testing to come
It had already been a wild six weeks hiking the Florida Trail to finish all 1100 miles that started way back in December of 2016. I was leaving all the excitement behind but ready to relish the peace of home. The storms, the snakes, the palm trees, sand and floods, I was ready. Though now I was minus a summer job promised me and suddenly taken away without warning a mere two days before I was ready to finish the Florida Trail at Fort Pickens. I was working through that or so I thought. Trying to let go of anger and hurt and other things. It was enough to deal with.

I had that burden still on my heart but I knew God was strong enough to carry it, as He carried me on my hike. I thought of other things. I had the book on the Florida Trial to write and share in the moments of my journey with my husband, whom I hadn’t seen in six weeks.

At the airport I decided to take a later flight and earn a $500 credit—who knows, maybe to another distant adventure next year. The flight went good. My luggage with my hiking gear had arrived earlier and was waiting for me at the airport. I was happy to see my husband roll up to get me, in our multi-colored vehicle of black and silver in the dark of the evening.

As we drove, he told me how the dog had escaped before he left to pick me up. I got mad at that. We had a bit of a tiff. I thought to myself—this is NOT the way I wanted to say hello to my husband after six weeks. Now we’re at odds over a pooch. We stopped for Chinese food as we’d had no dinner, and while waiting for moo goo gai pan and moo shu pork, I told him I was sorry for getting uptight about the dog. I knew our lab would come home eventually, he has before. We made up in the Chinese restaurant. And then a reunion of sorts began in the car for the next ten minutes. I told him excitedly of the new sister in the Lord I had made in Florida. How she took care of me. How I got to take care of horses—a huge first. It was good. We were connecting again.

The arrow for the left turn to our road gleamed green in pitch black as my husband made the turn.

Suddenly it came out of nowhere. A big thing in my window and front windshield that wasn’t supposed to be there. Metal smashing. Glass breaking. Screeching, 

I screamed.

Something came out of the night and hit us.

For an instant I thought I was supposed to be unconscious. Bleeding. In bad pain. Something. Instead I was asking Steve if he could move the car out of the middle of the road. I knew we had been in an accident. The car sounded horrible as it creaked across the road with metal scraping the tires. The car was drawing its last, mechanical breath. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was dying along with it.

We got out, stunned. I looked at the car, aghast. The other driver of the Ford F150 that hit us asked if we were okay. I yelled, “No we aren’t, you ran a red light and hit us!” Then I cried uncontrollably.
Our car was a mess. I knew then I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. My arm and shoulder felt numb, hurting and out of place. I was stone cold from the chilly night, as I was still in my hiking clothes from the Florida Trail, the Chinese food still sitting upright on the car floor, my backpack in the back seat. I had been in a car wreck out of nowhere. Then I realized I had to call 911. A first for that, too.

I thought my life had changed enough in Florida, finishing a major trail after lots of interesting and scary adventures. Then came the job removal out of nowhere. And now this came, this accident, something I had not experienced since I was a teenager. I was broken like the car. The only thing I was happy about at that very moment—I had made up with my husband over the dog before it all happened. That if God had decided my life on this earth would end, I was okay.

Instead God spared us. I am still in this world to live another day. The only thing I heard that night as I stood there freezing by the side of the road, is the song Beloved. It rang over and over in my mind. I am beloved in God’s eyes. Especially when we realized that a truck going 45 MPH had hit the best place it could to render more damage to the car than us. Which could have resulted in death, me in particular as it hit the passenger side.  

We had been spared for some reason. The story is still being written as we are still dealing with the aftermath in injury mentally and physically. But God is still in control, we are still here, and life goes on. Most of all, I am still Beloved. And neither death nor life can separate us from God’s love... (Romans 8:38-39) 


Friday, August 18, 2017

Research Means Fun Exploring!

I had great fun and interest researching my latest novella "Love in the Crossfire" as part of the Second Chance Brides series. My travels in research brought me to Washington Crossing Park in upper Pennsylvania where Washington coordinated the Continental Army to cross the river on Christmas night, in freezing rain no less, in the hope of catching a Hessian garrison unaware. It was a daring move, and it paid off. My novella centers around this crucial moment in history, and I wanted a feel for the area and the river where this exciting event took place.

The river that Washington crossed on his way to Trenton, New Jersey 

The historic park featured a museum, several outdoor exhibits including replicas of the boats used, and the house at McConkey's ferry where officers met to plan the crossing. 

A modern day crossing via the bridge
Afterward, I took my own stroll over the bridge to New Jersey.

The visit helped me visualize the area and add better authenticity to my retelling of historic events in the novella.

Check out Lit Up where I talk about the importance of research in writing as well as my other adventures!

Additional information:


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Love in the Crossfire

“Love in the Crossfire” debuts in this collection of nine historical romances by nine authors that reflect the essence of hope. Spanning 150 years of history, the Second Chance Brides Collection sees heroines enduring the sting of lost love but hope and faith are renewed when difficulties are overcome by the reemergence of new relationships.

This novella, set during the Revolutionary War and Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware, finds a lonely German woman who lost her Hessian beau to war suddenly attracted to an enemy scout who seeks out her aid in the midst of winter’s fury. Only time will tell whether their new love can withstand the testing of battle within as well as the battle for a new country.  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Journey Into the World of Book Tours (and Presentations) – Part 2

I’ve now had the privilege of conducting six presentations and book signings at various libraries around the great state of Pennsylvania. Here is a few things I have learned along the way –

Make sure you are well rested. Sometimes easier said than done, but I made sure before my evening
presentation I took a little nap or at least had some down time. I never did any rehearsing either of my program. That tends to make you nervous, etc. Trust in your prep (which you should have done beforehand!). Which reminds me, make sure if you are staying overnight at a hotel, that you pick a good one and in good proximity to your events. Do your research ahead of time and check reviews for the place where you plan to stay.  I also used Priceline to help with the cost and find a reasonable place to stay. To make it work better, check out the hotels in your price range ahead of time using Yelp or Trip Advisor for reviews. Then go for a price point on a site like Priceline.

Try to stay organized. If you have requested tables for your literature, handouts, books, make sure your boxes are packed for that particular table, it goes quicker in set up. I also arrived a good 75 minutes early to greet the librarian or whoever arranged for the program and got the lay of the land, so to speak. In some libraries the program took place among the book stacks, literally! Others had large meeting rooms. Don’t expect that everything will be ready when you arrive. You will likely need to help set up the room. If you plan to speak, make sure also that your PowerPoint presentation is up and running early to avoid any issues. Most libraries do not have a clicker – bring one (much better that way then having you stuck at the laptop advancing photos).

Try to get some book signings in BEFORE you begin your presentation. I said something like – 

I used an easel to advertise about my speaking
"I will be signing books before the program begins if anyone wants to avoid the after meeting rush.” I took care of many book sales at that time (have enough change, your Square credit card reader or other cc card reader ready to go then).  After the program it can get quite hectic, esp with questions and conversation. If you can have a buddy go with you to manage the actual sales, leaving you to sign books and converse, all the better.

I did have to rush a bit at the end on occasion as the libraries need to close by a certain time. Try to stay on schedule.

Make sure you have something to eat and have bottled water with you before you speak. It helps with energy levels and helps your speaking voice.

After the program, make sure to communicate with the libraries or other venues that hosted you. Ask for feedback, recommendations, and to encourage them to ask others in their area if they would
like to have you speak. Follow up is important.

By the way - 
If your library would like to have me speak about my 4000 mile AT adventure - go HERE for more information. I am based in VA and can travel to the mid Atlantic region and PA. I would love to come!

Related Blog:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Journey into the World of Book Tours (and Presentations) - Part 1

Part 1  Setting Up Book Tours and Presentations

Setting up and executing a book tour can seem daunting but is actually a great way to get a book out there for all to see.  Here is what I did and am doing to pull off a nine-library tour around the state of Pennsylvania this fall -  

Make it a library tour. This tour is strictly done at libraries that use speakers as ways to promote readership and interest. It’s an awesome place to have them. Having a good platform to promote the book is important. Mine is 4000 Miles of Appalachian Trail stories and my nonfiction book “Mountains, Madness,Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail” is featured. Discover the libraries that might be interested and query them. Or start with a local library and then ask them to do a small write-up to email via the library-serv as a recommended speaker (or offer to send them a write-up for it). This is how the fall book tour came about after I presented to two libraries in northern Philly this past May (the librarian there had first watched me speak in Shenandoah National Park. One free event led to another then led to this book tour!). Recommendations go a long way for future contacts. I then had different libraries asking for my program info.

My book tour began long ago with speaking at Shenandoah

Construct a good contact letter. Tell the libraries your credentials, your program blurb, the book, and what will be offered (I am offering a 1 hr., 15 m presentation, a book signing, and tables with literature and sample gear from my hike). Include the fee (if you are charging a fee) so they have an idea. Email the letter along with your contact info to each interested library. Be enthusiastic—they are hiring you to present! This is employment.

Negotiate on the fees. I had libraries team up with other libraries to make my journey from VA to PA more cost effective for both them and me. I have a few that had three libraries commit to a weekend or weekday arrangement. Work out a figure, then present it to them.

Start Organizing. Develop a good PowerPoint for the talk. Gather the materials needed (I sent away for literature from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, for instance, to put on the table. I also sent out

Lots to get ready for the tour. Materials, Poster, Props, Gear, etc
for little notepads to put on my table). Make sure if it’s a book signing there are enough books and have ways for them to pay (a Square reader is essential for credit cards). Have some visuals to make things interesting (I hope to set up a small tent, etc.). Show excellence.     

Keep in contact with the libraries who are committed to a program. Organize a spreadsheet and contact them four weeks before the event to remind them of the event, the date, the agreed-on fee, any set-up you will need like a laptop, projector, tables, etc. and include a program blurb and picture so they can do up posters and put it on their website (important!). Ask if they want an invoice for the fee as some libraries have to ask their budget committees. I also sent out an email a week before to remind them of the time I will be there (arrive at least an hour before) and any other info (like where I should unload the day of the event. Obtain their cell number also in case of last minute issues). Make sure you also make hotel arrangements in advance.  

Get ready for the trip! (Stay tuned for Part 2 on how it went and what I learned)

Friday, September 2, 2016

The City of Country Music to the Ozarks to a Book Release - wow

These last days have been busy – with a writing conference in Nashville, a trip to Arkansas to see family and then back home to begin sorting out my writing career and plan for my multi library book tour in PA this fall. And in the midst of this, celebrating the release of a collection that features my novella – “A Crossroad to Love”.

Meeting friends
The annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)Conference is always a well-run machine to re-energize one’s writing career by kibitzing with authors, attending workshops, and trying out ideas and projects with editors. This year’s event in Nashville was no different. Besides the business part, there is also some fun too, like dressing up as my Revolutionary War character to be featured in the next collection I am proud to be a part of, Second Chance Brides
Some genre character dressing fun

– as well as ditching the conference wear to dress up, eat lots of steak and fancy desserts, and watch authors win awards at the Gala.

The highlight for me was inspiration from well-known author Ted Dekker who advocated transformation and making sure we are changed along with
Author Ted Dekker

Wow fancy dessert awaits

the stories we create. Allen Arnold’s insightful workshop brought me to a closer walk with God in everything, and to trust Him with whatever a writing career brings – whether a bestselling novel or an unpublished manuscript that remains hidden in my computer. Either way, the way of a writer is a continual communion with God.

My travels then took me to Arkansas to visit my son for an early birthday, including a trip to Mount Magazine State Park – and Arkansas’ tallest peak – of which we saw the beauty of the Ozarks up close and personal along with scenic vistas and even sighting a roadrunner (Beep Beep!).  I think we were both truly impressed with what this state has to offer, and I was interested also that it does have a long distance trail with shelters that I one day MUST explore.

Onward to drive nearly 1000 miles homeward to begin collecting my thoughts after a whirlwind trip, to celebrate the release of A Plain and Sweet Christmas and prepare for my fall book tour in Pennsylvania that begins September 9.

There is NEVER a dull moment!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trading a Backpack for a Suitcase

On my last section hike. Trading in trail runners for high heels
I’m getting ready for another trip – and this time it has nothing to do with a backpack(!) Though I live out of a backpack several months of the year, right now it is my suitcase I am carrying for my next great adventure.

This time I trade in the backpack and trail runners, the convertible pants and rain hat for a suitcase, nice clothes, and the heart of a writer as I prepare to attend the 15th annual ACFW conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

After all, before I really began my backpacking adventures, I was (and still am) a penman of the word.  In fact, 2017 will celebrate 20 years of being a published author that has seen some twenty plus novels and novellas find the printed page to the eyes of eager readers. I did do some day hikes in the old days and nursed a long sought-after goal to one day complete the whole Appalachian Trail (which I did in 2007 and again in 2010-11, both hikes chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail).  But in the beginning came my fiction work – of which there have been many titles of adventure and romance, but really, seeking God in everyday life to life issues. I draw from experiences and personal issues I have been through to create these stories. I like to weave a tale too that will make readers keep turning the pages rather than close the book on chapter two (which I dislike doing myself when I read a book!)

So this day finds me packing a suitcase as I venture to a writer’s conference to network with fellow authors and talk to editors about future book ideas (of which I always have many!). Just like hiking,
the thrill of writing a good story is a part of me. I don’t want to waste any moment of what I have been given or learned in life’s journey. It’s in that mode of transporting through life’s ups and downs that I can craft a story that speaks to a reader and makes a difference in one’s life as it did in mine.