Tuesday, August 7, 2018

California Burning - One Family Caught in It

California is burning up. And I just read today that a California mall is refusing billboard displays for a Christian outreach because of "Complaints." Do they not know that is it only God that can change California and bring it back to life? That He is the One Who can deliver from the deadly pestilence?

The fires have hurt so many and changed lives. Some friends I knew personally were caught up in it. I want to share a poignant message they have learned from their ordeal - when they had to quickly evacuate, not knowing if the flames would roar into Redding. It was a terrifying time for them. This is their update and reflection -

"Our house is SAFE. Our “stuff” is safe, even though when the fire started moving, we knew our little family was all that mattered. We were safe. Our friends were safe. What else did I need when faced with that kind of situation?

Now that the fire is moving away from Redding, we will head back soon. The air quality is really bad up there and some people are still not allowed back to their homes and others have to find new homes. It’s hard. Please keep praying for Redding and pray the fire dies out completely and no other people and homes are affected. Pray for CALIFORNIA as much of our state is ablaze right now.

As I’m contemplating going back, I’ve felt the relief of having my “stuff” back. I’m grateful. There’s a joy and a grief because so many others had to move forward without their things. I also feel so incredibly grateful for the gifts God has given me through this. I’ve had more time with my extended family than I’ve had in years. I spent the entire day with my nephews and niece yesterday and felt the special opportunity I was given to connect with these amazing kids. My brother and his family have housed us, fed us, spent late nights talking and early mornings making coffee. I feel so blessed and filled with love. God has truly comforted us through this strange and fierce tragedy.

I will be headed home soon and I’ll start the conversations in the car with my kids. Redding will look different. Smoke. Ash. Pain. Heartbreak. Survival. Courage. Fortitude. Perseverance. We will all be making decisions about our future and the future of the town. I pray God’s peace over our county and all its families."

Now is the time to pray for these families, some who have suffered great loss, others dealing with the terrible smoke or other affects. And pray for California, for the hardness of hearts to turn to flesh, for the mall refusing to post Christian ads, the time to seek God is now. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Celebrate the Healing of a Nation with a New Release

Welcome to my new release – The Belle of the Congaree, one of seven novellas in The Southern Belle Brides Collection where seven sweet and sassy ladies of yesterday experience romance in the southern states.

I chose to set my novella in the post-Civil War Reconstruction period in South Carolina. At times I feel we are still reconstructing this land, some 150 years later. Brother is still pitted against brother for rights they wish to protect. We fight the same war, never content, always trying to outwit the other, never seeking true freedom and peace found in our Lord, the Prince of Peace.

With this conflict that still rages today, I set my novella in another war-torn period to show God’s hand in bringing together opposing sides for goodwill and for peace. It is not through selfish means but selfless ideals of helping each other that will win the day. Of understanding and listening and offering assistance. Of loving our neighbor as ourselves, even if they may be an enemy. (see Luke 10: 25-37 and the parable of the Good Samaritan)

I hope you will celebrate the idea of healing and a true Union of people and pick up a copy of The Southern Belle Brides Collection. Be a part of knitting together a nation through God’s love and the love we should have for our neighbor, no matter the color, nationality, or differences.

 Novella Blurb:

In The Belle of the Congaree, Mason Bassinger reluctantly travels to war-torn South Carolina, seeking lands his carpetbagger brother can buy. Elisa Anderson barely survives after her family’s plantation is destroyed. She welcomes visits by the handsome and wealthy Mason, who makes the cottage by the Congaree feel like a home. But when Mason’s true purpose is revealed, will her heart be broken by betrayal?

 Find The Southern Belle Brides Collection at:

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)