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Friday, July 13, 2012

Writing a Historical Novel? Research is the Key!

When I wrote my first historical romance, Love Find You in Last Chance, CA, I had a short panic attack. Not long, just a few seconds, as I'm not prone to panic, LOL! But I'd never written a historical before and wasn't sure I'd be able to find the information I needed to bring the story to life.

High school and one year of college taught me something about research, but that was years ago and so much has changed. The advent of the internet has opened a whole new world for fiction writers.

Here's what I ended up doing and have continued to do on each historical since.

*  Did a Google search on the town, the time period, and key words contained in the book

*  Joined an online historical writers' group where I could toss out questions and get help if I need it

*  Read other books set in the same time period by authors I trusted who created a realistic depiction

*  Checked out books from our local library. Some suggestions would be old memoirs, copies of journals   from your time period, nonfiction books written about the area where your book is set, and any books
containing information key to your story. i.e., ranching or mining in the Sierra Nevada Mts. of California, etc.

*  Visited the location and while there, talk to as many of the old timers as you can find. Visit the museums and historical society if available, and any local landmarks.

Next Week I'll be doing a blog and book drawing for Davis Bunn's book, Hidden in Dreams, a fantastic novel!! Be sure to check in and enter to win. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Forty Years Ago.....

I married the man of my dreams--I was 18 (three weeks shy of 19),  and Allen was 19 (almost 20--mere babies).

We honeymooned at Wallowa Lake, Oregon, and spent our first year renting the parsonage from our church (our pastor built a house). We took care of the lawns for the church and house, as well as the flower beds, and only paid $50 a month in rent.

A couple of years later I was expecting my first child....a beautiful daughter we named Marnee. Later we added a son. This is a pic of Allen and I taken around our second anniversary.

The years sped by, we owned and operated a couple of businesses, took our daughter to riding lessons and I enjoyed hitting the trails on our horses with her. Our son got involved in stunt bikes, then dirt bikes, then airplanes. It wasn't long before they were grown and we'd hit our 25th anniversary. 

God has been faithful all these years and we're still in love. Sure, we've had tough times when we didn't FEEL any love, but we still pressed forward together. I'm so glad we did!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When Life Gets Tough

The old saying is, when life gets tough, the tough get going. But it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes when life deals you a hard blow, you crawl in a hole and pull the hole in after you. Or at least, that's what you might want to do, if you didn't have to keep living life daily. 

So, what DO you do? Call a friend and cry on her shoulder? Yeah, that works, but you can burn out friends pretty fast that way.

Eat chocolate or go shopping. Yum. Now that sounds enticing. But the problem with that one is the next day you'll pay if you over indulge. Sick stomach, empty wallet, and more pounds packed on.

Turn on the tunes and tune out? Yeah, that'll work for a while for all you music lovers. But at some point you have to come out and 'face the music'. 

Break something, fling angry words, or hit somebody? Unfortunately, this is the reaction of too many, and others end up getting hurt along the way to your 'healing'. 

How about--Call a friend and ask for prayer? Much better--most people are willing to listen and pray if they know you're sincere.

Or maybe--check in with God and place it in his hands. Yeah. I've been doing that this week as I've struggled with a 'hard thing' that hurt. But God knows, and my heart is pure and right before him. He knows my motives and my pain, and He's able to take it all and use it for His glory. 

I'm so glad....Yes. I think I'll pick the last one, although I'm certainly not against talking to a friend and asking them to pray. Did that and it helped. God is indeed good, all the time. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blossoms & Weeds--What's in Your Garden?

Today I've been mowing for an hour or so, then pulling weeds in my garden, planting tomato and green pepper plants, watering newly sprouted beans, peas, turnips, and more. Lots to do this time of year, but my least favorite is pulling weeds.

Why is it that no matter how much I hoe, till, and pull, the weed crop manages to outgrow the food crop? I'm even hitting them with Roundup, hoping to rid myself of them once and for all, but inevitably I miss a few.

It's a little like life. There are things I'd love to get rid of forever. My over indulgence in eating sugar, my poor exercise habits, attitudes that I'm not proud of at times--but like weeds, they seem to keep coming back.

I have two choices--keep pulling and poisoning and tilling the ground of my life, keeping them at bay, or ignore them hoping they'll not take root this time around. Doing that will lead to discovering they're full blown and taking over before I know it. Yes, it takes work to keep the weeds out of your garden or out of you life, but the crop you'll get when you do is worth it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Do You Remember When?

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older
woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today.
Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to
the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and
sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and
over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we
reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags,
was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks.
This was to ensure that public property, (the books
provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our
scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown
paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every
store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't
climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the
throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling
machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry
our clothes back in our early days.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every
room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief
(remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In
the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have
electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail,
we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it,
not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then,
we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.
We used a push mower that ran on human power.
We exercised by working so we didn't need to
go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup
or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled
writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the
razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just
because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their
bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour
taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire
bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a
computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites
23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old
folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Check Your Motives at the Door

Whew. Really? I have to figure out WHY I do the things I do? I was praying this morning and felt the Lord asked me to dig deeper. Why do I make some of the choices I make, and most of all, why do I react in certain ways?

Ouch. Do I have to, Lord? Can’t I just pray and ask you to cover my actions and bless my choices? No? Seriously, no? Sigh. OK.

So here’s the first motive that He asked me to look at. The need to be in control.
Are you wincing yet? I am. Typing it gave me the heebie-jeebies. Especially since my husband has gently pointed this out in the past—he thinks I NEED to be in control. No I don’t. Really. He just thinks I do.

Well. Maybe not.

OK, I’ll admit it. I like my world to be well ordered, running smoothly, and YES—at times I think my way is the best way. Who doesn’t! But if I’m not careful that attitude can hurt those that I love. Gentleness and meekness go a long way.

Uh-oh…know what thought popped into my head just now? Being real and honest here. If I’m gentle and meek at the right time, in the right way, I’ll bet it would help convince ‘them’ that my way is the best.

Yikes! Did I really think that? Yeah. I did.
So…next time let’s talk about hidden agendas and manipulation. Not sure I want to go there, but I hope you’ll chime in and help me, so I won’t feel all alone. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Honest Reflections Scare Me Sometimes

A friend sent me a journal entry to read today, as she wanted honest feedback. I read it and choked back tears at the raw honesty poured out on the page. God has been prompting her to dig deep. To go beyond the surface in her relationship with Him and interaction with people, and she took it seriously.

I’m not sure I can be that vulnerable, but I'm willing to try. Looking at ourselves is tough in the best of times, but digging deep, discovering WHY we do certain things, checking our motives—well, let’s just say it’s oftentimes easier to sidestep those areas.

In the next few posts I’m going to share a few thoughts on what makes me tick, and I invite you to do the same. They won’t be long or even very sophisticated, but I promise to keep it real. If anything I write resonates with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with being real, but I’m guessing that’s not the case.  

The book I’m writing  has made me dig deeper. I’m dealing with the issue of a difficult mother/daughter relationship. The daughter is grown, the mother is aging, and Mama comes to live with her daughter. Sometimes the closest family connections can bring out the best—or the worst in us. At the very least they can cause us to look more deeply into who we are and why we act the way that we do.

So I invite you to come along on the ride if you dare. More in a few days…..

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hiccups Anyone?

I did my good deed for the day and cured a man's hiccups.


He called me and apologized ahead of time (before he told me why he called) because he'd had the hiccups for two days straight and knew it might be difficult to talk. Poor man was tired out and worried. His wife was threatening to take him to the doctor.

I told him I have a remedy if he was willing to try it. After two days non-stop he was willing to try just about anything, even if it was crazy.

This has never failed to cure my hiccups and it works for my kids and husband....and thankfully, it worked for my friend on the phone as well.

Curious yet? Try it the next time you're afflicted and you'll see that it works. Wish I could patent this!

Get a full glass of water. Take a deep breath and hold it. Immediately start drinking. FAST and steady. Small gulps/sips, and keep drinking until you absolutely MUST come up for a breath of air.

That's it. Simple and easy. He did it while I waited on the phone. Sixty seconds later he was dancing a jig. "Miralee cured my hiccups"....he shouted to his wife hovering in the background. "It's a miracle!".

I laughed, tickled it had worked for him....there's a man who knows how to take directions and follow them. A miracle? Not quite, but an awfully nice solution when you're in distress!

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