Friday, August 18, 2017

All about me...

Well, not really about me, but about my December book. I don't usually do book stuff (much) on this blog, but since I never got a regular post put up, I'm doing what can be viewed as...well, as a commercial. Only I don't have a fast-forward on here, so you may as well just go get a sandwich.

Anyway, here is the cover of The Happiness Pact. It will be out December 5, but is available for pre-order everywhere. I'll put some links down there below the blurb and if you want to order from all of them, feel free!

Thanks for coming by and for your interest in the Window.


Tucker Llewellyn and Libby Worth—strictly platonic!—realize they're each at a crossroads. Tucker is successful, but he wants a wife and kids: the whole package. Libby knows that small-town life has her set in her ways; the tearoom owner needs to get out more. 

So they form a pact: Libby will play matchmaker and Tucker will lead her on the adventure she desperately needs. But the electricity Libby feels when they shake on it should be a warning sign. Soon the matchmaking mishaps pile up, and a personal crisis tests Libby's limits. Will Tucker be there for her as a best friend…or something more?

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Kobo

Harlequin


Friday, August 11, 2017

Are we there yet?

Although I couldn't find it when I went looking for it, I remember the column I wrote about "random" drug testing. It was sometime in the early 90s. Imagine my surprise when I saw by an editorial in July 28's Peru Tribune that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here is my response. In order to be fair, I also sent it to the Tribune for them to address--or not--how they chose.






On July 28, reading the Peru Tribune, I was pleased to see an article about Ole Olsen’s Children’s Theatre’s production of The Tempest. I was glad to see Maconaquah’s projects being reported on. Police Chief Mike Meeks gave an informative interview about Narcan. I even liked the headline on the op-ed page that proclaimed, “Schools need to step up.” Because where kids are concerned, of course schools need to step up. As do parents. Churches. Politicians. The kids themselves.
          But then I read this one phrase in the editorial, the one that said, “…strongly considering adopting drug testing for high school juniors and seniors involved in extracurricular activities as well as students who drive themselves to school.” Is this then the stepping up the Tribune is referring to?
          When my kids were in school in the 90s, there was a lot of talk of random drug testing among student athletes. I don’t know if it was ever implemented, because my kids graduated and my mind moved on to other things, but I do recall writing a column that questioned the randomness of only testing student athletes. I didn’t understand then—and still don’t—what was random about that. What about student musicians, student librarians, and the students who skip school as often as they attend? Was there no possibility, no matter how remote, that any of them might be using as many illegal drugs as the athletes?
          So, here we are 25 years after my indignant column, and the definition of “random” apparently hasn’t changed a bit. Students who do not join extracurricular activities--which I always thought we encouraged, didn’t we?—and those who don’t or can’t drive themselves to school are evidently drug-free.
          Now, I admit I’m a little out of it as far as kids go. Well, maybe a lot out of it, but I still don’t understand the picking and choosing. I have no problem with drug testing, as long as it starts with the administrators and works its way down through the faculty to the student body. I truly doubt it will do any good, but I’m usually happy with proactive things. Of course, I’d be happy if the schools’ stepping up had more to do with curricula, better teacher salaries, and making sure no kid ever went home hungry. Or, wait, maybe just the band kids and the ones who wear green T-shirts could go home hungry. Yeah, just random ones. That’s it. 
          Our prompt at this month's writers' group meeting was "are we there yet?" I didn't have to explain at all what this essay had to do with the prompt. Twenty-five years after such total inequality was encouraged, it’s being encouraged yet again. It makes me think of prior to 2008, when I thought racism was…well, not a thing of the past, but better. It reminds me, loud and clear, that no, we’re not nearly there yet. And that we must not give up until we are.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Let's talk about reading...

This is from 2010, when I got my first Kindle. I'm on my second one, now. It's smaller, lighter, and has hundreds of books on it. Sadly enough, there are a lot of them I haven't read. The free-book phenomenon struck soon after e-readers started gaining in popularity, and to borrow a phrase from a couple of movies and an old talk show, "They're everywhere! They're everywhere!" It isn't a credit to me that a writer has only about a chapter and a half to capture my attention, but it's true. I still miss brick-and-mortar bookstores. I miss the textures, the smell, and talking to other people in the aisles. Books-A-Million is still alive and well in Kokomo, but that's 35 miles one way and it doesn't feel the same as bookstores used to--can't explain that, but it's true.

So, anyway, do you have an e-reader or are you strictly paper and ink? Either way, happy reading.

I have a Kindle! I put it off for a long while because of how much I love the feel, scent, and sight of a paper-and-ink book in my hands. But then one of my girls, Tahne, got one. And she loved it. A friend got a Nook. And she loved it. I looked at the mountains of books lying on nearly every flat surface in my house, not to mention the bookshelves. And I didn't love it. It was time, I decided. Oh, yes! said the roommate, who has no appreciation for the number of books I have...everywhere. But, I argued, I didn't want to spend the money. I'll buy it for you, said the roommate. He really has no appreciation. So I said okay.

I ordered it, it came, and I looked at it for a couple of days. "I don't know what to buy," I said, "without running my fingers over the spines, looking at the covers, and reading the blurbs."

You can do that with the Kindle, except for the spine part. But it's different. Way different. So I bought my own book. Boom! In about a minute, there it was: The Debutante's Second Chance.
Wow.

But I didn't, you know, want to read it. I needed to buy something to read.

A friend, Janet Dean, had a new book out--The Substitute Bride. So I bought it for the Kindle. Boom! It's a mail-order-bride story, a good one, and it was fun to read. No, it was a lot of fun to read. I took my time over it, relished it, loved every word.


I was heartbroken last year when the only bookstore close enough for me to go to closed (I won't go to Waldenbooks anymore, but that's a whole 'nother story) and I had to buy most of my books at Walmart or the grocery store. Or else I ordered them from Amazon and waited.

Did I mention Boom!

Since getting the Kindle, I've read Robyn Carr's new one, a lovely one by Marta Perry, The Five Little Peppers Grown Up (yes, really), and then, once again, I was stumped. So I bought one by Jenny Crusie, an old one I thought I might have missed. The Cinderella Deal.

Yes, I had missed it. And it's lovely. One of her very best and very funniest, and I'm taking my time over it, relishing it, loving every word. I didn't feel the spine, can't smell the paper-and-ink, but you know what? I can still laugh out loud at the humor and feel the tenderness slipping along my arms.

Walking through the house, I passed a flat surface without a stack of books on it.

It was dusty.

Oh, no, what have I done?
***
On to 2017 - While I'm here, I want to invite you to come to the Logansport, Indiana library tomorrow, August 5, at 2:00  to talk to Nan Reinhardt, Cheryl Brooks, Kathi Thompson, and me about writing. We'll have books to sell and sign, but mostly we just like conversation. Come and join us!


Friday, July 28, 2017

About Singing Trees...and Gilead

This is from June of 2010. My fourth book was getting set to come out and I was so excited. Ten or so later, I still get that excited with every release. Home to Singing Trees was and is still special to me. I think my writing's grown up some, but I still love that every inch of this book was placed in or around Gilead, where I grew up. (Five whole miles from where I live now!) While I played fast and loose with names and businesses, I used ones I found in research or see in church every Sunday or heard when the roll was called in elementary school. Sarah Williamson McKissick was my great-grandmother, but it wasn't her story I told.

The book is still a favorite. It's still available--how was that for a commercial?--and finding this brought back some memories. It was the first time I was ever invited to do a post on a guest blog and, once again, I was so excited. The blog, Prairie Chicks, is no longer active, although many of its founders are still writing. It seems to be what we do.


Despite an alarming tendency toward prudishness and an inability to drop the f-bomb unless I’m truly, truly ticked off, I am a fairly modern woman. Back in the 60s, I’d have been first in line to burn my bra if anyone had asked me. When Helen Reddy sang, “I am woman, hear me roar,” it was me she was singing to.

Although I liked reading about the 1800s, I never wanted to live then. Those long dress and multi-petticoats wrapping around a woman’s legs no matter what she was doing, not to mention that she did virtually everything only to be told every time she turned around where “her place” was—well, I just wasn’t having any of that, thank you very much.

When, after reading hundreds of romances (sound familiar?) I made the blithe decision that, hey, I could probably do that (sound even more familiar?) it was to contemporary I turned. Three published—and more unpublished ones than I care to talk about—books later, I still love contemporary. Even more than that I love Women’s Fiction. So much I capitalize it when I write the words.

But one day I was at the family farm where my brother and sister-in-law live and I looked at the concrete steps that led down to a flattened area in the hilly lawn. The flat space was where the interurban train that ran between the small towns in the community used to go right through the yard.

And I thought...hmmm….

It would be fun, maybe, to write a story about the building of the interurban. So I went to the library. Many sunlight-deprived hours later, I had a story. I found the germ of it in The 1877 History of Miami County and went on from there. It had nothing to do with the interurban, but I didn’t care. It captured my imagination and my heart and the tips of my typing fingers and before I knew it, Home to Singing Trees was born.




Liam and Sarah’s story is about second chances for two people who richly deserve them. It’s about families and working together and overcoming things you think just can’t be overcome. It will be released by Wild Rose Press on October 15 (it will be in both electronic and print formats, but the date on print is tentative) and I am so excited. Here is a teaser of an excerpt—there should be a graceful way to segue to that, but I haven’t found it yet!

He felt the warmth of her skin through the thin fabric of her shirtwaist, and the scent of roses was even stronger when she was in his arms. Her curly hair tickled his nose, and he brushed it away, allowing his hand to linger on the silky tresses.

She is so soft, and it’s been so long since I’ve felt this kind of softness, or even wanted to.
When she finally drew away, he was reluctant to let her go, sorry for the space she placed between them on the wooden step.

“Is it all right,” he asked, “that I call you Sarah?”

With that question, he felt her withdrawal become not only physical but mental and emotional as well.

“Of course,” she said, her voice colorless. “You are my employer, after all.”

Liam was struck with the abrupt and unsettling realization that being Sarah Mary Williamson’s employer wasn’t enough. He didn’t know what else he could be; even in the wilds of Indiana, employers and servants didn’t marry, and the liaisons they did enjoy were hardly the kind he would ask of Sarah.

Maybe, he speculated, they could be friends. He had other female friends, like Amy Waite, the daughter of Gilead’s most prosperous merchant and the teacher of the lower grades at the school. And there was Sue Anne Klein, who had come to visit her aunt and uncle, the Shoemakers. Only Sue Anne wanted to be more than friends.

He looked at Sarah’s hazy profile in the darkness, at the set of her firm chin and broad shoulders and remembered that she hadn’t felt firm or broad at all in his arms.

Friends?

It would do.


For starters.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Class reunion

I happened on this from 2008 and thought I'd wait until next year to use it again, because next year it will be 50 years since we walked down the sides of the gym floor and graduated. However, there's much talk among friends and family about class reunions right now. I hope you have as much fun at your reunions as we do, that you manage to leave cliques and hurt feelings behind with the big hair and wearing dresses to school no matter how cold it is.

Our class has an annual party now, coming up in August. See you then, Class of '68.



We all thought we'd change the world with our great work and deeds. - from "Class of '57" 


It was my high school class reunion. My 40th--yikes! About 70 of us, including 42 classmates from the original 92, met at the local museum (Would that be the museum of ancient history? asked my daughter Kari), where we ate and drank and talked and talked and talked. (Actually, if you want to see where we met, it's here www.miamicountymuseum.com)

I was not a mover or a shaker in North Miami High School's class of '68. I was more of a sitter and talker. But 40 years after the fact, when most of us are a little heavier and a lot grayer--well, some are grayer; many use a lot more hair color, myself included--it doesn't really matter who moved and shook and who didn't. It was just fun to see each other and finish each other's sentences because even though our lives have gone off in a starburst of directions, our beginnings were the same.

The subject matter of conversations was different than it used to be. We used to talk about our kids and now we talk about their kids. We used to talk about beginning new jobs and now we talk about winding down the ones we've had for a long time. Many of of have retired. Many more of us are thinking about it. What will you do? we ask each other, and we are pleased that no one plans to be bored or go quietly into that good night. We made noise and had sometimes raucous fun when we were young and I believe we intend to continue that into our old age. With somewhat less agility, of course.


Do you still write? people asked me. And I shrugged and mumbled and said I didn't know if I really did or not. But I do. Of course I do. Writing's like breathing to me, so I'll always do it. And I want to go to college--which I've never done--and volunteer at this place and that one. But I'm not sure, I told my friend Patty who has suffered such great pain in recent years and still looks wonderful, what I want to be when I grow up.

Some of us know. Nan is going to play more golf. Call me, I said. I'll go along and ride in the cart and drink. No one wants me to play golf--I'm godawful--but I'm a good rider-alonger and I'm fond of margaritas. You know, the frozen kind with very little booze but a lot of delicious slush. Marsha's going to play bridge. Jim's wife Becky, who is not a classmate but is funny and puts up with Jim :-), doesn't know what she's going to do, only that it will be whatever she wants. Many will travel more, will do more on ebay, will spend more time with the kids' kids.

And in five years, we'll meet again. Someone asked if our next gathering would be in the nursing home and Jeann said, No, probably the retirement center--the one after that will be in the nursing home. And that'll be fine. We'll talk and talk and talk and hug each other hello and goodbye and discuss what we want to be when we grow up just as we always have.

Wasn't it Dickens who started a story with, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times..." I'll cut that a little short in reference to the the class reunion. It was just the best of times.