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The Love of Cotton Candy

Isn’t it amazing how a simple smell or taste can take you back to your childhood? Of course, some of those reminders might be bad, like the flavor of nasty-tasting medicine, or the odor that lingered when you accidentally stepped in a pile of doggy doo while out trick-or-treating. Yep, that happened to me!

However, I want to talk about a good memory!

When I was a child, my parents would take me to one of those home-town carnivals that came through town every year around the Fourth of July. The carnival was part of a community festival called Frontier Days. In addition to the carnival rides and games, there was also a parade. I’ve seen photos of me and my siblings dressed up as pioneers in a make-shift covered wagon. I was very young then, but it was memorable enough that I recall thinking we were pretty awesome.

Now, back to the whole smell and taste thing. The simple thought of that particular event immediately sparks memories of an assortment of smells: Popcorn, the sawdust spread on the ground beneath some of the stomach-churning rides, mud from the rain that always seemed to dampen the celebration every year, beer, and cotton candy.

Cotton candy.

My first memory of popping some of that fluffy confection into my mouth comes from one of those Frontier Day’s celebrations. I clearly remember my aunt, Judy, telling me the proper way to eat cotton candy. She said that in order to avoid getting completely sticky, you needed to pull off a small amount and literally pop it into your mouth, doing all you could to avoid touching your fingers to your lips and getting them wet. Putting your mouth directly on the spool of fluff was a no-no. Especially if you planned to share your treat!

I didn’t do such a good job instructing my grandson.

The photo is a little blurry, but you get the idea! I tried to teach him to ‘pop,’ but he dove right in!

Now that I’m older, I like getting sticky even less, but I still love cotton candy. Recently, I discovered a new kind of ice cream that has rocked my world! Kroger brand has cotton candy flavored ice cream called Mermaid Sparkle. It’s to die for. Best of all, you can eat it with a spoon and you won’t get sticky.

Sure, there are many foods I enjoy, but I can’t think of any others that produce so many wonderful memories. Our lives are a patchwork of memories, and I feel it’s important to cherish all of them. I’ve learned a lot from my past. Not only how to properly eat cotton candy, but after my other experience, I know to watch where I walk on Halloween.

Life is a journey, and I want to thank you for sharing these memories with me!

God bless!

Who is Vern Harpole?

It was a fun and exciting new experience to write a fiction book based on an actual person. I was blessed to have a good friend who gave me the freedom to expand her grandfather’s story and ‘fill in the blanks’ so to speak in areas of his life that the family is unsure of exact details.

In “His Heart’s Long Journey,” you’ll travel with Vern as he seeks out answers to his past and also strives to move forward with his love interest, Margaret Jordan. Margaret is a strong-willed woman with her own troubled past, and the last thing she wants is the attention of a man.

When my friend, Ann, told me her family’s heart-wrenching story, I was compelled to write it. It was hard for me to believe that someone could experience all that Vern went through in his young life. As I wrote, I felt I really knew him. He became alive to me, and I hope that when you read this series, you’ll feel the same.

I also became fond of schnecken while writing this story. The trade of being a baker was passed on to Vern from the family who took him in at a very young age. Mr. Hinze was a German baker who taught Vern all he knew. Schnecken is a German sweet roll, similar to a cinnamon roll. I found a wonderful recipe online while researching German pastries. You can find it on the food.com website.

This is an actual photo of Vern in his baker’s garb. I didn’t see this photo until after I wrote the series, but I was surprised to find how much he looked the way I’d imagined him.

If you haven’t read “His Heart’s Long Journey,” I hope you will. It’s so much fun to travel in the footsteps of the past and share in the lives of others. Book one, “Forsaken by Love,” can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082QWKM56

Free Download!

I’m happy to say that today thru Tuesday, November 10th, you can download “Forsaken by Love” for FREE from Amazon! I hope you’ll enjoy Vern’s journey. The book is based on a true story that one of my friends graciously shared with me. When she told it, I knew I had to write it! I’m thrilled she allowed me to tell it.

The Joys of Moving

And you thought I’d be posting Day 1 of the 12 Days of Christmas!

Well…not only did I fool you, but I fooled myself. Leave it to me to be a day off and several brain cells short. If you’re confused, blame me. I can’t seem to keep track of the days of the week. I had it in my head that today was the kick-off for the event, but today is the day I was supposed to make the announcement that I made yesterday. (Insert rose-colored cheeks)

And why am I so frazzled? Imagine having to move three times in less than six months. It does something to the brain. I can honestly say that I’ll be able to list “professional packer” as one of my outstanding abilities on my next job application. My hope is that I’ll be able to stay in the same place for a little while longer than the last one. No, I’m not running from something or someone–that only happens in my books–I’m keeping up with my husband who was transferred with his job. The good thing for me is that I can write anywhere.

So please come back again tomorrow for Day 1 of the 12 Days of Christmas. The author I’ll be introducing is a very good friend of mine and I’m excited that she’s #1 on my list! AND the theme for tomorrow is “Dessert Recipe.” I’ll have a good one for you.

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Updating My Websites!

With another new book about to be released, I’m updating all of my websites so that I can share my news with the world.

Stay tuned for a cover reveal soon!

WRITE ON!!!

Give Away for “Marked”

My debut novel, “Marked,” is available on Amazon!

And now, you have a chance to win a free copy! Until July 31st, you can register to win a paperback copy of “Marked” through a Goodreads promotion. I’m excited to be able to share this story.

Good luck!

Know your History

When I was in High School I received a History award at the end of my senior year. I loved history, and still do.

I was blessed to have a teacher who spoke about history with  passion and made it interesting.  He didn’t focus on dates, (which I hate to admit has caused me a few problems along the way!), but he focused on events. Yes, the dates are important, but more than that, the facts of the event are the most important.

In my previous post I talked about research, and talking to people who specialize in the subject matter that you’re writing about. On top of that, it’s important to research even the smallest detail. Don’t ever assume that something existed in the past that we have today.

Yes, you may know that there were no cars, microwave ovens, or cell phones in the 1800’s, but did they have toothbrushes?

Ireland-31 The simplest things can make the biggest difference. One tiny detail may pop out and make a reader stop reading, or an editor roll their eyes and wonder if you really researched your material.

And, if history isn’t your thing, and you don’t like research, then try creating a whole new world!  You can do anything you choose when you’re making up something new.

Best advice…write what moves you. For me, it’s history, and falling in love.  A great combination!

Editing…

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Though I’m writing fiction, being that it is “historical” fiction, it’s very important to know my history. And even if I wasn’t writing historical fiction, and was writing a story involving horses, then I had better well know a lot about horses!  I’ve always heard, “write what you know.”

I confess. When I started writing about the Civil War, I knew very little. Aside from the fact that I knew the North won, and that slavery was an issue in the war. Having grown up in the Northwest, I learned more about Lewis & Clark than I learned about the war. I can’t say that I remember much about them either.  The things we learn in school often times drift out of our memories, unless we have an interest in a particular subject. If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader” then you know what I mean!

So when I started my books involving the war, I decided that talking to an expert was a good idea. Sometimes the information I get on the internet isn’t completely accurate. Hmmm…

I took pages and pages of notes and when I completed the chapters pertinent to those notes, I forwarded them to my expert, holding my breath until I heard back from him. He told me that all but one small detail was accurate. Whew! So, change that one small detail, right?  Sure!  Not so easy. I think I finally understand what so many fellow writers have told me about editing. As a writer, I’m “in love” with my work, and it’s hard to change it. But I’ve found that if I listen to people who know what they’re talking about, I will have a much better product.  So, I toyed with the event, and hope I came up with a good alternative. I’m still waiting to hear back from him on the changes.

I could have just stuck my nose in the air and said, “It’s my book. I know better about what it needs than you do.” But, that wouldn’t have helped my story. I would be destined to have that one Civil war expert read it, (though I’m not sure many of them read women’s fiction), and have him throw the book across the room screaming, “How could she be so stupid?!”

Having experts on board is a plus. My good friend, Diane, is my horse expert. When she read my “horse” chapters, she gave me incredible insight into horse behavior. Her words of wisdom ended up driving my story forward in a way I’d never expected. Thank you, Diane!

Moral of my post: Be willing to edit, even if it hurts!! It will only make your stories better.

 

What makes a Five-Star Book?

I remember the days when I was sick as a child, and had to stay home from school. To pass the time, I would read. Reading took me away from home on adventure after adventure, and the hours flew by. I think there may have been times that I probably wasn’t sick enough to warrant staying home, but the books called to me, and I managed to convince my mother that I was “very” sick.

One of my favorite series of books to read was “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I could polish off one of those books easily in a day’s time. And then, as I got older, I read “The Hobbit” followed by “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Other favorites included “Watership Down” and “Christy.” As an adult, I continued reading fantasy and went on the adventures in “Dune” and the “Thomas Covenant” books. And I can’t leave out the books about Merlin and Arthurian Legend by Mary Stewart; “The Crystal Cave,” “The Hollow Hills,” and “The Last Enchantment.”

All of those books have stayed with me through the years, and I enjoy reading them over and over again. When I began reading romance, I was drawn to “The Thorn Birds” which is not your typical romance. Maybe that’s what has made my writing far from “typical.”

I know there are many more books that I’ve not mentioned, but what I want to say is that to me, all of the books I mentioned rated five stars. They took me away to other places, captured my heart, and made me feel like I was a part of them. Any author who can achieve that in their writing is gifted. I hope that I will achieve that goal with my stories, and if at first I don’t succeed, I will keep at it until I do. I pray that I’ve been blessed with that gift.

My goal is to touch the heart of my readers, and maybe even give them something to think about. Perhaps even take them to places that they’ll want to journey to time and time again.  I want my characters to feel like brand new friends, whose lives are being shared.

So what are some of your “Five-Star” books, and what makes them rate so high for you? And…if you don’t mind sharing…what is the first thing that turns you off from a book and makes you put it away without ever finishing it?

 

 

 

Great Intentions

Last month, I made up my mind that I would post at least two blogs a week!  And then…I had a little accident and nearly lost the end of a finger on my right hand. I am now finally able to type with both hands again, even though that finger has little-to-no sensation.  Thank goodness for muscle memory!!

When I became a writer, I told friends that what I love about writing is that I don’t have to dress up to do it, and unlike being a singer, it doesn’t matter whether or not I can use my voice. And…if I injure a leg and can’t walk, I can still write!  I never dreamed that I would hurt my hand in a silly accident. I guess that it goes to prove that we should never take anything for granted and be grateful every day for even the little things that bless our lives.

Good health is a biggie!!  And getting enough rest so that you don’t make silly mistakes is also important. In case you’re curious, I stuck my hand into the spring mechanism of a reclining sofa. Yes…big OUCH!  Eight stitches later…and a great amount of pain, I’m on the mend.

The best thing of all is that in the time I couldn’t write, I was writing in my head, and once I could “hunt & peck” with my right hand, I started getting all those thoughts on paper.  I’m working hard on the sequel to “Marked” and am very excited about the progress I’m making.

The new book is entitled, “Forgotten” and takes place at the end of the Civil War.

Now that I can type again, I plan to blog more!!  See you again soon…