If you haven’t had the chance to read “His Heart’s Long Journey,” this is the perfect time to grab a copy of “Forsaken by Love,” which is the first book in the three-book series. May 7th thru May 11th, you can get a free eBook copy on Amazon! And don’t worry…book one doesn’t end with a cliffhanger like I do in several of my other series. You’ll be happy to find a satisfying ending. However, I hope it will inspire you to move on to book two and three for the continued story of Vern Harpole. He has some incredible adventures!
This series is based on the true story of my friend, Ann Wood’s, ancestor. Annie told me the story when we met for lunch one day, and she kindly gave me permission to write about Vern’s life and helped me with as many details as she could remember from things passed down through the family.
Vern Harpole was only eight years old when his mother left him on the porch of a bakery in Kansas City. She abandoned him and disappeared. Though Vern was taken in and raised by the kind baker and his wife, Vern still struggled with his abandonment. Once he became a grown man, he felt compelled to go West.
This story tells how he found his true love–who had her own troubled past–and how they supported each other and found a way to move forward together.
I imagine that the title of my blog sparked your curiosity, and that’s why you’re reading this right now! I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to choose this for my subject, but it popped into my head, and I decided to follow the inspiration.
Many, many years ago, I worked at a fast-food restaurant. It wasn’t my first job, but it was one of them. I was only eighteen when I worked there, but boy did I learn a lot! I feel everyone should have the experience of being employed by one of those kinds of establishments. It’s not easy work–especially if you’re at a popular location. I learned how to manage my time, and even more importantly, how to multitask.
I’ll never forget when my manager looked at me one day and said, “You have two hands, use both of them.” Honestly, I don’t remember what I was doing at the time, but what she said sure made a lot of sense. Maybe I was restocking condiments. Who knows? Still, whatever it might have been, her words remained in my head. I need to point out that she didn’t say it with any kind of nastiness, she said it with sincerity. She was a great manager–exceedingly patient, kind, and organized. Like I said, I learned a lot at that job.
It might sound silly that up until that point I’d never given much thought to using both of my hands at the same time. Being right-handed, that hand did my school work. I also like to draw, paint, and color, so again, my right hand stayed busy. I didn’t play sports, and if I had gotten into basketball, I might have learned that two-hand-usage lesson a lot sooner. I was one of the tallest girls in the school and the coach wanted me on the team, but I wasn’t a ‘sporty’ girl. I might have had the height the coach wanted, but I wasn’t exactly coordinated.
At this point in my life, I’m extremely thankful that I have two capable hands. I use them every day to type my stories into my laptop computer. I never dreamed that the typing class I took in Junior High would be one of the most valuable courses in all my years in school. I confess that I haven’t learned to master the ‘two-hand’ system on my phone. I watch young people work their thumbs over their screens in lightning-fast precision, texting up a storm. I have large thumbs, and I can’t figure out how they manage to sent readable texts and not just a mishmash of nonsensical words.
So, I may not be a whiz at texting, but I can still type like there’s no tomorrow. As long as ideas keep popping into my head, my two hands will keep flying over the keyboard.
Aside from the ‘two-hand skill,’ something else lingered from the guidance I received working in the fast-food industry. The way I manage my time. It’s hard for me to sit still unless I’m doing something. I can sit and write for hours on end and not even realize how much time has passed, but if I have to sit and wait for a program to load on my computer, I get restless. So, I’ve found things to do whenever I have those brief moments of wait-time. I keep a set of weights on hand. (Yep, weights for the waits!) I do a series of lifts. Using both hands, of course. I do twenty reps of ‘over the head’ and two variations of curls. If the wait is really long, I’ll get out of my chair and do a few other variations. I’m hoping this repetitive activity will keep my arms strong–not to mention avoid having my grandson comment about the ‘jiggle’ under my arms. Thanks to the weights, that jiggle is gone. Woo-hoo!
A friend of mine who has a tax services business also beta reads for me. You might wonder how this fits into my ‘use both hands’ subject. Well…she’s a multitasker, too. I feel bad when I ask her to read for me during tax season, but she’s always willing. When I asked her how she finds the time, she said she keeps the book open on her computer, and when she has to wait for documents to print, she reads a little bit. Sometimes, if it’s a lengthy document, she can read quite a lot. She’s like me. She doesn’t like to be idle.
So, if you find that you’re having a hard time fitting everything that you need to accomplish into your day, ask yourself, “Am I using both hands?”
It’s good to enjoy everything you do, and if you can find ways to squeeze more tasks into the little spaces that can be overlooked, you might find that you’re getting even more out of your life.
I’d love to hear how you find ways to multitask. Please comment below!
When I started writing, more than one person told me to “follow my muse.” I understand. My heart and mind will often lead me in a particular direction, and stories will come to me out of the blue.
My writing journey began with a dream that led me to write historical fiction. I love history and stepping back in time, so this genre fit. However, at one point, my muse had other ideas!
I spent a little over a year writing a medieval fantasy series called Shrouded Thrones. You can read more about it on my main page. Just click the Shrouded Thrones tab. Initially, I had only planned to write Island in the Forest, which was a rewrite of a children’s fairy tale I wrote when my son was young. I “grew it up” and made it into a novel. That single book led to four more. I found myself fully immersed in the realms I created, and the story simply took off by itself. My muse went wild! This particular series is darker than my historical fiction, but I’m still passionate about it. I found that many readers who love my historical books, weren’t as impassioned, and I decided to go back to my roots. I stuffed that other particular muse in a box, but it often begged me to be released.
I’m happy to say that I’ve recently been given the opportunity to reopen that box! My publisher, Jumpmaster Press, asked for short stories for a Fantasy Anthology that they were putting together, with proceeds going to charity. We were given specific parameters for the story, and I found it incredibly fun to write. That first anthology is called, “Realms of the Fantastic.” My contribution is: Riches of the Stone. You can find the anthology here: https://www.jumpmasterpress.com/product-page/realms-from-the-fantastic
Now, Jumpmaster Press is putting together another Fantasy Anthology called, “Enchanted Realms.” The story I have in this one is: A Noteworthy Enchantment. It tells the tale of a young girl who is under a spell to always sing. The story takes place in the same realm as in the first anthology. I’ve had so much fun writing these stories, and I have a strong feeling that there will be more to come that are set in Shanavar–the realm I created.
I was thrilled to be invited as one of the featured authors at the Civil War Reenactment scheduled for this coming weekend in Ridgetop, Tennessee!
Most of my books are set either right before the war, during the war, or after the war at the time of Reconstruction. When I first started writing, agents, other authors, and publishers cautioned me against choosing this time period to set my stories. However, if you’ve followed my blog, you know that a dream inspired my first series, and from then on, I’ve felt compelled to write about the struggles this nation went through during that difficult time. I believe wholeheartedly that although this was a sad time for our country, it’s crucial that what happened isn’t forgotten. Hopefully, by remembering these events, we can learn from them and prevent them from happening again. If you’re in the area this weekend, come by and experience something you’ll not soon forget!
Here are the books I’ll be featuring!
For more detailed information about all of these books, be sure to check out my book tab!
I’ve lived in Tennessee for almost thirty years, and I have a confession to make… I’ve never been to the State Fair. I’ve attended the Robertson County Fair several times, and it was great, but I’ve heard that it pales in comparison to the enormous state-wide event.
Needless to say, I’m super excited to be attending the State Fair this coming Sunday. What finally got me off my tail and headed in that direction? An invitation to participate in Author’s Day! If you live in Tennessee, (or even if you don’t and want to travel to a fun, family event), I hope you’ll join me at the fair.
It’s the perfect time for summer traveling, but with today’s high gas prices, it’s not always feasible. So, here’s an alternative!
Take a journey with me through the pages of “His Heart’s Long Journey!” This series is based on the true story of Vern Harpole. At the age of eight, Vern is abandoned by his mother and left on the porch of a bakery in Kansas City. The kind baker and his wife take Vern in after they’re unable to locate Vern’s mother.
They teach Vern everything he needs to know about baking and running a business. They also grow to love him, and vice versa. Yet, the need to know why he was abandoned troubles Vern, and he can’t let it go. In addition, something keeps compelling him to go West. His life’s journey takes him on quite an adventure.
Today thru Tuesday, July 26th, book one, “Forsaken by Love” is available as a FREE download from Amazon. Here’s a little more about the book!
When I first visited Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains, I was taken back in time. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve likely seen many posts about the smokies and my passion for the history of the cove and the people who lived there.
I’m excited to share this beautiful video produced by Vince Pinkerton! He captured the feel of my story and gave me abundant chills in the process. It’s incredible to see this come to life, if only for a brief 30-second clip!
If you’ve not yet delved into the Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, I hope you’ll consider giving it a read. Book one is just the beginning. After all, the series is a ‘saga.’ My prayer is that we’ll learn from our history and not repeat the same mistakes.
I grew up in a small town in northern Idaho, and I loved the mountains. I have great memories of hikes I took with my grandpa, as well as treks up the mountains to pick huckleberries with my mom and dad. To this day, I can still remember the smell of huckleberry bushes. As we drove up the rugged roads, we’d stick our noses in the air to catch the scent of those wonderful berries. And when we smelled them, we’d holler for the vehicle to be stopped so we could get out and hunt them up.
Almost thirty years ago, I left Idaho in pursuit of my dreams, and I moved to Tennessee. Here, I met my husband, and he introduced me to another range of mountains. The beautiful Smokies. They have some similarities to the Rockies, but they’re also different in their own right. The shades of green are definitely different, and I’ve never smelled huckleberries in the Smokies. Regardless, I fell in love with the mountains all over again.
My husband took me on a trip to Gatlinburg, TN, for one of our first anniversaries. The town has its own charm–as does Pigeon Forge and some of the other outlying cities. We took a drive ‘up the mountain’ to a place I’ll cherish forever. If you’re familiar with my books and my writing, you’ve probably heard this story before, because I can’t stop talking about it! We ended up in Cades Cove.
When he told me we’d be going to a place that only had a one-way road that looped from one end to the other, and that everyone had to drive around it slowly, I wondered why. He talked it up as if it was the best thing in the world. Honestly, I thought it sounded horribly boring. As much as I appreciate pretty scenery, putting along on a one-way road didn’t sound too appealing. I wanted excitement and adventure–like I knew I could get at the nearby theme park.
I learned a valuable lesson on that venture. My husband was right. It was the best thing in the world. Cades Cove transported us back in time to a simpler life. One that was unhurried and pure. The cove sits in the middle of the mountains. Acre after acre of land that was once farmed and loved by the people who lived there. Some of the original cabins still remain, along with a mill, several churches, and cemeteries with the graves of those who’d called the cove their home. The unsurpassed beauty of the land touches my heart every time I go there.
We return to Cades Cove every year. I’ve memorized much of it, but I’m never any less in awe of the splendor. It had to have been difficult for the residents of the cove, when the states of Tennessee and North Carolina decided to create a National Park that included the Cades Cove land. I doubt it was easy to put a price on the land they loved, then leave it behind and go elsewhere. Some residents were able to stay, yet I’m sure it wasn’t the same.
All that being said, I’m glad that the past has been preserved in the cove. When I learned about the hardships that the residents endured during the Civil War, I was compelled to write about it. Here’s a link to the first book in my Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZYYY5WK I did my best to capture what life was like for those families, and to this day, I feel like I can sense them walking by my side when I visit the cove.
Every place in this world has a story to tell, and I hope that you’ll make a trip to the Smoky Mountains and specifically, Cades Cove. Be sure to have your camera handy, so you can capture its majesty. It’s a little bit of Heaven on Earth with some wildlife thrown in for good measure. You might see a bear or two, as well as deer and turkeys. If you like to hike, there are plenty of trails you can take. Some will lead you to remote cabins, and others are simply for the sake of enjoying nature. More than anything, you’ll come away, content, with an appreciation for the simpler things in life.
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.
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!