Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just Keep Going (or what I'm learning from my daughter's ballet journey)

So, I have five kids. Three boys. Two girls.

Four of them study ballet.

And, when I say study...I mean study. My oldest son and daughter spend countless hours trying to perfect technique, line, form. My youngest daughter and son are in it more for the fun, but they work hard too. My middle son...he reads science books and writes middle grades fiction.

Now, you may be wondering how I  am so.....blessed as to have four children who all enjoy classical ballet.

It all started with this one.

She has always been busy. Really busy. The kind of person who, if left to her own devices, will quickly attempt to take control of everyone and everything in her path. She is a leader. No doubt about that, and I admire her for it. She is strong, feisty, kind and helpful.

But, she is busy and I am not.

I like to think things through, plod along at my own pace. Which is not to say I don't move forward, but simply that I don't move forward at my Sassy-girl's break-neck speed.

When she was two, Sassy said she wanted to dance ballet.

But, she was busy, and I just couldn't imagine my busy girl enjoying something as slow as ballet.

When she was three, I signed her up for gymnastics. Along with being busy and eager, she was also very flexible, so she moved quickly from recreational gymnastics to pre-team. She liked it and she was good at it, but while other little girls in the gym threw double back handsprings and begged for second and third and fourth turns on the equipment, Sassy would dance to the music playing over the intercom.

When we  moved from the east coast to the Inland Northwest, Sassy was seven. She was still asking to dance. I gave her a choice - gymnastics or ballet.

She chose ballet.

I signed her up for a ballet class at a classical ballet school. No competition stuff. No shaking her butt or shimmying into tiny little mid-drift baring outfits. Just ballet. Walk into class, hair scraped into a tight bun, body encased in a leotard and pink convertible tights. Nothing exciting or busy about that. Just stand at the barre and do the same thing over and over again.

I figured she'd quit at the end of the year. I thought she'd take a couple of classes and beg to go back to the gym.

By the third or  fourth week, I was called into the office and told that Sassy would be moving up to the next level of ballet. Even more serious, this level contained girls a couple of years older than Sassy who had all been dancing for several years.

So, up she went. To the next level.

She was rather a mess.

Sure, her teacher said she had talent, but she was always slightly off...a little ahead, a little behind. She was too energetic. Too excited. Too everything.  I got called into the office several times to discuss this....problem. Finally, I told Sassy that if she wanted to play, I'd take her to the playground. If she wanted to dance, she'd better settle herself down and get to it.

And, I thought she'd quit.

But, she just kept going.

We are five and a half years and three more kids into this ballet thing.

This week, Sassy has some time off, but her brothers have rehearsal, so she heads into the dance studio with them and spends an hour running through her Fairy dance for Midsummer Night's Dream. Then, she works on the ever elusive arabesque en pointe, and I shoot picture after picture which she soundly rejects has horrible.

Except for this one.  Which she said was okay but not great.

And this one...which we both think is cute.

A friend saw the pictures and said Sassy was a natural.

Sassy laughed, because she knows something she didn't know when she was two and asked to be a ballet dancer. She knows that there is nothing natural about what she does. Every day, she spends a couple of hours turning out at the hips, standing on the tips of her toes, moving her body into positions that most people can't achieve. While she does have a natural sense of movement and certain spark that goes a long way in conveying theme and story, she does not have the flexi-feet that her some of her friends possess. Rather than a long delicate figure, she has a long strong build. Just look at the muscles in her shoulders and legs. Those aren't from lifting weight. They are from dancing.

Talent is great, but it takes a lot more than that to be a ballet dancer.

Especially when female dancers with talent and facility are a dime a dozen.

This is the year when my daughter has realized that there are a lot of very talented very beautiful girls out there, and I really thought it might be the year when she decided to give in and give up. Ballet, after all, is hard work.  Being a dedicated dancer means giving up time with friends. It means missing out on birthday parties and sleep overs. It means saying no when you really want to say yes. It means giving up a lot.

To be blunt, it also means being passed over for parts because your legs aren't as thin as someone elses or because your feet aren't as bendy. It means that when you are twelve and look like you are sixteen, you need to try to dance like you are sixteen or people will think you aren't trying.

Sassy has learned all of this, but she still keeps pushing.

In the face of everything, she still has a deep passion for dance. She loves it the way I love words. To her it is music and expression. It is feeling and emotion.

It is work she loves.

Even when she's tired and discouraged and wondering where it's all going to lead.

She still keeps going.

Joyfully even!

Which is why when I am tired, when the next book seems impossible to write, when the words won't flow and the ideas are all locked up inside, I think about what Sassy said to me this past summer. She'd had a tough day. A friend had been told wonderful things about her future as a dancer and Sassy had simply been told what she needed to work on. She cried. Which is something she almost never does.

I said, "Sassy, do you want to stop? Is it even worth it?"

She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Of course it is."

"So, what do you want to do?" I asked.

"Mom," she said in all her twelve-year-old wisdom. "I'm just going to keep going the way I am. I'm going to keep working hard and I'm going to keep trying. Someday that's going to bring me to the place I'm supposed to be. And wherever that is, I'm going to be much happier there than I will be if I quit and end up nowhere."


She's a busy one, that girl.

But, she's a smart one, too, and I'm learning a lot from watching this journey she's on.

Monday, December 09, 2013

My Child is Not a Thing

She is also not (in no particular order) -

A piece of art.

An exotic creature.

A different species of human being.

A circus freak.

My child is a young girl with white hair and gorgeous blue eyes. She is clever, bright, hard working and sweet. She loves everyone she meets, but she loves me and her older sister the most.

For the most part, Ms. Cheeky is exactly like her peers. Being slightly biased, I would say she is a bit smarter than the average girl her age. A bit quicker. A bit kinder. A bit more accepting.

The last comes, I think, from years when she was not accepted. Years when she looked so different from her peers that all she could ever be was an outsider looking in.


Here in the States, that is not the case. Her white hair is very white, but most people assume she is a platinum blond. Her hair is deeply admired by teenagers and young adults who often stop and ask me how I managed to get it so white. As if I would bleach my 11-year-old's hair!

It is true that Cheeky's vision stinks. Corrected, it is 20/200. She has no depth perception. Somehow, she manages to dance, to knit, to read, to run, to play. Just like any other child, she enjoys being with her friends. Most of them don't realize how bad her eyes are. Most adults don't either. I don't usually bother mentioning it unless I know Cheeky is going to be playing outside. My daughter does not, after all, need pity. She just needs to be allowed to be herself.

We were at the dance studio a few weeks ago. The mother of one of the new students was sitting next to me. She asked which girl was mine, and I pointed Cheeky out. She commented on her beautiful hair and then mentioned casually that Cheeky holds books very close to her face when she reads. She asked if I'd thought about getting her vision rechecked, because it seemed her glasses weren't working.

I explained that my daughter was born with poor vision, that it couldn't be corrected to anything close to perfect.

"Tsks, tsk, tsk," the woman said. "Poor baby."

"Why," I asked, "is she a poor baby?"

"Well, because, she can't see well."

"But she can sing well, dance well, knit well. She is an A student reading above grade level even though she only learned English four years ago. She has friends and a family that loves her. There is nothing poor about that."

The woman looked at me for a moment and nodded solemnly.

I'm not sure she agreed with my assessment of things, and I'm not sure I care.

The fact is, there is nothing to be pitied about my daughter. She is amazing. Maybe she won't ever drive a car, but she won't be sitting on her butt feeling sorry for herself, either. She has everything she needs to be a happy successful human being.

Which brings me to back to the beginning.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend found this while she was researching contact lenses for her daughter (who was also born with albinism).

Yes. It is. My daughter. In oils. The painting is on display in an art show. If you think I'm pulling your leg, go here and take a look.

I've known for a while that the photo this oil painting was painted from had been taken from my blog and posted all over the Internet. If you do a google search of Asian Albinism, you'll usually see it in the photos. That's why I went private on my family blog. I got sick of the sickos who think my daughter is a thing.

Seriously, people. She's a child. Not a piece of art. If you want to paint her, ask. If you want to post her photo all over the Internet for every creepy troll to see, don't.

Because if she were your daughter, your sister, your niece, your friend you wouldn't.

At least, I hope you wouldn't.

But, maybe this world is a crazier place than I think it is!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Girl With Red Marker on Her Face

Sunday, I went to church. Migraine and all.

I don't go to a big fancy church. I go to a small church. Most of its members are in the over-fifty range. They are salt-of-the-earth types, and they know how to get things done.

They also know how to cook.

Which is great, because Southern Baptist churches are notorious for feeding the flock. :0)

We have at least one potluck a month, and when I can attend, I do. Not just for the food (all of it made with real butter and real cream and real veggies and real meat and.... Well, you get the point!). I go because I love the people. They have maintained a community mindset that is sometimes missing from my peers. They think of the group before they think of themselves. They are always ready with kind words, hot tea, meals. There is never a sense that their time is more important than someone elses. Nor do they look at any task as menial.

I think if we could shrink the wonderful group down to bee-size, they'd fit quite well into a hive. Bustling and buzzing and working for the good of all.

But, that wasn't what I came here to write about.

I came to write about the girl with red marker on her face.

She was in church Sunday.

She's been there before.  A foster child who is sometimes in respite care with one of the older members of our church family, the girl has some challenges. She is probably my Sassy's age. She can barely write her name, though. She has a speech impediment and moves awkwardly. She has no social boundaries. No sense of other people's space. She is a little rough, a little rowdy. She moves a lot. From one seat to the next to the next.

She loves my Cheeky girl. But, who doesn't? Cheeky is the most accepting and loving child I have ever known. So,  the girl sits by Cheeky when she is not wandering the sanctuary.

Sunday, I saw her from afar and thought she had terrible burns on her face. My  stomach knotted up and my insides went icy cold. As I drew closer, I realized what I thought were burns were actually scribbles. Red scribbles. All over her face.



Her nose was bright red with it. Her cheeks were smeared. It looked like she'd taken a sharpie and scribbled everywhere. I heard one of the kids ask why she had marker on her face. Her response didn't make much sense. Something about trying to be a character from TV.

That was the last I heard about the marker.

This girl? She sat next to an older couple for a while. They talked to her before church began. When she  moved to sit next to Cheeky, no one stared. She talked to someone who was sitting beside her, and I didn't even see the elderly woman blink at the red stuff spread all over the child's cheeks.

About halfway through the service, the kids went up to the front. The pastor always spends a couple minutes every week talking just to them. The girl with the red marker on her face plodded up to the front in shoes that were two sizes too large and about twenty years too old. They flopped off her feet, the use-to-be-shiny black leather scuffed and dull. Her socks were striped and her dress was checked. Like the shoes, it was several sizes too big.

The pastor gave his mini sermon, and the girl with the red marker on her face listened. When she was asked what she was thankful for, she said her family, and I wondered what family meant to her. Her bio family? Her foster family? Her respite family?

Here she was, this girl with the red marker on her face, with her too-big shoes, too-old clothes and her awkward ways. Here she was with red sharpie scribbled all over her face. Here she was with nothing that any of my kids have. Somehow, in the midst of all the things that were stacked against her, she was thankful.

She sat down next to Cheeky again, and she took one of the visitor cards. She scribbled on it for a few minutes but must have finally realized what it was. She leaned over Cheeky and grabbed my arm.

"I want a visit from the pastor," she said. "But that's already scribbled out on the card."

I looked at the card. She'd written her name in shaky letters at the top and written her respite care parent's name in the middle.

"See?" she said, jabbing at a typed line that should have read I would like to visit with the pastor. . "It's already scribbled out."

Sure enough. It had been. Scribbled so dark with black ink, the words could barely be seen.

I looked at the scribbles on the card and the scribbles on her face, and I wanted so badly to fix everything that was broken.

"Don't worry," I told her even though the pastor was preaching and people all around could probably hear every word we were saying. "I'll fix it for you."

I took her pen and wrote in big letters across the top - I want a visit from the pastor.

I handed it back to her, and she smiled and thanked me and tucked the note in the pocket of her dress.

I hope she gave it to the pastor.

And, I hope she gets a visit from him.

Because, I can't stop thinking about the girl with the red marker on her face. I can't stop wondering if there was something more that I could have done for her. Because, it seems that writing I want a visit from the pastor isn't nearly enough. Not when it comes to little girls with red marker on their faces and thanksgiving in their hearts.  Not when it comes to any child.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Sunday Morning

It's Sunday Morning.

A little after seven.

I've been up for a couple of hours with a raging migraine, so I've had a chance to watch the sun creep over the distant mountains.

This is my favorite time of day and my favorite moment of the week. Even when I don't have a migraine, I'm up early on Sunday morning. Earlier than The Man and the kids. Earlier than the birds, even.

On Sunday morning, I get to sit in silence. I don't have to work or, even, think about work. Sometimes I do, of course. But, mostly I just try to listen. There is something in the silence that can't be found anywhere else. Not in the chaos of my daily life. Not in the busy-ness of my evenings. Not on walks with friends or dinners out. Silence is where I hear my own prayers and where I hear God's answers.

Not in an audible voice. Just in a simple nudging. A sense of purpose. A feeling that I am not alone in the quiet. There is a thickness in solitude, as if the air itself is energized.

It is difficult to explain, but maybe I don't need to. Maybe you have felt it, too.

This morning, I sat in the quiet with my horrible migraine, and I thought about me and God and the great world around me. I thought about my friends and my family, about the sun slowly rising and the cold air seeping through the window pane. I thought, too, about a reader who questioned what was hidden in my heart. She'd read The House on Main Street and was offended by the colorful language (to quote another reader). She posted a review and said something along the lines of, "What happened to Shirlee McCoy to make her turn to this? Or maybe this is what she's been hiding all along?"

She's changed it since the original posting, but I had the pleasure of reading it.

So, I was thinking about me and the darkness hidden away in my soul.

Foul language is not one of the things I hide away. I am, as the reviewer said, very articulate, and I can think of much more effective ways to express myself.

But, I do have things hidden away - insecurities, struggles, days when I just want to throw in the towel, crawl into bed and cover my head with the blankets.

But, then, I figure the vast majority of human beings are the same.

They are the people I am writing.

So, I am sitting in the quiet, and I am thinking of my neighbors and my friends and my family. I am thinking of my church and the people I love. I am thinking about how some are sweet and kind and loving, and how some are virulent and crass. I am thinking that in Apple Valley, Washington, people are exactly like that - a microcosm of the world in general, a little peek into every village, town, city, metropolis on earth.

 The House on Main Street in an editor's pick in the Christmas edition of FIRST for Women Magazine.

And, I think it is because the town is exactly the kind of town all of us would like to live in. At least  for a little while. The people who live there are the kind of people most of us have in our lives. Good people. Crass people. Funny people. Grumpy people. Christians. Non-Christians. People who want what we all want - love and acceptance and the chance to find the one place that is and always will be home. Yeah. It's a cleaner version of the real world. No sex. No clothes ripped off. Nothing graphic or explicit. It is "a cup of hot cocoa" kind of book.

And in the quiet, with my migraine, I'm thinking that's fine.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

This One's for You, Nana

This is Willetta Ruth Pothier AKA Nana.

Nana married young, just a few months shy of completing her nursing education. She'd met and fallen in love with a dashing older man. He'd been married before and had two children. I'm sure it was quite scandalous.

When I was a kid, Nana lived in Massachusetts and my family lived in Maryland. We'd visit once or twice a year. She always seemed rather high brow and exotic to me, her old house in a Boston suburb so much cooler and more interesting then the cookie cutter 1970s house I shared with my parents and four siblings.
Even the story of her long absent father showing up on her doorstep enthralled me. Granddad had gone off to the Merchant Marines after his wife died. He'd left his two daughters with their grandmother. According to the stories, he reappeared in Nana's life many years later, and she took him in. He lived with Nana until he died.

When we'd visit, he'd either be sitting in an old leather recliner or on a bench under the grape arbor. He kept butterscotch candies in his pocket and offered them to us. He also chewed tobacco. Because of him, I know the exact function of a spittoon and can describe what it sounds like when a gob of tobacco lands in one.
I will spare you that, though.
Nana had secrets.
For as long as I can remember, I knew that.
Her husband died when her oldest son was sixteen. My father, the youngest of five, was eight and has no memories of his dad. There were pictures of William Pothier in Nana's photo albums. She'd let us look through the pictures, but she never said a word about the husband she'd lost.  
It didn't matter. I had a huge imagination, and I filled in the details that she wouldn't provide. In my mind, she and William had a love so deep and strong that Nana had barely survived losing him. I never put a word down on paper, but I created my first romance based on Willetta and William.
Years later, I found out the truth. William hadn't been a very nice man. He was harsh and probably abusive. I would say that Nana was more relieved than heartbroken when he died, but I'll never know the truth, because she would never say. She kept her thoughts to herself and raised her kids without piling her baggage onto them.
She was a great lady, my Nana.
She was also a writer.
Years before I was born, she sold a story to a magazine. I don't know what the story was or if anyone has a copy of it. I didn't even know she could write until I submitted STILL WATERS to Harlequin. My father, being the proud papa he is, told his family that I'd queried a publishing house and gotten a request for my book. Nana was thrilled. She'd already had a few mini strokes and her memory wasn't as good as it had once been, but she remembered my submission and asked every week if I had sold the book yet.
When I finally did, Nana was thrilled. She couldn't wait to get her hands on a copy.
As the years went by and her memory got worse and her health failed, Nana never ever forgot that I was a published author. Near the end, when her children could no longer care for her at home, she stayed in a nursing home. She brought copies of my books with her and told all the nurses that her granddaughter had written them. I've heard rumors that she even slept with them sometimes.
Six years ago, Nana passed away. The morning of her death, my husband found a beautiful mourning dove in our yard. It didn't fly away when he bent to pick it up. He carried it into the house and put it in a box. My kids and I spent the day with the dove. It didn't seem sick, but it never flew out of the box. It didn't struggle when I picked it up, either. It had the softest feathers and the most beautiful eyes. If my Nana had been a bird, she would have been one just like that.
That evening, my husband carried the box outside and the dove flew away.
You can say it means nothing, and you will probably be right, but there was something magical about that day, something altogether unexplainable about that beautiful mourning dove.
When I wrote The House on Main Street, I spent a lot of time thinking about family, about love, about the things that bind us together and the things that pull us apart. I thought of Nana and her husband and her old house and the porcelain pig that sat at the top of her stairs. I thought about her secrets and her dreams and the way that she loved her children...unconditionally and without reserve.
I thought about how we can be so caught up in the daily grind, so steeped in the ordinary that we miss the extraordinary.  
And the extraordinary really is all around us.
We just have to slow down long enough to see it.
Nana never said as much, but I'm pretty sure she knew it.
I wasn't asked to write a dedication for The House on Main Street, but if I had been, it would have read - This one is for you, Nana, because you have proven that an ordinary life can be an extraordinarily magical thing and because you understand the power of family and of love.  


Thursday, August 08, 2013

Gertrude...or...those sweet and salty characters

Well, here I am, a few days into August and nearly finished with my first Love Inspired HEART book.

Just a little rundown of the series -

Welcome to HEART (hostage extraction and rescue team), where lives are redeemed, families are restored and true love always prevails.

Hostage Extraction and Rescue Team was founded in 2008 by brothers Jackson and Chance Miller, both former Navy SEALs who’s older sister was taken hostage while on a missionary trip to Cambodia. She was never found. That loss drives the team’s mission - to rescue men, women and children from precarious situations and bring them safely home to their families. In the five years since its inception, HEART has earned a reputation for freeing hostages and rescuing people others have given up on. The members of the team are mostly ex-military or law enforcement personnel who have lost loved ones and who want to make sure that other families don’t suffer the pain they’ve experienced.
I'm not sure when the first book will be out. Probably in the spring or summer of 2014.
Whatever the case, the first book has been fun to write.
And, good news! I included a sweet and salty character. I'm not sure how he found his way into the book, but suddenly...there he was...all tough and cantankerous and quirky. 
As I was writing a scene with this guy kind of stealing the show (so to speak), I thought about Gertrude.  She's a prominent character in THE HOUSE ON MAIN STREET. Seventy-something and not afraid to shout it to the world. She's in a constant feud with her neighbor and has a penchant for dusty faded Santa hats. Blunt, a little rude and too willing to open her mouth when she should keep it shut, she has more than her share of character flaws.
But, man, does she love her family and you couldn't ask for a better friend.
If she sounds like someone I might know (0r, even, someone you might), it's probably because she is. I had the pleasure and blessing of knowing three of my great-grand parents. Grammy Goo is the one who just fills my memories.
And, no. That is not a mistake. Grammy Goo.
Her real name...or at least what we were supposed to call her...was Grammy Goodwin.
AKA, Gertrude Goodwin. My mother's grandmother.
She was salty and sweet. She smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish, swore like a sailor and loved her family like there was no tomorrow. She played the ear. Never took a lesson in her life, but still somehow played at church on Sunday morning (Yes...I do, indeed, mean that she did all the aforementioned things).
Perhaps she is the reason why there are so many older characters in my books, and why so  many of them are quirky and sharp, witty and, sometimes, just a little wild.
I loved Grammy Goo. For all her faults and foibles, because she always let me know that she loved and cared about me.
In the long and short run, when all is said and done and our lives are played out, it is the love we had (or didn't) that will linger in the hearts of those who knew us. And, perhaps, if we are very fortunate, we will be immortalized in someones book or song or dance or painting, or...better the oral histories passed down through generations of our families.
And, really, aside from the drinking, smoking and cussing like a sailor...I think the best kind of older person to be is one just exactly like my wonderful, witty and wild Grammy Goo!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Writing Single Title Romance (Or Sweet Romance is on the Rise)

Well, I've had to put my other blog into hiding. Sadly, the creepy people who like to troll the Internet can't seem to stay away. For the safety of my daughter, I'm keeping it private. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I'll be blogging there again. Cheeky deserves her privacy. As much as I love to share my journey with those who are truly interested in adoption, I do NOT want to share it with voyeurs who think of her as some strange and exotic creature.

So, that is my story, and I am sticking to it.

I guess, though, that is part of life, right? Morphing into something different than what we once were? Taking steps into something new, developing that until it is time to step into something different?

I spent two and a half years focused on being the kind of mother Cheeky needed. I blogged about her and about us and about our family. At some point, though, she became completely us. Not at all seperate. Truly connected, her journey our journey. Yes, her past is always with us, but it is as much a part of our family story as the birth stories of our other children.

I suppose that there is a part of me that is tired of seperating Cheeky out, making her story somehow unique to us. She wants to feel the same as her siblings, and I want her to feel the same, and while we talk often about her life in China, her birth family, even a future where we might search for them, we are a family...complete without the use of words like adopted, biological, special need.

That is the way it should be.

And, so I am here, blogging about life in general. Everything from mothering, to faith, to being a wife and being a writer and washing the endless supply of dishes that are in the kitchen sink.

My life has changed drastically since the last time I posted here.

I was in a car accident that caused me chronic pain. I had moments where I thought that writing wasn't worth my time or effort. I almost gave up, tossed all the years of writing into a little drawer and left them there. But, I had contracts to fulfill, and I had to keep writing.

So, I did.

Write and write and write some more. In the deepest moments of depression and pain, I wrote.

It is very surreal when I think of it, now. I'm not sure how I did it. I prayed, but I wasn't even sure what to pray for.  But, as Romans 8:26 says - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans

In the midst of all this, I kept shooting toward my goals, because it was that or open the drawer and shove the writing life in it.

One of my goals has been to write both series romance and single title romance. I've had that goal from the day I sold STILL WATERS. Which was, btw, a single title. My second book was one of the launch books for Love Inspired Suspense. I've been happily and consistently writing for them for eight years, but I have never given up the goal of writing single title romance again.

I thought long and hard about where I wanted to sell a single title romance. The Christian market or the mainstream market? I wanted to write sweet romance but not necessarily Christian romance. I had heard a speaker at a local writing conference say,  "The world needs sweet stories."

I wanted to write sweet stories.

The market was filled with erotica, paranormal, dark subjects that I don't and can't write.

And, then the pendulum swung. Mainstream publishers began to see a trend toward sweet romance, and they rushed to fill a hole in the market. It just so happened that I had written a proposal for a mainstream Christmas story, and it just so happened that it was sitting on my agent's desk and on my editor's desk. I had been waiting for over six months and figured the story was dead in the water. At the time, I didn't care. I was still in the midst of pain and depression from the car accident, and it was all I could do to keep writing.

One day, my agent sent me a short email. She said that Kensington press was looking for a sweet romance. An editor there had contacted her and asked if she had one, and she immediately thought of my Christmas story. Did I want to submit it?

It was a door, and I've always believed that God opens them when the time is right.

I said yes.

Two days later, John Scognamiglio called my agent and offered me a three book contract for a small town romance series.

My first book comes out in November.


It is a sweet story about a woman who finds that the one place she's never wanted to be is the only place she really belongs. It is about family, community, connections that tie us together...even when we don't want them to.

In many ways, it is like Still Waters:

Filled with quirky characters, centered around small town life and the wonderful people who live it.

There is no overt faith message, but the us...are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. They are real people, living in a real world, facing troubles the best way they can.

It is the kind of book I love to read, and it seemed only natural to write one.

Sweet romance is finally on the rise again, people, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be part of that!