Debut Novel!

Remember when your very first novel released, or looking forward to that day? Here’s a new story on my reading list: Tamelia Aday’s The Filbert Ridge Miracle. I welcome Tamelia to share a bit of background info. And she’s offering an e-book to one fortunate commenter, too.

I started writing The Filbert Ridge Miracle when my oldest son was in grade school. I wish I remembered the exact year, but it’s one of those things where you are piecing something together little by little. And in reality, maybe I don’t want to know how long it took me. 

The Filbert Ridge Miracle is about a pastor’s family who live in a small town. They are scrutinized for their unruly children and the wife, Rose, is especially considered odd. 

I had a germ of an idea of this mom, feeling the judgement of others, trying to escape into a world that no one knew about. To have a secret life of feeding the homeless and helping the needy. I then considered what if one of her children went missing. I pictured her on the streets looking for her son. The raw parts of this story had their moments on a word processor floppy disk, marked “Free Time.” 

Years later, the whole direction of the story changed with a miracle in the church parking lot. At that moment I was in the voice of Patrick, who before had almost no part in the story. Everything shifted and Patrck’s feelings and aggravations flowed across the page becoming the first chapter which changed the rest of the book. I found my voice the same time Patrick let me use his. 

Piecing together a parking lot miracle to a missing child was a challenge, but through a lot of throwing out of material—another whole book’s worth probably—it came together.

The Filbert Ridge Miracle is published by WordsCraft Press. Available on Amazon in e-book, paperback, and hardback

From the back cover

It was October 7, 1967.

The festival in Filbert Ridge, Oregon, came early, and many wondered if they had followed the usual tradition of celebrating the hazelnut harvest on the second Saturday of October, perhaps things would have gone in a different direction. 

Instead, town history and the lives of its citizens changed forever.

Get in touch with Tamelia

New Word

Our middle school teachers told us it’s good to increase our vocabulary, right? I mean, most often we prefer a variety of flowers in our gardens, not all tulips, all primroses or ALL daisies. Pretty soon we’ll be planting or cultivating our plot, so flowers have been on my mind lately.

I’ve also been working on a story set in Texas the early 1920’s, not my usual timeframe. Like every era, this one has its share of unique sayings, and the state of Texas? It’s rampant with dialectical goodies!

Our language provides such a wide variety of words and phrases that it’s also fun to learn new ones. Some of my recent new words have come as a result of studying Spanish, but others just pop up in my reading.

Ever hear of agathokakological? This eight-syllable word teeming with awkward letters means “composed of both good and evil.” Difficult to repeat, but it fits in so many settings–offhand, how many can you think of?

It’s kind of like ambivalent–we’ve all experienced feeling this way. Mixed emotions often get our attention. Our ideal is for things to be perfect…just the way we’d like. But that rarely happens, so we find ourselves liking some parts of certain situations, others not so much.

I doubt I’ll be pronouncing agathokakological any time soon, but this ungainly word will most likely stick in my mind. And I’ll probably think it at times, even if I don’t say it.


I’m so pleased to introduce Monica McCann to you all. She’s one of the contributing authors in  A Hill Country Christmas- Truths for Troubled Trails. A former teacher, she’s helped introduce writing to many students, and now gets to GO FOR IT herself! I appreciated her thoughts here, since I’ve also written notes for a novel on many an unworthy scrap of paper. We’ll be hearing more from Monica, I’m sure of it!

Monica says…

I always imagined when I “became a real writer” that my writing would be this organized, linear, easy telling of a story on paper. After all, I have been telling stories to myself, to my pets, to my best friend my whole life.  Ha! Silly me. 

I have two novels and two short stories that I am in the middle of and none of them just flow from my fingers to my laptop. I have sticky notes and legal pads and 30 tabs open on my computer screen for research (yes,30, I just counted them).  I am not claiming this is the best way, this is just my way. 

What I have found to be true is that “writing” happens at all hours, in inconvenient places and not always on paper. It can be messy.  Stories appear as we go about our day. Inspiration will dawn suddenly and as my daddy always said, “Gotta make hay while the sun shines.”  

Sometimes that happens while you are on a plane dutifully reading a book to help you with your fear of the editing process. The exercise in this book shed light on one of my unfinished novels that lays waiting in the dark. I knew my aging brain would remember only part of the idea if I wrote it later, so I wanted to get it down.

 I hadn’t brought my laptop or a notebook, and the tiny napkin from my airline refreshment would handle very little of my swoopy cursive. What did I find? The airsick bag! My whole row’s air-sick bags. Yep, I am a real writer.

One of my short story ideas started with a person and a geographical location. That led me to his sister, who authored a book about the place, which led me to another historical website, and there was my story waiting for me. 

 Driving to town yesterday, a song on the radio made me think about what it would be like to look someone in the eye that you had thought was lost to you in time. Suddenly my idea became two living, breathing people. I get horribly carsick so writing while sitting in the car is not my favorite, but I grabbed my new notebook out of my bag (My husband, appalled at my behavior on the airplane, bought me two.) I wrote feverishly, and oh so messy, in my notebook for the entire hour drive. 

Today I am back at the computer, translating my scribbles from yesterday, and the voice memo I made for myself while walking this morning. A few more tabs of research will be opened.  The husband or the dogs will interrupt me a dozen or more times, so the “writing” continues in my head.

 I will continue to gather sticky notes and other pieces of my story here and there. None of this disqualifies me as a “real writer.” I am so thankful for people that encourage me to just tell the stories. 

I think the truth I have been learning is the same truth the Velveteen Rabbit learned.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

 Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

         Becoming a real writer is something that happens as you write. It is sometimes painful, often messy, and in the end, wonderfully real.

Tools of the trade

Monica McCann is one of the contributing authors in 

A Hill Country Christmas- Truths for Troubled Trails.

A Christmas Gift

I’ve gotten to know my Words With Friends partner, Erma Ullrey, a bit better. She’s a writer, too, and it’s fun to banter as we endeavor to beat each other at the Scrabble-like game.

Just recently I learned more about the story she her husband have lived for the past six years–what a challenge they’ve faced! During this time Erma has written a children’s book…here’s the cover. Don’t you love the concept of a snowflake afraid to fall because it knows it’ll melt?

You can read all about it as we reflect on Christmas 2023 and the New Year. May Erma’s words increase our appreciation for every breath we take.

CHRISTMAS IS…God’s Breath of Life

By eMarie

More than six years ago, my husband Bert and I reeled when he received the staggering diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. No signs or symptoms, and never a history of cancer in his family. From that moment on, when he fell on his knees, I knelt beside him. When he rose up in faith, I cheered him on. When he felt well, we celebrated. 

I wore an impenetrable stoic face all day, every day. Although I believed God and took Him at His word, in my quiet moments I felt and acted more like Jacob. I didn’t have a visible wrestling match with the Lord, but an intense spiritual battle raged. Especially after reading the statistical prognosis for Bert’s disease. “Hopeless” fit the percentage. The doctors had already told us as much. But faith said these outcomes and statistics hadn’t met our God. Faith said nothing is impossible with Him.

The Lord invites us in Hebrews to come and reason with Him.

I came, but I was beyond reason. I didn’t have the peace of an overcomer, the peace that insured the battle had been won. I cried out to the Lord asking, wanting, needing something personal from Him. Something to demonstrate that even though I didn’t see it, He was at work, able to heal sicknesses of every kind, including cancer. That He cared about what was happening to Bert. That every promise in His word was still true and still ours. Jehovah would continue to be faithful, able, and in control of every aspect of our lives.

A snapshot flashed across my mind. I glimpsed the crossroads in Sacramento, CA where I first became a believer at age 19. Then, as if He needed it, I reminded the Lord of His covenant, His many promises throughout all generations. And that one of His names is Emmanuel—God with us. I prayed – Lord, if you’re still with us, show me that you are.



I got in the car that day to go to lunch with a group of Bible study friends. As I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I again asked for some revelation that He was the same miracle-working God.

Beyond frustrated with this unanswered prayer, I walked up to the restaurant and released a deep exhale. As I watched, my breath formed a vapor, lingering in the frosty air. 

God’s word awakened my spirit.

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” (Gen. 2:7)

I stood stunned at the answer He’d shown me!

Every breath was, is, and always will be proof of God’s existence, love, faithfulness. He graciously made visible to me what He’d provided all along. Life! For, from, by, and in Him!

My wrestling ended there and then, and a deeper sense of wonder was birthed. That afternoon, in an effort to capture what God graciously demonstrated in that spine-tingling moment, I penned the first words to A Snowflake’s Adventure.

…six years later, by God’s grace and strength, my husband praises the Lord for each new day he’s been given to live for Him.

A Snowflake’s Adventure is a story of God’s breath of life to every child He’s ever created. Unique. Purposeful. We are His one-of-a-kind design. Each. And. Every. One.


 (To the glory of God, we have donated A Snowflake’s Adventure, a #1 Amazon children’s book to more than 500 children around the world through OCC/Samaritan’s Purse. For every book sold, one is donated!)

I appreciate your purchases, and please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you!

Of burrs, the heavens, and Christmas…

As Christmas nears, I can’t dream up a story more inspirational than Katie Luther’s…brings us back to the true meaning of this season. The photo from last year here in Pine fits because “The heavens are telling the glory of God…” And so does the powerful metaphor this woman used on her deathbed!
This is a reprint from the Christian History Institute, with the author listed below. 

Wednesday, December 20 – Daily StoryFighting for Life, Katharina Luther Clung to ChristKATHERINA VON BORA’S LIFE was one of hard work and solid virtue. When she was a young girl, her father placed her in a German convent following his remarriage. She heard Luther’s teachings in her early twenties and accepted his doctrine of justification by faith alone. With some other nuns she contacted the reformer, requesting help to escape the convent. Luther arranged for a delivery-man to smuggle the women out in empty fish barrels. Luther asked the families of the young women to take them back. When they proved unwilling, he found husbands for all of them. However, he was not able to find a place for Katie. Eventually he proposed to her and married her the same day. They seem to have been a happy couple. Her hard work and practical domestic skills (budgeting, raising livestock, and brewing beer) fed and clothed them, their children, several orphans, and the many students who boarded with them. After Luther’s death, Katie reared their younger children alone for six years. Elector John Frederick, the ruler of Saxony, set up a small trust fund and helped her purchase a farm near Wittenberg. However, her land was taxed unmercifully by contending armies during the Schmalkaldic War, leaving her in crushing poverty. As a result, she had to flee. Her animals were confiscated and her house burned to the ground. After peace was restored, Katie borrowed a thousand gulden to rebuild. To repay her loan, she took student boarders. When plague broke out in Wittenberg in 1552, the university staff and students moved to Torgau, a place less affected by the disease. With her boarders gone, Katherina was again in dire financial straits. She decided to follow the university, but her decision proved catastrophic. At the end of the sixty mile trip, not far from the gate of Torgau, her horses bolted and she had to leap from the wagon into a lake. She was lifted from the water severely bruised. Friends carried her into the city. Although she fought for life for three months, the pain and hardships of her latter years sealed her inevitable end. Her last recorded words were, “I will cling to my Lord Christ as a burr on a coat.” On this day, 20 December 1552 she died. Next day, the entire university turned out for her funeral.—Dan Graves

The magazine, Christian History, is offered on a donation basis and you can sign up for a year for free here:

Winter’s Upon Us

You can feel the moisture in the air, smell the snow over the mountain. Well, at least I think so–we haven’t seen much yet, just some rain and hail squalls a few days ago. But since I’m writing about the pioneers who lived so close to nature, I think I can smell snow? And my joints have been complaining, maybe more than usual.

We’ll see, right?

But in the meantime, it’s puzzle time on Holly Drive. This one, a vista of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, reveals vibrant greens, rusts, blues, aquas and up in one corner of the sky, gold and yellow. Small pieces awaiting their places, their unique spots, in the final tableau. And Lance making every effort to get them to where they belong.

Yesterday I was reading about the great meteorites of 1860 over parts of India and New York State. I suppose native Americans and settlers and other citizens stared in awe at the night sky, wondering about this portent. As the year passed and tensions grew, some attributed prophetic powers to the never-seen-before-show.

A Great War was about to commence…a terrible, senseless war no one wanted. But people simply could not find common ground on the days’ issues. I also recently read William Carlos Williams’ short story, “The Use of Force.” Such an abrupt ending, leaving all the pieces in my lap to deal with.

Seemed odd, when we’re so used to authors “tying up all the loose ends.” But there you have it. Another way of arranging things.

Williams said about his style, “In my own work it has always sufficed that the object of my attention be presented without further comment. It doesn’t declaim or explain; it presents.”

Read his classic story here:

What do you think?

A Grateful Heart

“The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” James E. Faust

What is it about gratitude that alters everything? Here in the Ponderosa Forest, I never tire of seeing the elk and deer–each siting gives me joy. And Lance’s ability to capture these creatures in action makes for photos worth sharing.

I’ve been researching for my Civil War manuscript and recently came across Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation. Issued on October 20 that year, the text really made me think.

What? Give thanks? Over fifty thousand American soldiers had died at Gettysburg alone that year, plus thousands more in other battles. As Mr. Lincoln noted, many women had become widows…many children orphans.

But he also highlighted the lack of foreign powers involved in our in-fighting–one good thing. And the physical size of the battlefield was shrinking. Progress was still being made in settling the wilderness, as well as in communications (the telegraph and the transcontinental railroad.) Other new inventions had come forth, as well.

Like George Washington and other Presidents before him, Lincoln focused on Thanksgiving in spite of dire circumstances.

In the light of so many losses, it’s amazing that a National Thanksgiving Day even crossed his mind, and it might not have, were it not for one woman, Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, who wrote to Lincoln on September 28, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.”

His response? He searched for positive news as the nation lumbered on toward eventually ending the war. Realizing how much longer it would take for the South to surrender, we find little comfort here.

But this example of thankfulness in the midst of horror can hearten us…So much suffering still lay ahead, yet President Lincoln led the Union in offering thanks for the good he could find.

No national “turkey pardoning” took place that year. Now, we watch football and pay little attention to Thanksgiving Days of the distant past. But this holiday, as we taste pumpkin pie and all the rest, hopefully we’ll pay a little extra attention to our hearts.

Even with many challenges here and abroad, and a great deal of suffering, we have so very much for which to give thanks.

Second Chances

Second Chances can mean everything…think of all the dramas revolving around this theme–nothing new, but at the very center of the human heart. One of my favorites, the tale of Les Miserables, reveals the struggle involved in second chances. Oh, sometimes someone wins the Lottery and their life gets turned around pronto, but more often, second chances involve taking one plodding step at a time until an opportunity comes along.

That’s what happens for Dottie and Al in WINDS OF CHANGE, my latest release. First of all, let me say I have “redone” this very first published novel, because ten years has taught me a lot about writing. Enough that I knew this story deserved better.

Especially, the characters, who have been with me every since that first pained attempt, deserved a stronger entrance into the world. So here we have it: a World War II widow and Gold Star mother, grieving the loss of her only son in a far-away battle. She merits every honor we can bestow on her–she stands for all those Moms who waited for letters from their sons and one day received a telegram instead.

And then there’s Al, Dottie’s next-door neighbor, and her deceased best friend’s husband. Ah, the dreams this man harbors! And the vast hidden wounds from another war, the Great War, meant to end all wars.

So I offer Winds of Change to my loyal readers a little bit early–I’ll be posting the press release on my FB author page later today for more details. But for now, I just want to present Al and Dottie to you–may they remind you of the hope we have, and the possibility of second chances, no matter what has befallen us.

One reader says: Please believe me…this story of second chances will pull you in, draw you from page to page, warm your heart, and leave you sighing. It’s simply wonderful from the first page to the last.
I have a digital copy, but I already ordered a paperback copy as well. It’s that good.

Then and Now…Complicated Times

This morning as I took some sun, a deer came quite close to me. They’re often passing through our yard, and sometimes I speak to them…usually from more of a distance. This time I was sitting out in the yard, and this little one surprised me.

She didn’t seem to mind my bad hair day, or that I was taking up space near where she wanted to eat.

So I carried on a conversation with her. “Hey, girl. Beautiful morning, isn’t it?”

A sidelight–I’ve been working on a novel, not my usual WWII kind, but a Civil War era story. And my heroine finds comfort during dire distress in the visitations of a doe.

This manuscript, begun probably a dozen or more years back, I’ve almost thrown out. More than once. But something about the characters has kept calling to me.

That means more research, so I’m poring over books about the war and the people of the time. Did you know that the venerable Sam Houston relinquished his Texas governorship when Texas joined the Confederacy and he was forced to sign the Articles of Confederation?

He did–and dismayed thousands of Texans who had voted to secede. He stood on his principles, but they felt they were principled, too. I’m trying to crawl inside their minds to see how their belief in each state having inalienable rights drove their decisions. Such a complicated time–many of the early failures in battle were due largely to politics.

Anyway, I’m learning a lot, which satisfies me. And then this deer shows up. Big black eyes,

dark button nose, and so patient. Willing to simply stand there and stare, listening to me chatter.

One thing I’ve been thinking: today’s evil and hatred loom so large. Seems as if the bottom’s fallen out of our society. Or falling. But I’m certain people felt the same way back in the early 1860’s.

And somehow, they managed to make it through. Most likely, there’s something to be gleaned here as we struggle with sickening news reports and seemingly hopeless conundrums.

A Fallen Sparrow

I just finished reading this novel, and if you want to get RIGHT INTO the heart of the Revolutionary War, this book will do the trick! What a tumultuous time in our nation’s history, full of intrigue and complicated choices. Lynn has a great eye for detail…I learned a lot.

A Fallen Sparrow By Lynne Basham Tagawa

Writing a story set during the American Revolution was a great adventure for me. I knew certain things—and I’m sure y’all do too—but there was so much I had yet to learn!

Book Cover

I loved learning about some of the people. Like Benjamin Rush. I knew he was a doctor, and a signer of the Declaration, but not much more than that. Turns out, he was a Christian and a very interesting man. 

Another fascinating man was Daniel Morgan, the rough-and-ready teamster turned general. I stumbled upon a letter he wrote to a friend. In it, he was making a theological point. I’m like, wait a minute, this guy’s faith is not in the bio I have. Secular writers don’t care about this stuff. So I included a quote from that letter somewhere at the top of a chapter—every chapter has a quote.

The battles were kind of interesting, but I had a harder time with all of that. I had to figure out who was where and when and so forth. Bernard Cornwell’s book Redcoat inspired me a little. He’s good with battle scenes. I loved finding out the little things, like the aurora borealis which weirdly was visible very far south during the war.

Characters were my biggest struggle. Some kind of wrote themselves. I liked writing Robert the British spy. But I had to work on the others. At first, Jonathan, my hero, was a big fat zero. Uninteresting. I thought, I need to make him interesting, so I gave him a secret. Something bad he had done. Ruth, my heroine, was a little easier, because she likes to write—just like me. 

Men like George Whitefield and Samuel Rutherford have no lines in the story, but their influence is critical. Americans in 1776 didn’t just engage in riots and killing for the mere sake of rebellion. They had ideals. They had to do it right. They had to do it according to law and honor and a sense of justice—and not just justice for themselves, but for all. They weren’t always successful, but they gave us a good start. I wanted to dive into what all of it meant.

I hope I was successful.

A Fallen Sparrow Summary:

Ruth Haynes uses the pen name Honorius when she writes for her father’s newspaper. Boston has changed beyond recognition, and her Loyalist views soon get her in trouble. With war looming, what will their family do?

Jonathan Russell hides a guilty secret. The Battle of Bunker’s Hill sweeps him and his Shenandoah Valley family into the war. The unthinkable happens, and he’s forced to deal with both his grief—and his guilt.

Lieutenant Robert Shirley is summoned by his godmother and introduced to the Earl of Dartmouth, who charges him to gather intelligence in Boston. He is horrified but must obey.

Gritty, realistic, and rich with scriptural truth, this story features Dr. Joseph Warren, Major John André, Henry Knox, and Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton.


Robert’s mind whirled. He was being ripped from his duty here with the Fifth Regiment and inserted into the melee of Boston political intrigue, a totally unknown world. The parlor itself seemed to waver. 

“But General Gage? Does he have his own sp—sources?” 

Dartmouth paused while the countess handed him another cup of tea. “General Gage uses his own judgment. We have given him considerable leeway in his command. After all, we are three thousand miles away. But consider this, lieutenant. It is clear the inhabitants of Boston hate the soldiers stationed there. How is Gage to gather intelligence? How is he to discover the thinking of the ordinary man? Worse, he will have difficulties discovering the plots of the rebels.”

Discovering the plots of the rebels. This was a serious task. He had only one more card to play, a weak one. “I have a cousin who might be willing to serve in this capacity.”

Lord Dartmouth studied him.

His godmother arched an eyebrow. “Nonsense. Lord Rawdon is too young.” Her voice dripped with what she would not say, that her grandson’s character was deficient. Robert’s cousin was a scapegrace and a follower of the rakehell Banastre Tarleton. Both had been behind him several years at both Harrow and Oxford, and they were notorious for bullying the youngest students. Rawdon’s father had washed his hands of him, and his uncle had purchased him a commission.

She was right. There was no escape. “My lord, I am honored to serve King and country.”

A little about Lynne:

Lynne Tagawa is a mom and a grandma to six. Coffee and chocolate, in that order. She loves to include gospel truth in her stories. She lives with her husband in Texas.

Sign up for her newsletter at Twitter: @LynneTagawa

Buy link: Coming soon: audiobook!