The Essence of Advent

Since people have already started preparing for the holiday season, I’ve invited Lynn Watson to share about her Christmas devotional with us today – first of all, here’s an enticing trailer to watch:

Also, Lynn is giving away one copy of The Essence of Joy, either print or Kindle, to a commenter (Kindle only outside the USA.)

These Christmas readings provide ample food for thought. The reader-friendly style invites us to contemplate many aspects of the nativity story–especially the scents and tastes of the season. Several sections would be perfect for sharing as a group devotional. I was also impressed with how Lynn shares the spotlight with her cover artist. 

Take it away, Lynn…

Fictional character Cinnamah-Brosia was born in the first book in this series, The Essence of Courage. She has transformed Miss Dot’s Café (her Gram) into The Coffee Cottage. She and her friends hang out there, invite you in and share their stories of challenge and triumph as each chapter begins.

courage-book-cover-frontI approached my friend Allisha to create the character. Don’t laugh, but ‘C-B’ began as a super-hero character – a pretty cool one, I might add. But we doubted she would be believable or very well liked. Many drawings later, the cover features her at the patio table warmly inviting readers to enter.

When it came time to plan the next cover, I asked Allisha, “Are you in?” She agreed.

“This cover needs to say Christmas, but not scream it. We need friends in the picture, and The Coffee Cottage. Let’s include hints about the devotions and suggest some of the aromas. Above all, this cover needs to connect to the first book.”


Front bookcover2

Just imagine the concepts she drew and we discarded before being rewarded with this beautiful cover illustration!

The Essence of Joy features Cinnamah welcoming guests for a Christmas party in the section, “Mint – The Joy of Giving.” Cinnamon and citrus on the wreath highlight “Citron – The Joy of Legacy” and “Cinnamon – The Joy of Integrity”. The blue framed piece on the cottage wall relates to “Frankincense – The Joy of Forgiveness.”

Allisha Mokry earned her BFA from Memphis College of Art. I trusted her imagination, instincts, and artistic gifts to create the characters and the covers. With encouragement to draw and develop as God led, her confidence blossom as I watched. I’m so proud of her and the work she has created. You may viisit Allisha on Facebook /artfulexplorations, and order The Essence of Joy at:

The Essence of Courage:

You may contact Lynn at

Walking on Eggshells

Have you ever felt you must walk on eggshells? Many of us can relate to Karen Stork’s story of learning to value herself. Screw the Eggshells 250 wide RGB

The “Back” Story

It is said that we teach people how to treat us. So I have always wondered how  I taught my husband to treat me with verbal abuse and control? And why would I continue to subject myself to this kind of behavior for so long?

Such questions were always in the back of my mind as I thought about the effects of being verbally abused. Helping young women avoid a similar path was another incentive for me, and the dream of becoming a published author was one that had festered for years.

Finally, on a beach in Florida in 2016, I decided it was time to get serious and turn my dream into reality. In one month, the story was outlined. Along with  chapters about my marriage, I also wanted to explore my childhood and my experiences and adventures as a single woman after marriage.

Returning home to Lincoln, I continued to write, but had no idea about publication or what would follow. I simply worked on writing and/or rewriting various chapters every day. After all, I needed a lot of experience writing in a very short time, since it hadn’t been a regular part of my daily routine since returning to college in the 1980s!

Early in 2017 I realized I couldn’t do this all on my own. I found a company in Omaha, NE to provide editing, book layout, cover, and assistance through the publication and marketing process. It wasn’t until late spring of 2017 that we had a title and format for the book — my literary baby was finally born on September 12, 2017. And the title was my inspiration!

Becoming an author fulfilled a major dream and helped me to understand some of my questions about th past. Other unanswered questions may never be resolved, but that’s okay. I don’t believe we can ever understand everything about our past; we just have to accept that whatever happened got us to where we are now. And this publication journey has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

To learn more, visit my website at


Karen Heckman Stork calls herself “The Grandma Moses of writing” because it took her 53 years to achieve her dream of becoming a published author. She is a columnist for the Lincoln 55+ senior quarterly newspaper with a column entitled “A Lincoln Life.” She also co-wrote and produced a family book entitled “Between the Generations, Poems by a Nana and her Grandson.” Karen is a member of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild and is available to read from her book and speak on subjects including the harmful effects of verbal abuse, aging without growing old, life lessons learned and poetry.



Catching Up With Daylight -MASSIVE GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the WhiteFire Publishing Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to go back to stop #1 and collect all the clues in order. Once you have them all, you’ll have uncovered a secret message. Turn that in at the final stop for a chance to win one of THREE amazing prize packages!

The Hunt begins at Roseanna White’s site

  • Take your time! You have all weekend to complete the Hunt—entries will be counted until Monday June 26—so have fun reading all the posts along the way and getting to know each author
  • Lots of extra prizes! Many of the authors are featuring unique giveaways as well, for even more chances to win!
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes back at Roseanna White’s blog.

On an evening flight from Des Moines, Iowa to Colorado Springs, the man in the seat behind me quipped, “We’ll be catching up with daylight on this trip.” Voila! The perfect title for my memoir.

A few years later, WhiteFire Publishing issued me a contract for this manuscript, a compilation of essays, quotes, and women’s stories. The process of nurturing this work to publication taught me so much about life, even though I was a late bloomer with my writing.

I learned that memoir borrows some fiction techniques, such as grounding the reader in each new chapter. And of course, the genre requires imagination



You may be singing your heart out like this little wren in our back yard, but must alert the reader to the whys and wherefores.


Memoir relays one’s unique journey, but mine definitely benefitted from editors’ objectivity. In the end, the published books delivered to my door one day gave me deep satisfaction. I believe I may have hugged the Fed Ex man.

CUwD 3D3


Taking the journey is one thing, but turning your private writing into public writing entirely another, and I’m so grateful WhiteFire gave me the opportunity.

From there, the road has stretched on to writing World War II fiction focused on characters’ journeys. Their joys and sorrows become as real to me as my next door neighbor’s.

But for me, memoir needed to come first – making meaning of my own experiences.  Eudora Welty wrote, “To imagine yourself inside another person…is what a story writer does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose.”

Here’s the Stop # 7 Scoop:

You can order my book at:

Clue to Write Down: imagination

Link to Stop # 8, the Next Stop on the Loop: Joy Palmer

Need the full list of stops?


Roseanna M. White

April McGowan

Cara Luecht

Christine Lindsay

Debra Marvin

Dina Sleiman

Gail Kittleson

Joy Palmer

June Foster

Melody Carlson (hosted)

Nelson Hannah

Rachelle Rea Cobb

Sara Goff

Susie Finkbeiner

Susanne Dietze

Suzie Johnson

All finished? Submit Your Entries!

And now, for my own little giveaway! I’m adding a World War II replica flour sack dishtowel to our group giveaway, since that era affected my childhood so much, and therefore plays into Catching Up With Daylight.


Jot a comment here, perhaps about how memoir has touched you, and leave a LIKE or a smile on my FB author page (if you’ve already LIKED it) to qualify.


This morning, a nifty anonymous quote appeared on my teabag- thank you, whoever came up with this:

                  The ones who say, “You can’t” and “you won’t”

                  are probably the ones scared that you will.



Will this little house wren move into our rather dilapidated offering?








Will this American tree sparrow father a healthy brood of chicks this summer?


Will my poor tulips make it through the cold spell we’ve been having?








And this early butterfly, will it …” I’ll let you think of a question about this delicate creature.


And what about us? Will we take the plunge to submit our writing for publication? Will we go through with our plan simplify our lifestyle?

Will we … what ever decisions we face, chances are some naysayers exist. Mine live mostly in my own heart, so I’ve had to learn to ignore them. I used to hope they’d magically disappear, but that hasn’t happened in the past six decades, so I doubt it will.

Today, we’re attending our nephew’s high school graduation party. He’s such a cool young man – I hope he moves ahead through life with confidence and positivity.

Ignoring those who say we can’t or won’t–a good resolution to make as spring bursts into summer!


A Holiday Toast to “Old” Writers…


We woke up to the season’s first snow this morning, transforming our grey, early-December Iowa into a wonderland. Today I’m sharing author Jane Kirkpatrick’s November post, because it holds encouragement for “old” writers. Like a fresh snow covering, we have a great deal to offer the world. May her words bless your Christmas stockings off!

Francis Bacon wrote: “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” I present this wisdom as four “old” authors this past month have spoken to me about getting published. They have terrific story ideas, the time and energy to pursue their craft and demonstrated perseverance. What they’ve shared about finding a publisher is astonishing. At one conference, an editor said publishing older authors for the first time is just not cost effective because they “don’t know how to do social media or even what a platform is.”

Of course we know what a platform is. It’s a pair of shoes. No, really, it’s a mission statement, what one is willing to stand behind and for. We older authors have had platforms for years as young people going to war or taking stands against them; about the environment; as parents advocating for kids; as business owners and/or employees working long hours with integrity because we believe in what we’re doing and in the communities we’re doing it in. We know how to create a writing platform, one we can stand on and for, just as we know how to write a story.

More importantly, we bring life experiences to the stories we tell. We know how to create empathy for a character because we’ve shown empathy for others in order to live in community. We know how to give voice to those seldom heard because we’ve been listening for years. And we know how to memorialize, how to write about what matters not only to ourselves but as ways to reach others, most of whom are much younger than we are. Perhaps we can prevent in real life the mistakes that our characters make by telling stories constructed on our platforms.

As for social media…one of my “wise” author friends noted, “We have networks from years of working, contacts made while researching, people excited for us in retirement as we pursue another occupation, that of becoming an author.” We can get thousands of friends and “likes” and Twitter followers. She noted too that while many of us aren’t savvy about social media, we have resources to hire people to help us with the technology required of this writing world. At the very least we have 15-year-old grandkids or nieces and nephews to offer guidance. And because we read and are a part of this fascinating world, we also undertake new challenges with vigor knowing that even old rats, when given new mazes, grow new brain cells. If an old rat can learn new tricks, I can!

With my latest book This Road We Traveled about (in part) a 66-year-old woman who didn’t accept her adult children’s plan for her life and struck out on the Oregon Trail with her own wagon, I’ve become especially sensitive to the passions of age. It was what Tabitha Moffat Brown accomplished after she was 66 years old in 1846 in her adopted state of Oregon that moved the 1987 legislature to name her “The Mother of Oregon.” Many of the historical women I write about came “of age” in what we might call their “old age.”

The Psalmist wrote “The Lord knows my lot. He makes my boundaries fall on pleasant places.” Personally, I think publishers are missing the passion of a great story when they let a border like age define an otherwise very pleasant place. Bring on that old wood, aged wine and trusted friends! And yes, old authors.

Thanks so much, Jane. If you’ve yet to read any of her wonderful historical fiction, now would be a great time for a taste! 

In the Swing of Spring

My baby kale’s peeking through the soil, and volunteer squash plants have emerged around the compost pile. The trees have leafed out, a sure sign that Spring isn’t just flirting with us anymore.


And inside, I’ve experienced the fruits of my labor: the first box of In Times Like These arrived yesterday, on our thirty-eighth anniversary. This young World War II farm wife’s story has been long in the writing, and holding the finished creation brings undeniable satisfaction.



Beside me on the wall hangs Emily Dickinson’s HOPE, which fits in with this season. It’s great to witness new birth all around us with our backyard cardinals, a multitude of robins, and flowers budding. We’ve even had our first butterfly visit. IMG_4839


I’ve always liked the way Proverbs puts it: “…the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.” Sigh….winter is gone for good. Welcome back, Spring, and welcome to the world, Addie!

I’ll keep you updated on our flowers, and for more information on In Times LIke These, see the previous post, MY BOOKS, or go here: