Thoughts on Christmas Day

The Advent season of darkness and possibility pivots on hope, such a marvelous commodity. But in the darkness, hope can seem an impossibility.

One of Lance’s photos–Christmas candlelight Dec 24, 2021.

Darkness reminds us of our need for light. C.S. Lewis said it well, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

This past year gave us ample situations for our inner desire for serenity, safety and sanity. We certainly realize our need for peace, protection and perspective.

During this week before New Year’s, perhaps it would be good to think back to all the “lights” that came to us this past year. The moments of intuition and calmness in the midst of raging political and cultural storms around us.

I wonder what the American GI’s stuck in the Battle of the Bulge nearly eight decades ago. Food, of course, and warmth–two essentials gravely lacking in their foxholes. But surely they also remembered family times, loved ones who held them in their hearts, perhaps recent letters that re-stated the love emanating from homes far away.

Here’s to recalling the lights in our own personal histories, reminders of good overcoming evil and hope drowning out despair. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

The Organizational Gift

Lately I’ve wondered if we’re born with the tendency to organize, to put things in straight rows when given a task. Watching our granddaughter making cookies a couple of weeks ago started me off on this quest. Here she is, arranging peanut butter cookies in the straightest rows imaginable.

Would my rows have been this perfect? Nope, and what’s more, she accomplished this feat in about the same amount of time it would have taken me.

Though this type of natural order attracts me and I make it my goal, my results rarely (I was going to say never, but am practicing positive thinking) reach the mark.

I’ve done a little more reading on this topic, and have written heroes and heroines with and without the tendency to act in an orderly fashion. Can’t say I like one type of personality better–other aspects of their character carry far more weight.

But I’m curious . . . how has orderliness (or lack of this quality) affected you or your writing?

Heirs of Falcon Point

A unique novel written by four authors. Sometimes war’s effects are passed down through the generations. The modern-day Lang family traces their roots and discovers a treasure worth fighting for. One of the authors, A.L. Sowards, offers us a peek into this complicated story today, so get set for a trip back into a chaotic chapter of World War II.

In the early days of World War II, the Lang family lost everything. Eighty years later, it’s time to take it back.

The Nazis have taken control of Austria, and wealthy widower Leopold Lang faces a difficult decision: join the ranks of the foreign power that has taken over his homeland or flee with his children to safety. Leopold makes his choice—but too late. His family is ripped apart, never to be reunited. But decades later, fate brings together the descendants of this broken dynasty in the place where it all began—Falcon Point.Anna, Cole, and Tess have never met, each relying on fractured pieces of information to understand their Austrian heritage. But when unforeseen opportunities draw these Lang cousins to Falcon Point, they soon discover they are not alone in their quest to claim the coveted property and the fabled treasure hidden within. Unfortunately, another claimant, one with a much darker heritage, is determined to eliminate the Lang family once and for all.

About the authors:
Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children’s teenage years. She loves to travel and enjoys coaching her local high school swim team. She has written more than thirty bestselling novels and is a seven-time Whitney Award winner, including 2017 and 2019 Best Novel of the Year. 

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Sian Ann Bessey was born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales. She left her homeland to attend Brigham Young University in Utah, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in English. 

She began her writing career as a college student, publishing several articles in the New Era, Ensign, and Liahona magazines. Since then she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children’s books. She is a USA Today best-selling author, a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year finalist, and a Whitney Award finalist. 

Sian and her husband, Kent, are the parents of five children and the grandparents of three beautiful girls and two handsome boys. They currently live in Idaho, and although Sian doesn’t have the opportunity to speak Welsh very often anymore, she can still wrap her tongue around, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch still rolls off her tongue. 

Traveling, reading, cooking, and being with her grandchildren are some of her favorite activities. 

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Paige Edwards is an award-winning author of contemporary Regency romances with a side-order of suspense. Her stories have debuted in the number-one Amazon spot for Christian fiction and have received national five-star reviews by Reader’s Favorite and InD’Tale Magazine. Her novels appeal to a wide range of readers from Historical Romance to Mystery/Suspense. She holds a degree in interior design and has worked professionally in that field. Due to her strong British roots, Paige’s books are often set in the UK, and she hops the pond whenever she gets the chance. She Is the Lady Paige Edwards when in Scotland, but her favorite title is Grandma. When she needs a break from writing, she serves as president of her area’s Interfaith Community Council, she is fond of digging in the dirt (what some might call gardening), she bikes the battlefields, and she kayaks on the lake. 

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A. L. Sowards has always been fascinated by the 1940s, but she’s grateful she didn’t live back then. She doesn’t think she could have written a novel on a typewriter, and no one would be able to read her handwriting if she wrote her books out longhand. She does, however, think they had the right idea when they rationed nylon and women went barelegged. 

Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have earned a Whitney Award, several Whitney Finalists positions, and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal. 
She lives with her husband and three children and has called Washington State, Utah, and Alaska home. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She doesn’t own a typewriter, but she does own a pair or two of nylons. 

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Amanda / A. L. Sowards

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

A friend of mine from Cedar Falls, Iowa sent me this photo today, and won my heart.

What has she captured? Beauty, purpose, and comfort. A flower, a symbol of the world of writing, and a lovely cup of tea.

Last night, I sipped from my cup as a Texas writers’ group and I explored the process of memoir writing. Even by ZOOM, we formed a connection, and I hope to meet these sincere writers in person one day.

Writing is all about sharing one’s thoughts, one’s heart.

And then there’s tea…ahh….during World War II, Winston Churchill ordered LOTS of tea . . . made it a priority for the troops. In the midst of war’s horrors, he took thought for this sort of tangible comfort.

No wonder that iin Land That I Love, Everett and William cling to the joys of teatime and pass this treasure on to little Donnie. No matter how far you go from home, a cup of tea can take you back.

(Thanks to Sue Schuerman for the photo!)

Authors and Encouragement

Today, several friends and authors offered me support at a book signing in a nifty Cedar Falls Iowa bookstore. Without readers and bookstores, (this was TJ’s in Cedar Falls—thank you, TJ!) where would authors be?

Since I lived in Cedar Falls back in graduate school days, I have some friends from there, and today, they encouraged me by attending this book signing. It’s just plain fun to re-connect, and so kind of others to acknowledge our growth and accomplishments.

I’m not at all sure I can put into words what it means to me, but I guess these photo show rather than TELL…right?

So good to see my old roomie from days of long ago, and her sis-in-law who helped us with everyday needs in our rather sparse apartment.

An author friend caught me unawares in the picture below. Thank you CHERIE, for taking this initiative today–it’s great to have some tangible evidence of a special gathering. Soon, we’ll be celebrating YOUR debut novel’s release!

We often hear about the need to honor and encourage others in pursuing their passions and dreams. That’s exactly what my friends did for me today, and yesterday at the Wellsburg Library too (although I didn’t remember to get any photos there, unfortunately.)

So may these stand for both, and for the gifts that come to us through others throughout out journeys.


Jodie Wolfe shares her new releasE with us today–THIS IS RELEASE DAY!! and is offering an e-book to one commenter. Enjoy!

Protecting Annie -for Gail Kittleson

A foolhardy, straitlaced schoolmarm wasn’t who the sheriff planned to rescue.

Today is release day which is always exciting in the life of an author. Protecting Annieis book two in my Burrton Springs Brides series. In the first book, Taming Julia, my heroine was a no-nonsense, rugged female who spent her whole life living along the trail. Jules (Julia) was a little rough along the edges. She was a duck out of water when she started living in a town.

I thought it would be fun to create a heroine for book two who is the complete opposite of that, which is how I came up with Annie McPherson. Annie is a well-educated, demure heroine. What she lacks in common sense, she makes up for with her research and book knowledge. 

At the end ofTaming Julia,I alluded to Jules trying find a match for her brother, Josh Walker. I knew there had to be a deeper reason why he avoided town living. It was fun throwing Annie and Josh into situations that dug deeper into both of their pasts.

Here’s the official back cover blurb for Protecting Annie:


After twenty years of living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem, she no longer requires his protecting so he’s unsure of his next step.

Annie McPherson needs a change after the death of her father. She accepts a position as schoolmarm, hoping her past won’t catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky sheriff who continues to question her ability to adjust to life in the west and creates confrontations at every turn.

When the irritating schoolteacher’s past and present collide, dragging him into the turmoil, Josh has to decide who he’s willing to defend.

I hope you’ll enjoy my new book. Please leave a comment for your chance to win an ebook of it. Tell me what you’re looking forward to this month.


Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Faith, Hope & Love Christian Writers, and COMPEL Training. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichmentmagazine, her articles can be found online at: CrosswalkChristian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at

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Journey to ChiYah

… a long and twisty road…

Kimberly Russell celebrates her debut fantasy novel with us this week, and she’s offering a free e-book to a commenter. Many authors, consciously or not, integrate their own lives into their stories, and Kimberly has done this intentionally. When I read her bio, I wonder if she’s also used experiences of women in the prison system where she once worked. We’ll see!

My fantasy novel, Journey to ChiYah (Hebrew for restoration) released July 1, 2021. The story is a conglomeration of my life experiences, emotional struggles, hybrid facts, and plain old fiction. Some events are verbatim, while others began as one thing and transformed into something else. Most important, it is the story of my own emotional healing, several decades in the making.

I’ve always struggled with wounds from the past. While God has untangled much over the years, I seemed to be caught in endless cycles, never quite getting long-term healing… until I began attending a new church. 

This was a different kind of place, packed with biblical teaching about how to live entwined with God, breathing in His presence daily. Living in complete agreement with Him involves a willingness to have a cooperative, repentant heart and lifestyle, and being willing to address things He points out. Not always an easy thing. We also learned about His restoring power that can heal us from our wounded past, and I finally began to make lasting progress toward healing. At the same time, my creative juices exploded.

Everyone would see me scribbling furiously during sermons, taking notes, and journaling as God worked me through the healing process that intertwined with Jade’s story, and soon Journey to ChiYah took shape. Life got in the way for a while, and it took a while to finish the first draft, but after I retired four years ago, I knew it was go-time. 

The message of Journey to ChiYah: God can heal and restore us from our wounds if we cooperate during the process. It’s often a bumpy ride, but as we persevere, He is faithful and true to restore us to His original, best intent, then send us on assignment to share with the world.

From the back cover:

Jade Pepperdine has a problem: Her life is crumbling beneath the weight of the past, events of the present, and fears for her future. Things need to change, but she doesn’t know where to start. Answers come in the form of an unexpected opportunity when Jade finds herself stuck in a mythical land. She meets Mayor Dudley, who insinuates she is emotionally broken and in need of repair… a fact she’d just as soon ignore. He offers to help her get home if she is willing to face her issues through a process of restoration. Frightened and skeptical yet out of options, Jade grudgingly agrees. And soon figures out that change is a journey, not a destination. Come along on the adventure of a lifetime, and maybe you’ll find someone you never knew you lost: Yourself.

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Kimberly Russell lives in a tiny house in southern lower Michigan with Toby, the Shih Tzu, 

who allows her to be his roommate. Retired for four years, Kim’s 30 year day job was that 

of civil servant in the Michigan Department of Corrections at the local prison complex as 

the Warden’s Secretary.

Kim began writing in 2009 after she joined an on-line writing community called FaithWriters 

and regularly participated in their weekly writing challenge. High-ranking finishes led to

publication in the 2015 & 2017 FaithWriters anthologies. She branched out and authored 

a column for entertainment publication, Frank Talk, and has been published in Dog Life 

Magazine. Her first full-length novel is Christian Fantasy, Journey to ChiYah,

which released July 1, 2021. 

When not hanging out in her favorite place on earth—the She Shed—and creating literary magic, Kim is a pickleball fiend, playing several times a week. She also loves to read, enjoys a somewhat mediocre golf game, and is a tech geek.


I’m glad to welcome Mary Savarese today. It’s fun to feature authors who write what for me would be a bridge too far! But her Y/A fantasy offers adventure and romance, as well. I hope you venture into her created worlds, cross time barriers, and have fun with Mary’s story. Mary is offering one commenter a HARDBACK COPY of this lovely tale!

This review from the US Review of Books says it all:

“Savarese’s novel is an inventive and original portal fantasy that avoids the genre’s most overused clichés. At moments the story evokes Doctor Who and A Wrinkle in Time, though the plot is unlike anything the reader is likely to have read. Savarese piles incident upon incident, and readers who enjoy a quirky science fiction story with magic and a hint of romance will find much here to entertain.” 

                  Book 1 of the StarWriters Trilogy follows twelve-year old Tyler Charles as he struggles to rescue the love of his life, Callalyly of the House of Montevelli of Siena. Tyler, however, is allowed to call her, Lyly. Tyler lives within the world of today, and Lyly lives inside a world that existed over two centuries ago. When he’s pulled through a lantern portal and slides into a two dimensional world of the toile wallpaper, Tyler must remember his class physics to reverse the effects of an evil wizard’s spell. 

When he finally cracks the code and reverses the effects, Tyler finds himself two centuries into the past where noblemen and women dwell, and where the world is quite different. It is in the past where Tyler finally discovers the true meaning of friendship and learns to work around the daily hardships and emotional traumas of life. 

“Savarese is skilled at contrasting medieval and modern worlds, flowing between them in a manner that is enlightening and creates no confusion in the transition process, which creates a seamless story based not just on one or two main characters, but a host of special interests and It is written in the stars!” Fantasy fans of high school age and older who look for a blend of mystery, history, and spell-binding intrigue will relish the journey and discoveries which defy time, space, and death.” 

— Diane Donovan, Midwest Review 

Mary is an award-winning author born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She earned a degree in accounting from City University, NY and worked within the insurance and financing world. Her debut novel, Tigers Love Bubble Baths & Obsession Perfume (who knew!) is a contemporary spiritual mystery that transcends three genres … mystery, spirituality, and romance, and won eight national book awards. Mary was a religious education teacher and is now a Eucharistic minister for the Catholic church. After raising a family in Connecticut, she moved to Florida with her husband and spends her time writing entertaining and unusual stories.

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Just published by Indignor House & available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Independent Book Stores.     Amazon Softcover   Amazon Hardcover       Barnes & Noble


Mary K. Savarese


Tigers Love Bubble Baths & Obsession Perfume (who knew!)

a Cozy Mystery Romance with a Spiritual Twist

She’s Here… 

The Girl in the Toile Wallpaper 

a Fantasy Adventure Trilogy with Romance 

Visit for more updates 



A NICE Character?

If you’re reared to please others, you’ll always be kind, sweet, and that so-overused English word, nice. I avoid it like the plague in my writing, because of the images it creates–doormat-ish, stuffing feelings, avoiding conflict even at the cost of one’s own mental and emotional health.

No wonder I have lots of adjectives to describe this state–I lived it for many years. That’s why I laughed out loud when I saw this cartoon:

What is worth doing is worth overdoing. Anonymous

Both cartoon and quote appear in a textbook on the ancient medical practice of homeopathy. This holistic approach to physical, mental, and emotional well-being describes various human tendencies and remedies to aid our health. One supporter of homeopathy–the British Crown–made sure these physicians could pursue their healing goals.

It’s easy to see myself in more than one description, just as in modern personality tests. We’re a lot of this and a little of that, with a tad of this other mixed in. I’ve always enjoyed these tests, because human beings and the-way-we-are intrigues me.

Can any of you relate to this cartoon? Do you over-do, even over-do GOOD activities? Many people suffer from this downfall and become slaves to getting-through-that-tree. Sometimes our efforts are at the expense of those around us, or of our own peace of mind.

Every winter in the Arizona mountains, we witness woodpeckers literally working themselves to death–I’ve posted as many woodpecker photos as any other feathered friend.

Fictional characters like this challenge me. Whether it’s teaching, trimming a bush, doing laundry or overseeing a company, perfectionism controls each and every action. And perfectionism makes a harsh taskmaster.

Enjoy life? This personality type has to LEARN what these two words mean!

We’ve all known people like this…maybe we ARE or HAVE BEEN those types ourselves

So, if you happen to meet such a character in one of my books–or another author’s–you’ll be familiar with their moorings.


I love Erma Bombeck’s philosophy, and have a suspicion she qualified as a workaholic. Just sayin’, because for her to fulfill this quote, it stands to reason.

Are we using it all? I’m definitely giving it my best shot, to make up for lost time during those years when I knew writing was my vocation but wasn’t sure what to write. But we do the best we can at any given point in our lives, don’t we?

But all the way along, my novel fodder reserve kept rising higher and higher. And now, I’m working on another WWII story, this time a cozy mystery. Fun to concentrate on something entirely new, while rejoicing in a manuscript that has morphed into a published novel.

Land That I Love…career that I love, albeit late to the starting line!