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.

Still Puzzling

We’ve been working on this one for a few weeks now, and there’s an ambiance to this scene, stories that draw me, waiting to be told.

See the woman carrying her Christmas gifts to the wagon?

She looks so young, yet manages a household back on the farm or ranch. I like the way her husband holds their daughter’s hand . . . or maybe it’s his daughter and he lost his first wife, and this young bride is getting used to being a stepmother, as in the Oke series.

Or . . . well, any number of scenarios could be playing out. What we do see is the general store front and center, a place where folks search for ways to brighten the cold days of winter in their stark cabins.

The artist included a boy helping his father load a big present onto their wagon. Another mother holding a baby follows her young child and husband inside. What quiet expectations does she cherish? Some yard goods for new curtains? A little something special to add to the Christmas meal–perhaps some nuts or raisins the storekeeper ordered in?

Plenty of room here to brainstorm about theme. What focus propelled the artist? What life concepts did he wish to portray?

Ah…it’s all about story, and imagination plays a huge role. It’s fun to speculate…and may even motivate me to start writing!

Confession – Good For The Soul

Patti Shene Gonzales has always been such an encouragement to me and other writers, but I had no idea she had the PROBLEM she shares about here. I’ve always admired people who share their struggles, so here she is, and she’s offering a free e-book of her debut novella to a commenter. Enjoy!

What I Learned From My First Published Novella

All my life, I have been a procrastinator. Lately, I have passed off the flaw with the statement, “why do today what can be done tomorrow? After all, Jesus might return tonight!” Although this thought brings a chuckle, it does not lead to a productive lifestyle.

More than once, I have found myself in situations where I lack some important food ingredient, household product, or whatever, because I failed to write it down on my shopping list.

I can’t count the number of events I have missed in town or online because I put off entering said event in my calendar at the time I read about it. I am always thinking, “I’ll do it later.”

I believe it was way back in April that I was invited to participate in a multi author Christmas novella series. I was so excited, but in my mind, April was a long way away from a November release date. HA!

The months in between flew by faster than an airliner in blue sky, and before I knew it, summer was drawing to a close. I had not written one word of the  story. Oh, yes, ideas churned in my mind all the time, but I had nothing concrete to show for it.

I am a member of an excellent critique group who have offered me so much valuable advice about my writing over the past couple of years. By the time I settled down to write Cathy’s Christmas Confession, there was not enough time to send all of my chapters to my critique buddies.

In retrospect, this first novella would have been so much better if I had taken the time to write, get critiques, edit, and hone the finished product. As it turned out, I spent a very rushed eight weeks writing this story.

Many days and nights I was literally in a panic, fearful I would not fulfill my commitment to God and my fellow authors. I could not face another defeat in my writing career. I had told too many people about this novella. No way was I going to back out on the project.

God intervened at this point and gave me some solid ideas to help me craft a story worth reading. He brought scenes to mind that I had not even thought of. He spoke to me through my main characters and their shared experience of loss. He enabled me to demonstrate the theme that Christmas is not always joyful for the hurting, but there are ways to recognize the true meaning of Christmas through our pain.

Writing is hard. It takes time, patience, perseverance, skill, encouragement, creativity and guidance. I learned a valuable lesson while writing this novella. Procrastination is not a positive trait for an author.

There are hundreds of Christmas stories available to readers every year. Cathy’s Christmas Confession is not a story for all audiences. However, if this story appeals to you, my prayer is that it will bless you and bring joy to your heart.

Happy Jesus’s birthday!

Christmas is not a time of joy for the hurting.

During a snowstorm, widow Cathy Fischer creams a stop sign on her way to work at the Christmas Ridge Community Church. Acquaintance David Martin stops to help. Cathy sees signs of deep grief in David, a recent widower. She reaches out with support in an attempt to help David through this most difficult first Christmas without his beloved wife. 

David Martin struggles with grief over the death of his wife. He blames God for her rapid demise after her cancer diagnosis. Cathy reaches out to him with compassion and support and soon enlists him in her mission to bring joy to others at Christmas. Will their joint quest restore David’s faith?

David needs to turn loose of the past and embrace his future. Cathy has a confession to make to the entire community that may give David a different perspective of who she really is. Will her confession set her free? 

Does God have plans in mind for the two of them they did not anticipate?

Buy link:

Available now on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Check out our Amazon Christmas Ridge Romance page ( to learn about other books in the series and receive updates!


Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview style podcast, where guests share their journey out of darkness or ways they lead others back to light. She hosts writers on her two blogs, Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer. Patti is published in two anthologies and local publications and has three novels in progress. She enjoys writing, reading, critiquing, and spending time with family and friends. Patti lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan. Cathy’s Christmas Confession is her first novella.

Visit Patti at her website



Writing Through Immersion

Please welcome Norma Gail Thurston Holtman today, who is giving away either a paper or e-copy of her debut romance novel Land of My Dreams. Your choice, just leave your contact into with your comment.

Norma, please tell us how your work takes shape. 

LoMD Bookvana cover

When the idea for a story begins to consume my mind, I mull it over for days or weeks until I grasp the characters and setting. I’m a pantster, only plotting when I get stuck or something doesn’t work.

When I finally sit down at the computer, I write in layers, first getting concepts on paper, the story deepening with each pass. Each time through the story, I concentrate on stronger hooks at the beginning and end of scenes. The characters emotions deepen, their dialogue strengthens, their interactions with setting and other characters reveal deeper meaning, and the plot intensifies. Most important, the spiritual journey of the characters congeals.

Creating a story world is very much like a method actor preparing for a role. Immersion is the key. See the setting as another character. Read books, watch movies, talk to people, do anything that helps you identify with every possible aspect of what your characters will experience. Live their life in your mind.

I create playlists on my phone for each story, try the food, travel if possible, and craft metaphors that paint clear pictures for my reader. I make screensavers that contain hundreds of photographs showing flora, fauna, geography, architecture, and everyday activities.

Research is critical. I study the geographical area, time-period of the novel, history, local hotspots, food, clothing, traditions, music, and matters of importance to the people. These have to be believable and recognizable to people who live or visit there. There is nothing wrong in creating fictional places, but there needs to be a balance with reality.


My debut novel, Land of My Dreams is set in Scotland and New Mexico. I do a lot of contrast and comparison, and readers seem to like it. Scots-Gaelic and lowland Scots, as well as slang create interesting language differences. The Scottish people use English words in ways that are unfamiliar to Americans. In my home state of New Mexico, both Spanish and Native American words are part of everyday conversation. The two locations create some interesting interactions between the characters.

 Writing fiction is a great adventure. At some point, the writer and characters merge and the characters take over; leading to scenarios the writer never imagined. When the writer feels the emotions of the characters, readers will as well. © Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, August 28, 2017

Norma 2017

Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 41 years. They have two adult children. If you’re interested in connecting with me, I invite you to follow my blog, join me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.


The Adventure of Writing

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”

― John Cheever

Since I’ve never thought of myself as very organized, it’s interesting to ponder writing fiction as triumphing over chaos. But for any of us who has  attempted to control circumstances and people, it makes perfect sense to strive over what T.S. Eliot terms the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion.



Isn’t that what wrens do when they set up housekeeping in a world of predators ready to disrupt their nesting?

Ah, yes. That’s what control freaks try to manage–the inner chaos. Of course, our actions spread out to those around us, and we get the sense we’re doing well, even if everyone else is chafing at the bit.

Anyway, writing fiction helps this type of personality by giving us a whole set of characters to manage. To bring to life on the page, with all their secrets and foibles, passions and dreams.

I just read about an author hard at work on a sequel to her first novel. This past year, life has given her more than a full platter of challenges, including grief, but she’s finding joy in working with her characters.


Kind of like gardening…cooperative plants like ajuga grow just about anywhere with relish,




same for Shasta daisies–we can count on them to flourish and multiply with little care,



while others require a gentle hand, lots of water, and shade.



But the act of tending these plants nurtures us. What a gift–glorious July blossoms to delight the eye!

Much like flowers, the gift we receive in focusing on our stories nurtures us, too. What can we say but thanks?





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!


Seasonal Changes

Back in the forties, autumn saw my heroines harvesting the last produce from their victory gardens, hauling burlap bags of potatoes and carrots to the hideaway under the windmill, drying walnuts to pick through on winter nights, and stripping dry bean and pea pods to save for next year’s seed.


With more time ahead for indoor work, perhaps some women looked forward to sewing and mending. Addie didn’t, that’s for sure. But she did enjoy knitting sweaters for the soldiers, and even tried her hand at fine stitching.

Recently, I found an amazing cache of someone’s hankies from that bygone era at a garage sale. The more I consider them, the more they overwhelm me with a sense of all the time someone spent  stitching their decorative touches.


Can you imagine the hours this required? And how about these?


So many colors … so much creativity. Picture some weary woman crafting these in her “leisure hours” after a full day of hard physical labor.


Those of us with limited stitching skills (I sew on buttons and  do hemming. Period), stand in awe. Besides fashioning these gems, the Greatest Generation women and their forebears carefully laundered and ironed these useful items, these tear catchers.

How things have changed, eh? Paper tissues catch our tears during life’s ups and downs. I’ve been going through some changes too. Yep. Because of an eye challenge, my computer time is now greatly limited – yes, I’m looking into one of those new-fangled speak-into-your-computer programs.

The past few weeks may have found me remiss with online duties, and that may continue. But stories still bounce around in my head, and the sequel to In Times LIke These will release with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in February 2017.

Several readers have encouraged me lately with their reviews of Addie’s story – one woman commended me for not giving Addie an easy way out. I try to hard to avoid pat answers, which really don’t help struggling people much. In her words:

            I appreciated that you didn’t have easy answers for Addie’s troubles.  I tend to shy-away from Christian fiction for fear of the platitudes. I have recommended this read to a couple of my friends.

So satisfying – words from readers mean so much! For those who’d like to communicate with me, I check my e-mail address, most often. Thank you.

And thanks for your patience, and oh! I’ve shared the title of the sequel numerous times, but it’s been changed to With Each New Dawn

As fall transforms into winter, may you keep discovering new reading delights!

Spring’s Surprises

I was about to upload some pictures of buds leafing out, but then this weather map appeared in an e-mail.  

Snow Image

Fortuitous that our county lies right under the P in POSSIBLE, don’t you think? Since I’ve been forging into new areas in my writing, this thought fits: who knows what’s possible unless we give an idea the old one-two?

So I’m co-writing a cozy mystery with an author friend. We’re having great fun. And in the past two weeks, a WWII novella has taken shape right in the hometown of one of my other heroines. It’s a sweet romance–the kind that blossomed so profusely in the wild, crazy days of that era, and will release this summer.

So, storm or no storm, I’m plunging ahead. Hope this finds you doing the same with your passions and dreams. As they say, SEIZE THE DAY!

An Author’s Saga and a WILD Giveaway!

am goth shrunk

A hearty welcome to Alice K. Arenz. There’s so much I want to learn about you and your work, Alice, so we’ll start out with your favorite things about the Advent season. 

Thanks, Gail, what a wonderful question! I’ve always loved this season—the sights, sounds, the gentleness that prevails—except in shopping frenzies, that is. I even have a cling on my car window that says “Merry Christmas!” which I keep up all year long. 😉

Because of some brain/hearing/balance issues, I can’t enjoy the flashing lights on trees and houses, and sound issues make it difficult to listen to music. I miss that all year long, but especially this time of year. Still, the excitement in my grandchildren’s’ eyes when Christmas is mentioned, the joy I feel setting up Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus . . .

Christmas means time to spend with my children and grandchildren. Our celebration may not last long, but the time together is priceless—a true blessing from God.
Alice, tell us more about your writing history. What  are the two most significant occurrences? 

I’ve always had a very active imagination. Stories and books, TV, movies, and people’s interactions made my mind soar with possibilities, spinning off into lands and scenes so real I could almost touch them.

When I was twelve, my handwritten Adventures of Christopher and Christina was passed around during study halls mingling 7th & 8th graders with high school students. That meant a lot of different ages read my wild imaginings of twins who delved into mysteries and got into danger on a daily basis. I don’t remember much of that chronicle, just that the TV series The Man From Uncle, and other mysteries and suspense shows or books contributed to the overall story.

In the 70s, my “then” husband issued a challenge: get a B in a college creative writing course or agree to give up the dream. I got an A from the toughest teacher in the department, which led to a five-year contract with a New York literary agency. No hoped-for results, but  it taught me discipline and determination, necessities in the writing world. Life intervened, as it tends to do, and until my “new” husband introduced me to Christian fiction, I ignored characters demanding release onto paper.

I prayed for for the writing dream to fade and die. Then Brandilyn Collins’ Eyes of Elisha impressed me so much that I emailed Brandilyn. Boy, was I surprised when she wrote back! She suggested I join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) which started a whole new era of learning and writing.

In spite of more health issues—especially hypersensitivity in my fingers and hands that made typing a challenge–between 2008 and 2010, I got three books published.  The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (cozy mystery and Mirrored Image (classic romantic mystery/suspense),  finaled in the Carol Awards, with The Case of the Missing M.D. winning the Carol Awards in 2010.
Now, after a five-year absence from writing because of even more challenging health issues, a new publisher, Forget Me Not Romances, has published my new classic romantic suspense, An American Gothic. My other books have been re-issued with wonderful new covers and changes. And two more hopefully will be out before the middle of next year! Talk about God’s blessing with this second chance at my dream.

If you could do any kind of writing in the whole world, what would you write? A sci-fi trilogy that would knock fans’ socks off? 
Wow! I guess  I would just want to write whatever God gives me and have it published. I’d love if it would knock the socks off fans—I’d love to know there WERE fans out there waiting for my next book!

A.K. Arenz

Please tell us about the work(s) you’d like to promote. 
Presenting a chance for FOUR different winners to receive a special  Christmas gift of ONE Kindle book from the following, feels wonderful.
An American Gothic(August 2015)—mystery/romantic suspense

She came to Foxxemoor to write a mystery, not become part of one.

Devastated by the death of a child in her care, Lyssie’s heart strings are tugged when she finds another child in danger. Amid past secrets, lies, and betrayals of an old college friend’s family, she must choose a twin brother to trust. The wrong decision could cost her life, and also the life of the child she’s come to love.

The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (Re-Issued September 2015), The Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, Book 1—cozy mystery
Has Glory hit her head one too many times, or was there really a foot dangling out of that carpet?
Reduced to watching new neighbors move in as a form of amusement, Glory Harper is stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, bored, and itching for some excitement. She just doesn’t expect it to come in the form of a foot dangling out the back of a carpet as it’s carried into her new neighbor’s house. The problem is getting someone to believe her.

The moment police recognize Glory as the woman whose misadventures have given her a sketchy reputation, her believability quotient lowers considerably. Just when she thinks someone’s taking her seriously, Glory realizes Detective Rick Spencer, a Harrison Ford look alike, appears more interested in her than in her story.

But, while she’s looking in what seems the obvious direction to solve this mystery, the real criminals are hot on her trail.

The Case of the Mystified M.D. (Re-Issued September 2015), The Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, Book 2 – cozy mystery

First a foot, now a hand—what body part is next?
When her puppy finds a severed hand on a walking trail, Glory Harper is positive the signet ring belongs to a missing college professor who caused a lot of trouble around town. Her insatiable desire to solve his  murder mystery finds her in over her head with secrets, blackmail, and arson.
With her sister Jane overwhelmed by fiancé troubles and an arson fire in her home, Glory latches onto an unlikely partner, and soon feels as though she’s stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone—where nothing is as it appears, and danger lurks around every corner . . .
Including from her boyfriend, Detective Rick Spencer.
Mirrored Image (Re-Issued September 2015) Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Their faces were the same, will their fates be as well?

Eccentric newspaper columnist Cassandra Chase and by-the-book Detective Jeff McMichaels clash over the murder investigation of Lynette Sandler—a woman who looks eerily like Cassandra.
The case becomes more than a test of McMichaels’ mental acumen as he finds himself drawn to a woman he determined to dislike. While the department hunts a murderer, the uncanny similarities between herself and Lynette cause Cassie to launch her own investigation. What she uncovers gives her the sneaking suspicion that she was the murderer’s original mark. She just needs to stay alive long enough to prove it.

Thanks so much for this interview, Gail. Merry Christmas!

And thanks to you, Alice. It’s good to get to know you, and may the best FOUR commenters win one of your books!