Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Gentle Reminder

I was driving somewhere alone this week. And I was complaining venting to the Lord about the fact that my friend, an acquisitions editor at a Christian publisher, recently told me that they had acquired all the historical romance they needed until 2015. 2015.

I had been preparing my current WIP for this editor, in fact for the last year, everything I've worked on was for this particular editor and her company. (Let me be clear here, we had no contract and she hadn't promised me anything. But she wanted to look at my stuff before I sent it anywhere else.)  I changed my story from straight historical to historical romance (And believe me, that involves some real rewriting.)

And then, just like that. Shot down.

Of course, she had no idea how this bit of news affected me. She didn't know I had targeted October as the month I would have the manuscript finished to turn into her. I simply said, "OK, thanks for the heads up." I moped around for a couple of days, even played around with the idea of quitting the whole writing/author/publication thing.

So I was driving along and moaning praying and I said "Lord, it's just so disappointing...I've been writing this for Vicki and---" before I could even finish the sentence, right out of the blue, the Lord said "You're not writing for Vicki, you're writing for Me."


I stopped. I gulped. And I said, "Oooh Kaaaayy...that's right. Thank You for reminding me. I'm not writing for Vicki, I'm writing for you."

And just like that, my attitude changed. I was driving along, complaining, almost as if the Lord wasn't really listening. And He was.

Thanks, Lord.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Marketing an Ebook

Isn't that a gorgeous photo of a Japanese maple? Marketing and advertising your own eEbook is something like that tree, with its trunk and many branches.

I'm still on a steep learning curve and learning every day, and a few months ago I discovered Goodreads.

Goodreads is an online group for readers to share reviews, recommendations and discuss favorite books.

A Secret Hope is there too, and I would love if any of you out there who have read it would go to Goodreads and rate it, put it on your to-read list or just "like" it. Also, if you take the time to go through your favorite genre (mine of course is historical fiction) and mark the books you've loved in the past, Goodreads will give you recommendations for other books you may enjoy.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Does the Lord Have a Sense of Humor? Heck, yes!

I don't know why I thought about this particular incident from my past this morning. Maybe someone out there needs to hear this, or maybe it's because I was reflecting on His goodness and mercy.

And His sense of humor.

Yes, the Lord does have a sense of humor. Just ask any Christian.

This little story happened in 1977. Yep, thirty-five years ago. I was attending Christian Center Church in Brockport, NY, where I first heard the Gospel and was saved.

I was single. There was a divorced man with four little children that wanted me to be his wife. I was flattered by his attention but deep down in my heart I knew this relationship wasn't meant to be. I was still in the process of learning to hear the Lord's voice and had been a Christian for about 2 years at the time.

Slowly I was realizing that the Holy Spirit was urging me to break it off with this man. But I wasn't ready to do it and I questioned whether this was really the Lord's voice I was hearing.

So I decided to test the Lord. My old pastor, Don Riling, used to say "Make it easy on yourself and tough on God." So I told God I was going to do that. A woman by the name of Marilyn Hickey was coming to our church to do a conference on motive gifts. It was to take place at a Holiday Inn in Batavia, NY. At that time I was helping in the sound ministry - helping set up microphones and setting up for events, etc.

I was to assist with the conference at the hotel. So I told the Lord I would ask Marilyn Hickey what she thought about my situation. Whatever she told me to do, I would do and receive it as coming from the Lord.

But then I arranged the "tough" part for the Lord. I stayed as far away from Marilyn Hickey as I could get. If I saw her anywhere near me I would move away. It was a day-long conference and I never got near her once.

The conference finished. Marilyn Hickey left. People went home. We broke down all the equipment, packed the van and were ready to leave. I was smugly congratulating myself that I had managed to never give Marilyn the chance to speak to me.

I needed to make a quick trip to the bathroom before we started back to Brockport, so I went to the Ladies Room. It was empty. I went into a stall to do my business.

Then I heard the door open. Someone walked in and entered the stall next to mine. I looked down at their shoes.

Brown and white leather spectator pumps. Just like the ones Marilyn Hickey was wearing.

I closed my eyes and groaned. 

She finished before me. I could have waited for her to leave but I KNEW the Lord had arranged this. Just as I had asked Him to.

So I left the safety of my stall as she was washing her hands at the sink. I approached her, my heart pounding in my chest. I could barely get the words out.

"I have to ask you a question," I said. I proceeded to give her a quick synopsis of my situation and that I would receive her counsel as coming from the Lord.

"SLICE IT." That's what she said. Two words. I can still remember that moment clear as day. I think I was a little bit in shock at how the Lord had arranged the entire scenario. In the bathroom, for Pete's sake. While I was on the TOILET!

But I knew that I knew that this was definitely the Lord speaking. So I obeyed. I broke the relationship off and moved on. And a year later the Lord brought the man who was to be my husband into my life. Thirty three years later we are still growing in the Lord together. 

Why did I think about this today? Maybe because it demonstrates that the Lord always knows where we live. He can always find a way to speak to us. We can trust that He knows what He's doing. And we can be sure that He WANTS to speak to us and direct us and that He has a PLAN for our lives. 

Whew. I'm sure glad I listened.

Thanks, Lord. On the TOILET, for Pete's sake!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Dear Little Mother, the Miracle Girl.

Jean M. Quinn
My dear little mother passed away on June 22. Although she only stood 4'11", she was big in spirit and personality.

Eight of her children gathered at her deathbed in Utica, NY. We took turns comforting each other and remembering all her funny sayings and our growing up years in Tonawanda and East Amherst, NY.

She became the "Miracle Girl" at St. Elizabeth's in 2009, when she survived a major heart attack that would have killed most men. She thought she had the flu and so stayed home for two weeks until pulmonary edema sent her to the hospital.

She recovered and went on to live three more happy years, doing her crafts, cutting her lawn, and visiting her grandchildren.

My heart is sore and aching but I know she wouldn't want me to grieve too hard. So I won't. I will dedicate my next book to her, in memory of all she did to help me flourish in this life.

Rest in peace, Miracle Girl.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

St. Patrick, My Mentor

I'm thinking about self-publishing my second historical novel.

The Fury of Dragons is the second book in my Sword & Spirit Series.

I owe a debt to St. Patrick because he influenced both books.

In A Secret Hope, the first book, one of my inspirations was reading in St. Patrick's Confession that he had led a beautiful Irish princess to faith in Christ.

In the second book, nearly the entire plot is based on Patrick's Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. In this letter he castigates and condemns the British chieftain who came upon some of Patrick's converts shortly after their baptism. Coroticus abducted the young ones, and according to Patrick, Coroticus "gave girls away like prizes".

My first book, A Secret Hope, is doing fairly well and I have had some requests for the next book in the series. Originally, I self-published the book as an experiment. E-publishing is taking off and with my husband's encouragement to be bold, I went ahead and it out there.

But in the back of my mind, I wanted to keep the second book back, in case I ever managed to procure a "traditional" publishing contract.

Now I think I'm going to do both. I'm continuing to work on a series of stories set in the Gilded Age for a traditional publisher. But my real first love is ancient history and archaeology. That's what gets my pulse thumping and my imagination stirred up!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Freedom Isn't Free

Today please remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our great country.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

First Author Earnings!


This week, after eight years of writing, two research trips, numerous Amazon purchases of research books, domain name costs, blogging expenses, magazine subscriptions, writing software, ACFW membership fees, printing fees, quires of paper, advertising costs, heartache, anxiety, writer's block and contest fees - da da!

This week I made my very first profit as a writer. Are you ready? *trumpet blast*

Yep. You read it correctly. The totally amazing sum of $36.18. And you know what? I was thrilled to receive it.

I think writing, at least for me, might be one of those things that you get into and start doing BEFORE you know how difficult it is. Like marriage. And raising children. And maybe that's a good thing and quite possibly the Lord planned it that way. Because if we knew how hard it was to do some of those things, we might never have started. True commitment and true faithfulness only come AFTER you have that watershed moment when it dawns on you just how hard it it really is to do this thing.

There have been several times on this writing journey of mine when I considered giving up. Just chucking the whole thing and going back to the things that normal people do. You know, like housework, making dinner, going to a movie with your husband. Like being outside on a beautiful summer day instead of sitting in front of a computer screen.

And sometimes, knowing how much money I had already invested into this "writing career" of mine was the only thing that kept me going. That, and my critique partner, Stephanie (Check out her blog at www.stephanie-thornton.com) who recently signed a three book deal AT AUCTION!

I could mention the total sum of what I've spent on all those expenses mentioned above. But I hesitate to do that because I wouldn't want to frighten or discourage any would-be writers reading this blog.

I'd rather encourage them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I've spent a few days researching corsets for my Gilded Age novel. Was there ever another beauty device as uncomfortable as a corset?

Then again, the the plate-lipped Sara women of Africa don't have it easy, either.

This is the classic 18 inch waist. Yowser! The goal was to have a waist that a man could "handspan" - in other words, he could put his hands around a lady's waist and his fingers would touch.

For the rich, corsets were made of beautiful fabrics like silk and satin and velvet. But they all had one thing in common - lots of boning and "stays".

Is it my imagination or does this lady look somewhat constipated? Apparently tight corseting could do all kinds of compression of your ribs and internal organs. Not to mention that you couldn't take a deep breath in them. Or eat. Come to think of it, that might actually be a good thing.

Corseting has made a comeback in recent years. Men find it sexy. Above is a modern day example, the actress Dita Von Teese. That can't be her real name.

Anyway, it's fun to research this stuff but the corset is one historical item I can live without. What about you?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Secret Hope Free on Amazon May 6-7

For two days, starting tomorrow May 6, A Secret Hope will be free on Amazon for download to your Kindle.

I have a function at the Benton library today here in Kentucky and I will be giving away free copies of the book to any interested parties there.

So if you'd like a free eBook or know someone who might like to read it, here's your chance.

For those of you reading this who might not know, A Secret Hope is historical fiction set in 5th Century Ireland at the time that St. Patrick brought the Gospel there.

If you like ancient archaeology, there's plenty of that in A Secret Hope. There's also a love story, ancient medicine and lots of action as well.

If you read it be sure to let me know what you liked or didn't like about the story.

You can access the link to the right to go to my amazon page.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gilded Age Jewelry

My current WIP (that's 'work in progress' for all you non-writers) is set in the Gilded Age, and even though more recent history isn't my favorite time period it does have its rewards. I've been researching jewelry for my main character Evangeline Lindenmayer. I call her Angie for short. The dragonfly pin in the photo above is a piece by Rene Lalique. Gorgeous, isn't it? But it's not quite the time period and it's much too fancy.

 This is the final aquamarine and diamond pendant I settled on for Angie. It's fantastic, too. Diamonds, aquamarines, and pearls in a platinum setting. Jewels were a big status item in the Gilded Age (1870 - 1915).  Some wealthy women would go to balls literally dripping in diamonds and other precious gems. One husband hired a private detective to follow his wife all night for fear of robbery!

This is the fun part of research for a novel.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kim, Mary Grace, and Jonas, this one's for you

I'm reflecting today on Palm Sunday, and the people who cheered the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, praised and exalted Him and then 5 days later called for His death.

How capricious is man!

I've often wondered if I had lived at the time Jesus walked on earth would I have believed? Or would I have been one of those who raised a palm branch and then a few days later turned my back on Him?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

Thank you, Lord. I thank you today for Your sovereignty. The older I get the more I realize just how poor and needy and naked and broken I am. I realize how little control we have over our lives or the lives of others. Oh, that invincible optimistic spirit of youth! That unflagging feeling of power and all the world before you! The older I get the more I understand how desperately I needed a Savior. How desperately I still need my Savior.

Sounds like life to me, to quote a country song. Jesus already knew all this. He knew I'd have these thoughts as I grew older. Thank you, Lord, that you never abandoned me as your people have abandoned You. As at times I have abandoned You.

I'm seeing a sea change in the lives of people I know. A dissatisfaction with the status quo and a disenchantment with the state of the church and the Christians who people it. People seeking a truer Christianity and a truer closer following of the Lord.

Isn't if funny? I used to think that Christianity and my growth as a Christian and knowing God would proceed in a straight line from A to B and all the way up to heaven. Now, older, wiser, and grayer, I know that the path of faith is a ragged one, with detours and road blocks. Sometimes you run of out of gas.

But through it all, He is faithful to complete the work He started. He is sovereignly reigning and ruling and I can always depend on Him.

Halleluia! The Lord our God reigns. And I'm so glad He does.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The rants, musings & adventures of Dale Yancy: On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, Ireland needs ano...

I've decided to use my husband's blog post today because it is so timely. He has been doing a series on the industrial schools of Ireland and their abuse of the children under their care. It is so eloquent in its description of what the children of Ireland went through that I had to put it on my blog. I agree with him. What Ireland needs now is another Patrick. I hope you read all 3 posts.

The rants, musings & adventures of Dale Yancy: On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, Ireland needs...: What is the saddest, most tragic aspect of the Industrial School abuse of children is this--that it was done under the guise of Christian...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm A Guest on a Medical History Blog

Tomorrow March 16, I'm a guest blogger on Redwood's Medical Edge, a blog that features historical medical information.

It's Jordyn Redwood's site, and like me, she's a nurse who uses her medical experience in her writing.

Recent stories have featured organ donors, stories about brain injuries, what happens in a morgue and other interesting subjects that writers need to learn about.

So come and check it out tomorrow or this weekend. I'll be talking about the medicinal uses of plants and some of my historical research for the my first novel, A Secret Hope.

I'll be giving away a copy of my book if there are at least 10 comments so come by and check it out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Celtic Cross

St. Patrick is credited with the creation of the Celtic Cross, or what is also called a High Cross of Ireland. The circle represents the Celtic "wheel", a symbol of the sun. A perfect circle is also an ancient symbol representing eternity. It's said that Patrick transposed the sunwheel on the Christian cross just as he led many druids to the Lord and consecrated them into service as priests.

The origins of the Celtic Cross date to the 5th century and is known throughout the world as a symbol of Celtic Christianity. I have decided to use the Celtic cross as a personal "brand" and motif. I especially love this particular Celtic cross.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

St. Patrick

Since St. Patrick's Day falls in March and because Patrick is a character in my recently published e-book, A Secret Hope, I thought I'd do a couple posts on him.

There are many myths regarding Patrick, embellished over the centuries, partially because after potatoes and alcohol, the Irish love nothing better than  a good story!

I imagine most people think of Patrick looking like this saintly icon. However, in my story, Patrick is a living, breathing, very human man. I picture him looking something like the second photo.

Most people don't know that Patrick was not Irish. He was Romano-British, born into a culture that began in 43 AD with the Roman conquest of Britain.

Over the following 400 years, Roman soldiers and their families met and intermarried with people from the various British tribes, under the rule of the
Roman Empire.

At the age of 16 Patrick was abducted by a
group of Irish sea-raiders and taken across the
sea to Ireland, where he worked as a slave for
6 years before making his escape back home.

Patrick had Roman blood. Therefore I like to think that he very likely had dark eyes and hair, and possibly a large nose.

Christianity was present in Ireland before Patrick returned as an adult to preach the Gospel. Britain and Ireland raided each other's coasts continually for slaves and booty and some of these captives were Christians. But it was Patrick who truly lived, preached, and spread the Good News.

Patrick is credited with the creation of the Celtic Cross, the subject of my next post.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Queen of Sheba's Gold Mine

A recent discovery in Ethiopia may prove to be the fabled gold mine of the Queen of Sheba.

Being both a Christian and an archaeology buff, I'm always thrilled when discoveries that support the bible are found.

A British archaeologist named Louise Schofield has been excavating in northern Ethiopia. The kingdom of Sheba covered Yemen and Ethiopia 3,000 years ago.

She has uncovered an ancient gold mine and the ruins of a small temple dedicated to a moon god who was the primary deity of Sheba. Miss Schofield crawled under a 20 foot stele, or stone slab, carved with a sun and a crescent moon, the "calling card of the land of Sheba."

A 9 foot rattlesnake was said to live under the stone. Fortunately, she didn't come face to face with the rattler but she did find an ancient inscription written in Sabean, the language of Sheba.

The Queen's visit to Solomon is immortalized in I Kings 10:1-13. She had heard of the wisdom of Solomon and came "to test him with hard questions." When she saw the palace he had built and was convinced of his wisdom, "she gave him 120 talents of gold, quantities of spices and of precious stones."

Once Miss Schofield acquires the necessary funding to finish excavating the mine she will begin at once.

I've discovered one other item of interest concerning Sheba, that may especially interest my friend Stephanie Thornton. Check out her blog at http://www.stephanie-thornton.com/. Some sources seem to think there is a good chance that the Queen of Sheba may actually have been Hatshepsut, the only female pharaoh of Egypt. Stephanie has written a book about Hatsheput that will very probably be published soon.

Any thoughts, Stephanie?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Secret Hope now available at Amazon!

I am so proud to announce that A Secret Hope is now available at Amazon and Smashwords.com.

Soon it will be available at Barnes & Noble as well. However, if you have a Nook you can purchase an ePub version for Nook from Smashwords that looks great.

My hubby tweaked the cover a bit last night, adding a Kells manuscript illuminated letter "A".

The book will be available for two weeks at 99 cents for all my friends and family. After that the price will go to $2.99.

If you read it and enjoy it I hope you will recommend it to your friends and possibly write a review for Amazon.

Thanks to all my friends and family for your support.

For epub (Nook) and other formats, go to Smashwords

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preview the cover for A Secret Hope!

The lovely and talented Miss Chrissy Page designed the book cover for A Secret Hope, my soon to be published historical novel.

Designing covers for eBooks requires that they look great both full-size and thumbnail size. I think Chrissy achieved the goal and I am thrilled with the result.

Chrissy works as a graphic designer in sunny Florida. She and my daughter Sarah met in college and have been best buds for years now.

Isn't she a talented girl?

And isn't the cover GORGEOUS? 

I love it! By the end of the week I hope to have it up on Amazon for Kindle, and soon after that up ready for Barnes & Noble's Nook and the rest of the the e-readers.

Great job, Chrissy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Gonna Do it!

Thanks, Dale. Thanks, David Wheat.

I made the decision and I'm putting my first historical novel up on Amazon as a Kindle

I'm also going to use Smashwords to get the book up on Barnes & Noble, KOBO, and all the other I-Pad devices and e-readers.

For the last two weeks I've been formatting the book for publication.

Dale says I won't have to worry about my brain going to mush because I'm stimulating my brain by learning all the HTML stuff.

A lovely young lady, Miss Chrissy Page, is designing the book cover. She is awesome! I can't wait to see it.

I am just about done with the Kindle formatting and I'm still working on the Smashwords version. (They both have different requirements.)

I am getting very excited about actually doing it! Publishers and editors have been telling me for years that the time periods of my first two books are nearly impossible to sell. So it makes perfect sense to publish the first two books as e-books. I sure hope they find an audience!

When I get the cover, I'm going to preview it here.

Ooooh, I'm so excited!