Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 13)

Unpacking canned goods at Hope of Lancaster.

Unpacking canned goods at Hope of Lancaster.

It is the best of weeks; it is the busiest of weeks. For one week each year, my church participates in something called The Way. I believe this is the eleventh or twelfth year of this layman-led week of service to our community. When my younger daughter was in the eighth grade, our youth made a mission trip to Charleston to help elderly residents of a neighborhood there with lawn mowing, landscaping, and home repairs. 2014-07-21 19.32.43They came back saying it was wonderful to go to other places and minister, but we should do that in our own community as well. From that vison, one of our men was motivated to start this ministry.
Weeding at the Pregnancy Care Center

Weeding at the Pregnancy Care Center

There are twenty-four different tracks on which people can choose to participate. I lead the media track (still photography), and my team goes to the other twenty-three tracks to shoot pictures and video. We show our work during dinner and at the worship service following track time each night.IMG_0507

Repairing the flooring in the house of a handicapped man

Repairing the flooring in the house of a handicapped man

So far this week, I (or members of my team) have been to the Pregnancy Care construction site, the preschool care, VBS, crafts, worship, culinary, evangelism, PetCare, Hope of Lancaster, Handyman (four locations), Boys Home, creative, International (three locations), Caroline Court, Council on Aging, Jackie’s Place, The Closet, Livi’s Library, Washing Clean, grasscutting, and the hospital. Nearly all of these are service tracks; our members go into the community and build handicapped ramps, repair floors, fix water pipes, play with children, provide school supplies and clothing, organize food distribution centers, wash cars, use their creativity with face painting or manicures, and generally show people that we love them.

DSCF2530“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:35-40

Laura Hile's  So Lively a Chase, Mercy's Embrace, Book 2, entertains a hedgehog. Writers keep strange company.

Laura Hile’s
So Lively a Chase, Mercy’s Embrace, Book 2, entertains a hedgehog. Writers keep strange company.

We end these weeks realizing that we have received more blessings than we have given. It really is true that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Of course, I needed a little reading material during down time. Guess what I found?

Sisterhood of the Traveling Books (Episode 12)

July is Stay-Home-And-Write month for me, and camping is Camp NaNoWriMo. So the only traveling I’m doing these days is running errands. At 91 degrees and sunny, we webfoots are wilting in the heat today. Yes, we are that pathetic.

So let's go to Peet's Coffee, conveniently located in Fred Meyer.

We’re off to Peet’s Coffee, conveniently located in Fred Meyer. Note that I took this when the light was red.

Everybody knows Freddy's. So in we go.

Everybody knows Freddy’s. So in we go.

Hanging out at a trendy coffee house is part of the writerly vibe, right? Except I live in a suburb of Portland, some distance from trendy NW 23rd and its hipster haunts. What can I say? One does what one can.

Fred Meyer is a Pacific Northwest institution, home of one-stop shopping. It’s still the best place to buy reasonably-priced organic produce and health food products. And clothes. And gardening supplies. And home decor items. And home electronics. And school supplies. And…everything.

And here is Peet’s Coffee, tucked in behind the produce department. Fred Meyer also has a supervised childcare area. That’s right, drop the tots and shop! A quiet cuppa alone, even for ten minutes, brings joy to a busy mom.

Come in and have a seat! the sign says. Wonderful idea!

“Come in and have a seat!” the sign says. Wonderful idea!

Peet’s lacks the Starbucks vibe, but it serves up good coffee. Hey, next time I’ll take you on a tour of all the Starbucks locations within a one-mile radius of my house. There are, like, at least five.

Sincerely Yours by our own Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours by Robin Helm

My Kindle Fire has all the books I need, including Robin Helm’s newest release. It’s like a library in my purse!

I do love Robin’s beautiful cover, even if it’s hard to see in this shot. Time slides sideways in this Pride and Prejudice variation, which explains the face on the clock.

I also like Fred Meyer because two of my three sons work here. One in management, the other in Home Electronics while pursuing graduate school.

While sitting here, I remembered I needed apples and avacados.

Handy location, right? While sitting here, I remembered that we needed apples and avocados.

Hey, thanks for coming along this afternoon! Next time, we’ll do the Starbucks tour! Or Voodoo Doughnuts. Or (thank you, Susan Kaye!) the Greyhound bus depot.

Goin’ to the chapel and we’re go-nna get ma-r-r-ied …

Design-Apparel-Costume-French-Theater-maleSMCelebrate with us her at Jane Started It! the 230th wedding anniversary of Sir Walter Elliot of Somerset and Elizabeth Stevenson of South Park in Gloucester!

Without this dubious marriage of beauty and brains, the world would not have been given, what in my opinion, is Jane Austen’s finest novel, Persuasion. (All you P&P fans can argue with me later.)

No Elizabeth, “Icy” Elliot. No Mary, “Pass-me-a-hanky,” Musgrove, and no Second Chances Annie, who but for the grace of God escapes spinsterhood by the skin of her teeth.

The image to the left is Sir Walter on his wedding day. What a great excuse for new clothes, a party, and maybe a trip to the shore. Can you imagine the honeymoon? No, I WON’T either.

Later, when you relax at the end of busy summer day, remember to thank Jane for her great characters, and the fact that she uses enough dates in her work that give me something to blog about.

Have a happy!



I Had to Laugh … If Only it Could Happen

At my house, we are going through a serious Top Gear crush. It has taken over from The Big Bang Theory as my husband’s nightly laugh fest.

There are lots of reasons that I may go into at a later date, but I have to tell you a story. My daughter was watching Season 14 the other day when she said, “You know, Richard Hammond (one of the hosts of Top Gear) is the child you would get if Davy Jones and David Tennant had a baby.

By golly, without getting into the weird SF possibilities of it all, SHE’S RIGHT:



Sincerely Yours Launch and Giveaway

This morning I woke up to the ultimate book traveling experience – publishing and sending a book out internationally.

Sincerely Yours Yours by Design, Book 2

Sincerely Yours
Yours by Design, Book 2

My newest release, Sincerely Yours, Yours by Design, Book 2, is now available in Kindle on Amazon and in e-pub (Nook version) and in lrf for Sony readers on Smashwords. The print copy should be available on Amazon some time today, though I know from experience that it will take a couple of days for Amazon to link the print and Kindle versions.

My sincerest thanks are extended to my editing team: Gayle Mills, M. K. Baxley, Wendi Sotis, and Stephanie Hamm from the Beyond Austen community. Terri Davis served as a cold reader. The above and beyond the call of duty awards go to Gayle Mills for doing the final read through and edits and Wendi Sotis, who formatted my files for Kindle and Smashwords. I worked all day Saturday, between church services yesterday and into the night so that it would be up and active today. Wendi was right there with me yesterday, furiously e-mailing files back and forth. This morning, I had e-mails from Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords alerting me that my files had been approved and the book is available.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, I am giving away an autographed print copy of Sincerely Yours to a U.S. winner and an e-book to an international winner. You may enter as often as you wish.

Each time you tweet this post; mention it on Facebook or any other social media; comment here or in any other social media; put the book on Pinterest or Instagram; “like” it anywhere; or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, or Goodreads, it counts as an entry. Just let me know that you’ve done that in comments here or PM me. I also need to know if you’re in the U.S. or you’re an international entrant. If you’re from the U.S. and you’d rather have an e-copy, that’s fine. Just let me know. I rarely buy print copies any more myself.

The giveaway will end on Monday, August 4th.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

I Had to Laugh … an explosive edition

It’s the Fourth of July, do you expect that I would miss an opportunity to hint at bombs bursting?

Anyway, I found a book cover that proves some things never change. Book covers in the 80s were drenched with moist men battling a girl on one arm and a ship’s wheel in the other. If I remember correctly, the trends then went to covers drenched in colorful jewels and colorful titles. Glittering jewels … sexy men. Toss-up. All fans of romance can rejoice because the boys are back!!

Here it is:

Frederick and Anne battle stormy seas and their growing passion.

Frederick and Anne battling stormy seas and about to say the heck with it and make whoopee on the deck of a sinking ship!

And do you like the title? This is the latest title of Joanna Lindsey, Stormy Persuasion. I think I sense a trend.

It’s obviously based on the 2007 adaptaion of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with the dashing Rupert Penry-Jones with his gleaming blond hair. The blond in his arms is more of a mystery. Let’s all pretend this is Frederick and Anne battling a hellacious storm, somewhere exotic, fighting for their lives. Better yet, Frederick and Anne, somewhere exotic, being chased by pirates through a hellacious storm, fighting for their lives, AND fighting their own mounting passions.

I think I made myself a little sick there.

Anyway, the bigger news is that IT IS  the Fourth of July. If you are an American, this is the day to eat burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and drink a beer or soda. I read somewhere that the White House website is suggesting instead eat veggie burgers and fruit salad. Potato salad is a vegetable salad so there. And, instead of summery drinks like soda or lemonade, drink fruit-flavored water. Isn’t that what lemonade IS?

Be careful of the fireworks. Put your pets in the house and pull the blinds. Also be mindful of veterans who may be sensitive to loud noises.

Raise your glass to freedom.

Wait. Now that I look at the cover, I think she’s asking, “What are you thinking about?” And he’s wondering if she even notices the raging waves. Next there will be a question about her dress making her look fat.


Celebrating 15 years of Suffering Love

LSLAIK - hard copy - 4Imagine the Internet without Facebook, without Twitter, without Blogspot or WordPress. This is the cyberworld we knew in 1999. The most popular provider was AOL, and yes, it was dial-up.

It was a heady time. Wondrous Austen adaptations burst onto our movie and television screens: Pride and Prejudice (1995), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Persuasion (1995).

Lovers of Jane Austen emerged from the woodwork. We swarmed on websites and message boards … and soon there was fan fiction. Many of these were re-tellings, with changes of scene or time or point of view. (Or featuring modern morals, but I won’t address that issue now.)

Susan Kaye and I posed a simple, provocative question: Why read fan fiction if you already know the ending? And also, what is real love all about?

Boldly, we removed a simple plot device of Jane’s in Persuasion and began to write. And write and write. The rest is history. If you were hanging out at DWG or Republic of Pemberley’s Bits of Ivory, you might remember seeing our posts.

Our But-What-If classic, Love Suffers Long and is Kind, is anything but the usual Anne and Frederick fare. It’s absorbing and entertaining and addictive. And best of all, readers have no idea how it will end. Isn’t that what you want with fan fiction? The series ran in weekly posts for almost two years. Pictures are of my printed hard copy.

Love Suffers Long and is Kind, print edition. All of it.

Love Suffers Long and is Kind, print edition. All of it.

Book 1

Book 1

On Friday, July 4, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of its launch by posting Love Suffers Long on Beyond Austen ( in weekly installments. Membership is free. Bring your kleenex. You can also follow along with LSLAIK on Blogspot.

We’ve promised one another only light “Do No Harm” edits to the text. Even so, I smile to read my beginner’s prose. Those were the days.

And when we figure out how to share the copyright without incorporating—a spendy process—Love Suffers Long and is Kind will be released as a series of ebooks. Until then, you may enjoy it as so many others have—online, in all its unabridged glory.