Sunshine

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.

When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May.

… Well, maybe it will be closer to August before we get a stretch of decent weather this year. But I’m not stressing. Actually I’m on cloud 99.

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When Sunset Cove was released, in the winter of 2011, I didn’t know it would be the last book I would write for almost seven years.

I went through some stormy times. Frightening times. It was hard to see the sunshine for a while. I did very little writing except for the occasional devotional for my inspirational blog and a couple of short stories for an anthology.  This winter, I felt a gentle nudge inside that said it was time to write another book. So I bought a brand new spiral notebook, because that’s how I do it, and day after day I sat at my kitchen table and waited for my “people” to tell me what their story was about. Once they started talking it was hard to get them to stop. But that’s the best part of the deal.

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They told me so many things.

They told me about the loneliness of finding yourself unexpectedly single at age fifty, and the anxiety of starting all over again. They told me about friendship and about drug abuse and about homelessness. About the wars that are waged, even in families that care deeply for one another. About the peace that comes with surrendering your will to God’s, and yes, they told me about not giving up on love.

They told me the story of Frankie’s Heart.

After weeks of contemplation and false starts, I was finally able to fit all of the pieces together. I polished the story, and then polished it some more. Then I sent it off to my publisher, hoping I still have what it takes.

Yesterday I got word that my book is being released in July.

I can’t seem to stop smiling.

I’m as excited as if this were my very first one.

I’ve got sunshine, even on this cloudy day.

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Frankie’s Heart

When recent recent widow Frankie Bonetti unexpectedly loses her job, she’s faced with a terrifying decision: look for new employment in Cincinnati, or start life over elsewhere. She accepts a position in the small city of Port Arthur, Ohio and buys a charming fixer-upper. Like Frankie, the house is unloved and unappreciated and she is determined to give it a second chance. She hires local contractor, Tracy Johanson, to make the necessary repairs, not knowing he will restore both her house and her heart.

Devastated by the death of his wife and estranged from his only son, Tracy tells himself he’d rather be alone than risk the pain of another failed relationship. Then he meets Frankie, whose genuineness and kindness make him want to try again.

When the storms that rage are both internal and external, they must put their faith in each other and in God, the healer of old wounds and creator of new beginnings.

 

Frankie’s Heart

An Inspirational Romance

Coming July, 2018

From Black Lyon Publishing

 

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A few thoughts on neighbors…

Good neighbors are worth their weight in gold. Seriously.

When I looked at my house, four summers ago, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Of course I knew that storing my lawnmower in the cellar would be inconvenient, considering my setup.

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But that was a little thing, and I figured I could just get a shed. Everybody’s got one, right?

After one summer of lugging the mower up and down the cellar hill, I started pricing storage sheds. I visited lots that were overwhelming with the sheer volume of sheds they offered. I even looked at Amish made sheds. The cost was more than I anticipated and much more than I could do, so I decided to save up for another year.

The next summer, I had to put on a new roof, and a storage shed was more out of my reach than ever. Even the Rubbermaid sheds at Lowes and Home Depot were more than I could afford. And the cellar hill was killing my back! All I could do was pray.

I mean that seriously.

Since I’ve been alone, I have learned to rely on God for everything, both big and small. And He has never once let me down. But that’s a post for another day.

A few weeks ago, I saw a shed listed for sale for $50. I jumped at the chance to buy it, because I had seen the same shed at Lowes for ten times that price. Yesterday, the people delivered it.

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They delivered it in pieces, but at least I finally had a shed. And how hard could it be to assemble it, anyway? As I said before, I didn’t have a clue what I didn’t know.

When I bought this house, I knew some things about it weren’t perfect, but I also knew a lot of things were — at least, perfect for me. God had provided a charming little cottage at a price I could afford. What I didn’t know was that the cottage was surrounded by the most wonderful people on earth. My neighbors are the kinds of people who would do anything for anyone. I really believe that.

They have brought in my mail, mowed my lawn, and brought me desert for no reason. They have helped me move furniture and pumped out my basement when it flooded. Today one of them spent this whole beautiful day assembling my new storage shed.

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I know it’s just a shed, but I’m feeling very thankful today.

I don’t know what I would do without my amazing God who cares about the little things.

I don’t know what I would do without my neighbors.

To Sell or Not to Sell…

In the grand scheme of things, this is tiny. It’s not even worth the time it will take to organize my thoughts and write them down. But as a novelist, I’m insanely curious about human nature and why people behave the way they do. Or should I say, misbehave? If you can help me out here, please do. Because I can’t think of a single good reason that people would do something so pointless.

A few weeks ago I was listening to the radio program of a popular finance guru. He made some good suggestions for ways of paying down debt. One suggestion was to sell some of the things that take up space in your home without paying “rent,” things you don’t have a use for, and put the money toward a car or credit card payment. It made sense, because I have tenants like that. We all do.

I went through the house and came up with my first two items: a gas grill that I obtained used and never once grilled anything on,

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and a large dog crate that Emma outgrew months ago.

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I dusted off the cobwebs, took pictures, and posted the items on a local Buy-Sell-Trade page. Within a day, my inbox blew up with responses, dozens of messages all asking the same question:  Is this item still available? I typed yes, and hit send. Again. And again. And again. And then… nothing. But that’s not even the annoying part.

After a few days with no real takers I reduced my already low prices. No less than five people contacted me to arrange for pickup. The dog crate is big and bulky, but I dutifully folded it up and carted it to the Big Lots parking lot to meet the prospective buyer. He never showed up. I carted it back home. The next day, I wheeled the grill up from the basement for a woman who had to have it. She never showed up. This scenario played out four times, twice for each item, before a woman finally came and bought the crate. I haven’t been stood up that many times since I was in high school  🙂

The gas grill? I’ve decided to keep it. Or maybe give it away. But I’m definitely not going to list it for sale again. It’s much less irritating to let it live in my basement rent free than to be a participant in someone’s game of nonsense.

Haiku

It seems like everything has its own day now, doesn’t it?  Since today is National Haiku Day, we thought it might be fun for our third and fourth graders to try their hands at creating some of these wonderful little poems. Since they tend to spend a lot of time on their writing projects, and tomorrow we are moving on to informative essays, I whipped this little Haiku up as a model to show them that it doesn’t have to take all day (lol). I myself am guilty. I tend to take forever with my writing projects, so I was pretty happy with this spur of the moment burst of inspiration!

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Cold

Spring abandons us

Frigid sky rains sleet and snow

Cold, cold April day.

 

 

 

A Few Thoughts on Setting

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After four years, I’m still a relative newcomer here. Some of the foods seem strange to me. Some of the words and phrases sound like a foreign language. But while I’m still finding my footing in my new state, I realize there’s an awful lot to love.

So when it came to creating a setting for my new novel, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it would be set in Southern Ohio.

Just a disclaimer — the novel is not set in the city I live in. It’s not set in any specific small Ohio city. And yet, it is set in all of them.

When Frankie Bonetti relocates to Port Arthur, Ohio, she discovers many things that delight her; down-home family diners and cute shops to poke around in. She finds beautiful churches, and places to get amazing cups of coffee. Her new Main Street is charming, complete with a renovated 1930s theater.

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As she settles into her fixer upper, she finds that people are neighborly in Port Arthur. They are the kind of people who bring each other hot meals and sometimes kittens. They are loyal beyond belief to their sports teams. And while they have their differences, there is a prevailing sense that they are all in it together.

While the same can be said for small cities all across the nation, there’s something about Ohio that just seems so All-American. Far from the perfect town, Port Arthur represents every town, and the struggles of its people are the struggles of people everywhere. Frankie’s old house is my old house, and it’s your old house, too.

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As strange as it may seem, fictional people and their towns have to be more real than those in real life. So in striving to create a real story with real people, I needed a real setting.

And life doesn’t get much more real than here.