Send lawyers, gu … nah, I’ve got this.

First off … don’t any of you feel sorry for me or try to pat me on the head and tell me how to fix things. I’m fine. Seriously – take this with the grain of salt that I’m typing it. Laugh a little, tell me how bad you’ve got it. All of that is fine, but no advice or sympathy. I’m a big girl.

You know, the truth is – any post that I put out in public is generally for humor’s sake or just general information. If things are falling apart in my life, the only people who will know are my family and closest friends. It’s not really for public consumption. Each of you have your own things to deal with and no matter how much you care for me, the last thing you need is someone else to worry about. So … there’s that.

Wow, already with the ranting, Diane. Get on with it.

So … I just got back from a trip to the bathroom. The bathroom, the shower, and just as I fall asleep. What do they have in common? My best thinking happens then. (TMI? Hah. Sorry ’bout that.)

Anyway, as I walked over there, thinking about my next two weeks, THIS is the song that came into my mind. Why? Oh heck, who knows.

I thought about just posting it on FB with the comment that instead, send M&Ms, food, and coffee. But then I realized that some of you would do just that and it’s not necessary. (Insert riotous laughter here.)

Amazon Subscribe and Save has M&Ms now. Every month, a stash hits my front door. And as for food, I’ve signed up with Home Chef and the best food ever arrives each Wednesday. Max gave me fabulous coffee for Christmas, so I’m set.

You could send cards of encouragement and I wouldn’t hate that, but then there’s the whole getting to the post office. Which means I have to leave the house. My workaholic brain fights me for time. I tell it that I need fresh air and to see people – even if it’s my postmistress and the chickadees at the grocery store. Oh … and all of the farmers who give me the farmer wave on the road between here and town. No matter what I say, my brain reminds me that I need to stay busy, there’s no time and too much to do.

Where did this last month and a half go? There’s a deadline looming.

Believe it or not, I need to have Book 17 written by the end of next weekend – July 18 / 19 (I’m totally leaving this error in here, because it’s hilarious – July? Good heavens, I’m out of control!) It’s totally do-able, I just need to focus. Then I use a week to edit the biggest errors before sending it off to my team of proofreaders and editors (thank you, I have plenty right now). Now, crazy Diane set up her schedule so that I also have a newsletter to produce during the week that I’m editing. And a cover + title to create for the book (for the newsletter), too. And at least one, but maybe two vignettes. All of that has to happen by the 24th of February.

This month, I’ve also got a really fun new product for you. I’m still in the midst of design and creation, but it will be announced in the February 25th newsletter. I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve come up with. You’re going to love it! Stinking love it! Seriously – like love it! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but some of you are going to love it! (Insert more laughter here, please.)

Sound like I’m whining yet? Please know that I’m not. It’s the best life a girl could ask for, but I’m still curious as to how I’ve arrived at February 11th and still feel as if I should be in the middle of January.

TB is usually the one tucked in front of me while I write. He’s so cute when he’s asleep.

The next two weeks are going to be insane in Diane’s world. I’ve pretty much decided, though, that’s par for the course. I must like it that way since it happens so regularly. How can I complain when I get to live my dream and I have such wonderful friends like you in my life … and then these three cats. As I’m typing, TB is sleeping on a blanket on top of the printer/scanner beside me, Grey is sound asleep to the left of me and Earl is curled up in front of me. My arms are wrapped around him as I type on the keyboard. He’s a little ball of warm fluff.

No lawyers, guns or money and no M&Ms, food or coffee. I’ve all I need and so much more.

… unless you can send me back in time about a month. That would be cool. Who wants to work on that for me?

Congratulations Winners & Thank You!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you did for me this weekend. It means the world to me that you are part of this community and that you are so positive and encouraging. You are why Bellingwood continues. Okay, let’s be honest, Polly really never shuts up, but without you, I would just let her jabber away without getting everything down.

Winners for all of my giveaways are chosen by using a random number generator. It’s the only way to be fair about this. Though I wish I could give all of you something. You truly have no idea how much you mean to me. I see your names pop up with either a *like* or a comment and I smile. We don’t know a lot about each other, but I keep learning more and more about each of you and those things rush through my mind when I see your names.

Anyway – winners:

Carla Strating – Max’s notecards in an embroidered Bellingwood envelope
Mary Breedlove – choice of one of the mugs
Lisa Davis – Bellingwood charm
Pamela Coldiron-Curtis – $10 Amazon gift card (email)
Wendy Carey – choice of one of the mugs

Thank you again. I read through your comments as they came in and my heart filled up. You are kind and generous with me. Thank you.

Bellingwood Boxed Set: Books 4-6

The second boxed set of Bellingwood books was released on Wednesday for the Amazon Kindle and includes books 4-6, plus the short story, Room at the Inn. I had the best time going back through those stories; remembering the fun I had as Polly’s life unfolded in my mind. It hit me as I was working through them again that these three books (and the short) are pivotal times for her. Gone was the newness of moving to Bellingwood. Big decisions for her life are made and wonderful people find their way into her heart.

With this release, though, I need your help. Positive reviews on Amazon push books up in rankings and also allow the author to market the books to other readers.

You have to know that this stuff is so far outside of my box. It’s never easy asking people to do things for me. But it’s even more difficult to ask you to do something like this. Marketing myself goes against everything I ever learned from my parents. I’m not saying they were right – it’s just the way things are.

Sometimes you just have to let the cat be in the picture.

Since the world is what it is and I couldn’t self-publish without self-marketing, I just do it. Without marketing, I would never have met you and I’m incredibly grateful for that opportunity.

Most of the time, reviews are organic. You read the books and some of you leave reviews and I’m thrilled. With this release, most everyone has already read these books, written their reviews and moved on, so I am asking for your help.

Here’s the deal: I need positive reviews on the Bellingwood Boxed Set: Books 4-6.

Let’s have a giveaway and make those happen.

How this works:

  1. Click on the book cover above (or HERE) and go to Amazon. Write a review.
  2. Return to the Facebook Bellingwood page (preferable) and leave a comment under this post. All you have to do is write “Done” or something like that. If you truly aren’t on Facebook, you can leave a comment here, but I will warn you, that many people don’t return here to see my response.
  3. I will add a giveaway for every 25 comments.
  4. We’ll start with a set of Max’s flower notecards in an embroidered Bellingwood envelope. Then, a Sycamore House mug at 50 comments. At 75, one of Julie’s pewter Bellingwood charms is added to the mix. At 100 comments, I’ll add a $10 Amazon gift certificate. For every 25 after that, I will repeat these prizes. If we get ridiculous, I will add other crazy things.
  5. Write the review and leave a comment before Sunday (January 29, 2017) at midnight central time. (I appreciate reviews any time … you’re wonderful.)
  6. I will randomly choose winners on Monday, then alert you as a reply to your comment and in a separate post as well.
  7. Winners will send me your email address or mailing address as the case may be – in a private message.
  8. International readers – I appreciate your reviews. Though I can’t send you a physical reward, if your name is chosen, you will receive a $10 (USD) Amazon gift card.

The winner has a choice of mugs.

Yay! Gift Cards!

This is just the coolest thing. I love this charm.

The Stuff of Memories

This is a small portion of things I’m managing. The cats want desperately to play with it all!

Over the last two days, I’ve been absorbed in memories. I received two boxes of … stuff … from the son of my Dad’s second wife. Dad died in 2007 (Mom died in 1987) and we were inundated with all of the things he’d saved over the years when that happened. To be honest, most of our lives have been spent dealing with memories and stuff. My family is not so great at throwing things away.

Check that. My brother is fantastic at it and my sister is better than me. I still have a lot of learning to do.

I opened the first (small) box and took pictures of the items in there, sent those to Carol and Jamie and asked if they wanted anything. I was met with resounding … silence. Carp (yep, spelled that the way I wanted to). I begged … more silence. More carp. The thing is, they both know how horrible I am with throwing out memories. Rotten siblings.

Then I dug into the much bigger box. Oh. My. Goodness. I would have been fine never knowing this stuff existed. It hadn’t for decades as far as I was concerned. And now, here it is again. I took more pictures and sent them off – met with a great deal of silence. I tried a little bit of shame. That got me nowhere. The thing is, we all have too much stuff in our lives, don’t we?

Now … as ridiculous as it might sound, one big pile of stuff was cards and pictures from my Dad’s retirement in 1995. As I looked through the cards, I was flooded with memories of people from all of the churches he served in Iowa. Names that I hadn’t thought of in years and years, but had been important to our family during the time we spent with them. It’s twenty-one years later and I know that many of them have passed away since then. But wow, did my parents touch their lives. That is so wonderful for me to know.

I’ll scan photographs and some of the cards with hand-written memories. There are several things in there from most all of the churches Dad served. It’s strange to realize that so many years have passed since his retirement, making it that many more years since we’d been in some of those communities.

As I read through the names on the cards and thought about all of the amazing people that we’ve known because of Dad’s ministry, it hit me again that this is why I write the Bellingwood stories (wow, I’m getting all emotional here).

I love these people, these memories, these stories. My life is so incredibly full and wonderful because of the amazing people I’ve been able to know. Bad memories have slipped away and what I will always remember are the ways our lives were touched and the incredible love that was offered to us no matter where we lived.

The stories rattling through my mind today are numerous. As much as we don’t really need anymore *stuff* in our lives, just reading the names of people who participated in our lives is more than enough. I never want to forget those, though I have before and I will again. But this is why I write and tell stories of good and wonderful people.

These are the good and wonderful people that I have known throughout a lifetime.

Jamie and Carol, are you sure you don’t want this stuff? (sigh)

All I Want for Christmas – Short Story

December 31 is such a strange day of the year. It signifies so much for many of us … an opportunity to look forward and make transformational decisions in the new year, an opportunity to look back over the last 365 days of the year and consider all that happened.

Yet, truthfully, it’s just another twenty-four hour span not unlike any other twenty-four hour period.

I always land on this day with a sense of dread and excited anticipation. It’s a roiling bubble of insanity inside me, let me tell you. Because I know what can happen in a year’s time, my little amygdala (that fear center of the brain) shoots off all sorts of warnings to me regarding things I should worry about and be afraid of.

However, the normal part of me – the part that loves this life I have been given – is excited at the possibilities and potential for the year. And that’s where I tend to focus. Possibilities … potential … hope … joy … excitement. I can hardly wait for what’s to come. And the best part, I can hardly wait for things that I don’t even know are possible! Life is filled with excitement and it is so much fun to find new surprises around corners.

I wish for all of you a joyous and exciting 2017. No matter what comes at us, we are stronger together, we are loved and treasured. We are created beings filled with hope. I take great joy in all of that. And I am thankful for the many friends that I’ve made. You all fill my life with so much goodness. Thank you.

The Christmas short story is here! (Link to Amazon)

A day early.

This story is so much fun and filled with a few surprises of its own. The only thing I ask is that you do not make comments about the content of this story. I know you’re going to want to and you have to refrain. Don’t spoil it for anyone else (I will delete any comment on Facebook or here on the website that contains any HINT of a spoiler). So many things happen here and you are going to love them!

Now that all of my publishing duties are managed, I’m taking the night off. There’s a bottle of pinot grigio in my refrigerator and a batch of Fred Astaire / Esther Williams / Ginger Rogers / Gene Kelly / whoever on and on … movies waiting for me to watch them. It’s going to be a great way to ring in 2017!

While the link on this page takes you to the Kindle version, this story will be published at the end of the paperback – which should go live by Monday, January 2.

Happy New Year!

(P.S. I added a sketch of the Bell House – click HERE to see it)

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Happy Napping Day

Or traveling day or more Christmas or more family or whatever you have going on today.

I decided to drop a newsletter and publish a new book and then go pretty much incommunicado as I traveled for the holiday. I HATE doing things on my phone, so all I could manage while still enjoying the drive, family, gifts, my sister’s pupperdogs, all of that, was maybe looking to see if something happened that was so important I needed to respond. Otherwise, I did nothing online. And that was okay.

Book 16 – Memories for Tomorrow is out! You can get the Kindle edition on Amazon right now at THIS LINK!

The paperback won’t be available until after I get the Christmas short story published and assembled into the manuscript. That’s next week.

Yes, if you thought that once you finished reading Book 16 you had to wait three more months to return to Bellingwood, you were wrong. A twenty thousand word short story that you will LOVE is coming your way January 1st. I’ll announce it on my blog and on the Facebook Bellingwood page.

In other exciting news, I will spend time this week helping my brother finish publishing his next book in his very popular sci fi Privateer Tales series – Blockade Runner. If you haven’t read these stories yet, or his Witchy World series, you need to check them out. Here’s a link to his website where you can get more information.

I had a wonderful Christmas. While I worried a little about traveling in weird weather, the roads were good and the wind was at my back yesterday. Temperatures were reasonable, which meant I didn’t have ice and snow – only rain. Even then, the rain wasn’t too bad … until Max was trying to get things into the Jeep to head to Carol’s house. All of a sudden – out of nowhere – a gully washer hit us and he was soaked to the bone. I drove in it for a short time and wondered how in the world we were going to get all of the bags of things into her house. But by the time we were there, the rain had passed.

Carol always invites a neighbor whose wife spends Christmas with their daughter in Chicago, to dinner on Christmas. He’s a character. A little odd, maybe a little dementia, a bit of a bigot and highly opinionated. At some point, you just sit back and shake your head. Okay, that’s what I did. Max finally had enough and escaped to the living room while Carol tried to figure out how to send the man home so we could open gifts. I just kept talking to him and laughing on the inside. Carol’s so danged gracious and somehow managed to let him know it was time to go home and he believed it was his idea. Man, she’s good.

And she’s an amazing gift giver. I just have to show you two things she gave me. I have a favorite artist. She’s a friend and does beautiful whimsical work. Her pottery is everywhere I am. I love it. You should check out her Etsy page. All of that creativity and she’s an amazing young woman, too! Anyway, Carol asked her to personalize a couple of pieces for me. I might have cried when I saw them.

The cats are sniffing every item I’ve brought back with me. Grey is making sure these are Nammynools approved.

I love the holidays, but when they are over and things begin to head back to normal, I relax again. I’m ready to work now. But first, more cat snuggling. I missed them while I was gone.

Bellingwood Vignette, Book 16, #4

Grey: Get off me. I know it’s cold in here, but you’re too heavy! Earl: Oh come on. Please?

The vignettes that I write are short little snippets that happen in Bellingwood to people other than Polly Giller. It’s fun to write from a perspective other than Polly and to take a little peek into our favorite character’s lives.

Today’s vignette is just, plain fun. While I’ve written it in the middle of the process of publishing Book 16, this conversation could have happened any time between these women, so you won’t spoil a thing by reading it.

In fact, I want everyone to participate in this story. There’s a question I have for you once you read the story. Your response will enter you in a giveaway for one of four signed paperbacks of Book 16 – Memories for Tomorrow.

My preference is that you respond on the Bellingwood Facebook page, but if you can’t, go ahead and post a comment here.

Okay – here you go. Read through to the end for the question.

The Body Electric

She wasn’t expecting anyone this morning, so when Andy’s doorbell rang, she dragged herself away from the book she’d been lost in and dashed through the house to the front door.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, not even bothering to wonder why her best friend was leaning against the storm door, her hands and feet splayed out to the door frame. There was no telling what that woman might do next.

“I’m bored.” Beryl said. She stepped back so Andy could open the door and gestured down at herself. “I have my ‘I’m bored’ clothes on. You have to entertain me before I completely lose my mind.” She knelt on Andy’s threshold. “Help me, Andy-kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Her ‘I’m bored’ clothes consisted of tight yoga pants in wild galactic colors and a flimsy, flowy, knee-length tunic with crazy flowers all over. She had a hot pink floppy hat on and matching flip flops.

“Your wardrobe might make me lose my mind,” Andy retorted. “Get in here before anyone sees you.” She reached down to help Beryl stand back up.

Beryl spun around in Andy’s foyer. “You don’t like?”

“I like. You’re just a little too electric. Why are you bored? Just last night you said that you had enough work to keep you busy until after Christmas.”

“That was last night. Today I’m bored.”

“Come on in,” Andy said. “I was quietly reading on the back deck. Apparently, I’m finished with that today.”

“Oh joy,” Beryl said. “I’m bored and you’re boring. How are you supposed to help me now?”

“I’ll make coffee and feed you coffee cake. Will that help?”

Beryl flounced along behind Andy, flopping her feet loudly on the floor. “If that’s all you’ve got, I guess I’ll have to suffer. We should go somewhere fun. Do something exciting. Go out and be someone other than ourselves. Please?”

Andy took two matching mugs from the cupboard. “I have to be at the library at one. There’s no time to go anywhere.”

“That gives us three hours. We could be hula dancers or boatswains in three hours.”

“Boatswains ?” Andy asked. “Where are you going to find a ship that needs two old ladies to do that job?”

“I don’t know,” Beryl retorted petulantly. “It was just an idea. Better than your idea.” She pointed at the coffee pot. “Coffee and cake? How boring are you?”

The doorbell rang again and Andy looked at Beryl. “Now what?”

Beryl pulled her shoulders up to her ears. “How would I know?” She gave Andy an ornery grin.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing much. Got more of that coffee cake?”

Andy pushed past her friend and went to the front door.

When she came back into the dining room, Lydia followed, carrying a bag and cup carrier from Sweet Beans.

“I have your favorites,” Lydia said. “And some croissants. They just came out when I got there.”

Beryl looked back and forth from the coffee cake on the counter to Lydia’s bag. “Can I have both?”

Lydia looked Beryl up and down. “What are you dressed for?”

“Apparently that’s her ‘I’m bored’ look,” Andy said. “You two head out to the deck and I’ll bring plates and napkins. So much for a quiet morning of reading.”

“Are you really complaining again about that?” Beryl asked. “Why wouldn’t you rather spend time with your friends?”

“We were just together last night. Now go, make yourself comfortable. I’ll be right out.”

Beryl opened the sliding glass door to the deck. “I think she’s mad at me,” she announced to Lydia, loud enough so Andy could hear. She promptly closed the door to eliminate the possibility of a response.

“She’s not mad,” Lydia said. “She’s never mad. We just disrupted her morning and she needs some time to assimilate it .” Lydia waved her hand at Beryl. “And look at you. Who could be mad at that? You’re a party.”

“I am, aren’t I?” Beryl replied. She floofed out her tunic. “I didn’t think I’d ever find an opportunity to wear this. Picked it up from a street vendor in New York a few years ago. Who’d have thought I’d ever find a good time to wear it in Bellingwood, but here I am, wearing it like a rockstar.”

“From one of the eighties hair bands, right?” Lydia asked, laughing at her friend.

“I’m not wearing a hair band, I’m wearing a hat.” Beryl winked at Lydia. She waggled her hand. “Are you planning to share that coffee or do I need to sit on your lap and beg for it?”

Lydia let out an “oomph” when Beryl dropped into her lap, but promptly wrapped her arm around the woman and kissed Beryl’s cheek. “I love you too, you nut.”

They both looked up when Andy coughed in the doorway.

“What are you two doing? What will the neighbors say?”

Beryl pointed at the cemetery behind Andy’s house. “That we’re having more fun than they are. Do you want to join me here? I can make room.” She scooted around until she was perched on one of Lydia’s legs. “You can have the other leg.”

“You’re my friend and I love you,” Andy muttered as she set plates down on the table. She sat down opposite the two women and opened the bag of croissants, then looked at them. “Is that how you’re spending the morning?”

Beryl craned her neck to look at Lydia. “I’m good. You?”

“Get up. You may be the skinniest thing I’ve ever seen, but your hiney is boney.”

“Fine then.” Beryl moved to the chair between Andy and Lydia and put her hand out. “I’d best start drinking down some of that coffee, then.”

“Because?” Lydia asked.

“Because my friends are old fuddy duddies and … well, I just need coffee.”

“I’m not a fuddy …” Andy started. Then she looked at Lydia. “I really am, aren’t I.”

Lydia chuckled. “Compared to this one, we’re the queens of fuddy duddy.” She handed Beryl a cup of coffee and then put her hand on Beryl’s arm. “Why are you so bored, dear? After what you said last night, I didn’t think we’d be seeing you for weeks.”

“I went out to my studio last night and stood in the middle of the room trying to figure out which project to work on. I was so overwhelmed, I walked out, went inside and went to bed. That usually helps. I use the time before I fall asleep and before I get out of bed to let my mind loose. Something always shows up and nothing arrived,” Beryl said. “I need help.”

“It will come,” Lydia said. “You do this all the time. All you really need is to relax.”

“That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?” Andy asked. “I’m sorry I gave you trouble about showing up.”

“Ahhh, no,” Beryl snapped. “No getting all sweet and sentimental on me.”

Andy pushed a plate in front of Beryl. “Then what in the hell do you want from us?”

“That,” Beryl said, pointing at Andy. “Sass and trouble. I’m feeling so owly, I just want to do something crazy.” She sat forward. “I want a tattoo.”

“You want a what?” Andy asked.

“You heard me. I want to get a tattoo. My mother told me that I couldn’t have one, that only bad girls had tattoos. I want to be a bad girl.”

“That isn’t the way it is these days,” Lydia said. “Both of my younger girls have tattoos. In fact, Sandy has a few. She loves ’em.”

Andy nodded. “Mel has a frog on her ankle. But that’s the last thing I want.”

“It’s what I want to do,” Beryl said.

“Put someone else’s artwork on your body?” Lydia asked.

Beryl cackled. “I’m certainly not putting one of my paintings on this canvas.” She slowly swept her hand down her torso. “It might be skinny, but it would hurt like hell to put something I painted on here. No, I want something fun. Maybe on my boob.” She cackled again. “Oh, how I love the idea of making some poor young man tattoo my old lady boob. I’m doing it.”

“I’d like to,” Lydia said very quietly.

“You?” Andy asked, her eyes huge.

“Yeah. My mother wouldn’t let me do it either, but I’ve always kind of secretly thought it would be fun. That’s why when Jill asked me if she could do it when she was in college, I just said yes. She’d done her research and found a reputable tattoo parlor. It was her money and something she really wanted. How could I say no?”

“You’ll do this with me?” Beryl asked. “Really?”

“Sure.”

The two women looked at Andy.

“No way,” she said, putting up her hands. “No freakin’ way.” She pointed at Lydia. “What will Aaron say?”

Lydia waggled her eyebrows and grinned. “Maybe I’ll put it somewhere that he won’t see until he’s thinking of other things.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Beryl said, laughing as she put her hands over her ears. “Please don’t do that to me when I’m eating. I’m going to choke.”

“There,” Lydia said. “Are you more relaxed?”

Beryl nodded. “Much more. I think I know what my next piece is going to look like. Thank you.”

~~~

Question: What tattoos do you think Beryl and Lydia should get? If you find a picture, post it in the comment, otherwise, just tell me the description. They won’t get matching tattoos, I can guarantee that. But you know them as well as anyone, what do you think?

Write a comment under this blog’s post on the FB Bellingwood page. I won’t respond to random posts on the page itself. Look for this blogpost. If you aren’t on Facebook, you can respond here with a comment.

This ends Sunday evening (12/18) around 7 pm when I will choose four winners from the comments. The choice of winners will be random, not which tattoos are my favorites and you won’t know about the tattoos until Book 17 (March 25th). I’m mean. I know, but I’m not re-writing Book 16 at this point.

If you are a winner, I will assume that you want a copy of Book 16 when it is published. If you’d rather have a different book, just let me know.

Entrants release Facebook of any responsibility and this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

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Random Holiday Craziness

This last month has been absolutely wild. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but whoa!

It always feels strange to hit the other side of a holiday. There is so much anticipation and preparation, then it happens and we move on to the next thing. Thanksgiving was just yesterday, right?

But yes, I’m madly thinking about Christmas now. I have to tell you, it’s a good thing I began planning for it last January. I’m still going to be pushing it in my attempt to get everything accomplished. And again … wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not only because I’m celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth, but Book 16’s publication date happens on December 25th. Can you hardly believe it’s nearly here? Whee!

Don’t forget, a short story will be available on January 1st. Hmm, I should probably figure out what I’m going to title that story. I already have the cover image though, so that’s a good thing.

~~~

Postcard glimpse

A little fun for you. I would love to send you a Christmas postcard, but will never presume to keep your address. If you’d like to receive a postcard from me (and the kitty-kiddos), all you have to do is send an email to nammynools (@) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form on the website (that drops it right into my email).

Tell me what your physical mailing address is and I will send you a postcard. Easy as that. And yes, I will send these postcards internationally as long as my little post office has postage (heh, you think I’m kidding).

If you regularly order a paperback copy from me, you will automatically receive a postcard.

~~~

This last week, I’ve been head-down while editing my brother’s next book. Jamie McFarlane writes in several genres. The next book (Blockade Runner) is part of his Sci Fi / Space Adventure series – Privateer Tales and will be published right after the new year. Jamie writes amazing action scenes. No matter how many times I read them, I get into the middle of some of those scenes and find that I’m breathing too quickly and am really agitated. It’s fabulous.

He also writes a paranormal series – Witchy World and is just starting the third book in that series. Check out his website at fickledragon.com for more information.

~~~

I’m going to miss our pre-publication Wine & Trivia night this month. Sadly, there’s no way I could manage one of those in December. They’re crazy enough in the months without a major holiday. However, I plan to do a few giveaways on the Facebook page as December 25 approaches. Stay tuned!

~~~

I keep the place pretty cool. Earl and Grey stick close to each other for warmth … well, and love, too.

Keep an eye out this weekend. I’ve been editing so many things these last few weeks, that  actual writing has taken a back seat. My Bellingwood-ians aren’t terribly fond of that behavior and have let me know there needs to be another vignette.

Now if you are still catching up to Book 16, there might some spoilers in the vignettes, but mainly just characters that you’ve not yet met … or relationships that developed and flourished along the way. Otherwise, I try to never give away any large plot points.

Vignettes are written from the point of view of characters other than Polly, allowing us to get to know some of the people that she interacts with in Bellingwood. I began writing these at Book 9 and within a month of a book’s publication, the vignettes are collected and published on Amazon as well. You don’t have to miss a thing.

Email newsletters go out to subscribers on the twenty-fifth (25th) of every month. Along with major book announcements, etc., there is always a short vignette. Make sure you’ve signed up for the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

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Bellingwood Boxed Set – FREE for Three Days

bellingwood-box-set-2-200-dpiThe Bellingwood Boxed Set (Books 1-3) is FREE for Kindle until Tuesday, November 15th.

What a great opportunity to introduce your friends to Bellingwood, an amazing community in the middle of the United States where it’s easy to discover the best in people. One woman arrives in town and because she believes in their goodness, friends find it easy to be themselves around her. That’s the goodness that spreads throughout the community, even when the craziest things start to happen.

The first three books are available in one volume, along with a Christmas short story. Murder and mystery, but most important, terrific characters make up these stories.

All Roads Leads Home: Polly Giller returns to small-town Iowa from Boston ready to start a new life. She is renovating an old school building and while getting to know new friends, two sets of bones fall out of the ceiling. Don’t miss this heartwarming first story in a series that makes you want to move to Bellingwood and get to know Polly and her friends. Before you know it, you’ll be part of the community.

Polly’s First Christmas in Bellingwood: This first short story in the series occurs a few months after the end of “All Roads Lead Home.” While preparing for Sycamore House’s first big Christmas party, an old friend shows up needing help when he gets in trouble with the sheriff.

A Big Life in a Small Town: Bellingwood’s first barn-raising is coming up and to celebrate, Sycamore House is planning a hoe-down. The idea of a dance makes Polly nervous, but the gorgeous veterinarian is ready to step in and teach her a few moves, much to the chagrin of Henry Sturtz. A close friend of Lydia Merritt left a cryptic message as she died, asking her family to take care of … what? The ‘what’ brings new excitement to Polly’s life.

Treasure Uncovered: Sycamore House is having difficulty finding a good custodian and when the latest man doesn’t show up for work, Polly checks on him, only to find that he has been killed. The Sheriff is beginning to worry every time her number shows up on his phone. Does it mean another dead body? Thefts happening around the community are connected to Polly and her friends, but who would do this?

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Bellingwood Vignette, Book 16, #2

I often get this look from TB when Earl tries to sleep with him. Why, Mom? Why?

I often get this look from TB when Earl tries to sleep with him. Why, Mom? Why?

These short vignettes focus on other characters we meet in Bellingwood. While I write them during the same time I’m writing a book, they won’t spoil any of the story. And much as I hate to say it, they won’t give you any hints, either (bad author).

Vignettes are published in each of the newsletters which arrive on the 25th of every month, but sometimes the characters insist that I tell a quick story about them.

Book 16 will be published on December 25th. The story is flying along. There’s always something going on in town.

Don’t forget – Friday is our second November Creativity Friday. It’s all about the holiday season! What are you coming up with?

And Sunday is a big Bookbub push. The Boxed Set: Books 1-3 will be free. It’s a great time to invite your friends to meet you in Bellingwood.

Oh … and cat pictures. Because we need more of those to make us smile. Right? Right.

You Gotta Have Friends

“Order up!”

But TB loves Grey and when she climbs in beside him, he relaxes and lets her be there.

But TB loves Grey and when she climbs in beside him, he relaxes and lets her be there.

Lucy Parker turned back from the cash register and waved at Joe in the kitchen, acknowledging his call.

She smiled as Dave & Nelly Munson left the diner; Nelly walking slowly enough for Dave to keep up with her. He would never use the walker he should, and insisted on accompanying his wife whenever he could.

They had to be in their early nineties. Lucy had been serving them for years. Every Monday, promptly at eleven thirty, they came into the diner. Every Monday, Nelly ordered a Cobb salad and Dave ordered a plain hamburger with cottage cheese. The two rarely spoke during their meal, but Lucy loved watching them together. Seemingly out of nowhere, Dave would extend his hand across the table so Nelly would hold it. They’d smile at each other for a few moments and then go back to their meal.

Earl is getting so long - the poor boy hardly fits on the table anymore.

Earl is getting so long – the poor boy hardly fits on the table anymore.

One day Lucy saw Nelly kick her husband underneath the table and say his name as if scolding him. They hadn’t been speaking out loud, but when Dave gave his wife a sheepish grin, Lucy knew she’d missed something.

Nelly stood on the curb outside while her husband made his way into the passenger seat. Once he was settled inside the car, she went around to the driver’s side.

They were off to the library next. The new librarian had made it easy for older folks to get their books. Those old steps up to the front door were difficult to navigate and the elevator in the back of the building always seemed to be on the fritz. But the new gal was gracious about bringing books outside. People talked about how well she knew her customers. She was always ready with a new recommendation. Lucy glanced across the street to the pharmacy. She should remember their names. Nate. Yes, that was it. Nate and Joss.

All the time. This is what happens when they're together. Such sweeties.

All the time. This is what happens when they’re together. Such sweeties.

She turned to the kitchen and pulled plates off the counter, stacking them on her forearm. When Lucy saw people face to face, she had no problem with their names, but once they were out of sight, names left her mind. Greg had always remembered names for her. She missed going out with him. And if she missed it, she could only imagine how he felt about being trapped in the house all the time. But her husband never complained. He was the most easy going man she’d ever met and made the choice every day to be happy no matter the circumstances. She loved him so much.

Lucy stopped in front of another table filled with regulars. “Here you are, Mary.” Lucy set the plate down in front of the woman and handed the rest of the dishes to each of the six women. Every month on the second Monday this group of retired teachers came in for lunch after spending the morning shopping together. They’d been so excited when Sweet Beans opened, allowing them to start their day earlier and with coffee. They believed in supporting all of the shops in town and hit as many as they could each month, shopping and having fun with each other.

After lunch, their next stop was the nursing home where they would play cards and games with the residents there all afternoon. They laughed about how someday that would be them and they hoped someone would do the same thing for them. Lucy thought these women were terrific and she hoped they were right, that someone would do the same thing for them and maybe even for her.

“Can I get you anything else?” Lucy asked.

Della Stimson tapped her plate. “A cup of ranch dressing for the fries? It’s my newest obsession.”

Lucy chuckled. “Okay. Anything else?”

“When you come back,” Mindy Recap said, “Bring another coke. I’ll have this finished in just a second. No need for another trip, right?”

Lucy nodded and walked away. She stopped and pulled a chair away from a table. A young woman and her daughter in a wheel chair were coming in the front door. “How’s this?” Lucy asked them.

The woman nodded and smiled. “Perfect. Thank you.”

“I’ll be right back with menus,” Lucy said. “Do you know what you’d like to drink?”

“I’ll have coffee,” the woman said. “Janna?”

“Can I have a pop, Mom?”

The woman nodded indulgently. “No caffeine, though.”

“Seven-up,” the girl said.

Lucy gave them a smile and headed for the counter. “Cup of ranch, Joe,” she said as she poured out the drinks and gathered up menus.

Her first stop was at the table with the girl and her mother. “Here you are. I’ll be back in a few moments.”

Earl had started to jump off the ironing board, but Grey trapped him. Evidently, his head needed a good cleaning.

Earl had started to jump off the ironing board, but Grey trapped him. Evidently, his head needed a good cleaning.

After dropping the ranch dressing and cola with the women, Lucy checked on the table next to them. Three young men had come in for lunch from their work site at the new apartments south of town. She’d already delivered their ticket and saw that three credit cards were resting on top of it. “Are you ready for me to take this?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” one of them said.

Lucy picked it up and silently cringed. She hated being called ma’am. It felt like she aged forty-five years in just a second and all of a sudden had turned into their teacher. She shook her head and ran the cards, then returned the ticket and cards to the table. “Thanks boys,” she said with a grin. If they were going to call her ma’am, they’d be boys. Oh, who was she kidding. They were young enough to have been her sons. Lucy remembered when most of the people that came into the diner were older than her.

A few of those moments in her life had alerted Lucy to the aging process. First it had been some of the pop singers. All of those years that they’d been older than her passed pretty quickly. Greg cringed when the major league pitchers were suddenly younger than he was. Then all of a sudden, the pastor of her church was younger. That one nearly killed her. All of her life, that person had been an older authority figure. Next thing they’d do to her would bring in some twenty-year old girl who would be fabulous in the pulpit and a whiz at managing the church. Hah. That would go over well with people in the church. But when that girl arrived in town, Lucy would do her best to support her. But it would certainly shake things up around here.

“Miss?”

Lucy looked down at the girl in the wheel chair. She’d gotten lost in her thoughts. Rats. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Can I get onion rings instead of french fries with the cheeseburger?”

Lucy nodded. “Of course you can.”

“How about we split fries and onion rings,” the girl’s mother said.

“I haven’t seen you two in here yet,” Lucy said. “First time in town?”

“We moved into Bellingwood this summer,” the woman said.

“Oh,” Lucy put her hand on the girl’s chair. “What grade are you in?”

“Eighth. I got out of school today. Mom and I had to go see a doctor.”

The woman sighed. “Always another doctor’s appointment.”

“Mom,” the girl said. “It’s okay.”

“I know, Janna.” She smiled up at Lucy. “She’s always happy. No matter what she has to go through.”

Lucy nodded. “I understand. My husband is the same. No matter what he has to deal with, he’s okay with it.”

Janna rolled her eyes. “You’re being dramatic, Mom.” She tapped her mother’s hand. “You’re the one who taught me, you know. Never give up, you can do anything you want, Janna. Try it again, Janna.” The girl laughed. “Mom and Dad always tell me that I can do anything. So a few doctor’s appointments are no big deal. Right?”

“Right,” Lucy said. “You said you’re in eighth grade? Do you know Rebecca Heater or Andrew Donovan or Kayla Armstrong?”

The girl nodded wildly. “Yes. They’re in my grade. Do you know them?”

“Pretty well. I know their moms better, though.” Lucy looked up at two more groups coming in the front door. “I should get your order in. I’m glad you’re in town. I hope you come in and see me more often.”

She slapped the order ticket on Joe’s counter. “Order in,” she said. “Extra rings on me, okay?”

Joe grinned at her. “Got it. Playing with your friends today?”

“Every day,” Lucy replied. “Making some new friends, too.”

“You always do.” He snapped the ticket into a clip. “You always do.”