Monthly Archives: March 2018

One More Week!

Trivia Night on the Bellingwood Facebook page was fun!

St. Patrick’s Day Kitty Fun
Illustration by Bec Schreiber

We had more participants than ever before and y’all kept me on my toes. I’m a terrible multi-tasker – always trying to do several things at once. As I get older, those several things turn into one or two things. I fully expected to have a movie or television show playing in the background and maybe do something crafty with my fingers while I chatted with you. Nope. It was awesome. You kept me so active, I just focused on the conversations we were having.

I met Max online. At the time, he wasn’t the slowest typist in the world, but close. This was also long before video chatting. We were on 2400 baud modems and conversed on GEnie (General Electric’s social network) – not even AOL yet. But my fingers still flew across the keyboard. I’d type three long paragraphs to him in a flash and send it. Then, I’d sit back in my rocking chair and knit many rows until I received back a line or two. LOL. I’d send another two or three paragraphs and knit some more. It was hilarious.

Facebook and high speed networks, along with more than two hundred of you responding to questions, kept my fingers and my brain moving right along. What wonderful fun.

Our next trivia party will be prior to Book 22’s June release. Mark your calendar for June 15 and we’ll have more fun! The book will be released on June 25th.

Late last night, I sent the manuscript off to my last two editors for polishing and final edits. I relaxed and wondered what to do with myself next.

Ah ha! I watched my movie – Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Talk about a little slice of heaven. It was a great story and I had fun living among those characters and in that world again. I’m just a happy Star Wars camper today. I’ll watch it a few more times in the next couple of weeks because I love it so much. It’s so much fun to see the way different story tellers look at the Star Wars universe. They allow my imagination to take off.


Pre-Orders? Available at Midnight? Good questions.

It occurred to me, as I fielded several questions from many of you this week, that we have been acclimated to release dates by the big publishing companies, who ship thousands of books around the country with orders to hold them until midnight on a specified date.

That’s not how it works for an independent publisher. The book doesn’t magically get released at midnight on March 25th. I wish I could make that happen, but I don’t actually have that much control. So why not do a pre-order? Here’s why.

Amazon requires a lengthy lead-time for pre-orders – time that I don’t have because of the short span between the release of the Bellingwood books. Within three months, I write, re-write, proofread, edit, allow time for readers to proofread and edit, then format, and publish. I work to be out in front of my publishing date so that I don’t panic, but there’s no additional time to incorporate Amazon’s requirements for pre-orders.

So … I don’t do them. I’m sorry about that.

I also can’t guarantee what time of the day the Amazon link goes live. Once I upload the final copy to the publishing arm of Amazon, I wait. They tell me it can take twelve to seventy-two hours before it is available for sale. It generally takes between two and twelve hours. All I can do is work to ensure that the book’s link is live when I send out the email at six o’clock on the morning of the twenty-fifth. Anything before that – yay for you.


Bellingwood Book 21 – A Heart’s Assurance – Coming March 25th.

Winter has taken hold in Bellingwood.

Boots, coats, roaring fireplace, blankets, snow days – the Bell House is prepared for nearly anything.

Nearly anything …

Let’s see. Where shall we start?

Rebecca’s first big party following the Winter Snowball Dance fills the house with joy, but high school kids don’t have much sense sometimes. The next day, a quick trip to Boone turns Polly’s family upside down. Hayden and Cat’s Christmas announcement will bring changes – something that everyone is excited about. Henry and Polly trained to be foster parents and while the Bell House can hold more people, are they ready?

In one of Polly’s most heart wrenching rescues we meet Shelly Nelson, taken from her family at a young age. Suddenly, she shows up again five years later. The young woman has been through inconceivable hell and trusts no one, yet her heart desperately wants to believe that there is goodness in the world and she can be safe again.

In a world filled with brokenness, we look for those who remain steadfast in the midst of the storm. The Giller-Sturtz family has at its core – strength, love and stability. When Polly’s stamina ebbs, she is restored by her friends who, in their selfless love, give each other unending support.

Winter may have taken hold, but spring is coming to Bellingwood.

An In-Between Week

This has been a weird week.

Do you ever have those?

It’s that caught-in-the-middle, between projects, starting projects, ending projects time. I get all disgruntled.

Illustration by Bec Schreiber

How do I fix it?

Well, there’s always kitty snuggling.

I create – you know – that crafty life I love.

Music. Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the incredible beauty of music – no matter the genre? What a gift we have been given. We get to HEAR beauty.

Books. Music uses twelve tones to create spectacular sound. Books are created by assembling twenty-six letters into words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Another incredible gift.

And I do write. But then I don’t write … because my brain is tired and loves being loosed to dream up crazy stuff.

Apparently, I create chaos, too. While I’ve spent months attempting to come up with better plans for my work space, nothing was right. Then yesterday I tossed it all up in the air and when it landed, I’d rearranged things. I should probably clean the rest of the place now, but who wants to do that? Not this girl. Blech.

The temperatures have been warming up here and that means the furnace doesn’t kick on quite so often. That brings silence. Pure silence. No birds singing or insects chittering because it’s still winter. Spring will be here soon. Silence. I could use more of that.

This weird week comes to an end today.

My editors / proofreaders have returned their annotated manuscripts and I begin the process of creating the final document.

We’re just a little over two weeks from publication and I am in love with the story. I can’t wait to get it into your hands.

Remember, Book 21 – A Heart’s Assurance, will be published on March 25th.


Friday, March 16 – 6-11 pm Central Time

Come prepared to have fun.

I ask questions, you answer them – by what you know or by cheating. I don’t ask the questions to test you, I just needed a fun outlet to interact and give away prizes before the book is published.

Show up on the Facebook Bellingwood page around six o’clock. Stay up as late as you can – and if you fall asleep before we’re finished, return Saturday morning to answer the questions you missed. You have plenty of time.

Oh, I can’t wait to hang out with you all. It is just a blast!

Book Order, Word Counts, Trivia Night!


Best intentions and all that, you know. Yesterday I was busy doing all the things and dropped into bed last night feeling like I’d conquered my mountain for the day. This morning I woke up and said ‘Doh! You forgot to write your blog post.’ Sometimes I laugh at myself. I often laugh at myself – I’m kind of a nut and it’s more fun to laugh than be frustrated with my nuttiness.


I’ve answered several questions lately about book order. I love to connect with you and am glad to answer any and all of those questions, so don’t think I’m trying to pass you off by sending you to the book list on my website. But on that page, I’m able to give you information, along with links to the books.

One thing folks have told me is that they are reading the full-length novels and plan to go back and pick up the short stories later. I guess I do things differently than other authors. The Bellingwood short stories are meant to be read as part of the canon – not over and above. Confusion occurs because Amazon won’t let me list a book in the series order as #12.5 or #16.5. When you wind up on my Amazon author page or use their automatic purchase option for the next book in the series – well, you don’t get those intermediate stories.

The best place to find the official list of books in order is on my website (click here). You can also get there from the Facebook Bellingwood page by clicking the ‘Shop Now’ button.


Illustration by Bec Schreiber

When I first began writing, I researched word counts for various types of stories.Here’s what you’ll find coming from me in the Bellingwood series.

Novel – I write 85,000 – 100,000 words for the full-size novels. Usually they hit right at 90,000 words. That’s my goal. I’m very goal-oriented. Four Bellingwood novels come out of my fingers each year. They are published on March 25, June 25, September 25, December 25.

Novella – I’ve written one of these – the Prequel to the Bellingwood story. It comes in around 40,000 words.

Short story – Between 17,000 – 25,000 words. They (so far) do not include a murder or large mystery, and are generally either a Christmas story or something special (Polly and Henry’s honeymoon or Alistair Greyson’s back story). But they are part of the canon and should be read in order. I often introduce characters or story lines in my Christmas stories that will be picked up throughout the next year.

Vignettes – 1,700 – 2,000 words. Found in the monthly newsletters and as blog posts when the urge hits me. Four or five are written and associated with the book in process, then gathered into a collection and published on Amazon. If you’ve signed up for the newsletter, you can read them in past issues and the rest can be found by searching for ‘vignette’ on

The vignettes won’t reveal spoilers so can be read at any time, but sometimes they might refer to an event in the accompanying book. I do that on purpose – just for the fun of it. It’s just an opportunity for me to give you a teaser hint about the upcoming book. The vignettes are intended as a fun break for me and a bit of additional insight into characters other than Polly. They are written to help make Bellingwood and its residents more accessible to you.


Bellingwood Trivia Night
Friday, March 16 – 6-11 pm Central Time

If you’re new to Bellingwood – you don’t want to miss this crazy weird evening. It is one of my favorite times of the year.

On Friday, March 16th, things get crazy-fun on the Bellingwood Facebook page. Make sure you’ve liked the page and be sure to check in that evening.

Starting at 6 pm Central Time (I’m in Iowa), I post a trivia question from the book, along with a prize to be given away.

You’ll respond with an answer – hopefully the correct answer.

The thing is – you can cheat. Penance for cheating should be paid in the form of chocolate. You cheat? You eat chocolate (or something that is fun for you if chocolate is not). Steal the answer, look it up, whatever. The point isn’t about being first or absolutely right. I’m selfishly taking this opportunity to get to know you all better. The more people who show up, the crazier it gets – especially if I have any wine in my body.

Every half hour, I’ll post a question. Plan to answer all of them and blather at me throughout the evening.

Then I crash. You wore me out.

Late afternoon on Saturday, I will use my handy-dandy-randomizer tool and choose winners. If you’re one of them, respond through a private message with your address or email address (depending on the prize) and we’ll go from there!

Prizes include mugs, charms, signed paperbacks, ebooks, Amazon gift cards, and my infamous beanbag frogs.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us. It’s a fun evening, for sure!