Category Archives: Diane’s Life

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!

Babbling, Pillows, and the Sale!

Oh my goodness. How relaxed was my little Grey?

Good Sunday evening!

I am one relaxed kitty-cat this evening. My hell-week is over, the sun shone brightly today, temperatures are going to be in the forties (at the very least) tomorrow and Tuesday … what more could a girl ask for?

Since I sent the newsletter out this morning, I almost didn’t write a blog post tonight. These fingers have produced many words and thought they deserved a break. However, my brain reminded them that a promise is like an onion. No, that’s not it. There’s nothing worse than peeling skin away from fingers. Oh wait. That doesn’t make any sense either.

Hmmm, there may have been too many words flowing out from my ten digits – they’ve given up on making sense.

Maybe I need an adult beverage and a night off. Good thing I have all the ingredients. So, umm, yeah. I discovered the V8 makes a Bloody Mary mix. Say what? I’ll be giving that a try this week.

And the ingredients for a night off? I don’t know what that means either.


I have to laugh. The silliest little bit from the newsletter today garnered the most attention. I wrote about how badly we need good sleep and how I’d found a pillow that I love.

How interesting (or sad) is it that I received so many queries about this pillow? We need to find better ways to sleep. Think about how the unending energy that little children have. Then think about how much sleep those same little children get. I made that highly un-scientific correlation right there.

Well, anyway, if you interested in the relatively inexpensive pillow that has given me so much joy – here’s the Amazon link (

I won’t guarantee any changes in your sleep habits, but last night my first five-hour stretch was interrupted by … well … I’m an old lady. That’s enough of that. However, when I woke up, I discovered that Grey was sound asleep on top of me, TB had scratched his way under the blankets and was plastered against my legs, and Earl was sleeping against my back. I’d noticed none of that happening. You and I might sleep very differently from each other, so this might not be the pillow for you. I’ve tried four or five highly recommended and much more expensive pillows – all of which lie on another bed with no one to love them. Try to tear this one away and I’ll … well, I’d let you have it if you needed it.

So please, don’t expect a miracle, but at that price, the least that could happen is you have nice pillows for your guest room or your favorite pet bed.

Wow, I’m pretty sure I’ve never made a recommendation like that before. I feel a little nervous now.


There are two days left on the Bellingwood series Kindle Sale. Now is a great time to send a gift of a book (or many) to a friend you’ve told should read these books. If they’d love to be part of Bellingwood, how easy is it to spend $1.99 on the first boxed set? My friends are worth at least that.

(Seriously, I feel like I’m babbling without a plug to stop me. I need to wrap this up.)

Here are the links for the Kindle books on Amazon.

Save nearly 60% on the first eight Kindle books (plus two short stories).

Boxed Set #1 – Books 1-3. $1.99 (reg. 6.99)
Boxed Set #2 – Books 4-6. $3.99 (reg. 6.99)
Book 7. $2.99 (reg. 3.99)
Book 8. FREE (reg. 3.99)

For more information, press the Shop Now button on the Bellingwood Facebook page or click here.

Thank you all for being part of this community. You make it so much fun for me!

…and no, I haven’t started on one of those Bloody Marys yet. Not tonight – maybe next weekend.

Excitement in Diane-ville. Book 21 and a SALE!

Illustration by Bec Schreiber

This is about to be a huge week for me, so I’m taking a deep breath and sucking down extra caffeine (coffee, Diet Dew, Dew Kickstart … whatever it takes) and maybe a few extra M&Ms (plain, otherwise, it’s way more than a few).

Book 21. I have two chapters left to write. Polly ended up in a snowbank last night. Well, that’s not true – it was more like a cold, wet, slushy parking lot – you know the kind I mean. While that might not seem like a terrible thing, the person who did it was a very bad person and now she has to … okay, that’s enough information. Trust me, she’s about to kick butt. I’ll write that tonight. The weird thing is that when I write these exciting chapters, I find myself breathing fast as my fingers race across the keys. That probably means I’ll be in bed early.

The book should be finished tomorrow night, but that’s only the beginning. Since this is the first draft, I have a ton of cleanup to do. That will teach me to not pay enough attention to what my characters are telling me in the beginning of a book. By the time I’ve finished writing, they’ve clarified exactly what they meant and are insistent that I make sure it’s fixed. That will happen all day on Tuesday. Tuesday night, I’ll start through the manuscript again, looking for more things that need to change, extraneous words that need to be eliminated, and other issues (what character changed the pronunciation of that word to iss-yous in my head? drives me nuts) that jump out at me.

By Thursday, I will have printed the manuscript so I can read it in a different format. Everything is new again! My red pen is a tyrant. Not a page is exempt. It’s a glorious thing. Friday and Saturday will be cleanup days so I can get this to my amazing crew of editors and readers. (And thank you for offering, but I have all that I can manage right now.)

Now, if that were all that happened this week, it would be no big deal. However, there’s so much more.

Cover / Title. Max’s photography is consistently amazing, so yesterday I found the image that will be used for Book 21’s cover. Between now and next Sunday I need to find the title and build the cover. All quite do-able. It just takes silence and time to process. I have that. Yay.

Newsletter. It takes three or four days to put together a newsletter, so I’ll build the shell on Wednesday and add pieces the rest of the week so that on Sunday morning (the 25th – always the 25th of the month), it will arrive in your email inbox. Oh yeah. I’ll write a vignette for that, too. I’m not sure if I can top the last vignette with Beryl, Lydia, and Andy, but I’ll give it a shot.

Now for the big news. I’ve saved the wildest part of this week for last.

BIG SALE on the first eight Bellingwood books

On Friday, February 23:
The Bellingwood Boxed Set #1 (Books 1-3) will be $1.99 (regular price – $6.99)
The Bellingwood Boxed Set #2 (Books 4-6) will be $3.99 (regular price – $6.99)
Book 7 – Tomorrow’s Promises will be $2.99 (regular price $3.99)
Book 8 – Through the Storm will be FREE! (regular price $3.99)

Illustration by Bec Schreiber

That means that for five days – February 23 – 27 – your friends and family (and you, too) will be able to get the first eight books in the series (Kindle only) for NINE DOLLARS! Quite a savings from the regular price of $22.

These prices begin Friday, Feb. 23 and end Tuesday, Feb. 27.

On Friday morning (the 23rd), I will post a graphic and a link so you can share it – something I appreciate more than I can say.


A couple of reminders.

The audio book version of All Roads Lead Home is available now (click the title to go to Amazon). More audio books in the series will be coming.

Book List. If you have a question regarding what book comes next or what you might be missing, the only definitive list is to be found on my website – HERE. You can click that word and you can always get there by clicking the “Shop Now” button on the Bellingwood Facebook page.

Newsletter. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter that comes out on the 25th of each month. I promise not to spam you or do anything strange with your email address. Once a month – that’s what you get from me.

Maybe It’s Not Me

Happy Valentine’s Day from me and the snugglebutts!

Once I turned thirty-five, I began telling people … out loud … about the crazy things I did so that as I grew older, my friends and family wouldn’t simply assume I was senile. I hoped that at least they might pause before making that assumption.

Losing words when I’m in the middle of a conversation is something I’ve done my entire life. It’s embarrassing. I have an immense vocabulary, but good heavens, when I need those associations to happen, words escape me. That’s why I like writing my stories. I have plenty of time to reconsider phrases, words, entire sentences if need be.

My sister is the queen of not having the right words. She sees images in her mind and can describe something perfectly – then it’s up to the listener to choose the right word for what she’s picturing. Hah  – and she’s a fifth grade teacher. But her kids know and love her little eccentricities. She admits them all and brings her students in on the joke. They help her now when she can’t find the right word. I love that.

Several months ago, it was time to purchase a new keyboard. I use the heck out of mine and it was giving up the ghost. I went looking for something a little more fun than what I had and found the perfect keyboard. It even has back-lighting in blue, red, or green, so I can type in the dark.

Now, I type by touch, not by sight, but when making corrections, I like being able to see my keys all lit up. I turn the lights in the house way down low (off) and type away by the soft glow of the two monitors at my desk. I didn’t think another thing of it – hooked up the keyboard and off I went. Words flowed, sentences were structured, stories were written.

Except for one problem. I was making more ridiculous mistakes than I’d ever made before. I thought maybe I just needed to get used to the keyboard. With time, it would get easier.

For the last month or so (since I’m no longer thirty-five years old) I began worrying that there was something terribly wrong with me. My mind and my fingers were no longer working in tandem. This typing thing was harder than it should be. For every ten words or so, I was backing up to correct ridiculous typos. I quietly worried.

Yesterday the cocky side of my brain kicked in and said, “Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute, here, girlie. This ain’t your fault.” Apparently, the cocky side has a tough-guy linguistic flair.

I went back to Amazon and read the actual reviews of the keyboard I’d purchased. Holy cow, they were awful. People were having many of the same problems I had. Missing letters in words, keys not reacting and responding as they should, typos everywhere on the page, backspacing more times than was appropriate.

Relief. These typos weren’t only my fault. There wasn’t some broken link between my brain and my fingers. I could fix this with one press of a button and a two-day delivery from Amazon. Now, I have three more chapters to get written before Wednesday’s joyous unboxing, but at least I know that a balm for my fears will soon arrive.

We arrive at a certain age (you pick whichever yours is going to be – everyone’s is different) and begin to worry that every little thing is going to grow into a big thing and that will be the final thing that nails our coffin closed. I keep trying to push those ludicrous fears aside – I have enough to deal with. This one needed to go away.

My fingers are more arthritic than they were when I was 35 (or even 50, for that matter), but they still fly like the wind across the keyboard. I do NOT need a stupid piece of technology to scare me like that. As soon as I can, this thing will find its best home … in a box headed for a thrift store. I have way too many stories to tell yet. Don’t tell me that I could dictate my stories. Remember the first part of this post? Words escape me when I need them the most if I’m being verbal. So … I will be typing for as long as I can find my way around any reasonable keyboard.


Business stuff

1. I hit the two-thirds mark of Book 21 last night. There is a lot going on in this story. Poor Polly is going to need a nap when I’m done with her. Remember – publication date is March 25th! I’m pushing forward.

2. Book List. If you have questions about any of the books in the Bellingwood series, the one place to trust is my website. You can get to the list here. You can always get there by pressing the ‘Shop Now’ button on the Facebook Bellingwood page.

3. Audiobook. Book 1 – All Roads Lead Home is now on audio. Click here to get yours now.

4. There needs to be a Valentine Vignette this week. Check back by Wednesday night. It will be written either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Of Grape Juice and Kitty Litter. Or Random Stories.

They are promising 3-5″ of snow tomorrow in central Iowa. Don’t bail on me now, you crazy weather patterns. Bring it! Yeah, yeah, yeah … I know that you’re tired of winter and all that. Don’t hate me. I haven’t had a good blow-out blizzard in several years and it’s time.

(I’m including a series of photos I shot as a rather intense bath time was visited on Earl by Grey. He was tolerant for a while. I finally stopped them when he started whining and she wasn’t giving up.)

This weekend has been the weekend of random thoughts. Everything from my love for grape juice to laughing at the way my cats use their litter boxes. Seriously, they use one box for #1 and then hop over to the other one for #2. It’s the craziest thing.

While we’re on the topic of my cats and their litter boxes, apparently, this has become a social event in our lives. I clean the stuff out of them every night. All it takes is for me to walk over to that area and Earl is on my heels. He waits while I empty the first one and then climbs right in, scratches around, squats and pees. Are you kidding me, cat? Once he wanders off, TB comes over and he uses it. By this time, Grey needs to find out what’s going on and she’s sniffing around, waiting for TB to finish. Now yes, they use the things all day long, but why in the world is it necessary for them to be part of my cleanup process? Social little beasts. I guess they follow me to the bathroom, they just think it’s what we do around here.

I love grape juice, though I’ll never be able to separate it from communion. You know – us good Methodists – it’s what we drink up there at the altar. The taste of grape juice and little bits of bread together at the same time is as familiar as … well … water. I grew up with it.

So … at one point in my life, I was hired by a Lutheran church as their choir director. Things were moving along ever so wonderfully with the choir. We practiced and prepared our song for Sunday. I knew communion was coming and talked to the pastor about me partaking – he had no problem with it. A steward brought the tray to the altar and presented it to me as I knelt there. I took the little cup, drank, and all of a sudden, it required every single bit of my concentration to not react. Wine hadn’t even occurred to me. And it was horrid, bad-tasting wine, too. In MY ENTIRE LIFE, I’d never had wine on a Sunday morning. Remember: Methodist minister’s daughter. To top it off, my dad was the biggest teetotaler I’ve ever known. I have some of his sermons from early days and they were filled with fire and brimstone preaching on the evils of alcohol. Even some of the letters he wrote his father – another Methodist pastor – were filled with discussions they were having regarding how to preach against that awful sin.

So, that leads me to a couple of funny stories.

One evening, we were invited to dinner at the home of a church member. Nice evening, nice dinner … and then the woman brought out a lovely crystal bowl filled with fruit. She presented it to Mom. The fruit was part of the meal, but the crystal bowl was a gift she was sending to our home. Mom took a sniff and asked the question. Uh, yep … rum-soaked fruit. Heavily rum-soaked. She carefully doled some out to each of us kids and I thought she was going to lose it when she passed it to Dad, who not only was a teetotaler, but gracious beyond all measure. That had to be one of the most fun evenings I’d ever spent – watching him balance those two things. He made it through without falling apart, but the rest of us were completely entertained.

Then there was the evening we came home from being out somewhere, I don’t remember where. We must have been pretty young, because all three of us kids fit in the back seat of our VW bug. Dad had been given a gift – a beer bread mix, along with a can of beer so he could mix it up. Whoever the gift-give was had just discovered this wonderful recipe, and knowing that Dad didn’t drink, thoughtfully included the beer. Poor Dad waited until we were finally home, but he blustered about it the entire drive. He parked the VW and as we climbed out of that back seat, he snapped that can of beer open and poured it out in the gravel. Guess we weren’t having beer bread.

Mom was never one to let Dad get away with much. I remember when she discovered sparkling grape juice. Now what was he going to do about that? Well, he wasn’t too happy. It was bad enough that people might see her with those bottles in her cart and think she was bringing alcohol home. She laughed at him.

I’m telling ya – random stuff. My life was filled with crazy stories. Mom and Dad told them to us over and over. I think about oral tradition. Native Americans were story tellers. They didn’t write things down, they told their stories over and over so no one would forget. The Old Testament was delivered through oral tradition for centuries. People practiced and practiced telling and re-telling stories so they’d be without mistakes.

Some of our family’s stories have transformed and grown and gotten more entertaining as the years have passed. We’ve lost true details, I’m sure, but the heart of the stories remain in place.

We loved hearing stories of our births and the memories Mom and Dad had of us as we grew up. We loved hearing stories of their childhood and youth – the moments that stood out for them as they got married and started their lives together. We still love telling and hearing stories of each other’s lives – the crazy things that we do and that happen to us.

I have to tell you stories about my cats, because those little fur-balls don’t really understand when I tell them why I think they’re so cute. They just want to snuggle in my arms or pester me to keep their litter boxes clean and their food and water full.

What are some of your favorite family stories? Talk to each other as you share them!


Bits of Bellingwood Business

1. I’m nearly halfway through the manuscript for Book 21. Yep – not telling you anything else about it. Publication date is March 25. That just doesn’t seem so far away.

2. Remember – there is a map of Bellingwood, sketches of Sycamore House and its environs, as well as sketches of the Bell House here on the website (click on the links there). I know, I know … I should be working on more of these. There are so many things I should be putting out here for you. This girl is NEVER bored, let me tell you.

3. There’s been a great deal of noise about Facebook changing their algorithm again – eliminating things from our feeds. It’s frustrating as I try t figure out how best to interact with you. My website is the very best place for you to find information. The only limitation is that it isn’t good at personal interaction – FB is better for that.

The monthly newsletter (comes out on the 25th of each month) is the best way to make sure you don’t miss the big important things, but these weekly blog posts are another way to keep up.

Before I declared this to be a ‘thing,’ I wanted to make sure I could keep up. It looks like it will happen. I just have to keep it top of mind. Every Sunday evening / night, I’ll write a blog post. At the end will be a bit of business. You can subscribe to this and I will always post it on Facebook.

Thank you all for hanging out with me! I love you.

All Roads Lead Home Audio Book – Enter to Win

I’ve spent time this weekend packing books.

There’s nothing like a pile of brown kraft paper, boxes, tote bags, books and other things to get three cats all excited. I keep saying that these three can add multiple levels of complexity to every simple task. It gets a little intense.

Tomorrow I will make my first run to the post office and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday. If there are any stragglers, they’ll leave here on Friday.

As much as I love getting books into people’s hands, I’ll admit this isn’t one of my favorite parts of the publishing schedule. Fortunately, I might get through this January shipment without snow and ice on the ground. Once these are gone, bring on the blizzard. Yeah, it’s not in the forecast, my hopes and dreams will probably amount to … not much.



The first book in the Bellingwood series has been published to audio. All Roads Lead Home is available through Audible and Amazon.

The process for Book 2 will begin soon, which is pretty exciting. I don’t have a timeline for when the series will catch up to itself; it depends on a great many things. But it has begun!

Audible is very generous with its authors and has given me codes for free audio copies to help spread the word. I want to give them away to you!

If you’d like to enter for a free audio copy of All Roads Lead Home, all you have to do is leave a comment. Either on this blog post … or (preferably) on this post on the Facebook Bellingwood page.

What should the comment be about?

Since the Winter Olympics are coming up in a couple of weeks – tell me about some of your favorite Olympic sports – either summer or winter. Memories that you have about the games … anything. I love watching the Olympics and have for years. Whether it’s figure skating, speed skating, the luge, diving, swimming … or, oh my gosh, I fell in love with rugby two years ago. Tell me what you love about the Olympics.

I have ten free audio books to give away right now, so there will be lots of winners. You have until Wednesday evening, January 31 to leave a comment.

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



The January newsletter went out last Thursday. I hope everyone got their hands on it. I always have fun putting them together for you. If you don’t want to miss out on the latest vignette and other Bellingwood news, be sure you’ve signed up. I send these every month on the 25th. I don’t give away or sell your email addresses, you can unsubscribe at any time, and I never spam you with information.

Book 20 Vignettes are available on Amazon now. These are some of my favorites so far.


Book 21

Twenty-five percent of the book has been written, so I’m on target – well, I’m actually running a little early. That’s good news, right?

Publication dates for the Bellingwood books are always March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25th. It keeps me on my toes!

Memories from Long Ago

In the years I’ve been on social media (GEnie, Compuserve, AOL, MySpace, Facebook), I’ve met incredible new friends while rediscovering old friends and family relationships. I can look back over these years and honestly say that those connections have been amazing.

Some of the most surprising things have come from people I knew years ago and never expected to encounter again. High school classmates who moved far from home, college friends I only knew for a year or two (I transferred in and out a couple of times), and people from churches my father served over the decades.

One fun surprise arrived a couple of months ago when I had a message request on Facebook from a woman I didn’t remember at all. How could I? The story of our encounter happened when I was still much too young to create a strong memory. But the story we shared I knew very well … my mother loved telling it to me.

Mom loved animals and living in small-town Iowa in the early sixties gave her the perfect opportunity to have some fun. I have no idea how she talked Dad into it, but she got a goat and named it Rachel. She loved Rachel … a lot. Then I was born. For the first couple of years, things were just fine. Rachel didn’t pay much attention to me. When I started to walk though, things changed. Rachel recognized me as a competitor for Mom’s affection. Doing what goats do, she used her head to butt me around the yard. My little baby / toddler legs couldn’t hold up to that and I generally ended up on my diaper-clad bottom. Then Rachel discovered I screamed louder when she’d butt me down the back steps of the house. That got a lot of attention from the adults.

The day came when Mom was told she needed to make a choice. The goat … or her daughter. Mom would always stop at this point in the story and make sure I understood just what a difficult decision she was being asked to make. Then she’d draw it out and tell me that she finally realized that I couldn’t live without a mother, so she chose me and found a new home for Rachel.

That fun story has always been part of my life.

Last November, I received a message request from a woman asking if I was the daughter of Reverend Greenwood who lived in Bussey. She’d seen me show up on the page of another woman who lived there during the same time. I assured her that yes, that was me.

Her mother was the custodian of the church while Dad was there and this woman remembered her coming home from work one day with a female goat – a gift from the minister! It seemed that the goat liked to butt his young daughter down the tall concrete steps. The goat arrived with a small house Dad had built for it and spent a lot of time standing on top of it. Rachel ate everything – plastic from the neighbor’s windows, the cardboard lining their outhouse, everything, but the goat lived with them from then on. She shared a picture of Rachel as a much older goat.

A story from my childhood that had lived as one small bit of history was suddenly combined with a small bit of history from someone else and the story had new legs. Now I know where Rachel went and that she was loved and cared for by another family. Our paths crossed for just a moment in time and fifty-five years later we discovered how much fun it was to share that moment.

There are so many wonderful stories of connections made. I’m grateful every day to be able to communicate with friends, new and old. What fun!

Do you have a fun re-connection story?


Stuff …

1. The newsletter comes out on the 25th – Thursday. Make sure you’ve signed up. There are a couple of fun things I get to share with you this month! As always, there will also be a short vignette featuring someone from Bellingwood.

2. Don’t forget. The Shop Now button on the Facebook Bellingwood page will take you to the book list here on the website. That list is THE list for every book and short story in the series. Anything else has the potential to be … well … wrong. Trust no one. Except for that list.

3. Book 21 is well underway. Publication date is March 25.

Naming Characters, Slow (Limbo?) Paperbacks, Reviews

A midweek blog post wasn’t in the plans, but when something leaps into my head … well, there it is.

One difficult thing when writing is finding character names. Now, sometimes a person’s name is obvious. When I wrote Book 1, Lydia, Beryl, Sylvie, and Andy’s names flowed out of my fingers. That’s who they were. Polly and Henry couldn’t have been anyone else either.

But then more people showed up. It’s Bellingwood, you know. Rather than calling him ‘the guy down the street,’ he needed a real name. And not just a first name, but a last name, too. Sometimes characters are named after people I know and love, but often I stare at the screen trying to come up with something … anything.

Last names are the worst. I might be able to look at a person (in my head) and know what their first name is, but then what?

Would you believe a little phone book is the perfect answer? Errr, what? A collection of last names and I don’t have to work at this? Well, duh.

My sister handed me a fresh list of names (new phone book) at Christmas. I laughed and laughed. It’s becoming dog-eared because of the number of times I’ve thumbed through it while writing Book 21 – and I’m barely at 25% of the manuscript. Yeah, yeah, everybody needs a name. They may never show up again, but they still need a name.



(Alert: long story ahead.)

For those of you patiently waiting for paperbacks to arrive in your mailbox, well, here’s what it is. I think. Oh, who knows. I despise making excuses for not delivering on time.  I hate this, hate this, hate this.

However, I don’t yet have paperback copies of Book 20 in my house. None. Not a single one. I hoped to get shipping confirmation in the last couple of days, but nope. Not yet.

This has been the craziest publication I’ve experienced to date. Someone told me that after successfully publishing 19 books, it was probably time for the process to spin out of control. Joy.

From the first step of creation, publishing Book 20 to paperback has been a problem. Let me assure you, it’s a fluke. Nineteen+ books have happened with no issue. Maybe they held them all just to frustrate the baloney out of me now. You know, how’s her patience doing?

This company always gives me a date that books will arrive on my doorstep. It’s usually about a month after I place the order. That’s never phased me – they nearly always arrive within a week and a half. Easy. Right? Except that I can’t say much about it until February 1st. If I complain, they’ll tell me their policy and I’ll end up giving them a nod and a smile.

This, of course, followed a crazy-stinking week of even trying to get the book through the process. The company requires a minimum of 24 hours to approve each step. It usually takes 12 hours or less. For this book? Every single thing took the minimum 24 hours AND in the middle, they completely screwed up the process, causing me to lose two days while they looked into it.

My patience was tested. I didn’t scream. I didn’t throw a tantrum. I remained calm. Let me tell you, I treated myself to an adult beverage for good behavior. LOL.

So … as soon as I receive confirmation of shipment, I’ll make announcements, you’ll order books and we’ll get reading material in your hands. If you can’t wait any longer, you can order a paperback directly from Amazon. I’m certain you’ll receive it long before I get mine!



Thank you all for writing reviews on Amazon. Each time you write one, another Bellingwood book gets its wings. No, wait. That’s not right. But those positive reviews do help other readers see my books. I do appreciate it.

If you would like to write a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. And who knows, maybe those books do get wings.