Sunday Bookends: Dentists, snow, comedies, and other stuff

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/We’ve Been Reading

I am finishing up a book by Danielle Grandinetti this week. It’s called Confessions To A Stranger and it will be out on Tuesday. I will have a review up for it on Thursday on my Instagram and probably here. It’s quite good.

I am also still reading The Burning Issue of The Day by T.E. Kinsey and The Fellowship of the Ring, but I didn’t get any of The Fellowship of the Ring read last week. I hope to get more done this week as it would be nice if The Boy and I finished it by the end of the school year at this point. Sigh.

This week I’d love to finish the books I’ve started and then go back to Anne’s House of Dreams and start another Walt Longmire book.

I did have a family friend as me how I read more than one book at once and in case you’ve ever wondered – I switch between books and sometimes I’ll end up reading one more than the other ones, which is why you’ll read on here that I am STILL reading certain books. Ha! There are also times I am reading a chapter here and there of a book, especially the L.M. Montgomery books which are more like little stories in each chapter rather than a book that flows from plot point to plot point.

Little Miss and I are reading Emily’s Imagination by Beverly Cleary again at night and also listened to Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman (and narrated by him) several times this week, including on the way home from her procedure.

During the day for school, we are reading Spirit of the West.

The Husband is reading Upgrade by Blake Crouch

What’s Been Occurring

Friday and yesterday we received some more snow. Earlier in the week we were supposed to receive up to seven inches of snow in a surprise storm but we only ended up with two. Now, watch — tomorrow night we are supposed to get two to four but we will probably get much more because the area 30 miles above us in Upstate New York is supposed to get up to a foot of snow. If the storm slides down just a bit, we could get that amount too. We will just have to wait and see. You’ll have to read yesterday’s post if you want to know my children’s theory on why we are getting nailed by snow.

Also in yesterday’s post, I wrote about Little Miss’s dental procedure. That was our big ordeal of last week. It happened Friday but cast a cloud over our entire week in some ways. It went well, for the most part, but the aftermath of her not being able to eat well has not been fun. I did make her some potato soup with lots of milk and some cheese last night and that was a big hit. I think that’s something I’ll be making for myself from now on too.

I also made sweet potato soup the same way this morning.

I don’t know if I mentioned it yesterday or not, but she has developed a lisp after this and I’m upset by it. No, I don’t love her any less and yes, I am very ecstatic that she is still my same fun-loving kid (though a little more subdued and down with being unable to chew right now), but I was never told this could happen. In fact, I wasn’t told a lot of what would be happening and the fallout.

See that tiny speck of dust on the windowsill over there? (Oops…shouldn’t have mentioned it. The Husband has jumped up to take care of it). That tiny speck of dust is how much I trust dentists at this point in my life. To me they are scammers, liars, cheats, and backstabbing money-grubbing creeps. I’m pretty much over them and how they take advantage of people.

I feel like all some of them are about is money, money, and more money and how to cheat systems so they can get bigger payouts. That’s how I feel about them right now and it’s going to take a lot to change my mind. Sorry for any of you who have family members as dentists. I’m sure they are the exception to my personal rule and feelings about their profession.

People say they don’t know why dentists have the highest rates of suicide. I say it’s because they scam people and they know it and the guilt finally catches up to them.

Pray for me and my disgust with the profession and the people in it! It’s a real hang up for me. I’m serious. Pray for me about it. I know they aren’t all horrible people but we’ve had some really bad experiences of late and it’s left a bad taste in my mouth – in more ways than one.

What We Watched/Are Watching

This week I watched more Miss Scarlet & The Duke. I try to wait and watch certain shows with my husband, but he had a lot going on this week, so I did go ahead a bit with the show and now I’m dying to watch the next episode. I can’t promise I’ll wait for The Husband on this one. We are in season one.

Little Miss and I watched a lot of Bluey this week. A lot. A lot. A ….. loooot.

Hopefully we will take a break this week as I practically have the episodes of all two and a half seasons memorized.

Last night we watched a lot of Studio C, which is a comedy group out of Brigham Young University. We watched the original cast because we haven’t really liked the show since they left.

Friday night we watched the new Puss and Boots movie which is currently free with a subscription to Peacock. It was actually quite good, but I could have done without the bleeping of characters who were obviously saying very nasty swear words, something “kids” cartoons have started to do to try to entertain the parents who are watching with their kids.  Before long they’ll simply be saying the words. Mark my words. It will happen.

What I’m Writing

I wrote some 5,000 words on Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing this past week to try to keep my mind off all the stuff in my life. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do the same this week. I am doing a challenge with a group of other writers and I think I set a goal of 20,000 words for the month. Or maybe it was 15,000. I need to look at the sheet again. All I know is I wrote 10,000 words on the book in two weeks so I think I might make my goal. I’d love to have the book out by the summer.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

This week Little Miss and I were comforted by listening to Matthew West a lot. We really needed his music.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I started a new cozy mystery book in a familiar-to-me series last week. I’ve read four of The Lady Hardcastle Mysteries and last week I started the fifth book, The Burning Issue of The Day.

These books take place in the early 1900s in England and are a lot of fun because of the two main characters, Lady Emily Hardcastle and her lady-in-waiting, Florence or Flo.

The books are written from the perspective of Flo and have a huge helping of humor but also complex and intriguing mystery.

I’m switching between the Lady Hardcastle book and a book by Danielle Grandinetti called Confessions To A Stranger that comes out March 14.

And as if I didn’t have enough to read, I am also reading The Fellowship of the Ring with The Boy. I’m enjoying it very much and will most likely start reading it exclusively soon. I have listened to parts of the chapters on Audible. Once in a while I read a chapter from Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery but I didn’t this week because I misplaced the book. Again. Ha!

At night, Little Miss and I are reading Imagination Station books. We finished a book about Vikings last week and this week we are reading one about Mongolians. These are short chapter books and Little Miss really enjoys reading them to me and then me reading them to her as she drifts off to sleep.

The Husband is reading  something but I’ll have to add this later as he has gone to lay down with a sore back.

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote a bit about what’s been occurring yesterday in my Saturday Afternoon Tea post. You can find that by clicking HERE.

 In that post, I mentioned Little Miss had oral surgery on Friday morning and that I’d love some prayers because she will be going under general anesthesia for the first time to remove several problem teeth. To say I am nervous about all of this is an understatement. My mind has swung back and forth between absolute, illogical terror to slightly more logical contemplation but for the most part, the pendulum has rested right on the terror line.

Little Miss and I spent yesterday afternoon watching Anne of Green Gables The Sequel with my mom and dad. Last night I spent two and a half hours working on my latest book during a writing sprint with a group of Christian mommy writers. It was a lot of fun, but it showed me I need a lot more direction for this book before I can start adding to the word count.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week The Husband and I watched the first episode of Beyond Paradise which is a spin-off of Death in Paradise. It features Detective Humphrey Goodman, who was a favorite DI on Death in Paradise that left a couple of years ago. It was okay, but I wasn’t bowled over by it. I think we will probably return to Grantchester and Foyle’s War this upcoming week, but we also need to return to Magpie Murders, a mini-series based on a book by Anthony Horowitz.

I started to watch a show called Kirstie’s Vintage Homes on Britbox. It is a British home renovation show where they use vintage items to bring new life to modern homes. I got interrupted but will probably watch more of that this week as I try to relax and keep my mind from spinning.

Little Miss and I also watched some Mary Berry because there are days we just need some Mary Berry.

What I’m Writing

As I mentioned above, I am working on Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing, which is the first book in the Gladwynn Grant Mysteries. I shared a little bit about the series on Friday in an update on my writing projects. You’ll notice Gladwynn has one “n” in Friday’s post and two here. That’s because I’ve been going back and forth on whether I wanted her name to be with two or one n and last night I decided it will be two because one of the ladies in the writer’s group said she liked the look of two “n’s”, and I agreed. I don’t know. What do you think? One n or two?

Anyhooo… I worked on that book most of this week and also worked a little bit on Cassie, the book I am writing as part of a multi-author project. That book doesn’t come out until August of 2024.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to the new Matthew West album and really enjoying it. My husband also shared an artist named Marcus King with me.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to, or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Books with no plots, working on new books, and a lot of British shows

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I finished The Cat Who Dropped A Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun and even though it was a later book in the series, it wasn’t too bad. Some of the later books were not the best, which is fine. The woman did write 29 of them and was in her 90s when she died. They couldn’t all be winners.

I wouldn’t really call the book a mystery, but it was light and fluffy and a nice distraction from life.

It didn’t have a plot exactly either…which was fine with me at this point in my life.

This week I am going to be reading The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien and Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery.

I also hope to continue Some Through the Fire by Jennifer Q. Hunt, as well, but I am taking my time with it because it is about war and I’ve been going through a lot of depression so I don’t really want to read about war right now. It’s very well written, though, so I do want to continue it so I can find out what happens to the characters.

And I’d love to disappear into at least one short story in Midwinter Murder, a collection of Agatha Christie stories.

Little Miss and I have been reading Imagination Station books by Paul McCusker and we are currently reading one about Vikings in the evening before bed (she’s actually reading the book to me which has been fun) and one about the Plymouth settlement during the day.

The Boy is reading The Fellowship of the Ring, his medieval history book, and a biology book.

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote about what has been going on with us yesterday in my Saturday Afternoon Chat and Something Warm. You can head over there for an update, but I will mention, as I did there, that my aunt, on my dad’s side, passed away last Sunday and so it’s been a tough week.

What We watched/are Watching

Last night the kids and I watched Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Earlier in the day I watched an episode of All Creatures Great and Small. It was a bit sad but also sweet and left me crying a lot.

We also watched a Grantchester episode and a Foyle’s War episode and then we watched – I am ashamed to say it – an episode of the 1970s Hardy Boys. Eek. We didn’t even finish it but may finish it later today. The Husband really wants to see the old Nancy Drew show, though, because of some actress he had a crush on as a kid.

Oh and yes…we watch a lot of British shows.

What I’m Writing

I have been working on a cozy mystery book and wrote a few thousand words on it last week. I’ll share more about it when I know a little bit more about my main character and her motivations.

I am also working on a book that will be part of a multi-author project and will share a bit more about that as I get into that book as well. I wrote about 500-800 words on that last week too.

Last week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I did not listen a lot last week but this week I plan to listen to Matthew West’s new album and some new songs dropped by We The Messengers.

Now It’s Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Need some lighter books, some classic movies, and getting to write Biblical fiction

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I finished Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy Gray. It was very different than most Christian Fiction books. The characters were very real and raw with a lot of flaws and many of those flaws were not fixed by the end of the book. This is part of a three-book series.

I found some of the romance scenes longer than they needed to be, but still enjoyed the book. I ended up skimming those scenes. They were very clean but also overly dramatic. I think the point could have been explained in only one page versus five or six in those instances, but that is merely a personal preference.

The book was a bit heavy at times so now I feel like I need a bit of a lighter book to give my brain a bit of a break.

Unfortunately, I promised to read another book for an author’s launch and this one looks a bit heavy too. I’ll let you know when I finish it and when it is officially out for purchase.  

To give myself a little break from the heavy parts of Love and The Silver Lining, I read Anne from Windy Poplars. I managed not to lose the book again this time.

I can’t seem to get away from books with some sadness or heaviness in it.

I’ve started one by Jennifer Q. Hunt called Some Through The Fire, which takes place during World War I. I do want to take a break from heaviness but I need to find out what happens to the characters so I will probably pick that up this week at some point. It’s very good if you are a fan of historical fiction.

I really do want to delve into Midwinter Winter, a series of short stories by Agatha Christie, but I really am having a craving for a The Cat Who book so the one I picked up for my birthday could end up in my hands this week.

Remember at the beginning of the year how I had planned out books I would read each month? Ha. Yeah, so far that has not worked very well, but that is okay because reading shouldn’t be structured. It should be fun.

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington at night again and Children of the Longhouse or The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz during the day for school.

The Boy is not reading a book right now as I look for another one for us to read for English.

The Husband is reading True Believer by Jack Carr.

What’s Been Occurring

I shared what’s been occurring on yesterday’s Saturday Afternoon Chat so you can catch up there.

What We watched/are Watching

This week we didn’t watch a ton because I was busy writing and trying to figure out my next stories and I made myself read instead of watch.

We did watch The Big Sleep with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart last night. It had a very complex story and I kept getting distracted for some reason. It was very good but my brain wandered, my son came to talk to me about a show he’s watching, the animals were a bit wild, and I was working on this blog post.

We also started The Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. We had to pause it an head to bed. I followed that one better because I set things aside and worked on focusing. Focus is my word of the year (which I will eventually write a blog post about) because I’ve been very bad at it recently.

Earlier in the week we watched an episode of Midsomer Murders. I watched an episode of Finding Your Roots with Julia Roberts and Ed Norton as the guest stars and I guess it was interesting, but I don’t know that I care about the ancestors of celebrities that much.

Tonight, when I get home from my parents we will be watching episode seven of season three of The Chosen and I am very excited since we weren’t able to make it to a theater for the final two episodes. We will watch episode eight Tuesday night. Or maybe we should just wait until Tuesday and watch them back to back but The Husband has a meeting that night so it probably won’t work out.

What I’m Writing

I am working on three different story ideas, but I think one is going to get dropped this week for another idea (a cozy mystery). The one is a story that doesn’t come out until August 2024 and is part of a multi-author project.

The other is Fully Alive, which I’ve shared a little bit of on here. It is a Biblical fiction story and I’m a little nervous about it. I don’t feel I know enough Biblically, but I’m praying about it and we will see where it goes.

This week on the blog I shared:

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday bookends: Losing books and cats, more Mary Berry, and snow days

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This week I am moving back and forth between Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray and Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. They are definitely two different styles of writing with one being contemporary fiction and the other classic literature.

I found Anne of Windy Poplars between my bed and wall yesterday morning after losing it for two weeks. I was so excited to find it and took it with me when I took Little Miss to gymnastics. Later in the day I sat down and looked in my bag for it and it was gone. All I can figure out is that I left it at the gymnastics studio. So aggravating. I really wanted to finish that one.

The Anne books are a little drawn out and rambly, but I still like them. They are a total distraction from real life. I like to read books in a series in order if I can so it irks me that I can’t read Windy Poplars before Anne’s House of Dreams. It’s definitely a “first world problem,” of course.

I abandoned The Jane Austen Society. First, I haven’t read Jane Austen, so I was bored with all the characters gushing over her like she’s the only author who has ever existed. It’s similar to how I feel about many of the “bookstagrammers” on Instagram who act like she’s the only author in existence.

The other issue I had with the book was it was taking for. It took forever to get to the point and the characters weren’t really very likable at all to me. Once a “gd” got dropped, I was out. I had a feeling the swearing would only pick up and while I am not completely opposed to swearing, it just felt totally out of place in a book about Jane Austen.

Love and the Silver Lining is a romance of sorts but it has a lot more to the plot than the romance so I am enjoying it. I still don’t know if I buy the whole idea that two adults of the opposite sex can just be friends, but, hey, we’ll go with it for the sake of the book since it is well-written.

Once again, like Tammy’s first book in this series, Love and A Little White Lie, I can’t stand the one character. Here he is again in this book, and I still want to smack him for being a bit of a whiner. Ha. I think that Tammy wrote him this way on purpose, of course. He’s going through some growing pains, so it makes a lot of sense that he’s the way he is.

After I finish Tammy’s book, I’ll be jumping into something a bit darker, if my mood allows for it. I’ll probably get back into the next Longmire book or Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie.

Little Miss and I read Paddington at night every night this week. During the day we are re-reading Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac. Next week, though, I hope to start The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz.

What’s Been Occurring

I shared in yesterday’s post that we had some snow last week.

You can catch up with what’s been going on in our world in that post. Spoiler: it’s not a lot.

Yesterday, Little Miss had a friend over and they climbed up on the hill in our neighbor’s yard and made a snowman. Little Miss’s little friend actually did most of the rolling and I was very impressed with the way she shoved that huge ball of snow up the hill with little effort.

They used frozen blueberries for the eyes and mouth, which attracted the deer later in the day, much to the girls’ delight. The temperature got up to almost 50 degrees yesterday, so the snow was melting fairly fast. The sun was out too, which was nice to see since it seems like we’ve had way more cloudy days than sunny days this winter, which is, obviously, normal.

I didn’t have a chance to get a photo of the snowman because I was inside the house cooking some fried chicken that Little Miss had asked me to cook for her. I’d made the same recipe earlier in the week by simply sprinkling season salt in a bag of almond flour, putting the chicken in and shaking it up, then frying it in canola oil. Little Miss was so thrilled with the chicken she asked for it again this weekend.

After the girls came in, I began looking for Scout, our younger cat, thinking I had let her out again. I went out back and called for her several times and even braved the dark between the house and garage, to go and see if I locked her in there. I prayed that a bear wouldn’t eat me since Little Miss and I were alone last night (The Husband was at an assignment for a freelance job and The Boy was spending the night at a friend’s.)

Lately, she’s been sneaking upstairs and curling up on top of Little Miss’s dresser and I started to wonder if that might be where she was, so finally, I went and looked and that was where she was the entire four hours I looked. I didn’t look the entire four hours, actually. I looked and called for her off and on during that time.

What We watched/are Watching

The Husband and I finished Brokenwood Mysteries, which was a bit sad. We are hopeful there will be a ninth season at some point. From what I read online, a ninth series is being planned. One of the actresses let that slip on her Instagram.

We also watched a couple episodes of Miss Scarlet and The Duke, the new Night Court, and The Rockford Files.

Little Miss and I watched a lot of Mary Berry, including Mary Berry’s Favorites. Little Miss says Mary is her favorite cook beside her own grandmother.

“Oh, and you,” she added.

Hmmm….well, thank you, kid. Honestly, though,, I’d love to taste Mary’s food and I think I’d choose her as my favorite behind my mom as well.

We are always fascinated with Mary’s kitchen hacks. Last night I was fascinated by how she used a melon baller to take the seeds out of a cucumber. I told Little Miss to watch and she said, “I’ve seen people do that.”

I said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that.”

She scoffed, stood up to head to the bathroom, looked over her shoulder, and said in a light tone, “Hmmm, where have you been?”

What I’m Writing

I planned to add some words to Fully Alive, my Biblical fiction story, last week but never got around to it. Honestly, I got too wrapped up with making reels and marketing material for the release of Shores of Mercy this week.

This coming week I hope to actually write, including a few blog posts I started last week, but haven’t finished.

What I’m Listening To

This past week I listened to some Mercy Me and Matthew West.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

My books are on Kindle Unlimited and Shores of Mercy releases January 31

My blog is mainly for rambling (hence the title Boondock Ramblings) and not for promoting myself, but I decided to share today that all three books in the Spencer Valley Chronicles are on Kindle Unlimited or are available for purchase on Amazon (in ebook and paperback form).

Also, Shores of Mercy will be on sale on January 31, but you can pre-order it today, HERE for $1.99. Read below for descriptions of each book.

In addition, I am developing some paperback journals to sell and you can find links to them below:

Book Tracker and Book Reviews:

Sermon Notes:

Sketchnotes Sermon Notes:

Reading journal for tracking what you are reading:

Gratitude journal:

A simple journal to list what books you’ve read:

Upcoming will be a quote journal and a praise and prayer journal. I’m really having a lot of fun designing these.

If you have not read my fiction books or know what they are about, here are the descriptions of each of them and a link to them:

A Story to Tell

Can she find a new life of her own, without losing all that she already has?

Blanche Robbins is 17 in 1957 and feels like her life is going nowhere. It’s certainly nothing like the exciting lives of the characters in the books she reads.

When Hank Hakes begins paying attention to her and asks her to run away with him, she sees the offer as a ticket to a new, more exciting life away from her rural upbringing.

The decision sets into motion a life Blanche never expected or wanted.


A New Beginning

Can Blanche open her heart again after it failed her once before?

Five years later Blanche Robbins could still vividly remember the moment she broke Hank Hakes’ nose with her foot after he broke hers’ with his fist. She could still hear the sick crunch of bones under her heel and still clearly see in her mind his glazed eyes before they closed.

Blanche knew if she didn’t remember how Hank had beat her, she might let her walls down, leaving her son and her vulnerable again. She wasn’t about to let that happen.
That’s why she didn’t like the idea that her best friend might be trying to set her up with J.T. Wainwright.
Blanche wasn’t about to let anyone break down the walls she had built around her life and heart, walls to protect her — but more importantly – her son.


Where the Wildflowers Grow

Two books in one. The story of a young girl and her tumultuous journey into adulthood. A journey mixed with heartache, hard lessons, but also faith and joy.

A Story to Tell

Blanche Robbins is 17 in 1957 and feels like her life is going nowhere. It’s certainly nothing like the exciting lives of the characters in the books she reads.

When Hank Hakes begins paying attention to her and asks her to run away with him, she sees the offer as a ticket to a new, more exciting life away from her rural upbringing.

The decision sets into motion a life Blanche never expected or wanted.

A New Beginning

Blanche doesn’t know how to let down the walls she built up during the mistakes of her past. As she forges a new life and looks back on heartache, now with her son, she bristles when her best friend, Emmy, suggests Blanche meet Emmy’s cousin J.T. Wainwright.

She isn’t interested in a romantic relationship, not after her last experience. She built walls around her heart for a reason. To protect herself and, more importantly, her son.


The Farmer’s Daughter

Will the desire to change their lives bring two people together and will the Tanner family be able to save their family farm?

Molly Tanner thought she’d be further in life by now, but, no. At the age of 26, still living on her parent’s dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania, wondering if there is a life for her somewhere other than little Spencer Valley. While wondering, though, her family faces financial struggles, her best friend falls into a deep depression, and her brother’s best friend starts acting weird around her. Weird as in — is attractive Alex Stone flirting with her?

Alex has his own challenges to face, mainly facing past demons that make him feel like he’s not worthy of the love the Tanner family has already shown him, let alone the love of the woman he’s fallen for while working side-by-side with her in the barn each day.


Harvesting Hope

Can she forgive him for what he can’t forget?
The last year has been a whirlwind of trials and triumphs for the Tanner family.

With injuries, near foreclosures, and a family tragedy behind them, Jason Tanner, the oldest of the Tanner children is facing his own struggle after his longtime girlfriend, Ellie Lambert, overhears the secret he’d planned to tell her himself.
Now, in addition to trying to keep his family’s dairy farm sustainable during a hard economic season, Jason is dealing with the heartbreak of Ellie’s decision to end an almost 10-year relationship.

In an effort to bury his feelings, he throws himself into his work on the farm and into volunteering with Spencer Valley’s small volunteer fire company, where tragedy strikes the foundation of his faith during an already vulnerable time.

Ellie has her own challenges to face as she tries to navigate a time of life where her expectations have been turned upside down and shaken out. As she copes with the decision to walk away from her relationship with the man she saw as her best friend, her flighty, less responsible younger sister shows up to further complicate an already complicated situation.


Beauty From Ashes

Can two women figure out their chaotic, confusing lives together? And how will the men in their lives fit in their journey?

Liz Cranmer feels trapped in a prison of shame. Now a single mother at 27 she feels like the whole town, especially her church-going parents, view her as a trashy woman with no morals. That’s not how she used to think of herself but — could they be right? And if they think that, then what does God think of her?

Ginny Jefferies, 53, has hit a few snags of her own in life. Her husband, Stan, barely acknowledges her, her job as the town’s library director has become mundane and stagnant, and her youngest daughter is having some kind of identity crisis. Pile on the return of a former boyfriend and you have the makings of a potential midlife crisis.


Shores of Mercy

There was a time in Ben Oliver’s life when his career was more important than anything — including his girlfriend, Angie, who he walked away from when she told him she was pregnant. Even before that night, he’d been drinking too much, but after that night, the drinking got worse.

That was four years ago. Now he’s sober and opened a law office half an hour from where he grew up. He’s stayed away from Angie and the little girl he never met because he believes their life will be better without him, but when her family moves back to the area and her parents ask him to be involved in his little girl’s life, his past catches up with him.

Judi Lambert has battled her own demons and is now fighting for her sobriety. She wants to kick her party-girl lifestyle to the curb and she’s well on her way. Not far into the journey to get her life back on track, though, she’s forced to relive a traumatic experience with a man she’d once thought was simply her ticket to a good time.

When Judi and Ben’s worlds collide, can they work together to get their lives back on track? And can Judi work to help Ben get Angie and his daughter back again?


I also sell stock photography at Alamy and Lightstock. Links to my accounts on those sites, here:

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Sunday bookends: Relaxing books and shows and my reader confession

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I laid my Anne of Windy Poplars book down somewhere and have not been able to finish it, so I picked up Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. It is the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series.

I’m not usually a girly girl but for some reason this book is making me act like one, complete with giggling in delight at some of the scenes and lines. I’m really enjoying this one, maybe a bit more than Windy Poplars. I have been taking little moments of respite to read a chapter or two from it a day and it’s like having a mini-vacation in the midst of the mental chaos I’ve been dealing with.

On my Kindle, I am reading The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, which brings me to confession time.

I’ve never actually read a Jane Austen book. I’ve started them, read excerpts, and seen the movies, but I have never completed a Jane Austen book. If you have, recommend one for me in the comments and I’m going to try to read one in March.

Anyhow, The Jane Austen Society is about a group of people who get together to save Jane Austen’s cottage in England. So far, it’s okay. Nothing stunning but interesting at least and maybe that is because I’ve never read her books.

Toward the end of the month and February, I have the following books up to read:

Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

By March I hope to be reading:

Banderidge by indie author Anne Calvert

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray

This list could definitely change. It usually does.

Last week, Little Miss and I read Sarah, Plain and Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan. They are short and beautiful books. Little Miss wanted to go back to Paddington last night but I hope to continue the Sarah series with Caleb, which I bought recently in paperback and then More Perfect Than the Moon and Grandfather’s Dance.

Have you ever seen the Hallmark movies that are based on the books? They are as beautiful as the books and shot almost scene for scene from Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark and Grandfather’s Dance.

Even the dialogue is the same.

We first saw Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was in high school and still living at home. It must have been on regular TV. My mom and dad cried through almost the whole movie, and I kept teasing them about it. My mom even tried to hide behind a newspaper but the newspaper shook with her crying.

“You just wait!” she declared. “When you get my age, these type of movies will make you cry too!”

It didn’t even take me that long. I cry every time I watched the movie after that and still do.

The movies star Glen close and Christopher Walken.

The Husband is reading Racing the Light by Robert Crais.

The Boy got delayed in finishing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn this past week, but he will finish it this week. I finished it last night. I will need to plan for a new book for us to read for English by February.

What’s Been Occurring

I rambled a bit about what’s been going on in a blog post I posted yesterday and you can catch up there. Spoiler alert: not much has been going on that’s worth blogging about. Ha!

What We watched/are Watching

This past week we watched a Brokenwood Mysteries and are almost done with the last season they have put out. That will make me sad because I love the characters of the show. I hope they are making a ninth season.

I watched a few episodes of Miss Scarlet and the Duke and I like the show but a lot of these period mystery shows are starting to feel the same. Not only that, but they continue to push modern ideas into historical shows and I find that annoying. People in 1890 did not embrace homosexuality, prostitution and cheating like it was run of the mill and it would be nice if a period drama actually showed that more instead of subtly preaching at viewers about how they think it “should have been.”

All that being said, there was only one episode of this show that I felt did that and it was not overly done and not overly preachy. I hope other shows do not do that, but even if they do I’ll probably still watch the show because it is well written and the male lead is quite good looking, as well as Scottish. *wink*

This week I also watched the two episodes of All Creatures Great and Small’s third season that are up on PBS Masterpiece via Amazon video. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

Last week we watched episode six of the third season of The Chosen. It was excellent, but episode five was still my favorite. The last two episodes of the season will be shown in theaters on February 2 and February 3 and then streamed on February 4th and 5th (I think those dates are correct). We considered going to the theater to see them but will probably just watch them at home.

My nerves have still been on edge lately, so I also watched quite a bit of The Andy Griffith Show this week.

What I’m Writing

I will be starting two books this week if all goes as planned. One is my Biblical fiction book and another is a book I am writing with a group of other authors. I’ll keep you posted.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To:

I am loving this new song by Matthew West:

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: 2023 needs a restart, a mix of books, favorite blog posts, and Americans portraying the British and vice versa

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Winter came back with a vengeance yesterday and led to The Husband lighting the woodstove to keep the cold at bay. We stayed inside huddled under covers, reading books, correcting errors in a book (for me), and watching a lot of light and fluffy TV and movies. The animals sprawled themselves in front of the woodstove, looking slightly drugged.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the last two or three weeks have been pretty awful for us and this past week was one of the worst as I was falsely accused of something that now requires me to provide a lot of documentation. It has my nerves so raw I’ve started internal trembling again but nowhere near as intense as I had after I had Covid or in 2017 after my dog died and after I had a virus. Luckily my mom is doing very well after spending a week in the hospital with pancreatitis and having her gallbladder removed. The side effects from the virus I had during that time have finally started to subside as well.

Before everything sort of fell apart and the temperatures dropped, I went outside and took some photographs for my stock photography accounts and also just had fun goofing off with the pets who thought they needed to be in the photos as well.

I was actually looking forward to life becoming a little bit more normal. Well, that was short lived but hopefully this year will get back on track again soon.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished The Reckoning Trees by Alicia Gilliam last night. Wow. What a ride that was. I held on for dear life during most of it, holding my fingers over my eyes because I wasn’t sure what would happen. It was incredibly well written and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

I have a couple more chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain to finish up and I’m sure that will happen on Monday.

I lost my paperback copy of Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery somewhere. Either the house or the car, but I would love to find it this week and continue it.

On Kindle, I have a couple of choices of what books to start next. I have Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese.

The Husband is reading The Big Bundle by Max Allan Collins.

Little Miss and I finished Children of the Longhouse this past week and are looking for another historical fiction for children to start for school but haven’t picked one yet.

At night we are reading Paddington again. Sigh. I hope to start Sarah, Plain, and Tall with her at some point this week.

What We watched/Are Watching

I found this lady this past week and have a feeling I’ll be watching her a lot when I need to relax.

We watched See How They Run on HBO Max as a family this weekend. It was pretty good but I was irritated that they had an American actor playing a British cop when so often we have British people playing Americans anymore. I mean why couldn’t one of their British actors who comes over here to play a famous  American play the British cop? Doesn’t make sense.

Still, the movie was good – quirky and fun and what we needed.

Little Miss and I had ourselves a Mary Berry marathon of sorts on Friday and Saturday. Watching her is so relaxing. I still can’t believe she’s 87 and still cooking away. Well, the most recent show we watched, she is 85. And still getting around wonderfully – or at least she was two years ago.

We watched her on Saturday (today as I am writing this) while the fire roared in the woodstove. On Friday we watched her show Mary Berry Loves to Cook and on Saturday we watched Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets, Season 1.

I found the first season of Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets on Youtube, by the way.

Little Miss and I agreed that watching her is very relaxing.

The Husband and I also watched an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries and I watched a couple episodes of a show from the 70s called the Manor Born.

What I’m Writing

I haven’t been writing a lot. I am currently making corrections on my manuscript for Shores of Mercy to prepare it to be released on January 31. You can preorder it here.

I did share two posts on the blog this week:

What I’m Listening to

I listened to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn read/performed by Elijah Wood almost all week. Frodo did an amazing job on the book and brought out some of the crazy hypocrisy of the people of Missouri during the years of slave-owning in the way he pronounced and presented the book.

For music I listened to:

Danny Gokey – New Day

Needtobreathe, Multiplied

Needtobreathe, Happiness

Anthony Brown and Group Therapy, Trust in You

Spirit Lead Me – Influence Music and Michael Ketterer

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

I am behind on blog reading but this week I did enjoy the following posts:

Sunshine for a January Soul by Mama’s Empty Nest

Lessons from Damar Hamlin by Fuel for the Race

The Helper by Warmly Meg

Also, please say a prayer for blogger Jinjer from The Intrepid Arkansawyer. She lost her mom this week.

Now it’s your turn

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

A Christmas in Spencer: Beyond the Season Chapter 11

We are almost to the final day of this story! Isn’t that crazy?! That means we are almost to Christmas too! So exciting. What do you think will happen in the last chapter? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome to the eleventh chapter of a twelve-chapter story I am sharing on the blog. This is being shared with minimal editing, just for fun, but it will be fully edited once it is complete.

You can catch up on chapters HERE.

If you would like to read more about the characters in this story, you can find full-length novels on Amazon for purchase or on Kindle Unlimited HERE,

The first three chapters of the first book, The Farmer’s Daughter, can be found HERE.

Once all the chapters have been shared here, I’ll be providing a free Book Funnel link to blog readers and placing the story on Amazon for 99 cents.

Chapter 11

Chaos reigned in the Tanner household the day before Christmas and Robert couldn’t wait to escape it. Six women were laughing, mixing, baking, bumping into each other and when he’d come into the house for lunch, they’d asked him to taste test three different kinds of cookies, which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t needed to get back to the shed to finish the swing.

“Which one, Dad? The gingerbread or the molasses?”

“Um.” He spoke with a mouthful of cookie. “They’re both really good. I think we should have both.”

Liz laughed. “We’re going to cook both. Molly and I just want to know which one you liked better.”

He raised an eyebrow and looked between the two young women. “Is this some kind of competition? Because I don’t want to be the judge of some kind of competition between you two.”

Liz looked at him with wide, innocent eyes. “Robert, of course, this isn’t some kind of compe—”

“It’s totally a competition,” Molly said quickly. “And I’m your daughter so you’d better pick my cookie.”

The other women, which included his mother, his wife, Annie’s mother, Ellie, and his sister all laughed and gathered behind Molly and Liz, pausing in their work.

Robert’s gaze slid to the women, then back to Molly who had leveled a steady gaze on him, a small smile pulling at her mouth. He swallowed the bite of cookie. “I like them both. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

He quickly excused himself to the sound of laughter before any of the women could stop him, snatched his coat off the hanger by the back door, and headed out the door.

Alex was on his way to the house from the barn. Robert grabbed his arm gently. “You don’t want to go in there. It’s a madhouse.”

Alex’s brow dipped in concern as he looked from Robert to the backdoor. “What do  you mean?”

“There are a lot of women in there and they’ll try to make you taste test their food and then make you choose sides by saying which recipe is better.”

Alex grinned and gently removed Robert’s hand from his arm. “That sounds like heaven. See you in an hour.”

Robert shook his head and turned back to the barn. That young man would change his mind when two women watched him intently and waited for an answer. No man wanted to tell a woman that their recipe wasn’t as good as someone else’s.  Not if they knew what was good for them.

Brad had pulled through much to his and Alex’s relief, despite a two-day snowstorm that had delayed his trip until two days before Christmas.

Robert had put the bolts on the swing early that morning and Bert was finishing up the engine. Alex had finished the paint job and planned to pick up the truck the next morning.

 After Robert hooked on the chains, he and Jason would load the swing onto the back of the truck and drive it down to the house covered with a tarp so he could install the swing early Christmas morning. He’d enlisted Molly to keep Annie busy in the kitchen while he installed it.

After chores were completed in the barn and dinner was eaten in a kitchen now emptied of the fairer sex, Robert and Annie showered and dressed and drove to town for the Christmas Eve service. Alex, Molly, Jason, Ellie, Liz, Isabella, and Matt met them there, along with Matt’s mother, brother and sister, and Liz’s parents. Liz’s sister and family also attended, which marked the first time since they’d moved back to Spencer that they’d been able to attend a service as a family.

Robert slid his hand over Annie’s as the music began. The church was lit with candles lining the aisles and spread across the stage and altar up front. Wreathes of pine decorated the wall along the stage and behind the choir and the pastor.

Rush had been the word of the day for the last few weeks and now the entire family seemed to be taking a collective breath and letting the peace of the season seep into their souls, soothe aching muscles physically and worried hearts spiritually.

When the music started to signal that the cantata would begin soon, Robert’s shoulders relaxed, he sat back in the pew, and he closed his eyes. He let the music wash over him and push away any thoughts about what needed to be done tomorrow — for Christmas day’s celebration and on the farm. Farmers never had holidays which meant the cows would still need to be milked and fed and stalls cleaned. Most of the day would be set aside for family time, though. Any repair projects could wait.

Muffled laughter caused him to open his eyes and look around for the source of amusement. Soon the laughing spread and he turned slightly in his pew just in time to see a black and white cat stroll nonchalantly down the center aisle toward the stage. He watched it, eyes narrowing.

Without looking away from the cat he reached over and tapped Annie’s arm.

“Hey, is that —“

“Yes, it is. Whose truck did she climb in the back of this time?”

Scout, one of their barn cats, had climbed in the back of a pickup at least twice before at the farm, once hitching a ride to Walt’s farm and another time to the farm store. This was the first time she’d made it to town, though.

The cat walked up the steps, stretched her long body out, and lay down on the top step as the congregation watched with smiles.

“I’d better go get her,” Robert whispered as the pastor stepped out on the stage.

Annie pulled her lower lip between her teeth briefly, then released it. “Yeah. Maybe you’d better.”

z“Well, I see even the domesticated pets are here tonight to worship the birth of our savior,” Pastor Joe said with a smile. “In Psalm 148 it says, ‘Wild animals and all cattle, small creatures, and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Scout had curled up into a ball now, ready for a nap. “I think we’ll just let this visitor stay for now. There must be something comforting to him or her about our church and that, to me, is a very high compliment indeed.”

Robert sat back in the pew again, shaking his head and laughing. For the next hour and a half, the cat napped, waking up only when Robert scooped her up after the cantata was over. He placed her in the cab of the truck with him and Annie, both of them unable to stop laughing over her sudden appearance.

They’d been taught that God had a sense of humor, Robert thought as he drove home, the cat in Annie’s lap. Hopefully, he’d found the humor in Scout’s attendance at a service to honor him


The sun had just started to rise over the horizon when Alex left the barn after the morning chores to head for town.

“Hey! Where are you off to?” Molly called after him. “We’re going to have a full family breakfast soon.”

He glanced over his shoulder. “I’ll be back soon, don’t worry. I have something I need to grab in town.”

He left her standing outside the barn with confusion etched on her face. It couldn’t be helped, though. He’d agreed to meet Bert at the shop and pick up the truck and then they’d both drive back for breakfast and lunch at the Tanner’s for the day.

When he reached the shop Bert had already pulled the truck outside. The men stood and admired the new paint job on the truck, the shine on the bumpers, and even the new tires.

“It looks good, Alex it really does.” Bert smiled, eyes glistening. “My father-in-law would have been really proud to see it in such good shape.”

Alex stepped around to the front of the truck, hands at his waist as he admired the final product. “You had a lot to do with it, more than me even.”

“You did the paint job, shined it up. Reminds me of when I first saw Ned with it. Hannah was in the passenger seat next to him. She was the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on. I never thought she’d give me the time of day that day let alone let me marry her a decade later when we were both old enough to get married.” He winked. “We were only 15 when we first met.” He laughed, touching the back of a finger across the bottom of his eye, and turned away. He pulled a handkerchief from his coverall pocket. “Sorry, I got so emotional there. Didn’t expect that.”

Alex patted his shoulder. “Hey, no problem. Memories are powerful, especially when they are good ones.”

Bert blew his nose and wadded the handkerchief up, shoving it back in his pocket. “My marriage has been a good one, kid. I guess that’s why I keep pushing you to propose to Molly. I want you two to experience the happiness we have. Being married, making that commitment to be there for each other no matter what, in front of all your friends and family – I don’t know. There’s something fulfilling about it.”

Alex pulled his cowboy hat down low on his head and nodded. “I know, Bert, I appreciate it.”

Bert sniffed and tossed a set of keys to him. “Anyhow, here are the keys. I’ll follow you in your truck and meet you at the house.”

Alex slid behind the steering wheel of the 1976 Chevy, cranked the window down, and closed the door. “I have to take a detour, so I’ll meet you there.”

Bert grinned. “Another gift to pick up?”

Alex touched a finger to his hat. “I’m keeping that under my hat, but I’ll see you at Robert and Annie’s for breakfast. Don’t eat all the bacon on me.”

Alex started the truck and listened to it rumble for a few minutes, then slid his hand across the surface of the new red upholstery on the truck seat. He hadn’t thought they’d be able to replace that too, but in the end, Jason had helped and they’d pulled it off.

He took a deep breath and shifted the truck into gear, nodding to Bert again as he pulled the truck out of the parking lot. Turning the radio on, a favorite song came on and he hummed along, turning the truck toward the road that would lead him to Molly, but first her grandmother.