Sandra Brannan's Blog

July 3, 2014

One of my favorite holidays is the 4th of July!


I just miss seeing the fireworks at Mt. Rushmore, don’t you?  How about if I share with you a few rare photos of Mt. Rushmore from years past… these were taken by me behind President George Washington’s head with fireworks and a rainbow.


100_1070 100_1035


I really, really miss setting off those fireworks with my sisters.  Maybe if I get enough of you to comment on this blog, we can let the authorities know you want the fireworks again.  Oh, do comment.   Enjoy the fireworks and rainbows in your life this 4th of July!

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Published on July 03, 2014 16:11 • 2 views

February 17, 2014

Living in the Dakotas certainly has its privileges.  Cold, yes.  But who gets to experience what it might have been like in the late 1800′s in the Wild West hunting buffalo?


Twice, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of observing how the unofficial national animal, the American bison, gathers in families and as bachelors during hunts.  Amazing how the matriarch of the family senses danger and spearheads a run, protecting the younger bulls in the center of the stampede.  Elsewhere on the tens of thousands of acres, the older bulls, which hang out as bachelors, respond quite differently when sensing danger.   Aggressive, standing their ground.  As a mother, it was nerve-racking to watch as my “little boy” crept up on the her


Tatanka, the Great American Bison

Tatanka, the Great American Bison


d of bachelors.


Tatanka, the Great American Bison

Tatanka, the Great American Bison


We took our youngest son out this weekend to learn how to hunt an older bull and dress him out, just as the pioneers and Lakota Sioux of the old west had to do in earlier days.  Like a modern day John Dunbar from Dances With Wolves, inch hunter’s knife. He’s not so little anymore and it was as much a rite of passage for me –  the mamma, wanting desperately to gather him up and run, rather than letting him stand his ground — as  it was for him, a grown man at 18.


The meat will provide meals for hundreds and for a young man who came from an orphanage in Vietnam where food was limited, he is grateful to call his home America, where the buffalo roam.

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Published on February 17, 2014 09:27 • 29 views

December 20, 2013

This holiday season I am reflecting on how I have been given so very much during this lifetime.  It’s no wonder one of my favorite bible passages is from Luke, “To whom much is given, much is required.  To whom much more is given, much more is required.”I know I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what God’s intention is for me on this earth so I keep working harder to find that story.  Before each time moving forward though, I must reflect and appreciate what He’s already shown me.  So thank you Suspense Magazine for the honor of being on the Best of 2013 List for NOAH’S RAINY DAY.  I worked hard at giving an authentic voice to those who haven’t one in that book.   And I am also grateful for NOAH being named a finalist in 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery.


If I could sing, it would be to the tune of 12 Days… Five golden sons!  Four grandkids.  Three living parents.   Two series growing.   And a spouse who still surprisingly loves meeeeeeeee!


Count your blessings this holiday season.


And God Bless… Sandra Brannan


Suspense/Thrillers Best of 2013 Finalist for Mystery 2013

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Published on December 20, 2013 14:47 • 27 views

November 11, 2013

In honor of the great men and women who have served, who continue to serve our country, a gift to you this Veteran’s Day — my only short story ever published.  You can find it in GRANITE ISLAND, AMER SEA, published by the Black Hills Writers Group.  Enjoy, with love.


THE BRIDGE by Sandra Brannan


If he squeezed his eyes tight and opened his lids in a squint just enough to see light seep through his lashes, he could almost see the Black Hills in the distance.  The trees were a different shade of green.  The roar of the river behind him commanded his attention, whereas the comparable stream back home was nothing more than a taunt, forcing him to listen harder to the activity around him.  He imagined himself sitting on the banks of the Cheyenne River staring at the bluffs south of his home in western South Dakota near Wasta.  His father would be wondering why he wasn’t helping get the baler ready, mumbling about how when he had been a boy, he would have already had the mower put up for the season when his daddy asked.  And his mother would be shuffling around the house in her soft moccasins, baking fresh biscuits for breakfast.


His stomach reminded him why he should have eaten all his C-rations last night, even if the thought of eating one more forkful of meat and potato hash was nearly unbearable. Of course, he knew he was far from home. The uneaten biscuits from his morning B-rations yesterday weighed heavily in his shirt pocket as a painful reminder of just how very far he actually was.  Two worlds apart.  Might as well be a million miles away.  And he knew his back was not to the Cheyenne, but to the Rhein. 


How he’d yearned to hear the whoop of his father calling for him or Cotton, his little brother, to start another day of working the fields. He prayed to God to let him go home, making a solemn promise that if God allowed him to, he’d never dawdle at sunrise or wile away the daylight hours wishing he were fishing, rather than helping his folks. He prayed to God to let him walk through the front door and muster the courage to hug his father, tell him how much he loved and appreciated him, an act of bravery he’d never attempted in his life. He prayed to God to let him touch his mother’s cheek, wrap his arms around her stout frame, bury his nose in her soft hair that smelled of freshly baked pie and strong coffee, and smile as he’d watch her remove the two small American flags she’d hung in their front window until they arrived home safely from the war.


He prayed to God to let him see his brother again – just one more time – so he could tell him how sorry he was for all the pranks he’d played on Cotton throughout their childhood, for telling their father that his little brother was the one who’d broke the pulley in the hay loft, and for blackmailing him to clean the horses’ stalls in exchange for keeping a secret from their mother about the pinup calendar stuffed under Cotton’s mattress. He prayed to God he would live to see another South Dakota sunset.  Or the rest of this day’s dawn.


But he didn’t think God was listening.


He’d been staring at the foothills to the west near the town of Bonn, the Germans gathering as thick as flies on manure on the opposite banks, preparing for the third attack in that many days.  His company’s numbers were dwindling and their clear, unmistakable mission to hold the bridge – orders from the boys in brass – was becoming as cloudy as his head from lack of sleep.   All they had to do was hold the bridge until help arrived.  They were expecting relief, a new company or two. But help hadn’t arrived. At least he was on this side of the river.  He worried about the captain of the combat engineers who had designed the floating bridge for the company to cross in an unexpected location down river.  The commander had assigned him this position on the opposite side of the bridge, away from his buddies, away from what was left of his company. 


Despite his protests, the captain reminded him that he should remember that everyone played a key role in strategic positions, just like playing safety on his Rapid City High School’s football team had been important, hanging back as a last resort to prevent the proverbial touchdown by the Nazis.  The captain ended the conversation by commanding him to take up his position with pride and purpose, without another argument. The company commander had gathered the troops and described his plan three days ago, before the first attack, encouraging all of his men to hold their positions, rotate posts to afford sleep, and protect that bridge at all costs. 


No matter what. 


The captain was determined to be the last to cross in the event the enemy overtook them on the other side of the river. He described everyone’s purpose and explained that his job was to blow up the bridge to prevent the Nazis from overtaking yet another strategic crossing they were rumored to dominate up and down the Rhein.  And if he failed, Dakota would be the one to stop them.  That’s what the captain called him.  Dakota. But the radios had gone quiet for hours, the breeze eerily still in the coming daylight. On reflection in his solitude on the protected side of the river, he didn’t remember ever mentioning to the captain that he played safety.  Or that he even played football.


He set his M1 Garand on the ground beside him, leaned back against the rock, and stretched out his legs.  No bath in days; he cupped his hand and filled it with a splash of water from his nearly empty canteen.  Dirty fingers rubbed at his tired eyes and over his thick whiskers and the mirage of being back home and of playing high school football evaporated like the morning dew.  He fished in his pocket for the small tin of powdered coffee, pinched some between his fingers and crammed it between his lip and gum.   He rummaged through his pack and realized he didn’t have any food left except for the bouillon and some caramels.  The caramels were extras from Teddy Halston – “Nevada Two” to the captain, since there had been two men from Nevada in their company – in exchange for his pack of government-issued cigarettes. Both Nevadas were assigned advanced positions several blocks in from the bridge.  Closer to the enemy line.  He suspected neither Nevada would survive the attacks. He felt the tanks before he heard them, the ground rumbling beneath him.  He snatched his rifle and scrabbled to his knees to peer over the rock behind which he crouched.  They were coming straight for the captain and his men on the other side of the Rhein.


Straight for the bridge.


He tossed the strap of the rifle over his head and steadied himself against the rock, ready to defend that bridge with every ounce of energy he had left. Strange thoughts filled his head.  First, he wished he was a smoker and hadn’t traded the 4-pack of cigarettes for the caramels.  Second, as if he were standing right beside him, he heard his brother’s voice. “It’s a good day to die.” Just as the first German panzer appeared between buildings a block from the bridge, men shouted and gunfire erupted.  He leaned into his position, ready to shoot anything that crossed the bridge that wasn’t supposed to.  He wasn’t the star, but he played a solid safety.  And he did not agree with his brother.  It was not a good day to die.  Not today. As he watched the commotion on the far bank, a prickling sensation touched the back of his neck and he couldn’t resist the urge to pull his eyes from the sights for a quick glance over his shoulder. 


Incredibly, he saw a soldier walking effortlessly, fearlessly toward him.   American soldier.


“Get down!” he shouted, motioning to the soldier to hit the ground.


The man ignored the warning, his stride familiar, the grass at his feet parting with every deliberate step.


“Get.  Down. Now.”


More gunfire erupted, spitting dirt at the American’s feet.  He wondered if the soldier was dazed, war-crazed, or had simply grown mad from having to huddle in the same position for three days and from witnessing his friends drop to the German soldiers’ domination.  He’d heard about men who lost their senses in the field, but he didn’t have time to question or console.  He had a job to do.  And the best way to protect this distraught soldier was to fight back until the man reached cover. He flipped back around, firing across the river, using the rock to steady his trembling.  Drawing in a deep breath, his aim became sure and steady, his focus clear.


Until a hand gripped his shoulder. “What the –”


As he shrugged off the soldier’s grip, the man shouted, “Brother, listen!”


He turned instantly to confirm what he already knew on some primal level.  His finger froze on the trigger, his grip loosened, and his knees grew weak.  He could hardly believe his luck.  He hadn’t seen nor heard from his little brother since they both joined the Army nearly two years ago. Letters from home confirmed both had been dispatched to Germany.  Ever since he had received one emotional letter this spring from his mother, describing how Cotton was one of the few from the 29th Infantry to survive at Normandy last summer – what the captain called Operation Omaha – he’d searched the faces of every passing soldier, any new company whose path he crossed, searching for his little brother. And here he was. He hugged Cotton’s neck, bullets hissing and spitting nearby.  His brother pulled him behind the rock and they sat hard on the ground, back turned away from the river and the fighting.


His brother was still and unhurried, yet Cotton’s words held an incongruent urgency. “We have to get out of here.”


He studied his young brother’s face.  His eyes.  Agedness lurked somewhere deep in Cotton’s gaze, something that hadn’t been there when he boarded the train at the depot in Rapid City two years ago.  And although he was elated to see Cotton here, he wondered how deeply the ravages of war had affected his brother’s young mind.


He held his little brother’s stare and said, “We have to hold our position.  The bridge.”


Mortars exploded on both shores and shrapnel whizzed by the men, the exchange of fire and screams muted by a deafening explosion nearby. Cotton’s steady gaze was unnerving.  “Let’s get out of here.”


“No!” he shouted at his brother, snatching up his gun, scrabbling back to his feet, and returning fire.


His ears numb, his eyes watering from the smoke that filled his nostrils, he scanned the riverbank for the captain.  The carnage was almost too much to comprehend.  The captain’s words echoed in his head. “It’s up to you, Dakota.  Don’t let them cross this bridge.” He could use that cigarette right about now. Men were scattering near the bridge, some in brutal hand-to-hand combat, a panzer barreling toward where his captain used to be.  He reloaded his M1 Garand, his fingers trembling.  With a hard swallow, he felt the pinch of coffee clog his throat and work its way to his unsettled stomach. He felt Cotton’s fingers brush against his neck and a shiver of cold skipped down his spine.  He felt the snap of his dog tags against his throat as Cotton yanked on the chain so forcefully, his head snapped back and his gun clattered to the ground at his feet. Before he could protest, his brother dragged him away from the rock, away from the riverbank toward the line of nearby trees.  The trees that were the wrong color green.  He clawed at the chain around his throat to relieve the pressure of the garrote, his fingers glancing off his own dog tags.  What little oxygen he had left to fuel his mind fixed on an image of himself beating the snot out of his little brother once Cotton turned him loose, a scrap worthy of their best efforts as kids. His head cleared enough to recognize the horrifying scene unfold, the rock near the bridge where he was crouched moments earlier, the position he was assigned by his captain to protect at all costs, was under fire.  As his heels kicked and bucked against the ground, his bulging eyes filled with an apocalyptic fireball as the TNT strapped on the structures of the bridge detonated and mortars simultaneously exploded on both shores in an unbelievably glorious finale.  The bridge disintegrated, fire and debris sailing skyward with the smoke, as the captain completed the mission. And as the shock wave of the explosions hammered into his chest, the acrid smell of burning carnage filling his nostrils, he felt the chain around his neck loosen. Squeezing his eyes nearly shut to protect himself from the black smoke and intense heat, he saw the rock along the riverbank where he had stood only seconds earlier. Annihilated. And his world went black.


He heard chirping and felt the warmth stroke his cheeks. He lay with his eyes closed, listening to the sounds of the forest around him.  The chirping must be birds singing.  The gurgling must be the nearby river running.  He felt a slight breeze and imagined the boughs bending overhead, the thick winter wheat dancing in unison all around him.  Occasional shadows interrupted the stream of light against his lids and he assumed it was the trees twisting and bending above, blocking the rays as the sun’s tendrils touched his face. The captain had beaten the Nazis. They had lost the bridge.  But held, accomplished the mission.  No enemies had crossed. A joy so intense filled his aching chest that any other pain he might have had from other injuries was not apparent.   He didn’t want this moment to end so he lay still, smiling.  As he raked his hands up and down his body slowly taking inventory of all his digits, limbs, head and bones, his mind imagined the field nearby the banks where he lay.   The intensity of the blue sky, the starkness of the white clouds as they interrupted its perfect, monochrome canvass.  The wheat grasses around his head.  At once, the thick golden wheat reminded him of laying on the banks of the river with his brother as teenagers, napping in the noonday sun with no admonishing parental glances, and of the privacy fence in his back yard in Rapid City, his wife and kids protected from nosey neighbors’ prying eyes.


“Brother, listen.”


His brother had saved his life.  They were both alive.  God had answered his prayers after all.  Surely they would both go home together and watch their mother ceremoniously remove the flags from the front window. His eyelids fluttered open and he saw Cotton’s face staring down at him.  The cloudless sky behind him was as blue as he imagined.   Peace flooded his still body as he reflected on his good fortune, to be with his little brother, to bask in the sunlight, and to listen to all God’s creatures as they performed for nature’s orchestra. Cottom smiled.


He reached up to touch Cotton’s shoulder, to thank him for saving his life.  When he did, he saw his own hand.  Something was wrong.  His hand and forearm were shriveled and frail.  He held out his hand, turned his wrist and elbow from front to back, studying the skin and deciphering the amount of damage, the level of pain.   Maybe it had been damaged by mustard gas, the Japanese weapon of choice.   But he was in Germany.  Maybe his deformation was caused by a reaction to a WP, the white phosphorous used in signaling devices.  He saw much but felt nothing. The skin was wrinkled and thin, spotted with a bruising he had only seen on his grandmother’s hands.


Wife and kids?  Had he equated the field of wheat grass to a fence in his backyard where his kids played?  Where the hell was he?


Cotton peered down at him and whispered, “We have to get out of here.”


There was no urgency, no anger. He blinked and saw a line snaking down his skin-damaged arm.  He followed the line to the edge of his bed beyond the rails.  Beyond Cotton.  The plastic bags to which the line was connected hung on gray hooks, boxes with flashing lights and dancing electronic lines.  The gurgling and chirping noise he had heard.  Beyond the equipment, the sun streamed through the hospital windows, reaching his face.  And in the chair in the corner, his wife was curled and soundly sleeping, keeping vigil. He had had a wonderful life. It was all rushing back to him in a tidal wave of appreciation.  His wife had been his high-school sweetheart.  They’d married between him serving in World War II and the Korean War.  They had raised five children, hard-working adults with happy families now.  And they had gathered with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren – so many he’d lost count – at least twice a year.  Everyone had returned to celebrate he and his wife’s seventieth wedding anniversary last month.  His parents hadn’t lived as long as they might have, considering their waves of grief, furled and snapped with the South Dakota prairie winds along with the black and white MIA flag flying beneath the red, white, and blue on the pole outside their farmhouse.  When mother died, father following her within six months, the single American flag still hung in the picture window.  He had taken great care in removing it in preparation for the estate auction. That flag was framed in a shadow box with Cotton’s picture and was hung on the wall nearest his recliner in the living room of their two-bedroom house. His baby brother hadn’t changed a bit from that photo anymore than he did the day Cotton saved his life.  Two days after Cotton was officially reported missing and presumed dead in a battle similar to his along the Rhein. His brother looked no different than he did standing over him at this moment.  And Cotton still wore the uniform. His only regret in his ninety-one-year-old life was that he hadn’t been able to share with his brother all the beauty life had held for him in the last seventy years.


His twenty-year-old brother grabbed his hand and squeezed, repeating, “We have to get out of here.”


The croak in his throat shattered the steadiness of the hospital background noise.  “We have to hold our position.  The bridge.”


Cotton smiled again, only this time it was impish. “I am the bridge.”


“Then it’s a good day to die.”


His brother helped him sit up in his bed, never letting go of his hand.  With Cotton beside him, he sat for a long moment staring at the woman he loved, who slept as soundly as he had seen her sleep in years.   She had celebrated her ninetieth birthday last month and was stronger than most women thirty years her junior, probably destined to outlive all five of their children. He would wait for her, arms outstretched to hold her again when she was ready. His brother held something out to him.  Saying nothing, he took them from Cotton and measured their weight and coolness in the palm of his hand.  And he knew what he had to do. As his brother steadied him, he rose to his feet and walked over to his blessed wife, bent to kiss the top of her head, and dropped what he had in his palm in her lap.  His dog tags. Then he and Cotton walked out of the hospital room and into the richest field of wheat grass he had ever seen in his life.   His mother and father stood waving to them on the other side of the river.


Across the bridge.

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Published on November 11, 2013 11:31 • 17 views

October 19, 2013

Book clubs are a huge part of my success.


Ever since my debut in 2010 with IN THE BELLY OF JONAH, ABA’s Indie NextPick Notable, book clubs have been a strong influence on how I write.  The book clubs of Buffalo and Camp Crook, South Dakota were one of my first stops during my 2010 book tour.  Those three dozen ladies (and man… my cousin who didn’t have a choice but to come since I was kin) made sure to let me know how a real South Dakotan would have responded in some of the Liv Bergen key scenes.   They’re passionate response gave me an idea.  What if a book club could be my “ideal reader” as a sounding board before I turned in my manuscript to my editor?  Then it hit me.  Book Clubs are prefect as “ideal readers” or what I call my beta readers, because they 1) read alot, 2) are brutally honest, 3) can drag my finger to problems in the book that elude me, and 4) are extremely fun to get feedback from. 


Therefore, for LOT’S RETURN TO SODOM, WIDOW’S MIGHT, and NOAH’S RAINY DAY I solicted a book club’s input — expert input – before I turned the manuscript  over to my publisher.   Check out the acknowledgements.


LOT’S RETURN TO SODOM 2011- Tough Ladies of Harding County Book Clubs (Buffalo gals turned out in large numbers to tell me what it’s really like to be be terrorized by 1%er outlaw motorcycle clubs and made LOT real).  Because of you, 2011 Top 50 Women’s Mysteries on Amazon for Ebook.


WIDOW’S MIGHT 2012- The Nameless Book Club who I terrorized one night, surprising them at their living room window (Thanks Ruthie & Sarah for introducing me to Danielli, Jessica and Judy and for making the widow even stronger).  Because of you, ABA’s Indie NextList, #37 Favourite Mystery and Thriller on GoodReads Listopia.


NOAH’S RAINY DAY 2013- Ladies of the Knight and the Rambling Mustangs Book Club (Chicago’s in the house!  You nine ladies did a fabulous job heightening the tension and improving the elements of suspense.  Thanks, Denise, for introducing me to your friends).  Because of you #1 Best Books with Handicapped Hero List, #39 Favourite Mystery and Thriller on GoodReads Listopia.


Who’s going to be the beta reading book club for the fifth Liv Bergen mystery?  Is it you and your club? 


Beta Reader Book Club: Beta reading the manuscript before I turn it into my publisher takes alot of work.  First, you have to be brutally honest with me on where I dropped the ball or where I let you down as a reader.  Second, you have expectations of these characters and I want to meet your expectations.  So I appreciate your honest feedback.  The process helps fans understand where a project starts from a raw manuscript to final book published.  And I get to include your names in the acknowledgements plus I send you copies of the final autographed book  as my way to say ‘thank you’. 


Name-That-Book Book Club:  On the fifth book, I’m also looking for book clubs to help me with a name, based on a synopsis.  The book club with the winning name also receives an autographed copy of my book.    The title must fit into the series of book titles already established, must be a twist on a biblical story, and must have some connection to the story or underpinnings of the plot. 


Details To Enter Your Book Club:  By November 1st, 2013, email me if you’d like your book club to participate in Beta Reading, in Name-That-Book, or in both at Sandra@SandraBrannan.com and note in the subject line “Beta 5″, “Title 5″, or “Both 5″ to be eligible for the drawing.   The details I’ll need from you are the name of your book club, the city where you’re from, how many are in the club, and contact information for the person who will be coordinating your input and my gifts for the club.  (Oh and a promise from you to keep the story a secret, of course! shhhhhhh)   I’ll Skype or FaceTime or telephone attend with your book club in early December once you’ve had the month of November to review the manuscript. 


So grateful to all of my fans and especially the book clubs who’ve made me a better writer!


Sandra

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Published on October 19, 2013 09:51 • 29 views

October 4, 2013

I was born in the era when people of all ages sang along with Billy Joel and this week his song, “Only the good die young” keeps playing in my mind.


We lost Tom Clancy this week at a young 66, Vince Flynn a couple of months ago at the young age of 48.  Both were fabulously talented, likely barely scratching the surface of their talented minds. stories flowing through their fingertips to the page as effortlessly as most of us breathe.


I have to admit, unlike my husband, I tended to glaze over the details that so many found most fascinating in Tom Clancy’s books.  I enjoyed his plot, fell in love with his characters, and enjoyed his creativity that captured my imagination.  HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, Clancy’s most recognized title, was of course captivating, especially as a girl raised by a WWII and Korean War vet.  What hooked me permanently was Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, the all-American hero who for me was the modern day Superman.  A slight departure from his Clancy-esque style of realistic, overwhelming detail, RAINBOW SIX, was my all-time favorite, particularly because he crossed so many no-fly-zones, causing me to think “oh no he didn’t” several times during that book.


I have met so many wonderful authors during my journey and my only regret so far is not having had the wonderful pleasure of shaking Mr. Clancy’s hand and thanking him for the wonderful work he’d done.  In this particularly case, Billy Joel was absolutely correct… the good died young.


 

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Published on October 04, 2013 09:26 • 32 views

September 4, 2013

Do you remember in the olden days when the grade school P.E. teacher used to make us climb that stupid rope?  I don’t know about you, but no matter how I tried, no matter how much spit on my hands, I couldn’t seem to get more than one or maybe two handholds up that rope before gravity pulled me right back down to the gym floor as all the other kids moaned.  In fact, I can’t recall any one of us ever able to climb that stupid rope except maybe the thin, wiry kid that everyone envied.  Unfortunately, I was not blessed with that monkey-like ability or a thin-enough physique to accomplish that impossible task that seemed only intended to demoralize.  I felt uncoordinated at best, fat and weak in reality.


If I can do it, YOU can do it!


Sometimes life feels like a series of those stupid ropes, where I find myself facing the impossible task and feeling like that fat kid again.  Getting published was most certainly one of the longest ropes to the highest tree I’d ever stood beneath.  But today, I can say I have successfully beaten the odds and published four books in only three short years.  And I’m ready to climb again and again, no longer feeling like that fat kid.


Don’t give up!  Don’t let yourself feel like that fat kid in grade school facing the rope ever again.  Take hold and climb.  If I can do it, YOU can do it!

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Published on September 04, 2013 14:14 • 36 views

June 30, 2013

What a wonderful country we have! 


I have met so many people across America — happy, successful people from all walks of life — since I first became published three years ago.   From 2010 to today,  I’ve met people with such colorful stories and intriguing lives that my mind is swimming with memories.  Everywhere I go, the smiles are plentiful.  


I started thinking about what all these happy, successful people have in common and I narrowed it down to three things they share as the secret to their success: 


1)  They work hard at using their God-given talents.


2)  They are overflowing with gratitude.


3)  They celebrate each day by sharing their joy and kindness with others.


To all of you who I’ve met at conferences & convention, at book signings & book clubs, and in libraries and lounges, thank you all for teaching me so much!

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Published on June 30, 2013 14:23 • 43 views

May 1, 2013

Everyone knows today is May Day.  But did you know it’s also National Loyalty Day, a special day designated by our Congressional leaders to remind us to reaffirm our loyalty to the United States of America? Today I will genuinely recognize my heritage to freedom as an American. Because of people like my dad and my husband, not to mention all the family, friends, and ancestors who have fought to keep us free.


My father, an 88-year-old WWII and Korean War vet, calls all his friends on this day each year to celebrate May 1st.  All of us enjoy receiving the call where he enthusiastically says “Hurray, hurray, the first of May!” He says his list is growing smaller.  Sad.  They are great Americans.


Loyalty Day reminds me why I flew half way across the world to adopt my youngest, driven to be a mother (of course) but also desirous of lifting one child from the clutches of communism to live free as a capitalist. And I have never met a more grateful, patriotic American in my life than my son!


Generations of Freedom


As a writer, thank you for giving me the power of speech. I take that right seriously and work to entertain through the stories I tell. If along the way I open some windows to a world some may not realize exist, well then fabulous!  Every time I sit at my keyboard, I reaffirm my loyalty to the heritage of American freedom.

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Published on May 01, 2013 09:43 • 48 views

March 30, 2013

Although my books have a terrifying premise, I always work toward a happy ending, finding a way to make all things new again. The Easter holiday season is about making everything new. Spring is here, grass is sprouting, flowers budding, animal babies being born.


I remind myself every year during this beautiful holiday to renew my commitment to my children, to those I love, and to my connection with a power beyond this world. To my God. Many of us become parents sometime in our lives. What a gift! Even if you’re not a Christian, the scene in The Passion of Christ where Mary watches her son suffer is a poweful testament to the bond between mother and child. The expression on this actress’s face, the raw emotion she brings to this scene, reduces me to tears every time I watch. Maybe it’s because I was blessed with the best mother in the world or that I have sons and unfortunately understand the loss of a child. But mostly, I know it’s because the bond between a mother and child is so incredibly powerful that the most horrifying gnaws to a mother’s heart is suffering inflicted on her child.


No matter your religion or spirituality, make all things new this Easter season and believe in everything beautiful. Especially you! Reach out this holiday season and hug a mother.


We could change the world if we could only bottle a mother’s love.

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Published on March 30, 2013 09:11 • 41 views