Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. It has become little more than a holiday established to give workers a three day weekend at the beginning of summer or a great excuse to barbecue. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
Whether or not you visit a cemetery today or some sort of Memorial Day event, I hope all Americans reading this blog post will take a moment to think about the men and women who have died in service to our country. Remember to be thankful for them and their families. As we all know, the price of freedom isn't cheap.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I have a friend who says men never ask for directions--so it was inevitable that a few wound up on the moon.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Well we're heading into our 3rd week on the book tour! This week we get to spend time with our daughter Jen and see her graduate from Harvard and hopefully I'll have some photos next week.
This last week we finished up with Minneapolis - thankfully before the tornadoes hit, but we have been praying big time for all the storm hit locations. I had a signing in St. Joseph, Michigan where the fog was quite thick. Here we are with Lindsay and her mom Lori. They run a small store in Monticello, MN. They were such fun!
We saw a couple of really neat old school houses. This one was in Northwest Minnesota.
And this one is an active museum called West Riverside Museum School near Cambridge, MN.
Then Jim and I had a wonderful dinner in Grand Rapids with Dwight and Tammy Baker (Dwight's at the head of the table and Tammy is to his right in green). Dwight heads up Baker Publishing. Also in attendance were a variety of fun folks. Chris Jager (dark shirt), the Baker Book House fiction buyer, Sue and Mike (behind me on the right)from the Baker Book store and Ray and Ann Byle (in the front), a freelancer for the Grand Rapids Press. The Bakers fixed a delicious meal and we very much enjoyed the fellowship and laughter.
I spoke that night at the Baker Book Store and had a great group in attendance. We had a great time laughing and enjoying the night. If you're looking for an old book, Baker Book Store has an amazing used book section.
The next day I was in Defiance and Lima, Ohio before moving on the New York. The drive to Johnson City was incredibly beautiful. We stopped at Lake Chautauqua and enjoyed the scenery.
I spoke and signed books in Johnson City at Arrowhead Christian Bookstore. Those folks know how to make an author feel welcomed - they had a chocolate fountain. Not only that, but our dear friend writer friend Bonnie Calhoun came to say hi.
Now, as I mentioned we're off to Boston to see Jen graduate.
God Bless You!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
It is a rare day that my lap is empty when I’m at the computer. Occasionally Frances joins me, but I’m much more likely to have either Maizie or Clyde curled up across my knees, peacefully sleeping, while I write.
They also serve other useful purposes. Maizie does a fine job of ascertaining stacks of paper stay in place, and Clyde isn’t a half-bad editor. Every now and then, he tries to contribute, but his spelling is atrocious. I’m still trying to decipher his “kj jk uiooooooo lpp.” Suggestions are welcome.
This week, as Judy indicated, my cats had access to three additional laps. I missed catching a pic of Frances taking advantage of the new warm-blooded furniture but managed to photograph Sam making himself comfortable. I’m so glad my guests liked cats, too. (I warn anyone who comes over here--“I have cats, and they’re friendly. If you don’t like cats, you might want to stay away.”)
On Facebook, I talked about my cats so much, in particular Clyde, whose big eyes never miss a thing, FB friends formed a connection to Clyde. So I started his own Profile--the little furry guy has over 100 friends! (You can access his page here.) Clyde posts every morning, and peoples’ responses always make me smile. Anyone who is nice to a cat is all right in my book. :o)
With my writer friends back in their own homes, applying the brainstorming ideas we concocted while they were here, it’s just me and the cats again. After such a sweet time of fellowship, it might feel lonely were it not for my writing mews. Thank goodness for furry friends!
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
There was a lot of eating, everything from homemade crème brule to fantastic pie at the Carriage Crossing Restaurant in the small Amish community of Yoder, Kansas.
There was time for relaxing outdoors.
Time for brainstorming (with coffee, of course)
Time for thoughtful introspection
And time for a catnap or two!
I think Kim's cats had the most difficult work of all. They had to put up with the interruption of extra adults in their domain. Although they were hospitable, I'm sure they were pleased to see us go home!
May you find joy as you fellowship with others. ~Judy
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
It's a note from Robin (Lee Hatcher) from a critique that I "bought" from her at an ACFW Conference in Houston in 2003. She was the keynote speaker. It was my first time to meet Robin and "little did I know" that that $25 critique would begin one of the dearest friendships of my life. (Love you, Robin! And I still maintain that was the best $25 I've ever spent.)
If you're a writer or aspiring writer, I'd highly encourage you to check out American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this September in St. Louis. The relationships and connections I've made in that organization have made all the difference in my writing journey. I'll be teaching a class with my writing critique partner, Deb Raney, but don't let that stop you. Look at who our keynote speaker is this year! It's a given it's going to be great.
And wonderful news on the writing front, for me anyway. I've completed the rewrites for A Lasting Impression, and now it's with my editor for her to work her magic. We'll have lots of back-and-forth yet but oh…it's fabulous to be at this stage with this book. There were moments I wondered if I'd ever type THE END. But it came. Finally. Whew!
To Cathy, please know that we're continuing to pray for you as you mourn the loss of your sweet father and yet also celebrate his Homecoming. We look forward to meeting him one day.
Monday, May 23, 2011
But the publisher for my February 2012 release asked me to write the headline and blurb for Heart of Gold, and somehow, over the course of a few days, I managed to put something together that everyone liked, after a bit of tweaking on their part and my part. So here it is:
My editor also sent me the preliminary cover art for the book. There are probably some changes coming to it, based upon my suggestions, including correcting the color of the heroine's hair. Still, I just had to share it with you because it is so pretty.
When Shannon Adair accompanies her minister father to the western gold rush town of Grand Coeur, she's certain she'll never be happy away from her beloved Virginia, even though the South is still gripped in civil war. Wells Fargo driver Matthew Dubois isn't sure the lovely Shannon belongs in Idaho Territory either, but he is a desperate man. His widowed sister is dying and leaving her young son in his care. If Matthew hopes to return to driving coach for the express company, he'll need a wife to look after the boy when he's away.
Shannon is determined not to love a man who is neither a Southerner nor a gentleman, but it's a losing battle. Now, will her heart survive learning the truth behind his courtship?
So what do you think? Do the cover and blurb make you eager to read the book?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
We battled the waterlogged areas of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. I hope you'll continue to pray for those folks. They are quite desperate to get crops planted in soggy fields and to see life return to normal. There's some mighty beautiful farm country in Northern Minnesota!
We have spent all week in Minnesota and enjoyed learning a little of the history. We were on the banks of Muskeg Bay at Warroad and learned that the area long ago had a fort and was considered the western capital of the French empire in the Northwest.
I did an event in Hallock and met the wonderful Peggy Pearson who runs the library in Hallock, Minnesota.
I did an event in Greenbush, MN.
"Sha Ach Wah", which means spruce tree or green bush in Chippewa, the local Indian language, was the inspiration for the name of the city of Greenbush. Angie Peterson (no relation that I know of) was the one who encouraged my coming to Minnesota for the various libraries of the Northwest. It was definitely a great idea.
We spent several nights in Thief River Falls, Minnesota - so called because - The name of the river is a loose translation of the Ojibwe phrase, Gimood-akiwi ziibi, literally, the "Stolen-land river" or "Thieving Land river," which originated when a band of Dakota Indians occupied a secret encampment along the river, hence "stealing" the land, before being discovered and routed by the neighboring Ojibwe.
We've got to see crop dusters
and neat cemeteries. Jim managed to snap pictures of gravemarkers - this one with the 23rd Psalm in Swedish at the cemetery in Upsala, MN.
The travel definitely keeps us busy, but I am so blessed. Jim and I have spent time talking to so many of the readers and praying with them. It's been a great way to spend my "summer vacation."
God Bless You!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
When I began my research for this series, I discovered many interesting facts about how German immigrants and particularly the people of Amana were treated as they settled in their new country. I also learned that during during World War I, anti-German feelings escalated to new heights. Because the people of Amana were both German immigrants and pacifists, they were prime targets for hatred. Although I was well aware of McCarthyism during World II, I was startled by news reports and magazine articles of events that occurred during World War I. That’s when I decided I wanted to set one of the books in the Daughters of Amana series during that time period.
During World War I there was a high population of German immigrants living in Iowa. William Harding, the governor at that time, issued a statement that made it against the law to speak any language in public other than English. This made it particularly difficult for the people of Amana, many of whom had not yet learned the language. Nicknamed the “Babel Proclamation,” Governor Harding went so far as to state in a public speech that God did not hear prayers spoken in any language but English. Imagine my great surprise to learn that our God can only understand English!
One of the most effective and harmful tools used by the government was the practice of engaging pro-war citizens to report on other citizens. These Councils of National Defense were established on statewide and county levels and were supposedly set up to encourage citizens to perform patriotic duties. Unfortunately, in most cases, they were simply used to target German-Americans through intimidation, coercion and entrapment.
Because many of the older people living in Amana as well as other parts of the state could not speak English, this law was especially frightening. Two elderly women in one Iowa county were jailed for speaking German over the telephone. A Lutheran pastor was jailed for preaching a portion of a funeral for a soldier killed in the war in Swedish because the young man’s grandparents did not speak English. Difficult to understand such irrational behavior, but it happened.
There were rumors of bacterially-contaminated adhesive bandages that led to arrests, but no convictions. And there were rumors of ground glass in sacks of flour that resulted in several bakeries going out of business. For those of you who have read A Bond Never Broken, you’ll recognize some of the ideas used in the novel. There are many other examples of horrible human behavior wrought out of fear and poor judgment. Many of the same practices existed during World War II.
Even today, we see some of this same type of behavior. And while I agree there is a need to keep our country safe, we need to carefully choose the methods we use in guaranteeing our safety. At the front of the book I used a quote by George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That quote is true for us both individually and as a nation.
And now I’ll step down from my soapbox and return to plotting my book.
May you find joy as you count the many lessons you’ve learned and don’t plan to repeat. ~Judy