Monthly Archives: March 2012

What Is It About a Man With A Scar and a Secret?

Visiting Butternut Creek today is Jessica Nelson whose first book, Love on the Range, will be available from Love Inspired on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.  It’s great to have you here today, Jessica.  Please answer that question for us.  What is it about a man with a scar and a secret?   

Scars and secrets. Sometimes they’re intertwined.  For my character Gracelyn Riley, there’s more to her interest in rancher Trevor Cruz’s scar than mere curiosity. She’s on a search for a Bureau of Investigation agent who is rumored to be scarred. When she meets dark and mysterious Trevor Cruz on the way to her uncle’s, she’s certain he has secrets and determines to discover what he knows about Special Agent Striker. She needs to obtain an interview with the elusive agent and make a journalistic name for herself.

After all, if she gets this coveted interview and actually meets the man himself, The Woman’s Liberator has promised to hire her on as a journalist, enabling her to financially support herself rather than relying on her loving but restrictive parents.

Gracelyn isn’t shy and tends to speak first, think later. Overcome with curiosity and maybe a little bit of awkwardness, she asks the hero where he got his scar. He lies at first, but later the truth comes out. A secret unearthed, but not the one Gracie was looking for.

Scars are markers of a journey, almost like a tattoo. They tell a story of where a person has been, what they’ve done. Hero’s with scars and secrets can be very intriguing because there is the immediate knowledge that this person has faced something, done something, that tangibly marked them forever. Does it have anything to do with secrets? For me, characters who are scarred have already introduced a question mark and that makes me want to read on.

Do you have any interesting scars? How did you get them? Would you ask about someone else’s scar?

 More about the author:  Jessica Nelson, in keeping with her romantic inclinations, married two days after she graduated high school. She believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story.

More about Love on the Range:    Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again. Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

I’m visiting Margaret Daley

Today, I am a guest on Margaret Daley’s blog.    Well, I’m not really the guest.   Margaret’s format is an interview with either the hero or the heroine of a novel.  Adam Jordan stepped forward to answer some questions for her.  Hope you’ll stop by.

Margaret Daley is a wonderful and prolific writer with Love Inspired and other publishers.  I’m especially looking forward to Saving Hope, a book about human trafficking in the Unite States.  I met her when I wrote for Love Inspired.    We also wrote chapters in, The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities  a self-published book about our experiences with learning disabilities.  I’m dyslexic.

I’d love to see you over at Margaret’s place!

A busy week ahead

This is a busy week in Butternut Creek.

On Tuesday, I’ll be blogging with Margaret Daley, giving an interview with Adam Jordan, one of the heroes of The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek.   Hope you’ll drop by and leave a comment.  A book will be given away!

On Wednesday, the talented writer Jessica Nelson will be here to tell what we find so interesting about a man with a scar and a secret from her new Love Inspired Historical,  Love on the Range.   Isn’t that cover beautiful?  Do you have any thoughts about that man with a scar and a secret?  A prize will be given away.

And, on Thursday, I’ll be visiting Lyn Cote, blogging about the strongest woman I’ve ever known at    I’d love to see you there, too.  AND a book will be given away.

Hope you’ll stop by often!


I’m counting down the days before The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is released on April 3:   TEN days!

Following up: A teacher’s nighmares

I have recurring nightmares about teaching.  Even though I retired from teaching six years ago, they still haunt me.  No one gets hurt in those nightmares and there’s little gore.   I dream about the worst situations I could ever have as a teacher:  hundreds of students meeting in a tiny cabin with no books or material.  I always arrive late because I can’t find the place.   And sometimes I’m wearing the wrong kind of underwear:  bright green under a white shirt. 

Oddly, the students are terrific.  Not a discipline problem in sight. 

The administrators who stop by never notice the crowds or the lack of material, and always ignore what I say–not always true in my real life of teaching but often enough that it comes up in the bad dreams.  Oh, and the administrators always  make note of that inappropriate underwear. 

Recently, I realized I have the nightmares when I’m under stress.  With the most important novel in my career releasing in two weeks and all the promo I’m doing and edits for the second book at the same time I’m attempting to write the third book in the series–well, yes, I’m feeling pressure.  At least I understand why they pop up.

What I wonder is this: 

 1)   Do some of you teachers have this kind of dream?  I have a good friend who doesn’t.  Obviously Martha is much more balanced than I.

2)    Do people in other professions have bad dreams?  Do fire fighters dream of burning buildings?   Are nurses surrounded by dozens of patients shoutng for medication? 

I’d really love to know.  If you don’t have nightmares about your job, what does bother you in your sleep?   Or, what kind of bad dream might you have?

Education Reform: My Way

When people start talking about education reform, I’m always surprised to discover those who speak the most loudly and critically have never taught.   My first suggestion for reform education is that before anyone can state an opinion or sponsor a law, he or she has to teach in a classroom–putting together lessons plans, grading papers, taking care of discipline–for two weeks.  After that, maybe they’ll have a better, more realistic what they are talking about.   My hope is that they no longer compare education to  a business model and don’t talk about competition improving schools as if students were widgets.

My second suggestion is that the reformers should chat with teachers and listen to their suggestions.  The teachers unions have been criticised–fairly or unfairly–but teachers have never been listened to about what would make schools better.   I taught high school Spanish for thirty years.  I have some good ideas.  Ask me!

And now my BIG suggestion:   limit the number of students in a classroom in grades one to three to fewer than fifteen students per classroom.  As well as an experienced teacher, there should be at least one teachers’ aide.   It’s during these years  students gain the basics to build on.   If  students can’t read, how do we expect them to handle sciences classes or history classes?  If students don’t know basic math skills, how well will they do in basic math much less algebra and geometry?  By the time students enter high school, it’s too late to make much of a difference.  Teachers in math classes can’t go back and teach multiplication tables which means students who arrive without that background won’t succeed and will drop out.  

Oh, one more thing:  all that mandated testing.  If students don’t learn the basics in small, supportive classrooms which address each student’s individual needs, they aren’t going to do well on tests.  A student who flunks the accountability tests in third grade will not pass the next test or the next or the next.  That student will fail over and over because we have failed to provide a sound foundation.

I often hear, “Education is our first priority” from politicians who then cut money to schools which cuts teachers and increases class sizes.  Little by little, I’m beginning to believe education is not a priority.

What do you think?  How would you reform our education system?

What’s coming up? I have no idea.

With promo and attempting to write and editing the second book in the Tales from Butternut Creek series, The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek, I haven’t thought about what will be on the blog this week.  Oh, yes, and there has been BASKETBALL! 

There will be a blog here Tuesday and a mini-blog Thursday.   Hope you await them with breathless anticipation.  (And the pictures have nothing to do with anything.  I just had some left over that I wanted to use.)

Confessions of a Cheapskate, part two

In an earlier blog, I confessed that I’m frugal.   However, my husband is cheap unless, of course, he’s looking to buy  a computer, car or television.

But, I digress.  George reminded me how cheap he was the other day.  He was eating soup with cheese  and crackers for lunch and said, “I really don’t like this kind of cracker.”

I said, “Don’t eat them.  I have  another box in the pantry.”

He paused, glanced at the offending square, and said, “No, I’m almost finished with them.”

Yes, he had only five crackers left.

“Besides,” he added.  “I can hardly taste them if I put a lot of cheese on top.”

Can any of you beat that?

The Heart of Maple Avenue by Diane Perrine Coon

Guest blogging today is my sister-in-law, Diane Perrine Coon.  She’s an expert on the underground railroad in Kentucky and surrounding states, a speaker,  a respected historian, and the daughter of one on my favorite people.   Thanks for dropping in, Diane.  Take it away.

 It was one of those fortuitous events that many believe are God incidents, I was living in Pennsylvania and taking an early retirement from a large corporation at the same time my Dad died leaving Mom with an oversized house and yard exactly 857 miles away. So I left my daughter and grandkids up East and came back to Kentucky, to small town Kentucky. That move meant I spent the next 12 years getting to know Mom all over again in a new and fresh way. And it also meant I got bored and went back to graduate school, this time in American History.

In her last year as Mom at age 95 was dying of congestive heart failure, I was amazed at how many of her friends, some she had known for 50 years, others for 30 years, and some just 10 years or so visited her frequently. Sometimes there were shouts of great merriment. Other times it was a time of reflection, of that gentle gossip among old friends, or of Mom reading one of her favorite poems by Billy Collins. Then it dawned on me that Mom had taught Bible for over 65 years and these were her students. This was their way of thanking her for bringing a very real Jesus into their lives.

As hospice was called in, her oldest Kentucky friend, Joyce Rose now with just one kidney after her own surgery and in her late 80s, visited bringing homemade soups because Mom could not get solid food down anymore. When we moved to Kentucky in 1950 to a tiny hamlet called Pewee Valley, Joyce lived just down Maple Avenue from our house on the corner of Maple and Elm Street. She had five children and often found herself at the doctor’s office (my Dad) and visited Mom’s kitchen. Then Mom, a nurse, gave allergy shots to one of Joyce’s children and never charged for it. A deep and lasting friendship grew between them.

On one of her last visits, I asked Joyce to help me remember the people that lived on Maple Avenue, Pewee Valley, during the 1950s. It was such a momentous time in our lives. It was our first real house with a big yard and fabulous big trees. There were only 650 people in Pewee Valley when we moved there, so it was a very small town. My Dad was setting up medical practice after years in internship, residency and four years in WW II. My brother and I were adjusting to our fifth (and third) school. Of course that first Sunday, Mom trotted us all off to our new church in the next village. Within hours everyone on Maple Avenue knew who we were, and within days, we had met all the kids that lived up and down the street. And within months our side yard had baseball games going, rabbits being raised in the other side yard, and Duchess, my horse, was munching everything in sight in the back field.   

A couple of months after Mom died, Joyce phoned and asked if she could come over. She brought with her a piece of cardboard. She had drawn a couple of lines to represent Maple Avenue and there along the edges were the names of all the families that lived there in the 1950s. I almost burst into tears. Instead I hugged her tightly. I could imagine how many memories had flooded into her mind and soul and she drew the map. This was such a great act of love toward my Mom from her oldest Kentucky friend. And that is the heart of Maple Avenue.

What’s coming up

My sister-in-law Diane Perrine Coon, whom I introduced last week, will be blogging Tuesday about Pewee Valley and memories of her childhood.  Pewee, as the natives call it, is a lovely town with huge trees and beautiful, historical houses. 

Thursday, another blog about being frugal, about my husband this time.

So this week seems a lot like, family week but that’s okay.  I married into a marvelous bunch.   

By the way, Pewee Valley is named for the pewee bird seen to the left.