Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Pendleton Blanket

Chief Joseph Blanket,

When you think of Pendleton, what comes to mind? Wool shirts? Plaid? Blankets?
When I traveled to Montana last summer and visited the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, we went into Faught's Blackfeet Trading Post. The first thing that caught my attention was the row of Pendleton Blankets hanging just beneath the ceiling. I loved the colorful, geometric patterns and soon realized these blankets are very popular among the Native People.
My Lakota friend, who escorted me around Montana, dances in pow wows. While I stayed in her home, she showed me her regalia--the outfits she wears while dancing--and pointed out a beautiful earthy red dress made from a Pendleton blanket. All of her regalia is special and ornately decorated with shell, bone, feathers, and other natural objects depending on the dance style. It didn't take long for me to realize Pendleton blankets offer warmth, function, durability, and beauty. If I had room in my suitcase, I would have purchased one.
This morning, I opened an email from They are holding a drawing and giving away a Chief Joseph Pendleton Blanket. It's absolutely beautiful (see the picture above). If you're interested in entering this contest, just click on this link: Pendleton Blanket Giveaway 
Leave a comment and let me know if you entered. If you end up winning, leave a comment. If you love Pendleton Woolen Mills (they're goods are made right here in the U.S.A.), leave a comment.
Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

By the way, I hear it's going to be a long, cold winter. Hmm, maybe I better buy a Pendleton blanket. If I don't win one, that is.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Feel Good About Your Writing

For those of us who consider writing a ministry and the main person we want to please is the Lord, staying humble while people rave about our latest book can be a struggle. On the other hand, some of us are easily discouraged when comparing ourselves to others or even comparing our first novel to our latest one. When I wrote my debut novel, I knew very little about creative writing. I also self-edited my book. I’ve educated myself since then and find I’m often ashamed of my first publication.
During my trip to Montana, my friend introduced me to a woman who read my first novel. She was so excited to meet me and with great enthusiasm, told me how much she loved my book. Needless to say, I was encouraged. Her accolades took away my shame.
The Lord wants us to be humble. All we have and all we are is because of Him. Without Christ, we are nothing. But He also wants us to be happy and content. Feeling sorry for ourselves, harboring guilt or shame, puts the focus on us and not on God. If we live our life in a pity party, the world will not see Jesus in us.
alt="Lake McDonald"

How can we be the best writer we can be while walking the Jesus road as humble servants?
  • Pray each time you sit down to write, asking God to give you the right words.
  • Join a critique group of like-minded people who write for the Lord.
  • Never stop learning. Read books and blogs about writing. Attend workshops and conferences.
  • Read other people’s books to get inspired.
  • If you get discouraged, take a break from writing or write something silly, or try a different genre. 
  • Network with positive people who share your faith, in person or online.  You’ll gain prayer warriors, make friends, and find you’re not alone in  your writing journey. 
    Fellow writers, what do you do when you get discouraged with your writing? Please share your experience and advice. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Love Montana

McDonald Falls
I’ve been in Montana for four full days now, but it only took a few hours standing upon its soil for it to claim a permanent spot in my heart. Choosing this beautiful state as a setting for a book and writing about it for the past few years had already convinced me it’s a special place. I’m blessed beyond measure God allowed me to come here. The mountains, the plains, the rivers, and the people have proved more wonderful than I imagined.
Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of friends, I experienced firsthand what it may have felt like for my protagonist when she arrived in Montana. I landed in Bozeman, she landed in Great Falls. There’s a huge difference, so we drove by Great Falls International Airport. The modest airport sits on a bluff that overlooks the city. Planes take off and land at the north end where there’s quite a drop-off. I’m told it feels like the plane will go over the cliff just before it lifts off the runway. Driving into and around Great Falls helped me to see what my character saw when the kind Blackfoot doctor chauffeured her from the airport to the reservation. The mountains are further away than I envisioned, but I was right on about the grasslands. Prairie as far as the eye can see. It’s not flat, but rolling. The bluffs, coulees, cottonwood trees, and the winding Missouri River gives the eye plenty to feast upon. 
Saint. Mary Lake
When we hit the road to take in the sights, we started in the mountains. The Rockies are truly spectacular, as are the many mountain ranges fingering out from the “backbone of the world”. There are the Big Belts, Little Belts, Swan, Scape Goats, Elk Horn, and Garnet Range among many others. They command attention as you drive by and though them, but you haven’t lived until you hit the Going-To-The-Sun road through Glacier National Park. Wow! Breathtaking is the best single word I can come up with. Really, there are no words to fully describe the beauty and grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. It’s one of those places you have to see for yourself and Glacier Park takes you up close and personal to these majestic peaks.
I have to say, the highlight of the trip so far was visiting the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. This is the main setting of the book I’m working on, so it was at the top of my list. I had some doubts about how I would be received, but they were dashed in a heartbeat when we visited the eye clinic in the hospital. The optician there, a young Blackfoot woman, invited me in to see the clinic and seemed excited I’m writing a book about an optometry student from California who serves as an intern on the rez. She even agreed to read the manuscript before it’s published. The icing on the cake was when I was introduced to two
Blackfoot women who are in the ministry. One is also an optician in the eye clinic and both women worked with TJ and my “new friend” Sandy (she traveled with us for two days) when they were part of AGLOW. I was warmly accepted by them, which was a great honor for me.
Yesterday, we saw a part of Blackfeet history: the First Peoples Buffalo Jump located near Great Falls. When we think of a buffalo hunt, most of us envision Indians on horseback speeding over the grasslands, bows drawn and arrows aimed at the massive buffalo.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump
Sure, this happened after the plains Indians were introduced to horses, but before that they employed the ingenious and efficient method of herding the great beasts over cliffs to meet their death. Waiting below is the tribe ready to harvest the meat, bones, hide, and other parts to use for food, tools, blankets, shelter, and even toys. What an interesting part of our American history.

Lake McDonald
All the hours spent reading books and blogs, pouring over internet sites, or talking with people who have been there gives you just a glimpse of what a place is like. You have to go and see for yourself to truly appreciate the land and the people who live on it. I’m so glad I did.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Montana on My Mind

Glacier National Park, Montana

In 2007, not long after I published my debut novel, I started a story about an optometry intern who found herself—in more ways than one—serving the people of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. I’ve been asked, “Why Montana, and why the Blackfoot?” Sometimes stories come to me in the strangest ways. But before I get to the root of why I choose this particular setting, I must disclose the dream that prompted me to write this story in the first place. 

Don’t laugh, but remember that Expedia commercial a few years back showing the couple planning a trip to Hawaii? The husband searched the Internet and came across surfing lessons. His excitement about learning the sport dwindled as soon as he imagined a rather handsome Hawaiian coaching his wife in the fine art of balancing belly down on a surf board. The husband didn’t like the insinuation his mind presented, so he suggested an alternate trip: horseback riding. Here’s the link to jog your memory:  

For some reason, I dreamt about that surfing instructor, only in my dream he was laying shirtless in a hospital bed. When I awoke, the first thing to enter my mind was, “that was weird”, but that weirdness was enough for me to create a hero based on that one scene. I laugh about it now because my hero doesn’t teach surfing lessons and doesn’t really look like that instructor. He was, however, recovering from surgery when the main character—the optometry intern—first meets him.

The fun thing about writing is you never know where the story will take you. Characters take a life of their own and settings develop before your eyes despite your most detailed plotting. But how does this answer the two questions of why Montana and why the Blackfoot?   All my life, I’ve had a passion for the history and culture of the American Indian. It’s never been just a passing fancy, but a deep interest and desire to know more. God put this yearning in my heart and has used my penning fiction to bring it to life. When the idea of this story first hit me, I knew it had to involve people indigenous to this country. After some thought and prayer, God led me to write about the Blackfoot people. Naturally, the setting would be Montana, the location of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Yes, you never know where your writing will take you and it’s never been more apparent than now when God has given me the opportunity to visit the very place and people I’ve been excited to write about. Thanks to my brother-in-law who offered to pay the airfare, I’m heading to Big Sky Country in three weeks. To make this trip even sweeter, I finally get to meet my “sister” who has mentored and guided me through this journey of writing about and learning what it means to serve and walk beside the Native People. 
Through the coming weeks, I plan to share this journey with you.

Where has God taken you in your writing journey? 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Wisdom Blurb

photo credit: pareeerica via photopin cc

Happy Mother's Day!

Today's wisdom blurb may not seem like it has anything to do with Mother's Day, but it was in our church bulletin this morning and is applicable no matter what day we are celebrating.

Maybe God wanted us to meet the wrong people 
before meeting the right one so that when we 
finally meet the right person, 
we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Manton Monday on Tuesday ~ The Bee Got Me!

photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

I struggled over what to write today. With less than six weeks of school left, there’s a lot going on, not to mention a big fundraiser I’m involved with that’s scheduled for June 15.  On top of that, I’m doing the yearbook again and am facing a deadline. The thought of putting my blog posting on hold crossed by mind, but I really don’t want to wait over seven weeks for the dust to settle. Still, I needed a subject to write about. So, last night I pulled a book from the shelf written by Alice Wilson called Manton Yesteryears. It talks about some of the families that settled here in the 1800’s, the Indians they encountered, and the businesses some of the residents owned over the decades. Apparently, it took Mrs. Wilson over thirty years to write the book. After looking it over, I got inspired. Maybe I'll use it to write Manton Monday next week.

Today I had no intentions of writing a blog post, yet here I am. Thanks—or no thanks—to a rather large insect, I’m sitting here typing away with a swollen finger.

Yes, the bee got me.

After my daughter and I arrived home about an hour ago, she settled down to do homework and I tackled the kitchen. After emptying the dishwasher and putting all the clean dishes away, I started to fill it back up again with the few plates and cups from breakfast.

Loading a dishwasher is mindless work. You tend not to look at what you’re grabbing, which is what happened tonight. I went for the last coffee mug on the counter when I felt an intense sting. Yow! By some miracle I didn't drop the cup, but carefully placed it in the rack. That’s when I noticed the little bugger (it was actually a pretty big bee) crawling on the dishwasher door. He (or she) seemed lethargic, but I tell you, there was nothing lackluster about its sting.

My daughter tells me to put ice on it, and I assured her I will after I finish cleaning up the kitchen. I’m not going to let a bee keep me from my chores—or from blogging for that matter. I’m just tickled I have something to blog about. My finger is swollen and my hand itches, but I can still type.

It’s the little, unexpected things in life God uses to rouse our creativity. Okay, so a painful bee sting may not be the most desirable method of inspiration, but I’m still thankful.  
In case you’re curious about what happened to the bee: I scooped it up in a cup and released it outside. Don’t tell my husband. He believes in squishing six and eight-legged offenders.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Wisdom Blurb

God gives us discernment to help us intercede

God never gives us discernment 
in order that we may criticize, 
but that we may intercede.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Manton Monday ~ Where is Manton?

View of Manton from Wilson Hill Road just south of Shingletown, CA

"Maybe not every little piece of heaven is well-known, or is listed on most maps, but once you set foot within the town limits you just may find a diamond in the rough." ~ Linda G. Strawn
This is exactly what happened when my husband and I first looked at a piece of property nestled on a pine and oak studded slope two miles above downtown Manton. About a year and half earlier, we made the move from bustling Sonoma County to the quiet mountain hamlet of Shingletown in Shasta County. For more than a decade, Shingletown had been the place we loved to visit at least once a year to get away from the rat race. We loved the thick pine forests, the snow, and the people who called the area home.

Over the years we had heard about Manton, but it was nothing more than an obscure little town laying in a valley somewhere south of Shingletown. Mantonites traveled up the ridge to bank in Shingletown, eat at its restaurants, or connect with friends. 

I have a vague memory of a trip down the hill to Manton for a crab feed several years before our big move, but I must have blinked one too many times because I don’t remember anything about the town. Another recollection is the time I went to the bank just after we settled in Shingletown and overheard an excited customer talking about a major drug raid in progress and pot-growing Mexican Nationals on the loose. I was beginning to think Manton was not a very nice place to live. 

Who would have thought a year or so later we would relocate to that same obscure little town?

We’ve been residents of Manton for over seven years now and have grown to love this little piece of paradise in spite of two close calls with forest fires, the occasional siting of mountain lion, and the strong smell of the marijuana harvest I once mistook for skunk. These things pale in comparison to all the good things that make this town so special.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to tell you more about this place that lies in a valley about 30 miles east of Red Bluff, roughly 7 miles south of Shingletown, and a short drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park. A town split between two countiesShasta and Tehama—and one I’m proud to call home. 

Welcome to Manton Monday! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Wisdom Blurb

photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

Wise men talk because they have something to say.
Fools talk because they have to say something.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Wisdom Blurb

photo credit: naama via photopin cc

People are like teabags. 
You have to put them in hot water 
before you know how strong they are.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Wisdom Blurb

photo credit: bill barber via photopin cc

Worry is like a rocking chair. 
It gives you something to do, 
but it doesn't get you anywhere.

For more insights on worry, read Matthew 6:25-34

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Win a Free Book!

Here I am selling copies of my novel at a local event

It's a beautiful Saturday morning. The hills are green, the ridge is shrouded in fog, and the sun is breaking through the clouds. I'm on my fourth cup of coffee and in a generous mood. I think I'll give away a copy of my debut novel, Singing Winds
This book is very special to me. Not only is it my first published novel, it's a story born out of my deep-seeded, God-placed passion for the First Nations People. 
As a child watching those old westerns on TV, I cheered on the Indians. I also prayed the horses wouldn't get hurt. The funny thing is, I grew up in a typical Caucasian home, so I'm not sure what compelled me to side with the Natives. 
As an adult, I'm interested in Native culture, history, and issues more than ever. Especially after finding out my great-grandmother was affiliated with one of the local tribes where I grew up. To this day, I haven't found out much about her. I speculate she may have grown up in a boarding school where she was forbidden to acknowledge who God made her to be. Her maiden name was Miller, a common name given to Indians. Or perhaps it was the name of her adoptive white family. 
I may never know the truth.
What I do know is my desire to learn more. Not only about my great-grandmother and the family she came from, but to learn more about the people groups who called this country home long before Europeans set foot here.  
I wrote Singing Winds a long time ago, back when my writing efficiency could use some improvement. We all have to start somewhere, right? I still stand behind this story, and have many readers who enjoyed it despite my breaking the "show, not tell" rule. I think I may have done a bit of head-hopping, too. I've gone through the shame and embarrassment stage, through which God taught me humbleness. He continues to show me the many ways He uses this book to bless others. I didn't write it in vain. 
Please allow me to share it with you, my blog readers. 
I know you're out there. Show yourselves, leave a comment (make sure you include your email so I can contact you), and I'll enter you into a drawing to win a copy of Singing Winds. To increase your chances of winning, subscribe to this blog and become a follower with Google Friend Connect. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let's hear it for REAL ROMANCE

photo credit: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ via photopin 

Reading Katie Ganshert's blog this afternoon gave me a wonderful idea to post something I saw on The Doctors that brought me to tears. 
Click here to watch the video. Better grab a tissue first. 
Let me know what you think of it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We're In This Together

photo credit: TexasEagle via photopin cc

If you've spent any amount of time in the business of writing, then you know how important it is to support one another. To have a web presence,  you need other people backing you up. Sure, you can build a website, start a blog, open an account on Facebook, or Tweet to your heart's content, but if you're not getting people to follow you, like you, or leave comments on your blog, you won't make it easy for people to find you.
I learned this the hard way after spending a lot of time building a website and blog, yet not getting many hits or comments. I'm no expert, though I am learning a lot from them.
Since I'm a new "Blogger", I thought it would be kind of fun to challenge folks to scratch my blog list and I'll scratch theirs (so to speak).
I just added a BLOG LIST to my blog and included a partial list of those bloggers I've been following. I highlighted partial because there are many more sites I enjoy and I'll add those eventually. I'm making a plea to my fellow writers to add me to their BLOG LIST and in turn, I'LL ADD THEIRS to mine.
Remember the days when link referral companies encouraged us to exchange links with everybody and their uncle? I've dropped that habit after I ended up with pages upon pages of links on my website and who knew if they were legit. Certainly, not all of them were quality links that had anything to do with writing. There's nothing wrong with exchanging links if they have something to good to offer and are relevant to your website.
So, how about it? Are you up to the challenge?

Monday, April 1, 2013

New blog under construction

photo credit: fatboyke (Luc) via photopin cc 

Oh, hello there...

I'm not quite ready for visitors yet, but I'm still happy you dropped by. Please check back later for some awesome content. 

Since you're already here, why not become a subscriber? This way you'll be among the first to know when I post something new. I'd love for you to leave a comment, too.

Thanks for visiting!