Saturday, November 09, 2013

We have a winner!

The winner of a copy of The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet is.........


Congratulations. Stephanie should be contacting you shortly!

Thanks to all of you who left a comment.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Making the Most of Writing Friends and Mentors with Guest Blogger Stephanie Morrill.

Today, I'm welcoming Stephanie Morrill, my friend and writing buddy, to the blog. We've known each other for...hmm...has it been seven years now? I know it was before she had kids (and now she has two) and before either of us was published (and now we've both jumped into the 'published' group,) and well before I knew anything about anything in the writing world (though there's so much more that I don't know) Anyway...We met at a writer's conference, and she was so sweet and nice, and we've been friends ever since. 

So, without further ado from me...though there will be some at the end of the post.... Here's Stephanie!

When Erica asked me to post about writing friends and mentors, it seemed really fitting to me that I write this post for On The Write Path. Erica was my first writing friend, the first person I exchanged critiques with, and the first writer I knew personally who started a blog. I've learned a lot from her!

I recently discovered the Chinese proverb, "If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back." While I feel it applies to all areas of my life, today I want to focus on how we learn about the road ahead when it comes to writing.

1. Books and blogs. 

I'm a big believer in learning from writing books and writing blogs. (I have one of each - Go Teen Writers: How To Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, which I co-wrote with Jill Williamson, and which is a blog that seeks to encourage and empower teen writers.) I have lots of writing books that feel like old friends, that I've highlighted and underlined and dog eared. And I subscribe to many writing blogs that teach and nourish me.

Everyone is different in their beliefs of the best writing books. While Bird by Bird is one of my favorites, others find it highly offensive. Or I love Stephen King's On Writing ... but he's Stephen King. He's earned the right to get away with certain things that won't fly for me.

2. Writing friends.

It's been my experience with writing friends that I usually befriend those who are at my level, slightly behind me, or slightly ahead. It seems like school, almost, where you come up in classes. Many of my friends signed their first contract or had their first book come out within a year of my debut.

A great test for writing friends is evaluating how they treat you when things are GOOD. I had writer friends who commiserated and groaned and shook their fists alongside me when rejections came...but who were not nearly as emphatic in their joy when I received The Call.

I would also advise that you don't limit yourself to people who write in your genre. While it's wonderful to be friends with people who understand the quirks of what you write, it's not the most important thing in a writing friendship. There's often fewer feelings of competition when you write one genre and your friend writes a different one. When I signed my contract, it was my friends who also wrote contemporary YA who seemed to have the least enthusiasm for my accomplishment.

3. Writing mentors.

These are people who are several steps ahead of you. I've never had an official mentor, but I do have several well-established authors who I've made connections with and who I feel comfortable emailing when I have a question or two.

Make sure you're smart about who you follow and rely on. A good mentor is someone who cares about you. In the words of John Maxwell, "Selfish people will assist you only insofar as it advances their own agendas. Good mentors provide friendship and support, unselfishly working to help you reach your potential."

In my Ellie Sweet series, which follows a teen writer as she chases her dream of being published, Ellie struggles to figure out who is a friend and who is a fake. Writing those scenes made me pause to pray that I would be a good mentor and friend to the writers around me, that I'll check my own agenda at the door when I'm offering my help. As many have done for me along the way!

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out 

So, here's the 'further ado' from me at the end of the post. Stephanie is celebrating the release of her newest novel, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet. This is the sequel to the totally adorable The Revised Live of Ellie Sweet that came out last spring. Here's what I had to say about Stephanie's latest release:

"Stephanie Morrill is a master at creating characters with complex emotions and motivations, a talent which makes her stories realistic and yet unpredictable. The cast leaps off the pages and into the imagination effortlessly. I love reading books where I feel I live every scene with the main characters, and I certainly felt that way about THE UNLIKELY DEBUT OF ELLIE SWEET." 
- Erica Vetsch, author of Sagebrush Knights 

And here's a bit about the newest Ellie Sweet novel:

For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home. 

Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut. 

Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted, and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet.

Here's the link to Stephanie's author page where you can find ALL her wonderful books:

THIS JUST IN! Stephanie is graciously giving away a copy of The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet to one lucky commentor. Leave a comment and a way for me to get a hold of you and we'll draw a name on Friday of this week! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Friday Five

It's almost November! Can you feel the excitement in the air? If you know a writer who is gearing up for NaNoWriMo, then you've probably encountered the roller coaster of emotions this crazy, month-long challenge brings.

At the moment, I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. November, the time of year when tens of thousands of word-slingers put on their writing hats, crack their knuckles, and attempt to write FIFTY-THOUSAND words in a single month.

It's crazy, exhilarating, daunting, sapping, thrilling, and so many more things!

I can't start NaNo without some preparations and knowing what I'm going to write, so I spend the last couple of weeks of October getting ready. So I thought today's Friday Five would be:

Five things I'm doing to prep for NaNo:

1. Creating Characters. Figuring out what personality types they are and how they will react in certain situations.

2. Plotting. Post it notes, Goals, Motivations, Conflicts, Black Moments, Look-In-The-Mirror moments, etc.

3. Updating my profile on the NaNo site and logging into my local group to see when they'll be having write-ins and activities.

4. Finding writer-friends who are also attempting NaNo to buddy with so we can encourage one another.

5. Daydreaming about this new story, becoming familiar with the fictional landscape so I will know where I'm at when I open the document each day.

How about you? Do you NaNo? If you do, buddy me! My user handle on the site is: ericavetsch

Sunday, October 13, 2013

3 Tips for Stifling Negative Voices

I hear voices. All the time. In my dreams, when I'm reading, when I'm watching tv, when I'm driving down the road...

Before you begin to doubt my sanity, let me qualify that by saying...I'm a writer, and it's okay! All writers hear voices. Heroes, heroines, villains, even plot events and settings have voices.

Fictional voices are great for a writer to hear. It's when those voices stop that we get worried.

But there are other voices, too. Ones that are not fictional but psychological, and if these psychological voices start talking at the same time, it gets pretty noisy and chaotic.  For me, there are three main voices that can crash around in my head and bring my productivity and contentment to a gear-grinding halt.

The first is the Voice of Writer's Doubt. This, I believe, is the source of most of my procrastination and writer's block. I begin to doubt my ability, my story, my decision to even try to write choice of hair color, and the color of my socks, and so on. When I'm in the throes of a bout of doubt, my creative process dries up, and I feel as if I can't trust the merit of any thought, much less produce anything worth reading.

The second is the Voice of Writer Talk. Sometimes when the Voice of Writer's Doubt is shouting in my ears, I seek refuge in instructional materials to get me out of that funk. Writing books, writing articles, how to write fiction blog posts, webinars full of tips and ideas, etc. If I can't write fiction, at least I can feel busy and productive by reading about the craft, right? I try to immerse myself in 'writer talk' to stifle the Writer's Doubt, but often what I wind up with is a squish-squash of noise. I find myself picking up ideas and laying them aside, unsure of how to apply what I've learned to the story at hand. I overload my brain with techniques and prompts and how everyone else is doing things, and I am paralyzed.

The third is the Voice of The Writing Industry's Imminent Demise. This is the voice that can scare me rigid. I heard it said a few months ago that traditional publishing is in love with its own death since every couple of weeks there is another naysayer, gloom-spreader, croaking-Cassandra who says books are dead, nobody is reading anymore, only A-list authors will ever get published by traditional houses, and the market is shrinking into oblivion. Bookstores are closing their doors, publishers are afraid to take risks, and if you aren't writing Amish, bondage smut, or epic fantasy, you might as well give it all up. Not exactly the stuff of which dreams are made.

When all three of these voices get to yakking in my head, it's hard to hear anything else, especially the voices of my story.

So what's a girl to do? Here are a few things I do to quiet these voices so I can hear my characters:

1. Be still. Listening to the noise and negative voices means I can't hear the answers and solutions when they come. Spend a little time remembering why I fell in love with my story in the first place. Relive some of those emotions that came when the story idea first emerged. Give myself permission to not write for a few days if necessary and just let the story marinate. Stop the frantic chasing and let the story come naturally.

2. Step away from the Internet and its wealth of information. Don't read the writing blogs and articles, and don't watch the YouTube videos on writing. Everyone has their own process of creating fiction, and by trying to follow too many other voices and processes, I can lose my own. Instead of seeking to fill myself up with more noise, I work on something else, like crocheting, cross-stitching, watching a movie, things that jump-start my creativity (as discussed last Monday in THIS post.)

And most importantly:

3. Put things back into perspective and priority. When the voices grow the loudest and I find myself at the most chaotic point of writing despair, that is when I frequently realize that I've made an idol of writing and I'm serving that idol rather than worshiping God and serving Him with my writing. I've blown things out of proportion and put my desire to write above my desire to serve God. As much as I love it, fiction-writing isn't what I was placed on this earth to do. My primary purpose on earth is to glorify God. If writing fiction gets between me and that process, then things are out of step with my purpose for being and an adjustment is necessary. It isn't until I get to this point that I can truly quiet the voices that I shouldn't be listening to and focus on what I should.

Do you ever listen to these negative voices? What do you need to do to dispel them?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Friday Five

I love posting on Facebook. The people who I interact with there in my various groups and lists and pages are upbeat and fun and compassionate. Of all the social media, it's Facebook where I feel the most social and connected with people.

I often get comments on some of my posts that are fairly regular. People expect them on certain days or on certain forums, and some of my friends have even started posting on similar topics. That being the case, I thought I'd list here the five things I post about most often on my Facebook page and invite you to do the same.

1. Nearly every Sunday I post something positive about my church. I almost always start with "I love my church" because it's so very true. I love this body of believers, and hands down, we have the most grounded in the Word, hilarious, loving, grace-giving, grace-needing flock of sheep in the planet.

2. My husband. I love to brag on my husband on Facebook. He's so great, and I want everyone to know it.

3. My writing progress and my books. I have lots of writer friends who are encouraging and supportive of my writing, and lots of reader friends who want to know what's going on with my latest release. (Thank you, friends!!!! :) )

4. The Kansas Jayhawks Men's Basketball Team. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!!!!

5. Shares of things I think are funny. I don't post political things or hot-button issue things on Facebook, but I will post things I think are funny.

What do you post on Facebook? Are you a fan of Facebook? Are you on Facebook?

If you are, are we friends on Facebook? If so, yay! Gimme a shout out on my page at  And if you're  on Facebook and we're not Facebook friends yet, send me a friend request!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

5 Ways to Keep those Creative Juices Flowing

Sometimes the well is just dry. The creative spark is fizzling. Your soul is famished. You want to write or paint or create, but you're tired, stressed, or cluttered in mind.

This has happened to me, and through the past few years, I've developed a few strategies to help me break through the dry spell, and I'd love to share them with you.

1. When I find writing difficult, I often try creating something else. I crochet and I cross-stitch. Working to create something other than fiction frees up that part of my brain to work on my story subconsciously, to roll ideas around while my hands are busy with something else.

Here's the project I'm currently working on:

Here's how far I've gotten on the cowboy sampler.
What the finished sampler will look like.

2. Take a walk and enjoy some nice scenery. Especially in the fall when the wind is a little crisp and the colors are so amazing. Let your mind soak in a different vista than the blinking cursor on the blank page.

Some of the trees on our property. 
3. Take your laptop or notebook and pencil and find another place to write. Sometimes a change of workplace can jump-start those creative thoughts. For me, this usually means a trip to the coffee shop or library. 

Me at Dunn Brothers Coffee shop, my office away from home. 
4. Talk to someone who refreshes you. Find someone who recharges you, who makes you laugh and makes you think and makes you feel better. Face to face conversation is the best, but Skype, phone, or even email will work in a pinch. I have a handful of people I can turn to that always give me a boost. 

My beautiful daughter, Heather, who is always up for a mother-
daughter chat.

5. Watch a movie or read a book that you love, something that evokes a lot of emotion in you, that makes you feel. Creativity flows out of your feelings, your emotions, because you're trying to evoke emotion in the one who reads your work or views your art. I have a few go-to movies and books I like to read when I need recharged.

John Wayne movies, Dick Francis and Grace Livingston Hill books,
Elizabeth Peters and Essie Summers novels...those recharge me.

So, how do you recharge your batteries? A bubble-bath? A weekend away? A chocolate bar?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back to Basics

I finally got a picture of me and my lovely agent, Rachelle Gardner! We've been working together for three years and this is the first picture I have of us together. :)

She's a wonderful agent and encouragement to me, always seeking to help me grow as a writer and shape my career.

With some projects headed out the door to editors, it's time to re-evaluate what I'm doing and if what I'm doing is in line with the career goals I've set. I'm not as productive as I have been in the past, and as I desire to return to consistent productivity, I'm headed back to basics.

In years past, it was my custom on this blog to post my monthly goals at the beginning of each month and evaluate how I'd done on the previous month's goals.

I've gotten out of that practice, and as a result, I don't set quantifiable goals, nor do I know if/when I've met them.

So, I'm going to lay out a few goals for the month of October.

1. Finish the proposal for The Cactus Creek Challenge except for the sample chapters.

2. Finish writing Trouble's Brewing. This will be quite a feat, as I have about 35K more words to put on this story.

3. Prepare for NaNoWriMo. I'd love to write 50K words on The Cactus Creek Challenge in November.

How about you? Do you have some goals for October? Are you a goal-setter?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Super Sale!

Right now on Amazon Kindle, Golden States Brides is just $.99! I'm privileged to be in this collection with my good friend and writing buddy Keli Gwyn. Her novel in this collection is just delightful! Here's a bit about her book A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, CA:

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to
go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora
becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for
the two of them? Miles can't help but stick his well-polished boot in
his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way
to win her heart while destroying her business? Miles's mother, Maude,
is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora's
daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will
these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

And here's a bit about my book A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA:

When her brother is injured fighting in France, Meghan enlists her fellow Harvey Girl waitresses to sew a Red Cross signature quilt to raise money for wounded doughboys. Local horse breeder Caleb McBride longs to join the battle, but the army won’t take him. Because he has kept his shameful infirmity a secret, the townsfolk have labeled him a coward and war profiteer. When Meghan uncovers his malady, her poor opinion of Caleb unravels. Can this beautiful seamstress find a way to mend his heart?

Two Full-Length Romances for just under a dollar! You can't beat that! :) Grab your copy today! Click in the title below to jump to the page where you can purchase the kindle version:

Golden States Brides:

Bask in two historical romances from sunny California. A willful widow and a determined merchant find themselves fighting for a town’s business—and against their growing attraction. Who will win this contest of wills? A Harvey Girl waits on doughboys and meets a local horse breeder whom the townsfolk have branded a coward and profiteer. Will pride keep them forever apart? Are they destined for golden love, or will the sun set on romance?

Sunday, September 08, 2013

A Log Cabin Christmas Re-release!

Barbour Books is re-releasing A Log Cabin Christmas Collection!!! See the nifty sticker in the upper left? New York Times Best-seller! Squee!

To celebrate the re-release of this 9-story anthology, the authors are giving away a mega-cool gift basket!

Included in the gift basket are Christmas ornaments, scented candles, books, a Christmas dvd, note cards, scented coasters, candy, and a quilted Log Cabin pattern table runner. We'll also be including a copy of A Log Cabin Christmas signed by all nine authors!

If you'd like to be entered in this drawing, it's EASY-PEASY! Just click HERE. Read the post, scroll down, and follow the instructions. There are lots of ways to get your name entered, and you can find out more about the authors, the stories, and the giveaway.

Again, the link to enter the contest is

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Friday Five

This picture is of my baby boy, Jamester, when he was three. He's climbing the red bud tree in my parents' front yard, the tree we planted the day we brought my baby brother, Nathan, home from the hospital...when I was three.

Last week marked my son's first days attending the local community college as part of his last year of high school. Hard to believe he's a senior! I remember my first days as a college student. The excitement, the nerves, the new friends, the classes, etc.

So, this week's Friday Five is five things I remember from my first days at college:

1. The packing and shopping. I took a major trip to Wal-mart before I left for college, buying myself towels and sheets and cleaning supplies. I don't think I'd ever spent so much on myself ever before!

2. The confusion of the bookstore. Searching for all the books I needed for my classes. In high school, I showed up, the books were handed out to us, and that was it. Here I was buying, in some cases five or six books for each class!

3. A new roommate. (Waving to Patti!) I hadn't had a roommate for awhile, since my older sister got her own room. I was nervous and excited to have a roomie, and Patti was very easy to live with.

4. Orientation. Picnics, amusement parks, Royals baseball games, and lecture after lecture on how to be a college student. My daughter's college continues the orientation/first year experience for the first quarter to half of the year, but my college had a week of orientation, then you were on your own.

5. Meeting my future husband. I met Peter the second week of college. We began dating at Christmastime, and two years later we got married. :)

What do you remember about your first days of college?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

A Sure Foundation

This summer, my husband has been working on installing retaining walls and a patio in our backyard. The work is hot, heavy, and takes patience and planning. He has been particularly careful about the bottom row, checking with his level, spreading first big rocks, then smaller rocks, then pea rock to pack in a firm foundation to set the retaining wall block upon. He knows that if he makes a mistake setting the bottom row in place, if it isn't level and solid, the entire wall gets worse the farther you go up. If the wall isn't set on something solid, like a rock base, eventually it will sink and sag.

There are so many analogies that can be made, but one springs quickly to mind.

All of our lives are built on a foundation of what be believe. If what we believe is based upon something that isn't true, that isn't solid, that isn't real, then we have a faulty foundation that will eventually cause our lives to tilt off course and crumble. Yet, if our lives are set in the solid rock of Scripture and what it tells us about ourselves and about Jesus, our lives will be true and firm and stand under the most intense pressure from outside.

Matthew 7:24-27 says: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Friday Five

Welcome back to The Friday Five:

Since summer is quickly coming to an end and school years are about to begin, this week's Friday Five is:

Five things that are beginning or ending around here:

1. Student Teaching. The elder child had her first day of teacher orientation/meet the students at her student-teaching placement yesterday. The verdict is: "I love my first graders!"

2. Earth Science at the local jr. college. The younger child is taking his first class at the local jr. college. So far the week is off to a rocky start with the teacher a no-show for the first class, a last minute classroom change, and a mix-up on when the lab was actually scheduled. But I think we're on track now. :)

3. Hopefully, this heatwave will be ending soon. It's too hot to work on the patio project. Too hot to sit on the front porch in the evenings. Just plain too hot for this girl!

4. Football season is beginning! The last NFL preseason games are over. College football games started last night. Are you ready for some football?

5. Teaching Sunday school. This is a beginning/ending around here. Our church Sunday school takes a break in August, so the teachers can recharge and reorganize. So the Sunday after Labor Day, my husband will be starting a new year as a Sunday school teacher of 4-6th grade. I taught Sunday school for the first part of the year, but someone else will be taking over my class, so my time as a teacher is coming to an end. (For now.)

How about you? What's beginning or ending at this time of year for you?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blowing the Dust off This Blog

After a lengthy and refreshing break from blogging, I'm back! I've missed blogging, though the rest was needed and appreciated.

So what did I do while I was on my break?

1. Wrote. I'm closing in on the finish of another novel, this one set in a Victorian tea shop in St. Paul, where an ambitious young woman and a local bad-boy-turned-beat-cop band together to uncover the culprits behind a series of increasingly serious crimes in the neighborhood and find their partnership growing into so much more. It's Brewing Up Love.

2. Read. I took more time to read this summer than I have in awhile. While I re-read some old favorites, my current obsession is the Walt Longmire books by Craig Johnson. I'm in the third book and loving every word. I've learned quite a bit about how adding a dash of humor makes the intense parts even more intense.

3. Crocheted. I made a couple of baby blankets for a friend who is expecting twins, a blanket for someone who is expecting her third child, and a granny-square baby blanket that used up a lot of pastel yarn I had left over from all the other baby blankets. And this past weekend, I opened up my counted cross-stitch cupboard and took out a new project.

4. Spent time with my family. My kids are almost grown, and I feel like the time is passing so quickly. I made a concerted effort to spend time with my kids, together and individually, and make some memories with them this summer. We're also deep into a landscaping project at our house, and while I can't do a lot of the brick-laying or rock hauling, I'm pretty good at shopping for patio furniture and planning out the future flower beds. :)

What did you do with your summer? Was it a time of refreshing?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blog Vacation

This is my absolute favorite picture from our entire recent vacation (And there were more than three thousand photos!) This is my son, James, (17) with a happy, joyful, relaxed look on his face. He was hiking in Arches National Park.

Vacation is a good thing. It helps you refresh, refuel, and relax. At least that's the plan.

That being said, this blog is going to take a vacation for awhile. I need to refuel, refresh, and relax a little so when I come back to blogging, I have something to say.

In the meantime, I'll be active over on Facebook. You can find me at:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Friday Five

The above is a picture of the only remaining Civil War recruiting station west of the Mississippi. It's located in Wasioja, MN. This weekend there is a big Civil War re-enactment in Wasioja that I'm looking forward too.

So, this week's Friday Five is five things I hope to take in at the Wasioja Civil War Days:

1. The History of High Tea demonstration.

2. President Lincoln's address.

3. Medical Demonstration.

4. The Battle of Antietam.

5. The Battle of Mill Springs.

Have you ever been to a Civil War demonstration?

What are your weekend plans?

Sunday, June 09, 2013


Now that we're back from vacation and we've deep-cleaned the house, it's time to settle into our summer routine.

We're staying up a bit later, sleeping in a bit later, planting flowers and mowing grass, taking a break from school.

The eldest turns 21 this month, and for her birthday, she asked if we could take the St. Paul Gangster's Tour as a family. We'll make a few day trips to favorite historical sites this summer too. But mostly we stay home and hang out and relax.

I love summer.

How about you? What do you do during the summer?

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Friday Five

I love my Kindle eReader. I use it every day. So this week's Friday Five is:

Five reasons I love my Kindle.

1. The number one reason I love it is that I can read at night with a tiny book light that doesn't disturb my sleeping husband. I love to read in bed, and the Kindle lets me read late into the night if I want to.

2. The ability to have dozens of my favorite books all in one easy-to-carry place.

3. The ability to try lots of new authors with free or low cost eBooks.

4. The ease of purchase (this is a two-edged sword) with the "Buy With One Click" option on

5. I also love how light my Kindle is and that I can turn pages with one hand.

Q4U: Do you have an eReader? Do you like it? What do you like best about it?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Stuhr Pioneer Museum

Last month, my family and I embarked on an epic vacation, our ultimate destination being The Grand Canyon. (Something I've always wanted to see.)

On the way, we had many adventures, and I hope to share some of those with you here on the blog.

One of the early stops we made was the Stuhr Pioneer Museum in Grand Island, NE. Oh, my, am I ever glad we stopped. What a wonderful place. Their railroad town will show up in one of my future stories, I have no doubt.

Peter took lots of pictures for me, and I kept the pamphlet that contained the map of the town so I could remember the layout.

Here's a link to learn more about the Stuhr Museum Railroad Town.

Have you ever been to Nebraska?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Rose Cluster

Yesterday was a wonderful Mother's Day for me. It started with the annual Mother's Day Breakfast at church. The men gather in the kitchen and produce pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, donuts, juice, fruit, and other yummy concoctions.

Then we had an uplifting worship service. And afterwards, lots of fellowship with church friends and a lovely yellow carnation. 

I had thought we would head home right after church, but my husband and son surprised me by taking me out to dinner. We had a leisurely meal with fun conversation and good food.

When I got home, I got to talk for a nice long time with my daughter who is jumping into finals week. After the phone call, it was just about time to head off to Bible study with my girls at church. 

By some folks' standards this might not exactly peg the excitement meter, but to me it was the perfect day.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Friday Five

Last weekend I was in Omaha, NE, and my hostess took me to a wonderful sculpture park in downtown Omaha. Here are some of the pictures I took. I was amazed at the detail and the expressions on their faces. The sculptor caught their movement so well. The care on the adults' faces, and the carefree happiness of the children. I think one of my favorite sculptures though was the scout returning to the wagon train with venison. 

Have you been to Omaha? Do you think you would've made a good pioneer? I know I wouldn't have.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Benefits of a Writer's Retreat

written in slumber

This last weekend I was blessed to get to spend a few days with some writer friends at a retreat. There are so many benefits of a writers' retreat, that I can't possibly name them all here, but I thought I'd hit a few of the big ones for me:

1. It's a chance to get away and focus on one project. No distractions, just the work.

2. It gives me validation as a writer. This might seem odd, but from time to time, I need to do something with other writers, something only writers do, to remind myself that I'm a 'real' writer and I should treat my writing seriously.

3. A writer's retreat is a chance to be with other people who know exactly what it is you struggle with, what you do for all those hours staring at the computer screen, and what your fears are.

4. It's a chance to share industry news and information and learn more about this business we're all trying to succeed at.

5. It rejuvenates me to come back and work some more. 

6. It's a chance to gab and eat and brainstorm and laugh and visit new places with people who are my good friends.

I can't wait for the next one!!! 

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Friday Five

Would you believe that Rochester got a 9+ inch dumping of snow this week? CRAZY! In the words of my sister-in-law "Summer sure seemed short this year."

Makes me glad I'm out of state at a writer's retreat this weekend. Though I did have to drive through a fair bit of snow to get to my destination.

This week's Friday Five is:

Five things I love about writers' retreats.

1. Hanging out with my friends who actually understand me on the writer level. They've been there and are doing that when it comes to writing fiction. Especially these gals who are all pros and treat this like a business, not a hobby.

2. Ridiculous word counts. Because we're all focused on writing, we rack up some mind-blowing word counts over the course of a few days.

3. Getting away. Face it, sometimes it's nice to leave the laundry and meal planning and errands and homeschooling behind for awhile and just focus on fiction.

4. Pooling resources and knowledge. Whether it's brainstorming plots, sharing blogs and websites we find helpful, discussing where we thing publishing is going, generating marketing ideas, or just congratulating and commiserating, the shared knowledge is invaluable.

5. The food. We have the best food on these retreats. One of the authors lives nearby, and her husband brought some yummy soup that he made! And I've had Lithuanian Apricot Torte, which is to DIE for! We've dined on Hawaiian BBQ chicken (Crock pot recipe that cooked all afternoon and made the house smell great.) And tonight, we're headed to a steakhouse. (And over all this good food is non-stop conversation. :) )

How about you? Have you been on a retreat, writer or otherwise? What do you like about coming away from your everyday life to focus on being creative?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Be Still

This weekend, I got to babysit the most precious and snuggly little guy ever! He's just shy of his first birthday, and boy howdy, was he adorable. Not having had a solid nap time for a little while (due to travel and parental obligations) he was more than ready to doss down and sleep a little when he got to my house.

As I rocked this precious boy in the quiet of my living room, all the lights off, the shades drawn, no tv, no radio, no computer, no book to read even, I realized what a long time it had rocked a sleeping baby, how long it had been since I watched a nap time clock, and after awhile, how long it had been since I had just been...still.

In our world that is constantly bombarding us with data, where we keep the tv on as background noise, where the car radio comes on when we insert the key, when we fire up the laptop with our first cup of coffee and don't turn it off until we're saying good night, these times of just being still are rare and to be treasured.

The baby slept for almost 3 solid hours. That's plenty of time to think some long thoughts. Thoughts about the next story I'm plotting, about all the things I need to do this week, about a vacation we're hoping to take...and then, I was just still.

Thoughts about my church family came to me, and I was still enough to pray for them. Still enough to reflect on the Sunday School lesson I'd taught that morning and about the Ladies' Bible Study I was going to attend that night. Still enough to pray for the baby I was holding and to wonder what the world would look like in twenty years when he was a grown man.

Thoughts about the benefits of being still and how it can turn my thoughts to things of eternal value.

Have you had any time to be still, to turn off the blare and blurting of our world and listen to the silence for awhile?

Oh, and I'm guest blogging over at Seekerville today. I hope you can drop by!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is

Five websites that crack me up:

1. Reasons my Son is Crying A dad takes pictures of his heartbroken kids and says why the boys are crying. Now before you think me or him some heartless ogre, read the reasons why the kid is crying...The above picture: He's sobbing because his dad won't let him get a tattoo.

2. Cake Wrecks When cakes go horribly wrong. Warning: not all of the blogs are family friendly...but they are always funny.

3. There. I Fixed it. Duct Tape, Wire, Paperclips, and Staples to the rescue.

4. Grumpy Cat This is the facebook page for Grumpy Cat. I love when these memes come through my facebook feed.

5. Okay, this one doesn't make me crack up, at least not all of the time, but it is wicked interesting. These photos are amazing! And when you get to the bottom, check out the best pictures of 2012 and the best so far of 2013. Stunning!

What websites make you laugh?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Spring That Never Came

This was the view from my front porch yesterday morning as we readied for church. This feels like the Spring That Never Came.

I saw a post on Facebook that read "This year I hope Summer falls on a Saturday."

In other news, I put together a novella collection idea and sent it off to my lovely agent, and I'm continuing to work on the synopsis of another novel.

Registration for the ACFW conference is now open. Yay! I've been eyeballing all the classes and agents and editors, trying to fine tune the things I want to do and the people I'd like to meet.

What's the weather like where you are, what are you working on, and do you have anything exciting coming up?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Patience is a virtue...wish I had some.


Are you good at waiting? I'll confess, I'm not too great at it. And if there is anything I've learned in the publishing game is that waiting is very much a part of the way it works. Waiting to hear from an agent, waiting to get contest results back, waiting to hear from an editor, waiting for cover art...waiting.

It is easy to be paralyzed by the waiting involved...and I confess, I've allowed this to happen to me before. I've gotten stuck doing nothing but waiting instead of being productive while I'm waiting.

I'm currently waiting for some news on a project or two, and rather than climb the walls, I'm getting busy. I've got one novel plotted out, and I'm working on another one. I've got a finished novel ready to submit to a publisher, and I've got two more in that series to flesh out. 

If I keep busy, I can stop focusing on the thing I'm waiting for and distract myself with a new project. This is a win-win, since it keeps me from feeling like one big knee-jiggle all the time and keeps me productive while I wait.

So what do you do while you're waiting? Are you successful at waiting? 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five:

Five pieces of advice we gave our son when he got his new cell phone.

1. No Texting and Driving.

2. You will not pay more attention to your phone than you do to people.

3. No surfing the internet in your bedroom. For the safety and integrity of us all, the phone stays out where the parents can see it.

4. No downloading apps without clearing it with the folks.

5. Don't take or send any pictures with that phone that you would be embarrassed for your parents to see.

What phone etiquette would you recommend for a new phone user? What breach of phone etiquette makes you the most nuts?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A Successful Weekend

James and his lovely date Rebekah at the prom.

This last weekend was packed! Beginning Friday morning when my son, James, and I headed into the wilds of SE Minnesota. We arrived in the lovely hamlet of Preston where James successfully navigated the rigors of the driver's exam and emerged victorious with the precious license in hand. :)

The Defenders basketball kids at prom.
That evening was the Rochester Area Homeschool Defenders Basketball Party. James and I arrived at 4 pm to help with the set-up and decorating. Jody Rosedahl, organizer par excellence, was in charge and pulled everything together so beautifully. There was a yummy buffet of fresh fruit, cookies, and bars, and a program of coaches' talks, slide shows, player intros, and fellowship. After the party, Peter and James and I went out to celebrate James's new driver's license and the news we'd received that our daughter, Heather, had scored a 100% on her latest Egyptology test.

Dancing with Bekah.
 Saturday was a HUGE day at the Vetsch household. James attended his first prom. All dressed up. With a date. To dinner first, then a dance. I was so proud of him. He tried some new things, stepped out of his comfort zone, and had a great time. His date was sweet, a friend he's known for a long time and fellow basketball player. The dances organized so that you could have lots of fun without being self-conscious, and the company excellent. Parents were allowed to come for a short time to take some pictures, and afterwards, a bunch of the kids went to one of their houses for a short after-prom party.

On Sunday, it was my turn. I took over teaching the teen Sunday School class at church. I stepped out of this job when my MIL was very sick, and I've missed it. We're studying John's epistles, and I can already tell this group will be a lot of fun. They're talkers and questioners and good kids.

What I didn't get done was my chapter-by-chapter synopsis or judging more contest entries, so those are on the top of the list for Monday.

What about you? What did you get done this weekend? Was it epic? What are you plans for this week?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Friday Five

We've entered another season of Driver's Ed/Driver's tests. I'll be so glad when this part is behind us! "Watch your mirrors." "Slow down." "Keep a safe distance." "Watch your mirrors." "Give it some gas going around the corner." "Watch your mirrors." :)

In honor of our son, who is in the midst of all this instruction, this week's Friday Five is Five things I remember about my driver's test.

1. Right off the top, I'll let you know, I failed the first time I took my driver's exam.

2. The women at the DMV in Salina, Kansas were all horribly cranky all the time.

3. The horn didn't work when I went to take the test the second time and we had to go home so my dad could make the repair.

4. The second time seemed so much easier than the first.

5. The license cost $9.50, and when I gave the woman a $20 bill, she said "What do you think I am? A bank? I can't change that!" (remember I said they were cranky?) so I went outside where my dad was waiting for me and told him. He ran up to the 7-Eleven and got a big gulp, gave me the change, and I paid for my license. (He's a good man.)

What do you remember about taking your driver's test?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A pleasant surprise

This Saturday was a great day for me! I finished my manuscript and proposal for The Major's Minors, and I mailed them to my agent.

In addition, I was at the library, and as I passed the Large Print Section in the Fiction area, I glanced at the end cap as I went by. Look at that! My book, Maggie and the Maverick, had been chosen by the library staff as one of the display titles!

I had to take a picture. :)

At the beginning of a new month, it's time to set some goals. Having just finished a novel, I'm searching through my project ideas for the next thing to work on. I spent Saturday afternoon with my daughter, plotting out a novel, sticking post-it notes everywhere and exploring possibilities. I've got two more sequel novels to plot, and a novella collection I'm kicking around.

My goal for this month is to get these stories plotted out, pictures found for the main characters, basic research done, and synopses written up.

What is your goal for this month?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Friday Five


This week my sister-in-law sent me an email notifying me that she had seen the first delicate spears of a crocus leaf poking out of the ground.

Woohoo! Bring on Spring!

This week's Friday Five is, my five favorite signs of spring.

1. The green mist that appears when the trees are just budding out.

2. Robins in the yard. 

3. Peonies poking up through the mulch in my garden.

4. Green grass. My eyes are starved for green.

5. Neighbors! When warm weather comes, our neighborhood is like an ant hill that got kicked. People emerge and go in all directions. 

How about you? What's a sign of spring that you enjoy where you live?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Research Books

 I love research books. (As my husband and groaning bookshelves will attest.  Or is it my bookshelves and my groaning husband?)

My current WIP is set in 1868 Fort Larned on the Kansas Prairie. The hero is the post surgeon, and he's also an herbalist. He's deeply interested in Native American medicinal herbs and uses them to treat his patients.

When I started this story, I knew little about frontier medicine and even less about Native American medicinal herbs. I'd visited Fort Larned and taken lots of pictures and walked the grounds and talked to the park rangers, but I knew I'd need more information to use the place as the setting of a novel.

Enter research books!

The above title is fascinating. Written by Volney Steele, it's a fairly comprehensive look at early medicine in the United States. I think it will come in handy for many stories yet to come.

The book to the right has proven invaluable to me. It is a dictionary of herbs used by Native Americans. From Snake Root to Ginger, Birch Bark to Sweet Grass, this alphabetical listing gives information on the places these plants grow, the parts used in medicine, the preparation needed, the dosages, the uses, and so much more. I couldn't write this story with as much realism without this resource.

Then there's my handy little book, published by the Kansas Historical Society, on the history of Fort Larned itself. Though not as famous as its cousin to the north, Fort Laramie, Fort Larned played an vital role in protecting the Santa Fe Trail and in the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. If you ever have a chance to go to Fort Larned, about halfway between Salina and Dodge City in the great state of Kansas, I highly recommend it.

I've used other books in the research for this series, including the Godey's Ladies' Book and Dover Fashion Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney, (my heroine is a catalog artist for a fashion catalog and dresses very well.) but these three are the ones I take with me everywhere when I'm writing. I have them beside me on the desk, in my laptop bag, or strewn across the bed, wherever I happen to be writing.

Do you enjoy research? Is historical accuracy in fiction a high priority for you as a reader and/or a writer?

What are you working on right now?

I'm chatting today with Stacy Monson at her blog Land of 10,000 Words, which features Minnesota authors and history and cool MN stuff. I'd love it if you'd check it out, and if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a copy of Sagebrush Knights!