Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday Catch-up

I intended to blog yesterday morning, and take the weekend off.

Life happens.

My stepmother, Edith Lael, fell in her kitchen yesterday morning and broke her left leg. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital for surgery, and I am awaiting updates. Please pray for her, and for my dad, too. Edith is a spirited lady, and will probably thrive. (A couple of years ago, she had pneumonia over Christmas and had to be hospitalized. She went on and on about how nice the nurses and doctors were, and how good the food was. I think she's the only person I know who could make being in the hospital at Christmas a positive thing!) She's a talented artist, active with her local little theatre group in Grand Coulee, and has tons and tons of devoted friends.

On a much more mundane note, I also spilled wine on my keyboard and had to replace it before I could write a word. (Told you I had other vices.) A waggish friend, reading both the Prayer Shawl blog and the one on Cleopatra, my favorite slot machine, suggested I wear my prayer shawl to the casino. Sandi, I love your sense of humor! And I sure miss those get togethers in Cave Creek for biscuits, gravy and philosophy.

Have a wonderful weekend and a very happy New Year's Day. I'll be on the blog Monday morning, as usual, and bring you up to speed on the doings here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You Never Know With This Blog

One day, it's prayer shawls.
The next, it's slot machines.
I am a complex individual, and a poster-child for Grace.
I absolutely adore Christmas, but, conversely, I am always glad when it's over, too.
(And by the way, I didn't make it to the casino last night. By the time I got finished with my writing, I just wanted to eat a nice dinner and go to bed.)
What will be the subject of tomorrow's blog?
Who knows?
I'll let you know when I find out.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


After three solid days and nights in this house (beautiful as it is) I needed to get out for a few hours, so last night I went over to the local casino, bought some tickets and played my favorite penny slot machine--Cleopatra. The objective is to get three or more Pharohs, because then you get 15 bonus spins. The bonuses, of course, are hard to find. That's why they're bonuses. These particular machines are popular, and I've seen people literally throw themselves across them to claim one. At busy times, it's hard to even get one, but I usually manage. (I have perfected this technique. I walk sedately through the front entrance, nod affably to the security guards--who are probably thinking "You again?"--and then run like a crazy woman.)

Cleo and I have a love-hate relationship. Being a computer, Cleo always says, at the end of a bonus round, "THAT was brilliant." Even if it's two dollars, Cleo calls it brilliant. This got Mary Ann, my cousin, housekeeper and partner in crime, and me to thinking of things Cleo should say.
Our favorite is, "THAT was pathetic!" Other contenders for favorite Cleo sayings:

Go home. You forgot to feed the dog.

Can you really afford to be doing this?

You don't really think I'm designed to do anything but fleece you, do you?

And then there's the most accurate one: Sucker!

When the drink server comes along, asking if we'd like anything, I usually want to say, "Yeah, a sledgehammer." But clobbering Cleo like that would get me arrested and--even worse--banned from the casino. So I behave myself.


We all have our vices, I guess. Now you know. Cleo is one of mine. (Unfortunately, there are others.) I'm hoping it will make my eventual "Biography" episode more interesting. (No, there isn't one scheduled--I was kidding.)

Plans for today? Write a chapter. Take Sadie-beagle in for a follow-up visit regarding her infected ear. And, maybe, just maybe, I'll go play a little Cleopatra.

After all, I'm up a hundred bucks. Can't have that.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Prayer Shawl

I was home alone this Christmas, if sharing space with Sadie, Bernice, Cha Cha, Jitterbug AND my cousin Kathy Bannon's cat, Rudie, can be called 'alone'. The Readmans, who are not just staff, but family, are away spending Christmas in Northport. They will be back sometime today, the good Lord and the highway department willing, and I will be glad to see them.

I am indeed the classic example of the woman who has everything, and I have sincerely asked friends and family NOT to give me gifts. Several still persist--silver earrings from my dad and stepmother (they're lovely), the world's softest bathrobe from Mary Ann ( I think it really is), and numerous other things, too. One stands out, though--the prayer shawl made by my busy, creative sister, Sally. I wrapped myself in it this morning, and yesterday morning, too, for my prayer and devotional reading. I felt enfolded in the love and grace of God--and of my sister, too.

Thank you, Sally. For the gift of your time and your love. I will always cherish the shawl. And I will always cherish you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Snow

I love the snow. It's really coming down this morning, whitening the world, blanketing it in that benediction I've spoken of before, in previous blog entries.

Since I'm a writer, I see parallels in just about everything. And it seems to me that snow is like Grace--it covers the landscape in glistening purity. But, of course, Grace is far better--because it never melts or turns to slush or mud or ice, the way snow does.

My life is so good, and I am so blessed. Still, my heart aches for friends facing hard struggles, for forgotten children and animals and wayward adults who do not know that the Shepherd would willingly, joyfully take them into His flock, at a word, at a turning of the heart. It is not my many material blessings that make me rich, you see. It is knowing Him.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Early Morning Snow

Sadie and Bernice, being Arizona dogs, are mystified by snow. It's fun to watch them trying to figure out what that white stuff is--has the sky broken? Did the clouds shatter into soft, glistening shards? What's up and why is it coming down?

Dog thoughts. Sadie actually thinks of little, I suspect, beyond food and grabbing every opportunity to kiss people. She has the sweet, trusting nature of an innocent saint. The Yorkie, Bernice, likes to investigate everything--she's a hall monitor at heart, and something of a tattletale. If the cats tussle, she referrees, and usually 'flats' one of them. Cha Cha and Jitterbug think Bernice is their mother, and endure the flatting with equanimity.

I have the head cold from hell today, and will probably go right back to bed after journaling and devotional reading, but I feel blessed anyway. If you're going to have a cold, the Triple L is a mighty fine place for it.

Special greetings to my good friend, Vicki. Hang in there, kiddo. Lots of people are praying for you, and the Big Guy is definitely in the loop.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Dawn is glowing in the eastern sky, pinky orange, as I write this, sitting at my kitchen table. A few of the pine tops are visible, like dark etchings. The coffee's on, the dogs and cats have been outside, and I'm about to settle down to my journaling. I've written Morning Pages for years, and for the past several, I've journaled my prayers as well. It will be cold in Spokane today, but probably clear. We're hoping for a white Christmas, but you never know.

For me, Christmas happens in the heart, at many and varied times of the year, when I stop rushing around long enough to look outward, at the beauty of God's Creation, or inward, to that peaceful place where He's always waiting for me.

2006 was a year of tremendous blessings--and some losses, too. As I've mentioned, two favorite uncles passed this year. My very dear friends, the Websters, are facing a difficult health issue, and I hope you will add your prayers to mine.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More Than Words

I'm honored to be writing a story for Harlequin's wonderful 'More Than Words' program.

Here's how it works: Harlequin runs a big contest, looking for people who do some uncommon and innovative good in their community and, often, nationally and even internationally. Winners are chosen, and then a group of writers are assigned stories, inspired by the work those wonderful women do. Harlequin rewards each organization a sizable donation. I am privileged to be patterning my story, "Queen of the Rodeo", after Jeanne Greenberg, who started an organization called SARI, in memory of her daughter, of the same name. Sari was a Downs Syndrome child, and the absolute delight of her dedicated family. After her passing, Jeanne started her therapuetic riding program, matching horses with children who would benefit from riding. It is a sacred thing, the communion between an animal and a person, and Jeanne's work, as far as I'm concerned, is holy.

Watch the website and your email box for more information on the 2007 edition of 'More Than Words'. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I Believe...

That one night, two thousand years ago, a Great Light penetrated the darkness of sin and suffering and sorrow, and changed the fate of humankind forever.

That Jesus of Nazareth was and is this Light, and that all who turn to Him and speak an invitation will be transformed.

That when we "die", we awaken, as one from a shallow, restless and troubling slumber, and say to Him, "I had the strangest dream..."

That Home is a place where there are no shelters, for human beings or for animals, because shelters are not needed. There is no war, no sickness, no poverty or oppression, deception or abuse.

That we are wanderers here, but not so far from Home as we imagine. Once in a while, in a peaceful moment, I catch a glimpse of the Place, with the eyes of my heart, and I feel hopeful again. I remember that I am a dreamer, in the process of waking up.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Blog

I would have written a blog on Friday, but the power was off due to a big wind storm. I did the only sensible thing and hied myself to the casino, where there was light, warmth, and action. The whole experience got me to thinking about how many things I take for granted--hot coffee and hot baths, for example. And my computer, which, since I'm not a telephone kind of person anyway, has become my means of staying in touch with the outside world.

I came home when it got dark, still not knowing if the power would be back on, but not wanting the dogs and kitties to be alone and scared. How my heart lifted when I saw the Christmas lights glowing colorfully in the dusk!

I forget to give thanks for things like electricity--until they're gone. I want to do better in the gratitude department from now on.

Today, I'm meeting a favorite sister-in-law and her beautiful grandchildren for lunch. Sadie's ear infection is under control, and she's feeling her old frisky self. I got the packages mailed and some of the cards. It's clear and sunny today, and the needles of the pine trees in my draw glisten with light.

So very much to be grateful for.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Up Before the Chickens

Yikes. I woke up this morning, thinking it was around six a.m., went downstairs with the dogs, then put the coffee on to brew. It was chortling away before I glanced at the clock and saw the real time--2:25! I thought about going back to bed, but by then, I was wide awake, and so were Sadie and Bernice, not to mention the cats, Cha Cha and Jitterbug, aka JittyKitty. So I sat down with my devotional books and my journals, and now here I am on the blog. It is, at this moment, 5:27. If I had any chickens, they'd still be sleeping! (Which begs the question, Am I smarter than the average hen?)

A glistening tree has sprung up in my living room, most of my packages are ready to mail, and I've even drafted my Christmas letter. Just yesterday morning, all that seemed impossible. I was a little overwhelmed, I must admit, having just returned from three days in Las Vegas. Sadie has an ear infection and had to be taken to the vet. As I write this, she's snoring contentedly behind me. (Am I smarter than the average beagle? Apparently not.)

Somehow, it all gets done.

Looking back over 2006, I have to say, it was a full, busy year. I lost two uncles--my pair of Jacks--Jack Lael and Jack Wiley. I made the move (with a LOT of help) from Arizona to Washington State, and acquired not one but two beautiful homes. I wrote five full length books, saw my first TV movie produced, joined forces with the Humane Society of the United States, and traveled all over the country.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to 2007, which promises to be--well, a year--filled with blessings and the challenges that enlarge our hearts and make our spirits stronger.

I'm ready.

I guess.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

All found at Cowboy Christmas, in Las Vegas.

The most beautiful western jewelry I have ever seen! It's made, with love, from pieces of old china. The piece I bought is literally a work of art. Look for at least one piece from this collection to turn up on the website as some kind of prize.

Very nice jewelry. I have a pendant, shaped like a horse's head, and the mane spells 'McKettrick'. Ditto the website prize.

Simply the most remarkable western purses, handcrafted. Check it out!

There's one more outfit, out of Telluride, CO, from whom I bought several Double D Ranch jackets, my very favorites. They're pricey, but the classiest western wear I've ever seen. The fringed jacket I wear in my publicity photos is DDR, and hands-down my favorite garment. I bought it several years ago, in Santa Fe, and the saleswoman told me she'd only sold one other one--to Randy Travis's wife, Elisabeth. I said put it on Randy's account, he'd want me to have one, but they didn't. (Just kidding.) Once I find the information, I'll put it on the blog.

Meantime, getting ready for Christmas. It seems to come around faster every year. Cards to write. Packages to mail. And not one but TWO full length anthology stories to finish before New Year's Eve.

Miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cowboy Christmas

I got back from my short vacation in Vegas a day late, which is why I didn't get the promised Monday blog written. When we arrived at the airport, there were at least 2000 people in the security line, but the crowd management was efficient, and we got through pretty fast. We stayed at the Venetian, where we had a lovely suite, and the room service was absolutely atrocious. (The slot machines were tight, too.)

National Finals Rodeo was going on--hence the Cowboy Christmas trade show at the Convention Center--and there were cowboys aplenty for me to admire. I am definitely going back next year, but this time, I'll go to the rodeo and spend a lot less time at the slot machines. I'm normally pretty lucky at them, but this year, it was a bust.

Tomorrow, I'll be telling you about some of My Favorite Things, and passing on at least two website addresses so you can see the merchandise. Hey, if Oprah can do it, so can I!

Today, lots of loose ends to tie up. Be blessed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Time for One More Blog

I'm ready to go out the door, so I decided to take one more opportunity to write.

The sunrise is lovely, we still have snow on the ground, and just a little while ago, I saw a lone coyote trotting by at the top of the draw. The wild turkeys have taken to the trees--I wondered where they found shelter--but they'll be around later to peck at the ground and drive my poor Yorkie crazy. She considers them a grim threat to the safety of the household, along with the UPS man and the propane-delivery guy, and is quick to raise the alarm. Sadie-beagle just wags her tail, smiles a dog smile, and wonders if they have any food on them.

Many, many good things are happening. I just learned I'll be doing a series of Christmas books for Harlequin's HQN imprint, starting with a revisit to Doss and Hannah, of "Sierra's Homecoming", and I'm super-excited about that.

I'll be talking to you when I get back. Have a wonderful weekend. I certainly intend to!

P.S. If you'd like to hear one of my recent radio interviews, it's available at

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I just checked the calendar for the year of my birth.
Turns out, I'm Friday's child, not Wednesday's!
Now I have the rethink the whole thing, darn it.


I've always liked Wednesdays. They're not hectic, like Mondays, mundane, like Tuesdays and Thursdays, or oh-the-heck-with-it-it's-almost-the-weekend, like Fridays. I was born on a Wednesday, so maybe that's why I like them. Wednesday's child, that's me.

What's special about today? Well, first of all, it's a DAY, and that makes it a precious gift, in and of itself.

I did a radio interview, first thing this morning, and it always jazzes me to talk about the current book--in this case, "Deadly Gamble", with a mention of "Sierra's Homecoming." (That's available from, by the way, and I enjoyed listening to it on my iPod, plus it got me up to speed to write "The McKettrick Way", my next Special Edition.)

"One Last Look", the final story in the Clare and Tony trilogy, is out there in mass market right now. If you didn't catch the last episode in trade paperback, you might want to pick it up.

And this week, Thursday won't be mundane. I'm headed out on a brief and badly-needed vacation. I'll try to blog tomorrow, before catching my plane, but travel days being what they are, I might be too rushed. I'll be right here on Monday morning, though, waiting for you to show up for a visit.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tis the Season

For buying presents?
For decorating trees?
For sending cards?
Baking fruitcakes? (Okay, I know that one's a stretch. Who has time for such an enterprise in this day and age?)
All these things are fine, but they do tend to obscure the Reason for the Season, don't they?
Before the birth of Christ, the earth was shrouded in darkness--spiritual darkness, the very worst kind. And then, oh amazing, holy, eternity-altering night, a door was flung open, and the Light of Heaven itself entered the world, broke through the barrier, and changed the rules forever. And of all places, in a stable--in the presence of animals, the innocent ones, the pure-hearted ones.
My mother used to tell me, as a child, that on Christmas Eve, at midnight, all the animals in the barn would talk, celebrating the Birth . I always wanted to be there to witness the phenomenon, but, of course, I never made it. I was asleep, with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, long before the midnight hour. And it's just a story, anyway.
Isn't it?
My new barn is still in the planning stages, so there will be no midnight visit this Christmas Eve.
But next year?
I might just head on out there, when the clock is about to chime twelve times, with my ears and eyes wide open. And my heart, too.

Monday, December 04, 2006


My beautiful daughter, Wendy is offically engaged to a wonderful man named Jeremy. He proposed at sunset, on an ocean beach. Is that romantic, or what????

Friday, December 01, 2006


As I write this, looking out over the draw from the bay windows, I am again struck by the beauty of snow. The trees are all dappled with it, and there is a low-lying fog, promising more white stuff. It's cold and the roads are icy, but it's a stay-at-home day for me, a writing day.

There's a man downstairs, fixing the fireplaces. (None doesn't do household repairs. Or much of anything, for that matter.) A new kitchen table is being delivered today, and yet another man is coming to measure the upstairs hallway for hardwood. When the pounding starts, Bernice, Sadie and I will head for the lake. In the meantime, everybody, human and furry, is safe and warm.

It's all good.