Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Slight Change

There's been a change in my schedule for my visit to Phoenix. I won't be signing at the shelter this time, because of the Superbowl. Instead, I'll be at the Desert Ridge Barnes and Noble at seven pm this Friday, the 2nd.

"McKettrick's Luck" is off to a great start! The very first day the book was on the stands--yesterday--and large reorder came in from a major wholesaler.

Busy day around here today. The well for the barn is being dug, and more furniture will be delivered. I've got packing to do for the Phoenix jaunt--load up those fancy western jackets and the fabulous jewelry I bought at Cowboy Christmas!

Those of you who live in the Spokane area, aka the Inland Northwest, will want to watch the Spokesman-Review for an article about me, coming soon.

Wait a second. Is that Jesse McKettrick's truck I hear roaring up the driveway????

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Big Day

"McKettrick's Luck" is out there! I'm so excited, I woke up in the middle of the night, like a kid at Christmastime.

All I've got to say is, "Go, Jesse! Go, Cheyenne!"

Monday, January 29, 2007

For I Am Persuaded...

...that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39. (KJV)

I had a lovely weekend. On Saturday, I shopped for my upcoming trip to Phoenix, where I will be promoting "McKettrick's Luck" in all manner of places, including an animal shelter and an art gallery. In the case of the shelter, it's more a matter of promoting adoption of pets. There are so many, just waiting for a place to love and be loved.

On Sunday, I took my mom, Hazel, out for an early birthday celebration, and we had a great time together. She'll be 78 on Wednesday, and she looked so pretty in her bright red winter coat. Her smile, I'm telling you, lights up a room. Arriving home, I was greeted with copious joy by the dogs, and that oh-you-again thing the cats do. (They were glad to see me, too. They just don't want word to get around. Cats, you see, think dogs are hopelessly emotional and WAY too effusive!)

After dumping the Wal-Mart bags and properly greeting the furry ones, I paid a visit to Cleopatra. (I told you I'm the poster child for Grace.) No big jackpots this time, but I'm up a hundred bucks.

Today, a 'witcher' will visit, to find water for the barn well. Tomorrow, the excavation begins. It's happening! Tomorrow, a photographer from the Spokesman-Review, our local newspaper, will come to take pictures for an upcoming feature story on yours truly. Tomorrow, some new furniture will be delivered and, as if all that weren't ENOUGH, "McKettrick's Luck" will be in stores everywhere! Wow.

In the midst of all this, I'm writing a new book. No rest or the wicked. Or me, either!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Newsletter

Did you receive your newsletter, and the two bookmarks sent out with it?

If not, go to the guestbook section on the main page of the website and sign in with your postal address. In the 'comments' section, write "Send bookmarks". You'll be added to the snail-mail list immediately.

It's Friday, a foggy morning in Spokane. As I look out over the piney draw behind my house, I see a blanket of snow. Every needle on every pine tree is flocked with its own perfect coating of frost. The valley beyond is hidden in a white mist. So lovely is my beloved draw, wearing a different costume for every season. Sometimes, I see deer, sometimes a lone coyote, sometimes a flock of wild turkeys.

I'll be writing today, and posing for a few pictures with Sadie and the Bear (aka Bernice, Neecie, Scooch-Butt, and Hey-You). It's all good.

And only four short days until "McKettrick's Luck" hits the stores!

Have a wonderful weekend. I certainly intend to.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Flowers AND Five Cleopatras!!

Yesterday was a wonderful day!!

I finally nailed down the first chapter of my new book.

I received a breathtaking bouquet of flowers from my wonderful publishers, in celebration of the starred review from Publisher's Weekly, for "McKettrick's Pride".

What could I do, I ask you, but celebrate?

So I went to the casino. Sure enough, I got the highest jackpot--five Cleopatras!

Don't look now, but I think I'm on a roll!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Skater's Waltz

Yesterday afternoon, I was privileged to attend a segment of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, right here in Spokane. What a spectacle of beauty, grace and physical fitness it was.

The ice was smooth as glass, and the skaters, magical in their glittering, fabulous costumes. glided like creatures with no need of feet. They positively took my breath away.

Experiences like this lift the spirits above the mundane.

And now, it's back to work.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hallmark Moments

I'm a sucker for those Hallmark commercials on TV, especially the ones they show around the holidays--the little boy doing show and tell with various ornaments to mark stages in his life--the man with the lantern, hiking through the snow to stand on a hilltop and read the card from his daughter, who had always shared the ritual with him, but was away from home for the first time. The grouchy old uncle in the nursing home, the professor packing his books to retire, and probably wondering if he'd ever touched one of his students lives...

I know you've seen them.

Well, last night I had a Hallmark Moment all my own. I've been battling a case of the flu, writing a new book (which is always hard), and there are lots of changes going on in my life, all of which are good, but stressful nonetheless. I plucked a large envelope from my sister, Sally, from the mail when it was brought in, and inside were delightful photographs of her first grandchild, Jaden, happily gnawing on the corner of the copy of "McKettrick's Luck" I'd sent to his grandmother. I enjoyed those pictures enormously--this is one cute kid, if I do say so myself, being his great-aunt.

Then I saw the card, tucked in with the pictures. I opened it.

It's one of those musical ones, and it played, "I'll Be There". Instant Hallmark moment. I burst into happy tears. I love my sister Sally, and she loves me. Though we are separated by miles and our busy lives, I know Sally is there for me, and she knows I'm there for her.

It would have made a great commercial.

Monday, January 22, 2007

How I Spent My Sunday

I spent all of yesterday vegging in my bathrobe, with the fire going and the cats and dogs nearby, and it was heaven. I read "The Lady in the Palazzo" and relived my own happy times in Italy. I savored the delectable Italian cousine without gaining an ounce, attended village festivals without having to leave my pets, and felt again that lovely, watercolor light peculiar to the "boot" country. All without leaving Spokane!

Although we are under a blanket of snow, our barn builder is undaunted. We've settled on the plans, and the permit process has already begun, soon to be followed by construction. My horses are coming home!

On the career front, I logged on this morning to learn that "McKettrick's Pride" (March 07), the second in my new trilogy, received a STARRED review from "Publisher's Weekly"!!! In more than twenty years of writing, and who knows how many books, I have never had a starred review before. I am, of course, delighted. "McKettrick's Luck", the first story in the trilogy, will be in stores on January 30, and is a Wal-Mart Read of the Month.

2007 promises to be a very big year.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Today, estimates from a plumber and a flooring company. (The campaign against carpets continues.) I've pretty much accepted that revising and polishing a completed manuscript will take precedence over writing a new one.

Not that I'm sad about that. But I'm one for taking the 'bit in my teeth' and heading full throttle for the finish line.

I read something interesting in a new devotional today. I want to process it a little, experiment a little, before I pass it on to you.

Have a good weekend. Those of you in the snow-slammed states, stay warm.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Slow Start This Morning!

It's snowing.
This has been one of those weeks where life kept happening while I was making other plans. Nothing bad, certainly--just busy things. A newspaper interview on Monday, lunch with Mom on Tuesday, picking up my new car on Wednesday, and today, another meeting with the builder, regarding the barn. I'm miles behind on my email. I have phone calls to return. I'm just getting over a flu bug, and a part of me would like to crawl back under the covers, swathed in Vicks, and just let the world go right on by. Of course I can't do that, but it's a nice fantasy!

I continue to practice the Silence--need it more than ever, when I'm this busy. And I'm still pretty bad at it, too. Guess that's why they call it a spiritual practice.

Boy, do I need a lot of practice.

I often tell aspiring writers that if you want to do something well, you have to be willing to do it badly first, and usually for a long time. So I'm practicing what I preach. I want to meditate, and I want to do it well. So I have to put in my hitch doing it badly first...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Getting It "Right"

I confess.
I'm a perfectionist. And it's something I'd really like to overcome.
So often, I'm so focused on getting-it-right that I miss the whole point of the project or experience, which is learning. If I get 10 good reviews on one of my books, for instance, and one bad one, I will focus on the bad one. Why? Because I want to be perfect. I want my books to be perfect. Preferably, right now.
As if.
I need to get over that. I'll never be perfect, and that's okay. The Master is perfect enough for everybody.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesdays with Hazel

Today, I'm taking my mom, Hazel, out for lunch and a little shopping. I don't get to spend enough time with her, because of my schedule, so I'm really looking forward to this.

My mom is a very special lady, with the quickest wit I've ever seen. Her smile brightens a room, and she's the one who blessed me with two things (among many) that have stood me in good stead through a lot of trials: my love of books, and the spiritual foundation I received because she sent me to Sunday school. When I was small, marching off to Northport Presbyterian Church with a quarter for the collection plate wrapped in a cotton handkerchief, I had no idea that the Bible verses I memorized would eventually save my sanity and perhaps my life.

Later on, for instance, I was a young bride, and my husband was away in Viet Nam. Fighting at the front, he was in constant danger. I was lonely at home, and in a job I truly hated, but couldn't afford to quit. I remember driving from Spokane, through a blinding snowstorm, to visit my parents, who lived in Kettle Falls at that time. I was at the end of my rope, and crying so hard I could barely see the road.

And then these words came back to me, as clearly as if they'd been spoken out loud:

"Be still and know that I am God."

I was instantly consoled. No, all my problems weren't solved. I was still broke, still excluded from a mean-spirited little clique in the office where I worked. (In retrospect, I see that as a good thing.) My marriage was destined to fail, and there were other hard things ahead, too. But that single verse opened a place in me that has never closed, a platform on which to stand.

Today, I thank God--and my mom--for all those Sundays I wasn't allowed to sleep in.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Have a Dream

Today, we celebrate the courage, honor and foresight of a man who knew what we all must eventually learn, if we are to survive. Learning to treat others with kindness, dignity and respect is not optional. It's life or death, for us, and for the whole planet.

The Reverend Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech might have been expressed in another, older way: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

I have a miracle to report, too. A very big one. On Saturday morning, I was sitting right here at this table in my kitchen, sipping coffee and thinking about what I would do with the day, and the telephone rang. Low and behold, it was my friend Vicki, calling to say hi and report on her husband Larry's progress following the monumental surgery I've mentioned in recent blogs. There was a silence on the line, and then--it still makes me tear up just to think about it--I heard a slurred voice say, "Hello, Linda."

It was Larry! Larry, whose tongue was removed. Larry, who might have been able to speak, thanks to a grafting process, after months of therapy. Truly, the Master stood with His hand on Larry throughout the surgery. Only one words suffices here: HALLELUJAH!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Barn

Today, I'll be meeting with the designer and builder of my barn! This long-standing dream is, at long last, in the works, for real. I'll give you regular updates on the progress on this blog, and I plan to post pictures of the construction in all its stages on the website. The best picture will be when the truck pulls up, pulling a horse trailer behind it, and Buck, Coco, Skye and Banjo will be home for good! What a happy day THAT will be! And I want you to share in the moment, of course.

The barn will have eight stalls, and there will be 10 acres of fenced pasture, as well. This will be disturbing to the mooses (Meece?) who sometimes graze there now, but hopefully they will migrate to the 10 acres behind my house, and I will be able to sap some pictures for you.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Horse Story

In my new book, the one I'm getting ready to write now ("The McKettrick Way", Silhouette Special Edition, Dec. 2007), there is a wild horse. Justifiably afraid of humans, this animal avoids them at any cost. He is wounded and sick, half-starved and thirsty, frightened and rebellious. All attempts to round him up, so that he can be treated, properly fed and watered, and taught that all humans are not enemies, have failed.

Along comes our hero, Brad O'Ballivan (direct descendent of Sam and Maddie, of "The Man from Stone Creek"), who has been away from home for a long time. He sees the old horse and, respecting the animal's natural need for freedom, does not desire to tame him, or "break" him to ride, but only to help him. Brad knows, you see, of a canyon on Stone Creek Ranch, where clean water springs from the ground, and the grass is green and plentiful, even in a high country winter, because of the high, sheltering walls. The mouth of the canyon is narrow, and a little rocky, but if he can teach the horse to enter it, well, the benefits are obvious.

Of course the horse knows about this canyon, too. And he fears it. He thinks he will be captured, or cornered, if he goes in. Painstakingly, over the course of the story, Brad woos that frightened horse to a place of safety. He is at last able to treat the animal's wounds, and he has shown him where to retreat in a storm, when he is hungry and needs plentiful water.

I can see some correlations between human beings and that horse, and I know you can, too. We get wild, we get injured, we are proud and fiercely independent, to our own detriment and that of others. I have been that wild horse. The Canyon is the place of Silence, within our own hearts. And the Whisperer Who would guide us there, soothe our fears, treat our injuries, self-imposed and otherwise--well, you know Who He is, don't you?

Hungry? Thirsty? Hurt? Caught in the ravages of a storm?

Try the Canyon.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Preliminary Reports

Word has it that Larry Webster came through his twelve-hour surgery and the operation is considered a success. Recovery will be long and difficult--but there is every reason to hope.

I thought you'd want to know.

Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts. The Master truly was with Larry, and with Vicki, too, as He is with each of us in all our needs, great and small.

Meanwhile, I continue to spend longer and longer intervals in the Silence. Since I am a writer, and an avowed chatterbox, this is a real challenge for me. I still show up with an agenda, and I have a really hard time shutting up and listening. Nobody said it was easy. And nothing in the world will turn me back--because there are gifts in the Silence that can be found nowhere else.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Larry and Vicki

My friends are both undergoing an enormous ordeal today--Larry will be in surgery for 12 hours, for the removal of a tumor. Vicki, his loving wife and my dear friend, will be keeping a vigil. The implcations are huge--Larry, a singer and musician by hobby, will probably lose his tongue. The faith, strength and courage they have shown in the face of this have humbled me.

We do not get through this life without scars of battle, but I firmly believe the essence of a person, the God-spark, is eternal and immortal. While Larry's body may not be whole, his spirit can and will be.

I ask all of you to pray for my friends.

And I am picturing the Master, standing tenderly with a healing hand on Larry, before, during and after the surgery, and waiting with Vicki and the rest of the family for news. There are, as Larry and Vicki often say, no mistakes in God's world.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Today I'll be choosing finalists for my 2006 Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, and believe me, it won't be easy. I wish I could award a scholarship to everyone who applied, but of course I can't, so it's push up the sleeves and decide time.

If you do not win, the 2007 program will be beginning soon. Watch the website for details.

On a personal note, my good friend Larry Webster is having surgery tomorrow and will need all your prayers and good thoughts. My stepmother, Edith Lael, is still hospitalized but back in Grand Coulee, where she has so many devoted friends and family members. She is in good spirits and that, of course, is an indicator that she will heal rapidly. Also, Dad won't have to drive 150 miles a day over bad roads to visit her.

I have just finished the second of two anthology stories, written since Christmas! After the scholarship judging, I will immediately begin "The McKettrick Way", the 2007 Special Edition scheduled for December.

We're busy around here, but thriving. Color me grateful.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Further Reports from the Silence

I am sitting in my wonderful living room as I type this blog, watching the sun rise behind the towering pines outside my windows. I have had my prayer and journaling and devotional time, and practiced entering the Silence, my sister Sally's prayer shawl around my shoulders, enfolding me like Grace does.

I lasted about five minutes.

The dogs barked--we are in imminent danger of a wild turkey invasion, according to Yorkie intelligence. Then I started thinking about all the things that need to be done--scholarships essays to judge, pages to write, an upcoming publicity tour in the Phoenix area, those wing-back chairs I want to find. Yeesh.

What is the solution?

Practice. What else can I do? I am not required to do this perfectly, only to do it.

Are you in on the big experiment? Did you ASK for something?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Short Circuits

Around this time of year, many of us start thinking of things we'd like to do, be or have. We set goals, make resolutions. Those of a spiritual bent--and I happen to be one--pray.

What goes wrong? Why is it that, so often, nothing seems to happen? By March, if not the second week in January, we've given up on losing that weight, shedding that bad habit, landing that new job or starting that business we've always dreamed of having. Where is the short-circuit?

Personally, I think it's often because we ask God for some wonderful thing--fully expecting Him to refuse. Prayer is powerful, and the enemy sees it, bright as a flare in the night. (Once, naively, I believed there was no enemy. Very handy for him. One only has to look around at the war, poverty, sickness and cruelty to the helpless ones know the sobering truth.) Since answered prayer is just about the worst thing for the enemy's cause--talk about the kind of press he doesn't want to get!--he immediately shows up and provides a lot of seemingly high-minded, even pious, reasons why you're not going to get what you asked for. Some favorites: You don't deserve it. He's got bigger things to worry about. Suffering is good for the soul. It's impossible--any fool knows that. You're too old, too young, too smart, not smart enough.

Yada, yada, yada.

And we believe it! If you get nothing else out of this blog, get this: GOD SPECIALIZES IN THE IMPOSSIBLE. IT'S ONE OF HIS FAVORITE THINGS.

When you order something from a mail order house or online, do you fret and worry that the company might not deliver? Of course not. You fully expect that package to turn up on your doorstep, all in good time. And that's the attitude I think we should take toward our prayers, for big things or small.

Am I comparing Almighty God to a mail order house? Perish the thought! But the Word is full of admonitions to believe. When He met a sick person, Jesus often asked, "Do you believe I will heal you?" It's the belief that completes the circuit. You cannot receive unless you believe first. It's universal law.

When you think about it, you always get what you believe you will. Ask to lose 20 pounds or quit smoking, or to recover from a terrible disease, believing you will surely fail, and guess what? You will. Not because God didn't want to help, but because you didn't complete the circuit. (Fortunately for us, there is Grace, or we would really reap the whirlwind of our careless thinking!)

God's timing is different. He certainly reserves the right to substitute something--always better--for what you asked for. Sometimes, He's faster than Fed-Ex. Other times, a process is quietly begun. But no prayer goes unheard.

Go ahead, just as an experiment. Ask for something. And instead of coming up with a list of reasons why it can't happen, expect it in quiet confidence, the way you would expect to deliver a book or LL Bean to deliver a sweat suit. What do you have to lose? Not much.

But you have a whole lot to gain.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Meeting Ground

Recently, I had the living room carpet replaced with something more dog friendly. I had the big sectional moved to the lake, where it works better, but that left two recliners, assorted tables, and a Christmas tree. The room has very high ceilings, so it echoes, and the drapes have been taken down because they don't match the wonderful new paint on the walls. Except on Christmas Day, when I watched a lot of holiday movies, I didn't spend much time in that room.

As of yesterday, I now have a lovely leather couch and matching love seat, as well as a new slate-topped coffee table and matching lamp stands. (Now for lamps, drapes, and the perfect pair of floral wing-back chairs.) But this morning, in the predawn hours, I switched on the fireplace and sat quietly in contemplation--silent prayer.

I need so much more silence than I allow myself. My mind chatters constantly. But it is in the Silence that we hear the Voice of God. It is in Silence that we receive the promised renewal, the healing, the Love and Grace we so badly need. Where can we find God? Well, I'm certainly no mystic, but I think it's on the meeting ground that lies within the human heart. I plan to spend more time there.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome, 2007

One of my favorite things about New Year's is the sense of a fresh start and a clean slate. 2006 was a year full of blessings for me, but hard work and challenges, too. Two favorite uncles went on to the Great Rodeo Up Yonder, and I miss them sorely.

As you know, I do a lot of journaling. I also read a pile of devotional books, and it's wonderful to have new ones, even as I go back through an old favorite, "Jesus Calling", a gift from Debbie Macomber, and "My Utmost for His Highest", the Oswald Chambers classic. This year, I've added:

CHOOSING LIFE-ONE DAY AT A TIME (Dodie Osteen, Joel's mother.)

I'll be reading DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2007, too. Debbie Macomber contributed several of the devotions, as she has been doing for several years. (She'll have a nonfiction inspirational book in August, so watch for it. Details at It will be worth reading, I promise.)

What are my hopes for 2007?

Peace, personal and worldwide.

Big, wonderful story ideas and the energy to write them.

The horses, back home in their new barn.

Happy times with friends and family, here and at the lake house.

More TV movies! "Last Chance Cafe" was such a kick to watch.

To beat Cleopatra at her own game, at least some of the time.

And maybe--just maybe--not to work quite so hard as I did in 2006.

What's YOUR dream for 2007? Write it down somewhere, on an index card or in a journal, for instance, and expect it to come true. I've set aside a composition notebook for the purpose. Next New Year's Day, we'll compare notes.

May the New Year brim with blessings for you and for everyone you love. And just for good measure, those you don't love, but should.

My gratitude list is a long one. Right now, my stepmother's successful surgery is right up there. She's got a ways to go, but the prognosis is good. Come to think of it, it wouldn't be a bad idea to start a second composition notebook, devoted to all the things I'm grateful for. Then, when I'm cranky or discouraged or blue, I can remind myself, not just of the big blessings, which I think about and appreciate every day, but for the ordinary ones, too. Oh, those ordinary blessings! Worthy of a year of blogs, all on their own.

Until tomorrow, then.