Lavender for supper??

July 20th. 2020

While working on my next novel, Comfort Foods, I’ve dabbled, sampled, cooked, and consumed many recipes involving lavender. Why, you might ask? I’ll tell you–it’s a critical ingredient in the new book. Yes, my last novel, Comfort Songs, was set at a lavender farm, but this new book picks up where that one ended, and lavender is drifting across these pages too.

If you’re yawning because, well, what more could be said about lavender, I’m going to surprise you. Lavender is not just for looking at, smelling, or rubbing into your skin as a fragrant cream or oil. It’s edible! The buds adds an aromatic quality to foods from cookies to beef. (I know because I’ve been playing in the kitchen with it.) The plot of Comfort Foods involves a chef starving for his next level of creativity–and its delivered to him in the unlikely context of a food festival set at Lavender Hill. Without going into too much detail about that, let me share a few recipes that have inspired me.

The book is in the final swing of editing, and I’ve been drooling over the cover suggestions the talented Holly Forbes has whipped up for Comfort Foods, but you’ll have to wait until autumn to see those results. In the mean time, try cooking with lavender and see if you like the lift you feel on your tongue. I’ll post a recipe every few weeks until it’s time to announce the new book is released for readers to enjoy.

Courtesy of the 2nd edition of Lavender, by Ellen Spector Platt

Aromatic Chicken

3 whole chicken breasts (skinned, split)

1 tabl. butter

1/2 lb baby white onions, peeled

1/2 c dry white wine

3 cloves garlic

1/2 teas. dried lavender buds (you can buy these at health food stores)

3 strips of orange zest

Melt butter in saute pan, brown both sides of the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients, and cover pan. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove garlic and strips of orange zest. Serve over boiled rice or couscous. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.

Blood on the Pines, chapters 2 and 3, of a serial story.

July 1st. 2020

Thanks to the Longview News-Journal for allowing me creative freedom to write an alternative history version of Margaret and O.H. Methvin the couple credited with beginning the city of Longview. It’s alternative because not a lot is known about them, and I may have fudged a few dates of Texas history to try a “what would have happened if” perspective. Hope you’re intrigued. The chapters roll out every other month in the Charm Magazine addition to the local paper.

Kirkus Review of Comfort Songs!

June 24th. 2020

I’m thrilled the world premiere book review service, Kirkus Reviews, gave a glowing endorsement of the 2019 novel, Comfort Songs. I had such writing this story, and watching the reactions from readers, that I didn’t think there could be more icing for the cake. I was wrong. This review will open new doors for the book and introduce Comfort, Texas to a whole roster of readers I may have been unable to reach.

Hope you agree with their remarks!

Heroes at Home.

May 23rd. 2020

I was born into the U.S. Army in September of 1964, and surrendered my privileges when I turned 18 and gave back my I.D. card—the days in between feel like the pages of a myth. My father was training at the Ranger’s Camp outside Dahlonega, Georgia when I came screaming into the world, and in that scenario my mother was the real trooper. I learned quickly what it meant to travel light, don’t get attached to things or places, and how to make friends fast—and forget them with a wave of goodbye. As I didn’t know any other way to live, I thought my childhood was quite normal, and it many ways, it was stuff of dreams. 

It does something to a kid to hear that your father is a hero—and mine truly was having served three tours in Vietnam and a member of the elite Special Forces. Having a dad that can walk into any room and mobilize it for covert activities puts a mind at rest about where we’re traveling on vacation or how we are going to adapt to a remote assignment. I was one of the lucky ones. My father didn’t need to prove his authority by beating my mother or his children. Nor do I have memories of him venting about the terrors of war in our living room. Somehow, he was able to process the atrocities he witnessed and carried on. I think that’s at the heart of what it means to be a solider. I do think the unsung champion in my childhood would be my mother. The military doesn’t view dependents with ease, and she had to endure countless planting and tearing of roots, the only parent to sick children, loneliness of a breadth I’ve never known, and fear of being widowed like the countless other women who watched a green vehicle slowly ease into their driveway. That kind of daily fear must eat at a soul, but my mother stood proudly at all the ceremonies and never let on that she was dying inside. I think that’s at the heart of what it means to be a soldier’s wife.

I, on the other hand, learned what it meant to adapt. Complaining wasn’t something tolerated, and that bred a resilience that held hands with optimism and both hoped a better day was coming. It usually did. I learned to find something interesting about all the places we lived, the houses we called ours for a short time. Toys were pieced together from what survived a move, and freedom to roam came easily on property governed by the military police. I was not unique. Every child in every desk at DOD school knew the same reality that I did, and we became a fraternity of followers. We’d save something from all our addresses, small touchstones of a story or a place that would help us remember the long line of doors we’d walked through. No one talked about this process, it was just understood. 

I look back on what the Army taught me about living in this world, and I’m incredibly grateful to have been born into a family that knew their purpose, had their marching orders, and held their friendships with open arms. I look around and see so many unhappy people searching for some peace, some understanding, and realize they don’t know how to gather their touchstones and appreciate what they have. They don’t know how to adapt to their moment. That’s unfortunate, because contentment lies in that blink of an eye. Life was not easy in Army. Nor was it without uncertainties, but to be able to adjust—with little notice—was a skill I have applied at every hiccup in my life, and I’m glad for my time in the Army.

An alternative history serial about my town’s earliest days.

April 29th. 2020

Several months ago, when talk of Longview’s 150th celebrations were still in the works, a newspaper editor asked me a question. She wanted to know if, in my opinion, Longview would have ever developed had the founding father, O.H. Methvin, not acted when he did to bring the railroad to this area. I had to think about an answer. The railroad conversations were the seminal development for this area. Notions led me down a rabbit hole of would Longview even be here today had Texas not won the battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution. She asked me to develop that strange idea, and if inclined, turn the idea into serial for the local paper’s features magazine.

I know enough about actual Texas history to be conversant, but had never studied the pioneer movement that lured discontented southerners across the Red River. This initiative led me to some books, and fertile playing grounds for the “what ifs?” The paper took a leap of faith, and published Chapter One of the serial in the winter. I’ll post the link here.

As soon as I can, I’ll post the second installment. There will be six chapters to this short story, and I hope to showcase the grit and tenacity of early Texas settlers and the twist of culture they’d live in had Mexico held on to this territory with a firmer grip.

Let me know what you think.

Love in the Time of Corona

April 1st. 2020

With the bliss of a corona-fied schedule, I find myself with zero excuses for writing a new novel. And, so dear readers, I submit that the rough draft of the new book both fills me with surprises and challenges. The setting will be in Comfort, Texas — like the books Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs–and familiar personalities will walk through the pages, but these main characters are modern and fresh, with experiences that are far different from my comfort zone. I’ve spent time with cookbooks open and Googling details so that the events fill authentic. Its a hard thing to get under the skin of characters that I don’t know well, or don’t have experience living their steps. I’m giving it my best shot though, and hope when these pages go through all their edits and polish, that you’ll enjoy the story with the same graciousness you’ve shown to other stories. I’ve flirted with calling the new book, Love in the Time of Corona, but will default to the better title, Comfort Foods.

Have no idea when the new book will be published, but due to the need for stories during these Corona days, I’ve priced all four previous novels as $0.99 eBooks. Hope that gives folks who need a mental vacation, a budget friendly approach to the relief that stories provide.

Podcast Conversations

February 25th. 2020

I had the great privilege of visiting with Dr. Keitha on the Indie Beacon Radio podcast, and enjoyed the conversation about the back story to my books and sharing a little scoop on the new novel–Comfort Foods; another contemporary fiction set in Comfort, Texas.

If you’d like a peek into “the rest of the story” click on this link and watch the YouTube link. Thanks!



A chair by the fireplace

January 14th. 2020

I’ve rediscovered how much I like Rosamund Pilcher novels this winter. But they can’t be read without some patience for scene details, backstory, and repeating conversations between characters who enter a room and need to be brought into the picture. While it was cold and raining last weekend, I wanted to move a comfy chair right next to our fireplace and savor the book, Winter Solstice, in a manner that was lifted right from her pages–minus having a dram of bitters because, well, I don’t like the taste of beer. Since her books are lovingly set in Scotland, words like “wee little one” and “my duck” or “my darling” have been creeping into my mental vocabulary. I’m sure I’ll embarrass my husband when a bit brogue leaps into my conversations.

Do you get involved in the author’s world that you find that you want to inhabit there for a while?

Those are my favorite novels–the ones that are like a mental vacation. Hope you find pleasure in reading this winter, and discover an author that invested in their imagined world.

Stress and …. Books.

December 18th. 2019

I don’t know about you, but I’m a stress reader. Some people bury their anxiety in chocolate (I’m in recovery) and some in a colorful list of vices. Yet the one  item I never see on the list of things people do when they’re anxious is to read. Am I alone in my need for a paperback when life gets twisted?

Christmas shopping is not usually a factor on my roulette of things that cause me stress, but this year everything is a trigger.  So, instead of plodding through the mall, I’m re-reading old novels I’ve enjoyed, buying new ones on a whim, and borrowing books from my neighborhood “little free library.” My rate of consumption is not healthy. Not that there’s anything wrong with reading, but I’m turning the pages so fast I can’t even remember the names of the characters.

So, I confess my weakness here–in the sanctity of a public blog–and commit to triage this binge of books. The beauty of print is that you can savor the pages, flip back and forth when you need to refresh your imagination, and fall asleep with a book on your chest. My early 2020 resolution, is to value the story. Some author worked very hard on that plot, character development, and setting–I want to honor their work with timeliness. And read to consume their theme, story arc, and message of resolution.

There, I’ve said it. I’m a binge reader. Are you one too?

I’m creating something unique, just for you!

December 9th. 2019

With my heart overflowing with gratitude to the readers and friends who have supported my books this year, and who so wonderfully celebrated the 2019 novel, Comfort Songs, I landed on a fun Christmas gift to offer in return. Yes, I’m giving you a present. Fa-la-la-la!

To the subscribers of my e-newsletter (registration is available on the home page of this site) I’m emailing a bonus, second epilogue to Comfort Songs–just in time for a fireside read. A free, fun bit of extra love and merriment for AJ Worthington and Luke English, and Beans. I can’t forget the golden doodle.

I hope you enjoy what I’ve created, and the surprises that are gift-wrapped in the quick pages. I can hardly wait to email it the newsletter supporters, and hope they’ll write back and let me know what they think of the surprise.  The bonus epilogue is exclusive to followers of the newsletter, and won’t be for sale anywhere.