Sunday, September 11, 2016


Never Forget!
I was at work in the emergency department on 9/11/2001. When the first plane crashed into the tower, we were all dumbfounded and sad, but when the second plane hit the other tower, the chill of intentional horror hit us. Then the Pentagon took a hit from another plane followed by the plane in Pennsylvania thwarted from its suspected target of the White House by the brave passengers on board, we all knew the ugly truth. We experienced terrorism on a level never experienced before.
I called my niece and nephew just because I suddenly knew how important family was. The need to reach out to them was imperative in a world suddenly uncertain. We prepared as best we could at work for the possibility that Charlotte might be next. Who knew what would happen next. A torrent of emotions ran through the department from anger to weeping. No one smiled.
It was so odd and somewhat eerie to drive home with a clear blue sky above and not a single plane anywhere—not even a small Cessna. Nothing existed except this feeling of unbearable loss and mourning. When I reached home, I saw for the first time on TV the towers crumbling to the earth and the people posting pictures of their lost loved ones who were in the towers hoping against all odds they would be found alive.
In the weeks that followed, I felt I was living through one funeral after another. The sadness was overwhelming.
In the midst of all this turmoil, I adopted a kitten who had been hit by a car in front of the veterinary hospital. They saved her, fixed her injuries and had the kitten in the lobby. I took my dog, Kate, in for her shots and saw the black and white kitten crying in her cage. They named her Liberty. She was a beacon of light in a gloomy period of history. Liberty. Something innocent and sweet calling out to me. I took her home with me that day and she has brought me endless happiness ever since. I kept the name they gave her. I couldn’t think of another name that could possibly mean more to me than Liberty. My cat, my country, the ideal of our founding fathers. Liberty.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Secretly Paranormal


I started my writing career with paranormal and time travel stories. I always enjoyed putting down stories with imaginary landscapes, time periods that were “different”, and characters that had to battle evil and win the hand of the ones they loved.
When I wrote HARMONICA JOE’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, I made it a time travel story with no intention of creating a town named Hazard or writing about the Wilding family. And yet, that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I love these crazy W...ildings. But the one thing I have stayed with in most of these stories is a touch of paranormal in the form of Lakota wisdom and beliefs.
Banjo’s uncle, Teekonka Red Sky, first introduced in FOR LOVE OF BANJO, is a Lakota shaman. He possesses great insight into the human heart and has a gift for getting in touch with the ancestors to help him work for the better good on the Earthly plane. His son, Kyle, carries on this legacy. He may seem like an ordinary man running a gas station and repairing cars, but he also has his father’s Lakota gift.
In my new release, HOME FOR THE HEART, Kyle warns Lucy Thoroughgood about something dangerous. Here is what he says and how Lucy responds:
Excerpt: (the Lakota Premonition)
Kyle brought the truck to a stop as close to the front door as the driveway allowed, but before Lucy could open the door, Kyle clasped her arm. She turned to face him and noticed a faraway look in his dark eyes. “What is it, Kyle? Is something wrong?”
His face took on a grim expression when he spoke. “All I know is something dark is coming. Be careful, Lucy.”
Something in her chest clutched. Kyle had a special gift and his words were not to be ignored. “Is something bad going to happen?”
“I’m afraid so. I wish I knew what it was, but I don’t. I only know it’s evil.”
“You’re scaring me, Kyle.”
“I don’t mean to. Hank and I will keep an eye out. Tell your dad what I said.”
All my Wilding western romances can be found on Amazon—and for a bargain if you have Amazon Select. You can also find a list of my books on my Wildings Page:…/special-…/the-wildings/

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Life in the South Without Air Conditioning

It’s so hot and humid right now that I find myself hanging out more and more in the comfort of my air conditioned house. I have so much gratitude for whoever it was who invented air conditioning.

When I was 5 years old, Pop transferred from a small weather station in Luthersburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina. We landed at the airport on a hot summer day in Charlotte back in the days when you left the plane by walking down the movable stairs straight onto the hot tarmac. We had a lovely meal at a restaurant where my sister and I had broccoli for the first time and liked it. And then Pop took us to our new home he had rented for us on Mayfair Avenue—a house with no air conditioning, not even a window unit.

Pop was concerned about the heat since none of us were used to it. He wanted to keep the curtains closed in the heat of the day and had my sister and I take midday naps—not that either of us really wanted to take naps. At night, we kept the windows open. Yes, open windows at night back in those days when families didn’t feel threatened by home invasions, child kidnappers, and the like. Hard to imagine such freedom these days.

When the weather turned humid, I remember the discomfort of trying to sleep between damp sheets and wishing for a breeze to come through that window. Rain, even thunderstorms were welcome on most occasions because they brought with them a temporary relief. Of course, there were those times when rain just added to the humidity.

Pop did try to bring relief to us when he installed an industrial sized air conditioner which operated on the theory of evaporation. He hosed down the huge unit’s special padding every day and turned that thing on. It blew in cool air, but since it was operating on evaporation, it added to the humidity and misery. Also, it caused mold to grow on anything leather. So much for those expensive shoes and pocketbooks. So we went back to plan A with open windows and darkened rooms. Honestly, it was a greater relief to go out and play in the shade of the woods and splash around in the creek during the day.

When Mom and Pop bought a house, it was one with high ceilings and a hallway downstairs that helped move air through the house. This was the house where my sister and I grew up and we quickly acclimated to the lack of a central heating and cooling system. Because of Mom’s heart disease, Pop did get a window unit air conditioner for their bedroom to allow her some comfort. My parents were Yankee transplants having been born and raised in the mountainous north central Pennsylvania, and therefore, had a harder time adjusting to the heat.

Like most people these days I have central air. I try to be conservative by keeping the temperature at 76-78 degrees during the day and 74 at night. Ceiling fans make a huge difference in my tolerance to the heat. As long as I have those wonderful ceiling fans, I’m good. Still, there are times when I look back on those days and wonder how we survived the heat and humidity of summer. I have a heap of gratitude for that hard working air conditioner in my backyard.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Treasured Childhood Books

Junior Classics Children's Books

My parents entered me in the Junior Classics Book Club when I was about 11 years old. Every month I would get a new classic in the mail. I absolutely loved it. 


My all-time favorite book was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read it 7 times. My hero was Allen Breck, the Scot who saved David Balfour from his slavery on a ship after his uncle had him kidnapped to keep David from claiming his inheritance.
Through this story I learned about the Scots and Scotland, and began my love for the bagpipes, great coats, and swords. Later, I had a great coat and changed the plastic buttons to silver ones like Allen Breck’s famous silver buttons he gave to David to show his kinsman in order to gain their trust and help the lad. I was completely mesmerized by this story. 

I also loved the other classics I read in these Junior Classics collection like all of Louisa May Alcott’s stories, Tom Sawyer, Freckles (a wonderful story about an orphan who had lost his hand), and so many others I hold dear to my heart.

I remember when the remake of Little Woman came out with Wynonna Ryder as the central character, Jo. Oh gosh, even though I was a middle-aged woman, I couldn’t wait to see it. I thought they did a great job of capturing the original essence of that classic story.

I was introduced to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to become the famous detective and solve mysterious cases. I ran around the house and yard in Pop’s old trench coat with my magnifying glass and bubble pipe pretending to solve mysteries. What great fun I had.

I never hear my great-niece mention reading classic children’s books. The books she reads are new to me. Have classics fallen to the wayside? Did any of you with children encourage classic children’s stories, or are there “new classics” surfacing now? In any case, books filled my childhood with excitement and wonder and I’m so grateful I had those cherished books.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Friend Mr. Book Bag

I know some of you who are teachers are dreading the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the school year, but for me, it brings back childhood memories. Don’t get me wrong, I was not one of those kids who looked forward to it or had visions of creating that robot who would do my bidding and impress the teacher. I was a shy kid who felt overwhelmed by the idea of going to school where all those kids were and where the expectation that I would be the next Einstein loomed over my head like a dark shadow.

Skeeter was my best friend, and as long as she was in my class, I might actually make it through the first grade. Besides Skeeter, I had my protective book bag. Honest to Pete, I loved that thing. Not only was it good to put my Dick and Jane book in and my papers of accomplishment like the picture of the plumb I correctly colored purple, notwithstanding my wonderful array of school supplies, but it also contained my magical mementos. I had my ball and jacks, a deck of worn out Old Maid cards (kind of a chauvinistic game in today’s politically correct world I guess), and things that belonged to my parents so I could feel they were there to protect me. I kept a button from my mom’s dress and one of my dad’s ties. You can never be too safe.

Everything would have been okay except I carried that protective book bag with me everywhere I went. When I say everywhere, I mean exactly that—to the restroom, the cafeteria, and even to recess. My teacher thought my obsession with my book bag might be detrimental to my mental wellbeing and sent home a note to my parents asking them to discourage me from traveling constantly with my shield and friend Mr. Book Bag.

Now this may surprise some of you, but my parents were different—different in their beliefs about raising children and their philosophies about what children needed. My father sent back a note to my teacher in which he flatly refused to insist on me giving up my book bag. He told her I needed that book bag to feel secure and that he felt I would eventually stop dragging it around once I felt safe and comfortable in the class. I never felt as validated as I did that day when my dad stuck up for me.

Eventually, I did stop taking that book bag with me all over the place. After all, I had my best friend Skeet. What’s a book bag compared to a best friend? Naturally, a note went home about that, too, but that’s another story for another time. So, the lesson I learned about love and feeling loved is sometimes it’s not enough to hear the words “I love you”, sometimes you can only know how much a person loves you by their actions and how they support the unique person they know you to be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Just Released: Memories of Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart

Have you ever had a pet that left indelible pawprints—or hoofprints—on your heart? Pets we’ve rescued—that rescued us, as well—and animals that maybe weren’t so much “pets” as “acquaintances” who’ve taught us a thing or two…

The third edition of our successful series, Memories From Maple Street, U.S.A.—Pawprints On My Heart, is chock full of stories about special pets we’ve had. These tales evoke loving memories of days gone by when these animals played a huge part in our lives—either as pets we had as children, or as adults.

Wayfaring Stranger/ My contribution
Imagine my surprise when my mother picked me up at school and told me about the strange, furry creature who came to our house.

Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” This collection of true animal stories will serve to prove him right!

Includes authors Gayle M. Irwin, Ann Swann, Carol Huff, Sarah J. McNeal, Charlie Steel, C.J. Samuels, Jim Landwehr, Cher’ley Grogg, Beverly Wells, Gil McDonald, Meg Mims, Tina Holt, Tanya Hanson, Cheryl Pierson, and L.D.B. Taylor.
Buy Links: Kindle    Paperback

Thursday, May 26, 2016

HOME FOR THE HEART, my new Wilding romance, Just Released

HOME FOR THE HEART, my new western romance in the Wildings series, is about love that just can’t seem to get off the ground and about a half Lakota boy who no longer believes he’s worthwhile.

Love doesn’t come easy…for some, it may never come at all.


Lucy Thoroughgood has gone and done it now—fallen in love with Hank Wilding, a man she’s known all her life. He’s content with friendship, but Lucy’s heart has flown the coop and she knows she’s in love with the determined bachelor. When she visits him with a proposition—to let the orphans she cares for learn to ride his horses during the summer—he surprises her with one of his own. She must accompany him to the dancing lessons he’s signed up for.
Secretly pleased, she hopes that perhaps this arrangement might lead to more than friendship. But Hank’s loved hard and lost, with his engagement to one of the popular town girls going south two years earlier. He’s sworn to never lose his heart to another—including Miss Lucy Thoroughgood.

A teenage orphan, Chayton, could be the key to thawing Hank’s heart—but danger follows the embittered boy. Will Hank be able to give Chayton the home he yearns for—or will the boy’s past bring only sorrow to those he cares for? When a Lakota premonition becomes reality, Lucy’s life hangs in the balance. Will Hank have the chance to let Lucy know how wrong he was?


In the quiet of the barn filled with the smell of fresh hay, horse manure, and leather tack, Hank sensed rather than heard someone enter the building. Ah, the smell of sunshine and roses. Must be Lucille Thoroughgood. Without turning to look at her, he set the pitchfork against the wall of Lonesome’s stall. “What do you want, Lucy?” he grumbled as a greeting.

“Mr. Wilding, I have something I’d like to propose to you.” Her voice sounded tense. When he turned to face her, he saw those blue eyes dart away from his to peer at the straw on the floor. She promptly straightened her spine and must have forced herself to look him straight in the eye. Her starched manner made him want to mess with her.

“A proposal?” He moved closer to her…maybe too close. He felt something shift in his chest like a warning bell. “Well now, I haven’t ever had a lady propose to me before.” He joked, badly, just to get her goat. Generally, women were not to be trusted. He’d learned that lesson the hard way. But Lucy was his old friend since grade school. Even though she must have been born straight-laced and proper, she spoke her truth, plain and simple. Beneath that barbed wire exterior beat a heart of gold. 

Lucy propped her fists on her hips and he thought she looked like a charming sugar bowl all ruffed up in her pink flowered dress and her sweet, straw hat that sat askew on her gleaming brown hair. She knitted those brows together and narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m not proposing marriage to you, Mr. Wilding. I’m proposing a business deal…sort of.”

Buy Links: