What Happens AFTER Happily Ever After by Sherrie Hansen

Have you ever wondered what happens after your favorite book comes to an end? We’ve all turned the last page of a novel, hoping and praying that there’s a epilogue, or as the musician in me likes to think of them, a postlude, so we can peek ahead and get a glimpse of what the future holds. I hate saying goodbye to characters I’ve come to love. Even better is that moment when you talk to your librarian or do a search online and find out there’s a sequel! If you’re like me, we’re talking overnight express time.

Night and Day (1)

For more than a decade, I’ve heard from readers who have wanted to know what happened to Jensen and Anders after Night and Day came to an end. They’ll be thrilled to know that now, the story goes on. I just finished a rough draft of Daybreak in Denmark, a sequel to Night and Day. It should be ready for release by mid-summer.

Wildflowers of Scotland Novels by Sherrie Hansen (2)

In the almost, but not quite as good category, are cameo appearances by the characters of the previous book in the next. I love linking story lines together in my Wildflowers of Scotland books, although, much as we love getting reacquainted with old friends in a new book, it’s not the same as a true sequel. When old characters are resurrected in a new character’s book, they can’t be allowed to steal the show or take over the plot. After introducing Lyndsie, Rose’s teenaged niece, in Wild Rose, and bringing her back as a spunky young woman in Shy Violet, it was amazing to write her story in Sweet William. I knew Lyndsie so well by the time William came into her life – her background, her hopes and dreams, her foibles, her family – that the scenes in her point of view practically wrote themselves.

I also find that emotions evoked by familiar, beloved characters are deeper, richer, and have a greater capacity to draw us into the story. When readers learn that the same lovely breasts that captivated Pastor Ian, and made Rose something of a scarlet woman, have been invaded by cancer, we truly get it. We weep with Rose and grieve with Ian and pledge to support them both to the bitter end, just like Lyndsie did.

Wild Rose - Photo

Or maybe you didn’t want to know that Rose and Ian adopt her young, immature nephew’s child, who then decides, some years later, that he wants his baby, now toddler, back… maybe you prefer that Rose and Ian stay forever young, their hopes and dreams for a fairy tale future bright and shiny and untarnished for all time.

Sunset 2014 Grass

I had similar feelings once upon a long time ago when I first read the Little House on the Prairie books. If the series had ended with On the Banks of Plum Creek – if I had never opened By the Shores of Silver Lake, I could have continued to imagine Mary’s beautiful blue eyes seeing the world around her, for years to come. But had I not read on and dealt with the heartbreak of Mary’s blindness, I would have missed out on all the pleasure I gained in reading The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years.

From camera December 2015 007

It’s no secret that rarely does anyone live happily ever after. When you turn the first page of a sequel, there are bound to be disappointments – romantic notions lost – along with the delight of seeing what old friends are up to. The important thing is, joy of joys, we get to turn the page and see what happens next! Does that mean the mystery is gone? If you’ve read Night and Day, there will be no wondering who Jensen is going to end up with when you begin reading Daybreak in Denmark. But her future, Anders’, Ed’s, her family’s – what happens next, beyond the pages of Night and Day – will still be a complete enigma.

Daybreak in Denmark (2)

So read on! In a sequel, the complexities of first falling in love are replaced by trying to adjust to a new life and overwhelming changes – some good and some unwanted.  There may be disillusionment and disappointment. Things may or may not turn out the way you hope they will. Because, as Jensen soon finds out, the happily ever after endings that romance novels are famous for are, in reality, nothing but a fairy tale, and even if you have the most wonderful husband in the world, things don’t always turn out the way you hope, dream, plan, wish they will.

Intrigue, drama, conflict and black moments – they’re all there waiting for you in a sequel. But so does joy come in the morning, after even the blackest of nights. Even sequels can have happy endings.

Sunset 1-2015

One reviewer called Night and Day “the thinking woman’s romance.” I can’t tell you what they’ll say about Daybreak in Denmark, but I can promise you it was thoughtfully written from a perspective of deep, abiding love for Minnesota, my home state, Denmark, my ancestral home, and the Jensen, Christiansen, and Westerlund families, my fictional first loves.


A few days ago, at a funeral, a woman I didn’t know said in passing, “Keep those books coming! I love every one!” I nodded and smiled, because I fully intend to do just that – and something tells me she’s really going to love Daybreak in Denmark.


Filed under books, photographs, Sherrie Hansen, writing



I’m finally headed to Africa. I’ll travel to both Rwanda and Uganda with Edwin Sabuhoro, the young man I met after the July 2016 killing of Cecil the Lion. I leave Sunday, Feb. 10 and return home on Feb. 28th. My trip will be a jam-packed working trip with lots of people to meet, animals to see and information to gather.

In case you don’t recall my previous blog about Edwin, here’s the short version of who he is.
Edwin grew up in the relatively small country of Rwanda in Central Africa. He was just a baby when the fourth and worst genocide broke out. Being of Tutsi origin, Edwin, his family, and relatives were the targets of the Hutu Government which casually authorized the 1994 Genocide during which nearly one million Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers were bludgeoned to death leaving the land littered with bodies, parts of bodies and rivers of blood.

Edwin’s mother, siblings, and relatives fled Rwanda and traveled by foot to the safety of the refugee camps just inside the borders of  Uganda. At one point in their journey, the relatives feared that Edwin was slowing down the group. Edwin’s Mum carried him as she ran for her life. The consensus was that his Mum should throw Edwin into a river, so that the group could move faster. However, Edwin’s Mum would have none of it, as she trudged on carrying her sweet baby close to her bosom.

When Edwin grew up, he earned his law degree. As a lawyer, part of his responsibilities was to represent people on a pro-bono basis. When Edwin was asked to represent a Hutu man, who bludgeoned an entire family to death, Edwin abandoned the law. He subsequently began working as a park ranger in Volcanoes National Park where the endangered mountain gorillas live. Edwin fell in love with the gorillas and other animals as he sought to protect them from poaching.
Baby Gorilla
At one point, the rangers caught wind of a baby gorilla which had been captured and was up for sale to the highest bidder. Edwin volunteered to pose as a buyer. Once the exchange was made, the poachers were captured, and the baby was returned to his home. Edwin described to me what he felt when he peered into the burlap bag carrying the captured gorilla. He was overwhelmed with compassion and wonder at the big brown eyes staring back at him.

Over the next few days, Edwin thought about the poachers. He could tell they were not wealthy. Instead, they were ordinary males who lived in a local village. Edwin couldn’t shake the gnawing in his gut as he felt guilty for helping to put these men in jail. So, he did something remarkable.

Instead of brushing off his empathy for the men, he became more curious about them and especially the reasons why they worked as poachers. So, he got in his car and drove to the village. There he sat down with one of the more elderly males and asked him, “Why do you poach?”

They were sitting outside at the time and there were many children playing close by. Thus, the man made a sweeping gesture with his arm as he said, “We do it to feed our children.” In other words, the reasons were economically based. The poachers had no other means of earning a living. Being a logical,  compassionate human, Edwin immediately understood.

When Edwin left the village, he couldn’t stop thinking of the man he met and the trapped lifestyle the villagers were living. So, he came up with a plan to help the village provide food for their people via different methods. Edwin had a savings account which he emptied, giving the money to the to the village males as he discussed his idea with them. They would use the money to rent farm land where they could grow their food. Within six months the village was producing enough food for the village with a surplus of food to sell.

Note: The poachers and village population belonged to the third ethnic group in Rwanda, the Batwa. The Batwa are the original inhabitants of Rwanda. They are the indigenous population who, for generations, depended on the forest and its animals for sustenance

Two years later, Edwin helped the Batwa community establish a living history village to educate and entertain visitors to the park where the gorillas reside. The hamlet is called Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village. While in Rwanda, Edwin and I will spend one and one-half days in the Village talking to the people, including the ex-poachers who now pride themselves as the guardians of the gorillas.  Best of all, we’ll also visit the mountain gorillas.

Because of Edwin’s efforts to save the endangered mountain gorillas and change the lives of the Batwa who poached the gorillas, in 2015 he was nominated for the coveted award of CNN Hero of the Year.

I met Edwin back in 2016, shortly after the death of Cecil the Lion who was murdered by an American dentist, Walter Palmer. As were so many animal lovers, I was utterly shaken by the killing.

It was a deliberate kill, as Palmer’s guides dragged a carcass behind their jeep trying to coax Cecil from the protective boundaries of the park where he, his male friend, Jericho and Cecil’s family lived.

Walter Palmer was an avid Trophy Hunter. Trophy hunters deceive themselves into believing they are conservationists. How can a true conservationist kill a unique animal such as a lion?  They can’t morally and won’t. Palmer and all Trophy Hunters are nothing more than poachers. They poach for personal booty. Their plunder is the animal’s head, skin and other body parts all for two purposes: bragging rights and to hang as evidence the trophy head on a wall in their coveted trophy room.

I sent Edwin a friend request which he immediately accepted. Then, one evening, after learning, via Facebook that he lived “up the highway from me,” I sent an instant message to him. We began talking that evening. I was excited to have found such a remarkable human as he explained to me that he was a CNN 2015 hero of the year nominee and that he was currently earning his Doctorate in Conservation and Tourism at Clemson University. I don’t recall what it was I said, but I evidently mentioned that I was a writer. I was typing away when my eye caught a sentence in his last message. He wrote, “You’re a writer? I’m looking for someone to write my autobiography.” I stopped cold as my eyeballs leapt out of my head, hit the screen of my computer, then bounced back into my sockets. My heart stopped as I said out loud, “Oh my God!” And so, our story began.

While I’m away, I plan to blog every day. My next-door neighbor suggested I do that, so she could keep up with me. I thought that was a great idea as well, because, in addition to my written notes and those I record via two hand held recorders, my blog could add to my notes especially since they will be written in real time, capturing my emotions which I know will be abundant.

If you care to follow me while I’m away, I’ll post a link on my website, http://www.maribethshanley.com. My first post, I will publish before I leave on the 10th, will be the itinerary Edwin has prepared for my eighteen-day visit.

I hope you to join me on my journey into beautiful Africa!


Filed under Maribeth Shanley, Travel, writing

When Your World Falls Apart – Cause and Effect by LV Gaudet

What do you do when your world falls apart?



Photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash

This is the sort of question that is so open ended that there is no right or wrong way to identify with it.

There is the major falling apart, dealing with loss and grief.  The kind that you cannot do anything but mourn for as long as it takes to learn to live with it.  Debilitating emotional turmoil.  Depression.  That is only to name a few.

A middling falling apart of your world might involve being fired from your job, that guy or girl you have dated for the past six months breaking up with you, or perhaps a car accident where the only casualty is that automobile you loved.  It hurts.  You want to wallow in your feelings of self-pity and loss, but even you know somewhere inside that it is not such a big loss as it feels like at that very moment.

And then there are those momentary mind-numbing mini tragedies.  Flash pan moments that bring on sudden extreme emotions that can die heartbeats later.  The kind that bring you into a heat-of-the-moment panic.  The flash of anger.  The moment where tears suddenly burn your eyes and you feel how foolish you must be because it’s not worth crying over and you must be tired.  You make more excuses for yourself.

Finally, there are the truly trivial. These are perhaps most often experienced by one in the midst of a severe emotional mood swing, including toddlers.  You dropped your ice cream.  Your mascara glopped on your eyelashes, sticking them together and it is truly the end of the world because that boy you like is going to think you look like some kind of moronic goon who doesn’t know how to use mascara (note the run on sentence thought of the teenager in the throws of a hot mood swing).  You truly are over-tired and you spilled your coffee.  These moments of your life falling apart are no less severe in your feelings at the moment they are happening.  Later, you might think, “Wow.  I really got upset about that?”



The question to dig deep and ask yourself is, “What would I do?”


Imagine a situation.  Imagine how you would feel.  What you would do.  What if you were in a different mood?  Experiencing something else, good or bad, at that moment.  How you imaging other people you know or observed would handle the situation.



Now place your character in that spot.


Ok, so your character is coming to a red light.  Just as they are approaching, the light turns green.  The cross traffic has the red.  With an internal sigh of relief, your character moves the foot hovering over the brake to the gas, accelerating through the now green light.

Just as they are beginning to sail through the intersection, a car cuts them off.  Your character is shocked.  Indignant.  Panicked.  They react too late.  Time has slowed to a crawl as they bear witness to the coming accident they feel powerless to avoid.  By an almost impossible chance, between lamely groping for the brake too late with that foot, fighting the urge to swerve onto the sidewalk where people wait to cross the street, and the offending driver gunning the gas, your character barely avoids the collision.

Weak with the after effects of the momentary surge of adrenaline, your character has a hot flash pan moment.  Anger.  Your character swears at the other driver.  Looks at the steering wheel and silently swears at themselves for not blaring the horn.  Your character drives home angrily, stomping into the house to be greeted by….


A toddler?  Your character, still hot and angry, snaps at the toddler, regretting it even as the words are coming out of their mouth.

Hurt, the toddler wanders off, looks at that sparkling pretty round diamond ring, the one your character lost last month, and woefully decides you don’t want to see it.  Hurt, angry, the toddler wanders to the bathroom and flushes it down the toilet.  Cause and effect.

Maybe it is a teenager.  Hurt and angry and in the midst of her own flashpoint of emotions, the teenager stomps off to her room.  There, she grabs up her phone and texts her boyfriend.  Hurt and angry over some very minor thing he perhaps doesn’t even know he did wrong, she breaks up with him.  Breaks his heart.  Cruelly, lashing out with the hurt and anger she is feeling against your character.  What kind of person is her boyfriend?  Do they both wallow in self-pity and pain until they get over it?  Maybe he takes drastic action to vent his grief and anger.  Cause and effect.

Or, perhaps in that flash of hot anger, your character does something extreme they will regret.


Writing is constantly putting your characters into these positions.

You need drama.  You need adversity.  Your readers need to be pulled in, desperate to know what is going to happen, what is your character going to do.  Can they fix this?  Can they at least survive it?

Always think about how you or others might handle the situation you put your characters in.  How their actions affect the other characters, how the cause and effect might play out rippling through the story line and the other characters.

Think about how that very cause and effect ripple will come back to hit your character, because, let’s face it, in real life it does tend to.


When you are stuck on where to go next, follow the ripple of cause and effect.

You may end up with word clutter that you will cut from the book.  But it can help pull you along to find the key that will push the story’s momentum further.


Like real people, characters need depth.

Depth is making your characters feel real to the reader. By messing with them.  Give your character a reaction to some minor thing in a pivotal moment that leads them in a new direction that makes sense for the story.  It may not affect the story at that moment, but it can be a foreshadowing of something to come.  Cause and effect.



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The Intangible World of the Literary Mind

This blog is about writing, being an author, and life.


LV Gaudet, author

This blog is for the fans of dark fiction, those stories that slither softly into your dreams in the night to turn them dark and foul.



Published with Indigo Sea Press:
where the bodies are


He can’t stop killing.


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Learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are.

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Filed under L.V. Gaudet, writing

Starting Again by John E. Stack

At the end of April, my wife and I placed, Bill, our foster son of almost three years, into his new forever home. It was tough, it was painful, and a big chunk of our hearts went with him. It is tough not to fall in love with someone that has been a big part of  your life for such a long time.
We decided that we needed a short break from being foster parents. The wound was too raw. Everything in our house reminded us of him. We realized that we were going through the grieving process as if he had died. We knew that he was okay, it was just trying to convince our hearts of it.
By the end of September, we decided that we would, again, open our home to babies. We informed our agency that we were ready, and we waited. A month or so went by and we were offered children two separate times, but decided that they would not be a good fit. The care that we would need to provide went beyond our training and abilities. Don’t get me wrong, both babies had medical problems severe enough where they would be unable to leave the house or ever be able to lead a normal life. Chances that either one would ever be adopted was slim, therefore taking either child would obligate us for a much longer time that we wanted.
So we abided our time and waited. We were starting to come to the conclusion that our time of being foster parents was coming to an end.  Neither of us are that young any more, so we started planning for the holidays. We opened our home for a big family gathering. Thanksgiving was going to be crowded. We had thirty-two people on the list that were planning to be there for lunch. (I don’t know which is harder, newborns or thirty-some people for a holiday meal!)
On Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, we received a call from our agency, and they wanted to know if we were open to take a newly born little girl. She had been born the day before. Of course, we agreed. On Wednesday, we received a call that they were leaving the hospital and on the way to our house.
Allie, our eight-year-old, was so excited that she couldn’t sit still.  She was desperately ready to be a big sister again.  She traveled to and from the front door about every five minutes. After each trip, she would ask how much longer until they got here.
Finally, the social worker arrived. Allie was jumping up and down. We finally got to meet our new little girl, and her name was Callie (not her real name). She was two-days-old and weighed a little over six and a half pounds. What a way to restart our fostering adventure.
Callie loved to snuggle and only cried when she was hungry. She was the only baby we have ever had that did not spit-up or have reflux. Normally, if you removed the bottle before she had emptied it, she might lose a drop, but that was it. She had a very gentle personality and it was a real pleasure to have her here.  We fell head-over-hills in love the moment our eyes met hers.
Callie was placed in her new forever home after almost three weeks. Her new parents were so excited to meet their new daughter. My wife said that all they could do was cry.
If we had given up on foster parenting, we would have never had to the pleasure of taking care of this tiny treasure. I can’t imagine not having her in my life.
Maybe God’s plan for us to foster is not over quiet yet. God is good.


***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

Hey, by the way, if you enjoy reading my thoughts, like and share with friends.  They might like this also. Every author is always looking for greater exposure.  Also, new foster parents are always needed and our love for these special children may influence someone else to take that step out of the their comfortable world and become foster or adoptive parents.


Filed under John Stack, life, writing

I resolve, by Sheila Deeth

Last year–last December–my mum, aged nearly 90, crossed the Atlantic to spend her winter with us. One plane was cancelled; the rescheduled one was late; she missed her connection; she changed planes in half an hour; she struggled with middle seats because of her new schedule and finally played the “nearly 90” card to beg for an aisle seat; and she arrived 12 hours late! As we drove home in the car, my husband played a CD of Christmas carols and Mum, aged nearly 90, surely worn out from the longest day ever of hassles, sang Oh Come All You Faithful. It was nearly midnight–a midnight to remember!


So now it’s 2018. Mum will stay with us until February, and we’re delighted to have her. I shall take her to see cats at a local cat cafe. We’ll visit the sea again with a friend. We’ll shop like mother and daughter–a treat since we’re so rarely together. We’ll enjoy discovering that Alexa is as obedient to Mum as she is to me. And we’ll laugh together when Mum says “You can’t print my story out; it’s only on my tablet.” “Mum, we have a printer downstairs.” Oh yes, and we’ll go to our local writers’ group–TOGETHER!

So those are my January resolutions. I know I’ll keep them. But as to February, that’s a whole month away, and the rest of the year even further. I’d resolve to catch up on book reviews, but I’m always getting further behind as I find new books I’m offered and “can’t wait” to read. I’d resolve to finish my next novel, Imaginary Numbers, but I’ll need my writers’ group friends to keep me on track. I’ll go to Mum’s 90th birthday party, come hell or high water, no matter how many planes get cancelled or delayed. And I’ll grow a year older–now that’s the sort of resolution I really should keep.

But maybe I should resolve to complain less, sing more in the back of the car, and enjoy the moment, like Mum! Maybe I should learn from her. And maybe we should all do something like that.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea. Her next novel, Imaginary Numbers should be written and released this year. And watch this space for Speculatively Yours, a collection of spiritual speculative novellas, coming soon.


Filed under writing

Belly Dancer to Writer

People have asked me how I transitioned from having a twenty-plus-year career as a belly dancer to my present career as a writer. The two seemed so unrelated. I have to admit I had a head start because I spent over fifty years searching for my family after being orphaned as a small child and when I finally found a family member, I wanted to write about it. But in further pondering the transition question, I surprisingly found similarities between the two.










The main hat I wore during my dancing years was as a Belly Grammer. I was hired to surprise someone for their birthday, anniversary, farewell, get well, reunion or event, with a ten minute dance routine consisting of three parts. The first part was lively Arabic music, accompanied by the rhythm of my brass finger cymbals. Then it slowed down for some pretty, mesmerizing veil work and the last part or finale was lively again, punctuated by the clinking sound of my tambourine. My guest of honor was seated in a chair by himself with people in a circle around him with room for me to dance in the middle. During the routine I presented him with a red banner with a gold glitter message of the occasion and included his name and a red rose. I also crowned him with my veil and tambourine during the number. It was good clean fun and became a very popular way for people to honor coworkers, bosses, family members and friends.









During this time, I attended seminars all over the U.S. and became a professional performer in shows that concluded those lessons. I met other dancers who became friends and I traveled out of the country as well. This opened up trade show jobs and Greek Night events, wedding receptions, gigs in New York and New Jersey in night clubs, fundraising for the Leukemia Society, and as a staff writer for an international dance magazine. I danced for actor Cliff Robertson at a Scottish Céilidh and for Whoopi Goldberg on a movie set and Mr. Winton Blunt, former U.S. Postmaster General asked me to dance in his home for Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Bin Nassar. Two military bases in Montgomery, AL, near my home, had numerous events for which I was asked to help them celebrate. I started taking students in my home studio and was asked to teach at Auburn University and later to choreograph a production number for the theatre at Auburn U. I even did a tailgate party in the parking lot at Auburn University before a championship football game. I remember being absolutely amazed I was actually able to find my tailgate hosts without any trouble at the super crowded stadium that day!

Medieval Fantasy Dance




You’re probably getting the idea by now, dear reader, that one thing led to another in my dance career, and you’d be absolutely right. The scope for providing opportunities for dance was constantly changing and growing. In developing a routine for my belly grams I was telling a story through my movements and in some of the other shows, I was following a theme and creating a narrative through the dance itself. The magazine staff writer job and having to come up with written lesson plans for my college teaching stints were most helpful in my development with writing, but finding my sister was the clincher and I started writing a mystery novel involving my search for her. Years later, when my agent found my publisher and my book came out; it was time I retired from dance and start my new career. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have been blessed with two careers I loved so much! What about you? Have you had more than one career that you’ve loved?


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under Art, musings, writing

To Resolve or Not to Resolve by LV Gaudet


Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Here we are, on the cusp of a new year again.  The time of year where people turn to making their selves promises to better their selves out of guilt over the gluttony of Christmas, because it is their custom to make resolutions for the new year, or simply for a lark.

They count down to midnight, holding glasses to the sky and looking around for someone to play the age old cat and mouse game of “who do I want to lock lips with and who do I desperately want to avoid at the stroke of midnight, and oh no, is that person giving me a hungry I want to devour you look; eww, yuk, don’t touch me.”  Fortunately, those firmly entrenched in romantic-type relationships have a certain sense of immunity.

The new year is often thought as chance at a new start.  Out with the old and in with the new year.  And for some, their yearly resolution is to adamantly proclaim to not have any new year resolutions.

For a month after New Years’, places offering life affirming, soul searching, and body improvements are to be avoided at all costs lest you lose your sanity trying to negotiate the parking lot in endless circles in hopes a spot will open.

By the end of February, many resolutions are forgotten like that dirty underwear discarded and fallen behind the laundry hamper, nagging at the back of the minds of those who remember they landed there but don’t want to dig them out.  you can once again approach the gym without the expectation of spending half an hour or more circling in search of the nefariously impossible to find parking.


I am not much of a resolution maker.  I never have been.  I have never really seen the point myself.

Rather than making myself a yearly promise to better myself, telling everyone that I must dedicate myself to something I am loathe to do or give up, I opt for more of a daily simplicity.

It is easier to embrace healthy choices when you don’t make it a chore.  Vegetables are not the enemy, boring food is.  Exercise is an exploration.  Don’t think about how you have to plan it, how much work it will be, just make it simple.  Simple choices.  Chose the positives, not the negatives.

I try to make that a simple part of everyday life.  I enjoy food.  I embrace it.  A good meal does not have to be hard.  Simplify.  Healthy and delicious, rather than lazily bland and over fat inducing.  I enjoy feeling good, not sluggish.  Living, moving, not laying about while time ticks by without me.


If I am making any kind of resolution this year, I made it in November, during NaNoWriMo.  It is not a pledge to better myself.

My promise was more of a what do I want to accomplish over the next year.  Over the next years.  Nothing worthwhile comes without some form of compromise.  Nothing in life is ever that simple.

I made a choice to focus my effort on finishing works in progress.  Choosing a story at whatever state of progress it is in, from the first drafts sitting idle to the partially done.  It means sacrificing the nonstop ideas that come up, urgently wanting to be written.  I have too many unfinished stories, put aside when the next story begs to be written.

And, let’s face it, writing is much more fun than editing.  Creating something new, the story flowing through you with no idea where it will take you; vs. re-reading the same story a hundred times over while you work to develop it into the best thing you can make it be.

So, while the new stories clamber to be written, I will try to focus instead on the new discoveries waiting to happen with old friends as I re-explore the stories to be edited, revised, torn asunder and reconstructed, and to be finished.


And, just for fun, for the New Year’s Eve glorified resolutions and customs fanatics, for your enjoyment …


From smashing your dirty dishes on your neighbor’s door to burning effigies, to fist fights, to who steps first over a threshold, here is a list of 25 strange new year’s customs.  As with anything internet based, take it for what it is, unverified and maybe true maybe not.



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Filed under L.V. Gaudet, writing

New Beginnings and Happy Endings by Sherrie Hansen

The old joke goes that someone asked Mrs. Lincoln, “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” The twentieth century version would be, “Aside from that, Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy your trip to Dallas?”

Today is the 360th day of the year. There are five days left in 2017. For me, much of the year passed in a fog because in 2017 my father was diagnosed with leukemia and eventually died. When something that life changing happens, everything else is inconsequential. But the year did have some bright points, and I’d like to think on a few of those things as well as what I am looking forward to in 2018.


In January, Mark and I went to Arizona for a Spiritual Life Retreat. It was a good way to start out the year and helped ground me for what was to come. Seeing the beautiful red rocks and hiking in the desert was an eye-opening  experience for me. Having grown up amid Minnesota Northwood trees, lakes and streams, I’d rarely appreciated the beauty of the desert – until we discovered Sonoran Botanical Gardens. We even saw a rainbow. A promise was a good thing, because even then, we knew something was wrong with Dad.

Food - melting moments

The first week of February, I celebrated 25 years of being open for business at the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, and my 60th birthday. We served Tomato Basil, Fresh Broccoli, Wonderful Wild Rice, and Potato Ham soups, egg salad and Monte Cristo sandwiches, Copenhagen Cream with Raspberries and my fancy homemade cookies. I hired a DJ and made up an eclectic set-list of favorite songs from 1957 on. It was a wonderful night and would be my Dad’s last time to come to an event at the Blue Belle.


March brought a flurry of bad diagnosis and a roller coaster ride of hope and frustrations and searches for answers.

Zion - Sunset 2015 2

In April, Dad took his last “big trip” when he came down to Mark’s church in Hudson to listen to the M&MS and Zion’s worship team sing Life is Like a Mountain Railway, his favorite song. We practiced it several times for him because it made him so happy.

Ireland - flowers

In late May, Mark and I said goodbye to Dad at the ICU at Mayo. Dad had pneumonia. I hated leaving him, but we had tickets to Wales, Ireland and England. We compensated for our absence by calling him every night from whatever country we were in. We stayed at B & B’s, enjoyed taking photos of amazing castles, gardens, and beaches, as well as sampling delicious pub grub, smoked haddock, millionaire bars (caramel shortbread), meat pies, Battenberg cakes, and Irish stew. Our adventures on the Wild Atlantic Way along the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland inspired a new book, Seaside Daisy.

Ireland - daisy sea

Dad rallied and was still alive when we came home in mid-June. It seems like the whole summer went by in a blur. Dad had chemo and almost 70 blood transfusions. We almost lost him twice, once when he went into anaphylaxis shock and once when his platelets dropped to 1.7. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren came from all over the country to hug and cheer him on. Through it all, he kept his sense of humor and faith.

Dad - harvest

In the midst of the busyness, my new  release, Golden Rod, came out. I tried to promote it but my mind was on bigger things. In August, it became apparent that more chemo was not an option for Dad. The process of acceptance that we were going to lose him began. Dad said it was sure too bad he had to miss his funeral because he knew the music would be great (lively bluegrass) and he’d get to see everyone he knew. When he first mentioned having a funeral rehearsal, we thought he was kidding.

Dad - pick-up

Sept 7, we kids hosted Everett Hansen Day at the Farm. Nearly 250 friends and family came for a potluck, greeted by a joyous, smiling Dad. During the next two months Dad was able to stay at home, and as was his goal, watch the harvest come in. My brothers and sister and I took turns spending the night in the double recliner next to him and enjoying many late night conversations.

Dad - creek

October was spent doubling back to the Blue Belle to serve over a hundred Seasoned Pork and Parmesan Stuffed Pumpkins to lunch guests by day, planning and writing murder mysteries by night, spending Wed, Thurs and Fri evenings with Dad, and worrying about him the rest of the week when we were down in Hudson.

Dad - casket

Dad died on November 7th. The actual funeral was everything Dad envisioned, with great bluegrass music. I started writing again on the 22nd, but switched to working on Daybreak in Denmark, a sequel to my first book, Night and Day, because the father character reminded me of Dad.

BBInn - heavy snow smaller

Gray December has been spent catching up on everything that didn’t get done this summer, trying to break out of the fog, and getting used to the “new normal” of not daily talking to Dad about what is going on in my life and hearing his jokes and advice. I’ve spent a lot of time crying. Comfort foods help for awhile and then make me feel worse. I am so thankful that I was able to spend so much time with Dad before he died, but the closeness has made it harder to adjust to him being gone.


I think 2018 will bring more big changes in my life. I’m not sure what that means, but I sense it very strongly. I wonder where to go from here. Nothing is as much fun as it used to be, because I can’t tell Dad about it and hear his laughter or comments. Sometimes, I think I could just as well die too, but I have to finish Daybreak in Denmark first – as long as I’m half done already. We Hansens like to finish what we start, and like Dad, I find it very satisfying to watch the harvest come in.

Sunset 2014 Corn

I wish all of you happy endings in 2018. To those of you who have suffered losses in 2017, I pray you will find peace and joy in the New Year. Because it’s not the end, but a new beginning.

Daybreak in Denmark


Filed under Sherrie Hansen, writing

Blessings by John E. Stack

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

As much as we want Christmas to be a happy, joyous time, often it is not. Life is tough and no matter how hard we try, sometimes grief and pain over-shadow that happiness. People experience tremendous loss, whether in a loved one or in their livelihood.

Even in my own life, loss is prominent around Christmas. Many years ago, my dad passed away a week or so before Christmas. A few years later, my wife’s brother was found dead a couple of days before Christmas and a couple of years later her mom passed on Christmas eve. I even applied for a job with NASA, but even though I had a good shot and was fully qualified, I didn’t get the job. I was extremely disappointed. Yeah, the events of life can certainly dampen the spirit of Christmas.

It is so easy to focus on all the bad going on or how cruel employers can be when they let employees go just days before Christmas or burying a loved one on the day after Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of the great blessings that we receive.

I’ve come to realize that no matter how devastating something may be to us, it did not take God by surprise. During these times he wants us to refocus on Him. When we do that, we can begin to see all the blessings that He has provided.

In the death of a loved one, new bonds are formed between all of those connected to that person. Comfort can be found in those bonds and grief shared is not quite so devastating. The job loss gives one the opportunities to refocus their priorities and to concentrate on the blessings God will provide.

The passage from Luke shows the great gift that God gave us because of his love for us. A Savior. His own son. Could he foresee the death of His Son? Again, these things don’t take God by surprise. He had/has a plan. He already loves you. His gift proves it.

I pray that during this season that you look for the blessings. They are there, you just need to look. Maybe the blessing you seek will be that baby in a manger. Be a blessing to someone, look for ways to help those less fortunate, and yes, there are those less fortunate.

By the way, not getting the job at NASA resulted in great blessings. We didn’t realize that God had his hand in that decision. That job would have required us to move to Houston. If we would have moved to Houston, we would not have become foster parents. We would have missed out on taking care of twenty-one babies, including one wonderful now eight-year-old little girl that is my daughter and a special nine-year-old young man that is my grandson. What blessings.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.


Filed under John Stack, life, writing

How was your 2017? by Sheila Deeth

20151206_170537It’s December. Happy Christmas!

I should be writing one of those Christmas letters – you know; the ones where I list my children’s accomplishments, our wonderful travel experiences, the glorious decorating job we did on the house, great tasks undertaken with marvelous success … etc. etc. It’s just this year’s been, well, one of those years. And I thought 2016 was bad…

20170118_121746 (2)Children’s accomplishments include their truly adult, generous and amazing help when our home flooded in January. They sliced and diced soggy carpet (plus, sometimes, hands and knees) to get it out the door. They carried tons of heavy furniture upstairs to the garage to dry out. And they assured me young muscles really aren’t that much better than older ones. Either that or our sons are rapidly ceasing to be young–not a thought I want to pursue.

20160806_173543 (2)2017’s travel experiences were very enjoyable. We had a great trip to England. Spent lots of time with family and friends, and visited Bath, Beachy Head, Bletchley Park, Cambridge, Chatham Dockyards (where Call the Midwife is filmed), Cleveleys (just me visiting Mum), the Devil’s Punchbowl (and the former A3), the Harry Potter studios, Manchester (just me, Mum and my brother), Rochester and Windsor. Took lots of photos… Later we had a week in DC visiting the nation’s capital with our oldest son. But then my mum began her annual trip here from England – that’s a travel experience and a half… flight cancelled due to snow, flight rebooked, new flight delayed and connection missed, new flight rebooked, new connections, more connections, more time and more delay… She should arrive by midnight, maybe, we hope. And travel finds itself added to the list of this year’s disasters.

20170810_183141We are definitely enjoying our redecorated basement. It took two thirds of the year to get from bare walls and concrete floor to liveable rooms again. It took more visits from those generous sons to bring the furniture back down from the garage. Our cars finally reclaimed their domain in late October! And I can now sit on a chair at my computer to write blogposts … and Christmas letters?

51ryws67wolTasks undertaken included great joy at being part of the Oregon Historical Society’s  50th Holiday Cheer book-signing. It was a fantastic event, very well organized, well attended, and great fun (especially listening to the Dickens Singers). I felt less happy at selling only one book there, but I sold seven at our local craft bazaar, so I shouldn’t complain… In other achievements, I saw my third novel, Subtraction, come out from Indigo Sea Press. Plus our local writers’ group, the Writers’ Mill, released two new anthologies! That’s surely success, unless you ask about sales.

If I were feeling negative, I guess I’d call 2017 a bad year with some good points. But that’s what I called 2016, so maybe this was my punishment. It’s nearly Christmas. Mum’s here! And that’s got to make it a good year.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year.

How was your 2017?

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction novels – tales of relationship, forgiveness and hope. Find Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Subtraction where good books are sold.

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Filed under writing