Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be Still My...altitude sickness!! My date with Joanne Bischof.

I left for Bolivia on October the 17, which was also my parent's anniversary. 
I had waited two long years to go back to the Andes and my beloved, beautiful Quechua people.

But one of the very serious downsides to being up at altitudes of 11,000 to 15,500 feet is a well known malady known as "altitude sickness".
Guess who got it and got shut down for a few days?

Yup. Me. 
I was in a wicked brain fog, combined with chest pain and was as weak as could be.

I'd brought a few books to read on the trip, but usually when we're up in the villages, there is NO time to read.
But, when you're on forced bed rest at the very nice, but very VERY basic hostel, there is ample time to catch up on your reading. 
So what did I pull out of my suitcase???

Joanne Bischof's debut novel. 

I'll skip the high praise and platitudes that everyone who's read this book is heaping on Joanne, and simply tell you this.

I read this book in two shots. 

Why two? Because the altitude sickness made me so tired, I fell asleep with the book in my hand.
Sorry, Joanne, but the brain was done.

I loved the way Joanne wove the story together, and didn't make the hero perfect.  I loved the colour she infused in her story world and I loved that the heroine ACHED, but still kept going.

This book is worth every penny!!

I had a chance to ask Joanne a few questions, so here is our discussion and please refrain from your cheering until we're done...I'm used to the screaming crowds, but Joanne is a woman of refinement and elegance and would appreciate polite applause and at least one well placed curtsy.

  • 1) When and why did you decide to become a writer?

  • I always had my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. Growing up, I was 1 part Jo March, 1 part Beatrix Potter and 1 part Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always writing, drawing, and living with my imagination in the past. Being a writer was always my normal. I can never remember ever wanting to be anything else. I am SO thankful that God made that dream come true!

    2) Why Appalachian stories? Do you have a fondness for that area, of did the story dictate the location?

    As the idea for Be Still My Soul took seed, it unfolded to be a love story between two mismatched people—a marriage between a shy, innocent girl with a strong faith, and a cocky, confident bluegrass musician who hasn’t given God much thought. From the first moment, I knew the perfect home for this story was in Appalachia. Living in the mountains has cultivated a deep love of mountain life. Everything about it just says "home" to me and I think that's why it's become a part of my writing as well.

    3) Is there a bit of you in Lonnie? And if so, what?

     I'd say Lonnie and I have a good deal in common. Most of all would be a shyness that I'm learning to outgrow and over the course of the story, she does too. Second is being married to a man who wasn't a follower of the Lord. Readers will witness Gideon change and grow throughout Be Still My Soul, and in my own life, I am so incredibly grateful and thankful that a wonderful change has happened with my husband. About a year and a half ago, he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and there has been much rejoicing in our home ever since!

    4) Where did the names come from?

    For historical fiction, I always like to find names that were around during a particular time. For this series, I searched for names that appeared in the Appalachian region, like Elsie and Lonnie. With the men, Jebediah and Gideon, it just felt natural for folks to call them Jeb and Gid and it's always fun when readers use those nicknames as well. Whenever a reader writes me to tell me how the story effected them or what the characters meant to them, it truly touches my heart. It's been such a blessing!

    5) Do you know any fiddlers, and can they play the Last of the Mohican's theme?

    Great song and I know some fiddlers 

    6) Can they play it over the phone for me?


    7) Oops, wandering...sorry...what is next for you as a writer? Will there be a Book Three in this series, or will you go in a different direction?

    There will be a book 3! I've turned the manuscript into my editor, gotten the green light on a title and am eagerly anticipating the cover art! I'm as excited about this story as the first two. I really hope readers enjoy the final stage in Lonnie and Gideon's journey.

    8)Is Be Still My Soul your first novel, or is that hiding somewhere in your house?

     I have manuscripts in my house that will never see the light of day and I'm so glad! Glad for that time of being able to just write as part of the learning process, even though the results weren't very good.

    9) What advice would you give newbs ...sorry, pre-published authors...who are just starting down Publication Road? 

    There are so many key elements to developing the craft of writing. Joining critique groups, going to conferences, studying craft books and reading great fiction are all great ways to hone those writing skills.
    And above all else, enjoy the journey. I've been on this road for years and I know many others have as well. I've learned more during this process than I ever expected. At times it was easy to get discouraged and just when I felt maybe nothing was going to ever happen, God carried me through a valuable lesson because His timing is perfect.

    10) And our last question, Ms Bischof, have you ever wanted to be a natural redhead?

     Yes! You know my secret shame. I would LOVE to have naturally red hair! I died it red once, and it didn't turn out to well. I haven't colored it since and in fact, actually cut my own hair. That's code for "don't look to closely" 

    Thank you SO much, Joanne! 
    I'm looking forward to the next book, 
    Though My Heart Is Torn, when we join Lonnie and Gideon as their story continues.

    If you want to get to know Joanne better, visit her at


    Well folks, that is IT for TFTR until after Christmas.
    Have a wonder filled, joyous, Christ centered Christmas. I'll see you back here before New Year's when I'll share my thoughts and goals for 2013. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet Bonnie Grove!!

Hey Redheads, I want to introduce you to a woman who has a special place in my heart, Bonnie Grove.

I love her hat, I wonder why she's wearing it, hmm...Today is the last day of her blog hop, and I am quite privileged to have Bonnie land here from all that hopping.

Bonnie, just like moi, is a Canadian and so I'm already thinking that at least one person will know what I mean when I say "So, do you want a double double?" 

A few weeks ago, I saw on the blog,, that Bonnie's book "Talking to the Dead" was free on Amazon. So I skipped over to Amazon and downloaded it.
I put it on my tablet and tried to figure out when to read it. Late one Saturday afternoon, when the house was half empty, I "cracked open" the book...and closed it exactly 5 1/2 hours later. 
Talk about riveting!!!

So, here's a blurb about TTTD:

An Interview with Bonnie Grove, Author of Talking to the Dead

About Talking to the Dead
Twenty-something Kate Davis can’t seem to get this grieving widow thing right. She’s supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead she’s camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep—because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.
            Is she losing her mind?                  
            Kate’s attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an “eclectically spiritual” counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, an exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate’s fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past…and Kevin begins to shout.
            Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on, in this tender, quirky novel about embracing life.

Bonnie, tell us a little about your main character.
            Kate Davis is having the ultimate bad day, and is living out some intensely strange circumstances. My goal was to create a character that reflects real women – messing up, but stronger than she knows. Kate is a fighter deep down in her soul—she just doesn’t know it yet.
            She has her own, unique way of navigating through the world. It isn’t an easy way—but it is her way and she owns it. To me, that’s heroic. To bear tremendous loss and heartache, yet remain true to herself to the end.

Please tell us about yourself.
            I’m a happy Canadian. I’m married to a guy I love, and we have two children who are so well behaved I have to ask for I.D. when they come home from school each day. I just can’t believe they are mine. Our house is usually a mess, and one summer we lost our dog (Poppy the Pomeranian) twice in one day. We found her both times, she’s fine and forgave us.
            I think in stories, and have a hard time understanding the world without them. I have recently rediscovered how much I love poetry and am thumbing my nose at all those English teachers who told me I didn’t really understand what the poem meant.
            I’ve often thought about getting out of the publishing gig and just going to work for Taco Bell, but I’m too far gone, so write I must.

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
            Wow, I’d love to say no. That I just make it all up based on something I saw on the bus one day.
            I recently wrote a list of images and ideas that reoccur in each of my novels. It was a long list that included things like forests, narrow paths, isolation, and mental illness. Cheerful, eh?
            At this point, I can’t pretend I’m not working out my issues via story. The plot in Talking to the Dead is fiction, and I’m not Kate Davis, but if there is such a thing as an emotional biography, I think that is what I write.
            The other item found in each of my novels? Humour. The day we can’t have a laugh in the middle of it all is the day we’ve just given up.

How did you come up with the story for Talking to the Dead?
            I’d love to say I was so savvy I plotted and wrote the novel in a few weeks—like those genius writers I hear so much about—but the truth is, I had a question nagging me, and I started writing out that question in story form.
            I used to work with at risk families (families that experience a host of social and economic disadvantages) and it dawned on me that I couldn’t judge what a person was trying to accomplish simply by watching their behavior. That, often, what I thought they were doing and what it was they were actually trying to do were very different things. In other words, that behavior doesn’t always match up with intention. So the question was, if behavior isn’t an indication of intention, then what is the best way to truly understand a person?
            Did I answer the question? Probably not, but this story is an attempt to explore that question. I’d love to hear from readers and have them tell me if I hit on any sort of answer.

What are you working on now?
            I’ve recently completed a novel entitled The Season In Between that is now in my agent’s hands. It’s the story of an East Coast island, a dying fishing community that is confronted with the lies of their past.
            I’ve started work on another novel, the working title is Trillium, about a woman who stumbles upon a magical town, and must fight to save it.

Where are people getting Talking to the Dead?
            Until December 17th, you can download the e-book version of Talking to the Dead for only $2.99!


            If you’re a fan, like I am, of books made out of paper, you can always order the paperback of Talking to the Dead at Amazon, Barnes & , or your favorite brick and mortar bookshop.
            Thank you so much for letting me hang out with you today! 

I HIGHLY recommend you skip over to Amazon and download TTTD for 2.99,
 because today is the last day you can get such a good deal.

Have fun and happy reading, and thank you Bonnie, for joining us today!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some days, you just need to find a tree, sit down and rest.

Lyrics by Twyla Paris, one of my
 all time favourite songs.

"The warrior is a child"

Lately I've been winning battles left
 and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears
And they don't know that I go running
 home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child
Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing
Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies
That lay me at His feet
And they don't know that I go running
 home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child
And they don't know that I go running
 home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile
'Cause deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

El Grande Announcement!!

Drum roll please..........

I have TWO, that's right, T-W-O fabulous guests coming for a visit to TFTR!!

On December 17th, Tales from the Redhead will host Bonnie Grove for her blog hop, featuring her awesome book "Talking To The Dead". 
And my fellow Redheads, I read this book in ONE SHOT! 5 hours of page turning, sleep ignoring, 'what happens next' ing awesomeness!! 
Bonnie knows her stuff and takes you on a heart breaking roller coaster ride and leaves you grinning and satisfied at the end. 

Talking to the Dead is available as an e-book for a MERE 2.99 on Amazon.

Here's a bit about Bonnie...

Bonnie Grove started writing when, as a teenager, her parents bought a typewriter (yes, during the age of dinosaurs). She clacked out a terrible romance novel filled with typos and bad grammar that her mom loved, and she's been turning out improving prose ever since.
Her non-fiction, Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You, came out of her experience working with families in crisis. She believes people have the knowledge and ability to make changes in their life without being told what to do or how to do it. And, oddly enough, has managed to write a book that helps people do just that.
Her novel, Talking to the Dead, came out of that crazy place inside her head that has more questions then answers. Questions about grief, love, sex, God, therapy, and how laughter can make everything seem okay--even if just for a moment or two. It has won a few awards, and has been internationally published in languages she doesn't speak.
Bonnie has completed several novels since Talking to the Dead, and is currently working her butt off to ensure they see they make their way into your hands.
Bonnie is married to a cute guy named Steve, they have two children, and they make their home in Saskatchewan.

Yes, she's Canadian!!!!!


And then on December 20th, I'll be joined by Joanne Bischof , who wrote the lyrical, sweeping, tear producing (I was alone, all right!!)Appalachian romance, Be Still My Soul.
Which I read in two shots, not because I was sick or anything (I was) and not because I fell asleep (I did).

Here's a bit about Joanne:

Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home schooled children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life.

What is Heartfelt Fiction?

From moments that are joyous to moments that are bittersweet and even in the midst of a broken heart, with paper and ink as my medium, I write to illustrate love—the gift that was given to us by the One who loves the most.

What is this love?
I have rejoiced through countless blessings–my amazing children, a husband that I adore, and the privilege to write every day.
Like so many others, I have experienced the full spectrum. I know what it’s like to be so completely broken, I didn’t know if the sun would truly rise the next morning. But I felt God move in a miraculous way. A way that forced me to leap into His waiting arms. A place where safety and peace reign.
I’ve experienced the abundant mercy of Christ when he reached down, picked me up, and held me until the tears subsided. I’ve encountered the promise that out of brokenness springs new life. And in that new life, I discovered the overwhelming urge to rejoice and praise the God who saves.

The God who was, who is, and who is to come.
We all have ways of bringing offerings to His feet. Words and the telling of story are one of those gifts that I lay down. It is my constant prayer that they honor and please Him. It’s my desire to write about characters who have nowhere else to go but up. About characters desperate for God’s strength, mercy, and forgiveness.

I love her, even if she doesn't know a single word of "Oh Canada".

Our next blog will have interviews and insights with Bonnie and Joanne , and their honest answers to my question "Are you sad that you aren't a natural redhead?"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

No, I didn't land an agent, but it's STILL big news!!

Hi kids, I am going to taunt you all with an announcement, but NOT today!

You are going to have to put up with a few teasers until Monday, when I annouce The Big News.

Until then, watch here and my Facebook page for what's going on.

But no, it isn't a recipe.

I'm not pregnant.

I'm not moving to Santa Fe or Phoenix, or even, ohhhh wouldn't it be great, Flagstaff!!

Come back on Monday and see.... 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When in doubt? Delete the volcano.

I was reading a blog earlier today and you know how sometimes something just doesn't look right?
So you look at the beautiful pictures of Victorian furniture and refined fanciness at its finest?
And you think...huh? What is wrong with this picture?
And you keep looking.
And looking.
And there it is!
In amongst the photos of fine wood mantels, and florally drapery with cabbage roses and whatnot, was a rather hideous cartoon of what?
A flower?
A bird?
Perhaps a small island with an erupting volcano.
And a cat.
How perfect!
Nothing says swanky, elegant, 200 year old mansion and history popping from every corner like...a volcano and a cat.
Now, mind you, I like my kid's drawings when they were tots, just as much as the next Mom, but, umm, on a blog?
Was this blog discussing the effects of Krakatoa on Polynesian society?
After a while, I went back to the blog, and the volcano cartoon was gone. And it totally saved the look of the blogpost!!

So this brings me to my point.

He doesn't say "come into my presence once you've got it together and are worthy of me".
No, He says "come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you..."
A good talking to?
A kick in the butt?
He said "I will give you rest."

Don't cloud the beauty of an offering with something that doesn't belong.

Like the assumption that He isn't listening.
Or the thought that you should take back what you gave Him and help Him out.
Don't give Him something all pretty and fancy, and then stick a volcano in the middle.

If things are on the altar, and you are asking His blessing, delete the volcano and get the junk out of the way.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spent like someone else's money.

The last few weeks have been LONG.
I got home from Bolivia on November 3rd. 4th. Whatever, I got home that weekend.
It took me 10 days to recover from the exhaustion and the tummy bug.
Then I began a re-finishing project for a charity auction that our son's hockey team is obligated to participate in and donate to. 
Was that a misplaced preposition?

What.Ev. Er.

So, on top of everything else, I worked on this:

It was a scratched up, dirt stained, ribbon mahogany, 120 year old Victorian mess.

It needed a huge amount of work, but not too huge. I've seen worse.

 Like last year's auction project. Two matching bird's eye maple pieces. That white glare on the top wasn't glare. It was water damage.

Kind of makes me want to cry.

But, after 45 hours (give or take...)
This is what was sold at this year's auction.

For 500$.
The team gets all the proceeds.

And what about last year's pieces?
See that hand carved scroll work?
That took a month.

They all right as well.

So, now I can breathe. And clean my house. And get caught up on all the laundry...

And start scouting antique auctions for next year's project!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cheesecake for Lindsay!! Complete with pictures!

Alrighty class, get your aprons and let's shake this joint!
It's time to make Jennifer's Triple Chocolate Cheesecake.

First, take 15 shortbread cookies and grind them to crumbs.

Then mix with 4 Tablespoons of melted butter.
Press into the bottom of a well greased 9 or 10 inch springform pan and bake on the centre rack at 350F for 6 minutes.

Once this is done, put a pyrex pie pan 2/3's full of water on the *bottom rack*, in the centre, of your oven. Trust me. 

Take 3 blocks of cream cheese (NOT the spreadable kind!!!!) and mix with one cup of white sugar.
I prefer Lactantia, but any kind will do.

Whip until smooth, then add 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream (not lite, really, what is the point?) and 1 Tablespoon of vanilla. Sorry about the yellowish hue there.

Next, you're going to add the chocolate chips.
I use 1 cup each of milk, dark and white chocolate. You can vary the ratios depending on your taste preferences. Mix well, because the chocolate chips like to sink.

Pour the batter into the pan and it should look like this. Only, again, not so yellow. Imagine it's white. Thanks.

Now, put the springform pan on the centre rack, right over the pan of water. Loosely cover the springform pan with a sheet of foil.
Bake for one hour. If the centre of the cake is not set, but is a bit jiggley, you're doing fine. If not, leave if for another 10 minutes. Once the centre is almost set, turn off oven and do not open the door again.

Cheesecakes are not cakes, but custards. Therefore, they don't need to feel or look cooked, but simply "set".
Humidity is a huge factor in cheesecakes, and since we're not adding all kinds of stabilizers and goop, cracks are probable.
Once the oven has cooled, put the cake in the fridge , either for a few hours or overnight.

The ganache!
Ganache is a fancy word for glaze. It is just cream and chocolate, and it's totally up to you if you want to add it.

On LOW, or in a double boiler (ask a grown-up) warm 1/2 cup of whipping cream. Add 2 cups of chocolate chips and let everything melt. 
You must not try to rush this, because if the chocolate scorches, you can't melt it.
Mix until smooth and pour over the cheesecake.


I need a knife!

To serve, run a warm, sharp knife around the rim and unlock the pan. 

Please, cut the cheesecake and put it on a plate.
And at least use a spoon.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oat Scones for Joanne Bischof.

Today's cooking lesson is for a Major family favourite , 'oat scones'. 
I always double this recipe because my off-spring have healthy appetites.


Grease a pyrex pie pan


2 cups oats
2 cups white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg

Mix and pour into pan. Batter should be somewhat milky, not dry, but not liquidy.
Bake for 30-33 minutes until top is golden.

Cool and serve.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A writer's Thanksgiving prayer.

Dear Father, 

Thank you that the voices in my head aren't real.
I mean, I know they're REAL, but thank you that I can make them stop talking if I write down exactly what they say.

Thank you that I have friends who understand when I call them up and say "What kind of rope was best for hanging in 1892?"
Or, "how deep does a knife have to go to draw a whole whack of blood?"
Or even, "if I wanted to kill an entire family really fast, what is the best way?"

Thank you that they don't call my mom and have a chat about me.
Or the police.

Thank you that I know the best kinds of chemicals to use when I burn down a mansion.

Thank you that my heroes know how to ride horses and I don't have to explain spurs.

Thank you for Pinterest so I can post photos of cowboys and Native Americans and NOT get in trouble. Hello? Research! Duh.

Thank you for chaps.

Thank you for ridding society of corsets.

Thank you for the ability to ruin someone's life, slowly make it all better and then just when things look good, make it even worse.

Thank you for getting someone to invent chaps.
Oh, I said that already?
Huh. Chaps seem to be on my mind...

Thank you for fresh air, sunshine and wide open spaces.

Thank you for modern things like Pinterest so I can post pictures of chaps.

Thank you for crit partners who say things like "Um,  she already kissed him in the previous paragraph."
And who understand when I say "Well, she needs to kiss him again."
And they say "Oh, sounds good to me." 
And I say "Then the bad guy comes riding through the front door and shoots the chandelier down on top of them."
And they say "Perfect!! Then he can kidnap her and hide her in a cave!"

Thank you for imaginations, computers and notebooks.

Thank you for allowing us to be creative.
Thank you that we can offer it back to You.

Thank you for everything.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh, so you're a writer are you?

This is for all my writer friends who aren't published ...YET.

Yes, you *are* a writer, if you've written something and put your name on it!!

Think of it this way...

If you sing, do people ask for a CD?
If you paint, do people ask about your next museum show?? 
If you dance, do people expect a pas de deux at Roy Thompson or Carnegie Hall?
If you sail, do people expect you to go solo to Hawaii?
If you carve, do they ask to see a cedar totem?
If you like to travel, do they ask why you haven't discovered a new country?   
If you like to make snowballs, do they ask if you make ice hotels in Denmark?

Don't let the "do you have a book on a shelf in a bookstore and a big cardboard cut-out of your hero? Oh you don't? Then you're not a writer" comments mess with your head!!

Do you have files all over the place with lives in them? Do you know people who don't exist?
Have you thought about murder, mayhem, theft, rescue, dragons, faeries, heroes, war, fire, water, kisses, embraces and even vengeance of Biblical proportions?

Then , my friend, you so totally and completely are a writer. 

Oh yes, you are!

For now...

Here is the team, and NO, I was not about to rob anything! The dust was awful!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bad hair, bad lighting, an itchy nose and Take Three!!!

Here's a vlog. 
I look like an idiot.
My nose was itchy.
And I'm in a purple haze...

Hey, Happy Friday!!

Oh yeah, there's hockey gear everywhere!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hmmmm. What do you think?

I've been trying to think of a statement that best illustrates why I write and what I'm trying to say.

What do you think of this?

A HUGE thank you to Michelle Griep at for the link to the website