Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Thursday, August 30, 2012

25 things about me, plus a bonus.

I'm borrowing this idea from Lindsay Harrel and Melissa Tagg...

But I'm tweaking it a little. I'm going to use the whole alphabet!

A-Atlantic Ocean-I live an hour from the ocean, but hardly ever go there. Stuuuupid!

B-Boys- we have THREE!!! 18, 14 and 9.

C-I am CANADIAN!!! Can you tell I'm proud of my country?

D-Dog, we have one, his name is Tippy.

E- Endurance, I need some.

F-Fish, we have ...some. How do you count fish?

G-God, is my rock and refuge, my everything.

H-Help, I beg for it and I appreciate those who give me the help I need!

I-Indians- My book has Navajo Indian culture all through it.

J-My name is Jennifer! I'm married to John.

K-Katie, our daughter, age 21.

L-Lakes. Ew. Don't like them. Mushy bottoms.

M-Major, what an awesome family name. We have our own adjective!

N-Normal. I ain't.

O-Opera, someday I want to sing the Revenge Aria. And NOT blow it.

P-Popular-see normal.

Q-Quesadillas. LOVE them!!

R-Rock star. When no one is looking, my husband pretends to be one.

S-Seriously pursuing a writing career.

T-tour, as in road tour. Just did one, it was TERRIFIC!!!

U-Unbelievable all the friends I have made since I jumped on the runaway horse of writing.

V-Victory, in Jesus and in this world of writing, someday.

W-Wild hearts can't be broken. Great movie. How I see life.

X-X-ray, John had one at the dentist last week.

Y-Youth. I wish my joints felt like they had some!

And our bonus letter???

Z-My maiden name, "Zarifeh", it's an Arab name. My mom married Saad Zarifeh when I was 12, he is AWESOME!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Who do I admire?

I have an actual paying job as a writer for our local paper. I'm in a team of op-ed types and three of us are given a question and our responses are put in the paper. It's called "Community Triple Take" and it's been a great source of writer's ed for the last 4 years. I get alot of positive feedback from friends at church and the kid's schools. Every once in a while, I get a some not so great feedback, but we can't all be Joan Didion or Ann Landers, can we?

This week's column is on "who I admire the most".
Here is my response.

She was born in 1942 in Alberta , the eldest of three children to not the best parents on the planet. She had problems with her knees and spent months with plaster casts on each leg. In her teens she contracted scarlet fever and over time, lost ninety percent of her hearing. Her mother, remember, not the best example of a parent, accused her of faking her hearing loss for attention. I don’t know about you, but if I was going to fake something for attention, it would be a mild stomach ailment. She married at the tender age of eighteen and was a mother by the time she was nineteen. Another child followed two years later, and while her third was on its way, her young husband felt the need to be free of his responsibilities. At the age of twenty two, she was a mother of three little ones and newly divorced. She returned to Mr and Mrs Lousy Parents because where else could she go? After going away to the big city to get trained for a job that would allow her to support her children, she brought them to live fulltime with her. She worked very hard and had very little of the fun that twenty-somethings like to have. Day to day life was her children, her job and her faith. A decade after her world came crashing in, she married a fabulous, exotic, dashing man. She went from a housing project to a house with a yard, a cherry tree and the peace that comes with having someone love her enough to leave cultural conventions behind and marry her despite a few disapproving nods. The burden of providing for her children lessened, but so did the strength of her hearing. She was one of the first people in her region to have a dog specifically trained to help the deaf, and he was a treasure! He was as smart as a whip and did his job very well, unless there was a cat out on the lawn, then he struggled a bit. As all good things do, his time with her came to an end and he was missed greatly. After being tested and tested again, she received a cochlear implant. After decades of hearing very little, she was “switched on” and instantly had 100% hearing! Now she can listen to her favourite music and speak to her grandchildren on the phone. She’s travelled all over the world and is planning a very special trip next spring with her daughter. When trials came her way, she kept going. Her faith never wavered. She is an amazing woman to so many people, but to me, she is “Mom”.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

The arrival of fear... Oh, and soccer!

How is this for scary? Our heroine has fallen asleep , but her nightmares are only seconds away. This is how I wrote the arrival of fear. Tell me what you think.

With silent, merciless cunning, its hackles came alive and its appetite was whetted. Hungry for the sounds of terror on which it fed, it reached tentacles up and felt the air for signs of life. It climbed out of its hiding place in the trunk and slithered toward where she lay, peaceful and undefended. It had her alone and was ready to feast on her deepening weakness and disappointment. The vile darkness unleashed its jagged claws and crawled up behind her. Blood stained teeth dripped with an insatiable hunger for triumph as foul breath whispered dread down her neck. Slowly, as her mind bid farewell to lamplight and safety,  evil wormed deep inside her hidden places. Within seconds, darkness claimed victory and Sarah was dragged back into Hell. 

We're off to Provincials today, it should be fun and nail biting at the same time. #3 is his team's keeper and frankly, he's pretty darn good! It's a chance to sit outside, out of the mole/writing room, and enjoy the sunshine. Chat with friends and maybe even pay attention to the game. Tomorrow the games are WAY more important, so I'll leave the stress home today, and bring the jumper cables, for my nerves, tomorrow.

Question....what sports could you watch 24/7 and which bore you to tears?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Query hook sentence, opinions???

Thanks to the fab-yoo-luss Heather Sanseri for the help and prodding to get this going.

What dost thou think of the following hook sentence?

 Sarah Monroe is rescued from years of unjust imprisonment, but can she survive the difficult simplicity of living in freedom or let her long hidden secrets destroy both her and the man who's given her one last chance at love?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What my Mom is giving me for my 50th birthday next year.

Now, I have NEVER had a fancy vacation. Ever. No schmancy hotels, no spa treatments. I either am away on a missions trip with ONE day of the finer things.  Or on vaycay with the kids at Deaf Camp. Or staying with friends....


This is "Happy Birthday Jennifer"


Monday, August 20, 2012

Home at last!!!

We're HOME!!

I enjoyed (ish) our vacation. But let's remember, I was away for 2 weeks before I came home and went away for 11 days.

Super ultra TIRED!!!!!!

I was so very happy to crawl into my bed on Satuday night and only felt minor twinges of guilt for sleeping throough church on Sunday morning.
The nice thing is I'm married to a guy who understands the need to fall splat on the floor and unpack days after we get home. He was all hyper about cleaning the van yesterday, but ewww, who wouldn't be? After 2 weeks with 3 boys and travelling 18 hours, over two days, each way??

The cottage was acceptable, and the roof held back the rain.

But...home IS better.

 I love that my tea can be served in mugs that I like (tall and hold alot of tea) and my toaster toats both sides at once.
I can soak in my tub and not worry about getting an as yet un-named tropical disease.
Each burner on the stove works.
There are no weird flying things attacking me.
The neighbour's dog doesn't bark at 5 am. Every. Stinking. Day.
I can do my laundry.
I can do the boys' laundry.
No one is serving moose and venison steaks.
My bed is not made of rusty bed springs and a WW2 vintage mattress. Okay, I lied. The Korean War.
And the bestest best thing about being home????


What is YOUR best thing about home?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's a happy day...

And I thank God for the weather.
It's a happy day, and I'm living it for my Lord.
It's a happy day, and things are gonna get better,
Living each day by the promises in God's Word.

That is a camp song I learned about ...insert awful number of years ago here.
That song always perks me up and makes me feel eleven years old.

There are blue skies and the lake is like glass today. We're leaving tomorrow and I couldn't be happier, well, I could, if we were flying home. But NOT on United! Ha!

I am tired of suitcases. I've been living in mine for a month, with a 4 day break at home. I miss my friends, I miss my bed. And honestly, I miss my husband! Yes, he's here, but ...anyway...ahem. Fans self.

When I get home, I'm going to start putting together my query. GAH!!!!
I also have to outline , on my hard drive, the books that have come together and are ready to be started.
And I have to finish the sequel to the one I just typed "The End" on last night.

I am being forced to change the title of my book. Someone else has a book out withalmost the same title as my MS.
MY title was "The Secret Keepers".
There's already a book out called "The Secret Keeper".

Since mine has issues in it like a) the harm that comes from not telling the truth, b) hiding someone you love from those who want to kill him, c) PTSD and d) learning to admit when you've fallen n love...I thought my title was darn tootin' good!

I've danced with a few different alternatives and have come up with "A Night in the Darkness".

 Our heroine has lived half of her life under a cloud of pain and trauma, our hero has a history of being hunted and despised because he's Navajo, both have deep secrets they're trying to hide. Upon her arrival at her sister's ranch, and finally to safety after twenty years of horror, our heroine has a nightmare and runs out into the darkness. Our dashing hero, who's sworn off love ever since his wife died, even though he once promised her he'd remarry, goes out in the dark to find our heroine. Once he finds her, she thinks she's going to be attacked, but instead meets the kindest soul she's ever known. He brings her safely home, on his big black horse and she is smitten, but terrified. He is also in big trouble, because he promised God he'd wait for "the broken one". And here is our heroine, covered in scars and trauma. He knows that she is The One and he's a wreck, because he disobeys God's plan for them both.

So, I think, given the themes of redemption, darkness and recovery...not to mention a great love story, I'm going to submit the MS as "A Night in the Darkness".

People say writing the book is the easiest part, and they're right!!!

Also, I'm wondering about asking a few of my favourite blog/writer/Facebook/email/real life friends to guest blog here. Yes, I'm nervous as heck to ask, but I want to have my friends over and hang out.

What is the etiquette on guest bloggers and if you read this blog, YES, you're one of the ones I want to ask!!
So, ponder and pray and tell me what you think.

Monday, August 13, 2012


What a craptastic day.

Fought with the spouse.
None of the emails I sent about translations have been returned.
Argued with the spouse.
Felt sorry for myself.
Went to join the SIL for kayaking only to find she'd already gone.
Dropped the camera in the lake.

Tomorrow should be an improvement.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I do NOT want to go away again!!

We were supposed to leave early this morning for Ontario. We're leaving tomorrow instead.

I don't want to travel again. I know, such a first world problem!

I am TIRED. 2 weeks on the road has exhausted me. Taking 3 days to get home has left me weary. I do not want to go anywhere. I don't even want to put in my contacts.

But it's time with John's very elderly parents that cannot be put off to another day. She's 85, he's 95. And I love them, so I guess 16 hours in a van with 3 boys will be the price I pay for time with his parents.

But if they weren't going to be there? I'd go on strike. Just like a spoiled twit. Well, not "just like" a spoiled twit. I'd BE the spoiled twit with whom all other regular twits are compared.

Ohhhh. Wait. There's an antique market there...Hmmmm.

And I can take my notes and work on my query while at the beach.

Not so bad afterall.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hearing the screams...

I hope you *all* enjoyed the photos, I can guarantee that each one of them was taken at a temperature of at least 95F. In the shade. By a melting Canadian.

Bosque Redondo. Which is Spanish for "round grove of trees".
Or the name in Navajo, which is "Hweeldi".

Let me back up a little.
John and I drove to Halifax to get me to my noon flight to O'Hare. We'd just had 3 lovely days ALONE while the boys were at camp. It was like being young and goofy again. We could say anything, not worrying about what impressionable ears would hear. We misbehaved. We laughed ourselves silly. And we did other ...anyway...stuff.

I slept on the way to Halifax, we'd left the house at 7am for the 3 1/2 hour drive. The flight was on schedule and I made it through Customs and Security just fine.
Or so I thought.
Boarding ended at 12:15.
At 12:12 , as I boarded the plane, I got flagged and had to go back and have a body scan.
Listen, after 4 kids and an unscheduled visit with a pig in a ditch in Bolivia, with my jeans around my ankles...who gives a hoot about a body scan??
I made the flight and off we went.

I had a 4 hour layover in Chicago and then the flight was delayed another 4 hours. I arrived in OoooooOOOooklahoma at 1am. But I did not care!!

I met our adorable hostess, LaVonna, and was ever so nicely served green chili enchiladas. At a rather late hour. Welcome to the South. Eat it anyway.

Our first day was from Oklahoma City to Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
We, that would be Karen, Kathy and I, stopped in Amarillo for a steak dinner. That's where the BIG man ate a 72 ounce steak and should have stuck with the salad. He was beet red, sweating and couldn't walk very well.
How is eating 4 1/2 POUNDS of red meat something to wave above any other actually useful achievements???
Anyway, after a lovely drive and a stay in Santa Rosa, New Mexico (where I discovered my WiFi wasn't working), we headed for Fort Sumner.
It took some exploring of the rather umm, worn out town of Fort Sumner and a stop at the Billy The Kid Museum to even FIND the Bosque Redondo Memorial.
We arrived to find only one or two other vehicles and no one in sight. We wandered outside for a while until Kathy, who'd already predicted "I'm probably going to get militant " needed some air conditioning.
Karen went with her and I stayed outside taking notes and pictures.

Walking around, I saw so little vegetation that could be of ANY use. Very few trees and just the alkali rich Pecos River. Alkali means poison. The utterly useless river water was lethal to anything who consumed the water. Horses, plants, people.

The unprepared US Army drove 9000 people to a prison camp, with no water.
The land was desolate. The Fort's was barely ready. Only Army personnel and their wives had housing. So as the Navajo, or Dine, arrived, they were forced to dig holes in the frozen ground to escape the cold and wind.
At it's longest, the route was 450 miles.
Along the Walk, Spanish settlers, Comanches, Utes, any other enemies of the Navajo were ALLOWED to steal women and children as slaves.
Young men were shot if they tried to save their wives or sisters, or their children.

Some Navajo never surrendered and were safe from the Army. They escaped into the Grand Canyon, Utah and other areas further north than Canyon De Chelly. (Pronounced Canyon d'Shay).

From January 1864 to June of 1868, approximately 3000 of the 8500 Navajo prisoners died.
A full twenty percent of the entire Navajo died in 4 1/2 years.

The worst thing I learned, the catalyst for a whole new story, was the following:

During the early days of the Walk, two young women were taken behind a rock.
As the the whole crowd of their people looked on, and their husbands stood by, unknowing, both young women were shot dead.


They were slowing everyone down.

They were in heavy labour and about to give birth. The soldiers refused to wait until the babies were born.
Hundreds of people screamed in terror after the gunshots rang out. Then they were forced to keep marching.

I cannot believe for one split second that the devil didn't dance that day.

I already have the book outlined.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Great Indian Fry Bread Road Trip. Part One.

A mirage on I-40

   Welcome to where?  

   This man ate a 72 ounce steak. We thought he was going to have a heart attack.

You never know when you'll find a research gem. This is a collection of pre-WW1 barbed wire. As in, 1860's barbed wire used in ranches in Arizona...

Buffalo at a rest stop in Oklahoma. His nose was 8 inches across.

Almost to Bosque Redondo. Or as the Navajo call it, "Hweeldi".

The field where General Sherman, Barboncito and Manuelito signed the treaty in 1868 that freed the Navajo and allowed them to be escorted home, with gifts and supplies.

An artist's rendition of the Long Walk, January 1864.

Map of the various routes that the Army herded the Navajo toward the Bosque.

Some of the completely unfertile land that the Army expected the Navajo to turn into lush farmland.

A memorial from visiting Navajos to their ancestors.

Imagine crossing this, in Winter, on foot and for 450 miles. While they walked, the Army ALLOWED the enemies of the Navajo, and also any Spanish settlers who wanted to, to steal women and children for slaves. Less people to take care of made for less trouble along the way.

Window Rock, Arizona.

 Me and Miss Rena at church. No, I wasn't being pinched, even though it may appear so. She was a sweetheart.

Jesus and His sheep.

Me and Helen Yazzie. Her great-grandparents hid from the Army and survived the Walk.

The sisters who made it all possible, Karen Antone, and Kathy Antone Barber.

Where my heroine meets her prince.

The hills above Sedona.

"Second and third level chief pattern" Navajo blankets at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

I started teasing these two that they were from the BigHair Tribe of Oklahoma.

Melting alive and being blinded by the Arizona sun at the Heard Museum.

Why can't my husband study THESE kinds of trees???

Playing a fun game of "who drove the farthest?"

Cactus. Hello pain.

My ranch outside Flagstaff. Okay, not *mine*. But kinda.

Johannah, Lucinda and the always poorly behaved and very much loved Helen Yazzie. My Navajo sisters.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hola from....Ohio?


I am in Cleveland.

Tell me how I ended up HERE????

I keep telling myself  "I know God has a reason for this" but after THREE days of trying to get home and begin the story of my trip, complete with photos....I am in a Howard Johnson's eating granola bars and apples from my carry on.
Oh, and speaking of luggage. Mine will actually get home before I do.

And just so's you know. It takes two days to get home from Bolivia. Which is in the Southern Hemispere. 5000 miles from home.

Oklahoma is NOT that far!!