On one of my first trips to Bismarck Public Library, probably late in 1970, I checked out What I’m Going to do I Think. It was a new release, written by a North Dakota author with a funny last name.
My reading standards were quite high. Apparently higher than my emotional IQ. And so after I finished the book I sent the author a letter and told him I didn’t like his book.
Months later, on Memorial Day to be exact, the phone rang at 5 a.m. Now, my father had just undergone cancer surgery and he wasn’t doing so well. Certainly, the phone jangling in the predawn could only mean my brother was calling with bad news.
Instead, the voice on the other side of the line said, “Hi. I’m Larry Woiwode and I want to know why you don’t like my book!”
I stood by the open screen door, where flashes of lightning filled the western horizon, the wheels in my head turning slowly.
It took me a full minute to figure out the phone call wasn’t about my father, but about a cheeky letter I had written months before. The next 45 minutes were rather awkward as I tried to articulate my views of the now forgotten book, while wearing my jammies and watching gusts of wind and rain blow down the street.
Years later, Woiwode (pronounced why-would-he) told me more about his side of that phone call. He’d been at a cabin in Wisconsin working on his upcoming novel, Beyond the Bedroom Wall. He got back to New York City late and stayed up reading a stack of fan mail. He hoped to hear from someone, anyone, in his home state of North Dakota. That someone was me.
Oh, the power of words to kill or to heal. Woiwode had won the William Faulkner award for that book. He wrote for the New Yorker. He was buddies with Robert De Niro, for Pete’s sake. However, what I wrote mattered to him. What I said was a real letdown for him.
Still, Woiwode tactfully gave me some writing encouragement in that phone call. He said to forget going to college to study writing. Instead, read up on it. That summer, I read 38 books on writing. One of his most interesting pieces of advice was to do the Readers Digest Word Power quiz every month. I still do.
A few years later, my now widowed mother was in Washington, D.C. with some of her siblings. As they strolled down a street, they passed a bookshop. A new book called Beyond the Bedroom Wall was displayed in the window and they all went in and bought copies.
I almost exploded when I realized it was the book Woiwode had just finished writing the morning he called me. I still have Mom’s copy. The book sold over a million copies, and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and it was the National Book Critics Circle.
Over his lifetime, Larry Woiwode chose a path less traveled. Although he continued to write (26 books), he gave up his New York lifestyle, embraced Christianity, and moved to a farm in a windswept part of North Dakota. He became the state’s Poet Laureate in 1995, continued to write, and taught at colleges and universities until his death April 28, 2022.
In the end, I ignored his advice about college and went for my bachelor’s degree. However, over the years, I sat in on several of his book readings and found them stimulating and instructive. He continues to influence my writing.
But equally important, because of that phone call, I see stories as an extension of the author, a piece of the heart, a glimpse of the soul. So, when doing reviews, I try to be tender with truth and generous with encouragement.
Thank you, Larry Woiwode. Your passion for the written word lives on in the hearts and souls of many, including mine.
Woiwode is among my many favorite authors. Do you have a favorite author or two? Please let me know!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18. NIV
All four of my books are available online in eBook and paperback, and at bookstores in North Dakota. If a store is out, they’re usually willing to order copies for you.
These days, instead of writing, I’m collecting past blog posts into a manuscript. Reading old posts is a reminder of how exciting it was to launch this blog seven years ago. And the jitters I had about signing books in my hometown. Emotions over holiday stories and moments of inspiration from my garden bring smiles and tears.
With Memorial Day right around the corner, I wish you a blessed, sunny, adventure-filled summer.
Offering hope, inspiration and a dose of wisdom in a good read.
This weekend, we will leap an hour ahead for the summer months. For most of my life, moving to Daylight Savings Time (DST) has made me tired all summer. Oh, how I appreciated that extra hour of sleep when we fell back in October.
Age has changed that. Now I look forward to DST. We set the forty-two clocks (only a slight exaggeration) in our house and then pretend we’re still on regular time and crash for the night.
The first American to suggest changing the time was Benjamin Franklin in 1784. He thought leaping ahead would save on candle usage. It’s been hotly debated ever since. Finally, it became official with the Uniform Time Act of 1966. However, the time change still isn’t uniform because Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe DST.
“I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time.
With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” Victor Borge
Redeeming the time has become more important as I get older. The days, months and years fly by so fast that I wonder how I can stay mindful in the rush of time. How can I best use the scant moments we have?
The Bible has much to say about time. I love Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)
Ephesians 5:16 seems especially appropriate with the war ravaging the people and country of Ukraine. It states, “Make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Right now, those precious minutes spent in prayer for the refugees and leaders may be more effective than we will ever know on earth.
Through the years, I’ve picked up a couple bits of wisdom on using time. One, it’s important to slow down and discern the difference between what is urgent and what is truly important. The urgent often steals our time and the important gets left unsaid or undone.
A rule of thumb is to remember that God leads, but Satan pushes. If you’re feeling pushed and overwhelmed, it might be time to ask why. The gentle leading of God is easy to recognize because it lifts the spirit, puts a smile on the face, and peace in the heart. The comfort of His guidance makes me glad to tackle any project that lies ahead.
Okay, folks, that’s it for this month. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead so you don’t miss church this Sunday.
This winter I’ve been working on stories from a lifetime ago. Literally. The year 1957 was a watershed year in my life and I remember a lot about it. I’ve verified and documented a number of events from that era. Writing about the events of that year helps me see why I was an anxious child! And those times…ah, life was simpler back then.
March 17. A book club here in Bismarck is discussing Secrets of the Dark Closet and I’ve been invited to the meeting. Nothing makes me happier than the chance to discuss one of my novels with readers.
April 9. Find me at the Northbrook Mall Easter Show here in north Bismarck. My friend and fellow writer, Patricia Olson, will also be on hand to sign copies of her first novel, The Fountain, a magical reality story based in North Dakota.
May God multiply your days and
fill each one with blessings!
I set out to write an uplifting blog post about going into year three of the Covid pandemic. However, it began to look like the words of Charlie Brown’s parents’: Blah, blah-blah, blah-blah. What could I say that hasn’t already been chewed on a million times?
Instead, I opened a new file and began to write stories from my childhood. These, of course, have always been in my head, and I’ve told some of them before. But I’m finding that like fine cheese, some memories need to be well aged and seasoned with a long perspective before they are told.
In my twenties, when my father’s life and death were fresh and raw in my heart, my writing was all emotion. When I finally found peace with those memories, I filed them away and dealt with my mother.
Let me say up front that Mom and I didn’t have an easy relationship. When I get to heaven, I need to ask her forgiveness for doing stupid things when she was going through menopause and didn’t need a snotty teenager.
I really didn’t begin to understand my mother until after her death, which happened 35 years ago this week. Cleaning out her house back then was like picking up puzzle pieces one by one, each bringing a more complete picture of her.
During that time, a picture began to form of a young dream-filled girl. She must have tucked those dreams away when she became a desperate farmwife with a brood of kids during the Depression. She remained resilient throughout her life, left the dreaming to others, and had compassion for veterans, orphans and her grandchildren. She showed her love not with words, but through gifts made on her sewing machine or in her oven.
Today, seeing my growing up years through the wide-angle lens of time, I’m surprised at the truths that comes out. Through writing, I’ve discovered so much about my parents, siblings and extended family. Age and distance have brought the events and meaning of their lives into sharper focus.
Just as a runner thinks everyone should run, and a teacher thinks everyone should teach, and a guitar player thinks everyone should play guitar, I think everyone should write! It costs nothing but a bit of paper and time. Write for yourself or your children and grandchildren. Write plainly about one single topic and see how much insight you gain from it.
Writing about your journey and about those with whom you’ve traveled in life is the only way I know to lose yourself and find yourself at the same time. It is a gift from God that you can give yourself.
“The secret of it all is to write… without waiting for a fit time or place.” – Walt Whitman
Do you ever WONDER?
For the first time I picked a word of the year. My word is WONDER. I think it’ll take the whole year to explore the wonders of the word.
This morning, the song in my head is from Lamentations 3: “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
Did you get that? Not just a kindness here and there. God’s kindnesses never cease, for his compassions are new every morning. The words weren’t written because the author was having a good day, but in a time of national crisis. Yet, Jeremiah looked beyond the events and saw the power, majesty and kindness of God.
To me that is a wonder! This very day, the God of heaven and earth has good plans for you and me.
Have you picked a word for the year? It’s never too late. Let me know what your word is.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
There’s something magical about the quiet of a winter night, and Robert Frost captured it well in his poem. It’s these unexpected moments that make life wonder-filled. How wise we are when we recognize them and pull our little horses aside to drink in soul-reviving peace.
For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself smiling a lot. I think it’s because we’re having a bit of “normal” life.
The last few years have been rough for all of us. Our family has had so many deaths, including my brother who died on Christmas Eve year before last. The weeks before and after his advent into heaven were heavy laden. Then within weeks, the plague (Covid) wound its way through the land. The uncertainty, the illnesses, and isolation took their toll.
This Christmas, things are a bit more normal. We are out and about more. Sharing holidays with family. Doing book signings. Shopping! We even attended a few Christmas parties. It’s so wonderful to catch up with old friends!
Then, last Sunday we attended a Christmas event at church. Friends surrounded us, and my soul was stirred as over a dozen performers sang and played—piano, violin, guitar. Each song seemed to have amplified meaning. The newcomer to America singing a Christmas song in her native language. The talented 11-year-old girl who was rescued from a crack house by a couple in our church. The young couple who has overcome the recent death of a baby and a parent.
One of the songs, “Oh Come All Ye Unfaithful,” was new to me. The refreshing words were written by a young woman who couldn’t relate to the joyful and triumphant people in “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” Instead, she felt broken, weary and ashamed. In writing about her feelings, she has touched the hearts of many. You can read the story and listen to the beautiful words here:
None of us knows what tomorrow or the New Year will bring, but we can be assured that Jesus cares for us and is calling us. And we can look for joy in ordinary moments.
May God bless you with a perfectly ordinary and wonder-filled Christmas and New Year.
On November 7, eight North Dakota authors will be featured on Page Turner, an event sponsored by Humanities North Dakota. I’m privileged to be one of the authors.
This online event is scheduled from 4-5:30 p.m. CDT. There is no cost, but you must register. I signed up and found it easy to do. Here is the address: https://www.humanitiesnd.org/event-details/nov-7-page-turner-1
HND bills the event like this: “Page Turner is an entertaining and inspiring hour with North Dakota authors reading excerpts from recently published or soon-to-be-released books. Each author will read from his or her latest work.”
I went into the HND office in September to tape my segment and haven’t seen what it looks like, so I hope it’s good! At any rate, it’s a wonderful opportunity to see and hear North Dakota writers without leaving your easy chair.
Uniquely, the other writers include my friend Paulette Bullinger, who was writing her historical novel when I was working on Secrets of the Dark Closet, and Hazel Mattice, lives in my hometown, LaMoure, N.D.
Here is the full list of authors stolen from their website and abbreviated:
Jill Kandel grew up in Valley City, ND. Her forthcoming book: The Clean Daughter: A Cross-Continental Memoir, NDSU Press, February 2022.
Sarah Davis is many things…wife, mother, veterinarian, writer. She is working on her second novel as you read this.
William Heinzen lives in Bismarck, ND. Warrior of Light is his first novel.
Bonnie Staiger, is the North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate. Her second book In Plains Sight has been recently released from NDSU Press (2021).
Gayle Schuck is a North Dakota native. Her four books are all set in North Dakota. See more at www.gaylelarsonschuck.com.
Hazel Mattice lives in LaMoure, ND. She is the author of 3 novels, including The Green Door, Where there is no Whisper, and Thirsty Ground.
Paulette Bullinger and her husband have been in business in the agricultural field for over 35 years. Her first novel, Nothing Hidden, is a historical novel set southwest of Mandan.
Ron Baesler is a farm boy, physicist, pastor, missionary, seminary professor, gardener, grandfather, father and husband. Visions From the Heart is his fourth book.
Family life has sidetracked my writing ways, so work on my next project is delayed. Our daughter-in-law has been hospitalized with Covid and priorities have been in helping their family.
I have three events scheduled during the holidays:
November 27: Chamber of Commerce Dinner at LaMoure
December 3: Dickens Festival, Garrison
December 4: Touchmark Craft Fair, Bismarck
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
The Rich Life of an Author
Some people may think an author’s life is all glamour. That’s because they haven’t seen the author doing back stretches after sitting at the computer all day or lugging her books into a venue to sell. Another delusion is that publishing a book makes a person rich. I’m still waiting for that ship to come in.
Meanwhile, I am rich in wonderful experiences. Let me share what happened one afternoon last month when I spoke at a local assisted living and basic care home.
I was warned in advance that the audience wasn’t likely to buy any books, so instead of talking about my new book, Cottonwood Dreams, I told them about writing Secrets of the Dark Closet. Since Secrets was published four years ago, I’ve learned that the topic has universal appeal. Apparently, every family has its secrets.
After putting in a fair amount of time preparing the talk, I drove a few blocks to the home. Once there, I was dismayed to see most of the audience was in wheelchairs and several were asleep!
“It takes a moment to judge someone, but a lifetime to understand them.” – Tina Ng
Soon after I began, it became clear that looks were deceiving. Several people smiled or nodded as I talked. When I asked questions, they were eager to share stories. A young fellow sitting in a wheelchair at the back of the room took photos for me.
One woman was so bent over, her head was almost on her lap and one leg was all wrapped up. From time to time, she would raise up and nod at me. That tugged at my heart strings! Later, I sat with her and learned she’s in her late 90s. We had a rich conversation about family secrets and the times we live in.
When I was about to leave, there was a ruckus in the hall. After the talk, one lady had wheeled her chair through the building, taken the elevator to her room, and was dashing back. I heard her call out, “Is she still here? Can I still buy a book?” That was my one sale for the day, and though it was only $12, it was priceless.
Here’s another story. I went to the KNDR-FM studio to do a live radio interview mid-September. At 8 a.m. I usually haven’t muttered the word “coffee” by that time. Sigh.
Three days later at the Northbrook Mall Vendor Show, I learned the “sacrifice” was worth it. The first person who stopped by my table had heard the interview. She’d driven over 60 miles and arrived as the doors opened. The second person was also from out of town. She stopped by to say thank you because she’d won the book giveaway on KNDR.
Later, another woman expressed a curious interest in the Prairie Pastor Series, and then she really surprised me. She’d read the first two books and she guessed the name of the little country church on which Cottonwood Church is modeled. That delighted me, and even more so after learning that she grew up attending that church.
Lately, these wonderful encounters have been happening almost every week, and this author is feeling rich indeed.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen
or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller
October 14: Ashley, N.D. I’ll be signing books from 4-6 p.m. at Book Smart, 108 W. Main Street. I hear tell there will be a food truck parked out front!
November 7: I am privileged to be one of eight authors featured in the Humanities North Dakota Page Turner event. On Nov. 7, you are invited to watch me read a chapter from Cottonwood Dreams. The segment will air from 4 to 5:30 Central Time at https://www.humanitiesnd.org/event-details/nov-7-page-turner-1. There is no cost.
December 3-4: Garrison, N.D, Dicken’s Village Festival. More info later.
A couple days before our first son was born, we made a trip into town to see the doctor. Storm clouds mushroomed in the west. We watched as a tornado followed us for several miles before lifting.
We were blissfully unaware of the threat to the family farm. My mother-in-law was home alone with several of her kids. They hurried to the basement and knelt in prayer as the tornado roared past a quarter mile away. A torrent of hailstones hammered the farm.
We arrived home a few hours later to find that the hail had mowed down our bumper crop of wheat. Trees were uprooted. Twenty-two windows were broken in the two houses. It was a defining moment in our lives: within a couple days, our baby was born and we began to make plans to leave the farm.
But, back to the subject. During that storm, the wind was so strong that it drove shafts of wheat into a tree trunk. And yet, no one was injured. The livestock were okay. The houses and all of the farm buildings were spared.
That scene of the family kneeling in prayer? It flashed through my mind recently as we listened to the evening news.
The news gave me indigestion. Hurricanes devastated large parts of the South and East Coast. An inferno burned in California. Drought was destroyed farms in the middle states. Our enemies paraded through the streets in our military equipment. There were more Covid cases in the state than last year. Locally, every ICU bed was filled.
I thought, “Our world is in trouble. We need help!” Then I remembered the words of Jesus: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
That family kneeling in prayer many years ago? They weren’t asking a distant God for help. They prayed before every meal. They piled into the car every Sunday and attended church together. When an emergency came, they already had God’s attention.
America was founded on Christian principles, but we’ve drifted away from the things that made us a light in the dark world. It’s like the scripture from Judges 17:6: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” As a nation, we no longer see God as the king of our lives. A recent president even called us a post-Christian nation.
Columnist Star Parker has said that maybe it’s time to do some national soul-searching. I agree. We’ve swum far out into the sea of self-reliance, and it’s time to make a change. It’s time to turn back to God. We need to seek him out and to teach our children to rely on him. Then we will find the peace in the storm that Jesus promised to those who seek him.
Sept. 19 is Back to Church Sunday. Thousands of churches across the country will roll out the welcome mat that day. They can offer you a spiritual home, a place to worship God, and they are a place to nurture your faith and develop new friendships. If you don’t have a church home, check out www.backtochurch.com.
For further reading: America’s Godly Heritage by David Barton; The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel; and The History of Prayer in America by Fern Nilson.
September is a busy month, but Covid pandemic has changed some plans.
Sept. 16, speaking at Augusta Place retirement community in Bismarck. I’ve been asked to wear a mask, so that will be a new challenge.
Sept. 22, radio interview on KNDR-FM. This is to promote Cottonwood Dreams and the upcoming vendor show.
Sept. 25, Northbrook Vendor Show at Northbrook Mall, on north Washington. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sept. 28, tentatively scheduled to record a chapter of Cottonwood Dreams with Humanities of North Dakota.
Oct. 1-2, I was looking forward to traveling to the Black Hills for the S.D. Festival of Books. However, due to Covid, the conference will be online again this year.
The Bible says to count it all joy as various trials come upon you, so praise the Lord and trust him to see us through these interesting times.
“Fathers are the great gift-givers of the world!” – Sonora Smart Dodd, founder of Father’s Day.
Did you know Father’s Day was created to honor a man who raised six kids as a single parent? Sonora Smart Dodd is credited with founding the first Father’s Day. Her father, William Smart, was a farmer and Civil War veteran. He raised Sonora and her five brothers by himself after his wife Ellen died in childbirth.
The first Father’s Day took place in Spokane, Washington, on June 19, 1910. On a personal note, in researching this, I discovered that Marion E. Hay, who was then governor of Washington, likely signed the first Father’s Day proclamation. He was married to Elizabeth Muir, my grandfather Gale Muir’s oldest sister.
Sonora spent her life pushing to make Father’s Day a national holiday. That took place in 1972. That’s important, because today the traditional family is under a lot of stress. Honoring the role of fathers is more important than ever!
Dads are heroes to small children and role models for teens.
Many dads feel inadequate for their role. They need to know that just being there is important. One of the saddest tributes to a father came from John Kennedy, Jr. After the assassination of President Kennedy, his young son asked William Haddad, an associate of JFK’s, “Are you a daddy?” Haddad told him that he was. In response, little John Jr. said, “Then will you throw me up in the air?”
So dads, the simplest things are important to your kids. My father loved to fish, read novels of the Old West, and work with horses. However, few people know that he enjoyed singing. When I was a child, we had an upright piano and a piano bench filled with sheet music. We often sang together as Mom or my sister chorded the piano.
Dad belted out each song with gusto! I can still hear his rich baritone voice singing “Shine on, Harvest Moon” or “You are my Sunshine.” His favorite hymn was, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
Recently I received a packet of family mementos from a cousin. It included my dad’s obituary and the program from his funeral. “The Old Rugged Cross” was one of the songs sung that November day. It’s been fifty years since Dad passed away, but I still tear up when I hear that song.
Do you have a favorite memory of your dad? If you do, please tell him if you can, or share it with others as a way to honor him.
“God is the Father who is always home.” – Unknown
This morning a box full of Cottonwood Dreams arrived! That means that if you want autographed copies of my latest book, just let me know. You may also obtain copies at all online stores in paperback and eBook. Be among the first to post a review–all reviews are appreciated.
August 14, from 11-4 p.m. Northbrook Mall, Bismarck
October 1 & 2, Festival of Books, Deadwood, S.D.
This blog post, “In the Garden,” is dear to my heart, but first I want to announce that Cottonwood Dreams is now available! Purchase your copy at all online bookstores. May I recommend Smashwords.com for eBooks?
Want to be a part of the team to launch this third book in the Prairie Pastor series? Join “Gayle Pals” by sending me an email. Just as it takes many people to write, edit, proof and publish a book, it takes a team to let others know about it. Here’s how to be a part of the team:
As information about book signings, events, etc. become available, I’ll let you know via email. Look for Gayle’s Pals in the subject line.
In the Garden
As I write this, we’re between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, two holidays infused with flowers, music, and nostalgia. For me, May is also the launch of garden season. Our garden includes a small square behind the house and numerous pots filled with flowers and vegetables. We enjoy nurturing them all summer.
“A garden is predictable. The melody has already been written, or at least the chord progression,” Richard Brookhiser recently wrote in the National Review.
I hadn’t thought of gardens as being predictable. After all, you never know what kind of crop you’re going to get. Still, we believe (predict, hope) seeds and baby plants will grow up to be beautiful, fragrant flowers or tasty, bountiful vegetables.
One of the best-loved hymns is about gardens. C. Austin Miles wrote In the Garden in his basement with no garden in sight. Instead, what he saw was a vision of Mary at the empty tomb as described in John 20:14. The words of the song came to him in a rush. That evening he set it to music.
In the Garden
I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear, falling on my ear The son of God discloses.
He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet, the birds hush their singing, And the melody that He gave to me With in my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him Though the night around me is falling But He bids me go
Through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me And He talks with me And He tells me I am His own And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known. C. Austin Miles
When I was a new Christian, I preferred contemporary Christian music to hymns. I didn’t know that when In the Garden was written in 1912, it was modern Christian music. It also went against tradition by describing a sweet personal friendship with Jesus, rather than seeing him as an unapproachable God.
Today, I love this hymn. It has even more meaning in this interlude between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day because it was sung at my mother’s and sisters’ funerals. They were all gardeners. I like to think they’re now enjoying a heavenly garden.
“Kiss of the sun for pardon.
Song of the birds for mirth.
You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden
Than any place on earth.”
– Dorothy Frances Gurney
While, some of the most important events in the Bible took place in the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane, Revelations 22:1-2 shows that there are gardens in heaven, too:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
This May season is the perfect time to enjoy a quiet interlude in a garden, park or other pretty spot. While there, let us listen for his sweet voice and be open to his friendship.
Meanwhile, please be a pal and join the Gayle Pals team.
Spring has sprung, and it’s time to look forward to summer fun. Much of my fun takes place in our tiny gardens. The daylilies and roses are peeking through the ground and we purchased several bags of fertilizer and mulch this week. It’s a season of optimism.
I am also happy because my next book is almost finished. It took 20 months to write Cottonwood Dreams and another four months for the editing process. Those are the first two steps in publishing. Next, the manuscript will be sent off to the publisher. Waiting (and wading) through this step can take weeks or months. Then it’ll be time to let everyone know it’s available and dig out my book-signing pen.
I hope readers will like this book. All of the characters from By the Banks of Cottonwood Creek and Amber’s Hope are in it, but the main characters are Brianna Davis and Tiny Winger.
The truth is I didn’t think Brianna was very likable in the other books. She was too tall, too pretty, too successful, and too haughty. Give me someone I can relate to! However, I began to wonder how she felt about being pretty. Did it cause her problems? How did it feel to find success so young? Slowly her story was revealed to me.
I could see her standing in front of Aunt Kate’s Queen Anne house in Schulteville, clutching her sewing machine and suitcase. Brianna was dumping her glamorous life and pinning her last hope on the love and friendships she’d found in North Dakota.
Tiny began as a minor character in By the Banks of Cottonwood Creek, but he developed a following among readers. Everyone liked this shy hometown guy who wore a greasy cap and oozed common sense. Well, almost everyone liked him. Brianna didn’t. And clearly, the feeling was mutual at first. Then, they were forced to spend time together.
Cottonwood Dreams is the story of Brianna and Tiny’s relationship and the good-hearted people that surround them in both their happiest and most difficult moments. It’s about faith and friendship helping them navigate life.
It’s also about mental illness. Did you know this illness takes many forms? It’s misunderstood, difficult to diagnose and devastates families. Tiny lives under its weight, and Brianna is about to get it thrown in her face.
Writing Cottonwood Dreams kept me busy through the long months of Covid-19 isolation. Still, I heard from readers who asked how the writing was going or when the book would be published. Your comments are always Miracle- Gro™ for this writer!
Sometimes, I go through my “kudos” file and say a prayer of thanks for readers that take time to write a note. Knowing you read my book in one sitting, can relate to a character, or found encouragement in the pages means more to me than you can imagine. Thank you.
Now, here is a word of encouragement for you:
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
May you be blessed with sunshine, flowers and the warmth of God’s grace this spring.
Upcoming events: August 14, 2021, vendor show at Northbrook Mall in Bismarck. Details to follow.