Lead Me Home #bookgiveaway and $0.99 e-book special!

It’s the pinnacle of summer, brimming with homemade ice cream, backyard barbecues, kids catching fireflies in the small town park as they wait for fireworks, and evenings on the front porch swing. 

It’s 4th of July weekend, and the only thing else you need is a good book.

Well, I’m happy to oblige you with a month-long e-book sale and prize package giveaway of my novel, Lead Me Home, the perfect book for summer, set in the sweltering heat of the fictional, heartland town of Sycamore, Indiana. There’s tragedy and romance, a little suspense and heartache, a few cute cows and a lot of hope.

To enter the contest, there are two simple rules:

1) POST THE LINK to this blog post AND ONE OF THE PICTURES BELOW on Instagram or Twitter ALONG WITH THE HASHTAG #LeadMeHomeNovelSpecial.

2) Tag THREE friends in each post. 

You can enter more than once on either Twitter or Instagram, as long as you tag three different book-loving friends each time. I will collect all the names of the entrants and announce the winner on the morning of July 4th.

Winners must will receive a signed copy of Lead Me Home, the barn wood framed sign in this picture, and a $10 Dairy Queen gift card. (Sorry, I’m not giving up the typewriter!)

The great news is if you don’t win, you have through July 31 to buy the e-book for less than a buck at your favorite e-book retailer. (Click here.)

Now that’s something to set off a few fireworks about, don’t you think?


On birth and hope and Memorial Day.

She was having trouble.

My cousin and his son worked quick to wrap the twine around the hooves protruding from the mother cow as she worked to push her calf from her womb. Then they used the weight of their bodies, in rhythm with the contractions of the cow, to try to pull the calf free.

In the end, a third man had to help them before the calf finally slipped out and onto the bed of hay.

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The dazed mother began to lick her calf, each stroke of her giant tongue massaging life into it lungs, stinging, I imagine, from the first shock of air. (Can you stand the preciousness of the onlooking calf in the next stall?)

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And within the hour, the calf was standing and eating from its mother.

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I’ve been hoping for years to see the birth of a calf, and it was every bit as beautiful and amazing as I expected.

What’s more, the events played out nearly exactly as they did in the second chapter of my novel, Lead Me Home, thanks to YouTube videos and the generous input from my cousins I used during the writing process.

Many of the things that inspire my writing I have never seen in real life.

Besides spending time at my cousins’ dairy farm yesterday, I had the privilege of attending three high school graduation parties. One of them gave attendees the chance to highlight a favorite Bible verse for the graduate, and I picked this one:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ~Hebrews 1:1

Which brings me to today, Memorial Day.

The men and women who gave their lives for our country were convicted enough about the importance of freedom to give their lives for it. Hope kept them slogging across the beaches of Normandy and the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, trudging through the frigid mountains of Korea, and fighting along the Western Front.

Freedom, indeed life, is worth the fight.

As we kick back and enjoy a day off, may we keep the memory of these men and women in the forefront of our hearts and mind.

May we never forget, and may each of us be as convincted of hope as the men and women we honor today.

Here are some pictures from a trip our family took to Washington D.C. last spring.

Have a beautiful, blessed Memorial Day, friends.

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No part of our lives is wasted. Thoughts on writing and research.

I had the hardest time picking a major in college.

Everything interested me.

(Well, except for math.)

Truly.

Everything.

Just ask my roomate from back in those days.

From medicine to literature, political science to genetics, journalism to plant biology…there is so much wonder in the world…and so much to wonder at…how could I possibly choose just one thing to focus on for the rest of my life?

While I used to feel inadequate about my indecisiveness, I’m finally realizing I’m wired this way for a reason, and that writing novels is the ultimate and wonderful culmination of all my passions.

When I write a story, I can be whoever, wherever, and whenever I want

I can live on a pecan farm in Alabama (How Sweet the Sound). I can be a nationally renowned jewelry artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or South Haven, Michigan, or a Jewish boy escaping Eastern Europe in 1904 (Then Sings My Soul). I can be a dairy farmer or a pastor and live in a small town (Lead Me Home).

And all of that takes research.

Glorious, wonderful research in libraries and online, in documentaries and journals, and even in my own back yard.

I have books on pecan farming and I’ve spent hours watching pecan farmers on YouTube. 

I have binders full of lapidary design and stacks of books on rocks and minerals.

I’ve spent hours at my cousin’s dairy farm and I even hauled my family north to South Haven, Michigan one spring break when they’d have much preferred to go south.

And now I’m at it again.

I can’t say a whole lot about the current novel I’m working on, but here’s a stack of some of the reference books I’m using. The fiction ones you see are there not because of the subject, but because I’m studying those authors’ writing styles. You’ll also notice books on the writing craft, wildlife, and more.


Last week I even went on a wonderful field trip to spend a couple of hours interviewing a woman who is a wildlife rehabilitator. (So much fun!!!)

I hope you’ll be able to see the fruits of my current research sometime in 2018. Until then, I’ll share bits and pieces like this.

Mostly, I wanted to encourage you today to know that even though some seasons of our lives don’t make sense, no parts are wasted. Not even the painful parts. 

I agree with Carrie Fisher, who said to, “take your broken heart, and make it into art.”

All things work together, after all. 

That truth is more evident the more I learn, whether studying the life cycle of a pecan or the intricacies of a gemstone; the incredible instincts of rabbits and squirrels to care for their young; the way monarchs migrate for miles and across generations; the birds of prey and ducks who mate for life; and the ability of nature to heal itself. 

We live in a pretty amazing world, don’t we?

So, this is a glimpse into my writing life and what I’m working on at the start of 2017. 

It’s great fun.

It’s a lot of hard work.

And most of all–best of all–the results are a gift to you, dear readers. 

What about you?

What are you working on this year?

If you are a writer, do you like research? Why or why not?