Wednesday, August 26, 2015


We have a winner!

Congratulations to Dawn Nicol, winner of the three-book set of suspense books! Dawn, I'm e-mailing you to ask for your mailing address. Please respond, and I'll get the books out to you right away! Thanks, everyone!

Monday, August 17, 2015


Book Giveaway!

Let's give away some books for your end-of-summer reading pleasure. Today I have a complete set of the "Watcher in the Dark" suspense books: Home by Dark, Search the Dark, and Abandon the Dark. Comment with your e-mail address, message me, or email me at .Please be sure you include your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you are the winner.

I'll pick a winner on Friday at noon and announce it here and on my Facebook page,

Good luck!

Monday, July 6, 2015


I love having the opportunity to introduce you to my dear friend Lyn Cote, whose recent series of books about the Quakers has me absolutely enthralled.
Lyn and I have been friends since very early in our writing careers, and for years we've been corresponding virtually every day. I loved the first book in this new series so much that I asked Lyn to stop by and visit when the second book came out. BLESSING, Book 2 in her Quaker Brides series, is out now. I know you'll love it as much as I do! So here is Lyn to tell you about her new book:

Do you know that the Amish are just one of the several sects of “Plain People” in the US? The others are the Mennonites (Amish are a branch of this faith), Shakers, Amana, Hutterites, and Quakers. I am fascinated by this last sect which is just as old as the Amish. If you’re unacquainted with the Quakers, rent the old Gary Cooper film, “Friendly Persuasion,” which portray the Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends who are most remembered for their use of “Thee” and “Thy.” They are also pacifists and were at the forefront of social reform in the 18th and 19th centuries.
My latest book, BLESSING, is the second in my “Quaker Brides” series and portrays one Quaker woman, Blessing Brightman, and what she does about the wrongs happening all around her.  Here’s the blurb:
An impetuous love swept Blessing Brightman away from the Quaker community, into the highest ranks of Cincinnati society. But behind the glitter of ballroom and parlor, her spirit slowly eroded in an increasingly dangerous marriage. Widowed young, determined never to lose her independence again, Blessing reclaimed her faith and vowed to use her influence to fight for women’s rights and abolition.
Gerard Ramsay, scion of a wealthy Boston family, arrives in Cincinnati hoping to escape his father’s clutches with a strategy that will gain him independence. His plan is soon complicated, however, by the enchanting widow. Never before has a woman spoken as if she’s his equal—or challenged him to consider the lives of others.
In a city nearly ablaze with racial tensions quickly dividing the country, can two people worlds apart possibly find common ground?

Excerpt of the first meeting of Blessing Brightman and Gerard Ramsay in Seneca Falls, NY July 1848:
“The Quaker lady paused, letting Stoddard (Gerard’s cousin) and the blonde (Blessing’s friend) precede them. Then the Quakeress gazed up at Gerard with a look that he might have used when trying to decide whether a glass of milk had soured without tasting it. It unnerved him. He tried to step back but bumped against a stranger. He swallowed an unkind word.
She cocked her head, still studying him.
He’d had enough. He offered her his arm. "May I escort you, ma'am?" he said as if issuing a challenge.
"Yes, but I do not need to cling to thy arm. I am quite capable of walking unaided."
More startled than insulted, Gerard held back a sharp reply. As audacious as she might be, a gentleman did not contradict a lady. Peering ahead, he observed the possessive way the tall blonde clung to Stoddard's arm. He wanted to snatch up his cousin and run.
"I did not mean to be rude or uncivil," the Quakeress continued, walking beside him. "I'm sure thee offered thy arm simply from courtesy. But after this morning's meeting, I am afraid I see more clearly the proscribed manners between gentlemen and women as a form of bondage."
The equation of courtesy with bondage sent prickly disbelief rippling through him. "I beg your pardon." And with the press of the crowd though feeling bowled over, he was forced to walk faster to keep up with the other two. What would this woman say next?
She looked up at him. A mischievous smile lightened her face and he saw now that it was not just a pretty face but a beautiful face--big blue eyes, a pert nose, generous pink lips and thick chestnut hair peeping out around her close bonnet.
Her smile did something to him, something unexpected yet welcome. The heaviness he always carried lightened and he could draw breath freely. What was going on here?
"What is thy stand on abolition?" she asked, completely ignoring what should be the proscribed polite conversation between a man and woman upon first meeting. They should be discussing the weather and then move on to discreetly find out about each other’s family connections.
He stared at her. Ahead, Stoddard was chuckling at something his lady had said. The sound wrapped Gerard's nerves tighter.
The Quakeress shook her head at him, still grinning. "Very well. I don't mean to be impolite. I will follow propriety." She cleared her throat. "Gerard Ramsay, what brings thee to Seneca Falls this day?"
He swallowed and tried to come up with a palatable conventional reply. He failed. "I'm against slavery," he said instead.
"I am happy to hear that, but I asked, what thy stand on abolition is."
He was not accustomed to women who put forth opinions and her tone though cheerful, was almost cavalier as if she were making fun of him. Usually with him, people did that to their own peril. But this Quakeress had pushed him off balance. "You are in favor of abolition?" he ventured, trying to find his feet in this discussion.
She laughed softly, the sound reminding him of the children playing. "Yes, I am in favor of abolition. Has thee ever met Frederick Douglass?"
"No," he said, trying to keep up with her unexpected questions and her brisk pace without bumping into anyone. "Would thee like to meet Frederick Douglass?" she asked.
"Who is Frederick Douglass?" He looked down at her again, her face attracting him in spite of himself.
"Thee hasn't read his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave? It was published three years ago and has sold over five thousand copies."
Distracted, he wished he could overhear what the other lady was saying to his cousin. "I've not had the pleasure."
"Indeed thee hasn't read it then. It is not a pleasant book to read. It is as harsh as the slavery that bound him."
Gerard felt as if he were back on the wagon, only riding over an even bumpier road. Primarily concerned with Stoddard’s flirtation, he scrambled to keep up with the Quakeress’s odd conversation. "He's a fugitive slave then?"
"He is a free man of color who left the state and master that enslaved him."
Gerard gaped at her. Ladies didn’t discuss slavery. No woman had ever spoken so frankly to him in his life. All his usual sangfroid evaporated.
"I see my direct manner has disconcerted thee. I apologize." She smiled and said in a sweetly conversational tone, "When does thee think this hot weather will ebb?"
His mind whirled but he wouldn't bow in defeat. "Is this Frederick Douglass attending your...convention?"
"Gerard Ramsay, thee must make up thy mind whether thee wishes me to be conventional or not. I own fault. I started by speaking frankly as I always do with people with whom I'm acquainted, not strangers like thee. But this morning's discussion of the ‘Declaration of Sentiments for Women’ has made me overbold with thee--one who is not at all acquainted with me."
She tilted her head like an inquisitive robin. "I apologize. Should we try to follow convention or continue with frankness?" She looked at him expectantly as she continued walking. "Please choose. I do not wish to be rude."
He inhaled the hot humid air. Her candor irritated him and he would be cursed if he let this woman best him. "Mrs. Brightman," he drawled, ”I must confess your conversational style is completely unparalleled in my experience.”
She laughed again, again sounding almost musical.
Was this woman being artless or artful?”

Well, I always enjoy a good story with a bright articulate heroine and an equally sharp hero. Do you?
For more online about Lyn’s books:


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Cover!

I can now post the cover of THE REBEL, Book 3 in my Keeper of the Promise series from Berkley Books. The book will be out in the spring, but I'm so happy that the cover art is ready. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


So excited I couldn't wait to share the news with you: Berkley Books will bring out a bound collection of the first three Pleasant Valley Books in one volume this fall. In early October you'll be able to buy AT HOME IN PLEASANT VALLEY at Walmart, other stores near you, and online bookstores. With a beautiful new cover, it includes the complete versions of LEAH'S CHOICE, RACHEL'S GARDEN, and ANNA'S RETURN. Have a look:

And here's the full cover, including the back description:

I just love the cover and hope readers will think it suits this collection of stories. If you missed any of these books, here's a great chance to add them to your library.

Best Always,

Friday, June 5, 2015

Where Ideas Come From

Where do your ideas come from? Writers are asked that question so often that I've posted about it numerous times. Still, no matter what I say, I'm not sure I've answered the question.The easy answer is--Everywhere! But usually people want something more specific, since they can't imagine coming up with ideas for over 50 books.

Two great sources of ideas for me are personal experience and research. No, I haven't experienced all the things that happen to the characters in my novels, I'm thankful to say. But even if I've never run from a deranged killer in the dark, I have experienced that initial chill of being alone in the house and hearing a door open. Thank goodness, there's always been an innocent explanation, but I can imagine what it might feel like to be in that situation and find a stranger with a knife in the kitchen!

In my new book, THE RESCUED, releasing today from Berkley Books, the personal experience aspect of the story comes from the stories I tell my grandchildren. The stories they like most are those about their parents when they were small. Perennial favorites are "When Daddy went Fishing for Chickens" and "The Day Mommy Unrolled a Whole Package of Dental Floss." (You probably don't want to know the why for either of those activities!) So in my Keepers of the Promise series of three books, a grandmother is sharing the stories of their family with three granddaughters. Each woman finds strength for her own future in those precious stories of the past.

Another source of ideas is research. Most people might say they're looking for facts when they do research, not ideas. But every new little tidbit I learn may well lead to a whole new story idea. I discovered the premise for the past story in THE RESCUED while researching something else entirely. I happened to run across a wonderfully evocative black-and-white news photograph of Amish schoolchildren running into a cornfield to escape being forced to attend an English school. From there it was a few clicks to the astonishing story of over a hundred Amish parents being arrested and sent to jail for refusing to send their children to a consolidated school. And this didn't happen in the 1800s--it occurred in 1953 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was a short leap to the back story in my book of a woman who faces just that dilemma in her own life.

To read an excerpt from THE RESCUED, go to

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I thought you might enjoy reading an excerpt from the beginning of THE RESCUED, Book Two in the Keepers of the Promise series, which releases on June 2nd. First, a bit about the story:

As an Amish wife and mother struggles to hold her family together, a story from the past teaches her how to face her daily challenges with strength and love . . .

In modern day central Pennsylvania, Judith Wegler tries to heal the growing rift between her husband, Isaac, and his teenage brother Joseph—whom Judith and Isaac have raised as their own ever since both brothers lost their parents and siblings in a horrific fire. Meanwhile, Isaac’s hurtful silence about this tragic past has robbed Judith of any certainty of her husband’s love.

But when Judith’s grandmother gifts her with an antique study table, she discovers a hidden packet of letters that changes her life . . .

In 1953, widow Mattie Lapp fights against the county’s attempts to force Amish children to attend a consolidated public school, even if it means arrest and imprisonment. Mattie knows she can’t face this challenge alone, and turns to her late husband’s cousin Adam for help, but she’s terrified at the prospect of relying on someone else.

Now, as the two women’s stories converge, both must learn to stand up for their beliefs and to love again, even when it means risking their hearts . . .

Chapter One
                Judith Wegler suspected that once again, she’d be acting as a buffer between her husband and his young brother. From the back porch of the farmhouse, where she was polishing the oak study table that was her gift from Grossmammi Lapp, she could hear Isaac calling Joseph’s name. Since there was no answer, almost-fourteen-year-old Joseph must have slipped away again.
                Isaac appeared around the corner of the corn crib, and Judith rose when he strode toward her. At thirty, Isaac was as sturdy and strong as he’d been when she’d tumbled into love with him so many years ago. His corn-silk hair had darkened to a deep honey color and the beard he’d grown when they married made him look mature, but his eyes were as bright a blue as ever under the brim of his summer straw hat.
                She ought to enjoy the sight of him, instead of feeling the familiar tightening of the stomach she always experienced at the prospect of intervening on behalf of the boy she’d raised as her own since she and Isaac married when his little brother was only five. The sixteen years between the two brothers sometimes seemed an insurmountable barrier.
Not that it was unusual for an Amish family to be spread out over that many years. It was unusual, though, for only the youngest and oldest to have survived. The siblings who’d come in between them had perished with Isaac’s parents in the tragic fire Isaac never mentioned.
                “Have you seen Joseph?” Isaac’s voice was tart with the irritation that was too often there lately when he spoke of his brother.
                “Not since after lunch. He went out to the barn to fix that broken board in Rosie’s stall.” The buggy horse had a talent for finding a loose rail and leaning against it until it broke. “Did you check there?”
                “It wouldn’t take him this long to fix a board.”
Frowning, Isaac stepped up to the porch, using it as a vantage point to survey the pastures and cornfields of the dairy farm, still lush and green in the August sunshine thanks to a recent rain. The fields stretched along the valley, and the ground rose gently to encompass the orchard and beyond it the wooded ridge.
“Ach, the boy’s becoming less responsible the older he gets. What’s the matter with him these days?”
                Isaac clearly didn’t expect an answer, but she gave him one anyway. “Joseph is growing up. My brothers all went through a ferhoodled spell when they were his age.” She didn’t bother to compare Joseph to Isaac, since everyone knew Isaac seemed to have been born responsible.
                “It’ll be time for milking before long. If he’s not back by then—“
                “He’ll show up soon.” She spoke quickly and prayed she was right. When Isaac and Joseph butted heads, as they did too often lately, everyone in the family became upset. “See how nice this study table is looking. You were right. All it needed was a good cleaning and a few coats of furniture wax.”
                That distracted him, as she’d hoped it might. Isaac ran his hand around the smooth edges of the rectangular table, large enough for four or even six young scholars to sit and do homework on a winter’s evening.
                “It’s a good, sturdy oak piece, that’s certain sure. Did your grossmammi say who it came from?”
                “She didn’t seem to remember, but she said she’d look it up for me. It was thoughtful of her to give it to us.”
Thoughtful and a bit more, Judith thought. She and two of her cousins had helped to clear out their grandmother’s house this spring when she’d moved in with her son. Long recognized as the historian of the Lapp family, Grossmammi had been eager to pass on the family stories to them, and part of that passing on had included choosing a piece of furniture for them to cherish.
Grossmammi believed that the piece of family heritage each one received had something to give them in return. That had certainly been true for Judith’s cousin Rebecca. The dower chest given to Rebecca had contained a diary from a young Amish girl who’d lived during the Second World War, and Rebecca often said how much she’d learned from that story. It had given her the strength and courage she’d needed for a new future, and that had been a wonderful fine gift.
                “The person who crafted this piece made it to last.” Isaac pulled on the shallow drawers under the table top. Two of them slid out easily, but the third wouldn’t open.
                “I wanted to ask you about that drawer,” Judith said. “I can’t tell if it’s locked or stuck.”
A glance over Isaac’s shoulder told her that the cows had started toward the gate, crossing the field in a long, straggly line, their udders full and swaying. They knew when it was time to be milked, even if Joseph had forgotten. There was still no sign of him.
Isaac stooped to look underneath the table, giving it the same careful attention he granted to everything he did. “Locked, I’d say. Better ask your grossmammi about a key. I wouldn’t want to damage it by forcing it open.” He rose as he spoke, and she could almost feel his attention shifting back to the job at hand.
But at last she spied Joseph, flying down the lane on the scooter he used the way she’d seen Englisch boys use their skateboards, with what seemed a reckless disregard for anything that might send them head over heels. Sometimes she wished their community allowed bicycles, the way some Amish out in Ohio did. But probably, boys being boys, Joseph would still find a way to court danger on it.
“Here comes Joseph,” she said quickly. “And your onkel is walking over. I’ll call Levi and Paul—“
“No need,” Isaac said, nodding toward the orchard, the apple trees bending with fruit that would be ready to pick soon. “Here they come now. Levi would never miss a milking time, that’s certain sure.”
If there was a tiny bit of pride in Isaac’s voice, she couldn’t blame him. At eight, their Levi seemed a natural-born farmer, having followed his daadi around since he could toddle. Paul, six, just wanted to do whatever his brother did. Even now, she spotted him running, trying to keep up with Levi’s longer legs as they raced down the slope from the orchard.
Isaac took the porch steps in one long stride, glancing without speaking toward his brother as Joseph jumped from the scooter and let it topple over into the grass. Please, don’t scold him, Judith said silently. He’s here, isn’t he?
And if Isaac took Joseph to task, the rest of them would be subjected to their glares at each other over the supper table.
“You’re here. Let’s get the cows in.” There was an edge to Isaac’s voice, and she prayed Joseph wouldn’t flare up in response.
Thankfully, Joseph just nodded and sprinted off toward the pasture gate. She could see Levi put on a burst of speed at the sight of him and smiled. Paul might want to be like Levi, but in turn, Levi tended to copy Joseph. A good thing, as long as he didn’t copy everything Joseph did.
Thinking of Joseph, she remembered something she had to ask her husband. “Is Saturday all right for Joseph’s fourteenth birthday celebration? I want to be sure your cousins and onkel know.”
Isaac seemed to freeze for an instant. And then he was moving. “Do what you want about it.” He slung the words over his shoulder and strode off without looking back.
Judith tried not to let the hurt take over at his response. How could Isaac act as if Joseph’s birthday was no concern of his? Naturally they would have a family party for the boy, as they did every year, for everyone’s birthday. The relatives would find it wonderful strange if they didn’t.
From the house behind her, Judith heard the thud of small feet on the stairs. At three, their Noah still needed a nap some days, and this had been one of them. She’d found him nearly asleep in his wagon and had carried him off to his bed, cherishing those moments when he’d clung to her like a little monkey. Sometimes she wished she could turn back the clock to a simpler time in their lives, when Noah was still a baby and Joseph was Isaac’s good right hand, looking up to him as the big brother he adored.
Things had begun to change over the past year or two, so slowly at first that she had hardly noticed it happening, until she woke up to see that Isaac and Joseph were at odds most of the time, and more and more often she was the buffer between them, hurt by this estrangement separating those she loved.
If only Isaac would talk to her about it--but he didn’t. He tightened his lips, put on a stoic face, and closed her off entirely from his inner feelings.
When she’d dreamed of their married life, this isolation hadn’t been part of it. Surely married couples were supposed to share their feelings, their hurts, and their joys. Wasn’t that what two being made one meant?
Isaac was a good man. They had a fine life on the family dairy farm and they’d been blessed with Joseph and three healthy kinder of their own. Maybe that should be enough for her. Maybe she shouldn’t be longing for a closeness Isaac wasn’t willing to give.
Noah came running, bursting through the screen door, already chattering away, as always. She lifted him in a quick hug, knowing he’d wiggle to be down and busy in an instant.
She was blessed, she repeated to herself, hugging the warm, wriggly little body. But at times like this she began to wonder if the gossip had been right—the things folks said when Isaac married her so abruptly before she had even turned twenty.
They’d said Isaac had needed to find a sensible, mature wife in a hurry when the aunt who’d taken care of Joseph had died. That he’d done what was expected of him and found a suitable girl to marry. That, as she’d heard his uncle say, he had settled down with Judith instead of chasing after romance and moonshine.
Perhaps she was as guilty as Isaac was of keeping her inner life hidden, because that was the one thing she could never, never tell him.
She stroked the surface of the study table again. Maybe the story of the woman who’d once owned it would have something to teach her. Could the stories of the past really reach out and touch her life today, or was that merely superstition on Grossmammi’s part? If it was true, she longed for the lesson that would assure her of Isaac’s love, but she couldn’t imagine how that might come.

Don't forget to look for your copy June 2nd at your favorite store, or pre-order it at any online bookstore.