Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goals

It's been way too long since I posted my goals here on the blog. My bad! It sure shows in what I'm getting done these days too.

So, I'm putting myself back on notice. Time to organize those goals and get some things checked off the list for September:

1. Finish the final novella in the Sagebrush Knights collection. I'm about 20% finished with this one, and need to get it done so I can edit it and get it sent in well before the November 1st deadline.

2. Book signing in Onalaska, Wisconsin, September 10th. I'd love to see you there if you can make it. :)

3. Put together gift baskets for several book signing drawings.

4. Put together a talk and power point for one of the book signings.

5. Head to ACFW Conference. Squee! :)

6. Begin writing A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California. :)

How about you? What are your September goals?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Football and Writing

It's time for a new season. Football season. And around here that means the Vikings season. Donovan McNabb, Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and the rest of the gang.

New goals, new foes, a new roof on the Metrodome.

I love the beginning of the season, where everything is possible, nothing has gone wrong yet. We're not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. :) Then we start playing, and the season has ups and downs, touchdowns and interceptions, blitzes and sacks, missed field goals and game winning drives. Thrilling, heartbreaking, exciting and exasperating. There are times when I'm sure the players would like to give up and walk away, away from the pain, the hits, the injuries, the press, the fans. But they don't. Because they are football players. In spite of adversity, they are doing the job they love.

It's not unlike when I start a new novel. It's all new, it's all possible, and it still looks perfect in my head.  Then I start writing and things don't go onto the page quite the way I had it planned in my outline. The words don't come, the opponents are stronger than I thought, the schedule tougher. I find myself bogged in the middle of the 'Black and Blue' division. There are times when I want to walk away from the mess I'm creating, away from uncooperative characters, recalcitrant plots, bad reviews.

But I don't. I persevere, because I am a writer. In spite of the ups an downs, the adversity, the struggle, I'm doing the job I love.

Just as the football season is long and calls for commitment, writing a novel takes place over a long time and calls for commitment. When the going gets tough...well, you know. :)

Are you up for the new season? If so, put on your eye black, lace up those cleats, and grab your helmet. Let's head into the fray together, and when things get tough, we won't quit.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reading Aloud


First, let me announce that the winner of a copy of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection AND A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas is...

MELISSA K. NORRIS!

Congratulations, Melissa! Please email me at ericavetsch at gmail dot com with your address and I'll get those books in the mail to you ASAP.

Second, this last week, I had a new experience. I read aloud my Christmas novella to my husband.

My husband supports my writing in untold ways, and he's my biggest cheerleader. But he doesn't read historical romance, and consequently has never read one of my books.

But this week, when I was looking for a book to read aloud (we often read mysteries aloud, and he frustrates me by almost always figuring out whodunit way before I do) he suggested that I read my Christmas novella instead of an Amelia Peabody or Dick Francis.

At first I was self-conscious. But after a couple of pages, I forgot to be nervous.

The best news: He liked the story! :D

Question for you: Do you read aloud? To whom?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Friday Five

Since it's the first week of school around here, I'm going to give you my top favorite school subjects:

1. World History. Especially Egyptology.

2. American History. Especially the period from the Civil War through the Gilded Age.

3. Biology. Anatomy was my favorite here. All the body systems and how they worked together.

4. Bible. I had Bible classes from 5th grade through college. In college I double-majored in Secondary Education and Bible/Theology.

5. English. I liked grammar and literature.

My least favorite subjects were Math and PE.

So, what was your favorite school subject, and what was your least favorite?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday

This week I'm thankful for the power of music.

Over the last week, God has been reminding me of the power of music to change, to worship, lift up, to encourage. I've been listening to the above song on average about once a day lately.

At church this last Sunday, we sang every hymn a capella. Though I love the piano accompaniment, and I really like listening to Matt and Harry play, I have to admit, it was a good thing to sing with no other music than the voices of the congregation. I could hear those around me, all joined in worship. I could concentrate on the words, their meaning, and worshiping the God we were singing about.

So, what are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School Starts Again

This week we took our daughter back to college to begin the first of her 2.5 senior years. Yeah, she'll be a senior this year, a 'super-senior' next year, and the following semester, she'll be what I dubbed a 'supreme-senior.' Frankly, after all this senioring, I think she deserves a senior discount!

My son and I also started school this week. I homeschool my 10th grade son, and we're studying Biology, Geometry, American Literature, World History, Art History, Movies as Literature, and Spelling.

Summer break is over, and it's time to buckle down. The schedule is filling up and tightening up.

But this is a good thing for me. I do much better when I have a fairly rigid schedule and limited time to get things done (within reason, of course!) A sense of urgency narrows my focus, forces me to concentrate on the essentials that must get done.

How about you? Is school starting where you are? Do you need the constraints of a busy schedule to keep you focused?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Party Bash!


Next month, you're invited to a book party bash. In honor of the Black 'n Gold Girl's birthday, she's having a book birthday party bash. September 5th-10th on her blog http://steelergirl83.blogspot.com/ she'll be hosting authors for interviews, giving away brand-spanking new fiction, and serving up virtual cake...with sprinkles!!!!

Her blog's chock-full of reviews, links, and fun. I hope you can join us for the party. Also, feel free to grab the button in the sidebar to pass along the party invitation. You can copy this code:



into the layout of your own blog or post.

Thank you, and I hope you can come to the party. It's going to be a blast!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Author Copies Have Arrived-And I'm giving some away.

A Log Cabin Christmas and A Bride's Portrait!
After a week or so of stalking the UPS man and lurking when it was time for the postman to arrive, I came home to four big boxes on the front porch. My author copies of A Log Cabin Christmas collection and A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, KS are here!

My son James laid these out on the coffee table for a photograph.
My son and I had some fun with the books, stacking, arranging, sorting. I couldn't resist running my hand over the embossed cover of Log Cabin or re-reading the back cover copy of Portrait. I flipped to the title page to read my name. I opened the pages and breathed deeply of the new-book smell. And I couldn't help but feel blessed. This isn't the first time I've gotten author copies in the mail, but it never gets old. Each time it's a thrill to hold that book in my hand, to re-live the moment when the original concept came to me, the agony/ecstasy of the writing process, all the editing steps, cover art surprises, the whole journey come to fruition in a single volume of fiction. It's exciting and humbling, wicked cool and scary all at once.

My husband and I went out to celebrate the evening the books arrived, and we stopped by my pastor's house to drop off a copy of each of the books. And on Saturday, I spent a little time reading some of the other novellas in the collection. What talented authors! Wanda Brunstetter, Margaret Brownley, Kelly Hake, Jane Kirkpatrick, Liz Johnson, Liz Tolsma, Debra Ullrick, Michelle Ule...what stellar company. And the stories are so heartwarming.

Because I want to share some of the joy, I'm giving away a copy of A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas AND a copy of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection to one reader. Because A Bride's Portrait is about a photographer, tell me what your favorite picture of yourself is. For me, I have always liked my school photo from my junior year. I was having a good hair day, a good skin day, and it just turned out cool. :)



Friday, August 19, 2011

The Friday Five


This week's Friday Five is: Five Masterpiece Mysteries that I love.


1. Inspector Lewis. This is a spin-off of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series, which I also liked a lot (though mostly for Inspector Lewis's role in it.)


2. Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie's classic Belgian detective with the ubiquitous mustaches and fastidious manners. David Suchet as Poirot is brilliant!


3. Rebecca, staring Diana Rigg as the creepy Mrs. Danvers. I'm currently re-reading du Marier's classic suspense novel, Rebecca, and afterwards, I want to re-watch the film. 


4. Sherlock Holmes. I tend to turn a jaundiced eye to remakes of Doyle's Holmes and Watson, but this one is spectacular. Brought forward to modern times, incorporating all the science and technology available to detectives, this series is clever and the characters are appealing. Especially Watson, a war veteran and nobody's fool. I suppose that's one of the main reasons I like this version. Often Watson is portrayed as a bumbling foil to Holmes's brilliance. But Watson was a physician, a biographer, and a former soldier. He had plenty going on in the brain box. 


5. Midsomer Murders. One of the things I love about this series is that the chief inspector, Barnaby, is a happily married man. So many of the cop shows today portray the lead inspector as a tortured soul whose wife has either left him or been killed. The job is all he has and he drives himself to destruction. In this series, the hero has a lovely wife and grown daughter, and he pursues justice because it is his job and he has a high sense of right and wrong. Couple that with the mentoring relationship he has with various of his sergeants, and you've got a character I don't mind hanging out with.


Are you a mystery lover? Do you watch PBS's Masterpiece Mystery?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for the Bible. I'm thankful to have the written Word of God. I own several Bibles myself, my family has more, and I'm afraid I often take this treasure for granted.

There are places on this planet that do not have a single copy of the Bible. Where the people cannot read God's Word in their own language.

There are places on this planet where possessing even a scrap of Scripture would be a death sentence.

Thank you, God, for your Word, and for revealing Yourself to us this way.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A First Contract Story - Mary Connealy


I am one of the most blessed individuals on the planet, in that I have as a dear friend and mentor, the incomparable Mary Connealy. If there is a more genuine or giving writer out there, I haven't met her yet. Love you, Mary!

Mary Connealy's First Contract Story

My first writer’s conference ever was ACFW and I’d never done anything like attending a writer’s conference before. It took all the courage I had, plus the begging and pleading and….let’s face it ladies…threatening of my critique group to get me to that conference when I found myself a double finalist in the Noble Theme Contest (now the Genesis). Vickie McDonough was the third finalist in my category.
I went but it was so terrifying, I just never did stuff like this. I sat alone at my desk, all alone, so very, very alone…I was happy there. That’s what makes me a writer, that odd ability to sit alone having both sides of a conversation myself. That is much less likely to earn you weird looks (especially if your lips move) if you’re writing a book. But my critique group lured me out of my lovely private world and I attended the conference and I won. I won. I’m sorry, repeating myself doesn’t advance this story at all, but let me just say one more time.

I won.

As a result of this contest that I WON, I got requests from eleven different publishers for five books. That may not be accurate. The number seems to go up every time I tell this story.
At any rate, I got asked for a lot of books. And I had a lot of books written, so I had something for almost everyone. One of those requests was for Scent of Heaven. A lovely contemporary romance about a hermit woman who grew roses and made candles with the scented blossoms and the big city boy who wants to build a mansion up the hill from her that will destroy her rose garden.

It’s a beautiful book.

And then the rejections started rolling in. The only one that didn’t end in a rejection was Barbour Publishing, they showed interest in Scent of Heaven –This wasn’t the book that had won the Noble Theme Contest by the way, that was Petticoat Ranch.

I went back and forth with them about edits and trying to revise the book to suit them.

When it was nearly time for the next conference Cathy Marie Hake, who had asked to see my contest finalist entry at ACFW the year before, asked me if I’d like to go in on a three book series with her and Kathleen Y’Barbo?

Absolutely YES!

So we got a proposal together and Cathy sent it off and then came the conference, my SECOND conference. This time I was excited to go.

Every year at the ACFW conference Barbour Publishing gives out a contract to an unpublished author. My first year, Vickie McDonough (nickname—The Show-off) got named the recipient of that contract. The second year I knew I had a shot. Barbour had been talking with me for most of a year about Scent of Heaven.

Well, just before the big moment, the evening dinner where Barbour would make the announcement, Lena Nelson Dooley came up to me and told me she knew Jim Peterson—who, with his wife Tracie Peterson was the acquiring editor for Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line, wanted to work with me. I can’t remember exactly what Lena (nickname—The Brat) said to me but whatever it was, I took it to mean….work with me someday…just not yet.

I was totally deflated. Anyway, I mentally squared my shoulders, determined to work harder, learn more and get a book to Jim that he’d love enough to buy.

So, the evening event came. Tracie Peterson went to the microphone. I had no hope (thank you, Lena) and Tracie announced the recipient of the contract was (please supply your own drumroll) Kathy Kovach!!!

YAY!

Kathy (nickname—The Canary in the Mineshaft) was seated about one table over from me and I can still hear her screaming. I saw her blow out of her seat. I clapped. I was happy for her. I WAS!!!! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Kathy went up to receive her contract. As she came down off the stage, Tracie said, “And this year we’re giving two contracts and the other one goes to Mary Connealy.

I get chills writing this. Of course the air conditioning in my building is set on frost, but still it was a wonderful moment. It’s all a blur after that. I didn’t scream like Kathy. I almost curled up in a ball. Two people slammed into me. A vague memory suggests it might have been Audra Harders and Debby Guisti, who were already my Seeker buddies back then.

I started crying…and I am sooooooooo not a crier. I suspect it’s a tear duct issue because I never cry. I tear up sometimes but never cry. Not at my children’s graduations or weddings. Not at funerals. Never.
But I did. And not crazed sobbing, tears just started to leak out of my deformed tear ducts. I couldn’t stop them. I walked up front and at this point I think Ruthy Logan Herne (another Seeker) leapt out in the aisle and hugged me.  She’s a skinny little thing. She’s lucky she survived the impact. And that hug may have been on the way back to my seat—like I said, I was stunned.

I walked up to the stage and, standing down on the floor in front of the stage, I reached up for the contract and I can remember this so clearly, Tracie said very kindly(like she was speaking to a slightly backward fourth grader), “Come up on the stage, Mary.”

Dumb thing to remember, huh?

So, because I’m happiest sitting behind my computer having both sides of a conversation myself, I reluctantly went up on the stage and Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo were there. I tell you this because it’s important but it really didn’t register that it was important at that moment.

We all hugged. I got salt water on everyone, then I took the paper Tracie Peterson gave me and went back to my seat. I sat there crying quietly for quite a while…minutes at least. Then it occurred to me to look at the papers Tracie had handed me. It didn’t tell me I’d been given a contract for Scent of Heaven a book that had as it’s most endearing trait…being finished.

No.

It was for the proposed book with Cathy and Kathleen…which would explain what they were doing up there.

I needed to quit crying and go home and write a book.



 Erica Here:

Go home and write a book was exactly what Mary did. That first contract, for Golden Days, led to about a zillion more. Her latest is Out of Control, and you can find it by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Water Cooler Blog


Today I'm guest blogging over at the WordServe Water Cooler. You can read the post by clicking HERE or on the cool little sidebar button on the right hand side of this blog.

It's my first post at the WordServe Water Cooler, and I hope you'll hop on over there and take a look. The topic is how a plot-first novelist like myself creates characters.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Spiritual Eyes

'Snellen eye chart' photo (c) 2011, Julian-Courtney Michael Luk√°cs - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
This morning I have an early appointment at the eye doctor. Trips to the eye doctor are nothing new to me, since I started seeing an optometrist in pre-school due to an eye injury. I was about three when I got my first pair of eye glasses. Eye patches, glasses, drops, surgery, and many, many trips to the eye doctor. 

As I've gotten older, my eyes have changed. Now it's bifocals, diabetes, and age instead of lazy eye or trauma. 


I used to be able to see pretty well without glasses, but wore them to assist my eyes in working together. Now I need my glasses to read, to watch tv, to type. My eyes need a little time to wake up and focus in the morning now, and I can now sense some eye-strain if I work too long without giving my eyes a rest.

As I contemplated these changes, I realize that my physical eyes weren't the only ones to morph and change over the years. My spiritual eyes have changed since I first became a Christ-follower at age 11. I've prayed before that God would open the eyes of my heart, to help me see clearly with my spiritual eyes.

Some things haven't changed that much, though they've gotten clearer, doctrinal issues clearly spelled out in Scripture, the commandments to do, don't do, love, give, believe. Those are the giant top rows of the eye chart that blaze out like a neon E 

But other lines have blurred a bit, ones that involve personal convictions. I come from a fairly strict, rigid spiritual upbringing that placed a lot of emphasis on the way you dressed, the music you listened to, the people you associated with. 

Those are the lines that are smudging for me. I'm striving to be more about grace, forgiveness, and freedom than about judgment, constriction, and condemnation. I'm learning that there are all kinds of people who are God's children, who come to God as broken and individual as I, and whom God loves just as much as He loves me.

I'm liking these new eyes, because I'm learning that as the recipient of much grace, I have grace to offer others, can learn from them, and can receive grace from them as well.

So, how are your eyes, both physical and spiritual?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Friday Five

As I posted on Monday, this past weekend my family and I visited the National Eagle Center and learned a bunch about bald eagles. So this week's Friday Five is Five things I learned about eagles.


  1. Girl eagles are bigger than boy eagles.
  2. Eagles' digestive systems are so acidic they can digest even bones as big as a chicken leg bone or gopher skull.
  3. An eagle can see a rabbit hopping from three miles away.
  4. A grown eagle only weighs about 10 pounds.
  5. The National Eagle Center collects the feathers that the eagles molt and they are sent to a conservation center where Native Americans can apply to receive these feathers for use in their ceremonies and dress.
Have you ever seen a bald eagle up close?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I'm thankful for rain. With a huge part of our country in the grip of a devastating drought, I am reminded again how vital rain is.

Here in Minnesota, the summer has been hot and humid, and we've had regular bouts of rain. The grass is still green, the flowers are blooming, and the lakes are full. The corn is tasseled out beautifully, and sweetcorn pack is underway.

Thank you, God, for the rain that replenishes and refreshes. I pray for those south of here who are experiencing drought, that they would rely on you, and that when relief comes, they will remember Who gives the rain and the harvest.

Has it rained where you are this summer? What are you thankful for this Thursday?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A First Contract Story with Rose McCauley


Today my guest is Rose McCauley, a truly sweet woman who is a fixture at the ACFW Conference. I've known Rose now for several years, and I hope you'll be encouraged by her story of how she waited, and how God whispered to her heart while she was waiting for her first contract.



Waiting, patience, prayer...and receiving my first contract!

I have been writing for over nine years and joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) 8 years ago. My writing has steadily improved since then, but the elusive first contract had remained out of reach until Friday evening, September 17, 2010.

God has taught me many things over the past nine years, the main things being patience and learning to wait. When I awoke that morning and read my chapter in Jeremiah, there was a devotion by Catherine Marshall on the facing page, so I read it, too. It was entitled "Waiting" and here are a few snippets from it that spoke to me: "Waiting...is God's oft-repeated way of teaching us that His power is real and that He can answer our prayers without interference and manipulation from us." She then goes on to give the example of a child who brings a broken toy to their father but gets impatient and snatches it back still in the broken state, then reminds us that if we leave the "toy" in His hands, "not only do we eventually get it back gloriously restored, but are also handed a surprising plus. We find for ourselves what the saints and mystics affirm, that during the dark waiting period when self-effort had ceased, a spurt of astonishing spiritual growth took place in us. Afterwards we have qualities like more patience, more love for the Lord and those around us, more ability to hear His voice, greater willingness to obey." Those qualities are ones I still desire more of, even if it means I have to wait again.

Now for the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say. I told my roommate, Jennifer Johnson, about my devotion, then we attended a class, ate lunch, shopped at the mall, and went to the opening worship session at 3:30. The worship leader Rachel Hauck
, chose the song "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller for us to sing at most of our sessions:

"I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting"

Are you getting the message with me? Wait with patience! And keep serving and worshipping while you are waiting!

Next our president, Cynthia Ruchti, read from Colossians chapter three and verse 12 was very familiar since it is posted on my bedroom mirror: "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." That last word jumped out at me and I leaned over to Jennifer and told her God was still telling me to wait and learn patience.

Then Becky Germany, editor at Barbour Publishing, took the stage and said she was ready to announce the 2 new authors who would receive their "first contract", something Barbour has done at each conference. When she announced the name of the first story as Nick's Christmas Carol, it sounded vaguely familiar but I still didn't realize it was a story I had written until she said my name! Then I went up on stage in front of over 600 people, amid cheers and shouts, and was handed an envelope with my name on it and a letter offering me a contract for my first fiction story! Jennifer, who had known about the contract but kept silent for months even though we rode to conference together, took my picture but the flash didn't work so she motioned for me to go back up on the stage and she took it again. Then Donna Rich was announced, again amid cheers and shouts, as the recipient of a contract for a Heartsong book, also pubbed by Barbour.

Of course, I couldn't wait to call my husband and children and a couple friends, but the story doesn't end there. I got to attend the Barbour Banquet at PF Chang's that evening and kept receiving hugs and congratulations all weekend, but the best part was when one of my dear friends and prayer-partners, Connie Stevens who had received her first contract in 2009, told me that God had impressed on her heart to pray for the ones who would receive their first contract the following year. So, she prayed that prayer that whole year and didn't know she was praying for me (and Donna)! And something I learned from Connie’s post on Erica’s blog (June 22, 2011) is that the same song that God used to speak to her at the 2009 conference is the same one quoted above that He used to teach me.

Later that evening, I told Donna about the prayer cycle Connie began, and we both agreed to continue it by praying for the persons who will receive their first contract in 2011. Kind of paying it forward by praying the prayer that was prayed for us. So, the cycle continues, and I will continue praying for the ones who will receive their first contract at the ACFW conference this year. Until then, let's all keep waiting patiently and praying and worshiping the One who deserves all our praise.

From the Back Cover of Christmas Belles of Georgia

Surprised by Life—and Love—at Christmas

Four letters are mailed from Monticello, a small antebellum town in Georgia. Sisters once, now heirs to a historic plantation, each young woman must come to terms with the circumstances of her birth. . . .

When she learns in a letter she’s adopted, Holly feels betrayed by her parents—and she books a flight out of Missouri immediately. Will she ever be able to love again?

Raised in a wealthy, loveless home, Carol rushes to Monticello from college in Atlanta when she receives her letter. She’s searching for family, but finds instead a boy she once mistreated. Will he remember her? . . .forgive her?

In one year, Starr has lost her parents, boyfriend, and job, so she’s sure her letter is more bad news. When the attorney flies to California to offer proof, Starr takes a second look—at the message and the man.

Noelle always knew she was adopted—and she’s always loved the foreman on her father’s Texas ranch too. But he’s so distant. . .perhaps a trip to Georgia is the break in life she needs.

Will the sisters receive a traditional Christmas gift. . .of love?



Bio: Bio: Rose Allen McCauley is happy to live in the beautiful bluegrass region of Kentucky on a farm surrounded by God’s creation. She has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. She is thrilled for this to be her first published fiction because Christmas books are her favorites. She has a growing collection of Christmas books, and this one will takes its rightful place among them.

A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over 43 years, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and Mimi to three lovely, lively grandkids! You can reach her through her website www.rosemccauley.com or blogsite at www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com

Question for the day: Do you have a favorite worship song?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

God Got a Good Man

Last Thursday, God called one of His saints home. A truly godly man, devoted husband, father and brand-new grandfather, trusted friend, and one of the most cheerful individuals it has ever been my privilege to meet. Rochester Fire Battalion Chief Chuck Hermann was killed in a logging accident Thursday afternoon and immediately went into the presence of the Savior he loved, served, and longed to see. Chuck's desire every day of his life was to see God glorified, and today, at the service that will celebrate his life, his family and friends will glorify God remembering Chuck.


CHARLES (Chuck) HERMANN, January 19th, 1961 - August, 4th, 2011


The world was forever changed on January 19th, 1961 when Charles (Chuck) Hermann was born in Rochester , MN . He was the 3rd child of 4 born to Glen & Mary Hermann.  Chuck grew up in Rochester , and married his soul mate and high-school sweetheart Pam on April 10th, 1982.

Chuck was a highly respected and decorated member of the Rochester Fire Department for 30 years beginning August 19th, 1981. He received numerous awards including the Mayor’s Medal of Honor and had reached the rank of Battalion Chief. His loss to the department will be felt by the countless firefighters that he worked with throughout the years. Chuck was an instructor for the National Fire Academy , and was an active advocate of Fire Fighters for Christ which allowed him to serve two of his biggest passions in life: serving his Lord and Savior and fire-fighting. He was also co-owner of the family auction business, Hermann Auctions, founded in 1972.

Chuck lived his entire life in high gear doing everything “full throttle”. His passion for everything he did in life was contagious and everyone that came into contact with him was impacted in a positive way. Some of Chuck’s great loves in life were his family, church life, pizza & ice cream, learning and teaching.  He also loved his work with GreatDeeds and Fire Fighters for Christ ministries.

His greatest passion in life was serving his Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, and God’s love truly shined through everything that he did. He started every day praying, “Lord, use me today in a mighty way.”

On Thursday, August 4th, 2011, Chuck was welcomed into God’s presence by his family members that had gone there before him: his father & mother Glen & Mary Hermann, his son Ryan, and daughter Jenna.

Chuck waits in anticipation to welcome to heaven his loved ones that remain. His wife Pam; son John Hermann of Rochester, MN; daughter Tasha McWilliams and son-in-law Jason of Palm Beach, FL; daughter Tiffany Kirkpatrick and son-in-law Kincade with grand-daughter Khloe, of Rochester, MN; daughter Shawna Hermann of Minneapolis, MN; daughter Tamires Hermann of Rochester, MN; sister Diane Blakely & husband Bradley and family of Rochester, MN;  sister Sharon Hain & husband John and family of Stewartville, MN; sister Bonnie Gunnarson & husband Todd and family of Onalaska, WI.

Chuck’s prayer for each person here is that you come to know the love of Christ and join him in the eternal victory that he is now enjoying.

All memorials and donations should be made to GreatDeeds.org who will distribute to KFSI Christian Radio (92.9FM) and Firefighters for Christ.  

Funeral services will be held 2 PM Tuesday August 9, 2011 at Autumn Ridge Church 3611 Salem Road SW Rochester, MN.  Burial will take place in Oakwood Cemetery East.  Visitation will be held 4-8 PM Monday and 1 hour prior to services on Tuesday both at Autumn Ridge Church.

Arrangements entrusted to Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Home 5421 Royal Place NW Rochester, MN 55901

Monday, August 08, 2011

National Eagle Center

My husband with Harriet at the Eagle center.
On Saturday, our family made a day-trip to the Minnesota river town of Wabasha to see the National Eagle Center. The center is the home to four bald eagles and one golden eagle. These magnificent birds live here because they have each suffered an injury that would prevent them from being rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

We got to meet Donald, the golden eagle, and the bald eagles Harriet, Was'aka (pronounce Wah-shock-uh), Columbia, and Angel. Harriet is the resident matriarch, and at 31 years old has already surpassed the life-span of the average bald eagle. She is quite the traveler and ambassador as well. Harriet has appeared on the Today show twice, Jay Leno, and is also featured on the Minnesota "Support Our Troops" license plate.


Former Governor Pawlenty unveiling the new plate
with Harriet's picture.
The National Eagle Center is located in Wabasha, Minnesota because it is a winter haven for migrating bald eagles. Between late October and early April, you can see HUNDREDS of bald eagles along a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi. Even now, in mid-summer, there are nesting pairs visible from the center. While we ate lunch at Slippery's (of Grumpy Old Men fame) we watched a bald eagle soaring over the river.

Of particular interest to me was the story of Old Abe, the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin during the Civil War. Old Abe was present at 37 different battle engagements during the war. You can read a little about Old Abe by clicking HERE.

We also got to see a traveling exhibit in downtown Wabasha all about the Minnesota home front during World War 2. I had no idea that a group of young men, conscientious objectors to the war, volunteered for a harrowing ordeal in order to help out returning Prisoners of War. These young men voluntarily starved themselves almost to death (under the care of University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic doctors) so that the doctors could study the physical and psychological effects of starvation and deprivation on the human body, as well as how to rehabilitate returning prisoners.

Question for you: Do you like day-trip vacations? Where have you gone this summer?

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Friday Five

Look at us! We were babies! But isn't
that man handsome?
This week's Friday Five is: Five things I remember from my wedding.

1. My mom made my dress. She's an amazing seamstress. In addition to making my dress, she made all the bridesmaids' dresses too.

2. I wore my mom's veil from her wedding.

3. I don't care for punch too much, so at the reception, we had Sprite instead.

4. We got married in December, so the decorations were a snap. Lots of red and green.

5. I got married in the same church that my parents, my older sister, and my younger brother were all married in.

Are you married? What's something you remember about your wedding? If you're not married yet, what's something you remember from a wedding you've attended?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Did you know that the Bible is full of verses that remind us that we need to be thankful, that God values thankfulness and scorns those who are ungrateful?

Thankfulness and humility are tied together. Thankfulness puts us in a proper frame of mind, not thinking too highly of ourselves, instead putting emphasis on the actions and efforts of others. Thankfulness teaches us to love one another and esteem others as more important than ourselves. Thankfulness acknowledges the Source of all our blessings. We are supposed to practice thankfulness. (And not just on a Thursday in November when we eat a lot of turkey, watch football, and nap.)

In an effort to be more deliberate about being thankful, I'm going to post one thing a week that I'm thankful for. And I hope you'll join in on the exercise, putting something in the comments that you are thankful for, too. Let's praise and obey God together by expressing our gratitude.

This week, I'm thankful for: my husband's steady job. In this economy, with cabinet shops, lumber yards, and sawmills going under at an alarming rate, my husband's lumber business is holding its own. That can only come by the grace and hand of God, and I'm so thankful that thus far, He's chosen to let us continue with the business.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Cover Art Framed and some news!


I thought you might like to see my most recent framing job. I framed the cover art from Before the Dawn and Idaho Brides. Before the Dawn will go in my bedroom, to be joined by the other two titles in the series when I get them, and Idaho Brides will be perfect in my living room where all the colors are autumn themed. Those golds and oranges will go perfectly. :)


In other fun news, I received word this weekend that my debut trade-length novel, A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas has received FOUR STARS from Romantic Times Reviews! (Imagine me hoppity-skippity about the house, grinning and hugging my kids.) Thank you, Keli G. for passing that news along to me. It made my weekend. The full review will be available in a couple of weeks when the print newsletter comes out, but if you haven't checked out Romantic Times online, take a peek.

Did you also know that I have a Facebook Page? I'd love it if you'd click HERE and check it out. I post stuff about my books, writing, fun stuff, announcements, and more.

So, what fun project have you done recently, or what good news are you celebrating?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A New Writing Blog Debuts!

There's been a project in the works for a few weeks now that I hope you'll be excited about. Today is the debut of the WordServe Water Cooler Blog!

We're so excited to bring you this new blog. More than FORTY of WordServe's author clients will be contributing to this blog all about writing and publishing. If you're looking for help with marketing, publishing, proposals, queries, platforms, social media, industry news, non-fiction writing, fiction writing, genres, encouragement, and so much more, please follow the WSWC blog.

I have to tell you, getting 40+ creative types all in a line and heading the same direction is quite a feat. Thank you to Keli Gwyn, Catherine West, and Katie Ganshert for spearheading the efforts, and to Dineen Miller for the zippity blog header. And about 39 other people for their contributions, encouragement, and advice.

If there's a topic you'd like to see covered on the WSWC, please let us know. We want to meet the needs of readers. I'm so excited to be a part of this venture, and I hope you'll hop on over to take a look at what the WordServe Gang is up to.

WordServe Water Cooler Blog.

Monday, August 01, 2011

House on the sand?

This is a painting that hangs at the bottom of my stairs. The caption says "The Wise and Foolish Builder Matthew 7:24-27"
This past week has served to remind me of the truth of the parable of the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house on the rock. I was reminded how quickly things in one's life can change. The rains can come down and the floods can come up with little or no warning. Only those whose life is built on the Rock, those who have a solid faith, are prepared to weather those storms without their house going splat.

The Inspirational Christian Fiction world was rocked a bit with the announcement that Barbour Publishing was planning to discontinue their Heartsong Presents Book Club. After twenty years and almost one thousand titles, the book club will come to an end in December 2011. With sales declining and the rising costs of production, and the skyrocketing growth in ebooks, keeping Heartsong afloat was becoming more and more difficult. This was a hard decision for Barbour to make, and one I am sure they didn't do lightly.

I'll admit, I was stunned. I had to take a hard look at the foundation my writing dreams were built upon. And if I'm totally honest, I had to dump a little sand out of my shoes. Something that I had come to love and to count on being there was now going to go away. But someone who was affected far more than I by this news chose to publicly praise God, reminding me of the true Source of my joy, the One who holds everything in His hand. Though saddened by the news, I am not overthrown.

My heart goes out to the faithful readers, editors, and authors of Heartsong romances. I know there are a lot of disappointed folks out there, but God is in control. His plans will not be thwarted, and He has much to teach us through this experience.

I'm so grateful to JoAnne Simmons at Heartsong for giving me a chance to write for her and the Heartsong readers. I'm thankful that she paired me with Rachel Overton, who is a wonderful editor and friend, as well as the incomparable Aaron McCarver.

My next Heartsong book, Light to My Path, is scheduled to come out in just a few weeks, with the release date of my last Heartsong, Stars in Her Eyes, still to be determined. As soon as I know, I'll post the information here.

Have you ever had to dump a little bit of sand out of your shoes? Has the water risen faster than you expected?