I have a very mixed pallet this year for my splashes of color on the wheel of life. They range from bright pure hues of assuredness and joy to dark earth tones of uncertainty and sadness. But then, that is the cycle of life- is it not?

A highlight for me this year was spending 6 months in a mountain house overlooking the Cascade Range. I woke up to the sun reflecting off the Three Sisters every morning. Traveling to the town of Bend from our Eagle Crest home was an adventure in green pastures surrounded by stunning mountain peaks and filled with every type of domestic animal you can imagine.

To this day I see those fields of horses, lamas, and alpacas in my dreams- with a few mean looking bulls and scores of shiny black cattle. (Sometimes I think I never really lived there at all and it truly was just a dream.)

If winter and spring of 2015 was, let’s say, extended vacation, then spring was transition. Coming out of semiretirement to reestablish career expertise is no easy task. Fortunately, my husband (who could not turn down this dream job that awakened us from our Central Oregon dream)  has settled nicely into his position as the director of new business for Trans Aero Helicopters.

I spent the summer trying to remember my (yet again) new address, and how to translate the nuances of my new environment here in Colorado. The Rockies are as different from the Cascades as inland people are to those who live on either coast. If those peaks outside my mountain house were a sublime example of poetic serenity, then the Rockies are a perfect picture of majestic ruggedness.

The people, I think, reflect their mountain ranges. Once I understood these analogies, life got easier. I daresay the state is growing on me! How do I know? Well, for starters, I used to be proud when having to show my west coast drivers license. Now I feel a tinge of shame and remorse for not having replaced it yet.

By early fall I had moved through extended vacation, and transition, all the way to production. And it felt glorious to finally be too busy for much introspection about all of the above. My second novel Journey was released by Winter Goose Publishing October 1, and I taught the novel writing course I created for Central Oregon college at Front Range college here in Fort Collins. I traveled back to where I left my heart- in Bend, OR, to be a part of their Writer’s Guild Harvest Festival as a contest judge, speaker, and workshop host.

They even had a book launch for Journey!

I feel both honored and humbled by the response I am getting to my second novel, which by its very nature is risky, because (according to my reviewers) Benjamin set the bar high. Although I will always write in the same genre (I am listed under literary suspense, literature, and general fiction) the books are set up quite differently. Benjamin runs from top speed right out the gate all the way to the finish line, whereas Journey is a slow burn that suddenly ignites.


Fall was quite a wild ride, but I think the biggest ride I take this year will happen in a Trans Aero helicopter on December 19th as part of their Christmas party. Hopefully there will be no plot twists and we will land safely!

I cannot write this post without sharing what I have been reading in 2015.

Let’s start with Harry Potter. Yes, shockingly enough, I never picked up a single book or viewed any of the films for that matter, until recently. My grandchildren were appalled that I hadn’t read this beloved series they all grew up with. What do I think of them now that I am waist high in Harry Potter?

I must admit they are addictive entertainment, and on a deeper level, they offer some wonderful food for thought, life-reflecting analogies, and well-worth-studying symbolism. (Not to mention helping me bond with my grandchildren.)

JK Rowling deserves every penny she has made off of them.

If I taught children (rather than adults) you better believe we would be reading and studying these books. I can’t think of any better way to turn children on to literature and reading, or to inspire them to have courage, character, and tenacity. As for those few Christians who think they are unsavory for young minds? I find that type of thinking much more frightening than anything on the pages of Harry Potter.

Tis the season… of Christ’s birth, despite 90 percent of our celebrations having nothing to do with that, even for Christians. Nonetheless I would like to say, on behalf of His birthday, that the Christ at the center of my faith is all about love, forgiveness, inclusion, not judging, not whining, not complaining, and not insisting that the world do as He did or said- rather that through His example of unconditional love and acceptance people would come to Him for sanctuary.

It saddens me to see all the negative press this year in which Christ is misrepresented to be a judgmental know-it-all determined to alienate everyone not willing to crawl into that very small, toxic, and suffocating box a few misguided people have put him in, including those who have picked on poor Harry.

The reputations of the Bible and Harry Potter series aside, two of my standout favorite reads for 2015 were Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (an older novel my book club chose, but just as riveting as anything written recently) and The Goldfinch by Donna Tart (a Pulitzer Prize winner).

Either of these books will transport you to someone else’s stress-filled reality (hence helping you forget your own) if you wish to treat yourself to a fascinating read when all the hustle and bustle of the season has deemed your need for a time out. (;

What does the New Year hold for this writer? Well, for starters, the college has asked me to create and teach a couple more classes since Novel Writing: Fiction & Memoir was such a hit. I will add Editing Your Novel or Short Story and The Art of the Short Story to their winter term. (These are evening classes through the noncredit Continuing Ed program.)

I am also working on my next novel, due out in 2016.

We will conclude the year by traveling back to our Illinois roots, to visit Dennis’s mom and sister. Our youngest daughter Anna is coming with us and we will stay at the Four Seasons in St. Louis (Anna is a sales manager for Four Seasons Resorts). We are looking forward to enjoying a few cultural experiences while there. It should bring back a lot of childhood memories.

Talk about reflection – I’m anticipating quite a bit of that on this last journey of the year…










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