Sunday, November 22, 2020

Everyone Should Have a Mission Statement


The Oxford Languages Dictionary says that a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.

I have been trying to better understand my life’s mission especially as regards to my writing. More precisely, what makes my main characters who they are and why do they act the way they do? First, I believe I must consider my own life’s journey.

There is probably not an adult alive that hasn’t wondered if there’s a purpose for their life. Who doesn’t want to do something good, make a difference that’s unique to you? The hard part can be figuring out just what the plan for one’s life is. While we may look for a grandeur gift to fall upon us, we may simply be called to be kind to others, which is so needed today. Most likely there are several things we do in our lives that make a difference to others, some we may hardly notice or remember as anything special. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful. For example, the first person who helped me with my writing didn’t remember doing so until I told her I dedicated my first book to her. Serving humanity is a gift, not everyone can do it, but everyone can make a small gesture that can cause ripples and may consequently change someone’s direction.

Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayer the way we want, or something difficult seems to turn our lives upside down and become a defining story in life. The event moves us in a new direction, literally and figuratively. Who hasn’t heard, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” What may be hardest to grasp is that the new journey can bring you inward growth and changes to your perspective.

In fact, post-traumatic growth (PTG) is a theory of transformation following trauma, developed by psychologists Richard Tedeschi, PhD, and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD. These men believe that people who struggle through hard times can see inward growth. The five gifts include new possibilities; increased strength; more meaningful relationships; greater appreciation; and spiritual development. In fact, my husband and I learned some of these very things after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We saw silver linings (blessings with adversity) after time passed and we had moved and settled in Idaho. Yet, you must reflect on your life and look for the silver linings or you will not see them.

What I have experienced has become part of my mission statement, these “gifts” are what I want to show developing in the characters of my books as they face adversity as human beings. I also want to show how a healthy romantic relationship helps you grow to be a better person, how the couple’s reflective comments make each other think and help point them to good, not to selfish or destructive, decisions.

When I look back over the books I have written, I see that my various characters want to serve humanity in some way, and it’s reflected in their jobs. Some of these people have suffered a life changing accident or come from war. The characters have lost someone they love or have life changes that cause them to travel down a so-called broken road where they will find meaning and love in their lives.

My book settings take place in the forests of Northeast Oregon, because in nature is where I, the writer, have done some of my best reflecting on life’s struggles, successes and goals and have been best able to implement them.

From time to time, it can be a good idea to reflect on your life and what you are trying to convey in the efforts you make or the things you do. Perhaps you will see that you have already conveyed something you want others to grasp or learn, whether it came out subconsciously or in more of a planned way.  




Saturday, October 17, 2020


Years ago, when I was a child, the girls wore dresses and Mary Jane shoes with what we used to call anklets. Once we grew older the anklets were set aside for the teen sock fashion of the day.  If our jeans or pants shrank or we grew taller, friends would look at our jeans ask if we were preparing for a flood. Obviously, it was a fashion no-no to be seen in pants too short.

Presently we have “flood” (cropped) jeans in style. This goes against the principles of a woman of a certain age! So, now I am looking online at proper winter socks to wear with these waders. Of course, ankle boots are the answer, but I don’t want to wear a boot every day this winter. I like my comfortable tennis shoes and I have different colors. This summer I have been wearing socks that don’t show, but it’s fall now and starting to get cold.

I suppose I can buy longer jeans but I have to admit these jeans are figure flattering even for a woman of a certain age. So, I looked at online images of jeans and socks and found that anklets were back in style. You have many choices of what kind of ankle socks to buy, even some frilly white fabric with a ruffle on the top like we used to wear.

My search tells me that I can probably fold the winter socks I already have in half and then hope I don’t embarrass myself in front of my friends of a certain age.

So, I will have to bite the bullet and let go of my principles. Yet, I can slowly get used to this idea as Covid-19 keeps me inside hiding these days. My husband won’t notice, and my dogs won’t care. I think I will survive.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Here Comes the Judge

As a writer I’ve had to pay more attention to how people communicate and decided to check out nonverbal communication on television. This past week I viewed two back-to-back court hearings on Judge Judy where I observed some nonverbal communication styles in the courtroom. In the first part of the episode, Judy focused in on a multi-pierced, twenty-three year old man with a Mohawk hairstyle, who’d thrown bricks into the windshield of his ex-girlfriend’s car. Judy said, “She may think you’re handsome, but I don’t!” “Uncross your arms!” and “Put your arms at your sides!” The second part of the episode revolved around two high school boys/brothers who were accused of stealing money from a backpack. Judy commented on one boy’s poor eye contact and had to use a hand gesture to remind him to look at her. “Look at me when I’m speaking!” “Stand up straight!” Further, Judge Judy hates it when you are smiling at the wrong time. “Wipe the smirk off your face!”

Our clothing and personal appearance are important means of nonverbal communication. If you wear a Mohawk in Judy’s courtroom, she lets you know she’s not impressed. Many Americans consider a reluctance to make eye contact as rude, disrespectful, and hostile, and can demonstrate believability or dishonesty. Further, we avoid eye contact with someone we dislike. If someone has their arms folded after meeting you, it could mean that he is not enthusiastic about being around you. Through our facial expressions (smiling or a smirk at an inopportune time in this example), we reveal a great deal about our feelings and responses to other people.

Communication is 7% verbal and 65 to 93% nonverbal. Judge Judy has to consider the whole picture when determining whether a person is guilty or not. The nonverbal expression and the verbal message must be considered together. The nonverbal message is more accurate and is usually believed over the verbal message. Watching Judge Judy helped me see that whether we like it or not, we are being “judged” by our nonverbal communication in every aspect of our lives. One can learn a lot about nonverbal communication by looking no further than your living room TV. For a writer, non-verbal communication is just as important as the words in a conversation. Movement can reveal important details about a character’s personality, how they behave, whether subtle or blatant. Perhaps while watching your favorite show you will see just what authors need to emulate in our stories, and if you are a writer, you can gain a few nonverbal communication ideas to add to the characters in your story.

Mary Vine is an author, publisher, speaker and retired educator. She writes contemporary and historical romantic fiction, a time travel series, and inspirational children’s books, the BIG GUY UPSTAIRS, BIJU SILVER LINING and DRAGON GILBY. Mary, and her husband can usually be found in Southwest Idaho or Northeast Oregon. To learn more about Mary Vine,

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Getting "The Call"

When I got “the call” from a publishing house I was not wholly surprised. I had optimism because the publisher, Kerry A. Jones, had previously read my manuscript and suggested changes. I remembered thinking that if she took time out of her busy schedule to read and give advice, then she was probably interested. If I could manage to make the changes according to her observations, that is. 

I knew I had one other thing going for me, the setting of the book.I had fallen in love with Northeast Oregon and wrote about it. I had read in the newspaper that Jones happened to have grown up on a ranch in northeast Oregon before moving on to college and her career. 

After my husband and I found Northeast Oregon, we bought some properties in the area. My husband had an interest in gold mining but I fell in love with the gold mining history. Out of this love came this, my first published book, MAYA’s GOLD by Mary Vine.

Jones called me on July 5, 2007 and soon presented me with a contract for the rights to my first book (the third manuscript I had written).

My love for Baker County (and a bit of Grant County) is present in all of the pages of this book.  This work literally takes you on a tour of some of the gold mining areas. Further, my fiction books (all but one) revolve around these counties, too. Along with MAYA'S GOLD,  A PLACE TO LAND and SNAKE RIVER RENDEZVOUS are all connected by the fictional town of Salisbury Junction. The books aren’t a series, yet the heroes and heroines are associated in each book.

To check out the area I love so much, take a read or look at MAYA’S GOLD:

For Amazon:

Click the link here:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


My Television As Seen From My Recliner
When I was a child, I had four television channels to choose from, ABC, NBC, CBS and the Public Broadcast System. Color TV was new and we were delighted to see new shows and the actors in color. The actors spoke clearly and properly, the content was understandable, and the picture was bright enough to see the show no matter the time of day. We thought we had it all, including enough choices. Even with limited choices, as I see it now, we could easily become couch potatoes. Yet, I remember having time to read, especially in later years when my children were growing up.

The years flew by and I am now retired. Part of my entertainment has been to watch TV more often. I have a multitude of channels to watch and it appears to grow every day. I now use closed caption on my screen, not for a hearing impairment but there are times when I can’t understand a word or two and I can move my eyes down (or up) and read the words as well. Sometimes I’ve noticed that closed caption doesn’t get it either by omitting or putting in a word that doesn’t make sense. I realize that the f word is used a lot in this era but on some Netflix shows I hear the f word so much that I have to stop watching the show. What kind of intelligence is there in a person who uses six f words in a sentence (I counted)? Yes, I’m a grandmother, but come on. And I know there are many other shows to choose from and I do.

There are times every day when we must close a curtain to be able to see what’s happening on the screen and still it can be so dark that very little is visible. I’m sure I’m not the first person to notice this. It’s not just aging eyes.

Violence on our TV shows have been common for some time now. Yes, one gets used to it. Before I retired, I told one of my middle school students that the character that scared me when I was a child was the witch on the Wizard of Oz. They chuckled because they are so accustomed to seeing all kind of horrors. That can’t be good for any of us, including me.

One of my biggest problems these days is to use my time more wisely. I love to read but I don’t get a chance to do that much because of TV. Yes, that is my fault. I can be a recliner potato. Ideally, I would like to be able to cut down on the tv watching, at least more than I’m doing now, and find some other things to do. Maybe find new recipes, sewing, writing, etc. But then I also know that I will procrastinate to a certain degree. But I won’t know how successful I will be until I try, right?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Does God Care About Our Pets?

Sophie at Cracker Creek in NE Oregon
My husband Greg told me that he had heard years ago that it didn’t do any good to pray for, or about dogs. I doubted that statement, because I believed that God cared about every concern that we’ve expressed to Him.
Over the last twenty-five years we’ve had a large dog. Two purebred German shepherds, one malamute and German shepherd mix and another German shepherd mix. I had been enamored with German shepherds, Greg on the other hand wanted a golden retriever but he settled for the German shepherds too.
Presently we had the malamute mix and a small Pomeranian mix, both well-behaved. Our retirement life was good with our two delightful dogs, making us a family of four.
Without warning, our malamute mix died of either a heart attack or blood clot. Believe me, we all felt the loss.
We decided we wanted our family of four back and searched the ads and shelters for another dog to rehome. Puppies came with high price tags. If you found one for a thousand dollars, that was a good deal. A puppy for us may not have been the very best idea anyway.
At the two shelters we visited we found lots of cats and pit bulls (which are fine for others), or dogs with a high energy warning label. Also, with the pandemic in full force it seemed that dogs to adopt were somewhat limited.
Finally, we found a sixty-pound male that wasn’t listed as a high energy dog only that he’d lived outside for two years. We adopted him, brought him home and all hell broke loose, to put it lightly. For a dog that lived outside he instantly went for that favorite chair, couch, or our bed to lay in and we wanted a dog that didn’t live on the furniture. While not fighting to get on the furniture, he was busy disturbing what he could every minute with his unbelievable nervous energy. Outside, he constantly looked for a way out of the fence. Did I mention that I couldn’t leave him to go to the bathroom?
Now, this was no fault of the shelter, they tried to explain what a new dog would go through, and we thought we understood but we had made an error in choosing this dog. I took him back and on the way home I cried rare tears that we couldn’t help this dog. Perhaps as seniors we’d never be able to have a large dog again. As a matter of fact, we’d pretty much resigned ourselves of finding another dog that would suit us. We both expressed that we didn’t think that we’d find a match unless we heard of a dog that needed rehoming from a friend, yet that type of request seemed rare these days.
The next day, we got a call from my son. Since our dog died would we like to have their five-year-old Golden Retriever? He had three dogs and rabbits, and not enough space for a large dog to run.  What? The kind of dog that Greg always wanted and a good gentle dog to boot? It didn’t take long for us to decide to welcome Sophie Rose to our household.
So, does God care about our dogs? Well, they certainly seem to be one of His greatest gifts to man. Ask any dog owner if that could be true, and you’ll get a nodding head in return. I think God cared about what we were going through and the fact that I expressed my sadness to Him. After all the Bible does say to pray about everything. So, yes I believe that God cares about your pets.
Sophie Running at the Mining Ghost Town of Bourne in NE Oregon

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

My New Book and How It Came About

It's official, FAMOUS IN MURRAYVILLE is published in print and ebook formats!

This book has taken me longer to finish than any of my other twelve books. I started writing it just before my father passed away in 2012, but when he died I couldn't seem to write anything, so took a break.

I've picked it up a few times since then, still things got in the way until last summer, when I was determined to write until I hit "the end." I'm thinking this is the best time anyway, since I've added more details as I've gone along.

I found that it was nice to do a contemporary story after being in 1870 for the last three books. Now, I'm confused about which era to write about next.

Anyway, the title came to me after hearing the song, FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN by Miranda Lambert. According to Lambert, everyone knows what you're up to in a small town. So I thought, how much more so for the town mayor and created one for my fictitious small town Murrayville named Faith Chadwick.

Around this time I met a man who had been searching for Spanish treasure in Northeast Oregon, had seen some symbols on a rock and started digging. Whether true or not, I thought it would be an interesting premise and did some research on Spanish treasure.

Here is the blurb for FAMOUS IN MURRAYVILLE:

When attorney Brien McGrew files a land claim to search for the Harney County gold, he finds that the claim backs up to a house on private property. Why would a young woman be so intent on avoiding others, he wonders? So much for secrecy. 

Mayor Faith Chadwick loves living on the edge of nowhere so she can keep the town’s people from interrupting her privacy. Then Brien McGrew shows up next door and starts digging a hole, the size of a coffin. What could he be planning, she wonders? So much for peace and solitude. 

A fragile truce begins to build between the two neighbors. Someone else however is watching Faith—his own plan already in play. 
Amazon Link HERE 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


The article below is written by Idaho author Carol Peterson and used with permission:

Writers are regularly assaulted with the marketing advice that we must have an online presence. It is great advice.

Many writers however, tremble when facing the technology learning curve and don’t even know how to start. Other writers don’t have the couple hundred dollars each year to maintain a website or are overwhelmed with the work involved in providing continuously new and fresh content.

Even blogsites, most of which are free, have many of the same concerns for writers—the technology, the lack of direction, the work commitment.

Consider then a joint website. A joint website is nothing more than gathering like-minded writers together and forming an online presence.

Such an endeavor is not new. Writers often join together to share the work and expense as well as to encourage each other and build up their platform base. Writers might join together based on the genre they write, the location they live in, or just because they work well together.

Even if some or all of the writers in the group are still unpublished, having an online presence can help them become established online and build up a fan base and platform for when they become published. Having an online presence also provides a place to send agents and editors when pursuing traditional publishing.

A simple way to structure a joint website would be:

  • The website could have an active, changing home page. Each person could commit to writing a periodic post so there is always new and fresh content.
  • Create a separate web page for each person. There each person could write a bio, what they write and for whom and what books or other work they have published or are working on.
  • You might have a separate web page to list all of the books written by all of the members. The books could be listed alphabetically by title or listed by genre so it is less obvious if one person has written 50 books and the rest have only written one. Of course, make sure each book title has a link to purchase that book either online or directly from the author.
  • You might have an additional page of special posts or information or FAQs about the overall theme or purpose of the website. For example, if the website is dedicated to helping other writers, you might post individual articles about various writing tools or aspects of the craft of writing. If the purpose of your website is to encourage busy mothers, you might have a page dedicated to simple, healthy recipes kids love.
  • Elect a single person who will maintain the website to avoid having members add content willy-nilly. Set up guidelines folks will abide by, such as allowing new content only once a month or quarterly so as to not overload the website manager, or create a word limit per post.

Of course, encourage each member to invite their own friends, family members, and readers to visit and subscribe to the site.

You may not think you are ready for your own website either because you are just beginning your writing career, don’t yet have a book in print or can’t afford the cost. Creating a joint website might be a wonderful option for you. Not only does it provide you with a low-cost online presence, the group can create a richer website more quickly with each member providing content at the start.

Stay encouraged!

Carol Peterson

The content for this article was part of a workshop presented at the 2018 Idaho Creative Author Network (ICAN) Author’s Fest. For more information about how writers can market together, please check out Working Together; Achieving Success: Critiquing, Marketing, Masterminds available on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

My Mother and the Depression Era

My mother lived during the depression era. In her adult life, she saved so many things that it was a nightmare to move her, and a it bothered me that she couldn’t throw away something such as thirty margarine tubs stacked in her closet. I don’t think that she’d classify as a hoarder, she had a large house and had a place for most things. Yet, it was also a pain to dust over many odds and ends she’d displayed around the house. I learned later that many of these items were given to her by friends and loved ones and they meant a lot to her. Now, after she has passed, I wish that she would have told me why she saved so many things, that they meant a lot to her or that she saved because she had been without so much in her early years. My thoughts as I’ve gotten older tell me that she knew I wouldn’t understand, and she would have been right.

With Covid-19 as part of the present, I find myself looking through my cupboards, pantry and freezer, thankful that we had stocked some items away in early March and have been able to exist on them and for a while longer. In my mind I have gone back to my 20s when I was on a strict budget and stretched the groceries in a creative way in how and what I cooked. Those thoughts have come back to me and I am now grateful I had those years to learn how to fare in times like these.

I’ve been thinking about making a face mask for my husband and I, we eventually must get out and shop for something. I figure even a homemade face cover is better than none. I kept a cardboard box of sewing items that my mother had used over the years, thinking I could use the buttons, needles, and spools of thread. I knew that she had some scraps of material in there too, as well as elastic. Basically, I can find everything I need in there and more to make a mask. There are even some shoulder pads in there that can work as padding inside the mask, too (as long as I can breathe). I smiled many times as I sorted through her things and thought how she would so enjoy if I would use her items for something as important as a crisis that she’d saved for all her life.

These are strange times. Be creative, be thankful for what you have, exercise a bit and please stay well. Best wishes to you.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Dragon Gilby is Here!

Dragon Gilby has released!
Dragon Gilby by Mary Vine, Illustrated by Kaylynne Dowling.
Dragon Gilby’s mama told him that dragons were made to protect man, but most dragons he knew were mean and made fun of people. He wanted to be a different dragon yet was not sure how to go about doing the right thing. Gilby asks his friend, the preacher Max what he can do to be a good dragon and the preacher decides to give it some thought.
On Dragon Gilby’s trip to the store, he comes across people in need and helps them the best he can. When he comes back to visit with Max, Max tells him his new friends have visited and told of Gilby’s good deeds. Dragon Gilby learns that just one dragon can make a difference after all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dreaming of your first book signing? If you’re a writer chasing a dream of publication, you probably are. I certainly looked forward to the day, until it got here. My thoughts went wild. What will I wear? If I’m with another author, will we both end up wearing a navy blue suit jacket? But then, is a jacket too fancy?

It turned out to be scarier than I’d thought and not because of wardrobe. For my first two signings I was with one other author, then three others. What if their book sells but mine doesn’t? I certainly didn’t want to look pitiful. Well, I did sell some books, too, and no one was wearing the same thing as I was.

I’ve since learned that you don’t have to wear something eye catching each time you sign, and that depending on the amount of time you are signing has a good deal to do with how many books you sell. It also matters if you know anyone in the area where you’re signing. Unless you are Nora Roberts, even selling one book at a one hour signing is something. If it’s four hours, I think six is pretty good. Of course the more books you have written and displayed, gives a reader more choice and perhaps more sales.

A fellow author told me of a time recently that she’d signed with three other authors in a nice book store near Seattle. Two of the writers had multiple deals with big publishing houses. The other two had contracts with small houses but were selling nonetheless. Yet, not one person bought a book from any of them. As a matter-of-fact, people avoided them by giving them a wide berth in the store. Things like this do happen and to the best of writers.

What do I know for sure? That besides setting up a good visual display, it doesn’t matter what you do to get people to come in and see your books. I do try to say good morning, or afternoon, to those that cross my path, but if a person likes to read they will stop and look. Many people don’t choose to read, whether due to time restraints or they spend their time with all that technology has to offer these days, and if that’s the case they don’t need what you have to offer. That’s okay, because there are also those that love reading what you write. I also know for sure that men will come by and look, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that half of the people that bought my first book, Maya’s Gold, are male. I assume it’s the gold in the title that they want to read about.

It’s been years since my first book came out, and I’m no longer frightened of book signings. I enjoy talking with people going by and am delighted when a fan comes in to buy my next book.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Anxiety, As I Know It by Mary Vine

First, I’d like to mention that I’m not a physician, I am a writer and this is my blog post. To find help for anxiety please see your doctor. In addition, do not stop any medication without talking to your doctor.

Looking back, I was an anxious child, sometimes shy and quiet but afraid to step out and take a chance. I thought I was unique in this, but I’ve recently read that I wasn’t. Perhaps my problem only had to do with needing encouragement, but I have learned to sometimes live without it and still prosper.

Eleven years ago, my husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and our world fell apart. We were shaken and turned upside down, it seemed. Of course, my husband had the hardest part and still does, but I’ve been right there with him.

My own health started to wane, so I asked my then doctor for something for anxiety. Contrary to what some may say, the anxiety medicine did help me – a lot. My well-being moved back to healthy; I helped make financial and physical decisions with steady reactions that continue to help us to this day. The medicine helped keep me steady at work and home.

Now, things have changed, my husband is feeling better than he did eleven years ago, and I am retired from my day job. My children are stable, and my current worries have to do with book sales and public speaking. I’m not that worried about book sales, as much as some authors are, because I have a pension. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. got a C for a speech in college but went on to give a highly regarded, well-known speech. Practice helps everyone, even me.

Recently, I went to see my doctor for my yearly checkup. I talked to her about changing my anxiety pill to one that had less side effects for seniors. She had me fill out a long check list involving depression and anxiety. After an additional conversation she helped me see that my anxiety was within normal limits and concluded that I didn’t need the medicine anymore. She cancelled the medication in my presence, saying that my medicine wasn’t meant to be used lifelong.

The weaning off the medicine can be the hard part, I understand. As directed, I went to a half dose immediately and then lesser amounts as time passed. I went to the pharmacy and bought some seasick pills to steady my stomach and the checker said, “Looks like you’re going on a cruise.” Hardly, but the seasick pills do help my stomach on occasion. A nap helps, too, and telling those that live with you what you’re doing.

At the same time, I came across an article in last April’s Family Circle magazine by Lisa Damour, PhD, titled Talking About. The psychologist said that most of the anxiety our kids experience is the healthy and normal kind. Anxiety can help kids be safe; it can help them sense if something is wrong. She says to try on worst case scenarios with your child (and yourself, I say). Also, anxiety in daughters is different than in sons. Boys may act out while girls have been known to share some of their concerns, yet I was silent and somehow survived.

The bottom line is, that over time I have learned to judge a scenario and step out and take chances. Yet, I think my belief in God and seeing the good that comes with the bad in life has helped me be more proficient at that.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes. “If you fixate on the worst-case scenario, and it actually happens, you’ve lived it twice – Michael J. Fox