Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Being Thankful Through Many Years

 The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day. ~ St. Gianna

I’ve been on this earth for quite a while. I’ve lived through a lot of ups and downs and have grown to be thankful for many things.

My husband and I grew up in middle class families in Washington, we didn’t have a lot, but we had enough. Our two mothers grew up with even less, and from their childhood I’m sure they were starkly aware of what was enough to maintain a family since they both had lived through the Great Depression.

cotton plant

My mother was one of eleven children and had to help the family. I know she had picked cotton and had helped raise a brother. She’d say, God will provide, and in retrospect, I believe she probably had seen it in action a few times.

My mother-in-law was a great example of showing gratitude for what she had. When she expressed thankfulness, you could see genuineness in her face and tone of voice. She had seven siblings and four of them died young. Her own mother became a widow at fifty and had to take over the farm and family.

My husband and I were both raised in church, values that were inbred in our parents and they did their best to point us in the right direction. They knew that the ultimate thing to be thankful for was the sacrifice of Christ. No matter how hard I try, I can never be thankful enough for what He has done.

At our childhood homes, we had enough to eat, but not many leftovers. Our mothers split one chicken between a whole family of five or six people, so we rarely got the drumstick. Of course, there were side dishes included. Neither of us regularly ate candy, chips or drank soda. They were for special treats or occasions only (or if we got ahold of some change). People of the United States were generally thinner back in the sixties and didn’t frequent fast food establishments like many do now.

In my twenties I was a stay-at-home mom with two babies. I remember being on a budget and having fifty-five dollars in savings. I kept it there for months. To do this I washed the kids’ diapers instead of buying disposables. Chose fun but inexpensive presents for birthdays and Christmas. I made a menu and bought groceries for two weeks at a time, because I didn’t have a standalone freezer or the money to fill it. That’s how strict I had to be, but I’m extremely grateful I was able to be home with the kids.

My father told us that the only way he really prospered was when he bought real estate. I had not forgotten that bit of advice and in our forties my husband and I bought property; and it indeed has helped us prosper over the years.

Fried chicken

Today, I get the drumstick and sometimes the thigh piece, too. When I cook, there are lots of days I have leftovers. I can find just about anything I want at the store and can even order it online and pick it up. Correction, the store clerk loads the groceries in my car. After my chicken dinner, I have a Lindor chocolate and a couple of miniature candy bars. I have a Lindor every day as a matter of fact. I am royalty compared to what I knew when I was a child. I am thankful for those early years because I (we) learned that our fathers always provided and how our mothers used the money to successfully feed and care for us. Most important, I’m thankful we learned what enough is.

Now, we have savings that we couldn’t imagine having earlier in life. When you’ve lived a long time, you have time to build up a little money and pay off your house (if you are consistent with payments). We presently have a full standalone freezer, so we eventually got off that budget – but it took years.

I am thankful for those early years because I learned it’s rewarding to learn to be able to make ends meet, especially as a young person. I’m thankful that if I lose it all tomorrow, I can draw from my early life to help make ends meet again.

Being thankful is crucial to our happiness, no matter the measure.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Celebrating Veterans in Family, TV, and Books by Mary Vine

Back in 1997, my husband and I found that northeast Oregon was a good place to purchase inexpensive waterfront property. In the early 1860s, after gold was found southwest of Baker City, towns grew to support the miners and then folded when the miners moved on.

We spent summer vacations looking for mining ghost towns and those escapades became some of our best memories. On one of those expeditions, we located the town of Bourne, Oregon. It has a Main Street with cabins along it, nothing dating back to the 1860s but some older ones, nonetheless. We bought two small lots on Main Street along the roaring Cracker Creek. Later we added a cabin.

Set up during the filming of Gold Rush with veterans at the cabin and camping nearby, along with film crew, satellite dish and other production folks

After fifteen years of enjoyment, we put the property up for sale and got a call from a cast member of Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush. The former United States Army Green Beret contacted us about renting our cabin, for three to four months, to four disabled veterans and gold miners in the show. Later, he told me that several veterans have trouble transitioning from the military back to civilian life. Many times they are alone in the process of trying to find themselves, learning where they want to work or how to start a new business venture. They also must learn to bond with others in their new life. Many have to face all these things while dealing with their disabilities as well.

What is interesting for me is that, before I met the Green Beret recipient and some of the veterans, I had already planned to write a contemporary story about a disabled veteran. So, I listened carefully as I heard about the wooden flagpole they built and put up on the property with the US flag waving. (pictures to the right) Or, how they sat around a campfire and shared their day and lives together. The men also expressed joy at being out in the wilderness with their buddies. I wish they would have found more gold for all their efforts.

My husband is also a veteran. My father never talked about his tour of duty in the South Pacific during WWII, nor did my father-in-law who served in the Battle of the Bulge in France. They both managed to move on and live fulfilling lives, but my father-in-law must have carried some disturbing residue from such an awful experience, especially in that he pushed a machine gun around in a baby carriage.

In my story, my hero has already taken the journey to find himself after serving in the military. He knows what his new career will be. However, he struggles with his injured body and self-worth and that makes bonding with others a challenge. When he meets a woman he gets to know and cares about, his insecurities about his injuries get in the way. He believes she can choose better. Save Yourself  will be the title.

I know that by the time I finish researching and writing this story, I will have followed my character’s mental and physical journey. Even though I will never fully know what being a wounded veteran goes through before, during, and after war, I hope to present a reasonable idea of what it entails.

Bourne cabin in winter, covered with snow
Our cabin in winter


Saturday, November 5, 2022


I've had some exciting things happen in my writing world this past year. One of them was to be part of a mystery anthology with nine authors from Windtree Press.  And it is out now!

Crime Never Takes a Holiday

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Choosing the Right Cover is Hard!


Some writers call the book they've created their baby as the words are so close to his or her heart. When the very first book is written and sent to an editor it can be hard to accept any suggested corrections or plot changes. Yes, I hesitated about making changes. Didn't my words come from somewhere deep in my soul and they should never be deleted? Yes, that was a long time ago, I was like that after my first manuscript was complete, not realizing then that if an editor suggested changes that meant she or he was very interested in the book - if you can make the changes, that is. I'm so far past that now. I can make a change at the drop of a hat and not think anything of it. So, I've moved on to worrying about my book covers.

Snake River Rendezvous was my fourth book contracted with a publishing house and I had this book with the company for almost seven years. I had no problems with the publisher, but I wanted to be able to get my rights back and put the book out myself and get more book royalties.

Professionals who can reformat the book and do the cover are not hard to find. Still, I have to decide what kind of cover I want. I can look at lots of cover ideas, but I can get confused and frustrated, then finally pick one and hope that I will love it forever. Or more important, that my readers will like it enough to pick it up. 

The cover below, right, is the cover that my publisher put on the book. I liked that at a signing I could point at it and tell people about the Snake River, tell them the general area in NE Oregon, and a little bit about the story. Many times, if they knew the area, they'd buy it. But since I got my rights back, the rule is that I have to put a new cover on the book.

The cover on the bottom left is the next cover I had chosen, but when I got the print version in my hand, I somehow wanted something more. I looked through some more pictures and came up with the cover above and the cover artist did the rest. I like the look of this one and hope you will too.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Cheers to Women of the 19th Century

 My first serious introduction to women’s rights came from my American history college class. I was to read and review Abigail Scott Duniway’s book, Edna and John: A Romance of Idaho Flat. Just as the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin exposed the unfairness of slavery, Duniway exposed the injustice of women’s rights in the late 1800s. She knew full well a woman’s limitations; a disabled husband put her in the position of bread winner and caregiver for him and her children. She had no choice but to work at jobs that didn’t pay the bills.

Cover image of an Idaho town in the 19th century for book: Edna and John, A Romance of Idaho Flat by Abigail Scott DuniwayOf course, living in an era that has given women more rights, I cannot fully understand the challenges Edna faced. If my husband dies, our house will not go to the closest living male relative, but to me. Still, I see some allure in the era that takes place around 1870, just after the Civil War. Enough to inspire me to write historical fiction anyway.

As I write about my characters, and to be in tune with women’s history, it’s not too hard to figure out how my heroine will make a living as there are only so many acceptable jobs. So, in reading our historical novels, we’ve come across the same professions many times. Otherwise, she may have what is either considered an immoral job, live in a rich family, or be married. So, to be different, and to please the reader, the heroine must be engaging in other ways.

Cover for Wanting Moore by Mary Vine

My heroine in Wanting Moore was the only girl among six children, which made her clever, competitive, and tough enough to get a task done. She thinks about being a teacher and sets off to mark her own trail until she’s injured and meets a post-civil war doctor on her journey.

When I wondered about the Civil War as related to women’s contributions, I searched for information about the few women nurses that have gone down in history. I set out to learn what medical changes came about because of the civil war hospital, or shortly after. Again, I had to think outside the box for the possibilities to include in my story.

Cover for A Nugget of Time, time travel romance by Mary VineIn my time travel series, Nugget of Time (book one), I take a successful news reporter from our time, back to an 1870s mining town where only men have jobs at the local newspaper. She has but few choices to make a living in a town where few women reside. I must consider what can she do. Will she be accepted in this wild west town? How can she be safe? What will she do to be safe and make a living?

I’ve thought about this scenario a lot because I’ve had a summer cabin along a creek in a Northeast Oregon mining ghost town, where I have considered the history and enjoyed the forest for several years. Taking it all in, I find that it is a great setting, and has been for many of my books.

But then, I have it easy. I say, cheers to the women of the 19th century who plotted the way before me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


I'm blogging over at Windtree Press today. I did an article called, "Cheers to the Women of the 19th Century." Also check out the many authors at Windtree Press and the many different genres of books.

Blog - Windtree Press

Saturday, January 22, 2022

 Here's a post on writing tips I did with Fresh Fiction twelve years ago, but it still makes sense today.

I'm blogging at Fresh Fiction today. Stop by and say hello. http://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=2265