Category Archives: General

On My Way!

I’m on my way to the 2019 American Christian Fiction Writers conference in San Antonio, Texas.

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We’re staying at the Hyatt Regency. Here’s a view from the fourth floor.

Our flight: I love it when Bruce and I get upgraded to first class. It’s like a special gift from the Lord. I have a nice big window…and I have control over the window shade. I’ll never understand why people get the window seat and then close the shade. How can they stand to miss out on the spectacular scenery below, not to mention the clouds? I love clouds. I think, what’s outside is much more interesting than anything on a computer screen. But that’s just me.

So, since I’ve got the window seat, I’m able to snap this wonderful photo of cloud- crowned Mt. Rainier. Wow!

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We have an older gentleman named Joe as our personal flight attendant, and man, is he charming and helpful. He waxes eloquent about San Antonio, announcing about ten times over the course of our 3 1/2 hour flight how it’s his favorite city.

I have an ear-worm that I’d like to gouge out of my brain right now. I woke up super early this morning hearing the song, “Kids,” from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” It just won’t go away even though I’ve tried to replace it with several more apropos pieces of music.

Apropos—that is—to the emotional tone of the next four days at the conference. Shouldn’t it be serious, but worshipful, full of confidence and expectation?

Here’s a photo from the lobby of the Hyatt. Can’t you just hear the sound of the waterfalls?

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I love the air-conditioning in here. Outside, it’s about a 100 degrees and kind of muggy.

My latest manuscript is tentatively entitled, The Girl Everyone Wants, and it’s a Young Adult thriller. I’m hoping to interest an agent with the plot and the teenaged main character. We’ll see.

Here’s a photo from our room of the River Walk, a charming, winding walk bordered by the river and lovely trees and flowers and flanked by tempting restaurants of all types. Plenty of outdoor seating, if you can stand the 98 degree heat. We’ll take the air–conditioned interior, thank you.

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You can’t see the river walk too well from this photo, so I’m going all the way down there to take a better photo…even though—I’m reminding you— it’s really hot and muggy! Am I a hero, or what?!

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There. That’s better. But even this photo doesn’t do it justice. At night, there are lights all over the place, and boat tours up and down the waterway. I’ll try to get a few photos of the hotels which look out over the river. The architecture is beautiful.

So far, I’ve met ten writers. Some write historical fiction, others write romance. It met one sweet lady who’s a Genesis finalist (sure hope she wins) and one lady who writes suspense, is a dog trainer when she’s not writing, and always includes a dog in each of her stories.

By the way, I actually sat next to Robert Dugoni—a wonderful best-selling suspense writer—at Seatac— while waiting to board our plane.  But he was focused on reading the sports section and I didn’t want to disturb him, so I just watched him surreptitiously. I whispered to Bruce, “that’s Robert Dugoni.” Bruce said, “Nah, it’s not him.” I brought up photos of the writer on my phone. Bruce still insisted it wasn’t him. I waited until we had boarded and said, “Well, I know it’s Robert Dugoni because he gave a talk at my writer’s group about two years ago, so there, I’m right, it’s definitely Robert Dugoni.”

I see Frank Peretti  down the hall, talking to some important people.(Remember This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness?) Again, I don’t even try to barge in an introduce myself. He’ll get plenty of that after he gives his keynote speech later this afternoon. So I head for my hotel room.

That’s about it for now. I’ll keep you updated.

Have a great day!

Juneau and Skagway!

 

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Last week I wrote about our lovely accommodations aboard our cruise ship and how Bruce and I went zip-lining in Ketchikan. The next day we docked in Juneau and took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier.

Our bus driver, Steve, was a tall, lean Scot with hippie hair and clothing but a wealth of local and state history. His Scottish brogue made his stories even more entertaining. Along the way, Steve pointed out eagles, spawning salmon and a  bear up a tree. At the glacier, we didn’t have time to hike all the way up close. But even down river the glacier is beautiful but intimidating: a blue-iced monster with craggy crocodile-like dorsal spikes and crevasses so deep you don’t want to imagine what it would be like to fall into one of them.

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One of Steve’s interesting tidbits about Alaska was how the U.S. ended up buying the Alaska territory from the Russians. It seems that the Russians were realizing that it was expensive and challenging to take care of this huge property. Indeed, in the time it would take for Russia to be apprised of a foreign invader and to respond with troups—well—it just was too darned hard to keep tabs on her. Besides, the fur trade was about the only thing she was good for. So in 1867, William Seward, then Secretary of State, arranged the sale, for 7.2 million. (About 125 million in today’s market) Most Americans considered this sale “Seward’s folly” until gold turned up not long afterward.

Here’s a spectacular view from the tram looking down on Juneau, the capital.

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In Skagway, we had arranged for a morning’s brisk hike—and I do mean brisk— followed by a raft trip down the Skagway River. Here’s our wonderful and incredibly in-shape guide, John, who hails from New Jersey, but you’d never know it by his accent.

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The Skagway River, surprisingly, is silver colored because of all the glacial silt.

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I wish I’d been able to take more photos of our raft trip, but we were all hanging on for dear life. John acted blasé, but at one point where he tried to avoid getting our raft caught on a snarl of dead trees in the river, he almost blew his cool, huffing and straining at his oars.

This land is magnificent. I’m so glad that God, in His sovereignty, made it a part of our nation. We are enriched and blessed by the wonders of Alaska.

Next week I’ll tell you about the drama of a real-life rescue at sea.

Have a great week and, if you haven’t already done so,  consider a cruise to Alaska!

Alaska!

 

 

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Visiting Alaska was definitely on my bucket list. Had been every since I read Jack London’s books about the great Yukon gold rush of 1898 and began to dream of experiencing my own Alaska adventure. Of course, I knew I would never be physically strong enough to cart 2000 pounds of food and gold-digging supplies from Skagway up the Chilkoot trail to the Yukon.

But seeing the world that Jack London a hundred years ago saw made my heart thrill.

Here’s Vancouver, Canada, where we began our adventure in mid-August.

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We took a Princess cruise. (I highly recommend them!) Sumptuous accommodations and too much food made us feel sluggish and fat. I told myself I was simply storing up energy for our land excursions! Ha, ha.

We had a good-sized suite and hung out on our deck, thrilled to view humpback whales and porpoises at a distance cavorting in the icy waters.

When we reached Ketchikan, our first stop, we debarked the ship and waited for our  tour guides. We had elected to go zip-lining. I know, you think I’m kidding. Little old lady, going zip lining? But Bruce thought we could handle it.

I think Bruce was way more capable, though. The zip-lining part is easy-peasy. You just hang on and yell like crazy when you step off the platform onto nothing, and whisk along the cable. But in-between the zip lining, they had erected various types of obstacles. Like a series of rope loops that we had to step on. It didn’t look too hard when viewed from the ground. But when we got up there, about thirty or forty feet high, those itty bitty loops were wiggly and hard to snag with our feet.

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Being pretty little I had a hard time stretching between the bottoms of the loops and all the way up to the hand rails. Perfect for an average sized man. Not so easy for a short person. However, the little girl in the photo was amazing. Maybe she’s too young to comprehend the concept of DANGER!

But that wasn’t the only obstacle. Next, we had to step down onto a jouncy log and balance to walk about ten feet across to our next tree landing.

The really, really worst obstacle, though, was a series of wooden planks that hung suspended by ropes, like swing-set seats. The obstacle stretched about twenty feet from landing to landing. If you stepped wrong, the seat swung out from underneath your feet. At one point, that’s what happened to me, leaving me hanging almost upside down. It took me a few desperate back and forth swings to right myself. And I secretly applauded myself for having such strong shoulders and pecs. Yay, Dena!

At the end of the zip-lining exercise, we zipped out over open water which formed part of an inlet where canoes and kayaks take off. We landed high above the water and thrilled to hear the cries of eagles nearby. Doesn’t Bruce look handsome in his zip lining get-up?

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The next day, my shoulders were sore from the zip lining exercise, but I felt proud of myself, as if I had successfully completed a kind of “outward bound” challenge.

By the way, I kept a pretty detailed journal of our trip (like always). You never know when you might be able to harness some of the memories for future stories!

Next week, I’ll share more about our Alaska adventure.

Full Time Grandma

Well, the two grand girls have been here since mid-June. I can’t believe how the time has passed.

IMG_2473.jpg          I am having a ball with these precious girls. Kaya is almost ten, and very smart. Kira is extra talented in art and can whip up amazing drawing of animals that look as if they could jump off the page.

So far we’ve:

  1. visited beaches and collected shells and sand dollars
  2. collected moss and pine cones
  3. painted bird houses
  4. made hair clips, sculptures, drawings
  5. we’ve written in our journals
  6. read books
  7. visited all sorts of stores and businesses
  8. fed the birds
  9. planted seeds
  10. built a fort
  11. learned how to make french toast, and garlic bread, and mac and cheese. (Tonight we’re learning how to make egg rolls)
  12. Practiced our piano pieces

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We tried to pick blueberries, but Bow Hill Blueberry Farm said that the berries aren’t quite ripe enough.  Instead, we ate blueberry popsicles, which were amazing.

You might be wondering if I been writing during these four weeks. No, no I have not.

I purposely finished my latest novel and sent it in to my editor a week before the girls arrived. The only thing I’ve done with writing is to begin to construct a new novel: a young adult novel set in current times. It’s going to be a thriller, with fascinating teen characters and a dynamite concept.

I always buy a fresh notebook for each new novel. It makes me feel like I used to feel when I returned to school in the fall. I love beginnings. It’s the feeling of possibilities. So, in my new notebook, I draw pictures of my characters, and write descriptions, and write down the basic premise of the story and all the big things that absolutely must happen, and the order of these things.

Then it rained like crazy last night and rain leaked into our basement and we had to call the plumber who looked at it and said it wasn’t a job for a plumber and gave me an invoice for 160 dollars. (It’s almost dried out now, and I really hope we don’t have heavy rain any time soon.)

So life is exciting. The weather is nice, then it’s not. The girls are sweet, then they’re not, then they’re sweet again. Moody or sweet, the girls are absolutely precious and I love them.

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The Summer of the K’s

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(left to right) Kira, Kaya, and Kiri

My daughter, Kiri, and my two lovely granddaughters, Kaya and Kira, are here for the summer.

Kaya is about to turn ten and she’s almost as tall as I am. Which means that she’s going to be way taller that either I or my five foot five daughter. She’s the meticulous sort, who approaches every project we do with studied concern.

Kira is seven and cute, cute cute. And unlike her older sister, she’s the kind who throws herself into arts, crafts, and music, and exercise with abandon.

As a former teacher, empty time reminds me of the old saying: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” So I came up with a schedule for the summer. Our days begins with breakfast, then clean-up, an art or craft, followed by some outdoor activity, then quiet time, reading, followed by writing in their journals. Then Mom comes home from work and plays with them until bedtime.

Yesterday we decided to explore the water and shores around the pier. I took the scenic route which gave us the opportunity to talk about any subject the kids wanted to discuss. Kaya, the serious one, brought up dying. Does it hurt? What do you see after you die?

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I told her that if you love Jesus, He’s right there when you move from this world to the heavenly world.

“But does it hurt?” insists Kaya.

“Sometimes, ” I answered, “but with lots of people, they simply go to sleep, like your grandparents who were very old when they passed on.

We parked in Fairhaven and walked about half a mile to the pier. The next two and a half hours the girls spent getting wet, building rock towers, exploring under the pier, and finding some remnants of a homeless person’s camp, and getting very sandy and dirty.

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Kaya wants to go back soon and explore the homeless person’s place again. Hmm, maybe I can distract her.

In two days, their cousins are going to be here for a whole week. My house will have to accommodate  three more kids and two more adults, ten in all. Pray for me! We’ll go to Whidbey Island and hike around Deception Pass and maybe even climb an old lighthouse. More about that next week.

It’s wonderful to share my life with my precious children and grandchildren. I hope that I leave them a legacy of faith and of love and connectedness.

I remember when I was in labor with my first born and I had found a scripture verse to focus on during those long painful hours. Psalm 127 says,

“Children are a gift from the Lord;

They are a reward from Him.

Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.

How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!

I birthed three children, and now I have nine grandchildren.

My quiver is full of arrows from God!

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