New Series, the Wolf Deceivers

I recently began a new series entitled The Wolf Deceivers.

Who are the Wolf Deceivers? They are the ones who stalk around the perphery of society, picking off the young and vulnerable who stray too far from the fold. Though they ensnare their victims in plain sight, and their intentions are obvious, people refuse to believe what they see and hear. Perhaps that’s why Jesus spoke to those who had ears to hear and eyes to see.

The first book in this series is The Chieftain’s Choice, set in eighteenth century Scotland. As in all of these books, the villains are easy to identify. But take note of the people who admire them. Why they do is as baffling as the behavior of the deceived of today.

The Chieftain’s Choice

Alana McWayre is a lovely, docile lass of noble lineage, but no man will offer her marriage. She is the daughter of a notorious traitor who decimated the clan during a post-Jacobite uprising. Having grown up lonely and unloved, she’s astonished when the dying and much revered chieftain of Clan Carmichael chooses her to wed his younger son. She’s perplexed when the older son and heir, Gavin Carmichael, arrives to claim her as his bride. Hasn’t her beautiful cousin, Vanora, the heiress of Gilmour Hall, boasted since girlhood she will marry Gavin to enjoin their bordering lands?

Gavin expects nothing more from his arranged marriage to Alana than a compliant wife who will produce the future heir and an escape from her malicious, deceitful cousin. He underestimates Vanora’s schemes, however. Trouble erupts between the Carmichael and Gilmour clans. With rumors swirling of tainted blood and witchcraft, Alana becomes a prisoner in her own home.

Attacks on his wife stir Gavin’s protective nature, and his feelings quickly turn to love. But it will take a higher power to save Alana from the evil hidden behind the walls of Gilmour Hall.

Surrendered, Book 2, Intrigue under Western Skies

The fight never ends until someone surrenders.

The second book in Intrigue under Western Skies, Surrendered, threatens Rhyan’s and Carianne’s happy everafter on the sprawling ranch called Sollano in the heart of Nebraska’s 1884 prairie.

Having vanquished his political enemies, Rhyan Cason is anxious to get hometo his beloved Carianne. Then he receives word an anthrax outbreak threatens his ranch. Even as he ponders how he can afford to take a wife, dark secrets from the distant past shake his beliefs to the core and convince him he’ll never be able to find forgiveness or make Carianne happy.

Carianne is stunned when Rhyan breaks their secret engagement. She leaves Sollano, the beautiful ranch house she loves almost as much as its owner, and returns home to Westerfield. While waiting for her shattered heart to heal, she shifts her attention to building the library she’s promised the town.

Even though Colt Holliman offers her a new courtship, circumstances keep drawing her back to Sollano and Rhyan. Torn between her affection for Colt and her love for Rhyan, Carianne realizes almost too late Rhyan’s troubles lie deeper than saving the ranch. He fights an evil that may destroy more than his love for her–one only God  can defeat.


New Release – Pursued, Book 1, Intrigue under Western Skies


The book that changed my life.

Other than the Bible, of course.

The common thread of every story is a struggle between good and evil. Some are subtle, some blatant, but all boil down to this theme. Christian fiction focuses on God as the force of good.

My newest release, Pursued, is no different. But to me, it was an epiphany. It changed my life

In the fall of 2011, after finishing Jeannette Oke’s series, I decided to renew my writing career after a ten-year hiatus and focus on Christian fiction. Taking it to prayer, I asked if it was the Lord’s will, to send me a new story—and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, make it a western, since I already had two shelves of research books on the subject.

Then I went to play golf with my husband.

By the twelfth hole, I had an entire series swirling in my head. From that moment, for over a year, the story of Carianne and Rhyan consumed my life, twenty-four, seven. Ask my family. In a way, it changed them too.

I was no longer the anxiety ridden grandmother, not knowing what my purpose was in retirement, but rather, became as spiritually confident as Carianne, as willing to face evil as Rhyan.

I’m not the most skilled writer in the world, but the Lord delights in giving incredible tasks to the weakest vessel, doesn’t he?

Pursued might not change the reader’s life as it did mine, but it does reveal the struggle of good and evil in a new light. Sprinkled along the way, it touches on profound truths, from the theological view of a Christian to the scientific view of an atheist, as these two very different characters accept the fact that evil can’t be avoide

Indeed, evil shouldn’t be avoided, but rather, identified, faced, and resisted. And we should rejoice in the opportunity to do so. In the end, that’s the only way we can prove our love.

Debut Mail-Order Brides Series

In the American Northeast during the late 19th century, culture was shifting. Nowhere was this more evident than in women’s changing role. The suffragist sought equality through the vote, but other minds knew equal education was the only way to truly elevate any suppressed people.

Then, as now, women didn’t want to give up love for an equal place in society. They wanted both.

The Annex Mail-Order Brides, my debut novella series, follows three strong, capable women who go to the best college of the day for various reasons, but seek love through the mail.

4Adela's-Prairie-Suitor-FinalIt’s 1881 and the first attempt at coeducation is underway at the Harvard Annex. Most of the ladies attending the Annex hope to attain a quality education and advance the status of women. All Adela Mason wants is marriage and a home of her own. After corresponding with Byron Calhoun, a Kansas farmer, for several months, she’s convinced he’s the man God has chosen for her. She accepts his invitation to visit the farm so he can “court her properly.”

Byron is in danger of losing the farm if he doesn’t marry his neighbor’s daughter, but he’s fallen in love with sweet Adela. Will she agree to marry him before his ex-fiance and mother succeed in running her off?

Raimee's-Fugitive-Cowboy-FinalWhile attending the Harvard Annex, Ramee Abbott gains acclaim as a dress designer and attracts the interest of a textile tycoon. She doesn’t realize how despicable he is until he sells her designs as his own and gives her an ultimatum–marry him immediately and move to New York or face social ruin. Trouble is, he knows too much about her. She has to leave town fast.

Although Josh Volker has recently turned his life around and become a Christian, a bad reputation hounds him. No decent woman will marry him, and after years of drifting, Josh wants a wife to help him build his new ranch, someone who’ll overlook his past. He didn’t expect a prospective bride to show up so soon, certainly not one as pretty and talented as Ramee. Or as desperate. He suspects she has secrets of her own.

Prudie's-Mountain-Man-Final (1)Annex gaduate, Prudie Walsh, has lost her home and family merchandising business. She answers a mail-order bride ad for one reason–Erich Stafford’s dry-goods store.

Scarred by a cougar attack as a child, Erich has spent his entire adult life living as a hermit in the Wyoming mountains. After inheriting a dry-goods store in the nearby frontier town, he leaves his mountain cabin and eagerly awaits his mail-order bride, a woman who will be the perfect helpmate in his new business. He soon realizes the beautiful, ambitious Prudie carries scars of her own. It’ll take a lot of patience and faith to turn their business arrangement into a real marriage.

Buying That First Car

You shall have no other gods before Me. – Exodus 20:3

After the rather dark and distressing nature of last week’s post, I’m ready for a little levity. One of the most humorous situations occurred when I got my first car—and my second. Somewhere in here there’s a serious lesson on the value of things. And why we should always keep that in perspective.

Looks Aren’t Everything

Getting your driver’s license is a milestone in a teenager’s life, but let’s face it, the license is just a card without a car. I’d saved up my money from jobs, allowance, gifts and had everyone searching for a vehicle that fit the amount in my pocketbook.

This isn’t the exact car, hopefully it no longer exists, but this is a good replica. An eight year old 1960 Ford Falcon. Powder blue. A beauty. Since the beginning of mass-produced cars, Ford has made a lot of great vehicles, including the Falcon. This wasn’t one of them. It’s a good thing two of my brothers were mechanics because this car stayed in the shop more than on the road. photo 1 (9)

Things Quickly Lose Their Luster

A couple of more reliable cars later and with my bank account in a lot better shape, I decided to buy a new car. A Buick Lemans, gold tint, gleaming, all the bells and whistles. It purred. Everyone looked and shook their heads in wonder.

Everyone was impressed—except maybe God. That’s how I came to see it.

Less than a week after purchasing this wonderful car, we went to the movies. There were no parking places except right across the street under a huge live oak. I couldn’t parallel park, but there was plenty of space. Why had no one else taken that spot?

I found out after the movies. Apparently every bird in that part of the country used that tree to roost. My beautiful car was covered, literally, from one end to the other in bird poop. I had to scrape the window to see out.

Of course bird poop can be washed off. Then a week later, we went back to the movies. I’d make sure I didn’t park under any tree even if we had to walk a mile. No need to worry about that. We didn’t make it.

I lived out in the country and the theater was twenty miles away. On the way to the movies, I ran into a herd of black cows. No one was hurt, but the entire front end of my beautiful car was smashed in.

The car was repaired and served me for many years, but it never had the same charm after the accident. In fact, no car has appealed to me in the same way. After that one, I’ve always bought my vehicles with no other demands than they are enclosed with four wheels and get me reliably from point A to point B. Actually, all material possessions lost their appeal. I’m sure that’s save me a bundle over the years.

Keeping Things in Perspective

But a teenager has to have his wheels, so I promised my grandsons if they excelled in school and stayed out of trouble, I’d get them a car when they got their licenses. It seemed like a smart deal back when they were six and 1 (1)

This year they claimed that promise. They are on honor roll and haven’t been in a bit of trouble, so I got the best end of the bargain. When the call went out for their first car, this is what showed up. A Rav4, four wheel drive. They like to hunt and fish.

It has over 200,000 miles on it, so it’s going to have its share of shop time, no doubt. Yes, they’ll share it. Don’t know how that’ll work out yet.

Since I think having skin in the game will make them appreciate it more, they have to pay the insurance and gas. I just hope they learn that cars, and all material possessions, are meant to fill a need, with no greater importance than to serve us.

While we serve God.

Do Finances Cause Depression?

I called on Your name, O Lord, from the lowest pit. – Lamentations 3:55

The recent death of Robin Williams by suicide has raised the issue of depression and wealth, or lack of it. If money doesn’t cause depression, it can certainly exacerbate it. We need to think about this before we’re at the end of our 2 (8)

Why is a downturn in the economy called a Depression?

Think of the Great Depression. 1929. Stock Market crash. Very rich people were reduced overnight to paupers. Many couldn’t handle it. People jumped from buildings and bridges to their deaths. These are the ones who made the headlines. There were probably many more in lower income brackets who committed suicide.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little, if money is a god, it will sometimes push people over the edge. People who are already depressed are more vulnerable.

I contend those who survived the Great Depression were those who had faith in themselves and in God. These were the ones who could see a future, a better tomorrow.

What really makes you happy?

People who suffer from depression have forgotten what makes them happy. I know. I’ve been there. Your relationships make you happy. The love you give and receive. Suze Orman signs off from her shows with the admonition to put people first, then money, then things. I might argue with her about putting money before things, but it’s true you have to have money to get things; however, you can’t live without things. No one can eat money. But I have no argument that people come before either money or things.

Since I’m a Christian, my relationship in Jesus is first in my life. If I hadn’t had Him during my times of depression, I might have committed suicide. Even in the depths of despair, there was always that hope of eternity. When you think in terms of eternity, death is no solution. Why my faith saw me through when other Christians succumb to despair, I don’t know. One thing I do know. Depression, whether caused by money or anything else, has a solution.

What is the Solution?

You may have heard that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That’s true. Depression is temporary. Anything that can lift the fog of depression long enough to see that it’s temporary is a solution. Aside from medication that can help some, communication and vigilance are the most helpful. If you have depression, talk it up. Depression likes to hide in dark corners. Expose it to the light. Shout it on the housetops if necessary. Everyone in my family and my church knew there was something wrong. They were praying. If you have a loved one struggling with depression, talk and pray, then pray and talk. Keep it up, be vigilant.

No one is an Islandphoto 3 (5)

That’s an enormous comfort, to know you’re not alone. The cause of my depression had nothing to do with money. It was grief. I’d lost three close family members in a year’s time. Maybe I didn’t know how to handle grief at the time, but the problem was temporary.

Money problems can trigger depression, but trust me, it will get better. Don’t try to avoid it. Look the problem straight in the eyes and take one small step at the time.


Don’t Buy These Three Money Myths


And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying ‘I am He.’ And, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. – Luke 21:8

With all the avenues of communication open to the world, media, TV, internet, it’s amazing that so many are deceived. Apparently deceivers are better at communicating than truth tellers. Myths are a tool used by deceivers throughout history, and some of those myths have been around for a very long time.

Here are three old sayings about money I consider myths. You can judge for 1 (7)

1. Pay Yourself First

No, we can’t pay ourselves first. We have to pay our obligations first. You know—those expenses, loans, mortgages. Not paying our obligations is the same as stealing. If we’ve taken items or services from someone else, the money to pay for those obligations belongs to them at the time agreed upon, not after we’ve paid ourselves. Even God Who expects our first fruits wouldn’t expect us to steal.

We should pay ourselves, though. It’s called saving. But that’s why a budget is important. So we’ll live within our means in order to have enough to pay ourselves.

2. You Get What You Pay For

No, not always. This myth refers to the belief that the more money you pay, the better quality you’ll get. Actually, the more affluent we are, the more likely we’ll overpay. When you buy a particular brand, you may be paying for prestige instead of real quality. How do you tell what something is worth? Nothing is better than experience to teach us which item or service is of better quality for the money. Recommendations and reviews come next.

Buying shoddy items is a waste of money, of course, but overpaying for a brand name is equally wasteful. Accountability requires that we pay only what goods and services are worth.

3. A Penny Saved is a Penny Earnedphoto 4 (1)

How wonderful if this were true. Unfortunately, it rarely ever is. Your penny saved today is not going to be worth what you could earn at a future date. In other words, inflation will eat away at your savings. Inflation is a given in a capitalistic economy, so your savings must take this into consideration. Also, there are no true hedges against inflation. The only way to guarantee value will remain the same is to save the actual goods and services. Since there’s no way to save services, and goods will deteriorate over time, that isn’t a viable option.

Not all old sayings are myths, however. Save for a rainy day is absolutely true. No matter the circumstances, as long as this world exists, there will be rainy days. It isn’t a question of if emergencies will occur, but when. Our budget must contain savings for emergencies.

In spite of what economists say about the economy improving, fewer people are saving at all. It’s easy to understand why. Full time jobs are as hard as ever to obtain. Household income is falling. Those who were wise in days of plenty, now have their savings to fall back on.

We live in a world of deception, but the wise are never deceived. No matter how many say something is true, no matter how long they’ve said it, test it for yourself. Then make sure you don’t deceive yourself.

Lessons from that First Job

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10a


Remember your first job? For a lot of us, maybe most of us, that was when we were teenagers with no aspirations other than getting our hands on some cash without going through stingy parents. Those who had stingy parents were the lucky ones. Teenagers of indulgent parents didn’t have the motivation to go through the important life lesson a job teaches. Earning your own money is truly eye-opening. I contend no one can learn about money and accountability until they work for their money. But working for a living can be a scary door to 1 (5)

I didn’t get a job until I graduated from high school, but I had a plan beyond earning pocket change. That plan involved working my way through college. I would work full time for a year and what I saved, along with small scholarships, would pay for two years of college.

Getting a loan wasn’t an option ever. I don’t know why except there was something shameful about borrowing money back in the olden days.

Here are the four things I learned from my first job.

1. Nothing ever turns out like you imagine.

Did I mention this job was with my dream employer in the Department of Defense? I would work in a swanky office filled with glamorous women and handsome men who’d give me important correspondence to type, urgent, secret messages to deliver, take notes at meetings that would change the course of national discourse.

Most of my co-workers and supervisors turned out to be rather frumpy. For some reason, they didn’t pay any attention to an eighteen-year-old who giggled when nervous, and the most they wanted from me was to stay out of the way. My days were spent sitting at a little desk in a cubby hole reading something called Regs, the most boring gobbledygook known to man. DoD is in the government, after all. It took me two days to realize this task was designed for no other reason than to keep me occupied. My most challenging assignment was staying awake.

2. Money is never as much as you think it 1 (6)

Nothing is quite as heady as your first paycheck. The amount hardly matters. It’s yours. You earned it, and no one can tell you what to do with it. This feeling is quickly followed by the desire to spend. After day three, it’s gone, and the next one won’t come in for another eleven days if you’re paid bi-weekly as I was. Luckily, I was still living with my parents and didn’t need it to support myself. But it was harder to save for college, or anything else, than you ever imagined. Near impossible, in fact.

3. Don’t leave the old job until a new one is lined up.

I didn’t have much choice in finding a new job because the first was temporary, but I made the mistake of waiting until it ended to hunt a new one. That’s when I discovered opportunities can be few and far between. When that happens, you have to take what you can. For me it was stuffing owner’s manuals in boxes filled with lawn mowers. There was one bright spot in that job. It motivated me to keep up my pursuit of a college education.

4. Whatever the job, excel in it.

Before I finished college I got the opportunity for a permanent position at my dream employer, and they had a program for continuing education. Working and going to school is hard, but I soon learned that if I was to really progress, I’d have to excel in both. There’s no other way to stand out from the competition.

All of these lessons are obvious, but many people don’t learn them in their first job, or second, or… That’s one of the reasons seventy million people in this country are in debt. Many others don’t attempt to live on a budget. Yes the economy is bad, despite what economists say about recovering. But those who’ve learned these four lessons early in life are more likely to keep a job in economic hard times.

What other lessons can young people learn on their first job?

Summer Produce Savings

But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop; some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:8

The food budget is being pinched in all areas but none more than produce. Aside from the normal inflation, floods and draughts have depleted supplies. Here in the middle of summer local crops are coming in. We’d be foolish not to take advantage of fresh produce in our own backyards and the farmer’s market.

Back in April I had a post about saving on the food budget by growing your own produce. Obviously you have a big advantage if you have a garden. But if you don’t, take advantage of those who do, and put up those fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy all year. Yes, I mean canning and freezing your 3 (2)

Pick It If You Can

We used to go to the blueberry farm every year and picked at least a bushel or two. I stored them in the bottom bin of my refrigerator and they kept for two months. The rest I froze. Some farmers let people pick their own peas, corn, tomatoes, and beans, peaches and berries. The cost is much less than you’ll find in the frozen food section. But the real benefit is the freshness.

Get out the mason jars and can. It’s time consuming but not hard. Home canned foods don’t have all the preservatives and salt. They don’t have to have a shelf life of ten years, so they’re healthier and taste much better.

Adjust Your Diet

If you’ve been thinking of going on a diet, there’s no better time than when fruits and vegetables are in abundance. Did I mention fresh tastes better? I can’t believe people would eat those pre-packaged meals in some diet plans. So it takes more effort to gather and prepare your own. You’ll learn what good eating really is. And guess what? You’ll consume fewer calories.

Visit your farmer’s market every week in the summer. There’s more than salads there. Get out your recipe books. Add several servings of fruits and vegetables to your family’s meals. They’ll all feel better—and you’ll lose weight. I guarantee 1 (4)

Savings All Year

Buy more fresh produce than your family needs for the week and put up the rest—freezing or canning. Freezing takes little time, and in my opinion the best way to preserve fruits. The refrigerator freezer won’t provide adequate space, so buy a freezer. They are relatively inexpensive, and will pay for themselves the first year. With the money you save on produce, buy half a cow, a pig, chickens, and freeze them.

There’s not much more satisfying to have a freezer full of food for fall and winter. Let the food prices fluctuate.

Convenience Vs Money

It all comes down to a question of convenience versus money, doesn’t it? Maybe in this modern age we’ve forgotten to appreciate effort. It might help to remember the more important things we could do with our money than spend it on inferior, unhealthy food.

I won’t be posting next week. This is the time to spend our annual vacation money.

Here’s a site for free books, if you need a beach read.

Freedom to Dream

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. –2 Corinthians 3:17

We’re fortunate to still live in a country in which we can dream. Maybe your dream is to work for yourself or just earn a little income on the side. My husband and I have successfully run two small businesses on the side. It takes financial savvy but isn’t as hard as you might 1 (3)

After you’ve set up your business and have a revenue and expense flow, you’ll have to set up a budget. You may already have charts for projected Return on Investment. You may even have Projected Profit and Loss for 5 years out. Dream as big as you wish on paper but make sure the numbers add up.

Here are some things to consider before starting the business.


Start with a business statement in which you state what you intend to do. Be specific as possible, and don’t worry about money at this point. Include your short and long term goals. State your dream. For example: I plan to provide a full range of plumbing services for the residents of Smithville. I project a profit of $10,000 the first year. After taking some tech school courses and hiring a helper, I project a profit of $20K-25K within five years.

That’s simple, but you get the idea.


Research your competitors, your customers, your resources. Figure up the return on investment for equipment, employees, independent contractors, and advertising. You don’t need a business degree, but do study the industry. Many times you can find the answers by asking those in the know. In the example above, you’d talk to other independent plumbers. How did they start out? What problems did they encounter? Don’t give the impression you want to take their customers away. It takes some business sense which often means just doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you.


You’ll need start-up funds, then double what you think you’ll need. Unless you have a really big project, I don’t recommend borrowing. Save up for this purpose like you’d save up for the down payment on a house. Usually, the amount needed is similar. Depending on your business, you may solicit investors, however, this will complicate and limit the freedom you have to run your business. The government may have grants in the area of science, education, or agriculture. Investigate the options if this applies to your business.

How much you’ll have to invest depends on the business. In the plumber example, a truck will be needed, tools, equipment, and insurance, but the office can be run out of the plumber’s home.

From all this information, you can project your earnings for short term and long term 1 (2)

Get Professional Help

Before setting up your books, consult with a professional accountant, preferably one who is experienced in small business. Do this even if you want to start a small, home-based business. You don’t have to keep the accountant on retainer, but getting off to a good start is essential. There are all sorts of laws and regulations–federal, state, and local–you probably don’t even know about. You’ll not only have to set up books, you’ll also have to file periodic forms and reports. Discuss these requirements with the accountant. Make sure you understand the forms required and the filing requirements for taxes as well as regulatory requirements.

Yes, this advice will be expensive, but well worth it. Once you have your books set up, you can maintain them yourself. If the books are set up right, you can prepare your own taxes, so you’ll save money in the long run. As you collect checks and receipts, make it a habit to RECORD THEM DAILY, as well as cash transactions.

Don’t Comingle Funds

Set up a separate bank account. Depending on your state requirements, you may need a business number as well. But those are things the accountant will help you accomplish. Even if you work a cash and carry method, keep your business funds separate from your personal funds. Pay yourself a salary if you need to. Just be aware, most new businesses don’t earn much in the beginning. In fact, you may run a loss the first few years. What you do earn in those early years will probably have to be plowed back into the 2 (6)

In business as in all things, your patience will be rewarded.

After the first month, you’ll have enough data to set up a budget. And guess what, it’s done exactly like the household budget. You’ll have different expenses, and income may fluctuate wildly, but the process is the same. Go into my archives to review budgeting tips. The object is the same—keep the expenses as low as possible while maximizing income.

Since tomorrow is Independence Day, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those Americans who dream and have the determination and patience to build their vision, thereby providing the income for us all to pursue happiness. Thanks also to those who defend our freedom to carry out our dreams. And thanks to God, the author of our liberty.

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