February 7, 2021

Coming Soon: The Secret Place, a Novel

I am excited to announce that my latest novel, The Secret Place, will be released (paperback & ebook) on APRIL 15, 2021 by WhiteFire Publishing.

It's contemporary Christian Women's Fiction with Romance, or what I call Relational Drama woven with a Love Story, or what others call "more than a romance" as readers have come to expect from me. You might compare my storytelling to a blend of Karen Kingsbury (Christian) meets Kristin Hannah (General). Maybe. I write about faith, hope, love, and the trials and triumphs of relationships.

The Secret Place is a story of mothers, sisters, and daughters set along the banks of the McKenzie River in Oregon's Willamette National Forest, with the Three Sisters mountains in the background, and featuring one of Oregon's historic covered bridges as a "secret" motif.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I took a road trip to experience the sights and sounds of the McKenzie as story research, but we didn't know that a nearby forest fire had made the air quality too poor for Dan's asthma, so we snapped a few hazy photos, left, and rescheduled our stay for another time. The second trip proved more fruitful and I have a lovely gallery of photos, my favorite shots centered above the river from various bridges. 

Then last summer (2020), some friends joined me on my birthday for a hike to see Tamolitch Lake, also known as the Blue Pool, a stunning little lagoon you can only reach by a 2.5 mile trail. The pool is actually a sunken a lava bed fed from underground by the McKenzie. 

When I first heard about the Blue Pool, I wanted to see for myself if the water was truly the color depicted in photos and Grant McOmie's videos. We planned to arrive at the pool around noon on a clear July day, when the sun would be directly overhead. What we saw was unbelievable and far better than any photos (including mine below) could do adequate justice. The water is the most stunning shade of neon turquoise I have ever seen in nature. It was absolutely breathtaking.

The trip to the pool was meant as research so I could describe the setting firsthand for a special scene I had in mind for the story. Unfortunately, as one of my wise friends gently pointed out, the scene in question takes place in October and in the evening, so an after-dinner hike to see the pool in the dark was not going to work for the scene, and sadly, the setting couldn't really be worked into the story anywhere else. But even though I couldn't use the pool for the book, I will treasure my Blue Pool Birthday Chick Hike forever. It was a purely amazing experience. If you're a lover of nature and water, and are ever in the Willamette National Forest, I highly recommend you make the hike to see it. For optimal viewing, plan to see it when the sun is high on a clear day.


So about that new novel... 

Josie Norris became an instant mommy when her twin sister Nadine handed over her newborn son and vanished. What Josie saw as a temporary arrangement grew into a mother-son bond too deep to uproot. But with her irrational sister threatening to steal him back, Josie has been living the last few years with Kennedy in hiding, afraid to go home.

When Aunt Libby—the only person who knows the truth about Kennedy—suffers a traumatic head injury, Josie rushes to her McKenzie River home to help Gram care for the woman who raised her. But not only is Libby’s injury causing family secrets to spill, it’s forcing Josie to see the women in her life in a new light.

Will—a ranger who Kennedy adores and who Josie is determined not to—is desperate to help the woman who has stolen his affections. But can Josie ever truly be authentic with the man she loves? With her son’s fate hanging in the balance, she is faced with the choice to risk everything she loves in order to bridge the most impossible gulfs.

In this story of mothers, daughters, and sisters, Josie must find the grace to forgive people for not being who she needed them to be…and the courage to surrender her fears to the God who has never once left her side.

The Secret Place releases April 15 and is available for preorder now (kindle) and soon for paperback at Amazon, B&N, and WhiteFire Publishing. Visit my website for more info, and be sure to sign up for Book News.

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ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. . . .

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

MY ROOTS:
I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.