Focus on Gratitude – It Changes Things

An attitude of gratitude is proven to increase our sense of well-being and happiness as well as our

Energy       Optimism      Empathy

Gratitude can change everything.

So even though tomorrow is the last day of November and those social media reminders about being grateful disappear. Don’t allow out of sight, out of mind to become a reason to stop having an attitude of gratitude.


Tips for Finding Focus

Not long ago, Microsoft surveyed 2,000 Canadians’ brain activity to gather data on our ability to focus in the digital age.

The result showed our attention span has shrunk from 12 seconds to 8, making it shorter than a goldfish’s (nine seconds average).

Couple a shrinking attention span with unending distractions, it’s a wonder writers ever get words on the page.  The holidays are upon us, providing even more distraction and writing time constraints. So what can writers do to find their focus?

Colleen M. Story, author of Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, suggests focus is a skill and, like all skills, it requires lots of practice to improve. She suggests writers start by making it easier for our writer brains to concentrate.

~Turn off smartphones, iPads, etc. and disconnect from internet and email

~Find a place to isolate yourself and post a do not disturb sign

~Use noise-cancelling headphones

~Jot down whatever errant thought that pops into your head and follow through later

~Keep a glass of water handy

She advocates two other ways to practice building our brain’s focus ability.

  1. Meditate

Meditation is an easy way to practice focus and ditch the bad habit of giving in to distractions. Studies backed by brain-imaging studies show it works.

  1. Delay impulses

Resist making a response to that incoming text or email for five minutes. If you’re chilly, wait five minutes before you reach for a sweater. If you want a snack, delay for five minutes. The more you practice delayed gratification the stronger your ability to focus quickly and for longer periods.


Therapy Dog for a Therapy Dog

A Blog for Chicken Wrangler Sara

This past weekend, we were asked to puppy sit. Since there are six dogs living here regularly, one more doesn’t seem too unreasonable.  This, however, is a special puppy.

His name is Ranger and he was found with his mom out in the country.  Several people tried for over a week to take them in with no success. Eventually a car hit the mother and the puppy found his way to our friend’s house where other dogs corned him. 

Deborah rescued him and brought him into her home. He was very, very skinny and very scared.  He would not come near humans except to get food.  She began to look for a forever home for the puppy since her house had its limit of dogs.  She found the perfect family and made arrangements to deliver him after an early family Thanksgiving celebration this weekend.  Ranger spent a couple of nights on Miller Farm while Deborah was with her family.

When he first arrived, he hid under the shed.  I let the dogs out one at a time and watched to make sure everyone would get along.  Penelope became Ranger’s best friend.  She patiently waited by the shed and woofed at him to encourage him to come out. He did finally come out and began to play with her. It was rewarding to watch them.  Penelope was able to draw Ranger out of his fear and convince him to run and play.

When he came inside, Ranger was less fearful and allowed Beekeeper Brian to pet him. By the afternoon, Ranger was exhausted and fell asleep in the middle of the room with Tucker close by.

Ranger’s forever family has also suffered trauma.  The father was killed in a home invasion in October.  There are six children – two married, two at college and two at home. Deborah sent a picture of Ranger with his new mom. Ranger already seems at home. The youngest son is really struggling.  I imagine he and Ranger will become best friends.



An Irish Thanksgiving Blessing

As you gather with your family and friends tomorrow, Chicken Wrangler Sara and I offer this Irish blessing for you and yours.


Thanksgiving Festivities Around My House

In three days Thanksgiving festivities will commence.

The American celebration of the day began during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

The traditional New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924. Our family tradition is to watch while we unpack Christmas decorations. Truthfully, we tend to spent more time watching than decorating and no one misses Santa’s arrival.

After filling their bellies with turkey and all the trimmings, the menfolk, and most of the women, around our house gather in front of the TV for football. The National Football League has been broadcasting Thanksgiving Day games since 1920. Our family’s been watching games since the sixties.

Down here in Texas, the Thanksgiving Day collegiate games are often more important than the professional football games. Our own meal time centers around the University of Texas Longhorns’ schedule for the day.

None of these things happened on that first Pilgrim Thanksgiving in 1621, but the basis for our modern Thanksgiving festivites remains the same. We pause on this day to give thanks for our blessings.

When my turn comes to share my blessings this year, I will include

My husband (the role model for my heroes)

Family and friends (far and near)

My pets (who brighten every day)

What blessings will you be sharing?

Almost A Dozen

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our chickens have been slacking off lately. We’ve only gotten 4 eggs a day for several weeks.

We’re not sure why and I’ve even had to buy eggs at the store. It was very strange.

I’ve told the girls to get busy. The deal is they feed us and we feed them.

It worked- yesterday we got 10 eggs!  That is almost a dozen!I guess we’ll keep feeding the chickens after all.


Guest Author – Donna Schlachter

Welcome fellow author Donna Schlachter. She’s visiting to tell us a little about herself and answer some questions about her two new releases, The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado and Christmas Under the Stars.

Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Home is in Denver with her husband, who is her first-line editor and biggest fan. A hybrid author, she publishes historical suspense under her own name and contemporary suspense as Leeann Betts. She’s also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction. Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management represents Donna.

And, here are her answers to the interview questions:

  1. How do you balance writing and everyday life?

It’s not easy. I have learned that with anything that’s important in my life, I have to make time. I will never find it. I am very goal oriented, so if I tell myself I have to write at least one chapter today before I can go on to something else, I do it. Check it off the list. Next thing.

  1. Do you listen to music to set the mood for writing?

I don’t listen to music because then I want to sing along, and those words mess with the ones in my head. If I go to a coffee shop—which is where I am as I write this—my mind keeps drifting back to the music playing in the background, and I try to make sense of the lyrics, which, in this case, is impossible. I like to “hear” the story—to me, writing with music is like going to a movie and trying to listen to a baseball game on the radio at the same time. 

  1. What was the spark that gave you the story idea for Christmas Under the Stars?

I ask a lot of “what if” questions, and the question that sparked this story was what if a man was attracted to a woman he thought was married? Then the challenge became how to keep that misinformation from being straightened out too soon in the story.

I had done a lot of research in Echo Canyon, Utah, for another book and loved the setting. There is actually a place in the canyon where early settlers gathered for church services at the base of the palisades. Once I stood in that spot, I knew I needed a story where they could hold a church service in that same spot.

  1. What will readers find appealing about The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado?

I think readers will find the older characters appealing. So many of our reading population have elderly parents or are contemplating being caregivers to their parents. I wanted to show that just because our age increases, our abilities, our faculties, and our longing for love doesn’t decrease.

  1. What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on the seventh in a mystery series that is published under my pen name, Leeann Betts. Next up will be a month of working on some older manuscripts, and then I will begin in January writing a new novella for a romance collection coming out late 2018/early 2019 with Barbour Publishing.

If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, then add either of Donna’s two new books to your library. Just click on the book cover.

Matthew returns to Christmas Inn to celebrate his fortieth anniversary alone, intending to take his own life so he can join his beloved Sarah, who passed on to glory the previous January. Not certain how—or if—he will go on without her, Matthew learns on his arrival that the old inn will close its doors on New Year’s Eve. A developer has purchased the building and intends to tear it down and put up a chain hotel. Determined to keep his memories and his connection to Sarah alive, Matthew embarks on a harebrained scheme to keep the inn open.

Edith Cochrane, a widow, comes to Christmas Inn because she has nowhere else to spend the holidays. Her children are angry with her because she refuses to choose to live with one of them. Edith and her husband enjoyed a long marriage and a long mission-field ministry, but ever since his passing the previous year, Edith has found herself at loose ends. She comes to Christmas Inn to spend some time thinking about her options.

Can Matthew and Edith save the old hotel—and themselves—or will they run out of time?


November 1858, Utah Territory
Edie Meredith strives to keep her temper and her tongue under control as she heads west with her brother to California. Raised in an itinerant preacher family, she promises she will never marry a man of the cloth.

Tom Aiken, drover of the wagon train, longs to answer his true calling: to preach, and while he realizes not every woman would choose a preacher for a husband, he hopes to soon find his help-meet.

Suspicious ‘accidents’ plague their journey. Is someone trying to keep them from reaching their destination? Or will misunderstanding and circumstances keep them apart?

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