29 01, 2024

Where Do Stories Come From?

By |2024-01-29T08:09:17-06:00January 29th, 2024|behind the books, Beyond and Behind the Story|0 Comments

People often ask if my books are autobiographical. They aren’t, at least not completely. Things that happen in my life spark story ideas.

Sometimes it’s the location or an event.

That’s especially true of the first book in the Promise Series: Love in the Morning Calm.

The idea for the story came from my experiences as a Department of Army Civilian at Headquarters, Eighth Army, Yongsan, South Korea. Morning Calm is another name for South Korea, hence the title.

During the Vietnam War, I followed my husband on his unaccompanied tour to the 8th Army, Korea Procurement Agency. As unauthorized dependents, my daughter and I could not live on post in Yongsan. Instead, we rented an apartment high above the Han River in Han Nam Dong’s U.N. Village.

We did enjoy the other privileges like Post Exchange (PX), commissary, and medical facilities. I even rode the Army bus to work at the compound several miles away.

In Love in the Morning Calm, Lily lives where we did and works at G3, Eighth Army as I did.

But that’s where the character similarities end. 😉 The plot is not my personal story but a made-up love story of Lily and Alex.

I used events that happened while we were there to build the plot. President Lyndon Johnson’s secret visit to Eighth Army during his Southeast Asia Tour was what brought Lily Johnson and Major Alex (Ace) Cabot together. I was the secretary for the G3 group overseeing the presidential visit.

Other real experiences and places appear in story scenes too. Chungpyung Reservoir where we picnicked with friends.

The Bando Hotel where my husband and I had dinners and Walker Hill where the Presidential Reception was held.

And there really was a gold dress like Lily wore at the Presidential Reception.


Creating plots for books allows me to weave my life experiences, and places I’ve been into the stories I write.

In that sense, the stories I write are little memoirs. Not wholly, but in pieces.

I’ll be sharing the stories behind my other books in future blogs, come back. And, if you want to read about Lily and Alex’s story, here is the link: Love in the Morning Calm

In the furor of the ’60s, when women were fighting for their rights and men the Viet Cong, a young Tennessee preacher’s daughter seeks personal liberation. Lily finds instead a love that defines her even as it forever alters her definition of freedom and liberation.
Green Beret Major Alex Cabot meets Lily Reed, a Department of Army civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters in South Korea. He’s a high-potential career officer, who should resist the temptation of any woman, but he can’t ignore Lily.
In an uncertain time, in a temporary safe zone, yielding to temptation changes both their lives forever.
26 01, 2024

The Dragon

By |2024-01-19T10:47:01-06:00January 26th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

There was a dragon In our front yard recently.

I heard it roar as I was studying at my desk. I looked out the window, but it was dark, and I didn’t see anything.

When Beekeeper Brian woke up, I told him about the dragon. He bravely went outside but didn’t see it. I figured it was probably an invisible dragon.

I was very cautious as I got into my car to go to work.

When I got home, Beekeeper Brian announced he had slain the dragon, which was just a plastic bag full of cans that the wind blew through. He put the bag in the back of his truck to take to the metal recycling center.

I am glad to have a knight in shining armor to slay my dragons. Even if they are just a plastic bag full of cans blowing in the wind.

22 01, 2024

The Wet Suit

By |2024-01-21T12:42:11-06:00January 22nd, 2024|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|2 Comments

The recent cold snap here on the Gulf Coast did nowhere near the damage of the Texas Ice Apocalypse of 2021.

Mainly because the sub-zero temperatures didn’t last as long and the power grid did not fail, but also because everyone heeded the warnings and prepared. Plants were covered. Faucets insulated. People didn’t drive on icy roads and conserved electricity.

The only damage affecting me was the frozen indoor pool heater at the gym I use. That was a bummer because I swim there two to three days a week.

As the temperatures warmed to the high twenties and low thirties later in the week, I was eager to go to the pool after days of no swimming. Only, with no pool heater, the water temperatures dropped well below my comfort levels of 85o – 92o.

Swimming in chilly water is not my thing. But I had a fix—my wet suit.

No, I’m not a diver or a surfer. I’m not even a good swimmer.

Years ago, I bought a wet suit to prolong the time I could swim in our backyard pool.

Cool nights in the fall meant the pool temperatures fell well below my comfort level. We did not have a heater so, wearing a wet suit, I could get my exercise and be warm.

I never could bring myself to get rid of it even though I haven’t used it in years.

I pulled it out and headed to the pool. At the gym, two other brave swimmers joined me. One, who is training for a triathlon, wore a full wet suit. The other woman who only had on a swimsuit didn’t last very long.

We’re not sure when the new part to fix the pool heater will arrive. Thanks to my trusty wet suit it’s not a problem for me.

19 01, 2024

Baking with Bill

By |2023-12-31T09:07:48-06:00January 19th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Bill, the Chinese student who lived with us through high school has now graduated from college. I drove up to his school to bring him back to Miller Farm for Christmas.

On my way, I stopped at a bakery and picked up some of our favorite cookies. I had asked the bakery for the recipe but they said no. I tried to duplicate it on my own but did not have the results I wanted so I resigned myself to buying them.

Bill was able to find a recipe online very quickly. He was shocked that I had not searched for it online. We went to the store to get the ingredients and soon had a pretty close replica of the cookies.

Bill was so excited that he decided we should try more recipes.

So, we made Key Lime cookies.

Next, he wanted to make Snowball cookies to complete the Christmas color scheme.



I thought we were finished. After all, we had three different cookies.

But then we bought coconut macaroons at a local farmers market and Bill wanted to try to make those.

I made the mistake of mentioning that Black and White cookies were part of our Christmas tradition so…There was one more recipe Bill wanted to try – Thumbprint cookies.

What started as a quest for the perfect Cherry Icebox cookie ended with six different cookies to share with many happy family members.

15 01, 2024

Blue Monday

By |2024-01-14T16:17:49-06:00January 15th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

You’re probably somewhere cold right now. Winter storms and a polar vortex have prompted weather advisories in every state in the lower forty-eight over the last four days.

We’ve been hearing warnings for days, which has sent flashbacks of the cold snap of 2021 (when the Texas power grid collapsed for four days) to so many here on the Texas Gulf Coast. So many lost their homes.

Space City Weather, the most reliable weather forecasters I’ve found, encouraged: “… let’s look at the current forecast for low temperatures …for Tuesday since that will be the coldest morning for the vast majority of the state. If you compare the (2021) record lows …, most locations will be solidly 5 to 10 degrees warmer than that cold snap.”

Reassuring, yes. But, if you lived through the ice apocalypse of 2021 without electricity for four days, still not comfortable. Temperatures in the twenties for days are way too cold!

It’s unnerving and it’s happening on what’s known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, the time of year when most everyone feels a letdown.

Christmas has come and gone with all the twinkling lights, good food, and fun. The days are dark, dark, dark and most of our well-intended resolutions have flown out the window. It feels like a lot of work to simply face the day.

Never heard of Blue Monday? Blue Monday was originally dreamed up by psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall in 2004. He devised the formula for the bleakest day to help a travel company sell holidays, with the first Blue Monday on 24 January 2005. Arnall says it was “never his intention to make the day sound negative,” but rather “to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions.”

Truth is, none of us gets a pass from winter. It’s part of a natural life-cycle system that moves through four seasons. We must all go through winter to get to spring, and winters can be bleak. That’s for sure.

Blue Monday may seem like a cold dreary day but there’s hope. December 22 was the shortest day of the year. That means every day after Blue Monday is a day closer to the lighter, brighter (and warmer) days of Spring.

If wintry weather has you in its grip, please stay warm and safe. Remember this too will pass.

P.S. January 15 is also Martin Luther King Day. And it’s falling on his actual birthday this year. How cool is that?

12 01, 2024

Another Playground

By |2023-12-30T16:16:05-06:00January 12th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

My grandsons (and their parents) were in town for a family gathering the week before Christmas. We continued our tour of playgrounds by visiting the playground on our church property. When we arrived, there was a digger working on the pavilion so I knew it was going to be a great time.

The boys explored the playground for a bit then decided to walk around the property. It was a beautiful day so we started walking.

Along the way, we discovered a large pile of sticks. Alex had to find just the right one. It was a lengthy process. Theo had to have his own stick.

When it was time to leave, Alex decided to take his stick to the playground so it would be there “next time.”

He left it at the bottom of the slide.

As we were leaving, a bulldozer had joined the digger.

It was like a double feature to end a glorious day at the playground.

8 01, 2024

It’s a Holiday Wrap

By |2024-01-07T07:20:52-06:00January 8th, 2024|Holidays, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Our holiday was a whirlwind that became a tsunami with twenty-three gathered before Christmas Day to celebrate and have a first-ever all-of-us picture taken, including our OES who was the best behaved.

Dealing with that many personalities was a challenge. The photographer had her hands full and did a fantastic job. Considering the drama surrounding it, it turned out well.

We all survived and the whole event provided writer me with lots of characterization and conflict ideas for future protagonists.

The tree is undecorated, bundled, and stored in the barn shed to await another year.

The treasured pinecone people and tiny village houses from my grandparents’ home are nestled all snug in their box and stored away in the closet to await next Christmas’s unveiling.

January 1 is the clear-cut start for another trip around the sun. Another 365 opportunities — 366 this year since it’s a leap year — to pause and think about how we can best use our time in this new year.

That usually means making resolutions or setting goals.

According to Forbes.com, New Year goals include quit smoking, fitness, finances, mental health, diet,  work-life balance, more time for loved ones, learning a new skill, drinking less, meditating more, and traveling more. All of these are admirable goals and intentions.

The sad fact is most goals and resolutions will fail miserably and fail quickly. Statistics on how long New Year’s goals last do not put the New Year tradition in a favorable light.

Most goals will fail within 3-4 months. Only one percent of goals last twelve months. So, you’re not alone if your intentions peter out.

Give yourself grace when you do fail, “The beauty of goal setting is you don’t need a ball drop or cannons of confetti to signal a fresh start—you can recommit to your resolutions at any time.”

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again, to paraphrase a song lyric.

Me, I’m going simple for 2024. Only one goal. Finish my new romantic suspense, DEAD BODY GIRL.

Frankly, I’m more than ready to settle into an imaginary world where the writer is in charge. 2023 is good and well gone, holiday stress is over. Time to move into 2024 with all its promise and clean pages.

What about you? Any goals or resolutions?

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