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16 11, 2017

Guest Author – Donna Schlachter

By |2017-11-14T13:50:26-06:00November 16th, 2017|Author Interview, Guest author, Guest blogger|3 Comments

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?

Connect with Donna Online

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1 07, 2013

Life in A Wildfire

By |2013-07-01T18:32:59-05:00July 1st, 2013|Life in A Wildfire|3 Comments

If you read my blog last Wednesday, you know I am now living in the West Fire Complex Wildfire in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Yep, that’s right.  I’m living in a forest wildfire.

West Fork Fire Complex Statistics:   
Start Date: 06/05/2013
Percent Contained: 2%
Cause:  Lightning
Complex Size:  92, 176 acres
                       Windy Pass: 1,416 acres
                       Papoose: 34,272 acres
                       West Fork: 56,488 acres

Pablo Picasso said: “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”

What fodder the West Fork Complex wildfire is providing this writer!

Our adventure began with the 6 a.m. reverse 911 call on Friday, June 21st, that announced we had to evacuate our home.

Not unexpected. The community meeting the night before had warned of the possibility.

However, possibility is not reality and reality was HARD.

Looking around our little house filled with one third of what we’d had before we moved here in March and knowing we could lose it all sent lumps to our throats and tears to our eyes.

How – beyond the necessary paper documents – do you decide what to load into your cars when you only have four hours? Plus, you’d already downsized considerably to what you wanted or needed.

Wasn’t easy.

We settled on all the quilts my husband’s mother made, a wooden carving of a woman praying my father made for me, some pieces of silver from my mother’s family, a Van Briggle vase titled Lorelei that once belonged to my husband’s sister, two antique clocks, a 1840s porcelain inkwell from Vienna, and a Victorian chatelaine.

Crazy list, right? But, that’s what fit in the small suitcase or around the other stuff in the car. And, each of those items holds precious memories.

We also loaded our laptops and one printer. Tools of our trade that we couldn’t do without.

One of our friends took two of my favorite paintings by Barbara Rudolph, To Kill A Mockingbird and Tell Me A Story to his place in Del Norte until all the danger is gone.

If you’re not familiar with Barbara Rudolph’s work, check out her website. She’s an extremely talented artist who combines objects with birds and creates paintings that capture moments guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. My two pictures have special meaning to me for many reasons, and I can’t wait until I don’t live in a wildfire to get them back.

As we’re packing the cars, firefighters pull our barbeque propane tank and spare gasoline cans to the street. We’d already turned off the propane tank that serves our house and hot water heater. They’re not happy that we have so many trees in our backyard and tell us the outlook isn’t good. We need to leave soon.

We thank them for protecting our home and assure them we are leaving. We never stayed when the Gulf coast hurricane warnings said leave either.

With the two cars loaded with our most precious things and our two four-legged boys, Toby and Buster, we say a prayer for safety and protection, and lock the front door. With the smoke cloud growing, we drive away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlone in my car, I look one last time at our little house and wonder if we’ll ever see it again. Tears I didn’t want to shed in front of my husband come.

CIMG0705But, I remind myself it’s just stuff. A phrase I repeat often over the next week.

We bypassed the Red Cross shelter set up in the Del Norte high school gymnasium fifteen miles away from South Fork. Shelters don’t allow dogs inside with owners.

Facilities for small animals and large animals were available, but I didn’t want to be separated from our pets. We’d find a pet friendly motel.

We went through four towns checking availability. There were no rooms. Alamosa State University in Alamosa offered dormitory rooms, but again we’d have to leave our pets at the facility provided.

We’d gone from a big house full of stuff to a small house full of stuff to two cars with all our worldly belongings. I couldn’t leave my babies behind in Monte Vista.

We kept going until Trinidad, Colorado, nearly four hours away. The Holiday Inn Hotel there had a room and allowed pets. We unpack and settle in for the short duration, we thought.

Toby Buster chilling in Trinidad-2Amazingly, the dogs don’t even bark when we leave to go to the restaurant for dinner. They were too happy to be out of the car and with their humans.

But after a long weekend, we want closer to home so we can find out what’s going on with the fire instead of relying on the media.

Next blog you’ll learn about the next phase of our adventure living in a wildfire.

28 12, 2012

Ever had one of THESE days? Miller Farm Friday

By |2012-12-28T08:29:16-06:00December 28th, 2012|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|4 Comments

Chicken Wrangler Sara’s day:

This morning I got up at 5:15, made coffee, fixed breakfast and made sandwiches even though it is Saturday. The kids have All-Region Band auditions and I wanted to make sure they didn’t starve.

After they left, I went back to bed. It was glorious. I didn’t open my eyes again until 7:45. I should have kept them closed, but chicken wrangler duties called.

I got up and let the chickens out. That was ok.

I also let the quail out. That was not ok.

Lately, I have had difficulty closing the long quail cage securely, and we have had to retrieve quail on several occasions. Rachel even made me a sign that says, “Close the door.” Today, I closed the door on the long cage. However, I accidentally left the hutch cage open.

Strike one.

I knew something was amiss as I heard Bella barking frantically. She really wanted the quail to come over and play. I ran back outside and closed the hutch door on the two remaining quail. I decided to finish filling water jugs and deal with the loose quail later.

I washed the very dirty waterer from the quail cage in the coop, refilled the waterer, and reached to put it back. (In case you don’t remember, this cage is high up in the coop and somewhat difficult to reach.) The waterer slipped and the lid came open, spilling water all over me.

I was not happy. This was strike two.

On the bright side, even though it is December, this is Texas so it is 80 degrees outside. There was no danger of the water making me cold.

After refilling the waterer, I headed back to the house, silently praying that fixing coffee and breakfast for Beekeeper Brian and I would be easier.

One more strike and I’m out.

About the same time Chicken Wrangler Sara’s email arrived, I received an email from daughter #2 in Colorado. Her day started with a challenge too.

Woke up to about ten wild turkeys out in the front yard and street. I went out to talk to them and saw a deer.

SF turkeys

single deer

He had short antlers. I turned my back on him to take a picture of the front of the house and then turned back around he was coming after me!

I walked, rather briskly, back to the driveway and out of the corner of my eye, I see more deer staring at me.

deer next door for 12-28 blog

I was triangulated by turkey and deer!!

I started walking more briskly to the safety of the fenced front yard. Whereupon I saw deer tracks inside the fence, which led me to believe that the only truly safe place was inside the house until Patrick woke up to protect me!!

Nature. It’s not for sissies.

YOUR TURN: Wanta share how your day’s going?