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Long ago, as 2008 was turning to 2009, I wrote a piece on the color rose for a group at Gather.com called Rainbow Connections.
The group was born out of my love for rainbows and each week, I explored the nuances and associations of a different color. I didn’t know Wild Rose of Scotland back then, but recently, as I reread what I’d written about the Rose, I felt like I was getting to know Rose – the color, the character, and the flower – in a whole new light.
If you’re as intrigued by Rose as I am, you can see more of her in Wild Rose, the first of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels.
Rose… a name, a flower, a color, or none of the above.
Rose means different things to different people.
Grandma’s fluffy slippers… Pretty, little cookies…
Cheeks pink fresh from the cold…
Parades and petals… A bride’s bouquet… A hat, a favorite bathrobe… A silky comforter… Rose fills us with an effervescent glow…
Rose gives us a sense of well-being…
Maybe we are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses…
Maybe we just like the color rose.
Whatever the reason, whatever the season…
Rose makes us feel better…
It cheers us up, gives us a sense of direction…
It fills us with radiance…
Rose comforts us.
Rose makes us whole again… ..
Whether “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”…
Or, a Rose by any other name…
What does Rose mean to you?
Here’s to a Wild Rose… available now through Second Wind Publishing.
For 100 years, today was my Grandma Hansen’s birthday. She was born in 1900, and died in 2000, so there was never any doubt how old she was. Oh, the changes she saw in the 100 years she lived. As a child, I loved to listen to Grandma Hansen’s stories, both true and make-believe. She was a grand teller of fairy tales – The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, Jack and the Beanstalk – and she loved to dramatically embellish stories of her younger years – from Indians, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and one room school houses to the tale of how she and Grandpa Hansen eloped to the Little Brown Church in the Vale. (They didn’t tell a soul they were married for months.) We were all mesmerized when Grandma started to spin a tale of days gone by.
So on this day of memories and love of country, my Grandma Hansen stands out in my mind as one of the individuals who truly made America great. She made my life pretty wonderful, too. And she most certainly taught me how to tell a good story.
A Tribute to Grandma Hansen
May 26th, 1990
By Sherrie and Becky, her granddaughters, on her 90th Birthday
Stepping back to yesterday -
Daisies strewn along the way.
Treasures in the chicken coop,
Racing ‘round the driveway loop.
Mousey ~ mousey’s in the house,
Hankies stuck in Grandma’s blouse.
Hanging clothes out on the line,
Bleeding hearts and dandelions.
Finding eggs beneath a hen,
Memories from way back then.
Grandma sitting on her stool
Telling tales of teaching school,
Peeling apples, scrubbing faces,
Pansies put in little vases.
Making dolls from hollyhocks,
Darning all our worn out socks.
Pin curls glistening in her hair,
Corsets, baggy underwear.
Raking leaves and burning piles -
Memories of Grandma’s smiles
In Grandpa’s bed, all tucked in tight.
Oatmeal, sweet dough, chicken pie,
Hiding while the dishes dried.
Silly plays between the trees,
Picking berries, bumblebees.
Stories told again and again
“Who will help me?” said the Little Red Hen
“The sky is falling” – the games we played,
Memories of Grandma’s ways.
Pictures on the piano top
~A growing family ~ a “bumper crop”.
Her calloused hands and Godly heart
Inspired us each, right from the start.
Time goes on, and now it seems
So long ago ~ those faded dreams
But each fond memory has a place
In every heart ~ in every face
Our love for her ties us together -
Memories live on forever.
If you’re like me and can hardly wait for Wild Rose to come out, and if you like jigsaw puzzles, give this one a try. It’s a fun diversion!
Hint: Us the wheel on the mouse to flip the pieces as needed.
Late Breaking News! My novella, Thistle Down, the intro to my Wildflowers of Scotland novels,
and the first scene of Wild Rose are now FREE
. Thistle Down is now available on Amazon.com for 99 cents. If you don’t do e-Books, you can order a paperback copy of Thistle Down for $4.50. (It’s thin – remember, it’s just a novella!) Download away! Download away!
Can tenderhearted Pastor Ian MacCraig keep a pair of prickly sisters from marrying the wrong men?
Emily Downey has found the perfect groom. If only she loved the man… Chelsea Downey is wild about her boyfriend. Trouble is, he’s two-timing her and everyone sees it but her.
Their thorny situation gets even stickier when the church ladies come up with a plan.
Can Pastor Ian MacCraig weed out the thistles and get to the heart of the matter in time to save the day?
And now, back to my regularly scheduled blog…
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.
The concept of broken things made whole again has always fascinated me. I think that’s why I’ve always loved mosaics. I’ve picked them up at garage sales for a little bit of nothing. I’ve splurged on them when buying a special memento from a vacation. I’ve inherited a few when relatives have died.
When I don’t find actual mosaics, I gravitate towards mosaic-like images.
Quilts made with scraps of fabrics, ribbons and lace…
Stone houses and log cabins, which upon inspection, are mosaics made with rocks or wood…
Stained glass windows made with shards of colorful glass…
Digital pictures, which I love to play with, that are nothing more than mosaics of microscopic pixels.
And even bite-sized morsels of foods, creatively blended into a hodgepodge of delicious flavors and colors.
Just like jigsaw puzzles, I like mosaics because they’re bits and pieces - nothing pretty by themselves - that when put together, become beautiful.
Even things that aren’t particularly pretty to start with look beautiful when made into a mosaic.
That’s why I’ve saved every scrap from everything I’ve ever sewn, and every single cup, saucer, plate and bowl we’ve ever broken at my B&B, the Blue Belle Inn. Someday, I’m going to sew hundreds of quilts.
I’m also going to make my own china mosaics. I’ve got the materials. I’ve been buying up flat-faced photo frames on clearance so I can cover them with mosaic wonderfulness. I have the tools. I even bought a nipper. Now I just need the time.
My sister, Becky, whom I can always count on to be honest with me, says that my collection of would be candidates for mosaic creations is just one more way that I feed my pack-rat tendencies.
I suppose it’s true to some extent. I’ve seen mosaics embedded with Scrabble letters, shells, sea glass, pebbles, stained glass, beads, jigsaw puzzle pieces, driftwood, and charms. I’ve seen dimensional mosaics that include half of a teacup, part of a special wine bottle, or some other precious object. Seeing the creative things other people think of not only inspires me, it gives me license to pick up pretty rocks, sea shells, and bits of this and that wherever we wander.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who saves broken things thinking someday, someone handy can fix whatever it is that’s broken, or that I’ll find a way to adapt what’s left of the original and re-use it in some creative way.
In the meantime, when someone breaks a piece of china at the Blue Belle Inn, I try not to hyperventilate. Then, as I look at the broken shards and the shattered pieces, I console myself with dreams of mosaic stepping stones for my garden, mosaic-fronted fireplaces and coffee tables covered in mosaic splendor.
Maybe it’s the thrifty Scandinavian in me, but I am always hopeful that somebody, somewhere can put Humpty Dumpty back together again, that somebody somewhere can mend the broken things in my life.
Making broken things beautiful is also the reason I write books – mosaics of words woven together in such a way that they’re pleasing to the ear and uplifting to the soul. Random snippets of life, experiences, and emotions that come together in a design that inspires beauty.
Just like mosaics are made from broken shards and sharp-edged pieces of cracked pots, the building blocks of a book are things that have happened to us, memories of people we’ve known, sights we’ve seen, and yes, heart-breaking happenings in our lives. As a writer, sometimes I think that every thought and experience I’ve ever had is filed away in the back of my brain, ready to resurface when the moment is right, waiting to be included in a book someday.
A very personal event in my past provided the inspiration for Wild Rose. It was a time in my life when a relationship that was very dear to me seemed irreparably broken because of a poor choice I’d made. What happened taught me a lot about forgiveness – what it’s like to be unworthy, to receive forgiveness from someone who loves you enough to overlook your flaws, and about forgiving yourself, which is sometimes the most difficult thing of all.
Thankfully, our God is not only a master designer, but a master healer. God doesn’t throw us away because we’re chipped or cracked or broken. He accepts us as we are, gathers us up in His arms, and turns us into something beautiful… a poem, a song, a verse, a rhyme, a lovely mosaic.
God can do what all the Kings horses and all the King’s men cannot. He can take your broken heart and make it whole again. He can turn sorrow into joy. He can take a crushed spirit and create in us a pure heart. He can take the shattered pieces of our lives and renew us. He can take a broken and contrite heart and restore the joy of our salvation. He can take a rag and make it riches. God can make a rainbow after the storm. God can and does put us back together again.
In the words of Isaiah, from chapter 61:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me…
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
I’ve always thought that making mosaics out of my broken china is a bit like making lemonade out of lemons. In many ways, so is the healing, restorative power of writing and reading. Broken bits and pieces become a cherished memory; a broken heart reshaped into a beautiful poem. Mosaics of words and thought, knitting together the shattered pieces of our hearts, making us whole again, and in the process, making us even more lovely than we were in the beginning.
What better way to preserve the fragments of the past? What better way to celebrate the stories of our lives?
Blurb – Wild Rose:
When Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last thing he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.
Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for what she thought was a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.
Now that Ian, the board of Wilson Enterprises, the constable, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose’s honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is… and if Rose can believe she’s worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.
Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig… a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?
I’ve been getting to know all kinds of colorful characters from Loch Awe, Scotland, as I put the finishing touches on my upcoming release, Wild Rose, and my eShort prequel, Thistle Down. In my spare time, I’ve been painting the parsonage where my husband and I live.
When we first moved in, everything was painted white.
I chose the colors for the first floor before we moved in, and the folks at church were kind enough to paint the walls in my somewhat funky color choices.
They offered to paint the second floor, too, but at the time, I didn’t have a clue what was going were and certainly not what colors would match what.
After living in the house for a year, the rooms have taken shape and acquired personalities of their own.
So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to add some color. I painted a bathroom and one wall in my writing room “Berries and Cream”. I painted another bedroom “Wood Lily”. And just yesterday, I painted a guest room “French Violet”.
And what a difference it made! Plain, innocuous walls became warm, soothing, romantic, and inspiring. It’s amazing what a little dash of color can add to our experience.
When a writer – or a reader – begins a new story, it’s the interesting characters that draw us in, the colorful backdrops that make the story come alive. Characters and settings that are infused with color are infinitely more enticing.
So next time you open the door to a new book, let yourself dream in color. And if you like Scotland, watch for Thistle Down, Wild Rose, Blue Belle, and Shy Violet. Coming soon!
I’m pleased to unveil the cover of my upcoming release, Wild Rose, the first of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels. The tentative release date is late April, so please watch for future updates. I’m also working on a novella – a prequel to Wild Rose, that I hope to release in early April, a teaser, to introduce you to Ian MacCraig.
When Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last things he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.
Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.
Now that Ian, the constable, the board of Wilson Enterprises, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose’s honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is… and if Rose can believe she’s worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.
Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig… a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?
For the past year, I’ve been living in a fantasy world. The scene is Loch Awe, Scotland, at a magical place called St. Conan’s Kirk.
It’s a very real place, one that really exists – and not just in my mind.
It’s made of stones and timbers, spires and cloisters, flying buttresses and secret abbeys with curved staircases carved in stone.
The water on the loch is glassy smooth, so still that clouds float in the water and the stray rhododendron petals gliding over the surface never sink.
Bad things happen in my fantasy world, just like they do in the real world, but something good always comes out of them, and not twenty years later, when you’ve forgotten all about the inciting incident and are too old to care, but in short order.
Because in my fantasy world, there are only happy endings. And they occur in a reasonable amount of time – less than 400 pages.
I should know – I’ve been living there for months. It’s a bit like slipping off on a vacation. You can sleep until noon if you want to, and you get to decide what it is you want to do every morning – which can be whatever in the world you want it to be. You can eat whatever it is that you want to, because you’re on vacation. There are no restrictive diets or rules or deadlines or obligations. Anything goes. Anything can happen, and usually does. Whatever yer fancy.
You see, in my fantasy world, I’m the Captain of the Starship Enterprise, and when I say, “Make it so,” it is.
So a day ago, when I wrote the last page of Wild Rose, the first in my Scottish Wildflower Trilogy, I felt like I was sinking into the bottomless abyss of Nothing. The story ended and now, I’ve got nothing to do (well, really I do, but nothing I want to).
I miss Rose already, and Ian MacCraig, and their dilemmas, and wondering what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to feel. I even have a hankering to see Digby again, and Torey MacDougal, and the church ladies. How I’m going to get on without them, I really don’t know.
It’s a magical place – a book, that is – and once you’ve been to a good one, you never want to leave. At least I don’t.
So I’ll tell you a secret… Wild Rose has a surprise ending, and it happens in Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland – another favorite place of mine.
I can’t tell you exactly how, because I’ve only just gone there, but the story will live on, and I’ll get to see Rose and Ian again. So will you, if you take the ferry and come to visit.
You see, there’s a bonny lass called Isabelle, and a gent who calls himself Michael St. Dawndalyn, and an evil, evil man named Damien who’s about to cause all kinds of trouble for them. And they’re going to need Rose and Ian’s help.
There’s also a castle, and an old Celtic cemetery, and a keep that’s in ruins, and so many secrets… deep, dark secrets that are bound to come to light…
And the story lives on.
(Watch for Wild Rose by Sherrie Hansen, coming in April 2013 from Second Wind Publishing, Blue Belle by Sherrie Hansen, coming in November 2013?, and Shy Violet by Sherrie Hansen, coming in… nobody knows…)
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong anywhere? When I was a child, I often thought I must have been adopted. I loved to read and preferred to stay in the house while the rest of my family loved the outdoors and rarely opened a book unless they had to. I was and am very blessed to have a wonderful family, but in some ways, I’ve always been and will always be the odd one out.
I felt the same way in school. I was smart and respected and had a close circle of friends, but I wasn’t athletic, and boys always liked me as a friend instead of a girlfriend, and I wasn’t a party-er and I didn’t dance because I was a Baptist. I read the Betsy Tacy books and wished more than anything that I would someday be part of The Crowd, but the truth was, I never really fit in. After I graduated, I went to Wheaton College, which might seem homogenous at first glance. But to me, it was a place of great diversity. I met people who were far odder than I, quirky individuals who bucked societal norms, did their own thing and didn’t care what anybody thought of them. Despite the occasional forays into uniqueness, there was still a typical Wheatonite – pre-med, ultra talented, superior intellect, old money or conversely, humbly raised children of pastors and missionaries – none of which fit me.
I got married to an officer in the army after two years of college. Our first duty assignment was in Augsburg, Germany. I won’t go into the mismatched marriage I was in at the time, except to say that in the midst of the ill-conceived mess I was in matrimonially, I felt very at home in Europe, and I found a great deal of acceptance within the military community. For the first time in my life, I started to feel like I belonged. Perhaps it was because the military attracted such a hodge podge of people. There were Okies from Oklahoma, hillbillies from Tennessee, southern belles from Charleston, South Carolina, proper to a fault West Point grads, gentle giants with black skin, and once I got there, a naive Midwest farmer’s daughter. I felt like I’d finally found my niche – and it lasted for all of about 10 minutes. Because the military is one of the most unstable, constantly shifting, always changing things in the world as far as places and spaces go. Command shifts, families transferring to different duty assignments, people staying in and getting out of the military, all set against the backdrop of a topsy turvy world where you’re always on alert, waiting for the next big things to happen – and it usually does.
I felt I’d finally found my place in the world, and that that place only existed for a few short months in the space time continuum. Here today, gone tomorrow. When my marriage met a similar fate and poof – one day didn’t exist any more, it was a very hard thing. My ex-husband’s family had become mine, and then suddenly, they weren’t anymore. Disconnecting from the marriage and my role as wife was hard enough, but severing myself from the extended family was far worse.
I’m a farmer’s daughter. I was never a particularly good farmer’s daughter, but I was raised to put down deep roots, to commit for life, to count on people and things being there for a good long time if not forever. But the reality is that the whole world is like the ocean, or the sky – constantly changing, shifting, eroding, becoming more and more unrecognizable with every day that passes. And me?
I’ve gone on to make my way in the world quite nicely. I’ve met with some successes, had a few dreams come true, and done quite well for myself. But in many ways, I still feel like I’m a misfit. I’m not a mother. I wear funky hats. I wouldn’t caught dead in nylons and can usually be found lazing around in Birkenstocks and slouch socks. I’m a far from perfect pastor’s wife. Each of the walls in my dining room a different color. I’m awake when most people are sleeping, and asleep when I should be awake. If left to my own devises, there are more weeds than flowers in my garden. I play the piano but never the notes that are on the music.
I make round pancakes instead of flat. I write books with steamy scenes and God sightings – in the same chapter. I raise eyebrows, and have my own quirks, and march to my own drummer. I’ve never quite fit in and have finally starting to realize that I kind of like it that way.
So Merry Christmas from the Island of Misfits. I rather like it here. If you’re ever inclined to visit, please pick up one of my books… Jensen from Night and Day, Rae from stormy Weather, Michelle from Water Lily, Tracy from Merry Go Round, Hope from Love Notes, and soon, Rose from Wild Rose… characters who are full of foibles, characters who are sometimes a little off kilter or at odds with the world, characters who desire more than anything to find someone to appreciate them and love them just the way they are.
Of course, there’s only one place in the world where we can truly find unconditional love, from someone who certainly knows what it felt like to be a misfit. That’s what makes Christmas such a grand celebration!
My husband and I were driving home from seeing the movie “Lincoln” last night when we drove over the rise that leads to our home and saw Zion Lutheran Church silhouetted behind the stand of pine trees – a sight that has become very familiar- and realized that it was almost exactly a year ago that we saw this beautiful view for the first time.
Since many of you were kind enough to listen to the tales of angst that proceeded our move and the grieving process that surrounded it, I thought I would offer a State of the Union address of sorts and catch you up on what’s been happening in my life since then. And although it’s a very “un-writerly” thing to do, I’m going to start with today’s news and go backwards.
I’m so excited to be nearly finished with a book called Wild Rose of Scotland. I set out to finish it for NaNoWriMo, and have almost met my goal. I love the way the characters and storyline have developed and think my readers will, too. It takes place at St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe, in Scotland. Ted is a pastor and Rose is a bit of a wild woman with a questionable past. The church ladies are aghast! There’s even a jilted ex-fiancé who Rose left standing at the altar in his kilt. And I think you’ll love them all. I have only 3712 words left to write to make my goal of 50,000 words written in the month of November.
It’s been a good month – getting up early every morning and writing has been a good discipline for me at a time in my life when I’ve moved from being a night owl to falling asleep at my desk before ten o’clock. If I can keep up this new habit throughout the winter, you can expect two new releases in short order – Wild Rose of Scotland,and then, Blue Belle of Scotland – with the possibility of a third Celtic tale called – Sweet William of Scotland or Shy Violet of Scotland or… who knows?
After vacillating between publishing books meant for mainstream romance readers and inspirational fiction readers, RWA and ACFW, Sherrie Hansen (Night and Day, and my Maple Valley Trilogy – Stormy Weather, Water Lily and Merry Go Round) and Sherrie Hansen Decker (Love Notes), steamy scenes or no steamy scenes, I’ve decided to go back to being Sherrie Hansen and let my books be what they will be.
I’ve always felt that my books are very character driven. They also have a “slice of life” quality that includes characters who are good and evil, meek and bossy, nice and nasty, Christian and non-Christians (sometimes, to confuse matters, it’s the Christians who are nasty and the non-Christians who are nice), and so on. There are committed Christians whose faith means everything to them, as well as lukewarm and occasionally rebellious Christians. There are people who don’t know what they want – or believe. They live their lives and interact in a very real, sometimes gritty, occasionally very painful world, where there are conflicts, temptations, joys and struggles.
As a writer, I believe my faith and values come into play when a character has to confront the conflicts life throws in their paths. How they deal with the conflicts and how they interact with the other people in their world depends on how deep their faith is and where they’re at in their spiritual walk. As a Christian writer, I feel strongly that there are always consequences to actions, and that sin or evil should not be glorified. But even the Bible does not sugarcoat the actions and failings of its central characters as the stories are told of how they lived out their lives in their contemporary cultures. I don’t feel it’s my job to censure or shield my readers, only to let God’s grace shine through in the way the conflicts in my books are resolved.
So I’m done trying to label my books as one thing or another. Part of the reason I love my publishers and working with a mid-sized, independent press is that they’re supportive of me and what I write even when it’s something unique or a little outside the conventional boxes. In Wild Rose of Scotland, you can expect some faith talk, some Bible verses, and some heated discussions on topics like grace and forgiveness – Ted is a pastor, after all. You can also expect some steam. I think you’ll find that it’s a very candid, real, and refreshing mix.
Some other changes in my life – we love our new home, our new church family, and the group of folks our church has chosen to affiliate with (the LCMC – Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ). When I think of all the wonders God has brought about in our lives in the last 12 months, I’m amazed. On a very personal note, I’ve lost 80 pounds since the day after Mother’s Day – I think, an awesome reflection of the new, positive outlook these changes have brought about.
That’s where I’m at today. I hope you’ll watch for Wild Rose come spring! In the meantime, if you haven’t read Love Notes, this is a wonderful time of year to start. Hope Anderson and Tommy Love’s story – Love Notes – starts just as fall in turning to winter and ends on Christmas Eve with a very special Christmas song, “Hope, Joy, Peace, Love”.
You can get your copy here.