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I’m blogging from sunny Florida this morning. Last night, we left behind blizzards, ice, snow and bitter cold and minutes after we landed at the Orlando Airport, ran smack dab into a tornado warning.

Life is funny that way. You make plans, you hope for the best. You do everything you can to insure that your life and daily schedule will run smoothly, bring you peace, success and joy.

But there are twists, turns, detours, road blocks, surprises, catastrophes… there are blimps, bumps and tragedies…

How you deal with life’s little crises all a matter of perspective. When the wind started to howl and the rain started to blow in sheets around our car last night, I wanted to seek shelter. My husband thought we should keep driving.

We are fine, of course, but once again we were reminded that no matter how carefully you plan things in life, there are going to be some tense moments in life, some tight squeezes.

In my latest book, Merry Go Round (scheduled for release in April 2011), Tracy’s supposedly perfect life with her childhood sweetheart and three beautiful children is not just disrupted, it is turned completely upside down. The merry go round of life sweeps round and round and up and down… sometimes all we can do when things don’t go as planned is to hold on for dear life. Sometimes, we come up with a new idea and adapt.

I hope when all is said and done that I can be flexible and take whatever life tosses my way in stride. And I hope you will enjoy Tracy’s Merry Go Round – there may be a few tears along the way – a few blustery moments – but the ride is going to be great fun!

Stay warm!

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Someone recently asked me how I started to write.

I was already a night owl before I opened the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House almost 20 years ago. Opening the Inn had been precipitated by a move “back home” to a town of 1000 people after 11 years in bustling Colorado Springs, CO.

Opening the Inn, establishing a business, training new employees, sustaining financial credibility,  and everything else that went along with  being a first time business owner sapped my strength, sucked the life out of my relationships, and took 16 out of every 24 hours. I loved what I was doing, there was just no time for anything else.

I was working every night until 10 pm – my night owl tendency’s worsened. Probably not a good thing for the owner of a bed and BREAKFAST.  I was soon exhausted – between checking in honeymooners at 2 am and serving breakfast to business travelers at 6 am.

My “home” was in the basement of the Blue Belle, so I never really went home from work, but when I went downstairs at the end of the night, I was tired. But just because it was bedtime didn’t mean I could go to sleep. Like anyone, I came home from work pumped up with adrenalin, sometimes frustrated, sometimes happy, charged and ready to go after flying around, being busy for hours – I needed to talk to someone, to vent, to spend a few hours unwinding before I could go to sleep.

Problem is, who do you call to talk to at that time of night? (No one – they’re all asleep.) Where do you go if you feel like doing something, or need to run errands (Nowhere – everything is closed.)  So what’s a person to do? Sometimes life thrusts you into situations where you’re forced to to adapt. I did. I started writing. Late into the night.

My first published book, Night and Day (it’s midnight in Minnesota and daybreak in Denmark), was no mistake.

When the internet caught on, I made friends in every corner of the world – friends who were on the same schedule I was. While my real-life friends and family slept, I carried on a “imaginary life” with my online friends. And I wrote. In essence, I made up a few dozen “imaginary friends” and started writing about what was going on in their lives, weaving them together into relationships, imagining “what if” – and writing about it.

A friend of mine, Deborah Scafferi Rohne, writes a blog called “Life Is Too Short to Fold Underwear”. In her latest entry, she writes that life is too short to sleep when everyone else is awake.  Her theory is that you miss out on too much when your schedule is contrary to the rest of the world’s.  She is absolutely right. In my case, however, I wasn’t sleeping when everyone else was awake, I was working. And when everyone else was asleep, I was living – and writing – and engaging and interacting with my imaginary friends.

In my case, my imaginary, after-hours, everybody-else-I-know-is-sound-asleep world changed my real life.

And twenty years later? I work less (well, sometimes), play more (okay, occasionally), and have better relationship in the real world (with at least a few people – I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 7 years now). I still have many friends online who inspire, encourage, and cheer me on. I try to find a good balance, which is probably the key to everything in life.

And then, irony of ironies, when I hit 51, my body clock started to change. Suddenly, I found myself falling asleep in front of my computer at 9 pm.  My most prolific hours – 10 pm to 2 pm, found me zombie-like and bobbing my head in front of the words on my screen. After finally giving up and succumbing to sleep,  I would wake up at 6 am. But I wasn’t productive, I was crabby.

So. . .  such is life. I’m trying to adapt – again, carve out a new niche in my busy schedule for my writing, make time for me and my imaginary friends, and still get a good night’s sleep! And guess when this was written? 6:30 am. 🙂

My mind is on the Minnesota State Fair today. Maybe it’s because I’m sick of winter and longing for summertime, almost autumn. My mind is flooded with memories:  homemade apple pie made with just-off-the-tree apples, listening to Karen and Richard Carpenter croon “Top of the World” under the stars in the grandstand, steel drums throbbing, fireworks exploding, staying in the 4-H building one hot, humid summer night all by myself, purple ribbons, ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds…

Maybe it’s because I’m working on my next release (coming in April), Merry-Go-Round. Merry-Go-Round will be the third book in my Maple Valley Trilogy, and has pivotal scenes set on merry-go-rounds at the fair in St. Paul, MN, and on an antique carousel in Story City, Iowa. Here’s a little glimpse of what I’m working on…

Tracy, the youngest of the three Jones sisters, it the one about whom their mother always said, “Why can’t you be more like Tracy?” and “Tracy never gives me this kind of trouble.” Tracy, who married her high school sweetheart, now a minister, and had three beautiful children, does appear to have the perfect life.

But as Merry-Go-Round opens, we find that nothing in Tracy’s life is as it seems, and hasn’t been for years. When her husband leaves her for another man, and everything in her world suddenly goes topsy turvy, she has to move out of the parsonage and make a new life for herself. Her only option is to turn to  her sisters, Rachael and Michelle, for help. While kind-hearted Michelle is ready to forgive all and lend a hand, Rae thinks maybe it’s time Tracy gets hers…

Clay Alexander’s fairy tale life is also not what it appears.  When Tracy inspires him to follow his heart, regardless of what the consequences might be, Clay resigns from the board of directors at Alexander Industries and breaks off of his engagement to Lauren. When his father issues a not-so-subtle edict –  conform to the family’s expectations or see Elk Creek Woolen Mills closed forever –  Clay’s only hope of saving the mill, and with it hundreds of jobs the tiny community depends on, is to force the sale of the facility and buy the mill himself. And the only way he can get the votes he needs from a board of directors his father controls is to sell his soul to the devil herself…

Before he met Tracy, Clay had resigned himself to a loveless marriage with Lauren. Tracy doubted she would ever trust a man again, say nothing about love. The unlikely romance they discover in the midst of the chaos is both the dream that gives them hope, and the catalyst that comes precariously close to being their downfall. For even as they taste the tender passion of their souls and share the secrets of their hearts, the forces of life are sweeping them apart – her children, his parents, her pride, his honor, the welfare of an entire community – until it seems their world is spinning out of control, and all either of them can do is hang on for dear life.

Heaven only knows if their love was meant to be, or if they will always be on opposite sides of the merry-go-round, each riding round and round on a horse that will never catch up with the other…

Photo by Rose Hill.

Coming soon from Second Wind Publishing!

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Daybreak – New Release! (Sequel to Night & Day)

Night and Day

Golden Rod

Sweet William

Shy Violet

Blue Belle

Wild Rose

Thistle Down

Love Notes

Stormy Weather

Water Lily

Merry Go Round

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