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I was going through some old photos recently and came upon a photo of me taken back in the late 80’s while I was climbing Pikes Peak. For those of you who know me as a now silver-haired, overweight, 55 year old with achy knees and hips who will do most anything to avoid stairs, yes, I really did climb Pikes Peak. This is not another work of fiction. I really did it.

I lived in Colorado Springs at the time, and was acclimated to the altitude. I had walked 3 or 4 miles a day for months before attempting my trek so get in shape. My friend, Karen (the cute, naturally slender one on the left), coached and encouraged me to the top. If not for her, I might still be sitting in the midst of a boulder field, too tired and short of air to make it to the top, and too tired and sore to make it back down to the base. I probably would have been devoured by coyotes or pummeled to death by a hailstorm by morning, as we climbed the mountain in early October, when there was barely enough hours of daylight to make it to the top.  I don’t have a photo of me at the very top of the mountain, because we barely made to the top in time to get our tickets and jump on the last cog train of the day for the trip back home. If we hadn’t caught the last train, we would have had to spend the night on the mountain. Not a good thing, although there are a few little cabins along the path for folks who do get stranded or need to take shelter.

Pikes Peak is over 14,000 feet high. It’s almost unimaginable – even to me – that I ever lugged my tired old body up such a steep incline. But isn’t that always the way it is when you’re down in the valley? Life has a way of beating your down sometimes, and when you’re in the basement, it seems like you’re never even going to make it up to the first floor, say nothing about soaring to the top of a massive mountain.  Maybe that’s why I love it when my characters are surprised by joy, when they find hope, that moment when they see a pinprick of light in the far distance, shining through the darkness.

When Hope Anderson meets Tommy Love in my new book, Love Notes, she’s understandably cautious, even cynical. Tommy is downright jaded, and has long given up on finding true love. They both believe in a God of miracles – in theory…  but which of us really believes that God is going to work a miracle in our lives?

Maybe it’s because He did, in my life, when I met my husband of 8 years – my real life romance – that I like to write about hope.

So if you find yourself down in the valley, a place I’m very well acquainted with – for whatever reason – think about being on top of Pikes Peak. It’s not an easy climb, but it’s definitely doable. It could happen. It did happen to me, and I’m here to tell you that the view is great from the top. You can see forever. So keep believing. You never know what God has in store for you…  

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

LOVE NOTES (Coming on June 4th from Second Wind Publishing)

Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw.
Even Tommy Love’s is melting around the edges.

But they both want Rainbow Lake Lodge. Only one of them can have it.

For Hope, recreating the past - reopening the lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again – means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband's legacy.

For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home - peace, quiet, seclusion - and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect.
 
Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?

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How do you have faith when something horrible has happened to you? Is it possible to be content even when the circumstances in your life are far from ideal? And why, so often, when things are going great, do we so often feel unhappy and dissatisfied with our lives?

In Love Notes, my upcoming release, Hope Anderson has lost her husband in a tragic auto accident. She is about to lose Rainbow Lake Lodge, the resort where her late husband was raised.  Yet her faith remains strong. She believes God is in control. When Tommy Love shows up on her doorstep (well, in the ditch at the end of her driveway), she immediately concludes that God is working in her life and Tommy’s and there is some purpose to events that Tommy considers bad luck or at the very least, random.

Tommy Lubinski, of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, seemingly has everything a person could want, but because he has no faith, he is not happy, and is constantly looking for more, telling himself that if he only had “blank” – a new hit, a new house, new fans, he would be happy.

A poem on a plate that sits on a hutch at my husband’s aunt and uncle’s cabin in northern Minnesota was part of my inspiration for Love Notes.

“As I was wandering over the green

Not knowing where I went

By chance I saw a pleasant scene

The cottage of content”

When Tommy Love stumbles on Hope’s cottage of content, his way of thinking about his life gradually starts to change and God eventually shows him what it means to be a man of faith.  It’s not an easy journey. Why is it that it’s harder to have faith when we have everything than when we have nothing?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts – and I hope you’ll read Love Notes when it comes out and see whose perspective you can relate to more – Hope Anderson’s or Tommy Love’s.

Love Notes

 Tommy Lubinski, aka Tommy Love and the Love Notes, is a fading star in the middle of a stellar mid-life crisis. Tommy needs one more big hit – hip-hop, to appeal to a new generation. Thanks to an old friend who’s a banker, he’s found the perfect spot to build his dream house. When Tommy starts nosing around Embarrass, Minnesota and ends up in the ditch in the middle of an ice storm, he discovers he’s not the only one with plans for the place.

Hope Anderson is determined to renovate Rainbow Lake Lodge, the Northwoods resort where her late husband grew up. Reopening the Lodge so the families who have come there for generations can fill it with life again is the only way she knows to honor his legacy. Then the health inspector informs her that her old kitchen no longer meets state codes, and Billy Bjorklund, the devious new bank president, starts foreclosure proceedings.

Sure, Tommy feels bad that Hope spent all of her late husband’s life insurance money fixing up a lodge he plans to bulldoze. Tommy has always prided himself on being the kind of man who makes women’s dreams come true. But this time, Hope Anderson’s goal is in direct conflict with his. Bottom line, he has the wherewithal to make his dream a reality. She does not. No sense both of them being frustrated.

LOVE NOTES… Hope Anderson set out to preserve a legacy and found Love. Tommy Love wanted to make it big in hip-hop and found Hope. If they ever hope to understand the mystery of love, they’re going to need a little faith.

People often ask me how I come up with ideas for my stories. In the case of “Love Notes”, my soon-to-be-released novel (my first Christian inspirational), it was a poem on a plate.

“As I was wandering over the green

Not knowing where I went

By chance I saw a pleasant scene

The cottage of content”

The plate was on a shelf in an antique pine hutch at my Aunt Pat and Uncle Frank’s “cabin” in northern Minnesota. Each year, my husband and I spend a few days at Pat and Frank’s cabin, unwinding, relaxing, and trying to forget the stresses of our busy lives (me, the owner of a bed and breakfast and tea house, and he, a pastor).

Their “cabin” is really a cute three bedroom cottage, renovated and expanded by Frank and decorated with garage sale treasures and quilts by Pat. I was feeling pretty content when I first read the poem on the plate. We’d enjoyed a delicious dinner and a long walk in the woods. We’d poked around Ely and gone boating. The men were playing Scrabble. I was working on my needlepoint.

Life was good, nearly perfect at that moment. Still, I wished I could escape the craziness of my life and enjoy more laid-back, carefree days like the one we’d just had. When I saw the poem, my mind started whirling.

What if there was a man who had everything – fortune and fame – but nothing that really mattered? No family and definitely no love? What if he was lost and came upon the cottage of content? What if he had to give up what he thinks he wants to get what he really needs? And Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes was born.

The next step was to figure out who lived in the cottage of content. What if she had nothing – no money, no children, a husband who died tragically and left her to pay back a huge debt to the bank – but had a strong faith in God in spite of her dilemma? And thus, Hope Anderson was born.

The cottage of content turned out to be a cluster of rainbow-colored cottages – Daisy, Fern, Ivy, Bluebell, Violet, Rose, and Lily – at Rainbow Lake Lodge, the family resort Hope is trying to bring back to life. Snippets of information about living “up north” I picked up while chatting with Pat – frequent power outages due to a deteriorating electrical cable buried at the bottom of the lake, snowplows scraping “roads” on the lake so people can drive on the ice in the winter, getting stranded on a boat in the middle of the lake – became fodder for a plot. A story was born.

To me, life is all about second chances, whether dilapidated cabins become honeymoon cottages, a heartbroken widow finding love again, or a tortured soul discovering new life. I hope you’ll enjoy Tommy and Hope’s story in “Love Notes”.

Love Notes ~ Coming soon from http://www.SecondWindPublishing.com.

My blog tour for Love Notes begins today at The Literary Mom, http://www.preslaysa.com/. The release date for my first Christian inspirational novel, Love Notes, is set for later this month. Please subscribe to my blog for further updates!

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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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