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I commented to someone last week that I’ve been feeling sad and alone these last few weeks even though I’ve been surrounded by people and busier than busy at the Blue Belle and church. I blamed it on the wintertime blues. We’ve rarely seen the sun since returning home from Arizona (how thankful am I for that brief break from winter!)

Blizzard - 2019

While friends on Facebook are posting pictures of the first blooms of spring, our snow keeps piling up and up and up. I think there’s almost a foot on the ground already, and another 3-5 inches are expected today.

Scot - kilmartin glen

That’s when a friend said to me, “Don’t you always feel this way when you finish a book?” Sigh. She was right. I finished my rough draft of PLUM TART IRIS and wrote The End exactly two weeks ago. I’ve been feeling lost ever since.

Czechia - after dinner

One of the many joys of writing novels, and hopefully reading them, is that the worlds we escape to, in this case, the Czech Republic, feel real. The characters become our friends, and sometimes, even more. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a character, you know the feeling – but fun as a fictional crush may be, it’s not just about “love.”

Czechia - Brno dancers

When we write or read a good book, we explore new worlds, learn invigorating new truths, think about things that would otherwise never have entered our minds, and have the type of honest conversations that we rarely have in our real lives. In many ways, book relationships can feel more real than the ones that fill our everyday lives.

Czechia - Cesky Krumlov view

As a writer, I bare my soul via the characters in my books, spend hours researching other cultures and historical backdrops, and conjure up visions of lush landscapes and tucked away, intimate corners of places we have visited on our vacations. It’s exhausting and exhilarating. The moments – days, weeks and months – I spend in the fictional worlds I create in my books are so dear to me that I often feel that I could stay there, in those places, with the people I have grown to love, forever.

Czechia - traditional cottage bed

It’s no wonder I feel lonely now that I’ve written The End, closed the door, and started the process of moving on. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m trying to catch up on some projects neglected while I was immersed in my novel, catch up on my reading, and even talk to some real people who haven’t heard from me in awhile, but there’s still something missing – namely Iris and Mikulas! So, what now?

Czechia - Karlovy Vary colunnades

I could immediately begin another book, but I’ve still got edits to do, a cover to design, formatting and promotional materials to build, and a release party to plan for PLUM TART IRIS. Besides, I’m already feeling a little schizophrenic, planning Irish-themed festivities in honor of  SEASIDE DAISY, my current release, for Saint Patrick’s Day, editing and marketing PLUM TART IRIS, my Czechia mystery, while simultaneously planning a trip to Scotland. And of course, I have to devote at least some of my time to Iowa and Minnesota family, friends, and business pursuits.

BBInn - heavy snow smaller

So what’s the solution? I’m not sure what to do about my dilemma, but I’ve been told that it’s great fun to binge read my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, one after the other, while the characters and details from the previous book are still familiar and fresh in your mind. If you fall in love with a fictional hero or heroine, it’s all good, because you’re bound to see them in the next book, and the next, and the next. The same holds true with NIGHT and DAY, and the sequel DAYBREAK. Many have told me they’ve gone back and reread one and then immediately gone on to the other. Those who originally read my Maple Valley trilogy had to wait a whole year between STORMY WEATHER, WATERLILY, and MERRY GO ROUND – now, you can see the story unwind through Rachael, Michelle, and Tracy’s lives all in one setting. 

Quilt - bear

So, if you have the wintertime blues, there’s nothing like “good book immersion therapy.” The experience can carry you through to spring. Make a new friend, travel to a far off country, learn to dance or quilt or make teatime delicacies. Be inspired. Be my guest! All you have to do is open the door and take the first step. 

Czechia - garden door

Here in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, we’ve been snowed in by a blizzard for the last few days. For two days, we were completely cut off from the rest of the world by 6 and 7 foot high drifts up and down our road. Now that the plows have come through, there are walls of snow 8 or 9 feet high on either side of the road, and the drifts that haven’t been already been blasted away are as hard as cement. Our temperatures heading into the month of March are forecast to be in the single digits, so there’s no sign of a spring thaw anytime soon.

Blizzard photo 2On Sunday, church was cancelled for the first time in decades, and I’ve been totally discombobulated ever since, wondering what day it is and awakening in the night thinking it’s time to get up and play the piano. Our schools have had 10 snow days in less than a month and at the rate we’re going, they may be making up days until the 4th of July.

Zion 2013 snowy

Not to complain… our electricity has stayed on and we have heat. We had plenty of warning that the storm was on its way so we were able to get where we needed to be before the weather turned the roads to glare ice and stock up on food to eat while we were snowed in.  Thank goodness!

Blizzard - 2019

Is it just me, or do you get hungry for good old-fashioned comfort foods when something in your life isn’t going quite right?  This weekend, I’ve had meatloaf, home-grown sausage, egg salad sandwiches, and raisin cinnamon bread with a lot of smooth, creamy butter spread on top – and a lot of wonderful cheeses because I was supposed to have a cheese tasting party (it also fell victim to the blizzard).

Cheese

I have a lot of other foods that I associate with warm, cozy feelings – chocolate chip cookie dough (well, any kind of cookie dough), Grandma Hansen’s chicken pie with baking powder biscuits on top, homemade apple pie, Skippy Super Chunk peanut butter and butter sandwiches… I could go on… This is part of the reason I struggle with my weight.  But my point is that food does a great job of  soothing frazzled emotions and making us happy. So do books, and they’re a lot less fattening!

Food - Strawberry Pie 2.jpg

Reading a favorite book can take you back to happier, less stressful times. Books can transport you to another part of the world, a different era in time, or an altogether unique universe where fantasy reigns. In a well-woven story, dreams can come true. The characters in a wonderful book can reassure you that things could be worse – that your life and your problems aren’t half bad after all. A good novel can help you to dream again, to move forward and keep trying when your own world seems hopeless.

Quilt - bear

Books can fill your heart with hope. They can uplift you and make you laugh. They can provide a quick escape from the harsh realities of life and renew your perspective.

Celtic Crosses

That’s why I like reading a good book when I’m stranded in a blizzard, trying to relax, or feeling anxious and overwhelmed by what’s going on in my life.

Wildflowers

My love for books helped shape my business, a bed and breakfast and country inn called the Blue Belle Inn, just as my passion for good food has. If you come to visit, you’ll find rooms named Never Neverland, On the Banks of Plum Creek, Secret Garden, Anne’s House of Dreams, A Wrinkle in Time, and Heaven to Betsy from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy books. I’m a writer because Betsy Ray was, and if Laura Ingalls Wilder could make it through the Long Winter, then I can survive these horrible winds and snowstorms we keep having.

Scot - Chanonry Point

If you’re an avid reader, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t picked up a book in awhile – I urge you to give reading a second chance. Whether you need comforting or calming, perking up or settling down, a good book can help. Hopefully, it will bring a smile to your face and a song to your heart.  Cookie dough might give you a momentary lift, but reading can change your life.

heaventobetsy-179x269

 

 

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PLUM TART IRIS – New Release

Seaside Daisy

NEW RELEASE!

Daybreak (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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