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My first published book – Night and Day – is set in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and Copenhagen, Denmark with a brief interlude on Prince Edward Island, Canada. My tagline, “It’s midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark”, speaks to the fact that Jensen and Anders connect via the internet, each from their own corner of the world.

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My latest release, Wild Rose of Scotland, is set at St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe.

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The second book in my Wildflowers of Scotland series, Blue Belle, takes place in Tobermory, a picturesque old village whose rainbow-colored storefronts are reflected in the waters off the Isle of Mull.

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For a writer / innkeeper / restaurateur / pastor’s wife whose life is too busy and complicated to plan a vacation anytime in the foreseeable future, “traveling” to these exotic locales in my mind is like taking a mini-vacation. Hopefully, my readers will also enjoy visiting the quaint spots that provide a backdrop to the adventures of Jensen and Anders, Ian and Rose, and any other of my characters who are lucky enough to find their homes in such beautiful places.

But we all can’t live in Colorado. Nor can we go on vacation all the time. My Maple Valley trilogy – Stormy Weather, Waterlily, and Merry-Go-Round – are all set in a fictional town patterned after Osage, Iowa, just 11 miles from where I live. The stage for these books is set with cornfields, cabbage patches, and contented cows grazing in pastures. The secondary characters are small town… well… characters. And it’s not one bit boring. To the contrary, writing about my hometown and the area surrounding it has been very enlightening.

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Looking at my very ordinary world through the eyes of my characters has shed a whole new light on what was once deemed plain. These people see things in my world that I never would have noticed. With their help, I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to the phrase, Beauty in Your Own Backyard. It’s amazing, the things I see when looking through the rose-colored glasses of the three Jones sisters.

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So, wherever it is you find yourself, take a look around. Whether you’re reading – or writing – a book set in Windermere, England, Apple Valley, Minnesota, Moonstone Beach, or Weedpatch, California, there are beautiful sights to behold no matter where you go in the world – a simple wildflower, a spectacular sunset, the moon glinting off a lake (or maybe even a mud puddle).

And next time you’re lucky enough to be able to take a vacation to some lovely new location, by all means, take your camera, your moleskin journal, your steno pad, or your Alphasmart. Take photos, record each memory, soak in every ounce of scenic beauty that you can.

All I’m suggesting is that when you come home, keep your camera out. Try looking at your own, everyday world through the eyes of someone who’s seeing those same, familiar haunts for the very first time. Take notice of the extraordinary, and you’ll discover all kinds of unique beauty – right in your own backyard. Learning to see the Cinderella side of your soot and ashes world, to appreciate the sights you take for granted, will make you a better writer, a better mother, a better lover, a better everything under the sun.

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Sherrie Hansen

http://www.SecondWindPublishing.com

Wild Rose has arrived!

Now available at Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, or my publisher’s website. Enjoy!

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Exciting news! Wild Rose, the first of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, is now available in paperback at http://amzn.com/1938101421 and as an ebook at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/315638. You can also buy my books directly from http://www.SecondWindPublishing.com. I will have copies for sale at the Blue Belle Inn in about 10 days.

The prequel, my novella, Thistle Down, the intro to my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, and the first scene of my upcoming release, Wild Rose, are still FREE at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/310079, and 99 cents for your Nook at B&N – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thistle-down-sherrie-hansen/1115202229?ean=2 or for your Kindle at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Thistle%20Down%20by%20Sherrie%20Hansen%20Kindle
Download away! Thank you.

Back Cover Blurb for 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?

Back Cover Blurb for Thistle Down:  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?

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 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/310079Thistle 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.

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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.

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When I don’t find actual mosaics, I gravitate towards mosaic-like images.

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Quilts made with scraps of fabrics, ribbons and lace…

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Stone houses and log cabins, which upon inspection, are mosaics made with rocks or wood…

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Stained glass windows made with shards of colorful glass…

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Digital pictures, which I love to play with, that are nothing more than mosaics of microscopic pixels.

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And even bite-sized morsels of foods, creatively blended into a hodgepodge of delicious flavors and colors.

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Just like jigsaw puzzles, I like mosaics because they’re bits and pieces – nothing pretty by themselves – that when put together, become beautiful.

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Even things that aren’t particularly pretty to start with look beautiful when made into a mosaic.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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,

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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.

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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? 

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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’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.

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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?

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I’ll admit that I occasionally dream that the book I’m writing might just be “The Next Big Thing”.
I’ve known fellow Second Wind author, Pat Bertram, for several years and admired her not only for her storytelling abilities but for her savvy social media and marketing skills. So when Pat offered to tag me in an ongoing blog chain, “The Next Big Thing”, in which authors get to talk about their current Work in Progress, I jumped at the chance.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I just took advantage of NaNoWriMo to complete the rough draft of my current work-in-progress and  that it’s set in Scotland – I’ve been posting photos from our trip to Scotland to help get me – and you – in the mood for a visit to one of the most beautiful, intriguing places on earth. Here are a few more details:
What is your working title of your book?
Wild Rose of Scotland
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A few years after I married my husband, who is a pastor, we went on a dream vacation to Scotland, where we stumbled upon a beautiful old church along Loch Awe called St. Conan’s Kirk. I was new to being a pastor’s wife, and having a lot of “eye-opening” experiences. In the midst of my “adjustment period”, Rose’s character came to life.
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What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary Romance
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My husband, who has read snippets of Wild Rose, thinks Rose should be played by Kate Walsh from Private Practice. Although I’m not wild about her character or the role she plays in that show, she’s stunning, and looks the part. Emma Thompson’s quirky, upbeat personality and accent would make her a good match. I envision Ted as a young Sean Connery or Richard Chamberlain (think Thorn Birds) – or maybe Liam Neeson?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Can the church ladies of St. Conan’s forgive and forget Rose’s ill-advised romp with a common criminal when it’s  captured for all time on Pastor Ted’s surveillance video – more importantly, can he?
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Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My publisher is Second Wind Publishing. Although they haven’t yet read the book or set a release date, I’m told they are eagerly awaiting the completion of my manuscript.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ve played with Wild Rose for the last 3 years and somehow managed to get 40,000 words written here and there along the way. I wrote the last 50,000 words in 30 days thanks to this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Theme-wise, I have no idea. I’m sure there are some, but I don’t know of anything similar. Although my book does not have the paranormal aspects hers does, I hope I’ve captured the Celtic cadence and voice even half as well as Nora Robert did in her Irish Jewels Trilogy – Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Since it was God who led me to my husband and”made me a pastor’s wife when I felt like I was probably the least suited, most unlikely person for the role, I would have to credit Him.  And, since God is also the master designer of this whole forgiving and forgetting concept… well, you get the idea.
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What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Wild Rose is the first of a Wildflowers of Scotland trilogy and will be followed by Blue Belle of Scotland, set in the picturesque  village of Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, and… I’m tossing around Shy Violet or Sweet William of Scotland. We’ll see what happens!
And now, I’d like to tag Maggie Rivers, the writer who’s trying to get you to buy her a shoe! A very big shoe…  Who will be agged next in “The Next Big Thing” blog chain?  Maybe you? Coming soon – more great authors! (How’s that for a cliff hanger?)

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.

Merry Christmas!

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I’ve had a whirlwind blog tour going on in honor of the June release of my first inspirational novel, LOVE NOTES. I’ve posted the links to each article below. If you haven’t already, please join me! (For your reading enjoyment, I worked very hard to make sure each article is different.)

If LOVE NOTES sounds interesting, you can purchase a paperback or electronic  copy at my publisher’s website or in any format you like at at Amazon.com or Smashwords.com. Enjoy!

Interview at Andrea Boeshaar’s Everything Writerly blog

Excerpt from LOVE NOTES at Pat Bertram’s Dragon My Feet blog

Interview about how Maud Hart Lovelace (author of the Betsy Tacy books) and Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time) influenced my writing at Pat Bertram’s blog

A devotional about hope at Phyllis Wheeler’s blog

My ‘Second Chance at Love story at Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s blog

Sandra Robbins interviewed me about Tommy Love and Hope Anderson at the Borrowed Book blog

I blogged about Looking for Hope, Joy, Peace and Love in All the Wrong Places at Second Wind Publishing’s blog

I posted a video of me playing the melody for the song, Hope, Joy, Peace, Love (written by ‘Tommy Love’ for LOVE NOTES) on the piano at Gather.com.

Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, the somewhat unlikely hero of my new book, LOVE  NOTES, is a fading star whose heart has been trampled on so many times that it’s frozen solid. Although he’s enjoyed fortune and fame, he can’t find the words – or the heart – to write a new song. Probably because he has no hope, joy or peace. Or faith. Tommy thinks that building his dream house on the shores of  Rainbow Lake so he can sit on his new deck and bask in one of the most beautiful views in all of northern Minnesota, his childhood home, will inspire him to create again.

What Tommy wants to write is punk – or hip hop, so that his new hit will appeal to a younger listener. That way, his legacy will live on in the hearts of a new generation. But once he meets Hope Anderson, the original old-fashioned girl, all he can seem to think about – or write – are love songs about Hope. As God was working in Tommy Love’s heart – and mine – while writing this book, a song came to me / him…

I was so deep into Tommy Love’s character when the song came to be, that it truly felt like Tommy Love wrote it. For the past few years, we’ve sung it during the Christmas season at the church where my husband was pastor. The first time Mark printed up the words to put in the church bulletin, he asked if I wanted it to say, “Written by Sherrie Hansen”, my maiden name, and the name under which I’d written 4 novels, or “Written by Sherrie Decker”, my married name, since that was how everyone at church knew me. Without thinking, I responded, “I didn’t write it. Tommy Love did.”

Mark smiled and said, “I wouldn’t tell that to too many people if I were you.” You authors will know what I mean. In my mind, the song truly was a love note written by Tommy Love, with a heart newly melted around the edges, to Hope. And to God.

That’s where the song Hope, Joy, Peace and Love came from. You can hear the music at Gather.com if you click here. Below, I’d like to share my thoughts – some of which came from getting to know Tommy Love – on each of the four words in the title.

Hope, Joy, Peace, Love

Gentle blessings from above.

A rainbow bright, a starry night

To warm our hearts – the gift of light.

Hope, Joy, Peace, Love

A star to follow from above.

Shining brightly in the night

To warm our hearts – the gift of light.

Hope, Joy, Peace, Love

The Son of God from heaven above

came down to us on Christmas night

To warm our hearts – the gift of light.

Hope – I don’t know about you, but on many occasions, I’ve given up hope – hope of ever feeling good again, hope of ever being slender and healthy, hope of ever being happy, hope of finding someone to love, of being loved. I start out at least a little hopeful, but if things don’t come together fairly quickly, just the way I think they should – the way I HOPE they will, then I lose hope. Maybe depression is the opposite of hope, looking down instead of up. So how does a mid-aged woman who knows that things are probably just going to keep getting worse from here on out, have and hold on to hope? In Ephesians 3:20, the Bible says, “By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope” and in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written was given to us for our learning, that through patience and comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.

Joy – To me, joy is the most elusive of emotions. The older and wiser and more cynical I get, the harder it is to attain any semblance of it. Joy is not synonymous with happiness, or pleasure, or feeling good. It is so much more than that. I know, because on rare occasions, I have experienced it. Most recently, I’ve seen it in the eyes, heard it in the squeals of my little nieces and nephews, so quickly lost, so hard to capture. Joy is like a hummingbird, flitting around us at lightening speed, teasing us, taunting us, because we are just too slow and encumbered by burdens to get more than a glimpse. But God says of joy, “Those who sow in tears will reap a harvest of joy; for though they may weep while going forth to plant their seed, if they persevere, they will undoubtedly return rejoicing—bringing their sheaves with them. (Psalms 126:5-6). And in John 15:11, after telling his disciples that they need to keep his commandments and abide in his love, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Peace – Hard as I try to keep my life, my household and my business organized, there is so much chaos surrounding me that lately, it has become possible. I struggle with anxiety and come from a long line of “fretters and stewers”. Unfortunately, my wild imagination – the same one that makes me a good writer – adds fuel to the fire. The same “what if” exercise I use when I’m coming up with my stories has often kept me up at night, as I imagine the worst and worry about what will happen if I’m right. God’s peace is the only answer to the chaos of the world… another of those things that I can’t possibly control or conquer on my own. If you’re going to have lasting peace – peace that sticks with you through the bumpiest of rides, you need to find it at the feet of Jesus. Here’s what He says about peace in John 14:27:  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Love – I do know that people love me – my husband, my parents, my brothers and sisters (well, most of them), my nieces and nephews, and friends – but we all know that human love is fallible.  We’ve all had broken hearts, we’ve been betrayed, we’ve lost at love. What we really want – need – is unconditional love. And the older I get, the more disillusioned with the world I am, the more I realize that the only place we’re likely to find true love is in Jesus. John 3:16 talks about a love that is unparalleled:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now that’s true love.

So it turns out that Tommy Love and I hadn’t only been looking for love in all the wrong places, we’d been looking for hope, joy and peace in the wrong places, too. The world is full of wonderful things, but nothing can and will satisfy our restless souls like God’s gifts to us. Hope, joy, peace, love, gentle blessings from above. So keep looking up – the rainbow bright, the starry night will guide you and remind you that it is He alone who can give us the treasures we seek -hope, joy, peace and love. If you don’t know Him, all you have to do is look in His Word – it’s a lamp unto your feet and a guide to unto your way.

I’ve been thinking a lot about unconditional love lately. Little girls and boys dream of it, young women wish for it under the nearest star, and people who have had a failed relationship pray that they will be granted a second chance at finding it. It’s something we all want – to be accepted and adored for who we are and what we are – just the way we are, an inherent  need / desire that never seems to go away no matter how old we get.

One of my favorite songs – a true oldie from the Disco era sung by Donna Summer – says it well.

Unconditional love is a theme that’s interwoven into almost every romance novel – whether the hero and heroine are kick-ass contemporary or an old-order Amish. Who doesn’t want to find that certain, one-in-a-million dream mate who’s a perfect fit for us?

We look for unconditional love in our non-romantic relationships, too. We want our teachers to “get us”. We hope our parents will accept our choices and admire our chosen path in life even if we don’t embrace 100% of their values or do things exactly they way they do. We crave compliments from our bosses and acceptance from our peers.

Unconditional love is the model of Christ’s love for us – Just As I Am, unworthy, guilty, with no defense – yet God’s love for us was so great that he sent His Son to die for us so that we could live and be loved, so that we could experience His abundant life.

I am blessed to have a husband who loves me even when I screw up or say things I shouldn’t. He may not like every single little thing about me, but he accepts and loves me nonetheless. He is supportive of who I am and helps me attain my dreams and goals. I have parents who are proud of me. I have friends and siblings who I can talk to and confide in, who are there for me when I’m in trouble.

I also have relationships that I’m not so secure in. As a boss / owner / manager of The Blue Belle Inn, a busy B&B and Tea House, I hope that my staff,  employees, and customers all like me, and think that each of my edicts and decisions is wise, fair, and commendable. That doesn’t always happen. I’m currently meeting new people and making new friends at the church where my husband is the new pastor. Of course, I’d be thrilled if every single person who attends the church adores me and thinks I’m the perfect pastor’s wife. Realistically, that’s not likely to happen, because people (at work or church, in families, and otherwise) can be nit-picky, critical, and hypersensitive about certain things. Add that to the fact that I (and I’m assuming you) am far from perfect and voila… We all have our own quirks and idiosyncrasies, and yes, faults. The people who are around us are bound to discover them eventually.

I’ve been nervous for the last couple of weeks because some of the people I’ve recently met are just finding out that I’m an author, and others, that my books contain some steamy scenes. For the record, my next book, Love Notes, which will hopefully be released later this spring, is a Christian Inspirational romance (hopefully the same sizzle you love in my books, but no sex). But to be truthful, I haven’t had a great conversion experience, and I can’t promise I’ll never write another steamy romance. Because each of my characters is unique, and I believe as an author that it is my job to respect each and every one of them for who they are, and write their story to the best of my ability. Some of them think about sex all the time, some hardly ever; some are bold and go after what they want; some are shy and reticent. Some are laden with guilt and shame, some tied in knots because they’re grieving. There are no cookie cutter characters in my books. Hopefully each of them has a unique personality of their own, complete with their own foibles and brilliant streaks – just like me!

When I joined the American Fiction Christian Writers last year, I worried about being judged, about not being Christian enough, about being rejected because not all of my books are “Christian”. Conversely, I’ve often felt like I didn’t quite fit in over at the  Romance Writer’s of America either. I’m a lot more conservative that many of them, and even when I’m writing straight contemporary romance, thoughts of God, family, home, and religion often creep into my work, something that is sometimes frowned upon.

Some authors take on a pen name and assume two separate identities when they write – one for one kind of story, whether is be erotica, mystery, suspense, or literary fiction, and another for romance, inspirational, or non-fiction. But I am stubborn. I want my friends and readers to give me their unconditional love. I am proud of all my stories, no matter what genre they fall into. You will find common themes of family, home and faith in each of my books. The ones with steamy scenes will be published under the name Sherrie Hansen (my maiden name). The ones with no sex will be published under the name Sherrie Hansen Decker, my married name.

No matter which of my books you choose to read, I hope that you will accept me for who I am – innkeeper / author / pastor’s wife / Everett Hansen’s daughter / Auntie Sherrie / sometimes sweet, sometimes silly, sometimes bossy, sometimes, shy, with a rare bit of a wild streak thrown in for good measure. I am uniquely me. I am not a cookie cutter anything.  And to the friends and relatives and acquaintances who would like me to fit into their ideal mold, who think I should be a bit more or less of this or that, please remember that the characters in the Bible were all pretty unique as well — Moses, Ruth, Esther, Joshua, Elijah, Peter, Paul, John, David,  Solomon — God used all kinds of unique people to accomplish His will – and still does. So please try to accept me for who I am even though you may like some things about me and not others.

Like everyone else, all I really want is your unconditional love. And, I really hope you like Love Notes! And Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round. :-)

I know… New Year’s Eve came and went over two months ago. So I’m a bit behind. I still haven’t mailed out my Christmas cards either. And like it or not, life’s events don’t exactly follow a tidy calendar. Changes – new beginnings – endings – often hit us unaware and at times that are anything but convenient.

It’s been a year of upheaval, changes, and saying goodbyes for my husband and I. We packed up one home and moved into another in December and January. Now, we’re off to a great new start at a new church (my husband is a pastor), in a parsonage that’s completely different from the home we’ve lived in for the past 8 (me) – 11 (him) years. The walls are painted in fresh new colors and I’m raring to get started on sewing new curtains for the windows and planting a garden come spring.

New beginnings are a wonderful thing any time of year. We’re slowly but surely making new friends, putting new names with new faces, and finding out where the best bargains, best food, and best places  to go around our new home are.

Fresh starts can also come in tiny packages. My cook and primary assistant at the Blue Belle Inn, the B&B and Tea House I own and operate, just had her first baby and is on maternity leave for the next 3 months. As a result, I’m shuffling duties and training a new staff member. All good, but challenging, nonetheless. It’s probably good to mix things up once in awhile, but it’s also a lot of work to start over again. My new assistant is a quick study, but I’m starting from scratch, teaching her how to make Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Roll, Lumpy Bumpy Toffee Pie, Parmesan Cream Sauce with Garlic and Rosemary for Heart of My Heart Chicken and our Fondue Feast. No matter how you look at it, it’s a time consuming process to begin anew.

As I sometimes get to do when my husband has no pastor friends to talk to, I’ve also been listening to him bounce around sermon ideas. This week the Bible passage he’s going to preach on is about Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple. Here’s another instance of tossing out the old and bringing in the new. Jesus is all about newness and radical, life-changing alterations to the way we see the world and live our lives.

I’ve heard say that if there’s one thing you can count on no matter what, it’s that nothing ever stays the same.

As a writer, I get a lot of practice saying goodbye and starting out fresh.  By the time I’ve spent months or even years getting to know my characters and writing a book about their comings and goings, it’s a huge let-down when the books ends and it’s time to say good-bye and move on. My last three books (Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round), are a trilogy, so I’ve gotten especially attached to the Jones sisters, their family and friends, over the course of writing about them for the past several years. Leaving their world behind, however make-believe it might be, and moving on to another, is always bittersweet, just like changes and transitions in real life.

My new adventure in the writing world involves a new book (Love Notes) in a new genre (inspirational romance) under a new name (Sherrie Hansen Decker). I can’t wait for you to get to know Hope Anderson, Tommy Love (Tom Lubinski), Billy Bjorklund, Alvin Soldvedt and the people of the tiny, Northwoods town of Embarrass, Minnesota.

Here’s a sneak peek, if you’re one of those people who likes to be the first to know:

Love Notes

Tom 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.

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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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