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Austin, Minnesota is the town where I grew up and graduated from high school. Most of my family still lives there, and I visit at least once a week. I’m thrilled and proud that my hometown is supporting local artists, authors and musicians at their annual Artworks Festival. I’ll be speaking and reading from my new release, Blue Belle, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 23rd. I hope you’ll join me, and check out the times that your favorite authors and musicians will be appearing as well as checking out the talented artists whose work will be on display. Hope to see you there! I’ll be the one with the cute hat on.

Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen  Sherrie Hansen, author of Blue Belle, a contemporary romance

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There’s an old expression in our family – you didn’t learn that from strangers – that I’ve heard said many times over the course of my life.  Some people say, well, that nut didn’t fall far from the tree. Same idea. When I was 9 or 10, I thought I was so different from the rest of my family that I must surely be adopted. Now that I’m a bit older, I can see how closely certain personality traits passed down through generations of Hansens, Lightlys, Paulsons, and Millers are intertwined, and how much they’ve affected who I am and how I live my life.

Danish Girl

My family history and the tales of my growing up years may not be as story-worthy as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, but our Little House on the Big Farm was bursting with colorful characters that have and continue to impact my life in ways I’m both oblivious to and very aware – the perfect storm of nature and nurture. I feel a great sense of connectedness to prior generations of my family, especially since moving back from Colorado Springs to northern Iowa / southern Minnesota where I grew up. Here are 10 things I didn’t learn from strangers.

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1. Cooking Up a Storm:  I started out the week making a big batch of Grandma Hansen’s Chicken Pie with Grandma Victoria’s Baking Powder Biscuits dropped on top for a church gathering at the Blue Belle Inn. Later in the week, I found a family recipe for Scottish Ginger Snaps in a cookbook and made them at a cooking seminar. Grandma had labeled them “Grandma’s Ginger Snaps” which means it was my great-great grandma’s recipe. Whether it was Grandma Vic’s famous Sunday roast beef dinners and homemade apple pie, or whatever goodies Grandma Hansen happened to be cooking up for her family, neighbors, or the occasional thrashing crew, I was taught how to cook it up right. And make lots of it. Besides, it was either stay inside and cook, or go out and drive tractor, which I did not like to do.

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2. No Matter How Tired You Are, There’s Always Time for a Bedtime Story – or Two, or Three:  Sitting around during the day, reading, when you should be working, is frowned upon in our family ;-), but at bedtime, that all changes. My Grandma Hansen was one of the best storytellers I know, and her funny voices for the Little Red Hen, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Three Little Pigs still play themselves over and over in my mind. I follow the lessons learned even today, working hard at my bed and breakfast all summer and fall, making hay while the sun shines, and telling stories – writing novels – in the winter when things are slow.

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3. Being Stubborn Has Its Perks:  Danes (I’m half Danish) are a stubborn lot. But along with sheer willfulness, which can be a bad thing, comes tenacity and dodged persistence and stick-to-itiveness and the very building blocks that have helped me achieve my goals, get published, run a successful business and more. Don’t be a quitter. Never give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Remember the Little Engine That Could saying I think I can, I think I can, over and over again until he could and did? Zion - Sunflower 2013 Sun

4. Keep Looking Up:  My Great-Grandma Paulson wrote these profound words in my autograph book when I was ten or eleven. I knew what she meant – keep your eyes on Jesus. It’s the first rule, and the thing that makes everything else come together.

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5. Mopars Rule:  Okay, so I strayed from the fold when I was young and foolish. We try to forget those years… the Toyota Corolla, the Mazda 323. Today, I’m back where I belong. I drive a PT Cruiser. My brother drives a Dodge Ram. My parents are on their third or fourth Chrysler mini-van. What can I say? We all tend to vote the same way on election day, too.

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6. Getting Something for Nothing is One of the Greatest Joys on Earth:  Found treasures, whether they be bargains or cast-offs nobody wanted bought for a little bit of nothing at a Crazy Day sale, or simple gifts from the earth like agates or fossils or a pretty red maple leaf pressed flat in a book or a little cluster of acorns, are some of the best things in life. If you haven’t tried it, you should – still. The Hansen way to thrill-seek.

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7. One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure:  I can’t walk like an Egyptian (good dancing genes do not run in our family), but I can talk like an auctioneer, or at least I could when I was little. My Grandpa Hansen took me to so many auctions that I picked up the lingo. More importantly, I learned about repurposing and adaptive reuse, and refinishing, and respect for the past – all things that hold me in good stead even today. I grew up snuggling under quilts made from worn out wool suits, watching Grandma working in aprons and wearing dresses made from flour and feed sacks. Water was used at least five times before it was thrown out on the garden to make the strawberry patch grow. And yes, I firmly believe that tin foil has three or four lives. And you should ask me some day about the things my Dad makes with discarded doors. Waste not, want not.

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8. Worrying Doesn’t Help, But We Do It Anyway:  There are several genes that I wish I had gotten from my family, but didn’t – the Fix-It Gene, and the Green Thumb Gene, for example. I did, however, get the Worry Wart Gene. I try not to succumb, but if you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

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9.  The Compulsion To Have 10 of Something When You Really Only Have 9:  This one was my husband’s idea. I think the word he’s looking for is perfectionism. He’s right. In my world, everything needs to be just so. Neat. Tidy. Even Numbers. It’s a disease.  But seriously, if you’re going to do something, why not do it right?

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10.  The Family That Prays Together, Stays Together:  It was very important to my Grandma Hansen that we cousins got to play together. She facilitated countless family get-togethers and events where we were all together. Our family isn’t perfect – we have our share of black sheep, and family members who go their own way. But when we go to Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a joyous occasion, sharing not only food, but memories, and laughing about things we did when we were kids. The more nieces and nephews who show up, the better. I’m thankful that the glue that holds our family together is good and sticky. I think it’s called love, and I come by it naturally.

Earlier this month, my husband and I drove to Michigan and back on old highways, backroads, and even a few gravel roads for all but a few miles when we skirted Chicago on I-90. We even took a ferry across Lake Michigan in our quest for the roads less traveled. (Don’t even mention our GPS – she’s very frustrated with us for disregarding her advice.) The many unique images that were our reward included seeing an Amish farmer steering a homemade digger behind a team of 6 horses while his bonnet clad wife and little girls and suspendered little boys watched from behind the barn… the sun setting behind the cemetery of a little country church in Wisconsin… and marshy stretches of Lakes Michigan, Erie and Huron, and more – all things we never would have glimpsed on the Interstate.

Likewise, there are certain things a tourist expects to see while traveling in Scotland – bagpipers, Loch Ness,

Scotland - Bagpipes  Scotland Urquart Castle on Loch Ness

old castles and older abbeys,

Scotland Castle  Scotland Sweetehart Abbey

and if you’re lucky, heather blooming in the highlands and men in kilts.

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But  if you’re brave-hearted enough to rent an auto and drive down Scotland’s narrow little byways (we call them golf cart paths or bicycle trails) on the left side of the road (assuming they’re wide enough to accommodate two cars), you’re going to discover all kinds of hidden gems that the average visitor won’t see.

Last week, I posted a blog at Blue Belle Books – http://www.SherrieHansen.wordpress.com – about Things I Learned While Traveling in Scotland. It was very well-received. Here are a few more glimpses of why I love Scotland and why I started my Wildflowers of Scotland novels.

1. If you’re not sure where you’re supposed to go next, walk to the top of the nearest hill and have a good look around. Most likely, you’ll see something that will point you in the right direction.

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2. If the top of the hill is in a cloud, walk down to the valley and follow the river. You’ll know what to do.

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3. If you’re feeling downtrodden, bow your head and let the sun shine down on you for awhile. Things will get better.

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4. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative when painting your house.  A little color can really brighten your day.

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5. You never know what you’re going to find in your path. That’s life. Deal with it. It’s probably nothing to worry about.

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6. Learn what you can from those who have gone before us and try not to make the same mistakes.

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7. Take a close look and make sure you’re not missing something that could be key.

Scotland Castle Top

8.  If you’re in unfamiliar waters, look for a bright light to guide you.

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9. Grow a thick hide and you’ll be able to withstand the strongest storms.

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10.  Never be too proud to call a friend and ask for help.

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11.  If you’re lost, look for clues. They’re everywhere.

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12. If you have a problem, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Creative solutions are the best!

Scotland Fishing Shack

Reading one of my books may be a little like traveling along the road less traveled, too. Your expectations might not be met exactly, but there are going to all kinds of little surprises and insights that you’ll likely discover along the way that you never would have stumbled upon if you hadn’t dared to venture from the mainstream to give one a try.

In the meantime, keep looking up!

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I wear a lot of different hats in my life as a writer, the owner and manager of the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, a pastor’s wife, and a daughter, sister and aunt. And I don’t get it from strangers. My Grandma Hansen loved wearing hats. During the depression, she and my Great-Grandma Danny used to make matching mother daughter dresses out of feed sacks. They would go to the feed store with Grandpa and root through the pile of feed sacks until they found enough in the right fabric to make two dresses. They sewed the dresses on a treadle sewing machine. I remember pumping my short legs back and forth on it when I was a girl. Grandma told me once that she never minded wearing a feed sack dress as long as she had a pretty hat to make it an outfit.

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So she would take a few pennies of the money she raised selling the eggs her chicken laid (their only source of cash during the depression) and drive to the Millinery Shoppe in St. Ansgar to buy a hat.

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Grandma Hansen was a multi-tasker, and a wearer of many hats, just like I am. She cooked enough for a threshing crew even when there wasn’t one, had a huge garden, entertained family, friends and neighbors on a regular basis, taught a Sunday School class, and always seemed to find time for a game of Aggravation or Sorry with the grandchildren.  She taught us how to make hollyhock dolls (with pretty little hats) and pick eggs and butcher chickens. She was a woman of many talents. But no matter how busy she was, she always had time to tell us a story.

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When I think of how tired Grandma must have been at the end of a long hard day washing clothes on a wringer washer, sewing on a treadle machine, cooking over a wood cook stove and standing on her head out in the garden, it amazes me that she had the energy to tell us bedtime stories, And never just one… My favorites included Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, and Chicken Little with Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey. There were also stories about our dad when he and his brother and sister were little. And there were stories from the Bible, stories about Jesus, and people he knew, like Nicodemus, Peter, and Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Grandma wove her stories with Billy Goat Gruff’s deep, scary voice, and Goldilocks sweet soprano. She held us spellbound for hours, telling stories that were new each time we heard them even though we had heard them hundreds of times.

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So it seems that I got not only my love of hats from my Grandma Hansen, but the gift of storytelling. As a writer of novels, I’ve spun tales of pure imagination in Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, Merry Go Round, Love Notes, Thistle Down and Wild Rose that I hope would make her proud.

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When I put on my chef’s hat and go to work in the kitchen of my B&B, I tell people how the Blue Belle Inn came to be, and how I concocted their favorite recipes, how I met my husband and what interesting guests we’ve had that week.

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I really do wear a hat to church most Sundays, when I dabble at being a pastor’s wife. And I tell the old, old story with my hands and voice, as I play the piano and help lead worship. When I’m with my nieces and sometimes my nephew, I tell stories about their daddy when he was a baby, and about what happened in our family before he was born. I’m 16 years older than my brother, and someone has to pass down the stories and legends and funny family tales. Who better than I, the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter for generations back? It’s a sacred calling.

Danish Girl

I used to wish I had one outstanding talent that would propel me to some sort of greatness. I play the piano plenty well enough for our small church, but a concert pianist, I’ll never be. I was a straight A student, but I’m no rocket scientist. I am good at a small dabbling of different things instead of being great at one thing.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided I like wearing different hats – my purple one to parties, my velvet one to church, my straw hat to tea and my floppy Florida hat with the big brim to the beach. What I once rued, I’m now thankful for. I’m a storyteller, a preserver of legends, a mind set free to fly anywhere in the world my imagination may take me.

Sherrie library

So thank you, Grandma Hansen, for telling me about Indians and horse-drawn sleighs and one room schoolhouses and eloping to the Little Brown Church in the Vail, and all the stories of your life. My hat’s off to you.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Rose… a name, a flower, a color, or none of the above.

Wild Rose - tag line

Rose means different things to different people.

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Grandma’s fluffy slippers… Pretty, little cookies…

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Cheeks pink fresh from the cold…

Victoria Gloria

Parades and petals… A bride’s bouquet… A hat, a favorite bathrobe… A silky comforter… Rose fills us with an effervescent glow…

Rose - houses

Rose gives us a sense of well-being…

Rose - needlepoint

Maybe we are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses…

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Maybe we just like the color rose.

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Whatever the reason, whatever the season…

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Rose makes us feel better…

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It cheers us up, gives us a sense of direction…

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It fills us with radiance…

Rose - stained glass

Rose comforts us.

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Rose makes us whole again… ..

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Whether “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”…

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Or, a Rose by any other name…

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What does Rose mean to you?

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Here’s to a Wild Rose… available now through Second Wind Publishing.

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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

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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.

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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

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Cousins staying overnight

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.

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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.

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?

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.

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It’s a very real place, one that really exists – and not just in my mind.

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It’s made of stones and timbers, spires and cloisters, flying buttresses and secret abbeys with curved staircases carved in stone.

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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.

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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.

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Because in my fantasy world, there are only happy endings. And they occur in a reasonable amount of time – less than 400 pages.

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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.

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You see, in my fantasy world, I’m the Captain of the Starship Enterprise, and when I say, “Make it so,” it is.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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And the story lives on.

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(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.

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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.

Cal - Rachel SS

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?

Blue Belle winter

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.

Danish Pancakes - Done

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.

Scotland - Rainbow 7

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.

Scotland Duart Castle - Mull

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!

believe

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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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