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I hate thinking of myself or the romances I write as middle-aged. In many ways, I still think of myself as being young. Besides, age is relative. When  my mom had my baby brother at age 37, I was mortified. To a sixteen year old girl, she seemed ancient – way too old to be having sex. At 54, I realize the error of my thinking. 🙂

When I was a young girl, the church I grew up in talked about something called God’s Perfect Will for Your Life.  When I married the wrong man at age 20 and got divorced at age 27, I figured I’d missed the boat for good, and that whatever awful fate befell me from that point on was no one’s fault but my own.

Popular culture sent the same message. In Donna Summer’s hit song, “Last Dance”, she sings,  “Last dance, last chance for love. Yes it’s my last chance for romance tonight.”  Grab it now, while you can, when you’re young, in the prime of your life – or you may never have a second chance.

But our God is a God who forgives, who gives second chances, in His time… a God who promises, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” Even when things go awry along the way. Even when the unthinkable has happened.

There’s something sweet and magical about the naivety of our first love. But there’s also something rich and particularly satisfying about a second chance at love.

  I wrote several novels about falling in love – fantasies all – while waiting for a second chance at real-life romance. It was hard to be patient.  It was tempting to grab on to the first man who came along. Anything had to be better than being single, didn’t it? But eventually, with the council of many wise friends, I could admit that it was far better to be alone than to be married to the wrong man.

There was a song we used to sing in The Growing Edge, the Sunday School class for single adults aged 25 to 4o that I attended at First Pres in Colorado Springs, called “In His Time.”

IN HIS TIME, IN HIS TIME
HE MAKES ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL IN HIS TIME
LORD, PLEASE SHOW ME EVERYDAY
AS YOU’RE TEACHING ME YOUR WAY
THAT YOU DO JUST WHAT YOU SAY
IN YOUR TIME.

IN YOUR TIME, IN YOUR TIME
YOU MAKE ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL IN YOUR TIME
LORD, MY LIFE TO YOU I BRING
MAY EACH SONG I HAVE TO SING
BE TO YOU A LOVELY THING
IN YOUR TIME.

There were times that I was so tired of waiting, so frustrated with my circumstances, that I could barely make it through the song without crying – or feeling downright mad at God. I wanted to be in love, I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be married, to have a family before it was too late.

Almost 20 long years after my divorce, I was still waiting. I’d had a handful of relationships that weren’t meant to be for one reason or another, a couple of broken hearts, and a couple of terrifying near misses that – thank the Lord – never came to fruition.

I thought I’d missed my chance. The odds against a woman in her late forties finding love and remarrying were staggering, and I knew it.

And then one day, a nice (and very handsome) man asked me out on a date. He was a pastor. After our second or third date, he asked me to come to the church where he is a pastor, to hear him preach.  Obviously, if our relationship was to progress, I had to be comfortable with his calling.

I drove an hour that Sunday to attend his church. When I entered the sanctuary the organist was playing the song… IN HIS TIME.

Yes, there is something very satisfying about a second chance at love. When you find love after 40, there’s a greater appreciation, a deeper joy, a more wonderful than ever love that envelops you – heart, soul, mind and body. When a man can love you when you’re – yes, I’ll say it – middle aged – with all the “imperfections” and attitudes that come along with living 4 or more decades, when you’re not nearly as cute and perky as you were at 20, it’s a joyous surprise, maybe even a miracle.

And that’s why I write books about second chances. That’s why Jensen in “Night and Day”, Rachael in “Stormy Weather”, Michelle in “Water Lily” and Tracy in “Merry Go Round” are all approaching 40.  That’s why some of my heroines have been married and divorced, some are “old maids”, and one, Hope Anderson, in an upcoming novel, Love Notes, is widowed. That’s why some have baggage, one has a complex, and another, a huge chip on her shoulder. That’s why they’re tarnished and even a bit tattered.

The heroes of my novels are also older.  Like my leading ladies, Anders, Mac, Jake, and Clay have lived, they’ve loved, they’ve lost, they’ve been crushed, and heartbroken and devastated. And they’ve survived. And because they’ve lived through the pain of life, they’re richer and more sensitive, and infinitely more loveable.

Here’s to second chances…

(Written by Sherrie Hansen, who lives in a 116 year old house who, just like her, got a second chance when she rescued it from the bulldozers grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast.)

I might as well get it out there right away. I’m the author of four somewhat steamy, very sensual, sometimes gritty romance novels, AND I’m a pastor’s wife – a combination that more than occasionally calls me into question.

So for those who haven’t yet figured it out,  I’ll admit it right off.  I’m not perfect. In fact, I have a confession to make. I just turned the heat on. It’s May 26th and I’m from Minnesota. I’m supposed to be tough. I’m supposed to be hot-blooded. When I was attending Wheaton College, near Chicago, I made fun of the locals for being wimps when it came to 40 below zero temperatures and Illinois’ supposed lake chill effect. I have no business turning the heat on in what’s practically summer.

At least I’m not at the parsonage (which is a whole different story, and one I should evidently also be feeling great guilt about), or I’d feel even guiltier, since my husband’s congregation pays the utility bill. But I’m not. I’m in my own house, it’s 44 degrees outside, the sun hasn’t shown for at least 24 hours, I got soaked by a cold rain and 33 mph winds 3 times yesterday, my husband was hogging the covers when I woke up, and I’m freezing. Some women my age get hot flashes. I get easily chilled. So there. How’s that for justifying my actions?

The truth is, I can feel the heat seeping out from the radiator under my desk even now. It’s warm. It’s wonderful.  It’s creeping up my thighs. It’s making my toes tingle inside my soft pink slippers. It’s deliciously comforting. It’s decadent. It’s making me feel relaxed and warm and cozy…

But I regress. I’m not living up to the ideal of being the perfect pastor’s wife, and some of the ladies from church are in a snit. Advance readers are predicting that when the contents of my current release are made known, I’ll be in even bigger trouble.

It’s a sad situation when people can’t separate truth from fiction. But then, it comes as no surprise that I’m in trouble because of the words I’ve written.

I’ve always lived with a long list of expectations, some imposed by parents and other authority figures, some by my own finely-honed conscience and genetic tendency to perfectionism.  I’ve always been rebellious, not so much in my actions, but with my words. Although I freely admit that I’ve done a couple of really bad things in my lifetime, my rebellion usually occurs not by deed but by thought.

I’m the sassy one, the very articulate one who isn’t afraid to speak up and say what she really thinks. The first time I got in trouble with the ladies at church because of certain words I’d written, I was 16 or 17 years old. I’d written a poem for creative writing class entitled Dear Pastor ____ (whose name I omit because I know he is on Facebook).  My brutally honest, heartfelt, full of teenage passion poem railed against the hypocrisies of organized religion, and the failure of our prim, proper Sunday School class discussions to meet the needs of teenagers who acted perfect around their parents and the people from church but walked on the wild side (and I mean wild) the rest of the time. It contained the word “damn”. Several times. I thought the poem would only be seen by my teacher, a man I trusted with my private thoughts. But the next semester, it was selected by a group of students charged with picking out the best poems to be published in our school’s poetry and short story collection.

The ink was barely dry when a church lady spotted my poem in her son’s copy and ratted me out to the pastor, who called my parents, who said I wrote it, I had to bear the consequences. So I reluctantly trudged (well, drove really) into the pastor’s office and took my comeuppance like a man (well, a young woman, really).

I guess not much has changed in the last forty years. As a generation, we’re much more candid than we used to be. We can talk freely about all kinds of things that used to be “best left unspoken”. Unless you’re a pastor’s wife.

So here’s my disclaimer:  Merry Go Round is about Tracy Jones Tomlinson, the youngest of three sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy. Tracy married her childhood sweetheart, is a minister’s wife, and has three lovely children. In the first two books, Rachael and Michelle’s mother brags about how perfect Tracy and her husband are. “Why can’t you be more like Tracy? Tracy never gives me this kind of trouble…” When Merry Go Round opens, it quickly becomes apparent that Tracy’s supposedly perfect life is anything but. When her husband leaves her for another man and she’s faced with moving out of the parsonage, she has no where to turn for help but to her older sisters.

Rachael, her oldest sister, from Stormy Weather, is none too eager to help, and frankly, feels that it’s about time that Tracy gets hers. Tender-hearted Michelle, from Water Lily, wants to help however she can and offers Tracy a job painting and wallpapering the home of Barclay Alexander III, the owner of the house she’s decorating. And so the plot thickens until Tracy has thought things and done things that a pastor’s wife should definitely not be thinking or doing. Everything Tracy has clung to is moving up and down and round and round and spinning out of control until all she can do is hang on for dear life.

So… Like Trevor, Tracy’s husband, who is gay, my husband of 7 years is a pastor. He is NOT gay. The first draft of this book was written before I even met Mark and became a pastor’s wife. So when I write about the drawbacks and privileges of being a pastor’s wife – specifically Trevor Tomlinson’s wife, I am speaking from Tracy’s point of view, NOT mine.  I am NOT Tracy. Tracy is a fictional character. To any church ladies who might be reading this, please keep this in mind when Tracy meets Clay and things start to heat up.  I am NOT Tracy. I repeat, Tracy is a fictional character. And give the poor girl a break. She’s at her sexual peak. She hasn’t had sex for 3 years. And before that, she’s been having sex with a man who wishes he were having sex with a man. She’s trying really hard to live up to her perfect pastor’s wife persona and her personal beliefs, but it’s hard, and she’s human, okay?

Which brings me to my next disclaimer. The subject of homosexuality and the church, nature or nurture, sin or absolutely okay, deviant or perfectly normal behavior, etc. is a touchy issue for many right now. I tried very hard NOT to let this book become a forum for my beliefs and thoughts on the issue, but to accurately reflect the feelings, emotions and conflicts my characters go through as they struggle through the implications of Trevor admitting he is gay, and dealing with the ramifications to his children, extended family, and church. I have been told by my advance readers, whose opinions on the subject probably vary from mine, that I was successful – that they finished the book not knowing what I, the author, thought about the subject. I took that as high praise and hope my readers agree.

I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. I am a Christian. My personal beliefs color everything I do and think. Although my books do not fit into the Inspirational Fiction category because they contain previously mentioned steamy scenes, they definitely have a Christian world view which includes characters honestly strugggling through issues of faith. While people I’ve loved, mistakes I’ve made and life lessons I’ve learned over the years have become fodder for many interesting characters and scenarios in my books, I am NOT Tracy.  I am NOT perfect.

Got it? 

I almost deleted this daffodil photo yesterday because its pretty white petals were splattered with mud from a heavy rain storm we had a few days ago.  But I saved it, because even though it was flawed, I thought I might find a use for it some day.

On May 22, Merry Go Round, the third book in my Maple Valley Trilogy, will be released. It’s my favorite of the three books, in part, because there are several scenes that include all three sisters. (Stormy Weather is about Rachael – the headstrong oldest sister. Water Lily starts on the night of shy, middle sister, Michelle’s 20th class reunion.)

  

I’ve loved revisiting Maple Valley and the Jones family in these three books. If you have sisters, or enjoy family dynamics, I think you’ll love this trilogy.

In Merry Go Round, Tracy, the youngest sister, who has been a bit judgmental and cranky in the previous books, finds herself in trouble, and has to turn to her sisters for help.  Rachael, quite frankly, doesn’t feel much sympathy for her sister, and thinks it’s about time Tracy “gets hers”. Kindhearted Michelle is determined to help however she can.

Their mother is still reeling from the shock of finding out that the daughter who has always been her pride and joy (with the emphasis on pride) has fallen from her pedestal. In fact, for years, when confronted with the life choices her two oldest daughters have made, their mother has moaned, “Why can’t you be more like Tracy? Tracy never gives me this kind of trouble.”

Now, Tracy is in trouble – some of her own doing – some not. Her three children are caught in the crossfire. The roles and expectations the family hierarchy is built on have been hit by a tsunami. Everything is changing. Up and down, round and round, the merry go round is shuffling the Jones family’s preconceived notions until no one knows anything for sure.

It’s not only a wild ride on the merry go round, it’s a hornet’s nest. Have you ever noticed that sisters sometimes say things to you that a friend, or even a spouse, never would? For years, I deluded myself into believing that the gray streaks in my light brown hair made my hair look platinum blond. Enter my middle sister – who told me in no uncertain terms that I was indeed gray and needed to visit the hair dresser – immediately.  Sisters can cut to the chase like no one else. They can hurt you to the core. They also love you like no one else.  Sometimes it just takes a little shake up to get them to admit it!

And finally, the question everyone asks, since there are three sisters in my family – is the Maple Valley trilogy about my sisters and I?

Although there are certainly a few, “somewhat true” facts and incidents relayed in the books (no, I won’t tell which ones), the answer is no. In a very real sense, I think Rachael, Michelle and Tracy are all “me”, or characters that reflect a different facet of my own personality and life experiences… although I’ve certainly learned a lot about sisters from my own two sisters, my cousins, my mother and my aunts, and even my grandmothers and their sisters. I’m learning afresh by watching my 6 and 9 year old nieces, and listening to the things they say to one another. It’s a complex set of factors that comes into play when you have a sister.

My college roommate just lost her only sister to ovarian cancer.  It breaks my heart to think about what their family is going through. And it makes me appreciate my own sisters all the more – yes, even when they let me know what they really think of me, and yes, even when they’re being pains in the butt.

I hope you’ll enjoy my Maple Valley Trilogy. Please start at the beginning – read Stormy Weather first. Water Lily will be much more meaningful if you’ve gotten to know Rachael and been introduced to the family first. By the time you get your hands on Merry Go Round and experience all three sisters coming apart at the seams – and finally, coming together – hang on for dear life!

I’ve sold a rash of books recently, to new and old acquaintances who are excited to meet a real, live author in person, and curious to know what prompted me – an otherwise ordinary person – to write a book.

“Are the books true?” I’m often asked. “Are they about you? Did you really…?”

My answer usually depends on whether or not my mother is around.

The truth (well, part of the truth) is that some of the things that happen in my books really have happened to me – in one form or another. Yes, Virginia, there really is an Anders. Although I have never met him in real life (and he is not from Denmark), our online friendship had a big impact on my life, and resulted in one of the main characters in my first book, Night and Day.

In Stormy Weather, there are several inciting incidents in the book that did really happened, not exactly as they occurred in the novel, but in such a way that the characters of Rachael, Mac and Luke were born. Luke is probably a combination of two or three different men I’ve known. And yes, I really am terrified of tornadoes. And I really do love rainbows.

In Water Lily, the main character, Michelle, struggles with issues of low self-esteem, something I’ve grappled with all of my life. And my ex-husband really is from St. Louis, and he really does have absolutely perfect, very white teeth.

The characters and plot of my new novel, Merry Go Round, due to be released on May 22, are distinctly different from and very far removed from my actual life experience. I’ve never had children. As fate would have it, I am married to a minister now, but I had not even met Mark when the book was written. Tracy and Clay, the main characters, are complete and total figments of my imagination.

But even in Merry Go Round, there is a snippet of something that really did happen to me, and that is that I once loved a man who turned out to be gay.

In my experience, life’s little disappointments often turn out to be the fodder for great and wonderful things… the kick in the pants that catapults you to a new level of maturity, the catalyst that spurs you to move onward and upward to a new personal best, the lost job that leads you to a new, twice-as-rewarding career, the heartbreak that leads you to discover the true love of your life…

There was also a boy, when I was about sixteen, that I knew well, and had a huge crush on. One day, he called my house, presumably to talk to me. Instead, he falteringly asked to speak to my younger sister, who he asked out on a date. They did not end up married. He did not turn out to be gay. Their first date was a trip to the county fair. Knowing my sister, they probably rode the Zipper instead of the merry-go-round. But a little disappointment (which at the time seemed great), made a big enough impact on me that almost forty years later, it became part of a story called Merry Go Round.

I see two of my nieces every Wednesday. They are six and nine. Sometimes, when they tell me what happened at school, as I listen and watch them fight and tease and live out the little dramas that make up their lives, I wonder which of these events they will remember when they are fifty-four, which of their little disappointments will one day weave themselves into the stories that make them who they are, or even change the course of their lives.

It would have been very convenient if Tracy, the main character of my new book, Merry Go Round, had turned out to be a fan of Blood, Sweat and  Tears. It only makes sense that her favorite song should be the 1969 hit, Spinning Wheel. The song is one of my favorites, and it’s full of merry go round imagery. My readers know how I love weaving in double meanings, even triple meanings that speak to or reinforce the theme of my books.

As an author, you would think that I could just make it happen. If I want the main character’s favorite song to be Spinning Wheel, then that’s the way I write it. End of story.

Unfortunately for me, and I’m assuming other authors who get deep into their characters POV, this is rarely the way it happens. It’s almost like magic, as you get into writing a book, the way characters acquire minds and thought processes of their own – and have ideas that often take you by compete surprise.

Photo by Rose Hill. 

As I was working on Merry Go Round a couple of nights ago, I suddenly discovered that Tracy has a thing for Rita Coolidge’s music. I was re-writing a scene near the end of the book when the words to “Don’t Cry Out Loud” started floating through my brain. Then it was “Fool That I Am”, “We’re All Alone”, “Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher”, “The Way You Do the Things You Do”,  “Words”, “Fever” – a regular hit parade of Rita Coolidge songs, each one a perfect match with what was going on in Tracy’s life.

I know this may sound odd, but stay with me for a moment… Tracy went on to tell me that she had loved Rita Coolidge’s music from the time she was in junior high after being invited to a concert by a friend of hers. As usual, Tracy had only told her parents she would be staying over night at her friend’s house, not what they would be doing while she was there.

Her strict parents hadn’t let any of the Jones girl listen to rock and roll or popular country music, but after the concert, when Tracy told them that Rita grew up singing gospel in her church choir, her mother let her buy a cassette tape of her greatest hits (obviously, without looking at the song list). Tracy was always of the opinion that what her mother and father didn’t know, didn’t hurt them, and in this case, like so many others, kept the rest of Rita’s story to herself. I mean, isn’t that what headphones are for?

Then Tracy revealed the truly sad part of the story – at age sixteen, when Tracy started dating Trevor, her childhood sweetheart, she stopped listening to Rita’s music (because Trevor though she was too country) and started listening to Bette Midler, who was his his favorite.

Fast forward twenty years – when Tracy starts to reclaim her life, part of her journey is re-embracing Rita Coolidge. Thankfully, she’s learned that you don’t give up the music of your heart – for anyone.

Suffice it to say that when you read Merry Go Round (coming from Second Wind Publishing in late April), the song “Spinning Wheels” is never mentioned. But you will find snippets of several Rita Coolidge favorites. I’ll leave you with one:

As pretty as you are,
you know you could have been a flower.
If good looks could be a minute,
you know that you would have been an hour.

Well, you could have been anything that you wanted to,
and I can tell the way you do the things you do.
The way you do the things you do… The way you do the things you do.

I am Sherrie Hansen and it took a blizzard, and getting snowbound for three days, to make time in my crazy schedule to post a new entry to my blog.

In addition to writing books, I own a B&B and Tea House called the Blue Belle Inn. My husband of almost 7 years is a pastor. My published books include Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily. Merry Go Round is supposed to be coming out in February, but I’ve lost my daytime help at the Blue Belle, and am running way behind schedule on writing, too, after working 12 – 14 hours at the B&B pretty much every day since October 1.

I belong to a group called Shedding Light at Gather.com, and for our first assignment, or Ripple, as our creative leader, Mariana, calls them, we were asked to list ten things – fun things – that make you smile – that you do – or observe or watch or even imagining yourself doing.

Here’s my list:

1. I love rainbows and sunsets … over the ocean, behind the mountains, across the flat fields of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa where I grew up and now live.

2. I love taking pictures of things. People, not so much, because they never seem to look as good through the lens of my camera as they do in person. But things… places, colors, buildings, flowers… with my camera, I seem to have a knack for bringing out the beauty in everyday things.

3. I love writing books, weaving a story, developing characters, saying what’s on my heart in fiction form.

4. I love playing the piano at church – the contemporary worship service with the drummer and our worship team is my favorite.

5. I love Wednesdays because that is the day I pick up my nieces after school and take them on an adventure. The oldest is 9 and the youngest is 6. I’ve been doing this since the oldest was 6 weeks old. My time with them is absolutely the best time of my week.

6. I love snuggling with my husband. I was single for about 20 years before I met Mark – lots of nights spent alone in my bed. Now, we hold hands while we sleep (at least we start out that way) and I love the sense of being loved and cherished that I feel when he’s beside me.

7. I love the feeling of going home at night after a productive day at the Blue Belle Inn, of being told that what I’ve done has pleased people and provided a relaxing, enjoyable time for them.

8. I love reading a good book, whether romantic, spiritual, nostalgic or suspenseful, and listening to good music – bluegrass, country, Celtic, gospel, rock and roll. I love getting to enjoy other people’s creativity.

9. I love traveling – mostly in Europe or Canada. There’s something about getting out of the country that really helps me relax. Seeing the sights and experiencing a different culture is a true joy for me, inspiring and attitude enhancing in many ways.

10. I love days when I can hang around in my nightgown and watch TV, needlepoint, cook dinner for my husband, catch up with my writing or email and just relax and do things at my own pace… days where I don’t HAVE to be anywhere or do anything in particular.

Anyone feel like singing “These are a few of my Favorite Things”?

 

The long awaited “Water Lily” is now available on Amazon.com! I should have copies soon, too. When you get to Amazon, search for Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen. Make sure you’ve read Stormy Weather first! While each book stands alone, Water Lily is the second in the Maple Valley trilogy, and may “spoil” Stormy Weather for you if you don’t read it first.

http://www.amazon.com/Water-Lily-Sherrie-Hansen/dp/1935171186/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281536303&sr=8-6

Splish Splash, I was taking a bath…

Water has inundated my summer…

Remembering to drink enough of it…

Watering drooping plants that need more of it, hiding those that have had too much of it from the over-zealous helpers who think that my poor geraniums are yellow from want of water – when the opposite is true.

My geraniums aren’t the only thing that inadvertently got too much water. The dishwashing room in my tea house has a rotten floor and soggy cupboards thanks to a leaky value that escaped notice. Plumbers, carpenters, salesmen, construction woes, doing dishes by hand… Water. Too much of it, in the wrong place, is not good.

Not enough of it can cause problems, too. It is easy to get dehydrated in this heat. I drank a lot of water yesterday, but I was so busy, so on-the-go, that I barely had time to use the ladies’ room. This is a problem!

Too much water. Not enough water. My life revolves around water.

It is so hot, so humid, that there is water dripping down my back, sliding down the trough in the hollow between my shoulder blades. Sweaty forehead, hot kitchen, food, food, more food. Add some water to the chicken on the stove and turn it on low so it doesn’t dry out… Steam rising from the new commercial dishwasher. It will feel good this winter, but now, I want cool water, not hot!

Unless it is in my basement. Six inches of cool water we so did not want. Boxes floating, hitting walls, tipping over, bursting open. Waders salvaging, saving. Pumps working overtime, now that the power is back on. Damp, musty, mold born of water… Need to bleach. Need a dumpster… Water is not always good.

Last night a storm pounded heavy rain into the ground, turning dirt to mud, streams into torrents. Lightening, thunder. It is dark, so there will not be a rainbow. When the sun comes, the soaked ground emits humidity – rank, sopping wet, steamy, damp. Too much water all at once. The corn likes the hot and muggy weather. I do not. But there are farmers that I love. I try to be happy and stay indoors with the air conditioner on high.

I bet they would give anything for some of this water in Death Valley right now.

A swimming pool filled with water. My nieces love to splash. They are never so happy as when they are playing in their pool. I watch, still not comfortable about swimming suits. Maybe in another 40 pounds.

Water makes things green. I must remember that. I like green. Villiam is visiting from Denmark, and spent a few weeks in California before coming to the Midwest. It is brown in California.

Water… it is life-giving.

We are born in a splash of it, baptized in a pond of it. It can be so calming, so restorative, so severe, so threatening. It can kill. Don’t even get me talking about “frozen water”.

My water lilies thrive in water – floating in a pond of it, droplets raining down on them, they poke their heads up from their watery lairs and sing. Beauty born of water.

I received my proof copy of Water Lily yesterday! It’s a beautiful book. If I were not the author, I would buy a copy simply because the cover is so beautiful. I hope what is inside is just as lovely to those who read it. That is after all, what the book is about. Inner Beauty. Outer Beauty. Which do you have? Which do you wish you had? The beautiful water lily, born of the murky waters of the past.

Water, in the right amount, is a beautiful thing.

Splish, splash. Speaking of, I need to jump in the shower.

I’ve been fairly silent about this until now, but for the last month I’ve been participating in a group at Gather.com called Shedding Light. The group is led by a wonderful “sistah” named Mariana T. Our discussions are about light – not just about being lighter, but about knowing ourselves, being healthy, and treating our bodies in the best way possible.

Our assignment this week is to become a flower, and to write about our day, night and life from the perspective of that flower. This is a story telling form familiar to me – my husband is a pastor, and one Sunday, he astounded me by telling the story of David and Goliath from the perspective of the stone David used in his slingshot. The children in our Sunday School did a Christmas program in December that featured the Christmas story told from the perspective of the animals in the stable where Jesus was born. Another time, our teenagers told the Easter story from the perspective of the rock that lay rolled across the tomb where Jesus was buried.

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If my husband can tell a story from the perspective of a cold, inanimate rock, certainly I can handle being a flower!

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Choosing which flower I most closely identified with was my next task. The most obvious choice seemed to be the bluebell, the flowers after which my bed and breakfast, The Blue Belle Inn, is named. The bluebells are blooming right now, as they always do around Mother’s Day. But I’ve been Miss Blue Belle, done that, so often in the past 19 years… that I decided to go another direction. I truly wanted to distance myself from the business aspects of my life and have this be about me.

I thought briefly about being a pink cabbage rose, a color and flower I love, but as those of you who know about the book I’ve been working on for the last several months may have guessed, in the end, I had to be a water lily. It is where my heart is, at least for now.

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Here goes:

I am afloat in a tranquil pond of warm water today. Last night was very chilly, but the sun was bright this morning. I  languishing in my watery lair for part of the day, then poked my head above the surface of the water and unfurled my petals.

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My friends tell me admit that they think I’m pretty adaptable. I can live underwater, and in the air, and spend part of my time in each place – a feat the Little Mermaid would have given anything to accomplish.

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I am born of still, black waters, baptized in it so to speak, but I flourish in the sunshine.

My hardy cousins survive brutal winters when it is cold and the surface above them is covered with a thick layer of ice, but I am a fragile, tropical lily who was transplanted and forced to live in a bitterly cold climate. I spend the cold months inside where it is warm, laying dormant, wrapped in black, waiting for spring.

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Cold does not become me. I need the sunshine to bloom, the warmth of the air to be at my best.

If you could see my humble beginnings – a basket of wet dirt – mud really – weighted down by rocks to keep me at the bottom of the pond, you would marvel all the more at my perfectly shaped petals and sweet, pastel-colored blossoms.

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You might think my life is idyllic, as I float gently in the warm current of a summer pond – you might equate me with peace, stillness, and calm. But although I can hide under the surface when it hails and storms, my leaves can easily be ripped to shreds. I am happy to support my friends the frogs when they sit atop me and sing their nightly serenade, but I secretly detest the slimy algae that cling to my stem and cloud my home with green. Pond scum is a curse to my kind.

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But for now, I am happy. It is spring. Soon, there will be tadpoles flitting about in the water, hiding under my leaves. I feel lazy today, but I have just enough energy to lift my pink petals and yellow center to the sunshine. All is well.

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Some of you know that I’m been busy at work on my next release, Water Lily, targeted for publication in early summer of this year. Water Lily is the 2nd in my Maple Valley trilogy, which began with Stormy Weather, published late last year by Second Wind Publishing.

I’m still working on edits – the next step is to read the book out loud to my husband, a process that will no doubt reveal rough patches, discombobulated sentences, and little errors previously unnoticed.

Like Stormy Weather, the cover of Water Lily will have a photo on the top, and a quilt block on the bottom. Marianne R. , a friend from Gather.com, has graciously consented to let me use one of her water lily photos on the cover of the book (I am so excited!), and I am now in search of a water lily quilt to photograph. If I don’t find one soon, I will have to make one, and photograph it. (Much as I love to quilt, I have so little time right now that I’m hoping NOT to have to make it myself…) Then it’s off to Second Wind’s talented graphic artists to make it into an eye-catching cover.

Yesterday, I wrote my first draft of a back cover “blurb” for Water Lily. I’m hoping you’ll give me your feedback. Does it sound appealing? Does it make you want to buy / read the book? If not, I would welcome your suggestions as to how to make it better.

Thanks in advance!

Tag Line:

Water Lily… a fresh blossom born in the murky waters of the past.

Back Cover Blurb:

Once upon a very long time ago, Jake Sheffield and Michelle Jones graduated from the same high school.

Jake can’t wait to take a trip down memory lane at their 20th class reunion. Being with his old friends is like guest starring in a favorite episode of Cheers. Everybody knows your name. Everybody’s glad you came.

The last thing Michelle wants to do is dredge up a lot of old memories and relive a part of her past that wasn’t that great in the first place.

Will the murky waters of the past destroy their dreams for the future, or will a water lily rise from the depths and bloom?

Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen… coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.

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