Johnny Appleseed, move over…

Harvesting wildflower and wild grass seeds has been on my bucket list for a long time. When I finally took training to be a Minnesota Master Naturalist, I figured my turn would come in the following summer’s end somewhere in the prairies…but we moved to Texas before I got the chance.

Little did I know that within two years, I’d be gathering the seed heads and pods from my own backyard. No driving two hours each way to get to the Minnesota prairies; all I have to do is step off my back porch and I’ve got days’ worth of harvesting. Thanks to all the bags of native seeds that my husband sowed our first year in our new home, we’ve got an awesome acre of mixed wildflowers and grasses.

So guess who gets to cross an item off her bucket list? Me!

Leaving a legacy

I’m not sure if my harvesting delight lies in living out the opening scene of the old TV series Little House on the Prairie (sans the homemade dress) or because I find walking in the yard such a soothing activity. (My husband says it’s my woo-way inclination to zone out amidst nature.) Mostly, I love the idea that we’re restoring native habitat, even if it only covers an acre and a half in our neighborhood. We’re already seeing an increase in butterflies and birds in our yard this summer, thanks to our determined efforts to plant more native plants and trees on our property. To think that we might have a thriving native oasis after a few years pleases me immensely; I like to hope our love of nature will be our legacy to our children, friends and neighbors.

(Besides, I couldn’t have written seven Birder Murder Mystery novels about birding and conservation and nature without it rubbing off on me, could I? Especially after researching and writing my fourth book, Falcon Finale, I became obsessed with the idea of legacy. I realized I wanted to leave behind me something more substantial than perfectly-folded laundry, and habitat restoration sounded like it had real possibility.)

On the path to stewardship

When I think more about how I came to this point in my life, I can see how different pieces of my life have combined to lead to me wandering my back yard, a canvas seed bag in hand and a big hat on my head. I loved playing outside when I was a kid. My husband has been an avid gardener his whole life, and though I haven’t always shared in the activity, I learned a lot from him about plants and birds and rocks and things. (Hey, wasn’t that in a song by America?) We encouraged our kids to enjoy nature and be mindful stewards of their surroundings and their personal gifts. And my whole life, I’ve always found God in the great outdoors.

Stewardship is what I can do today for a better tomorrow. Knowing that my actions will help restore natural habitat gives me both happiness and meaning, and so I’ll slide my gloves on again in the morning and spend a few hours pulling seed heads. In my mind, I can already see the results in our yard in the years to come…and it’s beautiful.

Have you thought about your legacy lately? Can you do something today to bring it a little closer?

 

 

 

Regrets of an author

A decade ago – before my first novel was published – I read about the promotional events of established authors with more than a touch of envy. For a while, it seemed like every best-selling novelist was going on a Caribbean cruise with their most devoted readers, with the author’s expenses paid by the cruise lines. Other famous writers were paid to host ski weekends at glamorous resorts, or welcomed their fans to a luxurious spa vacation. I even heard about a relatively unknown novelist who got paid by a tour company to spend a week touring Ireland with her readers.

Erin Go Bragh.

One of these days, I used to assure myself, I will be published, and the requests to accompany readers to exotic destinations will come pouring in. Hawaii would be nice. Or Tahiti. I’d even consider a cruise down the Nile or a trip to Australia’s Outback.

 

When dreams come true…

And then in 2008, North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. published my first Birder Murder Mystery, The Boreal Owl Murder.  Lo and behold, within six months, I did indeed receive my first invitation to go on a cruise as a guest author.

To the Arctic.

In January.

Very funny, I thought. One of my friends had clearly set up the invitation as a joke. After all, I lived in Minnesota at that point – any time I wanted to experience bone-biting cold in January, all I had to do was walk to my mailbox at the end of our driveway.

Two weeks later, I had an email from my publisher. They’d received an inquiry from a Norwegian tour company asking to verify my email address because they hadn’t heard back from me about their Arctic trip invitation.

It wasn’t a joke. I was invited to go on an adventure cruise to the Arctic in January. Sub-zero temperatures, rubber rafts, and stormy seas. Probably icebergs and polar bears, too. Maybe even killer whales.

Fortunately – I mean, unfortunately – I couldn’t make the trip because I had a previous commitment…to survival. I passed on the Arctic cruise.

 

Maybe I should have given it a bit more consideration

Now it’s years later, and I’m more experienced as an author. Book events and speaking gigs are a way of life when I’m promoting a new book. No one has yet offered to give me a free vacation in return for my hosting readers at a secluded tropical location, but I can still hope. In retrospect, I realize I probably should have gone on that Arctic cruise to connect with new readers. I can handle a little cold.

Of course, it’s also August, and I now live in Texas, where I’m sweltering in 100-degree heat. Icebergs don’t sound all that bad.

Maybe the email address for the Norwegian tour company is still somewhere in my files…

 

 

 

Welcome to my new website!

Nine years ago, my first Bob White Birder Murder Mystery was published, launching me as an author – a dream I’d had since I was five years old and first stepped into a public library. I was astounded at the sheer volume of books on racks and decided right then I wanted my name on a book’s spine in a library. It took me another 48 years to get there…

Since then, I’ve written six more Birder Murders, an international best-selling memoir, Saved by Gracie, about how our dog helped me overcome anxiety, and the first two books in my supernatural Christian thriller series, titled Archangels. Along the way, I’ve blogged on my own website, guest-blogged for many others, and contributed devotionals to FaithHappenings.com for their subscribers.

In the last two years, I’ve also experienced a major life change: my husband retired from his career in high tech in Minnesota, and we moved to the Hill Country in Texas. Life is different here in many ways, and I find it is changing me, as well, so I decided it was time to revamp my website to better reflect who I am now as an author. It’s pretty simple, really, because what I want to do with my life is:

Laugh.

Live in awe.

Practice gratitude.

Love God.

In the months ahead, I hope to blog on a regular basis about those four topics. Sometimes I’ll tell funny stories, and sometimes I’ll offer more serious reflection. As always, I hope to entertain you, my reader, and share with you the wonder and mystery of life. To that end, I’m even going to throw in photos for laughs, for inspiration, for sheer beauty. If you like what you read and see, please subscribe to the blog by clicking on the RSS feed on the right side of the page. If you really like it, please share and invite others to visit this website. Thanks!