A WRITER’S NOSTALGIA


            Recently, I thumbed through my file cabinet filled with all my written notes for every book I’ve written, and it struck me what a long journey I have taken with my writing. There are some really old files in that cabinet – old notes I’d forgotten about. I found one folder titled HARVEST OF OUR SINS. I wondered what the heck it was, because I never wrote a book with that title. I looked in the folder, dated 1991, and all the notes were for the story that became OUTLAW HEARTS! The note paper was old and worn, the notes faded, but there it was. So my beloved Jake has been on my mind for 30 years!

 

        I don’t remember intending to call that first story HARVEST OF OUR SINS, but it makes sense when you think how far my character Jake Harkner has come from his sinful past. I do remember what started my idea for the OUTLAW HEARTS series. I distinctly remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror in our old house on a small lake in Coloma. I was drying my hair – getting ready to go to my day job – and, as always, I was thinking about what I should write next. The simple idea came to me – an outlaw who tries to change his life, and the woman who helps him do that – the “bad man with a good heart” theme I love to write. I didn’t have any pen or paper with me, so I quickly wrote the idea down on the back of a check book with an eyebrow pencil. True story.

 

        Now, 25 years after that first book was published, I have finished a sixth book to the series. I never dreamed, or intended, that the first book would turn into a series, but Jake haunted me for the next 20 years. I knew I had to write more about him and his beloved Miranda. I knew what would happen in a second book, and then I found an editor who agreed to let me write it. Of course, I knew after #2 that there had to be more. I had to keep following Jake and Randy and their children and grandchildren.

 
       As I looked through all those old folders, and remembered starting my writing with an old manual typewriter, I wonder sometimes how on earth I wrote so many books while working full time, helping my husband clear property we had purchased that needed a lot of work, helping pick 40 acres of asparagus that my husband farmed, and raising two active boys, taking care of ageing parents, going through brain surgery, two broken wrists (at the same time), other surgeries, a move to Colorado that didn’t work out, a move back to Michigan, and countless other “life” events. 

 

        I moved my “office” from a corner of the bedroom in our then-very-small house to a corner of the living room, to a cottage on our property that we decided to rent out, so I moved back to a spare bedroom in the little house when one son moved out, then to a bedroom in our current home, then to a big office at our family business. We left the business, so back home I came – to a corner of the living room, then an area in the kitchen, then back to a spare bedroom that used to be a playroom for the grandsons – who are now grown. That’s where I am now. The above picture of me at a typewriter was taken when I first started writing in the corner of my living room, back around 1980. I had long hair and was a LOT skinnier then!

 

        I have learned that it doesn’t make any difference if I have a big, plush office, or just the corner of a room. I can write anywhere. I remember finishing a book in a hotel room in Las Vegas before we bought our condo out there. After that, I had an office in a spare bedroom in the condo until we sold it in 2017. I’ve worked on books in countless hotel and motel rooms. I never travel without my laptop and a small printer. In Vegas I used to take several chapters to a new manuscript with me to the casino and sit at a Starbuck’s and proofread and edit while my husband spent 3-4 hours in the poker room. I’m not a big gambler, so I used that time to work on my writing.

 

With Dee Brown in 1986
        I can write anywhere and everywhere. My mind is always, always actively thinking about the next book, or the next chapter to the one I’m working on. If I’m not writing, I’m studying for research. I seldom read regular books. I read for research, and for me, that’s more entertaining than reading regular books.

         I look through old pictures and remember numerous conferences and book signings and meetings and years and years of traveling for research. In this blog I am including a picture of me with Dee Brown, the author of BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE, my “Bible” of sorts for all my books about the American Indians. I recommend EVERYONE read that book. The picture was taken at a Western Writers of America conference in Montana around 1986. I remember Janelle Taylor, who also wrote Native American stories around the same time and for the same publisher (Kensington Books) back in the 1980’s. We have some good memories. That is Janelle, standing beside me in the orange suit, at yet another big writers conference. I don’t even remember which one it was. 

 

With Janelle Taylor
        Now I look at shelves of my own books, and I look through all those old files, and I feel like all those characters lived and told their stories through me. If I lived to be 200, I’d be writing more and more books. My biggest fear is dying before I write all the stories I still want to write, and I struggle with which one to write next. I have at least 5 solid stories in my head right now, including a WWII story, a contemporary, and more Outlaw Hearts stories, as well as sequels to several of my older books. I have to calm myself down sometimes and remind myself I can only write one book at a time, so just pick one and get started.

 

        Forty years ago, when I started writing, I had a lot more energy and stamina. I wrote just as many books per year (actually more) as I do now as a retired person with no kids around to interrupt my thoughts. I used to write with the TV blaring right beside me, and two boys wrestling on the living room floor. I am still able to block out everything around me, but sometimes it helps to put on my earphones and listen to my “mood music.”

 

        What has changed today is age, of course. It’s much harder to sit for hours without getting up, and I’m paying for that now with a bad hip, but I’ll work it out. I get tired easier, but as long as my brain and my fingers keep working, I will keep writing. When I look through all those old notes, I get nostalgic. I literally miss all those characters. They are like old friends who have moved away. I want them back. I want to continue their stories. And if God lets me live long enough, I will write those sequels.

 

        I remember when I wrote my first book, a 3,000-page disaster called WINDS FROM OREGON, I decided then and there that I was going to sell a book no matter what. I wrote eight more books with no luck. It was the ninth book that sold (SAVAGE DESTINY #1, SWEET PRAIRIE PASSION). Kensington Publishing asked me to make a series out of that story. “Of course!” I said, but I had no idea what would happen in any of the stories. I just knew I’d just sold four books, and that’s all that mattered. Four turned into six. Then a few years later I wrote that seventh book – EAGLE’S SONG. From there on it was non-stop. I knew my passion, and nothing was going to get in the way, so I wrote every extra minute I could find. I turned 24-hour days into 48-hour days, and I slept 2-5 hours a night – for years. I think back on all of that, and I just take a deep breath and wonder how I did it. I have no memory of most of it – no memory of how I found the time and energy to write all those big books while living a very busy life. It’s no wonder I feel kind of worn out now.

 

With Maura Kye-Casella
        I feel I should mention certain people who have been with me through all of it – namely my husband Larry, who always believed in me. My two sons, Brock and Brian, who put up with a “mentally absentee” mother a lot of the time, my mother (now deceased) who supported me and who loved to travel with me to book signings and conferences, my writer friend Lucy Naylor Kubash (in the picture with me at the end of the blog), with whom I have traveled and shared hotel rooms countless times at conferences and book signings over these nearly 40 years, and Michelle Crean, my web site designer, who started out as a fan and recommended I build a web site to keep in touch with my fans. My first agent was Denise Marcil, who kept me published for many, many years, and now my current agent, Maura Kye-Casella, who helps me keep up with today’s publishing demands and who helped me start publishing with Amazon. That’s me in dark turquoise standing with Maura at yet another writers conference. A lot of things have changed in the publishing industry over these many years, and an agent is a big help in keeping the writer informed of what will and will not work for his or her genre.

 

        And, of course, there are my many fans out there who have supported me over the years. I’ve been writing so long that some of them have passed, but they will always remain in my heart. If I named them all, this blog would be five pages longer. Some day we will all get together in Heaven and talk about writing and some of their favorite characters.

 


        I have discovered I feel very unfulfilled and restless and bored when I am not working on a new story. Writing feeds my energy, lifts my spirits, gives me purpose to stay healthy, and helps me realize I am still important in this world of the internet and god-awful politics and video games and the speed at which people live their lives today. Sometimes I want to just yell, “Slow down! Life is too short for all this craziness!”

 

        I prefer life like you see on Andy Griffith, a rocking chair on the front porch, where you sit and listen to the birds, watch all those busy people go flying by in their cars, smell the fresh air, and think about the next story I’m going to write. As of that sixth OUTLAW HEARTS story – BLAZE OF GLORY – I will have had 74 books published. God willing, I will reach 100 before I leave this world and go join all my characters in the after -life.


With Lucy Kubash



 

A MOTHER’S DAY GREETING . . .

  


       A Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! I think Mother’s Day is lovely and special, and so many mothers through the centuries have made sacrifices for their children in a hundred different ways. They deserve this special day.


        Now that so many mothers are compelled to work to help support the family, it is difficult to keep up with motherhood and daily life. But so many mothers manage to do just as good a job being mom, even when working full time, that they deserve to truly be loved and honored for what they do.


        My mother died years ago, but I still feel her – around me, inside me, flowing through my spiritual being. I am part of her, and death doesn’t change that. But death does bring us to the reality of what a precious gift we had when our mothers were still alive. I will always wish I had given my mom more hugs in her last years. My mom was always there for me if I was sick or had surgery. Today I would love to be able to sit in my garden behind the house and have coffee with mom and just talk.


        Above is a picture of my mother at 90. Wasn’t she beautiful? She never did look her age.


        I hope you will give your mom extra hugs and attention today and keep her in mind and in your prayers. Maybe you feel she made some mistakes in raising you, but we all do our best with what we know, and all mothers love their children with their heart and soul. No one is professionally trained to be a mother, but the loving comes naturally.


        The end of July I will be a great-grandmother! Having a great grandchild reminds me that life goes on, and we don’t stop at being just mothers. We become grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and we love those grandchildren just as much as our own. It makes my heart happy to know that my blood continues into a second and third generation.


         So, when a mother dies, she truly is not gone. She lives on and on in her children and grandchildren, and in their loving memories. God bless all mothers today, and all grandmothers.

 


 

IS THERE A “BEFORE” LIFE?


        We often talk about an after-life. What happens to us after death? And, of course, people have a thousand answers, depending on their religion. Personally, I believe in a Heaven. There have been too many testimonies from people who came near death or actually did die but were revived, and most of their stories are too much alike to deny there is “something” out there waiting for us. Most speak of a very warm feeling of incredible love, as well as a bright light that seems to be drawing them in. I also believe that the spirit within us, that mysterious life on the inside that forms our personalities and shines through our eyes, is something that never dies. It just gets transferred to a new body. I simply cannot believe that all that energy within us, and all those feelings we have, the knowledge, the talents, the unique personalities, didn’t just happen. We are born with specific personalities that sometimes show up at birth. My older son took forever to be born, and he has a relaxed, laid-back personality. My second son practically fell out before I reached the hospital. He couldn’t wait to be born, and he’s led a fast-moving life ever since.


        This all leads me to wonder – was there a “before” life? Did we all live in an earlier time? I wonder sometimes what creates our idiosyncrasies. For instance, I have a penchant for coats. I almost never go into a clothing store without looking at the coats, summer or winter, but especially winter coats. I have often joked that I must have frozen to death in a previous life, or at least lived someplace where it was always very cold. I have enough coats for ten women. In fact, I just gave some away because we usually go someplace warmer in the winter (I live in Michigan), but the last couple of years we stayed home. I have coats for fall and spring chills, coats for colder weather, coats for much colder weather, and coats for North Pole weather. We get it all here in Michigan.


        Then, of course, I have raincoats and lots of sweat shirts and sweaters. I have flannel pj’s and warm slippers and an electric blanket. I can’t stand to climb into cold sheets, yet I like a cold bedroom for sleeping, as long as I’m bundled into my electric blanket. And the cold weather doesn’t bother me. It’s my husband who wants to get out of Michigan in the winter. Me? I like the cold and love lots of snow.

 


        And there are people who are just the opposite. They hate the cold and love the heat. They love beaches. I hate them, although I love the view of the Great Lakes here in Michigan and the smaller lakes. I just don’t “do” hot, sandy, sticky beaches where I sweat to death. I’d rather sit on a cool porch to watch the water, but I have no desire to be “in” the water. Some people love swimming. I hate it. I can’t stand being wet all over, my hair plastered to my head, water in my ears, a bathing suit stuck to my skin.

 

       Why is that? Why is everyone so different in such things? And what draws us to things like buying too many coats? Or hating being wet? 

 

       Sometimes I have dreams (to me they are nightmares) about flooding. My house is under water. Or rain is pouring through holes in my roof. I have never had such experiences in my entire life, so why do I dream about it? I refuse to live near a river. You couldn’t give me a million-dollar house on a river. I like to live high and dry. I’d live at the top of a mountain if I could. Our current home is on an extremely high hill, and the ground is all sand. No lakes or rivers nearby, no chance of having so much rain that water from a lake or a river could reach our house. And when it pours down rain, I keep watching the ceiling, especially in in the area of the house that has a cathedral ceiling. I literally fear a leaky roof. We have no second story, and we have no basement. To me, basements are moldy and damp and spooky, and if water is going to come into your house, it will start in the basement. I have dreams about opening a basement door and seeing water all the way up the steps.

 

       Why is that? Was I flooded in a previous life? Did I drown? Or was it something else? Was it cold weather that killed me? 

       
       Yes. I’m an eccentric. Most writers probably are, or they wouldn’t be crazy enough to spend hours and hours in front of a computer on top of working full time and taking care of a family. I did both for a lot of years, but I’m retired now. However, I will never retire from writing. I love it too much.

         And there again, where do we get our talents? Why do I love to write, while others love to sing or dance or act or paint or work a farm or sail the seas or join the military or be a magician? We don’t all have the same loves or the same talents, so what causes us to have these unique needs and desires and dreams?

 

        I seldom wonder about the “after” life. It’s the “before” life I wonder about? I am part Native American. And I write about Native Americans and almost always about the American West, where I have always longed to live, especially Colorado. Is there a Native American spirit inside me? Did I once live among the Cheyenne in Colorado? I’ve written many books about them.

 

        The Bible says that when we die, all these questions will be answered. I don’t really want to have to die to find out, and yet part of me looks forward to finding out. A lot of our talents and inner spirit comes from those whose blood we carry. Sometimes that spiritual connection makes us the way we are, whether we like it or not. No matter how much you try to force people of two different backgrounds to live together, they will always have their own unique spirit and personality, because they can’t help but carry it forward from those who went before them. 

 

        I have no idea why I wrote this particular blog. It just hit me today as I wondered about all the coats I own. Most women own 2-3 coats and are perfectly happy with that. But I’m not. I need a red coat, a black coat, a navy-blue coat, a brown coat, an animal-fur coat, a suede coat, and I need boots and shoes that go with those coats. I need short coats, long coats, light-weight coats and coats that keep me oblivious to the cold.

 

        The only other thing I need is my precious readers, who understand that I’m a little crazy but love the books that craziness creates. I just finished book #74, BLAZE OF GLORY, and I just know my readers will love this sixth story about Jake Harkner and his family from my Outlaw Hearts series. It is full of action and romance, and the J&L Ranch in Colorado is growing bigger all the time, as is the Harkner family.

 

        Hey, they live in Colorado, my favorite state in the entire country. I ache to live there . . . and here we go again. I love, love, love the America West but was born in Indiana and raised in Michigan. Michigan is a beautiful state, but my spirit – I just know – belongs out west. I cry for the want of living there, but the family and all connections are here, and I’m too old to pick up and start all over, so here I am in Michigan, but aching to be in Colorado. I am convinced I lived there in a “before” life. And my characters become so real to me that I believe they truly once lived and are spiritually telling me their story.

 

        I guess that’s a topic for another blog.

 


 

 

KEEPING A STORY SHORT


        I have seldom been able to write a short story. I’ve tried. I’ve written stories for anthologies, such as MISS CHOCOLATE AND THE LAW, in an anthology titled LOVE BY CHOCOLATE. I wrote INDIAN SUMMER, a prequel to my novel, FULL CIRCLE. Then there was A CHICK-A-DEE CHRISTMAS, for the anthology, CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS (my story was a fifth story to my Outlaw Hearts series); CHRISTMAS IN PARADISE, for the anthology LONGING FOR A COWBOY CHRISTMAS; THE TOUCH OF LOVE, a bonus story for my MYSTIC INDIAN trilogy; and FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE, in an anthology called CHERISHED LOVE.

        Now I have written TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE, for an anthology titled LOST AND FOUND, a book published as a fund-raiser for the GRAND RAPIDS ROMANCE WRITERS GROUP (not affiliated with Romance Writers of America). The other short stories mentioned above were all novellas, roughly 15,000 – 20,000 words. TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE is only about 5,000 words in length, which is the shortest story I have ever written.

 

        Writing a short story is very hard for me. In every single idea I have ever had, I see a full novel. I could take any one of the above short stories and turn them into a 90,000-100,000 word novel. Whether long or short, I get very involved in a story’s characters, and I want to flesh them out, stay with them far longer, come up with surrounding characters, back story, goals and motivations that need a long story to be worked out.

     

   But that’s just me. My sons say I could make a four-page letter out of something that would take 2-3 sentences to explain, and they are right. I have written letters I have had to cut and cut and cut in order to get them down to one page of the most pertinent information. I have never been a fan of reading or writing short stories, but I know there are plenty of great stories out there, and I admire anyone who can write them and write them well. My good friend Lucy Kubash does a great job with short stories, though she is capable of writing wonderful novels also. If you look her up on Amazon or through Google, you will find listings of many of her anthologies made up of several of her own short stories. They are worth reading, and I admire how she manages to get a lot of story-telling into just a few words. It’s a talent not all writers have, and I am one of those who does not have that talent.

        I have no idea why or when I wrote TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE, but it was so short that I never tried getting it published. It was just a title that I loved and I wanted to write something to go with the title, so I wrote TROUBLE, which is a contemporary story about a teenage girl with boyfriend troubles. Her grandmother tells her a story about her own boyfriend troubles when she was young, making the story something like “what goes around, comes around.” If we are patient and trust in God’s will, life will turn out like it’s supposed to.

       I hope you will order LOST AND FOUND and read TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE, as well as short stories by fellow writers Diana Lloyd, Diana Stout, Jae Nel, K. D. Norris, Lisa Campeau, Martin L Shoemaker, Natalia Baird and Patricia Kiyono. The book is not only full of great short stories, but your purchase will help raise money for our writer’s group, which helps us pay for inspiring speakers, keeps our web site going, helps us sponsor contests for new writers and a host of other events that help both published and unpublished writers. That in turn helps us keep publishing books for our readers to enjoy.

       I also belong to the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America, and we also hold fund-raisers to help raise money for the same reasons, including a yearly Retreat from Harsh Reality, a program that inspires both writers and readers. Please visit both the Grand Rapids Romance Writers Group and Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America online to learn more about both groups. MMRWA’s Retreat this year will be held via Zoom, but it will be interesting and informative and worth attending.

       For some great summer reading, please purchase LOST AND FOUND, and be sure to look into the benefits of belonging to GRRWG and/or MMRWA.

          And happy spring! The weather is finally turning beautiful! I will be spending the summer with final edits to my sixth OUTLAW HEARTS story – BLAZE OF GLORY and I will also be working on a WWII story and a new contemporary! No short stories are planned anytime soon. I have some big, big stories in mind!

 

 

 

~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~ 


 Order LOST AND FOUND from Amazon


 

LOST AND FOUND anthology

     


       While you are waiting for my new reissues and my sixth "Jake" book, be sure to look for the anthology LOST AND FOUND on Amazon! Along with eight other short stories by some of my friends/fellow authors, you'll find a new story of my own called TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE.

       The title LOST AND FOUND refers to the fact that this collection of sweet, spicy, and hot romance stories -- "from today, yesterday, and in the future; from this world and beyond" -- are all about love that has been lost and then found again. The book, available in e-reader format or trade paperback, is a fund-raiser for a writers group I belong to called Grand Rapids Romance Writers Group (they are not affiliated with Romance Writers of America). Other authors who have included stories are Diana Lloyd, Diana Stout, Jae Vel, K. D. Norris, Lisa Campeau, Martin L. Shoemaker, Natalia Baird, and Patricial Kiyono.

       In my story, TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE, teenager Jackie is distraught that her best friend is going to date her secret crush. When her grandmother tells stories about the lost loves of her own grandmother, mother, and herself, Jackie learns how all of their individual prayers were answered. I think you'll like it!

 Order LOST AND FOUND from Amazon!

 


 

  

THE LOVE FACTOR

 

          February brings all of us the vision of Valentine’s Day and red hearts and white lace, flowers and cards and candy and Cupid and the word “love” used with smiles and hugs. I was thinking about how casually some of us use that word. We love our pets, our relatives (well – most of them), sometimes our jobs, a dear friend, our children, our spouses and parents, our grandchildren – maybe our car, our house, a special piece of jewelry, a certain smell, some foods, a certain movie or song. We use that word so loosely. “I love this,” and “I love that.”


        Love covers a whole range of things that are nothing more than what we “like,” or something that is our “favorite,” or something that moves us and brings forth a smile or a sigh or a deep emotion – gratefulness, thankfulness - an endless array of “feel good” things. We “love” those things.


        But what is love – really? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . . .” How many of us would give up our own child for the benefit of strangers? Or how many of us truly love someone out of deep need and adoration? How many of us would give up our own lives for someone else?

       

     Sometimes I think we over-use the word “love,” to the point that it begins to lose its meaning. How many times have you left someone’s presence with the words “ - love you!” Did you mean that? How about signing a message or a letter with “Love and prayers,” or “Love from xxxxx?” Don’t get me wrong. Love is a beautiful word, and it makes other people happy when they hear it. It’s a good word to use, and I tend to over-use it myself. We certainly don’t leave a party with a “Hate you!” to the host. We don’t sign letters that way, or hang up the phone with a “Hate you!” But I think we should weigh the value of those three beautiful words – “I love you.”

          

     Love, to me, connotes an EMOTION of the deepest kind. Are you emotionally attached to dark chocolate, or it is just a favorite food? Are you emotionally attached to a movie or a pair of shoes, or do they just give you pleasure? Gratefulness, pleasure, enjoyment, laughter – we “love” all the things that bring out those feelings, but true love is so much more than that.


        My love for a puppy isn’t the same as my love for my husband of 55 years. When you love – no, adore – someone that much for that long, you become one in thoughts and desires. You finish each other’s sentences. You respect each other’s differences and love them for those differences. You want to please, and you appreciate your spouse’s loyalty and devotion, and the fact that they are always there when you need them. You continue to see each other as still twenty years old, even with gray hair and wrinkles. And if physical love becomes impossible (for any number of reasons), you still desire your spouse and remember why you fell in love with him (or her). That never changes for two people truly “in love.”

       

     This  picture really touches my heart. Look how beautiful this woman is. Just think of what she might have given up to follow her husband west. When I look at this picture, I see true love – sacrifice – devotion. The story A LANTERN IN HER HAND is the epitome of sacrificial love. It was the first book I read that made me want to write something similar. It’s a MUST READ, and it is the basis for so much of what I write when it comes to the heroine and what she will do for the man she loves.


 

       This Valentines, I hope you remember to tell your spouse how much you truly “love” him. Tell your God how much you truly love Him, your children how much you love them, your parents and siblings – but I hope you recognize all the different kinds of love and respect the true meaning of the word. We have all heard the term, “I love you, man.” But we know that kind of remark means little. The best love comes from looking deep into a person’s eyes and meaning it in the deepest, most beautiful way . . . “I love you.”
 
PLEASE NOTE:  My Street Team members are in for a special giveaway treat on Valentine’s Day, so check Rosanne Bittner’s Heart of the West Street Team (Facebook) page to learn more about how you can win a lovely Valentine’s sweater and an Amazon gift certificate!
 

 





DEAR YOUNGER ME

ca 1997 - 1998
        Well, not long ago I opened my web site with a message about the new year, and here it is already the middle of January. Today (the 14th) is my 76th birthday, and I have no idea how that happened. Last week I was only 46, and just a few days ago I was 66. I woke up this morning and I was suddenly 76, with no memory of how I got here.

 

        I have always said birthdays don’t mean much, but now that I have reached an age where I might not have all that many more birthdays, they are starting to mean more! I can say, however, that although the pictures on my web site and Facebook pages are a good 10 years old, I still look like that, so that’s a blessing – and I am still in the same good health (unless there is something sneaking around inside me that I don’t know about). I can do everything I’ve always done, except in some cases I do it a little slower or have to hang on to something to get back up once I’m down. I have no idea when my muscles decided they weren’t going to work as well as they used to, but at least they do still work.

1999 

        Life can be cruelly backwards. By the time you become wise, you’ve already made a ton of mistakes, and there are no “do-overs” in life. By the time you have patience for little ones, your kids are already grown. By the time you realize a perfect, clean house isn’t as important as spending time with your kids and letting them make those messes, it’s too late and doesn’t matter anymore. By the time you wish you had spent a little more one-on-one time with your husband instead of volunteering for every charity group in town, he’s already old, too – or in some cases, already gone. By the time you appreciate your parents, they are gone. And by the time you have the time and money to do all the wonderful things you wanted to do in retirement, you’re too dang old and tired to do them.

With author Dee Brown, ca 1984

        We all wish at times we did have those “do-overs,” but alas, it’s not possible. All we can do is sound like our parents and grandparents as we give our sage advice to our own children and grandchildren, who think we are too old to understand what their lives are like. If only there was a way to make them see that we understand and remember every little problem and heartache, every unfulfilled dream, every marital and child-rearing problem, every financial problem, and every stage we go through in our lives. If only they would listen, but when we were young, we didn’t listen either. It’s just a fact of life.

October 2005

        I saw a picture once of an old lady walking down the street, but her shadow against a building was young and dancing. That’s how she felt in her heart, and that’s how I feel in mine. One 90(+) year old woman wrote me once about the sex in my books, saying “I don’t do that anymore, but I remember how good it was!” I love that remark. Thank God we have memories, and our appreciation for youth and health and a beautiful woman or a gorgeous man is still there. We can still revisit our past in our minds – and smile.

         

     And thank goodness (in most cases) the love is still there. To this day, I would be raging jealous if some old woman came along and tried to steal my man. (Are all of you laughing?) He’s still my man, and I still “see” him as the very good-looking, muscular, energetic man I loved and married and had two sons with. And now we have three grandsons and a great-grandchild on the way.

Larry, me, and our first Grandson - 20 years ago!

        And so it goes. Life is one big circle of birth – stages of ageing – and death. But it doesn’t really end because our children and grandchildren go on and on, just as we are the product of our ancestors. As Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”

        

       We all make mistakes. We all have triumphs and tragedies in our lives – things we regret, and things we are proud of. We do our best and hope our children turn out to be happy and successful and proud offspring – but that doesn’t always happen either. It’s no one’s fault. I just wish young people would understand when we tell them to enjoy the moment or enjoy each day and quit worrying about tomorrow. Life simply goes by much, much too fast.

Willa Award, 2006

        I have a song in my Apple music called “Dear Younger Me,” by the Christian group Mercy Me. It’s about writing a letter to your younger self, with advice to you of what you would change in your past if you could. 

 

        “Even though I love this present life, sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride.” 

         “If I knew then what I know now . . . It would not be hard to figure out what I would have changed.”

         “Dear younger me, it’s not your fault. You were never meant to carry this beyond the Cross.”

 

With my Grandsons, July 2014
                What would you write to your younger self? I just might write a letter like that and give it to my grandsons. Maybe that would help them realize to be happy in the moment and make the best of what they have today and not worry so much about how to be successful. We all waste far too much time “worrying” about the future, when it’s not even here yet. Don’t be one of them. Suddenly that “future” will be here and gone, and you will wonder where it went.
 

With my dear friend Glenda Kinard in 2017.


 


 

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

        We are all familiar with what is called the Christmas Spirit – good cheer, well wishes, excited children, bells ringing, beautiful decorations, special store sales, sleigh rides, skiing, sledding, ice skating, appearances by Santa, greeting cards, storefront decorations, and spoken wishes for a Merry Christmas – Happy Christmas – Holiday Wishes – Happy New Year and all of that.


        We also know that such tidings are not quite so jovial this year. We won’t be going to the usual Christmas lunches and Christmas parties and to the movies and all the other things we usually do for Christmas. There will be no office get-togethers, and in some cases not even any family get-togethers. No smell of pies and turkeys and hams cooking as we wait for a house full of company. People aren’t quite as full of happiness and well wishes as they should be. Stores are only about half as busy as normal, and receiving gifts by mail/UPS isn’t as exciting as getting wrapped presents from under a tree. The fun of shopping with others is gone. The fun of coming home with a car full of presents is gone. Now we sit and wait for UPS or Amazon trucks to pull up and leave plain cardboard boxes on our doorsteps.


        I have found that the best way to “feel” Christmas is to reminisce. Remembering better Christmases – remembering when my children and grandchildren were little and the whole extended family would get together at my mother’s or my in-laws’ house and take food and baked goods and arms full of presents and just let bedlam take over.

      

        Nostalgia of old days also helps – like Grandma Moses paintings from 1800’s or early 1900’s that show wonderful, warm depictions of Christmas at big old farm houses – kids sledding and ice skating – popcorn strings around the Christmas trees – mittens and wool hats and full-body snow suits like in “A Christmas Story,” wherein the child inside that suit can barely move his arms because he is so overly bundled. I also love looking at the scenes on Christmas cards, and at pictures from Christmases past.

s on Christmas cards, and at pictures from Christmases past.


        It also helps to listen to Christmas music – “real” Christmas carols sung by choirs, not some of the modern-day hip-hop songs about Santa being a bad boy or getting high at a Christmas party or anything else that takes away from the true glory and meaning of Christmas. Christmas hymns, and songs like “White Christmas” always bring warmth to our hearts. My favorite is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” That always makes me cry.       


      Even if we can’t have company, it still helps to decorate the home and a tree - to bake something, even it if’s just for yourself – to mail Christmas cards or send special Christmas greetings by e-mail. It helps to call friends and loved ones with Christmas blessings. And I mean CALL them, not text them. Texts are so cold and generic.


        Counting our blessings is, in itself, a Christmas joy. Let’s be glad when we wake up in the morning feeling good – able to move and smile and drink fresh coffee and just “be.” We can walk around the house enjoying our decorations. We can still wrap gifts and get them ready to be delivered. We can still sign and mail Christmas cards. We can still watch it snow and sit and stare at the Christmas tree. We can still watch old movies like “A Christmas Carol,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.”


        With this blog I send best wishes to friends, family and fans, with hopes you all have a wonderful Christmas, and prayers that 2021 will see an end to Covid, political division, closed schools, empty offices, theaters and restaurants, and an end to too many meetings via Zoom. Let’s pray that Christmas 2021 sees all of us back to parties, Christmas shopping in “real” stores, and family get-togethers. In the meantime, remember the real reason for celebrating Christmas. It isn’t all the decorating and partying and shopping. We are celebrating the birth of Christ, and Covid and the depressing changes it has brought us this season, cannot change the real message of Christmas. A Savior was born.

 



 





THE VALUE OF MY READERS

   A writer’s income fluctuates like a roller coaster. After nearly forty years of writing, I’ve had some great years, and some not so great. I really don’t care. Honestly. For some reason, that fact hit me today really hard when I realized how grateful I am for my readers. Maybe these melancholy feelings are due to my age. Or maybe it’s because I’m sitting here alone in my little bedroom office wondering if anyone cares that I write at all. Covid has put a damper on conferences and book signings and other ways of meeting my public, so writers feel kind of isolated and alone. Working on my story alone at the computer feels like giving a speech to empty chairs.

        Those feelings changed when my new social media guru posted something simple on my Facebook Street Team page. “Let us know where you are from.” I scrolled down through the answers, and, oh, my gosh, I’ve only heard from a fraction of my readers, but it really touched my heart to see all the places they are from, which in turn is all the places I have reached with my books. The United Kingdom, Africa, Australia, Poland, and just about every state in my beloved United States. In the past I have also heard from Germany, Taiwan, Russia, France, Italy, Norway and Canada.


        Seeing all those replies reminded me that – yes – a LOT of people know I exist, and they care about my books. Most of you have no idea what that means to me and to other writers. Your favorite authors need to hear from you, now more than ever, because of having to be home most of the time and unable to see you and talk to you.

 

        What touched my heart the most is realizing that when I die, my name will go on for a long time through my books. My fervent wish is that through my stories, readers will see how important history is and will make sure their children and grandchildren learn it – if not in school, then through reading the thousands and thousands of books available that tell stories of real history.

 

        One great source of that is books by Allen Eckert. Take a look. FRONTIERSMEN. WILDERNESS EMPIRE. THAT DARK AND BLOODY RIVER. GATEWAY TO EMPIRE. TECUMSEH! Mr. Eckert wrote fabulous true tales of the early history of the USA, told in such an entertaining way that it’s like reading an exciting novel. If you feel your children are not being taught (in school) about the proud history of the brave pioneers who built this country, have them read these books. Patriotism and pride come with learning the truth. Yes, we made a lot of mistakes, and are still making mistakes, but young people today have to understand how this all came about. You cannot teach change and teach how to right the wrongs unless you UNDERSTAND the wrongs, and you can’t understand the wrongs if no one teaches how and why it all happened.


      
       My books are, of course, fiction – at least the characters are fictitious. But the surrounding events and locations are real, and nothing warms my heart more than to receive comments about the history involved – finding out readers learned something they never learned in school. My “Blue Hawk” trilogy and my “Savage Destiny” series are probably packed with the most history of any of my books.


        It makes me happy to think how many years books “by Rosanne Bittner” could be out there long after I am gone, so all these 40 or so years of writing were not in vain. There are moments when I wonder who cares, but then I get your Facebook comments and your e-mails and letters, and your four and five-star reviews on Amazon and hear from you in other ways, and I realize all these thousands and thousands of hours sitting here writing my stories are worth it. Millions of words, thousands of hours of research, a sore back and neck, swollen legs, wearing out numerous computers – it’s all for the stories in my mind and heart that are begging to be written.


        Most of my blogs are written “on the spot.” Something hits me all of a sudden, and I have to write about it. Today, it was that Facebook post asking readers to tell me where they are from. I was like – WOW – I really do have a lot of readers “out there.” I am going to remember that post for a long time. It will keep me going back to the computer and help me remember somebody out there wants me to keep writing.


        This is the season for Thanksgiving. I give thanks to all of you readers who love my characters and who remind me my writing has a purpose. You guys are the best!

 

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