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SeaMount Agency – A Home for the Heros

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1 OCEAN HOUSE

Information not yet on the SeaMount page of my website:

Sam Traven, owner/director of SeaMount Agency, will have his own story.

Originally, his story was to be the first book of the series. About 100 pages into Sam’s story, I came to the conclusion his backstory should unfold throughout several other books in the series before I give him his own happy-ever-after story. (story hint: I love ‘beauty and the beast’ stories.)

Before I realized how deep Sam’s scars went, I rocked along having way to much fun setting up housekeeping for him and his agency in an oceanfront home like those in a local beach community. Because of his physical needs, I gave him a gym and a pool for exercise, a spa area for therapeutic massage, and a greenhouse for his beloved orchids.

To run the place, Sam hired Agatha ‘Aggie’ Livingstone, heart-of-the-home and housekeeper, tough enough to handle a bunch of alpha males. She needed an industrial kitchen but for the sake of story, I couldn’t shut her up in there unable to interact with the guys, so I imagined something more open with an attached dining room. The picture in my head was a little hazy but I figured I’d make it work. I also needed a common area for the men to gather. A campfire kept coming to mind, so a crackling fireplace in a living room, (open and utiltarian) was what I pictured.

That was fun!

Then I set the story aside, telling Sam he’d have to wait for the woman of his dreams.

Amazing things happen when I let God – my creative Creator – lead the way.

Some of it scary stuff. Tough stuff till I got to the amazing part.

I jumped into Gray’s story, landing in the North Woods of Maine. Adventures one after the other until he got OUT OF THE WILDERNESS with Sophie and the girls. Then the fun stopped. The home, that big, beautiful building, I’d created for Sam and the men that worked for him was right there waiting for Gray and Sophie’s return. The foundations had been set in Sam’s unfinished story.

But for some reason, I was wandering in the desert.

Lots of writing drivel, revisiting the plot, praying and crying out to God filled those weeks. Stuff like ‘YOU gave me this story! HELP me!” And, “If you don’t want me to write, show me what I’m supposed to be doing!” And, “YOU promised to never leave me or forsake me! Helloooo. Feeling a little lonely here, God.” (I’m a firm believer in being honest with my heavenly Father. He created me and knows all there is to know about me. If I’m a little upset with how He’s handling things, He knows that, too. I figure I can be honest with Him and He won’t toss me out like last week’s furry leftovers.) My side of the conversation ended with, “Fine. I’m getting nowhere fast and you aren’t helping me. So be it. I’m done banging my head against the keyboard. I’m done. You hear me? No more whining, begging, wheeling and dealing. Stick a fork in me. I’m done! Let me know when it’s time to start up again.”

Facing the Ocean. Multi level decks

Facing the Ocean.
Multi level decks

Spring came and I visited the open house of a reconstructed-from-the-ground-up Victorian-style hotel in the very same  beach community I’d set up housekeeping for Sam. I never attend those things. Never. But this one intrigued me because it was so close to Sam’s story and maybe I’d get an idea or two if I started writing again. (Do you hear me, Lord?) It was also an opportunity to see a high-end resort that I’d never have the $$ to stay at. (Though a girl can dream…. Please. Buy my book.)

I walked through the front doors and stepped into the SeaMount Agency.

Hundreds (it seemed) of folks milling around, taking pictures and talking, and I stood there with my heart pounding and my ears buzzing because inside I was shouting, ‘OH MY GOD!’ Not in blasphemy, but with praise and awe and joy! I was all jittery inside. This hotel lobby was Sam’s ‘livingroom’. Windows on the side, chairs positioned just so in front of the fireplace. But not just any old fireplace. A beach stone fireplace. God out did my puny idea, and even gave me a glimpse of how He cares for the smallest details.

Several minutes of picture-taking later, when my feet were back on the ground, I reluctantly headed for the fancy dining room. I’d already had my ‘God moment’. Everything else would surely disappoint. Besides the whole kitchen/dining room had been a bit of a stickler in my vision. One step inside and once again my heart jolted into overdrive. There before me was my industrial kitchen – with a counter along one side. (Why didn’t I think of that!) Someplace I found out it was called an ‘exhibition kitchen’! I had no idea such a thing existed. But it was perfect for Aggie. And the dining room with windows overlooking the ocean and… and… I turned in circles wishing everyone would leave Sam’s house! And there, in the corner, another glimpse of God’s signature in the details.

Lap Pool

Lap Pool

I practically mowed folks down as I headed for the open staircase and the next floor down. “Please, God. Please, God.” What would I find. I passed more glimpses of Him revealing Himself to me and my heart was bursting as I hurried down the stairs to the lobby below. I believe, help me in my unbelief.

I found:
A beautiful fitness center. (For Sam to exercise in.)
A salon and spa area. (For Sam’s therapeutic massage. And, yes, I took pictures of the men’s locker room. Necessary research.)
An indoor lap pool. (I hadn’t thought of a lap pool for Sam. Duh.)

I was frenetic. Running hither and thither (I’ve always wanted to write that), taking pictures and envisioning the SeaMount men in the beach locker room, in the masculine board room with state-of-the-art technology. (Video conference!)

And everywhere, God’s loving hand revealed with those glimpses of ~ orchids.

In hallway nooks. In every room of the spa. As a centerpiece in the dining room. In the public bathrooms. In the private bathrooms of the hotel rooms. Orchids, Sam’s passion, every where I turned.

Orchid in the locker room

Orchid in the locker room

What an amazing God! How He love’s surprising His children. Yes, even the ones that act like spoiled two-year olds when frustrated and tired. (That would be me.) Why hadn’t I trusted more? How sweet it was to go home and write the rest of Gray’s story, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS, having seen the inside of the Ocean House. Like a cool rain beating down on that dry desert, the words flowed. I continue to work on the series, currently working on Jack Conroy’s story, INTO THE DEEP. When will I learn that God only wants good things for me, but in His time, not mine?

Are you still with me? This has been a looong post. Much longer than the experts recommend blog posts be. (No one has time to read long posts, they say.) But how could I shortchange this story and an awesome, magnificent God.

My favorite Bible verse –
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29: 11-13

He was there all along. Listening. Planning. Preparing the way.

Oh, and Sam’s greenhouse? There’s a place for that, too. Smack dab in the middle of the tournament level croquet lawn.

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Out Of The Wilderness: Mothers, Daughters and Quilts

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Bits and pieces of the author’s life are sprinkled in every book they write. Often the ‘story within the story’ continues even after the book is finished and in the hands of readers.

Mariner's Compass QuiltIn Out Of The Wilderness (SeaMount Series, Book 1), the inspiration for Sophie’s Mariner’s Compass quilt is the Amish Mariner’s Compass quilt Old Roady bought for me in Lancaster, PA. In the novel, this quilt was a gift to Sophie from her mother.

Sophie’s home is also a piece of my life. It’s modeled after my sister’s house. I loved her home. Beautifully decorated and always so welcoming. When she and her husband sold it to follow God’s call into ministry, I was so sad. In my story, Sophie needed a house, I immediately though of my sister’s home.

Sissy's House

I didn’t tell her what I had done. Her tearful surprise was just what I’d hoped for. (I love happy tears!)When she moved into this home, she was a widow (like Sophie). She raised two beautiful daughters here which made it easy for me to picture Sophie’s girls on the tire swing in the front yard and running through the house.

The threads of moms, daughters and quilts weave together continuing the story off the page. My sister’s eldest daughter just gave birth to a beautiful little girl,Owl quilt Fallyn Aurora. This is the adorable Owl Quilt (with a close up of the owl) my sister made for her first grandchild. The love that was fostered in that gray ranch house wraps around the next generation.

Perhaps sometime in the future, the story will come back to the page and Sophie will be a grandmother making a quilt for a tiny grand baby.

If you have read Out Of The Wilderness, which of Sophie’s three girls would make the best match for Davie?

April 5th – National Read A Road Map Day

Today, April 5th is National Read a Road Map Day!

With the advent of Google Maps, Mapquest and the GPS, learning to read a road map is no longer a necessity. But what if your batteries died or the electronics didn’t work. Would you know how to read a road map?

Road MapsMy first experience with maps was the globe of the world Mommy had in the living room. Nothing fancy, just a small table top Rand McNally globe that spun round and round. Sitting on the floor, my siblings and I would take turns closing our eyes and placing our finger on the spinning globe ending up on continents and in countries that we would otherwise have never heard about.

On trips with Old Roady, I ride shotgun with the map draped across my knees following our route with my finger. I enjoy watching for the next town or turn off. With the purchase of a GPS, my map reading skills are not longer needed, but the activity keeps me awake (I was born with an on/off switch on my bottom that is activated by the seat of a car.), so I still like to have a map to look at. The last trip we took, I used the Maps App on my iPad. When I realized I was spending more time staring at the little red dot moving along the highway than I was looking at the landscape, I put it away.

In my book ‘Out Of The Wilderness’, it was Sophie’s lack of map reading skills that led to her getting lost and in need of rescue. Studying with this tutorial would have saved her from the ordeal. But then, she would have never met Gray.

What you need to know to read a map:

  • How to use the grid – those numbers and letters bordering the map have a purpose.
  • Where to find the map key or legend and what data is contained there.
  • Why roads come in different colors.
  • What do the different colors and symbols and highway markers mean.

The final hurdle in handling a paper road map is learning how to refold it back to it’s original neat and tidy rectangle. For that, there is no tutorial.

Questions for you:
Do you think map reading skills are becoming a lost art?
Do you prefer paper or digital?

The Scary Fun of Self-Publishing!

I feel like that gawky teenager all over again. On a family vacation, standing at the end of the high diving board and looking down. Scary fun! That excited feeling accompanied by a ping of fear. Hoping – praying – I don’t belly-flop.

That’s how I feel as I release the first book of my SeaMount Series, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS. 

I’m excited! I’m scared! I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I love the story. I love the characters. I hope you will, too!

Now available on Amazon. All other venues to follow soon.

Former Navy SEAL Grayson Kerr’s honor has become tarnished working as a soldier for hire. His newfound faith in God has him longing to restore his integrity. His new mission is to qualify for a job with the SeaMount Agency. He wants to be one of the good guys. In the midst of a wilderness survival trial, he discovers a woman and her children lost in the forest. Abandoning his own mission in order to help them could disqualify him for the job.

Sophie Moore has fought to hold heart and home together since her husband’s death. To lose custody of her daughters to his influential parents would be her undoing. Determined to make every moment together count, Sophie plans a weekend away. Almost at their destination, she takes a wrong turn and becomes lost in a labyrinth of logging roads. The scruffy, hard-edged soldier that finds them is their only chance at survival.

From the wilderness of Maine to the SeaMount Agency headquarters on the coast of Rhode Island, Gray works to expose the criminal plot behind Sophie’s custody battle. He jeopardizes getting the job he wants for having the love of the woman he needs. Being a good guy may cost him his one shot at redemption.

Summer: Expectations vs Reality

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Warm days. Family picnics. Juicy watermelon. Sand castles and body surfing. Lightening bugs and county fairs. Summer! I always have such high expectations for this short season. Can’t wait for summer! Where did the ideal I dream of come from? Beach blanket movies? The Beach Boys music? (Okay – so now you know my age.) A happy childhood perhaps? Building forts in the woods, digging quahogs in the salt pond, swinging in Gramma’s hammock are some of my summer memories. My responsibilities consisted of age appropriate chores and no other worry in the world.

Looking back from an adult perspective, I see what my kid-self missed. Daddy working full-time in the hot mill, plus an additional two or three other jobs to feed his growing brood. Mommy recording every penny she spent in a small account book. The worry over aging parents and sick kids. The loss of loved ones. Some of the same concerns and tragedies that have intruded on my adult summers and left me longing for the innocence of childhood.

This spring has been filled with news of floods, tornadoes, forest fires and earthquakes. National tragedy and personal loss have already made a mark on my summer – and it’s only just arrived! My heart goes out to all those who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones. Summer will not be idyllic for so many as they struggle to rebuild lives ravaged by accidents, wind and water.

In Out of the Wilderness, there’s the fun of a bonfire on the beach, swims in the ocean, a ride on the carousel, but the threat of tragedy weaves through the happy times. Just as in real life.

Real life. A patchwork of happy days and sad times. Days filled with highs and lows of every measure. The distance between my expectations for summer and the reality grows wider with each passing year. There is no returning to the blissful summer days of my early years. God’s plan for me was not to stay forever young.

He knew since my conception what every summer of my life would hold. Some would have more rainy days than sunshine. This year may unfold with winds as gentle as butterfly wings or as destructive as a hurricane. God never promised only good times, but He did promise to always be with me and help me through the difficult times. And therein lies the joy I can claim. Being present in each circumstance while drawing on God’s mercy and grace.

I can’t return to what summer ‘used to be’, but I can move forward confident in God’s grace. Drawing my strength from Him, I can handle what comes my way and know that because He is merciful, He will give me new happy memories along the way.

Watermelon, any one?

What are your happy memories of summer?

God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

River Crossing

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The Ledge Falls area in Baxter State Park inspired a scene in my current WIP, Out of the Wilderness. The constant rushing of the river has smoothed the surface of the ledge. In my story, an attempt to cross the river as a heavy rainstorm rolls in leads to disaster.

A force too powerful to be subdued, the many and varied aspects of nature can be used to create intense conflict within a story. Raging rivers, hurricanes, wild animals and forest fires are only a few of the choices available to a writer. Overcoming the difficulties created by the external conflict of Nature gone wild often changes a character internally. And that is the goal of the writer. To show change, for better or for worse, in a character.

What experience, good or bad, have you had with Nature?

Baxter State Park, Maine

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The opening for my current work-in-progress (WIP), Out of the Wilderness, is set in the wilderness of Maine. I felt like I’d stepped into my book on a research trip to Baxter State Park.

I was there the very end of June 2009. The hawkweed and sheep laurel were in bloom. Low to the ground wild red raspberries and strawberries ripened in spots where the sun pierced the forest canopy. The blueberries were still green and inedible.

This photo was taken from the East Spur Overlook and shows the vast expanse of forest. The perfect place for Sophie and her daughters to lose their way.

Have you ever been lost? Where? What did you do to find your way again?

Sophie’s Quilt

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What was to be a family weekend at a lakeside resort became a survival situation for Sophie Moore and her three daughters in Out Of The Wilderness, my current work-in-progress. God’s provision arrived in the form of SEAL-turned-mercenary, Gray Kerr.

Reluctant to take on the responsibility of Blondie and her three smurfs, Gray couldn’t walk away and leave them and their disabled mini van in the forest. Fortunately, they weren’t traveling light. They had enough stuff in the van, including a quilt, for him to put together survival packs.

The Mariner’s Compass quilt pictured below was made by an Amish woman in Pennsylvania. It was a gift from my old roady. The only input I had was color suggestions. Didn’t he pick out a beauty? I love it so much, I had to include it in Sophie and Gray’s story.

What handmade gift do you cherish? Why is it so special?

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