Monday, March 23, 2015

It has been a very long time since I posted any kind of update here. Mostly because there's not much to update you on. Still, I get a lot of emails and message and such asking about a lot of different things, so I thought I'd do a quick sum-up here:

My Health
I am feeling noticeably better these days. My doctors and I are fine tuning my rheumatoid arthritis treatments, both medicinal and otherwise, and are getting closer and closer to settling on the best combination for me.
  • I still dictate most of what I write but have been able to type for longer periods of time. This has been a huge shot in the arm of hope and excitement for me.
  • I'm more mobile and more active, which has been a goal of mine for well over a year. It's good to feel like I'm getting back to a healthier place and am learning to live my life happily and healthily.
The Jonquils/Lancasters/Folks of Hope Springs
The business side of publishing is so slow and painstaking sometimes.
  • The Jonquils & Lancaster families and their books:
    • I have three more books in these psuedo-series done, polished, shined up, and ready to go. I have two more drafted and ready for editing and fixing. I have the remaining family members' stories outlined and just waiting to be written. 
    • So where are they? On my computer. *sigh* I truly thought the business end of this would have been worked out by now, but sometimes the wheels turn super, super slowly. I will let everyone know as soon as I have something to pass along. I promise! And I hope it will be very soon.
  • The Folks of Hope Springs
    • A lot of people ask if I'll be revisiting Hope Springs and the townspeople there, especially the "guy who didn't get the girl" (attempting to avoid a spoiler just in case someone out there hasn't read Hope Springs yet). I absolutely do and have, in fact, already started writing that guy's book. There are no release timelines here because the book's not done yet. But, again, I'll keep everyone updated as I have things to announce.
Other News
This is going to be really, really vague. Bear with me.
  • I have what I've been calling my "Super Secret Project," a novel I'm super proud of and absolutely loved writing. It's fun and touching and is, of course, a kissing book. :) I hope to have news to pass along to you soon!
  • There's other fun stuff going on behind the scenes that I can't pass on yet. Soon, I hope! Soon!
Upcoming Events
While I don't have any signings scheduled at the moment, I do have some conferences I will be participating in...

Thank again, everyone, for your continued words of encouragement and support and for your patience while we all wait for things to move forward. You're the best!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

☘ ☘ ☘ ☘ Happy St. Patrick's Day! ☘ ☘ ☘ ☘

Liberties College, as seen from St. Patrick's Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

It's my absolute favorite holiday of the entire year! St. Patrick's Day, aka "The Holiday of Coolness!" We make a pretty big deal about St. Patrick’s Day at our house. Irish food, Irish music, Irish… everything. I love this holiday in large part because it celebrates a large part of our cultural heritage. I also love it because it happens to be my birthday. Wasn’t I lucky to be born on my favorite day?!

In keeping with Holiday of Coolness tradition, here are some fantastic Irish Things I Love...

I adore traditional Irish music (called simply “Trad” in Ireland). This tune, performed by the fabulous The High Kings is the same song the Irish in Hope Springs sang to welcome Katie in Longing for Home

I love, love, love Irish fiddle music. If you’ve read Longing for Home and Hope Springs, you likely suspected that already. Here is quite possibly the best Donegal fiddler ever recorded, John Doherty, playing “Stormy Weather,” a fiddle tune I listen to on a very regular basis...

As is tradition for my St. Patrick’s Day post, I’m offering a song by The Script, one of my favorite groups of all time. They hail from Dublin and it shows in their music, modern in every sense but with the inarguable influence of their Irish roots. This particular song, “Paint the Town Green” has been declared this year’s theme song at our house...

Looking for more great Irish music? Tune in to the live internet radio feed at and thank me later!

I have visited Ireland twice now, the most recent trip being not quite a year ago. On that trip we spent almost our entire holiday in Dublin, itself, exploring the city, absorbing the culture, embracing the vibe. Dublin is like a living entity. There’s a pulse to the city and an energy. We could easily have spent months there without seeing half of what it has to offer.

The dome of Four Courts is one of the most iconic pieces of the Dublin skyline, but it was completely destroyed in the 1922 civil war that followed the Irish War for Independence. It was restored afterward but in material different from the rest of the building. The guide on our tour said that the contrast serves as a reminder to all of Ireland of the divisiveness of that era in Irish history and the destruction caused by hatred.
Four Courts, Dublin.

I absolutely love the cathedrals in Dublin--and there are TONS. Christ Church and St. Patrick’s are probably my favorites.
The Lady Chapel, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin
This was the view out the back window of our flat in Dublin. There’s history everywhere you look in this city.
Mother Redcaps Pub (built 1790)

We spent a leisurely afternoon just enjoying the gardens at Dublin Castle. There are so many quiet spots like this scattered throughout the otherwise busy metropolis. If I ever have the chance to make Dublin my home, I think this might be one of my favorite places to spend the day.
The gardens behind Dublin Castle.
Leaving Dublin was so, so hard. I fell deeply in love with the city. I often dream of going back. Some day!

The Food
Every year I post a recipe for a traditional Irish dish. This year it's Dublin Coddle, a hearty stew that has been served in homes and pubs alike for centuries.
Dublin Coddle (slow cooker recipe)
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 lb. Pork sausage
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • 3 C. water
  • 5-6 large potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ¼ C. chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves

Brown the sausage, drain and set aside.
Cook the bacon. Crumble and set aside.
In the bacon grease, cook the onion and garlic until golden and fragrant. Scoop them out of the grease when done. Set aside.
Drop the onion, garlic, sausage, potatoes, and crumpled bacon into your slow cooker. Sprinkle with the thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Throw in the bay leaves.
Pour the broth and water over it all. Cover and cook on high 4-6 hours, until the potatoes are done.

Serves 6-8

Irish Blessings
I always close out my annual Holiday of Coolness post with this gem...

May those who love us, love us.
And for those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He can not turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we may know them by their limping.

Happy Holiday of Coolness, everyone!
(And, in case you're curious, here are links to the HofC posts from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 & 2010)



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