Taking the Bridge to Nowhere to the Loch Ness Monster

When I was in the fifth grade, I read about the Loch Ness Monster in our SRA Reading Program. I informed all my friends that when I grew up I was going to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness Monster.

Prophetic boast? Because here I was some fifty years later taking a tour of Loch Ness and waiting for Nessie to appear. I had a present for her. Such a mysterious creature, I felt, would love reading my mystery-romance-suspense Bridge to Nowhere, published by Sunpenny.  Just in case her reading tastes were not what I expected, I took along a typed copy of my pro-life, adventure-romance Love’s Beating Heart (electronically published) and my husband’s two time travel-adventure books The Scent of Time and The Scent of Home.

Yes, I understand that Nessie lives in a 755-foot deep lake which contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. But she’s been in there a long time. Surely she needs some place to get out of that cold water and I’m envisioning a cozy little cave carved into the rock sides of the lake where she can rest, read, relax – and enjoy all the non-monster pursuits that her heart desires. She has often been spotted around Urquhart Castle, which reportedly sits on a rock shelf with deep water underneath. Strange claims have been made of 30-foot eels frightening divers away when they searched around the castle.

Not everyone believes in Nessie. She was mentioned back in the 7th Century. Legend states that Saint Columba rescued a swimmer under attack by ordering the monster away in the name of Jesus. Since then, there have been more than 1,000 sightings, the most recent of which began in 1933. The evidence for Nessie’s existence is anecdotal with disputed photos and sonar readings.  Many of the sonar studies have recorded creatures of up to 30-feet long and more than five-feet wide following boats at great speed and depth. Sound recordings have monitored strange clicks, knocks and swishing noises.

Famed monster hunter Jeremy Wade looked for Nessie without success, but noted that with so much evidence having been accumulated over so many years – something strange lived in Loch Ness. His best surmise was that a rare Greenland shark chased salmon into the loch from the North Sea.

Back to my own personal search for the Loch Ness Monster. I can’t claim to have seen Nessie. So I didn’t get to give her a copy of Bridge to Nowhere or any of the other books. However, I did discover something that gives me hope for future searches. Loch Ness is so huge and deep with so much water – that she could easily be real. There is simply no reason to assume that Nessie is a hoax. So you are welcome to go online and buy my books or even private message me for a signed copy – but I’m keeping Nessie’s copy for next time I get to search for her. She doesn’t know me yet, but I feel we share a special connection. She’ll want to meet me.

Some people search for God with all the inconclusive results that professional Nessie hunters have accumulated. Not only do they mock and scorn Christians, they attempt to push an atheist agenda hard enough that Christians and their faith in God will decline like the Nessie sightings of recent years. How sad. The evidence for God’s existence is all around these non-believers, pulsing with every beat of their heart and borne on the wings of the wind. Nessie might not have popped up on my monster-hunting expedition, but God’s awesome majesty reflected from sky to waves and bounced off the mountains, trees, flowers and wildlife along the shore. God made it all. It’s His perfect creation. And Nessie, if she does exist, is a mysterious creation of God. Mysteries belong to God. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy writing them so much!

See you soon, Nessie! I’m keeping your books for you!

U castle w water Loch N & castle

 

Seagull parents & baby battery

Unlike the U.S. where most schools have running tracks, the sports field here in Fortrose, Scotland, is a grassy field. When I went running today, I got dive bombed by two seagulls. The birds repeatedly swooped down at head level and split the air with high-pitched shrieks and constant chortles, clearly angry. About halfway around the field, I discovered the source of their anger. Three babies were sunbathing in the grass and attempting short, floppy bursts of flight. The parents were defending their babies.

Oh, for human parents with the love, compassion and action to defend their children with the courage of those gulls. I must have outsized and outweighed those parents 50 to one, yet they were fearless when confronted by what they perceived as a threat to their young. Every human parent should follow the example of those gulls.

Miz Mike, in my Sunpenny-published Christian mystery-romance-suspense Bridge to Nowhere, is Texan to the core – and kind. Her kindness evaporates when a kidnapper snatches her youngest grandson. When the kidnapper is finally captured, Miz Mike is on the culprit like ticks on a wild deer. A human version of protective seagulls.

If seagulls, deemed “nuisance birds” by some, can be such loyal parents, why can’t humans? The label of “child abuse” shouldn’t exist because there should be no child abuse.

Abortion is the ultimate form of child abuse. Action-centered, caring individuals flock to good causes: saving marine life; supporting no-kill shelters for dogs and cats; running retirement centers for horses; protesting the slaughter of wild animals to feed the fur industry; saving whales, trees and spotted owls. But where are those same compassionate activists when unborn children with beating hearts are impaled, sliced and diced and tossed into garbage cans like debris? Why aren’t some of these animal-loving humans speaking for unborn children who can’t speak for themselves? Why aren’t they demanding that unborn children be given the choice of life?

Love’s Beating Heart, a parallel adventure, paints a pro-life choice that allows readers to decide the abortion VS pro-life issue. Teen Natasha North is pregnant. Her stepfather threatens to kill her if she doesn’t get an abortion. Not sure that abortion is right, Tash and her best friend Dena run away. Hiding sends the teens on a wild river ride on a flooded Texas Hill Country river. Meanwhile, Dena’s older sister Cat escapes from an abusive boyfriend and is rescued by a Christian family. The more Cat helps Dallas homeschool the children, the more Cat decides the Creekmore family suffers from religious insanity…and yet…she would like to replace Dallas as Sky Creekmore’s wife. Love’s Beating Heart is non-stop action, adventure and suspense, with the sweet spice of romance tossed into the redolent mix. Called “inspirational” and “life-changing” by readers, Love’s Beating Heart was written to paint the possibility of adoption as a loving option. The regret and guilt that frequently stalks women who have had abortions are twin giant joy killers. The inspiration for Love’s Beating Heart? As the Bible says, “ask the birds of the air, they will tell you.”

As human parents, the choice is ours. Are we seagulls or baby batterers?

                                                                       baby gulls

 

 

Fire the Rocks with Beauty

Bloom where you are planted. Light up the rocky ground with the fire of the gifts and enthusiasm that God has given you. If lovely flowers can bloom vividly on the slate roof of a building, we can light up the rocks where we’re planted with God’s glory.Image

I’m a Texan. I love Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World.” It’s my home and the setting for most of the Christian mystery-romance-suspense books that I’ve written: Bridge to Nowhere, Love’s Beating Heart, Shadow Chase and Until the Shadows Flee. Heart Shadows is set in the Nevada desert.

When my job ended in Bandera, I left. I’ve left Bandera before, but I’ve always gone back. I call it the boomerang effect. The LORD told me to leave, but I fought against going. I prayed and begged God to change His mind all the way to Alabama. Alabama had an even higher unemployment rate than Texas – which made me wonder why I was there. It took me a couple of months to find a job. I had never been out of work before in my life. But it gave me time to write my next Sunpenny Publishing release, Bridge Beyond Betrayal, and when I did find a job, it was a great job with a great boss. God blessed me for blooming where I was planted – even though it wasn’t Texas.

Now that I’m in Scotland, I realize why I was in Alabama. The LORD moved me there to shake the soil out of my roots and free me to marry my wonderful husband, author Alan T McKean (The Scent of Time & The Scent of Home). Surviving in a colder, wetter climate and adjusting to culture changes sometimes made me feel like a weed clinging to a rock, more likely to fall off than bloom. But with God’s grace, my life has blossomed around me in spite of all my human errors and weakness. Besides having a great husband, a lovely rough collie dog named Angel Joy, and living by the sea in a place that simply has no ugly views in any direction, the LORD has given me time to write. That resulted in the pro-life adventure-romance, Love’s Beating Heart, which has been acclaimed by critics as “inspirational” and “life-changing.” God blesses us when we bloom where we’re planted.

So if you find yourself planted in rocky ground, decide to fire the rocks with your beauty. You are beautiful because God created you and He doesn’t make junk! God gives all of us gifts. You may not be a writer, but God has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has a reason for sticking you in the rocks. Think of the lovely roof flowers waving cheerfully from their lofty heights on slate and be encouraged. All things really do work together for good to them that love the LORD, just like the Bible promises. If God sticks you in the rocks, He will water you with a special blessing that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

Fire the rocks with beauty!

 

 

Prickles & Stickles

I relate to my tough Texan heroine in Bridge to Nowhere, released by Sunpenny Publishing. Miz Mike always minds her own business, but she can’t resist mystery – so she winds up in one pickle after another when she sets out to molest new adventures. Miz Mike is adamant, intransigent, and intractable – only about important things, of course!

Me? I’m just stubborn. Take the prickles and stickles incident. No, don’t. You don’t want to go there.

When we first got our rough collie Angel Joy, she would only catch and collect balls as long as they were easy to retrieve. If they went too far, went into the water, or into bushes – it was our job. Golfers along the golf course would holler, “Can you get your dog to find my ball?” To which we would reply, “She won’t even find her ball.”

Angel Joy now goes into the water – as long as it’s not too deep – and into tall bushes and grass to find her ball. Not prickles and stickles. She’s smart.

Yesterday the wind blew off Moray Firth at near gale force. Her ball whipped into a hedge of wild Scottish roses intertwined with blackberry vines and gorse – solid prickles and stickles and thorns.

Suddenly Bridge to Nowhere‘s Miz Mike hijacked me. I body slammed those prickles and stickles and thorns and stickers and plowed a path into the impenetrable growth. Angel Joy nipped in, grabbed her ball and backed out again. It took me a bit longer since I was speared with thorns, stickers and vegetation with pickles, stickles and hooks.

Sometimes success demands that we plow into prickles and stickles. Staying in our comfort zone won’t get the job done. This is especially true in writing. It’s not enough to get a book published. After that comes the marketing – even if by pushing yourself forward you feel like you’re plowing into a rose bed and coming out with thorns rather than the fragrance, color and softness of rose petals.

Some readers will love you and everything you write. Others will hate you – not because what you’ve written is bad – but because they disagree with you. When that happens, you feel like you attempted to pluck a rose for your sweetheart and grabbed thorns instead.

If you’re a writer, I won’t encourage you to become like Miz Mike. For one thing, she and I are Texas born. It takes a while to learn how to be a Texan. For another thing – she’s my character! But I will encourage you to be stubborn. Get over your fear of prickles and stickles. They only hurt a little bit. Plow ahead with confidence and don’t let criticisms and discomfort steal your dream.

My newest book, Love’s Beating Heart, is the most stickery and prickery since it deals with issues like abortion, pro-life, adoption, homeschooling and the sanctity of marriage. It is also the most satisfying on the deepest level. Don’t get me wrong! I love stubborn, mystery-solving Miz Mike. She’s fun, funny and fun to write. Bridge to Nowhere is a great Christian mystery-romance-suspense, the first in a series of at least six.

But plowing into the stickles and prickles gave me a lasting gift to leave behind when I go home to be with the LORD. Love’s Beating Heart is more than a book. It’s a life-saving manual.

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Try a Bit Harder, Work a Bit Longer…

With a bit of weeding, digging and replanting, the garden looked nice…except for the dead branches and trunks of a tree along the fence. Our chainsaw will cut butter, but not much else and there are no repair or sharpening services in our area. The handsaw cuts a bit better, but the dead tree trunks were huge in circumference and grown too close together to allow the handsaw to get in between them. With our limited tools, cutting that dead, tangled mess looked impossible.

Enter determination. The same, “try a bit harder, work a bit longer,” that carried me past the agony and despair of receiving 150 rejection slips on different books over the years to eventual success. I now have five published Christian, mystery-romance-suspense books, Bridge to Nowhere (Rose & Crown/Sunpenny Publishing), Love’s Beating Heart, Heart Shadows, Until the Shadows Flee and Shadow Chase. I knew I was a writer. God had put that burning fire in my bones and I could not contain it. But every rejection slip made me quit and give up…briefly – before I remembered to try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

So, too, with the dead wood in the front yard. First the clippers to remove the smaller branches. With scratched and bleeding arms and facing those huge trunks, I started to give up. Then I looked again at the bright green garden tossed with blooming flowers and mocked by one clump of ugly dead tree. The butter-cutting chainsaw came out. The butter-cutting-plus handsaw came out. Then help arrived in the form of my gifted, talented husband (also an author, The Scent of Time & The Scent of Home). He had been out visiting folks in the parish. Still dressed in his clerical shirt and collar (he’s a Church of Scotland minister) Alan began helping. Between the two of us and the two butter and better than butter-cutting saws, the dead wood came out. Try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

Taking out the dead growth was the right thing to do. Besides looking better, the open space allows room to finish edging in front of the beds and trimming the shrubs.But it wasn’t easy. It took trying a bit harder, working a bit longer.

Having five published books was the right thing to do. Without preaching, the characters and action in the books point to God. It is my prayer that they will help readers find their way to the Cross of Jesus. Love’s Beating Heart sends two teens on a wild river adventure to save Baby. The fast-moving adventure upholds marriage, homeschooling and pro-life over abortion. If it saves the life of even one unborn child, I have fulfilled my purpose as a writer. But success wasn’t easy. It took years to achieve and a lot of trying a bit harder, working a bit longer.

When you have a dream or a task that seems impossible, don’t give up! Try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

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Orkney, Guns & Collies

Just got back from a lovely trip to the Scottish island of Orkney. Even though Orkney’s history was written in spilled blood from Viking longboat invasions along the coast, the island is quiet and peaceful now and you don’t need a gun.

My past was written in the western drama of Texas. My Christian mystery-romance-suspense book Bridge to Nowhere (Sunpenny Publishing) is set in the imaginary Texas town of Three Prongs, much like Bandera, “Cowboy Capital of the World” – a place where misfits fit. Guns are important to folks in Bandera. If you find a rattlesnake in your driveway, a wild pig killing livestock, or a rabid coyote chasing your dog – you’re gonna want a gun.

Fish Soup (Sunpenny Publishing) author Michelle Jayne Heatley, from Brixham here in the UK, inquired about becoming an honorary Texan. It was suggested that she get a gun, an answer she quickly negated. To folks in the UK, including picturesque Orkney, guns are not needed and are despised. They are not written into the fabric of the country.

I never owned a gun in Texas (but I can shoot one) for the same reason I don’t train collie dogs. You have to be smarter than the dog to train it. And if you’re using a gun for protection, you better be smarter than your attacker – or he will get the gun away from you and use it against you. Why make it easier for him? I know the sum of my intelligence. I failed high school math.

But not owning a gun doesn’t mean that I can’t protect myself. I have a mobile security company on the job. I own stock in the company. “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.” Psalm 46:1. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

So I would encourage you wherever you are in the world to seek your protection from the Source of security Who will never let you down. You don’t have to be smart enough to train a collie or own a gun and you don’t have to live on an idyllic island like Orkney. Only one condition is demanded for 24/7 security…faith.Image