New Tricks

You can call me old-fashioned. I don’t mind, because in many ways, I am. I have an e-reader, but I much prefer a “real” book. I have thousands of photographs on my phone, but I still print out my favorites and display them all over the house. I send and receive text messages, but it’s a special thrill to receive a hand-written letter from someone I love. I enjoy talking to my granddaughters on FaceTime, but it isn’t the same as holding them on my lap. And a family Zoom call this summer on Ken’s and my 50thwedding anniversary won’t be the same as celebrating with our loved ones in person.

In the past, I’ve been stubbornly technophobic, relying on my computer-savvy children, my assistant Christine, and when all else fails, the “Geek Squad” at Best Buy. I was convinced that there’s truth to the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But I’m learning that old dogs actually can be taught new tricks when they’re forced to. My newest book, “If I Were You,” releases tomorrow, June 2, and since many of my tried-and-true methods of launching a new book are on lockdown, I’ve had to learn a lot of new tricks. So has my long-suffering husband who has become my videographer, technical assistant, Zoom coach, and a shoulder-to-cry-on as we’ve been sequestered at home with minimal computer skills and a very steep learning curve to negotiate.

I think we all feel pretty much the same in lamenting the changes the pandemic has brought. The question we ask again and again is, “When will things get back to normal?” We fear that the answer may be “never.” Facing unwanted change and an unknown future can wear a person down.

“If I Were You” is set in England during World War II, and I’ve come to realize that the generations who suffered through that war faced circumstances that were similar to what we’re currently enduring but on a much larger scale. They had no idea how long the war would last or who would win it, or if their loved ones would live or die. Their former lives had been turned upside down, forcing them to learn all sorts of new things, like how to sleep in a bomb shelter or cope with food shortages and rationing. We know how the war ended and that evil was ultimately defeated; they had no idea what would happen as the war dragged on for six long years in England and four years in the United States.

As a writer, I know that I must plunge my characters into troubling circumstances if I want them to grow and change. It’s the only way to motivate them to turn to God. And now I’m wondering if God might be using this pandemic to try to change some things in my life? Might He be trying to teach this old dog some new tricks? The Bible says, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3) And while my actual suffering has been very minimal, especially compared to enduring a world war, my eyes have been opened to how I’ve taken so many wonderful things in my life for granted. Such as worshiping with other believers in church. Eating out with friends. Browsing through the bookstore or the library. Hopping on an airplane to visit my mom and sister in New York, or our son in California.

And I’m going to miss gathering with my friends and loyal readers in person this week to tell you about my newest book. It’s impossible to do it the “old fashioned” way for now, but I hope you’ll join me on Thursday, June 4 at 8:00 PM (EST) as I launch “If I Were You” in a brand-new way. Here is the link where you can register. Simply click on the picture.

So tell me, what new tricks have you learned during the past few months?

Trading Places

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be? As the title of my newest novel suggests, one of the themes of “If I Were You” is envy. The novel takes place in England during World War II and, at times, each of the heroines of the story wishes that she could trade places with the other. And if I could be someone else? Well, perhaps I would trade with a British princess.

I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the British royal family. Long before I could follow them on Facebook and Instagram, I have followed them in the news. My interest intensified during my teenage years when I fell in love with the Beatles, but for five generations, my family’s story has had some interesting parallels with the royals.

The Queen Mum (Queen Elizabeth’s mother) was the same age as my grandmother. They both lived to be over 100, they both died in the same year. Their daughters (my mom and the current Queen Elizabeth) are also the same age, and are both still going strong and leading their families well into their 90s. My mom remembers becoming fascinated with the King of England’s two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret, as a young girl. At the time, the newspaper printed paper dolls of the two princesses in the Sunday comics, complete with royal costumes to dress them in.

During World War II, while my mom was studying to be a nurse in the U.S. Navy, Princess Elizabeth served her country in the A.T.S., a branch of the Women’s Royal Army Corp that drove and repaired trucks (or lorries, if you’re British).

After the war, it was time for love and marriage and children. Mom married my dad—who had served in the Navy in the Philippines—and they had my two sisters and me. Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip—who served in the Royal British Navy—and had Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Princes Andrew and Edward. Like many young girls, I dreamed of becoming a princess—and always hoped I would marry real-life Prince Charles.

I was able to follow the British royal family more closely during the years that my husband and I lived in Canada, a British Commonwealth nation. In fact, I waved to Queen Elizabeth when she and her motorcade drove down Portage Avenue near my home in Winnipeg. There were thousands of royal-followers like myself in Canada who watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on television. I was happily married by then and had long given up hope of marrying Prince Charles. But it so happened that the new Princess Diana and I both learned that we were expecting a baby at the same time. It was a race to see who would have her baby first. Diana beat me by a mere nine days. Her son Prince William was born on June 21, and my son Ben on June 30. We raced once again when she was expecting Prince Harry and I was expecting my daughter Maya—this time I beat the princess by four months.

And now the tradition continues. My daughter has also become a fan of the British royals and eagerly followed the fairy-tale wedding of Prince William to Princess Kate. Children soon followed for this generation, too. Maya’s 4-year-old daughter Lyla is a perfect match for 5-year-old Prince George. And if that doesn’t work out, maybe her daughter Ayla, who is not quite 2 years-old, can marry Prince Louis, who recently turned 2.

We are all still avid royal-watchers, but do I still wish I could trade places with one of them? Their many lovely palaces and grand estates are very tempting. And the clothes! But as a fan of the TV series “The Crown,” I’ve seen another side of their royal lives that is less than enviable. I like my quiet life too much to ever enjoy being in the public eye the way they are. And I don’t think Prince Charles or Queen Elizabeth would approve of my writing career. Or my bike-riding hobby. Then again, maybe they would envy my life?

So, how about you? If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be?

Click the cover image to learn more about “If I Were You” release date June 2, 2020

 

 

A Day to Celebrate

This week on May 8, the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of a very important victory. It was called V-E Day back in 1945, the celebration of Victory in Europe—victory over Hitler and Mussolini and Fascism. The terrible destruction and death tolls had finally come to an end, and people in Europe could safely leave their homes again. They could get on with rebuilding their lives and reuniting with their loved ones.

My mother was a cadet nurse in the US Navy on that day in 1945, finishing up her nursing degree at a hospital in New York City. She came from a small, “one-horse” town, as she described it, so living in New York City was a new and exciting experience for her.

When word came that victory in Europe had been declared and that crowds were swarming to Times Square to celebrate, Mom’s roommate said, “Let’s go!” They took the subway, which cost ten cents in 1945, and joined the celebration.

The crowd was enormous, with more people than Mom had ever seen in her life. Everyone was happy—laughing and cheering and waving flags. The country had been at war since Mom was sixteen, and now at last, at LAST—it was over. She didn’t get swept into an embrace like the amorous sailor in the famous photograph, but she could easily see how it could happen in such a jubilant atmosphere.

But then, somehow, she and her roommate got separated. Mom looked around at the vast sea of faces and couldn’t find her. Her roommate knew how to navigate the subway system—Mom didn’t. And her roommate had Mom’s dime for the return trip to their nurses’ quarters at the hospital. Just as Mom was about to panic, she spotted a policeman. She wove through the crowd to reach him and explained what had happened. She asked him for directions and begged him to loan her a dime. He was reaching into his pocket when Mom’s roommate reappeared. They laughed and hugged, and went home. Mom is now 94 and she still remembers V-E Day as if it were yesterday.

My newest book, “If I Were You,” takes place in England during World War II and features a scene of V-E Day in London on May 8, 1945. Friends Eve Dawson and Audrey Clarkson have endured the terrifying, frustrating, endless days of World War II together, and they head out like my mom and her roommate did, to celebrate in Trafalgar Square:

“Thousands of people filled the streets, cheering and waving flags—Audrey had never seen so many flags! People climbed onto the statues and flower-strewn monuments, rejoicing. Men and women in uniform were everywhere, representing the many roles that citizens had played in this fight…Someone shoved miniature flags into their hands and they joined the waving and cheering. Children rode on their parents’ shoulders and Audrey realized those little ones had never experienced peacetime. She saw smiles on people’s faces but also tears. Everyone had lost someone. At least no more people had to die.”

But the novel doesn’t end with this scene. As joyous as this moment is for Eve and Audrey, they now must figure out what comes next. The world is a very different place from the one they grew up in. They are different women. They’ve learned lessons about themselves that should shape how they will live the rest of their lives. That is, if they’re wise enough to apply those lessons.

I think we’re all hoping there will be a V-C Day when we can declare victory over this coronavirus that has altered so many of our lives. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered a loss of one kind or another, whether it’s a loved one, a job, a business, or a chance to graduate with their class. Hopefully, we’ve also gained some insight into ourselves and the way we were living before the lockdown. Hopefully, we’ll emerge as better persons, more in tune with God and with His plans for us. Maybe our prayer going forward should be the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

I look forward to the day when we can join together in the town square to laugh and hug and celebrate victory. Until then, I want to ask myself: How am I being changed? What lessons do you never want to forget?

 

 

Birds of a Feather

One of the hardest things for me about the current shelter-at-home orders, has been being apart from my friends. I miss them terribly, and I’ve had to find different ways of getting together with them.

A week ago, Ken and I drove to our beach and parked six feet away from our friends’ car so we could watch the sunset together. We rolled down our windows and talked and laughed as we enjoyed each other’s company from a safe distance. Friends in another state called us on FaceTime at suppertime and we enjoyed a meal together. Last Thursday I prayed with four of my fellow writers via Skype. We didn’t have to worry about social distancing since we live far apart—in California, Missouri, Michigan, Georgia, and Lyon, France. But prayer for our families and for our calling as writers forms the basis of our friendship, and being together helped ease our anxiety in these trying days. On Friday, I shared a conference call with the faithful friends in my writers’ critique group to discuss our current works-in-progress. Their feedback and friendship were life-giving, as it has been for the past 25 years that we’ve been together.

They say “birds of a feather flock together,” and in nature I think it’s mostly true. I like to hang out with friends who share common interests and hobbies with me, such as writing or biking or our Christian faith. But every now and then, you see something like this in nature:

I’m not a bird expert, but clearly, that pelican doesn’t quite fit in. Which got me thinking about my own friendships. I’ve noticed that while my friends and I share much in common, we are very different on a deeper level. I’m an introvert, many of them are extroverts; I need to think things through, some are wonderfully spontaneous; I’m reserved, the convivial ones bring much-needed laughter into my life. Over the years, the differences they’ve brought to our friendship has helped me grow in many important ways.

In my newest novel, “If I Were You,” I wanted to explore the theme of friendship. Like my friends and me, the main characters, Eve Dawson and Audrey Clarkson, are very different from each other. The novel takes place in England in a Downton Abbey-like manor house, and the obvious difference between the two friends is that Eve is Audrey’s servant. But when England becomes engulfed in the second World War, the friends’ differences become less important as they unite to fight a common enemy. Together they endure the challenges and hardships of the war and its aftermath.

And that’s what I’ve noticed about this very different war we’re currently battling. My friendships seem to be growing stronger, not weaker, even though we’re apart. No matter where we live, we’re all experiencing the same unsettling fears and deep concerns for our families and loved ones. The separation has caused me to pray harder for them, and to tell them I love them more often. When I can finally be with my friends again, the hugs and laughter we share are going to be more precious than ever before.

We’re all in this together, all around the world, and while our individual circumstances may differ, the broad outlines of what we’re enduring in this pandemic and quarantine give us much in common. I hope the memory of our shared experiences will remain and continue to unite us. Will you join with me in praying that, when this is over, our differences will be far less important than they were before? Will you pray that, as children of our Heavenly Father, we’ll remember the unity of our shared struggle? We’re all in this together.

“If I Were You” releases June 2

 

 

 

 

Be Prepared

There’s no escaping the news, the fear, the warnings. The Coronavirus is coming! Beware! Be ready! I understand that I should be worried—after all, I’m over sixty and that puts me at a greater risk of dying if I do contract the virus. But strangely, I’m not worried. While I would like to live another dozen years and watch my grandchildren grow up, my philosophy is the same as my heroines’ motto in my novel “Where We Belong.” Whenever their lives were at risk they would say, “God knows when the end of our days will be; we have nothing to fear.” The question that should concern me is not “how or when will I die,” but “how will I live in the meantime?” How well will I represent Jesus?

I keep wondering what Christians are doing in China, where the outbreak began. Or in Iran, another hard-hit country where Christians make up a tiny minority. Naturally, they must hope to survive this epidemic—we all do. But I’m guessing that believers in those hard-hit nations are reaching out to their sick and dying neighbors with the love of Christ in spite of the risk to themselves. I’m certain we’ll hear stories of their courage and faith in the days to come. And of the lives they saved.

The Apostle Peter urged us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). And non-believers are never hungrier for the hope that we have in Christ than when they are facing death. Perhaps that’s why God allows Christians to suffer through the same plagues and wars and disasters as non-Christians, side by side—so we can proclaim His love and hope to the lost.

While this particular virus is unusual, the fear and uncertainty it brings to people around the world is not. Every generation has faced life-threatening disasters, natural or man-made. In my novel “If I Were You” (releasing June 2), the main characters live in London during World War II, and experience the relentless Nazi bombings known as The Blitz. In the passage below, Eve is worried for her mum’s safety, and tries to persuade her to quit her job in London as a maidservant to Lady Rosamunde and go to a safer place.

“I don’t understand why you’re so loyal to her, Mum. Lady Rosamunde demands so much from you, working all hours of the day and night, yet she doesn’t have an ounce of consideration for you.”

Mum sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. “It isn’t easy to explain, Eve. I suppose . . . I suppose it’s because of what the vicar once said in one of his sermons. He read a Bible passage that said servants should do their work joyfully, as if serving the Lord. Jesus said if we’re ordered to go one mile, we should go two. And I feel sorry for Lady Rosamunde. For all her wealth, she is a sad, lonely woman . . . But she gave me a job at a time when I badly needed it to support you. So I’ve always thought that God must have a reason for wanting me to work for her.”

I don’t believe there are any “accidents” with God. Whatever disaster may strike us—a Nazi bomb, a deadly virus, or a heart attack—we can know that it is firmly under God’s control, and that it will serve His greater purpose. We already have eternal life, and so “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We can face the end of our days with nothing to fear.

If you’d like to learn more about “If I Were You,”  follow this link to see a fun video with more information: http://bit.ly/3828FZS

 

Many Plans

This past week, my publishing company invited me to attend the Public Library Association conference in Nashville. Librarians are among my very favorite people because they share my passion for books and reading. And the librarians I met were a warm, dedicated bunch who knew their patrons and were focused on finding the very best resources for them. I had a wonderful time. I also made a fabulous new friend, Robin W. Pearson, who was signing copies of her debut novel “A Long Time Comin’” right beside me as I signed Advance Reader Copies of my newest novel, “If I Were You.” (Releasing June 2.)

But in the days leading up to the conference, the weather reports predicted a snowstorm that threatened to derail my plans. Would the roads to the airport be clear? Would the planes be able to take off? Would the storm cause a cascade of delays and cancellations that would strand me in Chicago and make me miss the conference? I anxiously checked the weather reports several times a day before realizing that my endless worrying accomplished nothing—except to unsettle me. I vaguely recalled a scripture verse about making plans, and finally decided to look it up. It’s Proverbs 19:21:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Why is that such a difficult concept for me to grasp? As much as I hate having my plans scrapped, why can’t I remember that the delays and interruptions that change my plans might be exactly what God purposed all along? If I’m stuck in an airport waiting lounge, maybe there’s a lesson He is trying to teach me, or another weary traveler He wants me to reach out to. If I’ve given my life to Him, I shouldn’t be surprised when He calls me away from my plans on a mission that He has chosen.

Paul and Silas’s preaching tour of Philippi was going great until they were arrested, beaten, and thrown into jail. Late that night, God added in an earthquake for good measure. Talk about a change of plans! But these “disruptions” were all under God’s sovereign control and ultimately led to the conversion of the jailer and his entire family. The Lord’s purpose prevailed.

In the end, the snowstorm I had dreaded bypassed our area. I didn’t encounter any delays or flight cancellations. I had spent three days worrying for nothing. It reminded me of one of my characters in my novel “If I Were You.” She takes matters into her own hands after her life veers off in a direction she didn’t plan, instead of trusting God. Her schemes and lies cause a chain of consequences that make matters even worse for her. As I was writing her story I had to sigh and shake my head and say, “If only she had put her trust in God.”

Yes, Lynn, if only you would remember to trust God’s plans.

At a Loss For Words

Monday is coming and I have to write my regularly scheduled blog. The problem is, I’m all out of words. I have no more stories to tell. That’s because the deadline for my next novel is two weeks away. I’ve been writing it for a year, and it has turned out to be 130,000 words long. That’s a lot of words—which is why I’ve run out!

The novel is finished but I’m spending the final month editing and tweaking and putting in all the final touches. That means I haven’t gone anywhere in days. My friends think I’ve become a hermit. My family forgot what I look like. I have nothing cute or funny or interesting to say in a blog because I’ve been holed up in my office, working. But the day after I turn in this manuscript, I get to leave my work and cold, snowy Michigan for a vacation in Florida with my husband and our friends.

So, what’s my point? I have two. First, there are seasons in life when we need to dive into our work with everything we’ve got. As the scripture says, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Work isn’t a curse that we’re doomed to perform like slaves. When God enables anyone “to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.” But it shouldn’t consume our lives all year long, either.

Which leads to my second point—rest. God ordained rest, too. My Puritan ancestors would like me to feel guilty for sitting on a beach a few weeks from now when I should be working hard, giving my all, all the time. I’d like to remind those workaholic ancestors that God rested from His work on the seventh day. He wove the rhythms of work and rest into the fabric of creation. He doesn’t mind at all when we rest from our labors. Truly!

In case you’re wondering, the yet-to-be-named book that I’m racing to finish will be published in June of 2021. I know, that’s a very long time from now. But I’ve also completed another novel entitled “If I Were You,” which will be out in June of THIS year. It takes place in London during World War II and has a bit of a “Downton Abbey” feel to it.

So, here’s my advice. Work hard at what you do right now so when my book comes out next summer you can sit on a beach somewhere and read while you rest from your labors. And now . . . I need to get back to work.

Little Women

My husband and I went with friends to see the new “Little Women” movie, last night. It was wonderful, but, oh, the memories and emotions it stirred up for me! I could so relate to Jo’s longing as a young writer to create stories and to be published.

I cried with her when her sister burned her manuscript in the fire. I once lost several chapters after a power outage in the days before computers had automatic back-ups. I stormed down the street to where a team from the power company was working and screamed at them in outrage. “Ma’am . . . ma’am . . . we didn’t cause it,” they pleaded. I still wonder if they lied, fearing for their lives.

I felt Jo’s pain and humiliation as she listened to a blunt critique of her work, remembering the first time I sat down with a professional editor at a writers’ conference and heard him critique the first chapter of my novel. I felt as though he’d run my manuscript through a paper shredder! Both of those editors were probably right in what they said, but their words had the power to pierce a writer’s fragile heart. I confess that even after twenty-some books, I’ve never gotten used to critiques, and still have to steel myself to hear them, even though I know they may improve my work.

I watched the magazine editor in the film draw slash marks through Jo’s short story, saying he would publish it if she made extensive cuts, and I knew how she felt as she struggled to decide. The first article of mine that a publisher ever took an interest in was about 1400 words long. This editor (of a very well-known magazine) said he would publish it if I cut it down to 250 words and turned it into mere bullet points. It was a difficult decision, but I finally agreed. Painful, but I was a published author at last!

I understood Jo’s broken heart when she burned her own work and decided to give up writing. I gave up, too, after waiting nearly a year to learn whether or not a publishing company would print my manuscript, only to have it rejected and returned to me in a garbage bag. The garbage bag wasn’t the publisher’s idea—the mailing box had disintegrated on the return trip and the post office had dumped the pages into a trash bag for the remainder of the journey. Even so, I tossed out the bag and all 400 typewritten pages and gave up writing.

Tears ran down my face when Jo clasped her newly-published book to her chest as if it was her beloved child. I did the same when holding my first book in my hands for the first time. In fact, I carried that book with me everywhere, barely able to take my eyes off of it. I put it on my nightstand before I went to bed so I would see it first thing in the morning and know that it hadn’t been a dream.

Yes, I could relate to Jo’s roller-coaster ride as she wrestled with her calling as a writer and pursued her dream of being published. Her sisters, who had different dreams, also struggled to pursue them in a culture that diminished and marginalized women. Nourishing our dreams and becoming the person God created us to be is a favorite theme in my novels and inspirational speeches because I know the joy of discovering and living into God’s calling, even when the journey is long and painful and offers many opportunities to give up. But whether you’re a writer or not, I urge everyone to see the movie and to think about your own dreams. The start of a new year is the perfect time to partner with God and renew your resolve to pursue them.

The Story Behind the Story

I am so pleased to announce that this week, Tyndale House is offering a special ebook sale of my novel, Fly Away. The story takes place in 1987—a time period too recent to be a historical novel like my other books, but too far in the past to be a contemporary novel. That’s because Fly Away was one of the very first books I wrote—and the year really was 1987. I was just starting to dream of being a writer back then, and my first published book was eight years in the future. The story came to me so effortlessly that I remember writing it out longhand on a yellow legal pad in my living room. Later, I typed it into my Atari computer and saved it on several 3½-inch floppy discs. It was published by Beacon Hill Press in 1996 and has been out of print until this year.

 

I remember very well the genesis of the story. Within a short period of time, our family struggled with a series of losses. My father, a World War II veteran like the main character in Fly Away, was hospitalized with a stroke and died a few months later at the age of 62. Dad had been helping to care for my grandmother, so without his help, she had to be moved to a nursing home. My father-in-law also had a stroke and was moved to a nursing home where he later died. And then my mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer.

Mom Austin wanted to spend her final weeks of life in her own home rather than in a hospital.  My husband and I and our three children lived in Canada at the time, but when we learned that Mom had only a few weeks to live, we drove down to Michigan to take care of her. We had just welcomed our daughter, Maya, into the world, and she was less than two weeks old when we arrived in Michigan. For the next month, we took care of Mom and Maya simultaneously, one at the very beginning of her life, the other at the end; one growing stronger each day, the other weaker. Both were being nurtured and comforted by the presence and love of our family.

People had asked if we were concerned that our children would be traumatized by watching their grandmother die. I had never been present when someone died, so I confess I was a little worried about what the experience would be like when the moment of death arrived. Then I recalled that I had been just as worried about what it would be like to give birth for the first time, yet giving birth turned out to be a beautiful, miraculous part of life. Thanks to a wonderful hospice nurse, we were coached in what we needed to do to care for Mom, just as our birth coach had helped us when giving birth. Still, I wondered what Mom’s final moments would be like.

One night at about 3:00 AM, the baby woke up crying. While I checked to see what she needed, my husband went to check on his mother. He came out of her room saying, “Lynn—she’s gone.” Mom had passed away peacefully in her sleep. Almost immediately, the baby fell back to sleep as if she had awakened only to let us know her grandmother had passed away. Our oldest son, Joshua, who was nine, wanted to go into Grandma’s bedroom to say goodbye. He was able to see and understand that she was no longer in her body, but was now in heaven. It was a tender, holy moment for all of us. After so recently experiencing the miracle of birth, we all learned that death is also one of God’s holy moments.

With so many losses in less than a year’s time, writing Fly Away became part of my grieving process. As you read the novel, you’ll probably see how my own thoughts and emotions became intertwined with my plot and characters. The book deals with dying and loss, but I didn’t want it to be a sad book. All of my beloved family members had loved life and had lived it well. They taught me that our faith in Christ gives us the strength and courage we need to face whatever plans He has for us—even when it means saying good-bye. I learned that death is also an important part of life. We will all lose loved ones to it. We will experience it ourselves. So why not explore the mystery of it by making it a theme of a novel? Writers like to ask “What if?” and “Why?” As I wrestled with my own grief, I began to ask those questions.

Telephones still had cords when I wrote Fly Away, and hung on kitchen walls. Shag carpeting and Star Wars figures were all the rage. I was in my thirties, and my two main characters, who are 65, seemed “old” to me. Now I’m a senior citizen like those “old” main characters. But like Wilhelmina Brewster, I don’t believe in retirement. And like Mike Dolan, I want to keep living life to the fullest, right up until the moment when Jesus calls me home.

A Sneak Peek!

After several years of debuting my novels in the fall each year, I’m sorry to say that changes in my publishing schedule mean you’ll have to wait until next spring to read my latest book. In the meantime, I’m excited to show you what the gorgeous cover looks like, and to tell you a little bit about the story. “If I Were You” takes place in London during World War II and is a story of friendship and self-discovery—with a few splashes of romance that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

The idea for the book came from a true story about a British war bride who moved to America after the war. Of course, writers always like to elaborate on a simple story by asking, “What if…?” and so the plot took a few twists and turns along the way. As I dove into the research, I discovered how greatly the two world wars altered everyday life in England, putting an end to the divide between the upper classes and their servants. Being a huge fan of the TV series, “Downton Abbey,” I knew I wanted to take my story in that direction. My two heroines, Audrey Clarkson and Eve Dawson quickly sprang to life. Then all the rest—their friendship, their rivalry, their loves and losses—fell beautifully into place as these two women searched to redefine who they really were.

One of my favorite parts of writing each novel is researching it. My husband and I wandered around London in June of 2018 so I could put myself in my characters’ shoes, soaking up the sights and getting a feel for what my characters might have seen and experienced some 75 years ago. London is a beautiful, old city with buildings that haven’t changed much in centuries—although, the red, double decker buses do look a bit more modern these days.

We rode everywhere on the underground, and I tried to imagine what it would have been like to sleep down there with thousands of other people every night during The Blitz while bombs pummeled the city. No one knew what the landscape would look like in the morning or if they would even have a home to return to.

I learned that even Buckingham Palace didn’t escape the relentless bombing, and suffered damage along with several other famous buildings in London. Here I am near the palace gates, with the Victoria Monument in the background.

And now, I’m proud to show you the intriguing cover of “If I Were You.” It’s one of my favorite covers ever! I’m curious to know what you think?