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The Great Idea

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

The Great Idea

Tomorrow I will speak at the library in North Platte, Nebraska about Legacy. As I was preparing for this event I was reminded of a conversation my husband and I had the other day. “Sometimes I wish I could ask Grandma Jones a few questions. But I can’t. She’s gone.” “Like what,” I asked. “Well, for one thing, what was her favorite part of living in the sod house?” I may or may not have given him a look that said “Favorite part? Are you crazy?” What I said was that I didn’t remember her mentioning any particular good parts. Well, except she had a wood floor. She was right proud of her wood floor. We went on to discuss the fact that she shared little bits with different ones of us and that’s when I got the Great Idea! Yes, those words need capitalized. The Great Idea is this. What if at our next Jones Family Reunion we submitted questions that we would like to ask Grandpa and Grandma Jones? Then everyone in the room could tell what they remembered hearing from Grandpa and Grandma about those subjects. I know for a fact that our oldest cousin Gordon has more and different memories than the youngest one, Luke. Different ones of us spent time with them at different times in their lives. They probably shared things with some of us that the others have never heard. And then there is my dad’s generation. I’m sure they have even more information to add. Too bad our reunion is another two years away. How about you? Do you have a reunion or event coming up? What about Thanksgiving or Christmas? Write down your questions and bring them up when you are all together. You just might find out a lot more than you ever knew! If you do this, I would love to hear your stories about how it...

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All Must Be Well – A Legacy of Confidence

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

All Must Be Well – A Legacy of Confidence

The other day my cousin Elizabeth posted a video of her playing and singing a hymn. It was one I had never heard. I was immediately captivated by her voice. The clear, sweet, simple sound with the distinctive McKnight tonal qualities reminded me of another McKnight lady, my mother. I closed my eyes and listened and it was precious. I listened twice and went about my day. Today I decided to listen to Lizzie sing again. This time I listened to the words. All Must Be Well by Mary Bowley Peters  Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well. Free and changeless is his favour, all, all is well. Precious is the blood that healed us, perfect is the grace that sealed us, strong the hand stretched forth to shield us, all must be well.  Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well. Ours is such a full salvation, all, all is well. Happy, still in God confiding, fruitful, if in Christ abiding, holy, through the Spirit’s guiding, all must be well.  We expect a bright tomorrow, all will be well. Faith can sing through days of sorrow, ‘All, all is well.’ On our Father’s love relying, Jesus every need supplying, in our living, in our dying, all must be well. “Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well.” And this, “Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well.” As I listened for the third time memories started popping into my head. The first one was from the night my mother died. Daddy gathered his three children all together on a bed upstairs and he read us the verse from the Bible that says God holds the keys of life and death. He told us that he had “no idea why God took Mommy home, but God is good and it would be all right.” We would be alright. All will be well. Then another memory sifted to the front. I was in my mid teens and we were at a church business meeting where things were being said to and about my Daddy, the Pastor. I began to cry as he stood at the front of the church and calmly answered questions. He looked at me and said, right out loud. “Miriam, it will be all right.” All will be well. Even within the past year with his limited post-stroke speech, when another hurtful disappointment occurred, he was heard to say, “It will be all right.” All will be well. To be honest I have been experiencing a bit of overwhelm. So many stresses—good and bad—have occurred in the past year or so and we all know how that is, don’t we? But as I listened to Elizabeth sing that simple hymn I was reminded that despite losing Mommy all has been well. Even though people have hurt us, all has been well. It was just one more instance of a legacy given by God and delivered by my parents. A legacy of confidence. Confidence that no matter what comes All Must Be Well. Why? Because...

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When the Watch Stops

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | 1 comment

When the Watch Stops

My husband bought me a new watch the other day. Well, really it is an old watch. He decided I needed a wind-up one in addition to the quartz watch I was wearing. I used to have a wind-up watch and I loved it. But when quartz watches came in vogue and I made the switch. After all, no winding! I was delighted with my new/old watch and happily put it on my wrist. I held the watch to my ear and listened to the soft ticking. I love hearing a watch tick. So relaxing. Over the next couple of days I smiled every time I checked the time. The watch was so beautiful. Until it stopped. What? Was it broken? Then I realized what the problem was. I hadn’t wound it. I forgot that one little detail. So, I wound it, reset it and it was as good as before. My husband asked how it was working. Was it keeping time? I laughed and told him it was doing fine as long as I wound it. He said if it had any problems it might need cleaned. No telling if it has ever been cleaned. That got me thinking. I’m afraid I’ve become a bit like an unwound watch, maybe even one that needs a good cleaning. You see, over the past couple of years we have embarked on a grand experiment. Is it possible for Miriam to write, edit, get published, and promote two books a year while maintaining her day job and life at home? During that time I have written three children’s mysteries, they have all been released, and my husband put together, designed, edited and published a collection of my columns from Newberry under the title of You Ain’t From Here, Are Ya? So, in the past fifteen months we have released four books. So, yes. I can write a book every six months. I can market each book, kind of. But, after the third one my watch stops. I come unwound. I need a good cleaning and must be rewound. I need a break. Besides, with each new project always looming ahead there wasn’t truly time to focus on the marketing. Hence, we have a lot of books sitting at our house in boxes. We need to do more marketing. So, the plan for now is no more new books will be written at least for a year. During that year I will focus on marketing, home life, and work. Oh, and rewinding my watch. What about you? Are you taking the time needed to rewind? I would love to hear your favorite ways to rewind your internal watch! Please share...

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Morning Musing

Posted by on Sep 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

This morning as I was waking up I was thinking about a professor who taught with Bruce at Newberry. Yesterday we learned that Cathy Lovett died. I liked Dr. Lovett. She was honest and said what she thought. You could trust her. When I miscarried our baby she gave us facts. She was a geneticist and to a scientist and a nurse the facts were what we needed. It was a gracious gift. One fact she gave us is that up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As I thought about that this morning I thought, THAT is a LOT of babies in heaven. What does God do with all of those babies? Well, maybe they grow up Miriam! (My author brain kicked in and I began imagining it.) Maybe as they grow up they are recorded in the heavenly perfect form of video so when their parents arrive they can watch it. Then through my mind ran pictures of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, mother and father-in-law, and Mommy each with our child. When I thought of Mommy all of a sudden it wasn’t just my child. She stood there, leading a choir of her grandchildren. All of their faces were lifted to God as they sang a worship hymn. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. . . And the truth is. . . heaven will be so much more glorious than we can even imagine. ....

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The Playlist in my Brain

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Playlist in my Brain

The Playlist in my Brain

When I left the house for my morning walk the sun still hadn’t peeked over the trees in our little valley. Oh, the sun had been up for nearly an hour, just not here! The air was cool,the morning fresh, and the birds were singing their hearts out.   Our neighborhood could be designated an aviary. We have so many old trees and the birds start chirping well before daylight,  never seeming to completely stop until the sun is down. It soothes my soul.   As I walked up the road past our house a chorus jumped out of its seat in the music repository of my brain, rushed to the microphone, and announced itself to the rest of my brain!                 The birds upon the treetops sing their song,                 The angels chant their chorus all day long,                 The flowers in the garden blend their hue,                 So why shouldn’t I, why shouldn’t you, praise Him too?                                 Author Unknown   I smiled. This is my life. My brain is 10% functional and 90% song lyrics. Or, that is how it seems.   It is now almost noon and I’ve been jotting down the names or first lines of songs that I find myself humming. So, here is my brain’s play-list for the morning of July 26, 2016   The Birds Upon The Treetops Praise Him, Praise Him all ye little children My God is so big, so strong and so mighty I’m on the Top of the World Moon River (when I saw a black cat) ???? Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down No one ever cared for me like Jesus How much is that doggie in the window His eye is on the sparrow O God, our help in ages past I can only imagine As a deer panteth for the water (when I saw a deer on my walk) I love thy kingdom Lord Channels Only It’s Just Like His Great Love There’s a song in the air (Christmas in July?) O Safe to the rock that is higher than I Jesus Savior, Pilot Me I may have missed some, but that pretty much covers it. “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus” could have been on the list about ten times. It is my current “background music”. I tend to hit on a song and it gets stuck. Other songs pop into my head, but once they are done back it goes to the background piece. This can be annoying for the people around me! So, when I realize the record is stuck, I usually try to change to another song. Both times I caught myself humming that song this morning the alternate that immediately popped into my mind was, “How much is that doggie in the window.”   That I can’t explain! And, I’m not even going to try.   Do you have a song in your heart today? What is it? Share in the comments...

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Cowboys in the Park

Posted by on Jul 23, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Cowboys in the Park

Cowboys in the Park

In honor of National Day of the Cowboy, I am digging out an old piece. This was written originally for the Newberry Observer as a column. Then, it made it into both of my non-fiction books. Enjoy! Cowboys in the Park It’s not like I was hurting for something to do last Friday. I had a huge list of tasks that needed accomplished and a class for work on Saturday, so I really needed to stay home and put my nose to the grindstone.   However, once I saw the notice in the paper that the concert in the park downtown was Cowboy Music I knew there was nothing on the list that couldn’t wait—or wouldn’t have to.   When I got to the park I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were cowboy hats in the town square. Cowboy hats on people wearing jeans and cowboy boots. I could feel my heart rate jump. I picked a park bench close to the microphones. I wanted to hear every word.   Oh my. For the next hour I sat and alternately resisted the urge to jump up and twirl across the grass like a child unable to contain her joy, or sit and wail because I missed my family, especially my Grandpa Jones.   They sang a lot of the old cowboy songs and the crowd sang along. I heard comments about memories from the picture show when they were children. My memories were a bit different.   I remembered helping Grandpa saddle Brownie, the horse he kept for the grandkids to ride. I remembered riding with Grandpa to get some cows in and having my glasses knocked off my face when I failed to see a branch. I remembered watching hours of the old westerns on TV on Sunday afternoons at Grandpa and Grandma’s ranch. They all paraded through my head.   When they sang a song by “Grandpa Jones” from the Hee Haw TV show I laughed because my Grandpa Jones loved watching that show. When they sang a song asking where the cowboys have gone I wanted to stand up and shout, “THEY ARE STILL THERE!”   I thought of my cousin Gordon, riding across the Sandhills of Nebraska on his horse as he works his ranch. I wished every one of those people there could see a real cowboy, on a real ranch. I felt like I knew something they didn’t know. I felt blessed.   It was cool—one of those two nice days—and there was a chilly breeze. If I closed my eyes I could imagine myself in Nebraska or South Dakota. By the middle of the concert I was shivering but I certainly wasn’t going to get up and go anywhere.   I was right where I wanted to be, enjoying an evening in Nebraska and South Dakota right here in downtown Newberry, South...

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Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Sunday evening I visited a friend. I wanted to return some books he let me use while researching my most recent children’s mystery, The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar. I also wanted to give him a copy of the book. We had a great time talking about local history and I could have come home with several more books about the history of Western North Carolina. Mr. Pooch Pace is not just a respected veteran of the Korean War, but, as I have discovered, a valuable local history source. When I set out to write my first book I certainly didn’t plan to write historical fiction. In fact I chose to write in the present because I didn’t want to deal with historical research. It seemed too hard. I just wanted to tell a story about cousins at their grandparents’ ranch. The only history I really wanted to talk about was mine! But then the second book happened and in the process it became imperative and even—gasp!—interesting to find out more about the town where the mystery would be set. After all, the history would inform the plot of my book. And so it began. Now I start with learning about the history of the town then let that give me the plot. In the process I have learned several things. I thought I would share a few with you!   Sharing stories is a gift that gives both ways. People sometimes thank me for writing stories they like to read. But, the truth is I get as much, or more enjoyment from learning about the town. I had no idea that Saluda, NC, had such a varied and rich history. Now I dream of time-traveling back to Saluda for a summer. In addition, the people you meet along the way, or the friendships that are deepened, are gifts that will keep giving.   Every place has history that can add value to our current life. I learned about the power of music in the treatment of patients with dementia while researching for this most recent book. I am a nurse. My two worlds collided and I’ve actually used music in a room to help calm a patient. In addition, when you learn the history of your area it opens up opportunities for fun family activities like museums, historic sites, even just an awareness of what was on your piece of land before you arrived. What value do you suppose you could gain by learning some of your neighborhood’s history, or researching a new topic?   There is always more history under the surface. History layered on history. – As I’ve researched for my books it’s become difficult sometimes to decide which historic element will be used in my story. Saluda was like that. There was history from before the Revolutionary War, clear back when the first settlers made their way into the mountains. There was Native American history. There was Civil War history, 19th century history, transportation history, twentieth century history, medical history . . . do you get the idea? I bet you could find an historic element from your area that hits on one of your unique areas of interest. No kidding! Most communities have a written source of local history. I...

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Music – Don’t Waste The Gift

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

Sunday I had the privilege of playing the piano for church. At various times in my life I’ve played every time the church doors were open, but since we have been in transit so much the past few years my piano playing has been more of the fill-in kind. I’m thankful for every opportunity because music is therapy for me. It is how I worship best. Often when we have visited churches they happen to be in desperate need of a pianist that day. Their pianist is sick. Their pianist is on vacation. Their pianist moved. Because of the way I was raised—to jump in and help if I’m able—I volunteer. While this has been an incredible blessing for me, it brings up a troubling trend. There is a serious lack of church pianists out there. True, we come from musical people, but our parents were determined that we would have enough musical training to be able to serve in church. No, not everyone has the gift of music. No, God doesn’t want everyone to be a church pianist. But, I have a feeling there is a great untapped level of gifting and talent out there. The incredible power of music has been much on my mind lately. In my latest release the children use music to help an Alzheimer’s patient remember the answer to a critical clue. It isn’t just a made up plot element. It is solidly based in scientific studies! I am so impressed by the power of music in treatment of people with dementia. I would love for you to click on this photo and check out the website of this group who is promoting the use of music in patient’s with dementia. You see, whether we enjoy music in corporate worship at church, in the privacy of our own home, or in a concert hall, music is a gift from God. A gift that just keeps on giving. Don’t waste that...

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Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

Posted by on Jul 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

It has been far too long since I posted here. Every weekend and Wednesday it has been on my to-do list. Yet, no posts. I’ve thought of ideas that came and went. But yet, nothing. So, here in pictures is my past month!       So there you have it. A pictorial diary. Look for upcoming opportunities to get your copy of the newest book here and on my Facebook page. It is available in online stores as well!          

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Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

If you could go back in time for a few days where would you go? What time period? I have many such locations, but one place I would love to visit is Saluda, North Carolina during the early 1900’s.   Let me explain why.   The first time I visited Saluda was March 2004 when I came to North Carolina to meet my soon-to-be husband’s family. When we pulled into town Bruce pointed out which direction would take to his grandpa’s farm house and the church where some of his ancestors were buried. He also pointed out that the Saluda interchange sat on what used to be his grandpa’s corn field. I believe this may have been the first time I ever heard the phrase, “When the road took the farm.” It wasn’t the last.   As we drove down Main Street I was drawn in by the old-time small-town feel of the place. I noticed the depot and the bright yellow buildings beside it. I spotted the big Baptist Church. I love depots, yellow, and Baptist churches. I was hooked.   Over the next ten years we waved each time we passed Saluda, greeting our family—live and dead, as we rushed on our way to the place we would eventually call home on the other side of Hendersonville. There was no time for a stop in Saluda, for our home was calling us. It was a place to clean out and fix up.  A home full of memories.  A lovely place away from the noise and overpopulation of Florida. Here, despite the work I found peace. I could hear the birds sing. A rooster woke me each morning. But, it was a lot of work and even once we moved to Newberry, SC and eventually up to the house in Hendersonville, our visits to Saluda were few and far between.   A couple of times I made an unexpected stop at Saluda . . . well, at least at the interchange. Yep. My car engine blew up not once, but twice right in the middle of—you’ve got it, what used to be Grandpa Bradley’s corn field. Was it a sign?   So, when I decided it was time to start a new mystery series—this time set in the South—it was a no-brainer where the first book should take place. Saluda. After all, this is where my husband’s people come from. My other series started on my grandpa’s ranch. Why couldn’t this one start where Bruce’s grandpa farmed? So, the research began. I drove over to Saluda and wondered through town. I read a book written by some of the people in Saluda, a book that shared first person accounts of those days during the early 1900’s. I was blown away by the history Saluda can claim. I mean, not just one thing, but several.   One Sunday afternoon, armed with the book I returned to Saluda and drove around and around and around the town trying to find as many of the old hotels as I could. There were well over thirty back in the day.   You see, when the train finally came up the Saluda Grade to what was then Pace’s Gap in 1878, a whole new way of life was formed. People from the low...

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