Reclaiming the Joy of Writing: an Update



My personal blog is on hiatus, but on June first,  I posted about the realization that I had lost sight of the joy of writing.

I made some promises that day, to myself and to readers:

  • To set aside the things that kept me from doing my best work; and
  • To complete the remaining novellas for this year’s group projects, while savoring the experience.

Guess what.

No, really, come on. Guess.

Okaaaay, I’ll tell you: It worked!

Not perfectly of course, since I’m far from perfect.

How did I accomplish this overhaul?

I made lots of changes.

Not all of them were big, but they all mattered.

I backed off a bit from staring at my laptop’s screen while scrolling through Facebook and never thinking of anything interesting to say.

I uninstalled Instagram from my phone.

I took Twitter off my phone too (and put it back on and took it off again…on, off, on…and right now it’s off).

Actually, this dumbing-down of my smartphone has been one of the most useful tactics for increasing focus on the task at hand.

Not surprising, is it?

I also continued the daily (and sometimes twice-daily) meditation practice I began in January. It has helped every facet of my life. (I made some other tweaks, too. I am as much a work in progress as my manuscripts!)

Once I made space in my mind and life for the joy of writing, I finished and published ONCE UPON A TIME. I also wrote A COWBOY FOR CHRISTMAS, which is in the SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES 4 boxed set and currently available for pre-order.

Can you tell that these two novellas are about twin sisters?


HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, the first McClains book in a couple of years (Yeehaw!) is my contribution to this year’s Authors of Main Street boxed set. (My first time to participate in this annual holiday tradition. I’m jazzed!)

Revisiting the imaginary town of Legend, Tennessee to write this story was a special treat. Maureen McClain and Damien Phillips, who met by the punch bowl in BUILDING A DREAM, are finally getting their love story. And–surprise–there’s a baby! I’ll be doing a HOME FOR CHRISTMAS cover reveal in my next newsletter.

After sending HOME FOR CHRISTMAS to my editor, I moved on to a long-anticipated project. It’s a bigger book, which is scary but also super exciting.

This summer, I have again loved writing. It’s especially awesome to make a big check mark on the Projects-Goals-Deadlines Whiteboard when I’m happy with the story that check mark represents.

I’ve spent quality time with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas.

When I send a manuscript to my editor, I watch ROMANCING THE STONE. I don’t usually see it so often in such a short space of time, but I certainly haven’t tired of it. Every time Joan Wilder faces her fears and steps out to do what she thinks is impossible, I cheer her on. And in turn she cheers me on, by helping me celebrate these milestones.

This summer’s novellas were created with love–for the characters, their triumphs, and the story-building process.

As my tagline says,

Try a romance novel on…for sighs!

It’s a privilege to provide happy sighs for my readers. Very cool when the author gets those happy sighs, too!


Minimalist Road Trip Vacation

I love to travel, but when 2017 arrived the purse strings and I didn’t expect to go much further than Indianapolis, for a summer wedding to be held in the state capital building. (It was beautiful! See the dome!)

DomeIn early spring when I was out walking, it occurred to me that surely I could manage at least a couple of small trips this year without breaking the piggy bank. There were two places I needed to go: Texas, to visit my cousin Dan, and northern Illinois, to see Beverly, whom I’ve known since third grade.

That very day, I got a phone call. Dan, only 60 years old, had died of a massive heart attack. I had put the trip off for too many years, not having enough money, time, and organizational inclination all at once. He and I had become such friends in the last couple of decades. He read my books, and encouraged me. We talked about real Mexican food, pursuing authentic lives, and every other possible topic. I miss him.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to contact Beverly. She and her husband invited me to stay for a long weekend, and gave me some dates. Here’s a bit of serendipity for you–Beverly and family have lived near Woodstock, IL (where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed)  for about 30 years, and a college buddy of my son moved to Woodstock a couple of years ago.

Do you love road trips? For me this was the best kind–I was a passenger! Yep, my son and daughter-in-law made arrangements with their friends, and took time off work, so the three of us could travel together. Once we got to Woodstock, Beverly picked me up, and the kids had their own vacation with their friends.

In planning our time together, Beverly asked what I would like to do. I had a list of three things: take the train into Chicago, visit my godson and meet his new wife, and meet up with another girlfriend. Beverly is a can-do kind of gal, and set about making these happen.

The first morning, we got iced coffee (yum!) at the local Starbucks, and went to the depot. (It’s actually even cuter than this if your photographer doesn’t cut off the corners of the roof.)


I’ll skip the long version of why, but we ended up spending the day at Lake Geneva instead. It was glorious!


We walked a bit of the shore path, took a boat tour of the lake (yikes! enormous homes!), and strolled through the town and its darling little museum. I took several photos of this lovely church.


Saturday, we attended the Woodstock Farmers Market, which is held around their picturesque town square. The entire space was full of vendors. I bought bars of homemade soap, and a little block of local cheese that could travel back to southern Indiana in a cooler.  There was even live music coming from the band stand!Woodstock_market_bandstand

We met my godson and his wife for lunch in the Public House, a delightful restaurant that’s in the former jail building.


On Sunday, Beverly and her husband drove me to New Glarus, Wisconsin, where we met our other friend and her husband. Pizza! Beer! Laughter! And another cute little town to explore.

By Monday evening, the wonderful vacation was over, and we three Southern Indiana travelers were back in our respective dwellings. I love my simple life, and my studio apartment. I think I love it even more when I come back home to it.#amwriting

Once Upon a Time…in Serendipity

Happy_Birthday_Taylor_smSince last time I wrote a blog here, a “book birthday” has come and gone.

Taylor Kincaid’s story, Once Upon a Time, released on June 8th. Most of this year’s deadlines have been related to group projects, and Taylor’s story got sidelined several times. So I was super excited to get this book out into the world for readers.

Taylor and her twin sister, Hannah, were introduced in Serendipity, Indiana Book Two–Emily’s Dreams. Emily wasn’t the most lovable chick on the planet at the beginning of that story, but her teenage sisters were beyond obnoxious!

A few years later (in Serendipity time), Taylor and Hannah have grown up a little bit. In fact, they’re out of college! But as you might expect, Taylor has some emotional growing up to do.

OnceUponaTime-MagdalenaScott-MediumHere’s the blurb for Once Upon a Time:

From the USA Today Bestselling author of Small Town Christmas, another heartwarming romance set in the beautiful, rolling hills of Southern Indiana. Follow your heart, and believe in the powerful magic of Love…

Taylor Kincaid has big plans for her life. Falling in love with the mysterious new shop owner in town isn’t one of them.

Taylor and her twin, Hannah, have graduated from college and are ready to leave Serendipity forever. The only problem is an absence of jobs in their fields.

They decide to move back home temporarily, living with their parents again, and taking a little sabbatical from all the hard work (and partying) of college.

But Marcus Kincaid has different expectations of his daughters. The free ride is at an end, and they have to find work in Serendipity if they expect to live at home.

Hannah accidentally volunteers to work at the Standish Family Christmas Tree Farm with their sister Emily (Kincaid) Standish. But Taylor will float resumes in the little town, and find a job that will pad her bank account, and be easy to leave when the right employment opportunity comes along.

It’s a great plan, until she steps into the antiques shop on the town square, and meets its handsome, enigmatic new owner. Now leaving may be more complicated than staying.

Sweet romance, “coincidences” that might be more than that, and a love that survives the unthinkable come together in this new Serendipity, Indiana tale.


Writing Once Upon a Time was a joyful experience, and I hope that reading it is, too.

Hannah will get her own romance this autumn. In Once Upon a Time, you’ll get some hints as to where Hannah finds her guy. But if you’ve read any of the Serendipity books, you know there are surprises in store for her.

A reviewer touched my heart recently when she said that reading the Serendipity, Indiana series makes her happy. These days, that’s some pretty awesome validation.

Happy summer reading to you!


Summer Reads: Beach Brides Series


Grab your beach hat and a towel and prepare for a brand new series brought to you by twelve New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors…

Beach Brides! Fun in the summer sun!

Twelve heartwarming, sweet novellas linked by a unifying theme.

You’ll want to read each one!


Twelve friends from the online group, Romantic Hearts Book Club, decide to finally meet in person during a destination Caribbean vacation to beautiful Enchanted Island. While of different ages and stages in life, these ladies have two things in common: 1) they are diehard romantics, and 2) they’ve been let down by love. As a wildly silly dare during her last night on the island, each heroine decides to stuff a note in a bottle addressed to her “dream hero” and cast it out to sea! Sending a message in a bottle can’t be any crazier than online or cell phone dating, or posting personal ads! And, who knows? One of these mysterious missives might actually lead to love…

Join Meg, Tara, Nina, Clair, Jenny, Lisa, Hope, Kim, Rose, Lily, Faith and Amy, as they embark on the challenge of a lifetime: risking their hearts to accomplish their dreams.

Find all of the Beach Brides at Amazon!

MEG (Julie Jarnagin) – May 23, 2017

TARA (Ginny Baird) – May 30, 2017

NINA (Stacey Joy Netzel) – June 6, 2017

CLAIR (Grace Greene) – June 13, 2017

JENNY (Melissa McClone) – June 20, 2017

LISA (Denise Devine) – June 27, 2017

HOPE (Aileen Fish) – July 4, 2017

KIM (Magdalena Scott) – July 11, 2017

ROSE (Shanna Hatfield) – July 18, 2017

LILY (Ciara Knight) – July 25, 2017

FAITH (Helen Scott Taylor) – August 1, 2017

AMY (Raine English) – August 8, 2017

Pre-Order your books today!

** $2.99 on Kindle, FREE in Kindle Unlimited **

My story in the series is KIM!


Jon Whitfield was engaged when he “landed” the message in a bottle on a fishing trip, and it disappeared before he could decide whether to respond. Now unattached, he’s on a road trip with Kim Rose, whose gratitude in spite of a painful past reminds him of the touching note he wishes he’d kept.

Pssst–Serendipity readers, Kim was the nurse aid in Emily’s Dreams! 


The Joys of Regifting



Last week, I was eating at a local lunch counter and got into an enjoyable conversation with a young employee. She and I often fall into discussion of healthy eating, and on this day, we also talked about coffee. I had recently enjoyed my first cold brew from Starbucks–Oh. My. Word.

I then waxed poetic about my French press, which I’ve used and loved for several years.

The girl’s eyes lit. She said she had always wanted a French press–it was on her list of things to buy some day. She asked about the process of making coffee with one, and I explained it.

I finished my lunch, talked with the other lady who fixed my delicious meal, listened to the young employee’s college plans (much better thought-out than mine were at her age).

I went home, retrieved the unused, still-in-its-packaging, French press that someone had given me two or three years ago, returned, and gave it to her. (What do I need with a second one, I thought, when it was handed to me. This seemed to be the answer.)

She was so excited to have something she had only hoped to acquire someday, and didn’t mind that it was a regift. I demonstrated (without water or grounds) the simple, beautiful method of making delicious coffee.

I smiled all the way home, and for quite a while afterward.

In the big downsize of 2012, I sold and gave away many items. Maybe someday I’ll share the story of my grandmother’s sewing rocker.

In my book, Emily’s Dreams, the heroine has survived a car wreck, and endured painful physical therapy and rehabilitation. Afterward, she realizes that in order to start over, she needs to shed her past. That past includes, it turns out, most of her possessions. Some of them are sold, but there’s magic of a sort in what happens with the ones she gives away.


Here’s the blurb for Emily’s Dreams (Serendipity, Indiana – Book Two):

Emily Kincaid was seriously injured in a car wreck (Small Town Christmas). Now she has to figure out how to live instead of simply surviving. Her past includes a series of broken relationships and dead-end jobs, but her future is a giant question mark.

Everybody wants to help–the nurse aide Emily can’t stand, Emily’s grandmother who had the perfect marriage and wants Emily to find the right man, and her teenage sisters who are eager to get her out of their way.

David Standish wants to help too, but he’s the guy Emily can never have. He’s older, and cosmopolitan while she’s small-town boring…

And on top of all this, there’s the voice in Emily’s head that keeps giving her advice she can’t understand.

Come to Serendipity, and believe in the magic of Love!


Emily’s Dreams is free right now. If you’d like to download a copy, all the links are on the free books page of my website.

Do you have experiences with regifting, as a giver or receiver? I’d love to hear your stories!


A New Author of Main Street: Magdalena Scott


Hello! I’m thrilled to be a new member here on Authors of Main Street. When I was invited to write a guest post for February, I immediately felt at home. Imagine my pleasure at being asked to become part of this wonderful group of writers!


Since you may not have “met” me before, I thought I should do a little intro today. I’m a lifelong “small town girl,” having grown up in a corner of the Midwest that most people have never heard of, let alone visited. I’m also a USA Today Bestselling author of small town sweet romance and women’s fiction.

If each of our lives is a book, I’m in the second chapter of mine.

In the first chapter, I grew up in a loving family, made lifelong friendships starting at age one year, two months, and three days old–when the next girl cousin was born. I fell in love with writing stories as soon as I learned cursive. My first publishing credit was in second grade–a haiku in a national Sunday school magazine.

I was blessed to live my own small town love story, and during 30 years of marriage to the smartest, most unique man I’ve ever met, became Mom to a wonderful son. The end of chapter one was becoming a widow when my husband died from a brain tumor.

Rose On Wood BW

Add Minimalist-in-Training to my Resume

My second chapter has included downsizing from the big family home to a studio apartment, writing full-time,  and becoming mother-in-law to an amazing young woman. I also found a second chance romance. (Good to know those don’t just happen in novels!)


I love to travel, and in autumn 2015 took an unexpected, dream-come-true trip to Ireland with one of those lifelong friends I mentioned. But my fulltime residence is still in small town America, where life in the slow lane includes plenty of heartwarming, simple pleasures–concerts, plays, festivals, street fairs, and old-fashioned family recipes shared at reunions or backyard barbecues. I’ve seen my town be at its best when family, friends, and often the entire community pull together as life’s challenges threaten.

I currently have two small town contemporary romance series available for readers. All the books are wholesome romance (also known as clean, or sweet).

The heartwarming stories of SERENDIPITY, INDIANA: This series is set in, and around, the Standish family Christmas tree farm. Each Serendipity story includes one or more instances of the life-changing magic of Love. (More concrete thinkers may see these as random coincidences.) The Serendipity series contains sweet romance, and also romantic women’s fiction (Emily’s Dreams, The Blank Book). The Blank Book and A Piece of Her Soul also have a light paranormal element. Seven books are available now, with the eighth scheduled to release on June 1st.

The McClains of Legend, Tennesee

The small town charm of THE McCLAINS OF LEGEND, TENNESSEE: This series invites readers into the lives and loves of the large, sometimes exasperating, and always entertaining McClain family, to whom Legend has been home for generations.

If you want to learn more about me, please visit my blog and/or my website. To get all the latest news, and the occasional nifty perk, sign up for my monthly-ish newsletter.

Until we meet again–happy reading!