Friday, October 13, 2017

Mark your Calendar for Oct 19th! & Acts of Kindness Stories- Winners announced



“It’s been a whirlwind month of stories. All She Left Behind has arrived in the hands of readers and the reviews have been humbling. I’m so grateful to find these fascinating women from the past and to tell their stories. I’ve had great turnouts at events and people love the little essential oil cards that I’ve handed out to remind people that Jennie Pickett Parrish, of All She Left Behind, was a natural healer before she became one of Oregon’s first female physicians in the 1870s. Her story has moved people.
I’ve been moved by your stories entered in our Kindness of Strangers contest.  

Here are the three winners! 
Grand Prize: Karen K.
Second Prize: Susan S.
Third Prize: Judy M.
(Winners received emails) 

Their stories (and some of the others) might well appear in one of my Story Sparks newsletters. We can always use good news, right?  Our local paper had a story yesterday about a woman who was passing through our town and her dog got sick. A stranger not only got her and her dog to the vet and paid the bill, she added $150 to the account so if the dog needs additional care, she’ll have it. I love that story and it wasn’t even one in our competition!

I’m also participating with 24 Authors in a literary scavenger hunt. No, you don’t need to know the titles of all of Shakespeare’s plays. You can enjoy the fun by clicking on this LINK HERE on October 19 at 12:00pm MT, visit each author’s site, enjoy the content we authors have written just for this event, answer a question and you’ll be entered for prizes that each of us are offering. Lori Benton is hosting me…I’m hosting Ann Gabhart and on it goes.  Be sure to answer Ann’s question before zipping to my site so that you have a chance to win her special prize. What’s my prize offering?  A signed book and for those signing up for Story Sparks, a hand-knitted hedgehog. I really wanted a porcupine because there’s one in All She Left Behind. But my friend knits these; Jennie was a knitter; and it sort of looks like a porcupine (apologies to the hedgehog family who might not like being mistaken for a porcupine. Literary license applies.)



I hope you have a great week and thanks for making the launch of All She Left Behind  a grand experience for me. I’m grateful.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Kindness of Strangers and Friends (and a GIVEAWAY announcement!)

Hello friends,



In case you are not subscribed to Story Sparks, not on my social media, etc... I wanted to provide the link to my current update on my website about All She Left Behind launch with a giveaway this month.

It's well worth your time and I would love to hear your story.

Visit here for all the details: GIVEAWAY

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Words of Encouragement has moved!
We are finding a streamline way to make everything available in one spot.  We are still working out the kinks to make it an easy transition for you, but right now there is not a "subscribe by email" option so until final decisions are made and we can instruct you correctly, here is the link to the most current post on the new website:

Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Friday, December 16, 2016

Telling our Stories

Story Time



“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Shannon Alder.

Tabitha Moffat Brown was a grandmother when she headed west to Oregon Territory in 1846. Her story and that of her daughter and granddaughter is a part of the novel I wrote called This Road We Traveled. (Revell). On that journey, Tabby (as I called her) decided to write her memoir telling stories of her greatest challenges, a legacy gift she planned to leave her children.
  I used that fictional device as a way of sharing Tabby's history as the family dealt with trials  during a fateful trek on the Oregon Trail. I've long thought that stories are the sparks that light our ancestors lives; they're the embers we blow on to illuminate our own lives. Tabby did actually write letters about her life that became the basis for my novel. I had her use the occasion of a life-changing journey to share some of her stories. But I think any time of the year is a good time to write down memories and experiences, not in any great order, but as they come to us. They can be sparks for our own families to illuminate their lives.
The Christmas when my older sister got her first horse, a red and white paint named Bonnie comes to mind for me. I was only eight years old at the time but I remember the intrigue of my parents efforts to surprise my sister who at 12 had always longed to have a horse. My sister died 19 years ago but I still see her with her cowboy hat perched on black hair riding in the Wisconsin snow on that chubby red and white horse and she will always be alive to me in that image, a gift I give myself. Maybe it's a birthday story that you remember and want to share. You don't have to have a great insight about the meaning of the story, only that it's something you remember and would love someone else in your life to have it in their memory too.
Someone once wrote that the purpose of a novel is to move people. Sometimes that means moving their hearts and sometimes it means moving them off their couch to go visit a place mentioned in a novel; or to call a friend because something in the story spoke to friendship. Maybe the story moves a reader to write a letter or perhaps like Tabby, to write a story down. Nothing pleases me more as a novelist as when someone tells me how a story moved them to do something they'd been putting off like beginning their own memoir.
At a bookfair last week, a woman said she didn't usually "waste her time" on novels but she read mine because they were based on real people and incidents. I didn't disagree with her -- the reader is always right! -- but I did wish for a longer time to explore with her how fiction always grows from "real life," from our imaginations, from all those stories we were told as children and from the incidents we live out day to day and later weave through memory into story. There is truth to be found in fiction just as there is in biography and non-fiction works of all kinds. William Faulkner noted when he accepted the Pulitzer Prize in 1954, that "the only stories worth a writers blood and sweat and tears are stories of the human heart in conflict with itself." We all have stories like that inside of us and telling them -- even short ones like parables -- can bring joy and wisdom to others and ourselves.
Each of us are story-tellers because stories are the most powerful ways we have of organizing human experience. Tabby organized her stories around her life's challenges but you can organize your stories --whether you're a writer like Faulkner or a gramma or a dad or a student -- around any stories that you've kept in the pocket of your soul.
Give your stories as a gift to others and in the meantime you may well discover as Tabby did in This Road We Traveled things about yourself you otherwise might never have known.  Write your legacy this season on "hearts not tombstones."

  Merry Christmas and the very best in the New Year!  Warmly, Jane

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July: A Homestead Celebration for Public Servants

My nephew is a police officer in a large Midwestern city. He has a servant's heart, working nights, participating on the SWAT team, teaching at the academy and spending days getting to know the neighborhood he serves.  I used to pray for his safety but it finally dawned on me that if he wanted to be safe he wouldn't have chosen police work. I told him that and said that now I pray that he will be alert, that he'll use good judgment, that he'll be a positive force within his city and offer his compassion and servant's heart. He said those were much better prayers! So far, so good.

I chose public servants as our final HOMESTEAD birthday celebration honorees because public servants have been so helpful in our lives. When we first moved to the ranch, our setter dog disappeared. It was the local postmistress who learned about a stray dog 12  miles downriver. Ricky's ID tag said "Bend" because we hadn't changed it yet so people didn't know how to reach us. But the postmistress did! She put a note in our mailbox telling us and voila, we got Ricky back (driving 50 miles to get him!).  When we needed help putting in the phone line, the head of the road department on a weekend helped us with the right-of-way; ambulance drivers (volunteers) came down our road more than once. Fires brought both neighbors and the volunteer fire departments. When we had trouble, we called the state police and Sheriff or BLM staff and they always came to assist. Today, I love my postal deliverers and those I take my books to mail to. The police have assisted during a scare; And once again we've used that ambulance!


I have two great nephews in the military and a cousin and niece and nephew used to serve. Kevin, Jerry's oldest son, lies in a veteran-marked grave. I always get teary when the local choral group and band put on the Fourth of July concert and all the former military are asked to stand during the playing of their branch of service's theme song. Remembering Milton's poem, I also think they serve "who only stand and wait" which brings to mind all the  families who send their sons and daughters, wives and husbands off to war.



It takes a community of public servants and I confess, they are who I remember when I pay my taxes. Those in my neighborhood and those around the world deserve our recognition. So this month of July, the last birthday month, consider nominating a public servant in your life! I'd love to share a lunch with them and with you!

July is our final month to celebrate Jane's 70th & Homestead's 25th!  If this is the first you have seen about this celebration, you can find much more information about what you could win HERE.  To nominate someone, fill out the the Google form HERE.  It's fast and easy!  We are looking forward to announcing the grand prize winners at the beginning of August.  Who will enjoy lunch with Jerry & Jane on the deck of Homestead?     

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June: A Homestead-Style Celebration for Fathers

My teenage friends loved my dad! He had a great sense of humor, would drive us to events and tell stories as he drove. He saw more than half of the sunrises of his life as he rose early to milk his herd of cows. I still remember standing beside him watching the sun come up and thinking how fortunate I was to have a dad to stand beside.

He could be intimidating for little kids as he stood 6’2” and weighed in at around 270 pounds. He lost fifty pounds of that weight in later years when he was told he needed a quadruple by-pass. He declined the surgery and changed his lifestyle instead, drinking less coffee, eating fewer carbs. He quit smoking and he exercised even though he was a farmer and got lots of exercise. It wasn’t the right kind to help his heart. He lived to be 85 so all those changes worked. The one and only letter I have from my dad was written to me when I was 18 and in college and had started smoking. There are no punctuation marks in the letter but it is full of heart and easily understandable. He prayed that I’d quit smoking. He was still smoking himself then but he saw the problem of it. And he wanted to extend my life. It was a wonderful letter of love. I did quit smoking. His words moved me. (later I started again for a year or so but when I met Jerry, I quit again and stayed that way)

My dad’s willingness to change, to learn new things, to take in new information – he’d drive three hours to the University to speak to specialists about agricultural issues – to work hard, to stand tall for others less fortunate, to cherish my mom and sister and brother – make him a giant in my heart.

This month, we’re celebrating dad’s, those giant guys who can fill our hearts and make us tremble when we mess up but who discipline us with love. (Yes, my dad could make me tremble by raising this one eyebrow that meant I’d blown it. He never laid a hand on me except to hold me while I cried. He also taught me how to put curlers in my hair when my mother had pulled her hair out trying to teach me!)



We’re looking for nominations of dad’s – and fathers – men who have made a difference in your lives. The winner will get a copy of Homestead and be put into nomination for lunch on our homestead. Incidentally, when Jerry and I had our plane accident, my parents spent a month there taking care of us. My dad watered the trees we’d newly planted and we’d sit at the window and watch the neighbor’s beef cattle make their way down the ridge to water. We had no television or radio…so we watched the world around us to pass time while Jerry and I healed. So my dad has a connection to that homestead.

Let’s celebrate good men who love in powerful ways. Please fill out the form found here. Those who nominate the winner will receive a book as well! Thanks for celebrating fathers and my birthday! Warmly, Jane

Monday, May 2, 2016

May: A Homestead-Style Celebration for Mothers

When I was far from home and a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, my friend Ann's mom would invite me to Sunday dinner every week. They lived in Madison -- a big city for someone who'd graduated with a class of 84 kids. My freshman class was 7,000.  Anyway, she'd prepare roast beef, cooked to perfection vegetables and always some sweet and comfy-food dessert. Leftovers were a given.  She made certain that I had at least one good meal a week. She was a fill-in  mom for my own mom living several hours away. Ann's mom has "walked on" as my Native American friends say as has my own mom but they are remembered with love.


This month as part of our celebration of my 70th and Homestead's 25th, I'm seeking nominations of moms. Fill-in moms; your mom; your neighbor who is a mom to bunches of kids in the neighborhood though she never had any kids of her own; moms who visit other moms at assisted living facilities or bring food to that elderly couple just down the street or who are super transport moms taking kids to preschool, soccer practice, the equestrian team practice.  Tell us your "mom" story.



Meet Evariste, our Batwa friend and his mom 
who motivated him to go to school and become a 
member of parliament and work on behalf of his people. 
In  May we celebrate Mother's Day, an observation begun in 1908 and formalized in 1914 in the United States. We all have moms and our experiences of them are as varied as snowflakes -- intricate and unique. Some moms are round and warm and funny. Some mom's are tall and lean and serious and some are both. Please consider nominating a mom in your life and tell us the story. Use the form please. We'll select a winner who will receive a signed copy of Homestead as will the nominator. All names go into the pool for selection of lunch in August with Jerry and me and three of the winner's friends.  At the homestead! Help me honor moms...I  miss mine immensely.  If this is the first you are hearing about our Homestead Celebration, you can read all about it here.

We continue to raise funds for Burundi as well through purchases on my website or monetary donations through PayPal.  You can read exactly how to give on the Homestead Celebration launch post here.

My September release, by the way, is about a woman named by the Oregon Legislature as the "Mother of Oregon." More to come on that....
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