MAY 2023 – May Flowers

“March winds and April showers, bring forth May flowers.” – old English proverb

One of the sights that most lifts our spirits as Spring arrives is to begin to see the early flowers in bloom. In most places these are crocus, daffodils, and snowdrops, followed by flowering shrubs and trees like forsythia, spirea, redbuds. dogwoods, and then creeping phlox, grape hyacinths and wildflowers galore in the mountains. …As May arrives in Tennessee, the yards and trees are rich green, with more flowers arriving daily. Ever since I was a girl, I have loved watching for the different flowers as they bloom around the yards and fields, woods and mountains. My parents were great gardeners of vegetables, flowers, and even fruit trees and grapevines… so with their tutelage—and joy in growing things—I grew up close to the earth, with a deep appreciation for growing things.

I saw firsthand the connection between flowers and how they impact feelings, health and emotions—giving people a lift in their spirits as each new flower blooms and brightens the world. Now, as a psychologist, I can tell you a large body of research has shown that flowers are deeply connected to good health and positive feelings. They make us feel good for their beauty and for our positive memories associated with them. Flowers trigger sensory engagement, create feelings of happiness, joy, and satisfaction. They invite, by their color and beauty, for us to come close to observe, admire, touch, and smell. Flowers literally make us feel happier and improve our moods.

Here as May arrives, more and more flowers will bloom where I live, with spring in full swing and the warm, sunny days of summer soon coming… So for my blog, I wanted to celebrate the flowers we’ll soon see blooming, share a few memories of each, and tell you some fun facts you might not have known.

ROSES are one of the oldest known flowers. Cultivation of the rose began about 5,000 years ago and fossil evidence, found in Colorado, dates the rose back 35 million years. The Rose is also the U.S. national flower and the White House has a beautiful Rose Garden, first established in 1913. Roses come in a multitude of varieties and colors, and many are used in perfumes and are sweetly fragrant. There are 50 types of roses from shrub varieties to climbers and ground covers. The oldest known rose, now 1000 years old, is in a cathedral garden in Germany.

AZALEAS are another old flower, first grown in English gardens and usually in the gardens of the wealthy. It is thought that azaleas were first cultivated by monks in monasteries, and they are known as “The Royalty of the Garden.” Azaleas are a type of rhododendron, can be evergreen or deciduous, and come in 1000 varieties and a multitude of vivid colors. Once well established, azaleas can spread and grow to large sizes and live up to a century. In America there are 26 species of Azaleas and in many areas of the country Azalea festivals and celebrations are held.

IRIS will soon be blooming in wide array as May arrives. They are perennials that grow from bulbs, and they can multiply on their own or be divided to multiply. The flower name “iris” comes from the Greek word “rainbow,’ named such for all the colors of the rainbow the iris comes in. Many iris are multi-colored and they can be “bearded” or “non-bearded”, with or without a fuzzy patch on the petals. My Grandmother called her iris “flags” and iris have been in cultivation since 1400 BC in ancient Greece.

PANSIES, also called heartsease, have always been one of my favorite garden flowers. The most popular pansy varieties have flower faces and as a girl I used to give names to the pansies in my mother’s flower bed. Called “The Flower with the Face,” most varieties show distinctive face designs. An old legend says that all pansies were once “white” until struck by Cupid’s arrow, but now pansies come in an incredible array of happy colors and patterns. The word “pansy” comes from the French word pensée (or thought) and pansies stand for thoughtfulness and remembrance. Pansies are also edible and taste a little like baby lettuce with a sweet flavor.

LILIES will soon decorate the flowerbeds and garden borders, too, as May enters in. Lilies are a hardy perennial that grow from bulbs, and like the iris, can multiply on their own. The lily’s blooms, with six petals and six stamens, are large, showy, and fragrant and come in a multitude of colors and types. Lilies, communal by nature, like to grow in groups of three to five –and are used in churches at Easter and in funerals because of their symbolism of purity, hope, and rebirth. Lilies are an old plant, its bulbs once used for medicinal purposes, and in China the iris symbolizes good luck and long-lasting life.

ZINNIAS, a happy and colorful flower, was a favorite of my mother’s because they made such lovely cut flowers for her many bouquets and arrangements. Zinnias, named for the German botanist, Johann Zinn, are easy to grow from seed, bloom early summer to fall, will usually reseed themselves, and are beloved by bees. Zinnias, in the aster family with daisies and sunflowers, come in 20 species and a multitude of bright colors and sizes. The more you cut zinnia flowers for decoration and pleasure, the more they reward you with more flowers.

MORNING GLORIES are a surprisingly hardy plant, and once established, can live 50 years or more. There are 700 species of morning glories, in white, red, orange, pink, purple, blue, and yellow, that bloom from June to September. However, each trumpet-shaped morning glory blooms only ONCE, opening in the early morning, the blossom closing and dying the same afternoon. I always thought this sad—but the plant produces new flowers in replacement every single day. Morning glories love to climb, so plant them by a fence, trellis, arbor, or mailbox.

BLACK-EYED SUSANS, a happy summer flower, is called the “pioneer plant” (by some a weed) because it is often one of the first flowers to spring up wild, carried by seed, into an area damaged by fire or disaster. The name probably came from an old ballad about a young girl, called black-eyed Susan, who had to board a ship and sadly tell her sailor love farewell. Like the daisy and the coneflower, Black-Eyed Susans are in the aster family and all asters are loved by butterflies, bees, and songbirds. As a plus, Black-Eyed Susans also repel mosquitoes and bugs!

All of these flowers and more—like Sweet William, Chrysanthemums, Gladiolas, Peonies, and Phlox —grew in my mother’s garden beds and flower borders in our yard and property in  rural South Knoxville. I played happily among them as a child. However, the flowers I loved the most were the wild field-flowers that grew in the woods and fields around our home. These included Bachelor’s Buttons, or cornflowers, wild daisies, red and white clover, goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, and yellow buttercups. These I could pick freely—without asking! With these I could make daisy and clover chains, decorate my playhouses, or pick all I wished for bouquets to carry home and enjoy. Flowers were more than beauty to me as a child—they were friends. Flowers were the music of the ground and each seemed to have heart and soul. In a way, my child’s heart was tuned to the flowers—and it still is today. They call to me as I walk by, and I always marvel at those who do not see or love them.

“To me flowers are happiness.” – Stefano Gabbara

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act

APRIL 2023 – Comin’ Round the Mountain

I saw a children’s book the other day, based on a childhood song I learned and sang many times in school, scouts, and summer camps—“She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” If you don’t know this song from your childhood, I’m attaching a link to the classic song by folk Singer Pete Seeger for you to enjoy. It’s one of my favorite versions and the words and tune are more true to the original. You’ll find it by typing in the song name and Pete Seeger’s name or at this link:

As a girl who grew up near the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee… I could easily envision, in this song, this “Appalachian lady” from afar “comin’ around the mountain” for a visit with her kinfolks. Extended families were closer in my childhood years than now, and family members and friends came to visit and stay more often. Motels and restaurants were fewer in comparison to today, and people gathered more in homes to visit and fellowship than they do now.  I helped my mother plan, cook, clean, and prepare many times for “company” coming to our home from out-of-town. I also remember more family reunions, church dinners and homecomings, and family gatherings than I see today.

As I heard the verses to this old song, I could well relate to them …and to the images they created in my mind: “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain” … “She’ll be driving six white horses” and “We’ll all go out to meet her.” Many of my relatives had farms and chickens, so I laughed over the verses: ”We’ll kill the old red rooster”…“And we’ll all have chicken and dumplins.” I even laughed at the line: ”She’ll be wearing’ red pajamas” as relatives and visitors often wore some unusual garbs!

I think the songs and stories we hear—again and again—growing up help to shape us. My mother was a big storyteller and a good one, and she could sit and make up wonderful tales, which I loved listening to. So could my dad—and my aunts and uncles. I spent a lot of my young years sitting around listening to adults telling stories, laughing, talking, and visiting. Times were simpler then, and these are all good memories now.

My mother loved to sing, too—and she sang in the church choir. But even better, she sang with us at home, teaching us songs and singing with us on trips in the car. I grew up with a lot of impromptu music like this, and the words of these songs have stayed with me. In my memory bank even now is a huge repertoire of songs—and I continued this tradition of sharing songs with my own children.

I know I especially resonate with the song “She’ll Be ‘Comin Round the Mountain” because that’s what I do so much in my life now. I travel around the mountains to hike and explore. I travel around the mountains to book events, signings, and festivals. And I travel around the mountains in my imagination, bringing readers to different mountain communities, cities, and places in my books.

From the first when I started to write novels—and even our guidebooks—my heart’s desire was to bring people to the mountains I loved, to the East Tennessee areas where I grew up, and to the nearby mountain Appalachian areas I knew about and had visited.

The first book my husband and I envisioned and worked on together was THE AFTERNOON HIKER—taking readers “Around the Smoky Mountains” of TN and NC to many of its wonderful hiking trails. We personally hiked all the trails included in the book, discovering as we explored. We learned how scenic, interesting, fun, and often how much “quieter,” many trails were than the more popular ones usually packed with tourists. We wanted to share with readers how to find these trails, to tell them about each one so they could enjoy them, too.  And’s that’s exactly what we did, taking readers “around the mountain” to 110 different trails.

My novels were inspired by these travels “coming around the mountains,” too. I yearned to read more books set in today’s time in the places where we were visiting—but found none. Most books I did find were historic accounts or stories of past times… I soon found my imagination fired with the idea to create some like I wanted to read, to take readers “coming around the mountain” to the different places I’d seen and enjoyed in story. I worked hard in each to “paint scenes” of the beautiful places we’d explored, and to show the warmth, intelligence, resourcefulness, and goodness of the people. I purposed to avoid the negative stereotypes too often depicted of Appalachian people, inbred, immoral, stupid, often comical characters in overalls, barefooted, a jug over their shoulder.

My dream became a reality, and there are now twelve wonderful books in what is called The Smoky Mountain Series—each taking the reader to a rich, new, heartwarming place around the mountains in a happy new story laced with a little romance, a dash of suspense, and a touch of inspiration. … You will see these books above and you can read more about each under the “Books “heading on my website at:

My Smoky Mountain books will take you “coming around the mountain” to places like Wears Valley, Gatlinburg, Cosby, Bryson City, Maggie Valley, and Pittman Center, each with a story set amid real places, shops, restaurants, hiking trails, and other locations you can go visit and see when you come to the mountains. In the front of each book is a map you will enjoy… and to my pleasure, over the years, many of the books have become New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon bestsellers and reached readers all over the world.

My fans and readers became anxious and unhappy with the idea of the series ending with twelve books, as always intended … so my editor at the time, Audrey LaFehr at Kensington Publishing in New York, said: “Twelve is enough in a series, Lin, but we can start a new series of more books set around the mountains. … Let’s see, we can call them The Mountain Home Books.” So now twelve of those books are planned and four now published! …

With The Mountain Home books I’ve been able to take readers to new places, not directly adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but close to it. This has given me a chance to “branch out” in my writing, taking readers “around the mountains” to New Places like Happy Valley below the Foothills Parkway between Maryville and Townsend, to the picturesque Arts and Crafts Community called The Glades above Gatlinburg, to historic Dandridge on Douglas Lake near Cosby, and now to Cherokee, NC, the home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee….And there are more to come!

Through my husband J.L.’s and my other guidebooks, we have also taken readers visiting around the beautiful state parks of Tennessee, to the parks in South Carolina, and soon to North Carolina with our new state parks guidebook that publishes this summer.

Anyway … I hope you’ll “drive your six white horses”—your car, SUV, van, camper, or jeep—“out to meet us” at one of our events in and around the mountains this year. I won’t promise we’ll “kill the old red rooster” and “have chicken and dumplins” or that “we’ll be wearing red pajamas” but we’ll definitely enjoy a good visit, talking, sharing, and laughing as mountain people do.

To those of you who live far away or in another country—I hope you’ll enjoy traveling in your mind and imagination to my part of the world, and imagine yourself “coming around the mountain” to see all the beauty here and to meet the good mountain people of Southern Appalachia.

Ya’ll come back now!

I’ll see you next month … Lin

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act

MARCH 2023 – Life Is Full Of Opportunities

Life is filled with opportunities. Some come knocking loudly at your door and a few come gently whispering, but generally they come expecting an effort from us that we hadn’t envisioned in  our daydreams about success or change. Like the old Thomas Edison quote: “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Jefferson might have added to that: “I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

 In truth, opportunities are around us all the time, we just have to stay alert for them and go after them when they come our way. A part of the art of seizing life’s opportunities lies in keeping a positive and watchful attitude that opportunities will develop and come versus holding a negative mindset that nothing good will ever come our way,  Bad attitudes almost always cause us to miss the good things in life even when they come knocking on our door. I know I missed a lot of opportunities when younger because I didn’t recognize them for what they were, because of my youth, inexperience, and lack of self-confidence, and because of others’ perceptions and beliefs about me.  I often listened to unwise and uninformed counsel and put off or missed opportunities I should have followed. I’m sure we have all done that at one time or another. But we should never give up looking for and being open for new opportunities despite our past. As Napoleon Hill said: “Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” So stay alert and stay expectant.

Over my lifetime, I’ve learned to go seeking out opportunities more than waiting for them to drop out of the sky for me. I’ve also leaned to create my own opportunities rather than waiting for them to knock on my door at all. Usually when I simply waited before, nothing arrived at my door. So one of my favorite quotes now is: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” [Milton Berle]. If you find yourself hungry for more opportunities in your life, eager for more, then begin to work at building little opportunities that will lead to bigger ones. What do you want and yearn for? Read about it. Learn about it. Find ways to wade in and participate in it. Get better at it than you are. Keep improving. And most important, don’t give up. Keep the vision and dream in your heart. Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” No one becomes successful without work and sacrifice. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary” [Vidal Sassoon].

Life is about growth and change and about continuing to learn and wanting to move forward and climb higher. We are all created for much more excellence than we pursue. Too often we set our goals too low. We settle where we are. We get caught in the web of our daily habits and like a spider on a spider web, we stay right there waiting for good things to fly into our net. Habit is a very strong thing.  We get into a life habit, find friends with similar habits, and get locked into thinking that is all life holds for us. So many motivational quotes nail this mindset that often limits us, but as Arthur Ashe wrote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

If you are feeling a little discouraged with your life, always remember that life has its seasons. Often we cannot do and accomplish everything we want to do in exactly the season we hope to. I like Carl Bard’s words: “Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” If the season you’re in doesn’t allow you to pursue fully the direction you most want and dream of, then keep pursuing your higher goals and dreams in as many ways as you can on the sidelines. Don’t decide that if you can’t “have it all” you’ll just feel sorry for yourself and settle for “nothing.”

When I taught a variety of psychology courses in my professor years, we often looked at different writers and researchers who had studied the stages of life.  I always liked Gail Sheehy’s colorful terms like “the tryout twenties,” “turbulent thirties,” “flourishing forties,” “flaming fifties,” “serene sixties,” “sage seventies,” “uninhibited eighties,” “noble nineties,” and “celebratory centurions.” I loved the concepts I taught that in all our life stages and seasons there are new and different possibilities, new opportunities to try on. It is never too late for second chances and new beginnings. As we grow, learn, mature, and change we strengthen in wisdom, talents, skills, areas of expertise, and good common sense. Life doesn’t diminish us; it just widens for us if we will see that. And it is never too late to try on new roles, to find new fulfilling interests and hobbies, to venture into new works, and to do worthwhile things.

Our goal as we move through life should never be to just retire one day, sit back, and do nothing. This would be a waste of our one beautiful and precious life.  As I travel, work, and speak as an author I always encourage a useful, generative life. Our life should continue to be full and alive not stagnant and stale.  All research has shown an active, generative life is the best and healthiest lifestyle to follow. We should always strive to live to our fullest ability, to give back to this world in all the ways we can. To live a clean, good life for a clean legacy. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as one who gave all she had every day of my life … of my gifts, wisdom, talents, and time. I always believe each day I’m accountable for how I use the gifts and hours of every day, of whether I’ve used the talents God has given me wisely and well. Erma Bombeck’s words could be my own mantra: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’”

Your motivations may be different than mine, but I want to encourage you to sit down and think about your life, the good you’ve accomplished, but also what else there might be for you to do. Never think of life as finished. Always be eager and open to new life opportunities, for new ways to use your talents and time. Frankly, you also have to decide what you’re willing to give up to create more opportunities for yourself and for more opportunities to come your way. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in every day. How are you using your time? What can you change about how you use the hours in every day? Sometimes it’s time, as Zig Ziglar used to say, to do “a checkup from the neck up” and maybe an all over physical check, as well. Poor physical shape, excess weight, and a sloppy appearance can often limit your opportunities to make the changes in life you want to, no matter how you pretend they won’t. So can poor time management habits and addictions in your life, which can even include the hours and hours of television or social media you engage in that waste great portions of your life daily and sap your mental and creative energy. Are you willing to put the discipline into your life to change? Some people will and some won’t.

Opportunity may be knocking on your door right now, but will you answer the door? If you let opportunity in, it will arrive with a huge list of “expectations” for you. It will arrive with a long list of “to dos” that will mean a lot of work and effort, dedication and love, on your part to see the opportunities develop, grow, and come to fullness. Do you feel a little fearful and apprehensive even thinking about it? So does everyone before making life changes, before moving and growing in their lives, before pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and familiar routines to move forward. A Bible scripture says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” [Rev 3:20]. This passage is talking about an opportunity, a leap of faith that is hard for many to make, too, because it’s a giving over of oneself. I think every life opportunity has a similar moment when it knocks and you decide if you will answer. These can be life-changing moments. So stir up your heart and mind to seek, look for, and welcome new opportunities for change.  What are you yearning to do? What is your heart calling you to? “True change begins with the heart and then is nurtured by the mind. You have to yearn for it before you can acquire it.” [Sam Villanueva]

I believe all people say, if only to themselves, that they yearn for new opportunities in their lives, ways to make a difference, ways to make a mark on the world. We all do, deep within, We were each created with a destiny. Jane Goodall wrote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” You may not feel significant or important, but you make a difference every day in your life. And perhaps you could make more difference. Sometimes the reason we make “little difference” is because we don’t make the effort to reach out and accomplish the things we should. Here’s an important thought to tuck in your heart today: Before you were born, God gave you a purpose. Jeremiah 1: 5 says ‘before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and another version adds “I set you apart for a special work and purpose.”

As the trees and flowers awake from their sleep of winter to welcome spring, let’s shake ourselves and wake up, too … to “bloom more where we’re planted” … to find things we can do to make a difference in our world, to live a life doing and accomplishing things of worth and value.  Mary Oliver wrote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I ask you that today, too … as does the Lord. Remember, you can’t get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.

Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want. So, make your life matter. Seek and create new opportunities for your life. God has designed you for His purposes and there is so much you can do. You are unique and individually made. There is no other like you, and no one can do the things God intends for you to do in exactly the same way that only you can do them. Be encouraged today. As Mr. Rodgers used to sing: “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world.”

See you next month …

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act



February is the month of love. It’s a good time for a month of love in February with the chill of winter still present—almost depressing as the cold, damp days, snow and ice drag on and on. Yet February hangs on the cusp of Spring, too, hinting of sweeter days to come. Valentine’s Day comes right in the middle of February. Everywhere in the stores are hearts and flowers, valentines of every imaginable kind, photos of sweet couples that make us smile, heart necklaces and rings, boxes of chocolate and special love gifts to give to those you care about.  It’s hard not to get in the mood for love in February, to dream of sweet times with someone you care about, to relive old memories of meeting that special someone in your life—or wishing you would someday. To get roses or flowers in the middle of winter. To share a special evening on a cold night with someone you love.

February, too—if you’re an author, as I am—is a great month to settle in at the computer to write a new book. And since I write love stories, what month could be more perfect for beginning a new love story? People often ask me: Why do you write romance books? I often want to answer: Why not? The world is so often a painful place, full of sorrows, war, and cruelty. The world desperately needs love and hope and beauty.  It needs good clean, decent books, too, about people that could be real in real places they can visit—books that make people feel good. I love a sweet love story, and writing romance is my way of bringing more love and happy endings into the world. I get the same joy and pleasure writing romances as reading them—they give you other lives and a story to get lost in with a happy ending to make you feel good. The world needs books about people who still care about each other, help each other in hard times. They need to read about people in small towns and in larger ones who live clean good lives, people who work hard, contribute to their world. And they need to read about people with a strong, good faith. How can they know that life is good if they never read about it? Paulo Coelho wrote: “Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.”

I, admittedly write what I like to read. I am the only one who can tell my stories—just as you are the only one who can tell yours. My heart and soul pour into every character, every book and story. You learn about me through my books and you can feel my heart. Victor Hugo said: “A writer is a world trapped inside a person.” Through writing, I let those worlds and stories that I love pour out. Although it doesn’t always happen, I think we love the concept that a true love story never ends. Even when we close the pages of a book, in our minds we see the story moving on happily through the years—two hearts finding their happy place beside each other.

It is my joy to tell you that in this month of February, two of my new books go up for sale—probably by mid-month for pre-order … but not actually publishing until the first of April. As has been my practice for the last couple of years, one book will take you visiting to a place in the mountains and the other will take you to the beach. Both are “happy places” for me … and I hope you will enjoy visiting in all the places in my new books and meeting the new characters I’ve created and enjoying the new stories.

In my new Mountain Home book SEEKING AYITA, I’ll be taking you to visit Cherokee, North Carolina, the home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. A lot of work and research went into creating this book. I wanted my book to bring respect to the Cherokee, to tell a story set amid them that would make readers feel like they had visited there. Life, government, and so many aspects of culture are different in Cherokee and the people have their own unique past. My main character Annalise Ayita Silva lives in Hawaii as the book begins. Her Cherokee mother is dying and she begs Annalise to take her ashes back home to her people in Cherokee to be buried. She also presses Annalise to stay for a long visit to learn more about her Cherokee roots and to comfort her grandmother.

Annalise is reluctant to uproot her life with her small daughter to go, but a vow is a vow. So she and Leila soon travel to Cherokee after her mother’s death, to stay with Annalise’s grandmother, Inola Crowe Youngdeer. Annalise soon meets a colorful mix of new family and friends, including Solomon Wolfe. An odd attraction sets up between the two, despite their reasons to avoid one another. And a host of unexpected events and a few mysteries will keep you entertained as you read this story of how Annalise learns more and more about her Cherokee heritage and past.  Along with Annalise, you, too, will learn more about the Cherokee and the beautiful mountain area where the Eastern Cherokee live and work at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains….[To read the back cover synopsis for SEEKING AYITA, go to the home page of my website at:]

My new coastal novel, LIGHTEN MY HEART, is the second in the new Lighthouse Sisters series. The first, LIGHT MY WAY, that you can read, or reread, before the new book comes out, introduces the four sisters who grew up at the Deveaux Inn and Lighthouse on small Watch Island, a part of Edisto Island, South Carolina. The first book was Burke Deveaux’s story. The oldest of the four sisters, Burke had always stayed on the island, helping her parents run the Deveaux Inn and Lighthouse, and her work load had greatly increased with her father’s death. An old friend—and an old secret love—returns to help pick up some of the workload and before the book is over picks up Burke’s heart, as well. In LIGHT THE WAY coincidences and various problems bring all the sisters back together. Lila returns from a religious community after her father dies. Gwen comes home broken-hearted, with three children in tow, because her husband has hurt her heart and betrayed her trust with lies. And Celeste comes back, battered and hurt from her marriage to an abusive husband, who had seemed so charming at the first, even working with her in the entertainment industry.

The second book, LIGHTEN MY HEART, is Gwen’s story. She is angry at her husband Alex Trescott and purposed to make a new life without him. Home with her family at the island, she begins to seek a teaching job somewhere in the area and gratefully gets a job at one of the schools she really liked in Port Royal below Beaufort. Also soon finding a home and place for she and the children to live, all seems to be going well until she runs into Alex in Beaufort and learns he has returned from Arkansas to work at Trescotts Restaurant in his family’s business. Despite Alex’s mistakes, you soon learn he still cares for Gwen and wants her back, but she wants nothing to do with that idea. And so begins the many ups and downs of a couple separated and estranged, trying to find a way to get along for their children’s sake. As you follow their story you’ll wonder if any reconciliation can ever be possible between these two strong-willed, determined people. Along the way in this story, too, you’ll love re-meeting family and friends on the island, and at the Deveaux Inn, and traveling to visit Beaufort and the small, historic town of Port Royal. I have a feeling you’ll find yourself wanting to visit this charming and colorful city the next time you’re at the South Carolina coast and that you’ll find yourself watching for the characters in this series to come walking down the street.. … [To read the back cover synopsis for LIGHTEN MY HEART, go to the front page of my author’s website at:]

May you find pleasure in both these books and look forward to reading them. A favorite quote of mine is “Books are the way I go home with people” … and I look forward to going home and visiting with you soon through these two new stories.

See you in March … Lin

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act



So many quotes celebrate the twelve months of the year … And in this New Year’s writing you’ll find thoughts and quotes for every single month of the year to help you get inspired and excited about the new year to come.  Enjoy a ramble through the coming year with quotes, thoughts, and photos. And decide right now that 2023 will be extra special and that you will do more and be more!


“January is the month for dreaming.” – Jean Hersey

The month of January is a month for beginnings and renewals. Renew your sense of purpose this year; take on some new challenges. Dream some new dreams.

“Welcome January. The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.” – Melody Beattie  


February is short; it is filled with lots of love and sweet surprises.” – Charmaine J. Horde

February is the month of love. Find a way to show your love to others in this month—and to yourself, too, by staying focused and by continuing to work to see your new goals and dreams come true.

“February is the border between winter and spring.” – Terri Guillemets


March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil.” -Sara Coleridge

March brings a lift to the spirit, a skip to the step. Around every corner are the hints and beginnings of spring, filling the heart with new hope as the days warm and green.

“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.” – Hal Borland


“April has a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

Let April be a lesson to you to bloom—where you are planted and in your own unique way. Get outdoors and be inspired by nature. Grow, bloom and spread your wings.

“April prepares her green traffic light and the whole world thinks, ‘Go’” – Christopher Morley


“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” – Edward Way Teale

May reminds us to be joyful, to be positive, to see life filled with promise and possibility. The flowering of Spring, the warming of the days, the greening of the earth, remind us of our responsibility to flower and to spread warmth, love, and inspiration wherever we go.

“Let all thy joys be as the month of May.” – Francis Quarles


“And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June.” – Abba Woolson

June is the beginning of summer, firing in us a sense of youth, vacation, and holiday. The word June even means “young,” and the long warm days of summer lift the spirit and reduce stress. Relish June … and purpose to hold that spirit of youth all year.

“It’s better to be a young June bug than an old bird of paradise.” – Mark Twain


“July is hot afternoons and sultry nights and mornings when it’s a joy just to be alive.” – Hal Borland

Let July rouse a sense of excitement in you for the richness of summer, the richness of life. Savor it—and savor your life—like you savor an ice cream cone on a hot day. Never forget to live richly and well as July teaches.

“Life is better in flip-flops. Life is better in July.” – Anonymous


Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August.” – Denise Levertou

August is a sweet and satisfying month to savor as summer draws to a close. It’s a transitional month—for looking ahead.  August is a gentle reminder that the often lazy days of summer are ending and that it’s time to get motivated and back to work again to fulfill your goals.

“August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied.” -Joseph Wood Krutch


“In many ways September feels like the busiest time of the year.” – Brene Brown

September is the “settling back into school” month—and a reminder to value education and to always be a reader and a lifelong learner. Learning is your passport to the future, the creator of new ideas, the aid to fulfilling all your plans and dreams. September is a reminder to stay generative and to never grow intellectually stagnant.

“Let’s strive to be better in September.” – Charmaine J. Forde


“Ah, lovely October, as you usher in the season that awakens my soul, your awesome beauty compels my spirit to soar like a leaf caught in an autumn breeze and my heart to soar like a heavenly choir.” – Peggy Toney Horton

There’s a sense of change in the air in October—a newness that settles in, a time to relish the way the leaves change color, the air grows crisper—an energetic time and a time to conceive, believe and achieve.

Don’t waste October sunshine.” – Katherine Arden


“It was November—the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep sad hymns of the sea, and passionate wind songs in the pines.” – L.M. Montgomery

November reminds us that change can be a beautiful thing, even as it heralds winter coming. November is a month for gratitude and thanksgiving, to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. A time to reflect on all we have accomplished in the year and on all we can yet do.

“Don’t wait until the fourth Thursday in November to sit with family and friends to give thanks. Make every day a day of thanksgiving.” – Charmaine J. Forde.


“The lights are twinkling. The snow is flying. It’s time to say hello to December.” – Anonymous

It seems we are never ready for December when it comes. Yet, despite any concerns about all we haven’t accomplished in the year, or how unprepared for the holidays we are, December comes “twinkling” in and there is always something special in the month to be gained if we would watch and listen for it. Better to love December, as children do, and to leave a little sparkle and wonder wherever you go. And remember to spread that sparkle in the new year to come.

“Of all the months of the year, there is not a month half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year – [December]. – Charles Dickens


See you again in February!!!

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act


Early celebrations of what we now know as Christmas had a mix of spiritual and worldly origins. The word “Christmas” means Christ’s Mass from the term “Christes Maesse” first recorded in 1038. Christmas then, and now ,is primarily about the birth of God’s Son, Jesus, and about how He came to give hope, love, and joy to the world.  The exact date of Jesus’ birth isn’t known, but one legend says that since Mary was told she’d have Jesus on March 25th (the Annunciation), that the date came from nine months after that date, December 25th. Other cultures, many pagan ones, also had festivals during this Winter Solstice period and the Jewish people celebrated Hanukkah in this season, too.  With so many holidays in the same time period, many ways of celebrating the Christmas season merged together over time and now the holiday holds many mixed traditions and meanings.

All cultures, and individual families, have their established traditions or customs for the Christmas season handed down through the generations. I thought it would be interesting to share a few of these in my blog this month and where the customs came from. Most all traditions have a multitude of origins and stories associated with them beyond the ones I’ve chosen to share but I hope you will enjoy these below.

LIVE NATIVITY SCENES – In 1223 St. Francis of Assisi created the first live nativity scene to bring Jesus’ birth scene to life. He got permission from the Pope to set up a manger scene. Today live nativities are set up in churches and communities during the holidays. Often the nativity is re-enacted with costumed figures, live animals, music, and a narration of the Bible story,

CHRISTMAS TREES – It is thought the first Christmas trees originated in Germany in the 1600s, and Martin Luther is credited for decorating the trees with lights or candles. Other decorations soon followed and the custom of putting up a Christmas tree was brought to England later and then traveled to other countries like America in the 1800s. In earlier times, of course, all trees were “real” and the “cutting of the tree” was a ceremony of its own.

SANTA CLAUS – The story of Santa begins with St Nicholas, a Christian bishop, in the fourth century in Asia Minor. Many miracles and kindnesses were attributed to him. St. Nicholas sacrificially gave money and gifts to the poor. Legend tells that to save three sisters from being sold into prostitution, because they had no marriage dowries, Nicholas threw gold coins into the open window of their home in the night. This act of generosity, embellished over time in the telling, led to children hanging up stockings by the fireplace in hopes of receiving gifts from St. Nick. Early Santas, based on bishops like St.Nicholas, wore long robes of red or white.

CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS – Christmas stockings are linked back to the St. Nicholas story. The first stockings hung by the chimney or on a bedpost belonged to the children but over time Christmas stockings became much more elaborate and the gifts  tucked into them more luxurious than simply an orange, a few nuts, and a peppermint stick. In America, Clement Clark Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and the lines about Santa filling the children’s stockings and then rising up the chimney popularized the hanging of stockings all the more. That poem also solidified Santa’s image as a jolly man in a red suit, flying through the air on a sleigh. Artist Thomas Nest furthered these images in the U.S. with his cheerful paintings of Santa and Mrs. Claus on Cocas-Cola ads.

CHRISTMAS WREATHS – A German Lutheran pastor gets the credit for the Christmas wreaths we hang on our doors. Europeans had long been decorating with evergreens, but Joahann Wicern created a circular-shaped evergreen to represent eternal life. He hung it on the door during Advent with a candle in the wreath to represent Jesus, the light of the world. The idea caught on and many later added more advent candles to their holiday wreaths, with the idea soon spreading to other countries. Each part of the wreath holds a Christian symbolism, but  many simply hang up wreaths for decoration. Holiday wreaths can be hung on doors, placed on tables, or worn on the head like a crown.

CHRISTMAS CARDS – Christmas cards began with the same purpose they have today—as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. Back in 1843, as the holidays began, Sir Henry Cole in England wanted to send holiday greetings to friends but wanted to avoid writing individual notes and letters. So he had a thousand illustrated cards made, and then sent them out. His idea caught on and was quickly replicated by others. New advances in printing soon made the production of Christmas cards even easier. By the 1850s Christmas cards were in full swing in England and they became popular in the U.S. in the late 1800s – early 1900s when mailing became less expensive and when offset printing made cards much easier to produce.

MISTLETOE – The kissing tradition of mistletoe originated from an old Norse legend. When a Norse god’s son was killed by a spear of mistletoe, his mother decreed the plant would never be used again as a weapon and would become instead a symbol of love. She also vowed to bestow a kiss on anyone who walked underneath it, so naturally people would stand under the mistletoe to try to get a kiss – just as they do today. The writings of Charles Dickens in Victorian England brought the practice into even more popularity, making the mistletoe a widely used holiday decoration.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND CANDLES – In the late 1600s-1700s, Irish Catholics began the tradition of lighting candles in their windows at Christmas. it was a secret way, in a time of religious persecution, to ask a priest to visit the home. The practice of window lights soon spread, with the meaning of the lights inferring hospitality during the holiday season. Outdoor Christmas lights in the U.S are simply a happy accident, linked to the time when Thomas Edison, who had invented the light bulb, was looking for a way to advertise his new lights … so he strung them outside his laboratory to show them off to passersby. Now we see them everywhere—in windows, on the roofs of houses, on buildings and lining the streets. About 150 million lights sets are sold in America each year for decorating indoors and outdoors.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS – Music and song have always played a part in any celebration, and the first Christmas carols are said to be the angels’ songs at Jesus birth. The earliest carols after this were  hymns, with spiritual messages, like “Silent Night,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” These were later followed by more secular, fun-loving holiday songs and carols like “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Hall,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Some carols, like the “12 Days of Christmas” have hidden meanings. One theory says this carol was used in a time when Christians were punished for worshiping openly and that each gift on the list symbolized a different aspect of the Christian faith … like the “4 Calling birds” representing the four gospels and the “10 Lords a Leaping” the Ten Commandments.

HOLIDAY MOVIES – Plays in the theatre were the first dramas enacted for the Christmas holiday season – nativity plays and spiritual performances, dramas, and song and dance productions. The first Christmas movie, a short English film, aired in 1898 called Santa Claus. The earliest Scrooge movie followed in 1901 and then others like The Bells of St Mary’s, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Movies full of song and dance soon became popular, as well, like Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, and White Christmas. Movies in color and the invention of television brought even more Christmas movies our way. Each year new favorites emerge—How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Santa Clause, Home Alone, Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooged, The Polar Express, and many more. The best holiday movies make your heart grow sweeter at a giving time of year and linger in your memory for the rest of the year.

CHRISTMAS SWEETS – No holiday season would be complete without special sweets and desserts and many have been long associated with Christmas, like the Fruitcake. This traditional cake dates back to ancient Rome, continuing into Europe, Many of our other traditional favorites came from the British, too, like Egggnog, a hot drink of milk, eggs, nutmeg and cinnamon. It evolved in England as “posset,” a drink for the wealthy but gradually became a tradition for all in the 1700s. Gingerbread Men came from England, also, and were introduced by Queen Elizabeth I. She used a mold to shape the gingerbread men which were then decorated. Soon elaborate gingerbread houses followed, like many we see today.

CANDY CANES – Sweet candy canes date back to 1670 Germany. An old legend says the choir masters at one of the German cathedrals handed out white sugar sticks, bent into the shapes of shepherds’ crooks, to keep his young singers quiet during the Living Creche ceremony. By the 1700s, pulled sugars and candy canes were all the rage in Europe. They made their way to America in the mid 1800s when a German immigrant decorated a Christmas tree with paper ornaments and homemade candy canes. When mass production took off in the 20th century, so did the production of candy canes—now the No. 1 selling non-chocolate candy sold in December.

TREE ORNAMENTS – Christmas trees, since their earliest times, were decorated with lights and ornaments, usually candles, plus a few homemade ornaments, a string of cranberries or popcorn, and some sweets. Over time, ornaments became more lavish for those who could afford them. The first glass Christmas ornaments were created in the late 1500s in a German glassworks factory. The ornate glass ornaments came in the shapes of globes, animals, angels, birds, and acorns, often with special meanings. Popularity and demand for the ornaments grew over time, until other countries began to create their own tree ornaments. Eventually many types of ornaments became fashionable, made of glass, wood, plastic, and other materials. Now the making of Christmas ornaments, blown glass balls, collectibles of all kinds, strings of lights and beads, tinsel, angels and elaborate tree toppers is a huge international business.

THE CHRISTMAS PICKLE – Many humorous ornaments have also been created to hang on the Christmas tree as well as lovely collectibles. One I enjoyed reading about was the Christmas Pickle Ornament, a green, usually glass, ornament shaped like a pickle. According to the story, in the 1800s when a Woolworth’s retailer received a shipment of these pickle ornaments from Europe, he decided he needed a sales pitch to market and get rid of the odd ornaments. So he came up with a story idea that the “pickle” ornament should be added to the tree on Christmas eve night and that the first child, or adult if there were no children, to spot it on Christmas morning got to open the first present. The idea took off and the Pickle Ornament is still a loved tradition in many homes.

ELF ON THE SHELF – Every year new ideas begin, weaving their way into becoming beloved  holiday traditions. The Elf on the Shelf is one of those. Carol Aebersold used to entertain her twin daughters growing up with a story she’d made up of an elf hiding in the house, watching daily and then heading back to the North Pole at night to report to Santa about whether the girls were being “naughty” or “nice.” Carol’s daughters, when grown, encouraged her to write their tradition into a book for others to enjoy. She did, with their help, but after countless publisher rejections, Carol and her daughters decided to self-publish 5000 boxed sets of the book with an elf doll tucked into each. They traveled, marketing the books out of their car, and the elf on the shelf idea soon took off. Now Carol and her girls have a multi-million-dollar business, with more than one elf book released and with their story having been made into a a favorite Christmas season movie.

Almost every holiday tradition we observe at Christmas has a story behind it, if only one of our own family’s making. They are interesting to study and read about, and I hope you enjoyed learning about a few of these in this December blog post. You might also enjoy my Christmas newsletter, on this website, too.

Across the miles from our family to yours … have a blessed Christmas season and a wonderful New Year.

See you in 2023


Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act