Category Archives: Writing

Tipsy Laird, a Trifle

Love Inherited, the first in the series A Highland Romance, is full of delicious Scottish cuisine from oatcakes to steak and ale pie to Atholl brose. Readers have clamored for recipes, so here’s the start of the wee cookbook I’ll be putting together: Tipsy Laird.

Tipsy Laird (Scottish Trifle)

Tipsy *Laird is often served as the dessert (pudding) course at a Burn’s Night Supper (as it is in Love Inherited) or on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve). This Scottish version of the English Trifle is both a visual treat and easy to make.


  • 10oz (300g) pound/sponge cake, halved and cut into thick slices
  • 10oz (300g) fresh raspberries
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml or 0.75gi) Scotch (whisky) or Drambuie (orange juice for a nonalcoholic version)
  • 2 cups (500ml) thick custard sauce (I recommend Bird’s Custard Powder. Use heaping tablespoons)
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream), softly whipped
  • Handful toasted slivered (flaked) almonds
  • Grated chocolate over the top (optional)


Tipsy Laird can be made in one large glass bowl to show off the pretty layers or divided into individual glass compote dishes. Don’t make the trifle too far ahead.

  • Arrange cake slices in bottom of the dish
  • Layer raspberries, reserving a few to decorate the top
  • Drizzle liquor or juice over raspberries, making sure it soaks through to the cake
  • Spoon custard over in thick layer
  • Spoon whipped cream over
  • Decorate the top with a few raspberries and toasted slivered almonds

*What’s a laird? A laird is the owner of a large and long-established estate in Scotland. Laird is a description, not a title, dating to the fifteenth century, though many holders of the designation may have hereditary and conferred titles as well. In Love Inherited, the reader meets Sir Duncan Eideard Armstrong Sinclair, 10th Baronet, Laird of Fionnloch, owner of Glengorm House and a 65,000-acre estate on the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland.

Books—Read, Rate, Review


Read. Rate. Review. The Three R’s of books.

Ratings and reviews are the butter on the bread for authors, and we check and hope for them continuously. Preferably good reviews! But honest reviews.

Why? Because, especially for newly published authors like me, ratings and reviews are what get us noticed and read. And getting read is why we publish books. Authors are leaders of sorts, and if an author looks behind and there’s no one following…. Continue reading Books—Read, Rate, Review

Small-Town, Minnesota—Setting for My Novel


Northfield, Minnesota
Northfield, Minnesota

Northfield, Minnesota is the town that inspired the setting for my novel, Fifty Days to Sunrise. Northfield is the home of St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the bank building bearing Jesse James’s bullet holes. And my home from age nearly zero to three.

Life was good in Northfield, Continue reading Small-Town, Minnesota—Setting for My Novel

Big Accomplishments—Little Ripples





I‘m a published author! Yes, that’s a big accomplishment, but really, it just made little ripples on the surface of the water.FiftyDaysToSunrise-02-kindle

Even our big deal accomplishments are but small ripples in God’s world.

Sure, I wanted to string a banner on my front porch: “It’s a book! 1 lb. 2 oz.!” But the misty eyes didn’t come till someone, and then someone else, told me they were blessed by the story. Continue reading Big Accomplishments—Little Ripples

UW Writer’s Institute Conference Aftermath

April 4-6, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin
April 4-6, 2014
Madison, Wisconsin

Attending my first writer’s conference was mind-blowing. We conferees soaked up all things writing for three days till near saturation. Hours, and hours, and hours of  writers and writing. Networking, making new writer friends, meeting accomplished authors, learning, and more learning. Getting inspired. Continue reading UW Writer’s Institute Conference Aftermath

We Are God’s Artwork, His Artists

A friend gave me the book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman.

The term art is painted with broad strokes. Freeman’s scripture-based premise is that we are God’s image-bearers, his artwork, and as such, it’s our task, our privilege, our terror, to find and live the individual artistry God has placed in each of us for His glory and the benefit of others. Everyone—even Dorothy, “the meek and small,” as she describes herself to Oz, The Great and Terrible—is God’s artist. Continue reading We Are God’s Artwork, His Artists

Writing is Like Knitting

My friend Sue keeping warm in the hat I knit for her.

Writing is like knitting. Here’s how—for me.

  • I’ve learned a lot by studying online. There are lots of videos, tutorials, tips, blogs—you name it—online.
  • It’s very technical. A new language of terms.
  • It involves words. Untangling the directions for a knitting pattern can be a challenge.
  • It takes practice, practice, practice (much like skiing!).
  • I make mistakes. Oh, do I make mistakes. Correcting them is both a pain and an art. The trick is to first find the mistake and then figure out how to correct it.
  • I get to give it to friends. I enjoy the process of creating, but giving away a gift is the best.

Writing is Like Skiing


The process of writing is a lot like skiing—for me.

  • It takes practice, practice, practice—for years.
  • I need lessons and critiques from experts.
  • I make lots of mistakes and feel clumsy half the time.
  • Sometimes it hurts—my body and my ego at risk.
  • It’s frustrating.
  • It’s extremely technical.
  • It’s hard to remember everything I’m supposed to be paying attention to.
  • It’s the most fun—ever.
  • There are times when it’s absolutely, crazily, achingly sublime: when it all comes together, and I feel like I’m flying, that I can’t do anything wrong.
  • I’ll never regret doing either.

UW Writers’ Institute Conference

Notice to you writers out there: the UW Writers’ Institute is coming up in Madison, Wisconsin.

This writers’ conference has an excellent reputation in the writing community, so I’ve heard. I’ll let you know if it’s so—I’ll be there!

I hear and read over and over, “Writers, attend writers’ conferences. Attend writers’ conferences.” OK, I will, and I can’t wait. See you there?

April 4-6, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin
April 4-6, 2014
Madison, Wisconsin

Writing Contest Update

operation-iconThis week I got the judge’s critique of my entry in the Christian Writers Guild contest Operation First Novel. Though I didn’t place in the contest, the critique was extremely helpful. It was worth all the angst of waiting and hoping.

If you haven’t had a professional critique your writing, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s putting your creative neck on the chopping block, but hey, that’s how we learn.

The critique confirmed a couple weak spots I knew were there. And it affirmed a couple strengths I hoped were there: two 10s out of possible 10! Woohoo! I admit it, I enjoyed reading the words “tremendous” and “excellent” in those two categories.

Onward. One more contest. The American Christian Fiction Writers also has a contest for unpublished novelists: Genesis.  You have till March 15, 2014 to get your entry in too.

So, congratulations to these five talented authors, the finalists for Operation First Novel 2013. One of them will take home all the marbles and be published by Worthy Publishing.

●  Assault on Saint Agnes by Joseph Courtemanche, Saint Paul, Minnesota
● The Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance, Colorado Springs, Colorado
● The Orb of Oriston by Donna Myers, Nampa, Idaho
● Stolen Dreams by Sharon Sheppard, St. Cloud, Minnesota
●  A Ticket Bought at a Hazard by Debra Jeter, Clarksville, Tennessee