The Bell of St. Mary's

In the book, New Beginnings, Mrs. Shea rings the school bell to begin and end the school day. A student rings the bell to begin and end lunch.

Mrs. Shea is not only the school secretary, but in real life she was my mom. When the real St. Mary Cathedral school closed my mom retired. She walked out of school with the school bell.

It is one of my favorite memories.

Draft is done!

The 1st draft of "New Beginnings" is done! Yeah!

I printed it out for one more read through before my editor gets it.

I am so happy.

Thyme for Flowers

A new business has been created for the book, "New Beginnings."

Todd and his friend Henry are opening a flower and organic herb shop in Saginaw.  It is right across from Bertie's Bakery on the point created by Hoyt and Cherry Streets.  I have been wanting to bring Sarah and Joseph into the book and this is how it will happen.  Stay tuned........

Spatz Bakery

The Spatz brothers came to Frankenmuth in 1871 from Germany. A few years later they moved to Saginaw and opened their bakery.  The recipe has never changed.  Spatz bread is light and airy and absolutely the best bread sold.

If someone moves away from Saginaw - they ALWAYS ask family to bring some with them when they visit.  It makes the best crutons and delicious toast.  I think I have written this bread into every single book.

Bean Bunny

A very talented Saginaw photographer, Howard M. Sharper, took this picture of the Bean Bunny.

Instant Inspiration

Look for my beloved Bean Bunny to show up in the book I am working on now, New Beginnings.

Thank you for letting me share this picture.

Audra Francis Home in Saginaw, Michigan

This is the Audra Francis home in Saginaw, Michigan.  She was the first woman to be elected to City Council in 1953 serving for twelve years.  She was the first female chair of the Saginaw County Commission.

One of my classmates, Sue Siers, moved into the home with her family while we were attending St. Mary Cathedral.  It is on Thompson Street right next to the Cathedral.  I used to love going over to her house.  The wallpaper had been handpainted, the staircase was magnificent, their was an impressive circular opening at the top of the stairs that looked down into the foyer.

The Forney's, characters in the book New Beginnings, live in the Audra Francis home.  I love bringing an historic home alive in a book written about today.  Thankfully, unlike the Webber House from my first book, this house is still standing.  A former Mayor of the City of Saginaw, Wilmer Ham-McZee, currently resides there.

My book, New Beginnings, will be published in 2016. To read reviews of my ten other books about families living in Saginaw, Michigan, click here!


Oh how I miss Jacobson's.  Of course the store made it into my books. We loved walking through the store after school. We only went once a week because we were worried we would get kicked out. We never ever bought anything. 

When my Mom died my best friend came from Chicago for the funeral. She could only stay a few hours before driving back. She told me after the luncheon that we would honor my Mom with a shopping trip to Jacobson's.  I found a set of placemats I had seen in Ireland on the trip I took with my Mom and Patsy and Fran.  I told Janet they were more than I wanted to spend. She said, "If you don't buy these today when will you? Never..."

She found a vest that was beautiful and expensive. She laughed & told me to go get the placemats. We both splurged on ourselves that day. At first I felt funny shopping on the afternoon of my Mom's funeral, but I have thought about that trip so many times over the years. It's been 21 years and my friend also has died. I treasure her spontaneity and her friendly urging to buy those items that day. It was one of the best days ever and I know it truly was a great way to honor my Mom.

Great Gifts

Give the gift of friendship this Christmas 

My eBooks are filled with friendship and love.  Whether the reader is in middle school or a great grandparent, these books are meant to be shared.  Everyone will enjoy the stories and characters.

I weave the past of Saginaw into the present time.  Whether the characters are going to Tony's on Weadock or Andersen Pool, young and old alike will enjoy the best of Saginaw.

Click the picture

The Forney Home in "New Beginnings"

Greg Hatfield, a new friend I met on Facebook, took the perfect picture of the home that is featured in the book I am writing. He graciously gave permission to post it here on my blog and on my Pinterest board.

In the book Mr. and Mrs. Forney live in the home. It is right next to St. Mary Cathedral. (You can see the church in the background on the right.)

In real life the Siers family lived in the house. I visited my friend, Sue when we were growing up.

From New Beginnings......

"Aubrey was awestruck when she parked her car in front of the Forney home.  It was a Georgian Revival house with Ionic columns.  There were magnificent porches on the main level and second floor at the front of the home.  Actually she thought about how their last apartment in Texas could have fit on 1/10th of the front porch of this house!  She walked up the wide steps to ring the doorbell.  She sort of expected a butler to open the door, but Mrs. Forney opened it herself.
The inside was as spectacular as the outside. Aubrey's eyes were drawn to the double wide staircase in front of her that led to the second floor.  There was a grand circular opening between the first and second floor.  Aubrey exclaimed, "Please tell me you put a Christmas tree right here!"
Mrs. Forney laughed, "Of course not, it would take a whole lumberman's camp to bring in a tree that big and the cost to light it and decorate it would feed the homeless for a whole year!"

Cathedral Inspiration

 This is the church I grew up at in Saginaw, Michigan.  The stained glass windows are so beautiful.  These are my two favorite windows.

In "New Beginnings" Brianna sits in the quiet, empty Cathedral and contemplates the window of the woman at the well with Jesus.
"Brianna stopped by church to say a prayer.  She sat in the pew in the beautiful Cathedral looking at the stained glass windows.  The sun coming through made them glisten like jewels. When she looked over at the one with the woman at the well she wondered at how Jesus would talk to her if he walked into church right now.  Would he be proud at how she had loved her husband Joseph to the moon and back?  Would he be proud that she worked very hard raising Riley?  Would he be proud she had helped Aubrey and Annie start a new life?  Would he be disappointed because she just couldn't make up her mind about Max?"  

New Review

So pleased that a review of my eBook, Webber House, is on the Catholic Fiction website.

Life Changing Moments

In the book, New Beginnings, Miss Robinson talks about this Steve Jobs quote during a counseling session.  She points to a picture on the wall.  However, the quote is actually longer than the text on the picture.

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Miss Robinson explained each day was a chance to make changes in our lives.  Mr. Jobs died before he was done making enormous technological changes that would affect their lives.  Much like when Riley's father died, way before he was done making enormous changes to Riley's life.  But, and this was very important, Riley now had the chance to make her own enormous changes in her life. 

Makes M.E. Happy

When I saw this on my blog this morning I jumped for joy!
Six out of Seven people entered my blog to find Bishop Ken's homilies.
It makes my heart fill with hope that these people read his wise words.

Working on the New Beginnings Cover

I like this - the color of the words are the same as her top.

I think it is a simple cover that enhances the artwork.

New Beginnings - Chapter One Preview

New Beginnings

an eBook to be published on Amazon in 2016

Chapter 1 preview

Sr. Barb sat at her desk looking over the scholarship applications for the coming school year. Most of the recipients had been chosen in the spring, but an anonymous donor just provided funding for one additional student. Each scholarship provided four full years of high school. Mrs. Conklin, the school secretary, heard a heavy sigh coming from the principal's office. She called through the door, "Sr. Barb, what are you stressing about in there?"

The principal slowly pushed away from the desk and walked to the doorway separating the two offices. In a concerned voice she answered,  "There are so many people with limited incomes. If we could only double the number of scholarships. I know I should be happy with one extra, but there are so many pupils who could do so well here if given the opportunity."

As if on cue the phone rang. Mrs. Conklin talked into the phone explaining the deadline for applying for a scholarship had passed. Listening to Mrs. Conklin explaining to yet another mother about the application deadlines, Sr. Barb threw her arms into the air as she returned to her desk. She picked up another form and began reading. She became so engrossed in the answer everything else faded into the background.

Question 1 - Why do you want your child to attend St. Mary Cathedral?

We moved to Saginaw a few months ago from Houston, Texas. My cousin called to tell me there was a job waiting for me to clean homes with her if I wanted it. She also offered to have us live with her and her daughter.

I never married Annie's father. I was just 18 when I told him I was pregnant. His reaction was to hit me across the mouth. I couldn't believe I had ever wanted to be with him and for sure knew I could never trust him with my baby. That night I walked out of his front door and never looked back. It was a new beginning.  We have been on our own since.

Annie and I had been struggling to make ends meet since I lost my job when the clothing factory closed last year. Actually, the economy has been so poor that we moved every year or so. Always finding work, just to be looking for another job a year later. I have been taking college classes all through the years to become a teacher. However, every new college I attended took only some of my college credits.

This opportunity to have Annie's tuition paid for four years and to be able to stay in one high school is a miracle for her, but a second miracle would be to stay in one place for me to get my degree.
When my cousin called, Annie and I prayed, asking God for a way to get from Texas to Michigan. The following Sunday a couple sat behind us at church. I didn't know them so I introduced Annie and myself to them and welcomed them to our church. They told us they were visiting from Saginaw. Annie and I looked at each other in amazement as I asked, "Saginaw, Texas or Saginaw, Michigan?" The woman smiled as she proclaimed, "Michigan and proud of it."

The music began and I prayed harder than ever. Was this couple an answer to our prayers? What could I possibly say to them? Was all of this just a coincidence or a sign from God? I am ashamed to say I didn't hear one thing during that Mass. All I could do was pray and ask our good Lord for guidance. When the last word of the last song was sung I turned around and asked the woman if I could speak to her. She told me they were going to breakfast and asked us to join them. I must have shown my unease with my lack of finances. When I tried to refuse she immediately told me we were to be their guests because we made them feel so welcome at our church.

We talked for two hours at the restaurant.  Mr. and Mrs. Fordney were so interested in us. By the end of breakfast they insisted we should travel to Michigan with them. Looking back on it, I still cannot believe we packed our few belongings and left the next morning with total strangers. However, looking back on it, indeed they were a gift from God.

Annie and I now live with my cousin, Brianna Steffan and her daughter, Riley. It would mean the world to us if Riley and Annie could attend the same school.

Sr. Barb set the papers on her desk. Looking out her office window she thought about the Steffan family. Brianna and Riley had been through a terrible tragedy. A construction accident had caused the death of Brianna's husband a few years ago. After the accident, she started a small cleaning business with some insurance money. Last year Brianna confided to Sr. Barb that she was lonely and raising Riley on her own was very difficult. Sr. Barb knew Riley could be a handful; she had almost been expelled from 8th grade last year.

Sr. Barb put the application in the accepted basket. She hoped Annie would make a huge impression on Riley. Maybe it would be a turning point in all of their lives.