Study Inspiration

In "A Light Shines Forth," the book Mary Ellen Shea Clifford is currently writing, Isabella was having a hard time concentrating on what Sr. Carmelita was saying.  The tenth grader was attending a meeting with four other students.

Isabella's stomach was rolling.  Her head was pounding.  Her eyes kept darting towards the door.  All she could think about was getting back to study hour.  Sr. Carmelita was suggesting the five students meet every school day to work on study habits.  Isabella is positive that she doesn't want anything to do with this.  But then Sister says something that changes everything.  She tells the students she chose them because they are class leaders, smart, hard workers and all five of them have said they want to go to college.  Sr. Carmelita ends with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual leader of India from many years ago.  "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result."

Isabella thought about how she had lost weight over the summer.  How if she had done nothing, she would be right where she was last school year.  Overweight and unhappy.  It seemed that Sr. Carmelita was offering her a solution to her school problems.

Whether you are just stopping by to read about my books. Or to find a link to Bishop Ken's homilies. Or if you are a close friend or family member, you have all enriched my life so much.

When you leave this site to go to Amazon to purchase my EBooks it makes me hope you will love my characters as much as I do.

It has been heart warming to see so many people leave this site to read Bishop Ken's words. It makes me smile. May each of you find what you need most in his words.

To my visitors and my family and friends God bless you during this holiday season.

Thankful for You

I am thankful for the stories that come from my heart and for those who read them. 

Inspiration from the Past

Several years ago at St. Mary Cathedral, Sr. Nancy came to choir and told us about St. Michael's Christmas worship space.  My husband and I drove to St. Michael's in Oakley, Michigan.  They had beautiful stars hanging from the ceiling.  Right then I knew we had to find a way to do that the next year at the Cathedral.

I set about searching the internet. I found a site that explained how to cut several stars at once with a band-saw.  This is not the same site but it does show how we cut so many stars.  The one thing we did differently is drilling through to hold the plywood and the posterboard.  We drilled right through the top part of the star, thereby creating a hole to hang the star.

Then we folded the stars - like this site shows - then we spray painted them gold and added gold glitter.  We put up signs at the entrances to church that said, "The stars are coming, the stars are coming..."  Then had a sign up sheet for people to come help tie the stars to fishing line.

On a Saturday in early December about 25 people helped tie the stars.  There were 1,700 stars to attach!  We carefully gathered the string and clipped them with a clothespin to keep them from getting tangled.  Then when we decorated we crisscrossed the lines all over the church.  It looked like we brought the heavens inside the Cathedral.

In the book, A Light Shines Forth, the stars have been used a few times and it is time to retire them. The sisters, Sarah and Julie, from Four Season Friends that are on the Art and Environment Committee ask to reuse them at the Homecoming dance.

I certainly hope you are looking forward to July 2015 when A Light Shines Forth is published.

We are enjoying the crisp cold evenings and some of the days have been sunny. Yesterday was a bit cold. But we drove around a bit on the two tracks and when we got back we had a big fire.

We are camping at the lighthouse at the Tawas  Point State Park.  The light keeper gave me some information to put in the next book. I can't wait to weave his stories with mine.

It has to do with this door leading to the staircase to the tower. He promised me it really happened just a few nights ago and it gave me shivers when he recounted what happened!

I hope you are looking forward to
"A Light Shines Forth"
coming in July 2015.


The name my niece added when she professed her vows 

to become a 

Daughter of St. Paul

Sr. Theresa Aletheia

How blessed were we to be a part of this beautiful ceremony.

It will find a way to be in one of my books.

A Light Shines Forth

The most difficult chapter for me to write is the first chapter in each book. "A Light Shines Forth" was no exception. I have worked on this for two days. It may change as I write the other chapters but the basics are there. I already love Ellie and Isabella.

Chapter 1

With eyes filled with wonder, best friends Ellie Emerson and Isabella Miller peered through the window. Several feet below the frothy white waves curled through the icy blue waters of the Great Lake Huron. It didn't matter that they had looked out this window hundreds of times, the majestic view took their breath away each time they stopped at the window.

Their heads close together Ellie whispered, "Do you think she looks out this window at night after everyone leaves?" Her best friend answered with a silent nod.

They pulled away from the window and continued their trek up the last of the eighty five steps twisting toward the sky.

After they reached the top of the winding staircase they entered the glass enclosed tower. Both of them broke into smiles a mile wide. As always they felt as if they could reach out and touch the clear blue skies.

April was their favorite time of year to camp at the Tawas State Park in East Tawas, Michigan.   Even though it could be chilly, their families usually had the campground to themselves. Ellie and Isabella pretended the vast park was their kingdom; the lighthouse their castle. They may be eighth graders, but years ago they pinky promised never to grow up too much for their shared kingdom.

Ever since Ellie was two years old her parents had taken her camping at Tawas Point State Park during spring break. That was twelve years ago after a Christmas potluck at their church, St. Mary Cathedral. The Miller and Emerson families sat by each other for dinner. By the end of the night Mr. and Mrs. Miller had convinced the Emerson's to come camping with them.

Isabella's father, Jerry, started volunteering as a lighthouse keeper every spring break, as soon as he turned eighteen. After college he married Kay and they continued the tradition.  When Noah, Isabella's big brother was born, Kay and Jerry pulled grandpa's trailer up for the family to camp in while volunteering. Only adults could be  lighthouse keepers. Jerry slept in the lighthouse each night while the rest of the family camped in the trailer.

Each year since that potluck the families camped all week.  They made minor repairs, painted and landscaped around the lighthouse in preparation for the first visitors.  They always came back for the Point Celebration Days, held annually on the second weekend in June. The celebration was filled with fun events offered for the entire family.

All these years Ellie and Isabella had been best friends. They looked like they were complete opposites. Ellie never had to think about how much she ate while Isabella thought about food a lot.  Ellie had long blonde hair braided down to the middle of her back.  Her mother agreed to let her keep her hair long with only a trim twice a year to keep the ends nice, under one condition. Ellie was not supposed to fuss about getting her hair fixed each morning. No crying or whining that her mother was hurting her with the hairbrush as it worked its way through the snarls. It had been a small price to pay to be able to keep her long hair all her life. Now she brushed her own hair of course.

Isabella on the other hand had short black curls that framed her face. That is to say that today she had short curls. Her Aunt Susie was taking classes to become a hair stylist and whenever she learned something new she tried it out on her niece. Isabella's mother put her foot down and refused to let her sister, Susie color the 9th grader's hair. Isabella's mother had told her daughter several times, "Until you are out of high school there will be no hair dying."

But when it came to the important things in life Ellie and Isabella could have been twins. They both loved being outdoors, especially camping. They loved writing and reading. But most of all they loved to spend long summer days riding their bikes together. They hated doing dishes, folding laundry and history class.

This spring break was going to be extra special. Mr. Miller had received permission to have Isabella and Ellie spend the last night in the lighthouse. The girls were so excited, but very scared. What if they saw her?


I have been praying for inspiration for a new book.  Nothing was coming to me.  I just knew I needed to be patient about an answer.  So this morning - IT HIT ME IN MY HEART! I melted when I saw this post on Facebook.

Inspiration from Lost in Michigan - photographer, Mike Sonnenberg. This morning he posted this picture on Facebook.  I immediately contacted him to purchase it for my next eBook cover - I have been frantically searching for lighthouse information all morning.

Not sure which direction the book will take, but I am having fun.  Did you know the Tawas Point Lighthouse is reported to be haunted by a little girl?  OOOOhh - if there isn't a story there for this author I should quit writing!!!!  Here is a recreation of what people reported seeing at the lighthouse.

I can't wait to start writing.  Thank you Mike Sonnenberg!

Four Season Friends is Now Available

I am pleased to announce that Four Season Friends - my first novel - is available on Amazon.

Four Season Friends begins with moving day and all the stress and anxiety of seven people relocating to a new home in a new city.   Each of them quickly becomes friends with the family of eight next door and the fun begins.  A few of the children  are homeschooled while others attend St. Mary Cathedral, just three blocks away.  There are vacations, a first job away from home and even a wedding reception in a Montana barn in the middle of winter!  You will come to love the Castors and the Maxums, possibly even wishing you could live next door to them.

I know you will like this book as much as the Saginaw Series and the Holiday Series.  Click the book.

Address Label Tip for Military Mail

I thought I would share a tip.  I use Avery 6461 address labels for my letters to my grandson. They are actually removable multipurpose labels.  They stay on the envelopes AND he can peel the label off and use it for his return address.  That saves him a lot of time that he could use for writing letters.  If you have ever seen a military address you will know what a great tip this is!  

I don't use one for my return address though because I'm not sure it would always stay on for the return trip.  But after it leaves the base it doesn't really matter if his return address stays on or not (but it has always arrived with the label on.) We can't send him anything but he can recycle!

To Honor Robin J. Jacklin, Jr.

I am so proud of our grandson. A three day free giveaway of the first book of the Holiday Series. In honor of my grandson joining the United States Air Force, "No Christmas for Olivia" will be free June 21-23. I can only imagine how hot basic training will be in San Antonio so the summer solstice seemed to be a good day to begin the giveaway. The Holiday Series is about a military family so I thought it would be a great way to show my love and to let those who love him know how proud I am to have him serve.

The Wedding Barn!

After searching for a year, we found the wedding barn for Four Season Friends.  
The setting in the book is Montana in the winter for Nancy and Jim's wedding.  
However, we found the perfect barn for the wedding close to Brant, Michigan in the spring.  
I will have to go there in the winter to take a picture with snow in it.
When I saw it yesterday, I knew immediately that this was the one.

Chapter 1 of Four Season Friends

I am right on target with the next book, Four Season Friends.  This is not a series book, it is my first novel. Four Season Friends should be published on Amazon as an eBook by July.  Now is the time to put it on your summer reading list. It is a book appropriate for all ages.  This book follows two large families living on Hoyt Street in Saginaw, Michigan.  Some of the children attend St. Mary Cathedral and some of them are homeschooled.  The two moms, Sissy and Noreen, team up to teach some of their children at home.

The book starts out in Summer.  It is moving day for the Maxum family and it is not going well.  Everyone is overwhelmed and they all need a time out.  A new friendship begins on this day that will last a lifetime.

I focus a lot on Larry, one of the older children in this book.  He has some anger issues.  How does he learn from his outbursts of anger?  Can he learn to change his attitude?

The kids are encouraged to pull pranks by one set of parents.  The other parents are divided in the wisdom of pranks that are supervised and where safety is the major issue.  They all learn there are consequences to pulling pranks on each other.

There is fund raising for the East Side Soup Kitchen.  How good can actually come out of a bad situation.

Of course there is wedding - I don't think I can write a book that doesn't have a love story in it!

There are vacations in Montana.  My husband and I traveled to Montana this past year to gather information for this book.  The people we met were kind and helpful and even allowed me to put them in the book. Some of the book is set in Traverse City, Michigan.  One of our favorite vacation spots. One of the children wants to work there over the summer.  But she needs to learn what it means to have good work ethics before permission is granted.

I hope you will love this book as much as I loved writing it.  I am in the last phase of editing and have really enjoyed getting to know these characters.  Watch for the announcement of publishing.  I can't wait!

Chapter 1

Amanda yelled down from the top railing of the gleaming oak staircase, "Mom, where are the boxes from my bedroom?" Her mom was in the kitchen in the back of the new house.  With the dishwasher running she couldn't hear her daughter.

Amanda screamed louder, "Mom!"  Still no answer. She stomped angrily down the stairs, stopping at the landing to yell again. This time with all the pent up anger she felt about moving, she shouted, "Mother, where are my belongings?"

Without waiting for an answer she turned on the landing and ran down the last set of stairs to the entry hall.  She randomly started opening boxes and as she rummaged through them, the contents began spilling out onto the floor. Her mom had heard the last yell and as she walked into the long entry hall to see what was wrong.  When she saw the mess Amanda was making she gasped, "What are you doing, Amanda Jane? Don't start pulling things out of boxes right here in the front hall."

Tempers were short. Moving day was taking its toll. Mrs. Maxum stopped to regain her composure.  She stared out the front door and started thinking about the move.  When their fifth child, Timmy, was born it was evident they would have to find a larger home.  The only other boy, the oldest, Larry was sleeping in a room no bigger than a closet.  The three girls, Amanda, Clare and Joanna were crammed into the largest bedroom which had no place to put a crib.  Timmy had been sleeping at the end of the hallway.

Chaos Corner

When we went to Montana we visited Celeste at the X Hangin X Creative photography in the Chaos Corner. I asked her why they named it Chaos Corner and this is my favorite quote ever! Now she made this sign to hang on their door!
Chaos Corner is in the new book, Four Season Friends. Due out summer of 2014.
By the way, if you are visiting Absarokee, Montana, make sure you stop by the Chaos Corner!

Snapping Fingers - Inspiration

On Facebook last night my daughter Caroline posted a sign that says, "Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out!"  My other daughter, Joanna, posted, "Hahaha...that started happeing YEARS ago for me.  Then my sister, Jane, posted, "Oh the snapping fingers!  I tried to stop myself, but alas they snapped!!

Which quickly turned into this in my next book, Four Season Friends:

After everyone was tucked in with kisses and books, Sissy called Noreen.  She groaned as she exclaimed, “I am turning into my MOTHER!”  She explained, “When I was growing up my mother made a lot of phone calls for school.  Whenever a vote came to the public that would help St. Mary’s in some way she, and her loyal group of friends, would begin a calling campaign.  Of course this was way before the Internet, so phone calls and mailing campaigns were the only way to go.  When Mom was on the phone all night long, there would be sometimes when I just had to ask something.  Invariably, I would get the snapping fingers with the disapproving look for interrupting her.  Today, I snapped my fingers at Julie.  I tried to stop myself, but alas they snapped!" Noreen burst out laughing.  Years ago I found myself clicking my tongue at something Amanda did and I slapped my own face!  The two women laughed until they had tears streaming down their faces and their husbands asking what was so funny!

Inspriation.  It comes from all over the place!

Festival of Books

Velyn Cooper of Festival of Books has featured my books on her website today!
It has been such a pleasure to have someone else market my books.
I have been so busy writing that marketing has just gone by the wayside.
Thank you so much, Velyn!

Click the link!