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. Thanks to Sam Basham who posted this picture on Facebook from the book Saginaw Historic Homes.

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.

New Beginnings - Chapter One Preview

New Beginnings

an eBook to be published on Amazon in 2016

Chapter 1 preview

Sister Barb sat at her desk looking over the scholarship applications for the coming school year. All the other 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.  I wish we could double the number of scholarships. I know I should be happy with one extra, but there are so many children who could do so well here if given the opportunity."

As if on cue the phone rang. She listened as Mrs. Conklin patiently explained to yet another mother about the expired application deadline. Sr. Barb threw her arms into the air as she returned to her desk. She picked up another form from her desk and began reading. She became so engrossed in the answer to the first question, “Why do you want your child to attend St. Mary Cathedral?” everything else faded into the background.

We moved to Saginaw a few months ago from Houston, Texas. My cousin, whom I had lived with for a few years when I was young, 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.

My mother died when I was in high school and my father turned into a bitter man.  He spent most of his time in a bar and he eventually left me with my aunt and her family.  I stayed  for a few years and never heard from my father again.  When I turned 17 I met a man and thought I was in love.  I moved out of my aunt’s home.

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. 

When my cousin called, Annie and I had been struggling to make ends meet. My job ended when the clothing factory closed the previous year. Even before that the economy had been so poor that I could only find temporary jobs and we moved every year or so. I have been taking college classes to become a teacher through all these years.  However, it seems that every new college I attend takes 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 would be a miracle. The second miracle would be to stay in one place to get my degree.

After talking with my cousin, 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 my daughter and myself and welcomed them to our church. They told us they were visiting from Saginaw. Annie and I looked at each other in astonishment as I hopefully inquired, "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 beg 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 because of 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 welcomed at our church.

We talked for two hours at the restaurant.  Mr. and Mrs. Forney were so interested when I told them what I had been praying for at Mass this morning.  I explained that my cousin had asked us to move to Saginaw to help with her cleaning business.  Before I finished the sentence Mrs. Forney asked, “Is your cousin Brianna?”

Annie and I just looked at each other with amazement.  When I nodded my head she laughed and said, “This is such a small world.  Brianna belongs to our church.”

Mr. Forney added, “Brianna asked for my advice when she was starting her business.  She still cleans the offices at my company.”

God certainly had answered my prayers, but more than that, God had sent the Forneys towards our path before I even knew I needed an answer to my prayers. It was a moment of clarity.  It seemed to me that God was pleased with this new beginning.

By the end of breakfast the Forneys insisted we should travel to Michigan with them. 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 exceedingly 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.

Fall Fun - New Beginnings

A day filled with brilliant leaves of orange, yellow, gold and red
Spending the weekend at the Fordney's raking leaves, drinking cider
The work and play that happens automatically when all friends get together.
Little did they know what was about to happen.

New Beginnings - Aubrey's Recipes

Christmas Morning Quiche

Aubrey is an excellent cook.  As I write the book I will add recipes to this post.

Crust for one quiche

1 heaping cup of flour
1 stick of unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
ice water

Put the flour and salt in the food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to processor. Pulse until crumbled. Add water a little at a time while the food processor is on. As soon as it begins to gather together it is done. If you do not have a food processor you can use two forks in a cutting motion through the flour/salt/butter mixture until it starts to come together.

Put the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap and push it together to make a circle. With the edge of your hand make two indents on top of the circle, turn the dough and make two more indents on top of the circle. It will look like a tic tac toe grid. This will help you roll out a circle when it comes out of the refrigerator.

Put the dough in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

3 - 5 Eggs
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 box frozen broccoli and cheese, cooked and strained to get rid of any water and most of the cheese
1/2 cup milk
Salt, Pepper, Mrs. Dash, Dill
2 cups longhorn colby cheese (or any cheese you want)
1 TBS Flour

Cook bacon, crumble and set aside.

Cook broccoli, strain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400

Mix together in a bowl. Depending on the size of your pie dish 3-5 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, salt and pepper (I always pretend I am putting the spice on one egg and count for the number of eggs I have in the bowl. So, if I usually turn the pepper grind two times for one egg then I would turn it six times for three eggs.) 1 TBS Mrs. Dash and 1 TBS dill.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Turn a cookie sheet over on the counter and put a little flour on it. Unwrap your dough. Roll your dough out on the cookie sheet. When it is bigger than your pie pan, dust off any extra flour with a pastry brush. Then slide the crust onto the pie pan and carefully push it into the bottom of the pie pan and on the sides. Trim any excess crust and crimp the edges.

Put the bacon in the bottom of the crust. Arrange it so it is even over the whole bottom. Then add the broccoli on top and arrange that evenly over the bacon. Carefully pour the egg mixture over it. Sprinkle the flour over the egg mixture - this is the secret to the cheese staying on the top of the quiche. Sprinkle the cheese over the flour. Sprinkle the top with a little nutmeg.

Bake for about 40 minutes - when you stick a knife into the middle it should not ooze out egg mixture. Cook it for another ten minutes if it is not done in the middle. Then it needs to sit after it comes out of the oven for about 15 minutes to set up.

Chicken Thighs and Smashed Potatoes

Riley and Annie are trying to make amends.  They decide to make dinner before their punishment is doled out when Brianna and Aubrey return from work.

Click on pictures to go to my New Beginnings Pinterest board.

Parmesan Yogurt Chicken picture and recipe from

Picture and Recipe of Smashed Potatoes from American Test Kitchen

Picture and Recipe of Bread Crumbs from

Chicken Pot Pie

Suzanne at has the most delicious Chicken Pot Pie recipe.  Click on the picture to go to her Pinterest and her recipe.  Aubrey makes this at the Forney Cottage in New Beginings.


Exciting News
The Newest Book
Mary Ellen Shea Clifford

Click on book

Elise Remembers The Wedding Song

When Elise and Everett were married a song from the trio 

Peter, Paul and Mary
The Wedding Song 

was included in their wedding ceremony. It was inspired by a verse in Genesis 2:24. 
The words from the song she remembered were,

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home. 

They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one. 

Mrs. Emerson realizes at the Thanksgiving meal that she is filled to the brim 
with love from her husband and children.

Happy Birthday America!

Independence Day 

FREE July 2nd - 6th 

Click the book to go to Amazon

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 my next book.

Thank you for letting me share this picture.

Getting Excited

I am starting to get excited about the new book, A Light Shines Forth, almost being done. I can actually see the end of the editing. We stopped by the lighthouse in Tawas, Michigan today to snap a few pictures.  The book takes place in Saginaw and Tawas, Michigan and Okinawa, Japan.

Today is D-Day.  A day when so many lives were sacrificed for our freedom.  I am proud to include in the book a rich sense of military pride with Noah joining the Air Force.  I watched my grandson graduate and be assigned to Okinawa.  I have taken great liberties writing about his basic training and how our family felt during the graduation and his assignment.  Much of it is from my heart, but truly inspired by our experiences with Robin.

Trying out new book covers

This is the part I HATE.  Making the bookcover for a new book.  I don't have any trouble finding a great picture, but the font and the layout - gggggrrrrr.....

I am leaning toward #1 maybe with my name in white too. The title pops out at me.

So - If you like any of these let me know - comments - suggestions - thanks, ME







On to the Second Editor

YEAH - A Light Shines Forth returned from Mary Lynn and now is in the hands of Kay.  I love my editors.  I cannot say it enough.  Here is one addition from Mary Lynn that I added into the story.  My Mom's Aunt Lena worked at Seitner's in downtown Saginaw.  She was an Icon.  No one knew how old she was, but no one cared.  She was the best salesperson in downtown Saginaw at any store.  She really did work into her 90's.

This picture is of Aunt Lena in the 1940's.  She was always the best dressed and most stylish.

Here is the addition that Mary Lynn wrote when she edited the book.

Here is how the paragraph was changed by me.

When they arrived at Seitner's they ran into Isabella's Aunt Lena selling coats.  They had climbed the stairs to the second floor to see the formal clothes. Aunt Lena was at the top of the stairs with a customer.  She waved at the girls, but they knew from past experience not to interrupt Aunt Lena when she was with a customer.  Isabella's grandmother had told her many times, "My sister, Lena, can sell a coat better than any other salesperson."  Isabella knew that her Aunt Lena had worked at Seitner's forever.  None of the sales clerks at the store knew that her Aunt Lena was ninety years old!  The store owner wasn't even sure how old his best sales person was, because she had been hired by his father.  They all guessed that she was in her seventies. All he knew for sure was that she could outsell every other sales clerk on the floor.

A Light Shines Forth

Last year in August I was inspired by the photo below taken by Mike Sonnenberg of the Tawas Lighthouse.

I immediately contacted him to purchase the picture for my next book. I had no idea what that book would be about.

This has been a tough year. It didn't help when two of my characters hijacked the story!

I thought that Ellie and Isabella were the main characters, but Emma and Noah stole the story.

A Light Shines Forth, is finally ready to go to my first editor, Mary Lynn.  She will edit it and then I will make her corrections. She makes my sentences shorter and changes my punctuation. Then it goes to Kay my, second editor. She looks at the storyline, watches that the correct character is named and sometimes changes my corrections I made! Then I make more corrections.  My sister, Jane is my third and last editor. She has a critical eye for the whole story. And again sometimes corrections I made go back to what was originally written. Each of them do some of what the other editor does, but my stories are so much better because of all of them.  They are tough taskmasters.

Hopefully Kay's husband will find some places to add in some of his great puns.

So there is hope that this book will be on Amazon before the end of the year.

Military Time

Sometimes in my books the time used is Military Time.  Instead of two twelve hour sets of numbers the numbers go from 0000 - 2400.  Because the military has to work on a 24 hour schedule it makes sense to use 24 hours instead of 12 twice.  No one gets confused as to day or night hours.

So in the book, A Light Shines Forth, when Stephanie leaves a note for Noah to meet her for root beer in the middle of the afternoon can you guess what time she writes on the note?

Fun Times become Story Times

How to Make a Memory Last Forever!

In 2003 we spent Father's Day at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan.  We were with our grandchildren, Robbie and Sheala.  We had such a good time that day.  The kids had fun pumping water, going to the schoolhouse, the wigwam and just walking through the woods next to the "Mighty Pine" as Papa calls it.  We even took the picture below that we recently took again just before Robbie left for the Air Force. 

The times I have spent with people I love are sometimes magic moments.  These two days, a dozen years apart, were definitely magic moments.  These memories will forever be remembered because they have become a part of the book "A Light Shines Forth" due out sometime this year.

Baked Beans

From the book "A Light Shines Forth" 
These beans are taken on the picnic at the stream under the old oak tree. 

Inspired by the recipe found on the back of the jars of beans and the memory of my own Grandma Shea's baked beans.

1 48-ounce jar Randall Great Northern Beans drained
1/2 pound of bacon
1 large onion, choppped
4 tablespoons butter
2 large apples, shredded
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup catsup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Chicken broth

Make the bacon, take out of the pan and discard the drippings.  Add the butter into the pan and cook the onion. Add everything except the beans to the pan and cook until the sugar is melted and everything is coated with it. Add in the beans and the cut up the bacon and add that.  Put it in a 9 x 13 pan and drizzle chicken broth over the top.  Don't make it too wet with puddles of liquid - just wet enough to keep the beans moist.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about an hour.  If heating up the leftover beans add a little more broth to them before heating up.  However, I don't know why anyone would ever heat up leftover beans.  Instead spread some on bread that has a generous topping of peanut butter!  The most delicious cold baked bean and peanut butter sandwhich ever!  My Dad even added mustard - not me - just the beans and peanut butter.   MMMMMmmm.

Using Webber House in a Classroom - Guest Blogger Theresa Bills

Theresa Bills teaches the 9-12 age girl's group at Hillside Bible Church in Ortonville, Michigan.  I asked her to write about her experience using my book in her class.  Here is her response:

What young girl hasn't had secrets to share or secrets to keep?  What does God say about secrets?    The girls in the book, Webber House, provided a great platform in which to discuss ways that we should handle secrets in our own lives.  With the enthusiasm of a bunch of girls and a great book to read, this combination had all the makings of great teaching!

Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes you just want an old fashioned oatmeal cookie. No nuts, no raisins, just lots of oatmeal chewy goodness. In A Light Shines Forth, Nana sends cookies to Noah in Okinawa.

Oatmeal Cookies

½ cup butter, softened 
Almost 1 cup sugar 
½ cup brown sugar 
2 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla 
1 TBS water 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 TBS cinnamon 
3 cup flour 
5½ cups oats

Mix everything together and scoop onto lined cookie sheet. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Just until light brown. This makes 40 cookies.