An end of summer report card?

Just a quick note. School starts this week (if you can even stomach that reality), and I am busy doing mom-of-four stuff in preparation, as well as recovering from a vacation last week…BUT, I am very proud of all I have accomplished over the summer, so I wanted to check in briefly and let you know that An Honest Woman, Montana Brides #2 is on the homestretch! Not only was I able to self-edit the majority of the manuscript, but I have also put down new words and it is a matter of (writing) hours before I can turn the document over to my editing team to polish it up!

The kids are excited, mom is excited, the readers are excited about Montana Brides #2...

The kids are excited, mom is excited, the readers are excited about Montana Brides #2…

Still no idea when the release date will be, but I will definitely announce it here and on my Facebook page. You should also sign up for my email list, because you know how flakey social media can be.

I hope you’ve been having a good summer! If you’re interested in what my family has been up to, I welcome you to listen in at Treehouse Time.

Fitting it all in

Every woman struggles with this, I think. “How do I do it all?”

Manage to be even a little bit successful at anything, and someone will validate your accomplishment with a harried, “I don’t know how you do it.”

Try to deflect that praise a bit with a dose of reality, and it only manages to elicit more wide-eyed wonder. “Wow, if I were you I’d collapse of exhaustion/go crazy/give up and cry/etc.”

To be honest, ninja-level experts at fitting it all in find The Top to be a lonely place even when, as in my case, my own personal “Top” is a low hill at the foot of a chain of mountains. When I do meet someone who understands, I value them as a friend and a peer. We get each other. We both know we’ll never fit it all in. We also know our Top isn’t good enough. It never is. There’s always a higher summit to reach for.

But. But, but, but. I have found in my almost 14 years of parenting that as long as I am a mother, I am always going to deal with balancing what is best for my kids with what is best for myself. In a perfect world, I could neatly subdivide the 24 hours of each day into thoughtful sections where everything important gets done, and everything I can’t do gets hired out because I’m earning enough $ to afford that.

I don’t live in a perfect world, though. Who does?

So, if you read the previous post…it has been an amazingly loooooooooong December after all. I haven’t been hibernating, but my latest book has. I recently started editing the early chapters, reacclimating myself to the story I set aside in February. I was THRILLED beyond measure to see that it doesn’t suck. The truth is–and my professional writer friends will relate to this–before I had to set it aside to dig myself out of the blizzard of life, I had been spread too thin to have any confidence in what I was writing.

And it’s funny, because I almost NEVER feel that way when I’m writing about myself. I can blog about my life, my kids, husband, chickens, dogs, friends, adventures…never a problem doing that. Why? Because I am completely present in my own life. When I’m writing about fictional people, though, it’s different. I have to give it major focus. As a reader, you want that, and you appreciate it. You want your author to be present in the story, as the storyteller. If I can’t do that because life is too busy, it’s like having two conversations at once with two different people. Maybe you can pull that off for a second or two, but try telling a 70,000 word story at the same time you’re talking to the middle school principal. I dare you not to call the principal by the name of your main character, or to accidentally forward emails meant for your husband to the special needs facilitator. (I’m pretty sure I’ve done both.) It’s one thing for me to have egg on my face at school. It’s another for me to rush a book to press that isn’t up to par. I can’t do that to you, reader. I want to tell you a real story that you will really enjoy. I want to suck you in, make you laugh, keep you guessing, and move your heart.

Mom-writer’s angst aside, An Honest Woman is back on track and so far it’s a better story than I gave it credit for these past few months. If you’re like me, you know what I mean. Insecurities have a way of turning mountains into molehills the longer you put off dealing with something. The truth is, editing An Honest Woman has been a pleasure so far. I look forward to writing the rip-roaring end of Jessica’s journey from spoiled brat to kind-hearted wife. I hope you will love the tale. (I’ve been watching Longmire recently, too, and I’m just tickled as HELL to see the strong rancher and Native types in that show…makes me feel like I am nailing it in Montana Brides.)

And, in even more news…I have another project that I hope you will love. I love writing about my family, about my life…it has been years since I have been a serious blogger, but turning family stories into entertainment always was my strength. I used to blog 2k-5k per day, no sweat. And photos! You know I’ve only gotten more avid in my pursuit of the best family pics possible. So…I’ve decided to start blogging again, regularly. In the past, I stopped blogging to begin writing professionally. I then stopped freelancing to start writing fiction. It’s been a lot of awesome learning experience, and I am now pretty much an expert on all kinds of fiction and personal writing. So, why not come full circle and go back to blogging? I mean, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the book?

Because that is the thing, you know? Book writing energy and blogging energy are two different things. They can’t really interfere with one another, except that all things take time. But since my life has been trumping my writing time, I feel like there is little to sacrifice by heading in this new/old direction. I’ll still work on the book, and I’ll still write more books. But I also want to tell my stories–not save them up for one story a year, which is what might happen if I only write fiction.

In addition to the blog, there is a podcast, which is another way to tell a story. My husband asked me months ago to start a podcast with him, and all this time, we have been planning. We’ve been planning and designing and formatting and doing business plans (yeah, it’s pretty intense, this idea of his), and we finally started recording shows. So, the blog I’ll be writing is over at our new website,, where you can also (soon) find our podcasts.

I know! It’s a lot of stuff! How do I fit it all in, right? ;)

I am always going to put my family first. And I am always going to be a writer, and a storyteller. It all seems to fit together, to me. It all fits in because it all fits.

I will continue writing Montana Brides, and I hope that in time I will get to start work on Book After Book, the second in the Byrds of Birdseye series. Red Tash readers are still expecting Troll Or Trash, too. I can’t promise any release dates for any of the above, but if you want to track how close I am to completion on anything, friend or follow me on Goodreads under whichever pen names interest you, and you can easily access my progress in that way.

I'm 87% of the way toward my word count goal. That doesn't mean I won't go longer. I usually do! Click to friend/follow me on Goodreads.

I’m 87% of the way toward my word count goal. That doesn’t mean I won’t go longer. I usually do! Click to friend/follow me on Goodreads.

I’ll never stop writing fiction. It’s far too much fun. I do hope you will find my family’s adventures to be pretty fun, though, as well. Something to listen to or read in between books, huh? Visit us over at Treehouse Time. We would love to have you as guests on our virtual back porch!

Treehouse Time! Aren't we cute as cartoon people?

Treehouse Time! Aren’t we cute as cartoon people?

If you are interested in old blog entries, check out:

Tumblr (I still update this periodically, but it is mostly photos from instagram now.)

Guerilla Mothering (my old newspaper column)

Before those, there were ClubMom and Xanga. That’s way back, though! Nobody got time for that!

See you at the Treehouse! Onward and upward! I’ll drop you a rope ladder and see you on the deck.

Long December

The first snow of the season was in November. The final–hopefully–was last week. That’s not typical for Southern Indiana, but it’s not atypical, either. Last year we dealt with being frozen up our hill for the first time. This year it wasn’t such a surprise, but the volume of snow we got sure was. Either way, it’s melting now, and we’re almost back to real life. There’s just something about having mobility put on hold by the weather that busts up the routine, you know?


photo by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

All photos on this page by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved



photo by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

Yes, we got another dog, too. He blew in with the weather, I reckon.

Sometime in between the autumn snow and the spring snow, we had the holidays, and that interfered with life work, as well, but in the best way.

Wait. See that? For the past few years, I have thought of work as life, without even meaning to. That’s not to say that I didn’t love my family and my home and all those entail, but…I just enjoyed writing so much and interacting with my readers, that I focused on it a lot. Maybe too much, if I can be allowed to be truly honest.

photo by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

Thankfully, I’ve never been one of those moms who is like, “Oh, help, I’m stuck at home with my family for Christmas.” I love my kids and spending the holidays with them is always awesome. I’ve always tried to make that time special. It’s just that…last year, I was ready for the kids to go back to school so I could get back to work…and that didn’t happen. Instead, it snowed.

photo by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

and it snowed, and it snowed…

photo by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

That’s another pic from last Thursday. Wow, huh?

This year I found a new way to look at that snow outside. A new way to look at the holiday break. A new way to look at my family, my career, and how they fit together.

I still love writing. I still love interacting with my readers. But…I love my family more. I want my life to be more than killing time between writing sessions. I need to fully experience and savor every moment of my life, as much as possible. I can’t, as a friend put it, be “all about the books.” I’m not that girl. When I tried, it didn’t fit with my priorities. Not right now.

So, yep, I haven’t written a word on my current work in progress since January. We hit our back to school stride just long enough for me to get to 83% completion on An Honest Woman, and then the kids and the weather made another perfect storm. You know what they say, though, right? It’s not about learning to avoid the melting snow puddles, it’s about learning to dance in the rain snow storm, or something like that.

photo by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

all photos by Leslea Tash, all rights reserved

So, like I said, we’re melting, and back to the old routine. Here’s hoping that An Honest Woman is ready for editing soon. I don’t have much more to write, and ironically, a lot of where I left off was in the snow-covered mountains, anyway, so the cold and the fire, and all that? Research!

Thanks for your patience, your interest, and your readership. I’m still writing, but more importantly, I’m living.

And I hope my readers know I wouldn’t be half the writer I aspire to be if I didn’t know where one activity ended and the other began. <3

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An Honest Thank You

This weekend was wildly busy, and I want to thank all who stopped by the Pioneer Hearts sale to scoop up bargain books &/or enter the giveaway. I *know* my Smart Girls Gone Country have already done so, but just in case you missed all the hubbub, you’ve got a few hours left of the event.

Mainly, though, I want to say “Thank you” for making The Rancher Takes a Wife a top ten hit over the weekend. Chastity and Carl’s story hit #9 on the Christian Western Romance chart, and I’m really pleased about that.

The Rancher Takes a Wife, Montana Brides #1, a top ten hit.

The Rancher Takes a Wife, Montana Brides #1, a top ten hit.

And great news…An Honest Woman, Montana Brides #2 is coming along swimmingly! I’m making great progress and expect the sequel to be ready for editing/processing soon. Keep up with the progress here.

Thank you


I took this photo in my backyard a few weeks ago. I felt like it was missing something, so I put it aside and waited.

This morning a lovely reader left me a review on Amazon, mentioning that she laughed aloud in the hospital waiting room while read The Rancher Takes a Wife, Montana Brides #1. Although I wished she didn’t have a need to be at the hospital, I confess it delighted me to learn I was able to entertain her.

In the past I have received reviews telling me I helped readers through hurricanes, or jokingly blaming me for keeping them up all night. Writing can often be a thankless job, so each positive comment counts.

Thank you, readers.

Teaser Tuesday & a Celebration

Celebrating two things today!

1.) Four years of marriage to my best friend, the man who deserves his name on all my covers, Mr. Tim Tash. I love you, honey! Thank you for inspiring all the good men in my books! You are my hero.


2.) A relaunch for Bird After Bird. I love the latest cover and feel like it deserves to be promoted, so let’s do this in style! Keep reading for some Teaser Tuesday exclusives, including a Laurie photo collage!

Hey, here’s a recent review of Bird After Bird… “When a book is 308 pages and a total of 75 chapters the last thing you expect to do is read it in a day and a half but this book is one of those books that pull you in.” Read the rest here.

And without further ado, here’s Laurie Byrd!


Laurie’s character was inspired by a lot of people, some real, some fictional. My husband with his army stories and love for dogs was a huge influence. Laurie’s brooding, artistic, independent personality owes a debt to Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Garret Blake in Message in a Bottle, and if I’m totally honest, Josh Lucas’ turn as Jake Perry in Sweet Home Alabama may have contributed, as well.



My friend Paula who does search & rescue with her border collie fed a lot of Laurie’s backstory. Oh, and let’s not forget he’s named for the boy next door in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women! Mostly, though, he’s just the kind of man I’ve known all my life. A quiet, sensitive Indiana boy who takes everything to heart, but who has learned the hard way that a man can’t wear his heart on his sleeve without paying a high price. Everything changes for him when he meets Wren Riley. There is no longer comfort in solitude, no longer grief in his voice. His heart is awakened for the first time as an adult, and he’s emboldened by the lessons he’s learned from his past, now wise enough not to let a chance at happiness slip away. Once he’s given his heart to Wren, will they mend one another’s broken wings, or will she fly?

And how about an excerpt?

He gently turned me around and lifted the back of the tee. His fingers traced the tattoo on my lower back. Normally I didn’t feel the need to explain my ink to anyone. It was personal. I felt an unfamiliar desire to share everything with Laurie, though. “A tramp stamp. Yeah. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“I’m not judging,” he said.

It was a swallow, Sailor Jerry style.

“I didn’t find yours last night.”

“What, a tattoo?”

“Yeah. Don’t all soldiers get tattoos?”

He shook his head. “Thought about it, when I graduated Basic. Couldn’t find anything I’d want for the rest of my life, though. Yours is nice. Suits you.”

I laughed. “You think?”

“Sure. I mean, I’d expect a wren, but the swallow is cool. Does it have a meaning?”

“The tattoo artist said it meant ‘freedom.’ That sailors used to get them before their first long voyage, and then one to match at the end.”

“Why would they do that?”

“Supposedly, the swallow would carry their souls home if they drowned.”

“Wow.” He let my tee drop. “Well, we’ll stay away from the lake tonight, just in case, okay?”

Bird After Bird

So, what’s the deal with that tattoo? Does Wren’s soul find its way home to Laurie’s heart?

Find out for just $.99 today on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, or Kobo!