Books I’ve Read Lately

LEGACY RESTORED, Christian mystery with elements of romance by Robin Patchen

THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN, stories of three women who began a ritual of having tea parties when they were girls, who have one last tea party by Jodi Thomas

A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS, Christmas Eve, 1859, in Dallas, Texas; a ball is held for a rich rancher’s single daughter to pick a husband (novella in anthology) by Jodi Thomas

MISTELTOE MIRACLES, a small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home by Jodi Thomas

ASSAULTED CARAMEL, cozy mystery by Amanda Flower

West Texas Writers Academy- June 9-14-2019

I spent an awesome week at West Texas Writers’ Academy at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. This was my second year to go to WTWA, and I highly recommend it to all writers and would-be writers. Mark your calendar for WTWA 2020 June 8-12, and look up the academy information starting in March 2020.

Jodi Thomas and Tim Lewis were the hosts, and Andrea Porter was the events planner. Jodi Thomas spoke on Tuesday night on “How to Critique.” Each morning Tim Lewis started the day at breakfast with a couple of jokes and announcements. He also was available to coach those of us who had an interview with an agent

Two people
Jodi Thomas and Tom Lewis. Leaders of WTWA
Andrea Porter-coordinator-of-workshop

At breakfast Monday through Thursday we were treated to a Powerpoint by KJ Waters on Marketing. She presented a wealth of information. She has her own consultancy firm in marketing.

I chose Lori Freeland’s class which was “The Secrets of a Successful Scene: How Great Scenes Become Strong Stories.” We met from 10-12 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday noon. She lectured part of the class using Power Point, with opportunities to ask questions and she gave us a notebook and daily handouts of the lecture. Then she divided us into small groups to work together on assignments and later on our manuscripts

Two teachers
Lori Freeland on right and Margi Lawson on the left.. Teachers at WTWA
Ruth's Class
Ruth’s Class WTWA 2019
Working Group

Pictured with Lori in the top photo is Margie Lawson who was my teacher for my first online writing class and for several since. Also, last year I attended her class about strengthening your writing using a process which she developed.

I had an interview with Rachel Beck of Holloway Literary Agency and we had a very good visit about my manuscript PROMISES TO KEEP.

I have permission to submit it to her agency so I need to finish my first draft and edit it using tools I learned at WTWA.

Rachel is the one on the right sitting in the giant rocking chair at The Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo, Texas.

The Big Texan restaurant lobby. Two agents sitting in giant wooden chair

The last two pictures were taken at The Breakfast of Champions on Friday morning. One is of my next-door roommate Sharron Edmondson and me. The other is a picture of part of the breakfast group.

About half of the breakfast group gathered for the last day.
Ruth and Sharron Edmondson

Robin Patchen’s Beauty in Hiding

It was a great second installment of the Beauty series. It kept us interested and guessing. Some foreshadowing of the third book. The start of a romance with a new man, but Harper doesn’t feel she can trust anybody, even him. She’s fearful for her life and for that of her employer Red, an elderly man.This is the second in a trilogy and it is helpful, but not entirely necessary, to read the books in order.Harper Cloud discovered two dead men in Red’s house, where she lives and cares for him. Fearing for their lives, she takes Red with her and goes into hiding in a small town in New Hampshire. There she finds a kind and sympathetic landlord, Jack, who helps her find a job and get Red into an adult day care. She is fearful that either the murderers will find her or Red’s grandson Derrick, her ex-boyfriend, who’s in debt to a loan shark will find them. She discovered that Derrick had attempted to poison his grandfather because he wouldn’t give his grandson hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay his gambling debts. During the course of the book there is a hint of romance between Harper and Jack, but because of her background (given in full in book one) she is afraid to trust men. Both Red and Jack have talked with her about Jesus, and she’s working on having faith. If only bad things wouldn’t keep happening to her, it would be easier to trust Jack, and God.The book ended abruptly with Harper in a lot of trouble and made me eager to read the third book which hadn’t yet been released at that time.

Fruitless Crab Apple blooms, Signs of Spring

Spring has Sprung

We now have blossoms on our apricot tree, and hopefully they weren’t frozen by the last freeze we had.

We made a short trip to Dodge City, Kansas, during our March Spring Break. I always enjoy going through museums and adding to my knowledge of history of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Front Street was once the main street there, and replicas of the original buildings stand three now.

Pictures of re-created Front Street, the business section of old Dodge City below. 
Inside now is a combination of museum and retail. I had my first Sarsparilla in the General Store, and I found it very much like root beer. I learned it was the precursor of root beer. We went behind Front Street to visit the Boot Hill Cemetery. In later years city ordinances forced the removal of the bodies and re-interment in city  

We found out their tourist season is only in the summer. They have a Santa Fe Depot, but we couldn’t see inside it. There’s also a Harvey House restaurant and Harvey Girls’ dormitory, but again closed until June. These types of businesses play a part in my book, PROMISES TO KEEP, and I’d like to see inside so that was a bit of disappointment.

We drove about nine miles west of Dodge City to see wagon tracks from the Santa Fe Trail. I was a little disappointed because I expected to see ruts, but there were depressions in the land where the wagon trains traveled.

front street boardwalk
front street boardwalk
Boardwalk in old Dodge
Mac MCdermott headstone
Mac MCdermott headstone
Dodge City, Ks favorite soft drink

I attended the Canadian River Valley Writers’ Workshop, April 11-13 in Canadian, Texas. While there I had an opportunity for a one-on-one session with writer Tex Thompson to go over my WIP (work in progress). It was a wonderful hour that we spent talking about my book. She made suggestions on how to increase the tension and on evening out the story between the heroine and hero. I have some re-writing to do, but I’m excited about it.Jodi Thomas spoke after dinner on Friday night. She is always a great encourager. Jodi has a new book coming out on May 7th, “The Little Teashop on Main.”

JODY THOMAS AND RUTH @ CANADIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE
JODY THOMAS AND RUTH @ CANADIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE
Author Ruth Collins Picture

January Update

Jan 23, 2019

So sorry I got off to a slow start on writing Newsletters. In December I had surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator and that stopped me in my tracks on all fronts, including writing. I’m finally back to doing most of my previous activities. It’s now obvious to me that I’ll be writing Newsletters on a quarterly basis rather than monthly. I’ve found this isn’t uncommon for writers.

For the first time in my son’s life, we did not share any Christmas time with him. We’ve experienced him being with his wife’s family on Christmas, and we’d get together some time during the holidays. But Green Bay is a long way from Oklahoma!

Our daughter and her family came to our house on Sunday before Christmas. We all enjoyed the little ones’ excitement over opening packages and gift sacks. They didn’t really care whose gift it was, it was fun to open! Monday we all traveled to my mother’s house for a Christmas Eve celebration with others of my family.

My dear husband took on the task of putting up and taking down the Christmas tree by himself, while I looked on part of the time. I did enjoy our beautiful tree and other seasonal decorations.

We did have a 10-inch snow right after the first of the year. It was cold enough that it stayed around for days.

I haven’t been able to attend Oklahoma Christian Fiction Writers’ monthly meeting in many months. We’re hoping to be in Oklahoma City for the third Saturday in February for the next meeting.

Part of the time when I wasn’t able to think straight or sit up and type on my novel, I printed it out and spent time reading it out loud and marking places that needed changes. I’ve discovered that most of the 25,000 to 30,000 words I still lack for my market are needed for my sagging middle. I’ve taken classes on this. Some review and hard work writing should take care of that. In case you forgot or didn’t know, my work in progress is an inspirational historic romance that I’ve titled Promises to Keep. My main characters are Grace and Zach who embarked on a marriage of convenience in eastern New Mexico Territory, 1910.

I have a hard decision to make on whether to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers convention in September in San Antonio or the West Texas A & M University Writers’ Academy in June, which is closer and not as expensive. Both have proved excellent in my experience.

Until next time, remember —

G – God’s

R – Redemption

A – at

C – Christ’s

E – Expense

How Norway Kept Its Gold

by Cindy Stewart in Heroes, Heroines, and History

Although Norway was neutral during WWII, Nicolai Rygg, the director of Norges Bank where the nation’s gold reserves resided, made preparations in case Norway should fall or a crisis develop. Early in 1940, Rygg brought in volunteers to pack bars of gold in white painted boxes and seal them with iron bands. Bags of gold coins were packed in smaller kegs. Of the 421 million Krone stored in the bank, 300 million was shipped to the United States. The rest was left in the vault because Norwegian law did not allow all the gold to be removed from the country at one time.

After Rygg learned that German warships were headed up the Oslo Fjord on April 9th, Rygg contacted General Laake, the Commander-in-Chief of military forces, who ordered Rygg to immediately evacuate the gold to the bank in Lillehammer. Moments later, Rygg learned that the Germans already occupied major cities but hadn’t reached Oslo (the sinking of the Blücher kept the Germans from seizing the capital for an extra eight hours).
gold bar

Norges Bank at Oslo 1906-1986. Courtesy of Norges Bank.

Twenty-six trucks were chartered from local merchants, and the drivers were directed to the side entrance of the bank but were not informed about what they would be carrying. Bank guards were placed close to the bank to keep inquisitive eyes away, but the military was not used to avoid drawing attention to the operation. The bank employees loaded the gold.

 

Each truck, along with two armed bank guards, drove away immediately after loading so there was no convoy to draw the attention of the Luftwaffe. The first truck left at 8:15 AM and the last truck shortly before 1:30 PM. German soldiers marched down the main street of Oslo at exactly the same time, and the Norwegian commander of the Oslo garrison surrendered the city at 2:00 PM at the Akershus Fort, only a couple hundred yards from Norges Bank.

The gold shipment totaled 818 large crates, 685 smaller crates, and 39 kegs of gold coins. Lillehammer was 115 miles from Oslo, and the trucks traveled over snow-laden roads. Vehicles and pedestrians fleeing the capital slowed down the trucks, and people became angry because the trucks didn’t stop to help them. The last truck arrived at the bank in Lillehammer at 8:00 PM.

The bank employees in Lillehammer tucked the gold away in their vault; however, they could only unload the cargo when the Luftwaffe wasn’t flying over them. The media picked up on the activity and broadcast that trucks of gold were arriving in Lillehammer. A Trondheim newspaper also reported on the shipment, but the Germans did not pick up on the reports. The Royal Family, the Norwegian government, and the Norwegian gold had escaped for the time being!

The gold remained at Lillehammer for ten days while the Norwegians barricaded the roads and kept the Germans from advancing. Rygg checked on the gold twice and on the second trip, he asked the bank manager, Andreas Lund, to memorize the numbers to the vault lock. Frequent bombing raids forced the bank to close and wait to reopen until the planes disappeared.

On April 14th, 15 German transport planes dropped about 180 lightly armed paratroopers in the Dombås area, northwest of Lillehammer. They were spread over a wide area, and the Norwegian troops successfully killed or captured them over a five-day period. This kept the railway lines to the north and the west coast open.

 

In the mean time, it became obvious that the Germans could overtake Lillehammer at any time. Oscar Torp, the Norwegian Minister of Finance, tasked Fredrik Haslund, Secretary of the Labour Party, with transporting the gold from Lillehammer to the port of Åndalsnes where the British Royal Navy could take it safely away. On April 17th, the British—determined to assist the Norwegians in ousting the Germans—had landed a large number of troops and equipment at three Norwegian ports—Harstad, Namsos, and Åndalsnes.

At midnight on April 19th, orders came to open the bank vault door. Unfortunately due to fear and anxiety, Lund had a difficult time getting the lock to the brand new vault open—it had only been opened once before and Lund was operating by memory. He finally succeeded with the code a little past 1:00 AM.

Haslund had recruited the Lillehammer chief of police who assembled 30 volunteers who met at a secret location at 10:00 PM. They were armed with spades and shovels so they would appear to be preparing to dig trenches. Instead they were quietly transported to the bank and loaded the trucks which took the gold to the railway station, a short distance away. The gold was loaded onto the wooden railcars. A small group of soldiers was ordered to accompany the train, but the men weren’t told what they were guarding. They soon figured out the contents because of the Norges Bank initials displayed on the outside of each container.

The train left Lillehammer at 4:00 AM with its lights dimmed in case any Luftwaffe aircraft flew over. When dawn approached, the bullion train stopped at Otta and pulled onto a siding to wait for a safer time to proceed. Later, a train arrived at Otta Station from the north with three carriages full of British soldiers who had their thumbs in the air. The Norwegians were encouraged. Little did they know what dangers lay ahead.

 

The story will continue on February 1st.

 

Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

Ruth Collins:

I began reading MISTLETOE MIRACLES and enjoyed it so much I shared a summary of what I’d read with my husband. He thought it sounded so interesting that he asked me to read it to him while we traveled. We liked the way she told differently the same story of love growing between strangers. The following blurb is from the back cover of Jodi’s book.

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.

Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas.

Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.

Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit. 

The Perfect Place to Write

I have the perfect place to lose myself in my writing. I call it Ruth’s Writer Retreat. Some would call it an R-Pod travel trailer. It leads a double life.

G Pod set up as Ruth's Office
Ruth’s Office
Ruth's Writers Retreat
Ruth’s Writers Retreat

My current work in progress (WIP) I started to write in 2017. However since I attended the West Texas A&M writers’ camp in June, it has really taken off. This camp meets in June every year and I would highly recommend it.I have also taken online courses in plotting, conflict, and First Draft in Five Weeks. During the last one I really pumped up my wordcount. I wrote 30,000 words in those five weeks. So why aren’t I finished with it yet? It’ll be an 80,00-word-count inspirational historical fiction, and I’ve been distracted from my goal.What could distract me? My son has just moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin which is half a world away from Goodwell, OK. He asked me to come help him pack. I wanted to spend the time with my son so naturally I said yes. My daughter-in-law and granddaughter had gone ahead to find a house, and my 19-year-old granddaughter had a job waiting for her.What’s distracting me today? Laundry. Need I say more?A few words about my WIP. It is a “marriage of convenience” inspirational romance set in New Mexico Territory in 1910. I call it PROMISES TO KEEP.The next known distraction will be a trip to Piedmont, OK (OKC) to babysit for my daughter. It seems both she and her husband have to work the same Saturday in November. It’s a welcome distraction though as we’ll get to baby sit our 4 ½-year-old grandson and our 2-almost-3-year-old granddaughter.The truth of the matter, my husband of 47-plus years and I have been trekking to OKC and Guthrie nearly every month for several years now.I’m planning on writing a new newsletter every month, and more often if something exciting happens in our lives.

Books I have read and enjoyed

HOLD THE FORT Regina Jennings

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance hall singer, but it was the only job she could find. When the owner takes a shine to a younger singer, Louisa loses her job. The owner offers her an “upstairs” job, but she declines. She decided to go to the western fort where her brother is in the cavalry.

He has often been in trouble, and so is out of favor with the Major in charge of the fort. Louisa hopes to be able to help her brother.

On the train to Fort Reno, she meets a teacher on her way to the fort to be the governess for Major Daniel Adams’ two daughters. The teacher is no longer able to complete the assignment, so she gives the school books to Louisa to deliver to the fort.

When Louisa shows up with the school books, she is immediately thought to be the new governess, and is treated as such. She doesn’t mean to lie, but she needs a place to stay, a new job and a way to help her brother, so she allows them to think she is the new governess.

Meanwhile her brother continues to pull antics and be in more trouble. 

The Major finds Louisa in a secret meeting with her brother and thinks Louisa is meeting a beau. The Major himself finds he is attracted to Louisa.

That romance will grow until he learns of her past life as dance hall singer. Meanwhile the Major’s mother-in-law shows up at the Fort determined to take her granddaughters home with her to civilization. Of, course there is a suitable resolution.

There is a lot of humor in the book and it is a delightful read.