On a cold December day...

...the day after Christmas 2011, in fact, we flew into Boston. We went from Texas weather of 50-something
My hubby getting acclimated to Boston
weather, while we wait for my sis to pick us up
at Logan Airport.
degrees to a brisk 25 or so. My poor hubby, a stranger in a strange land, gathered a few looks when he slipped on his Dallas Cowboys pullover jacket after we claimed our luggage at Logan.

We went to celebrate a late Christmas with my family -- I'll never forget the look of surprise on my mother's face when she walked into my sister's spare bedroom and found us there! -- and I also seized the opportunity to visit New Bedford, the setting of Tempest's Course.

Behind every book is a stack of research, and sometimes a heroic spouse willing to go along for the ride.

Which C.J. did, a few days after Christmas, when we borrowed my sister's car and drove to New Bedford for the day.

Google can make planning trips to places you've never been a lot easier, so I went armed with my list of places to visit. That, and good gloves and scarves. The day was sunny, but temperatures that day only reached 32 degrees. Add that to a breeze coming off the harbor and it even made the locals shiver!

C.J. looked less than thrilled when I told him we were parking in the parking garage and walking a block to the historic district. We found it easily by the cobblestone streets, and warmed up with a visit to the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. He loves history as much as I do, so we immersed ourselves in New Bedford of the past while we thawed out.

Then we kept strolling through the historic district, taking photos of the Seaman's Bethel and other notable sites. I didn't go to the New England Whaling Museum, although the idea was tempting.

This Cowboys fan wore a New England
Patriots hat. This is how cold he was!
On a side street, we found a delightful little place called Destination Soups, where I had some delicious clam chowder. I don't recall what C.J. had, but he enjoyed the food and warmth. A few locals struck up a conversation when they saw his jacket and his hat. The hat, of course, wasn't his, but borrowed from our brother-in-law.

Finally, this merciful wife suggested we head back to the car and find the Rotch-Jones-Duff house.

"Does this mean we'll be indoors?" he asked.

I assured him that yes, we would be.

Hats off to my southern hubby and being such a good sport as his wife dragged him around in the cold, outside, in December, all for the sake of a book.

When Christmas Stinks

This is an old blog post I blew the dust off, to share again today. 

You can feel it in the air. Everyone’s talking about baking, Christmas parties, good foods, beloved traditions, gifts they’ve tucked away,and leaving town to see friends and family. The feeling can be almost contagious.
Most of us have endured Christmases we’d rather forget. Because troubles don’t keep Christmas from coming. It comes anyway, and if we look at the sparkling joy around us and don’t feel it, we feel like downers who might ruin the most perfect Christmas party.
The new town we’ve just moved to doesn’t have those special memories and people we love. When we’re unemployed, the bare space under the Christmas tree taunts us. After a divorce or breakup, the Christmas parties and gatherings are filled with people who still have their “someone.” No amount of gifts can fill the gap at the dinner table after the death of a loved one, nor the empty space next to us in the bed after losing a spouse. When our hours are filled, not with fun at the mall and baking, but sitting beside a hospital bed, Christmas can seem a million miles away. Painful changes come our way, and sometimes it’s reflected in Christmas.
Isn’t that a sometimes a good thing, though? Because the first Christmas was steeped in trouble, its preceding months filled with scandal and rumor. I often wonder if Mary liked to have things just so, or if she was a go-with-the-flow kind of girl. 
“Sure, I’ll give birth in a cave. Without my mom nearby, in a strange town, without any of my family here. And my ‘midwife’ is my husband, and the baby’s not his.” Talk about a reality show!
When she and Joseph were engaged, they probably had plenty of plans. Don’t we all? 
But we never plan for sickness, separation, bereavement, economic hardship. We don’t plan for the bottom to drop out of our worlds, especially at Christmas time.
What can we do, then, to find something to celebrate? In the hard times, peeling away the wrapping paper and gifts, the parties that come and go, the songs that fade, we get to the heart of the celebration: hope.
The world can be a dark place, and without the hope of Christmas, we don’t have the comfort of knowing we’re not alone. We don’t have the assurance of God’s provision for our needs. But our hope came wrapped in swaddling clothes and tucked in a manger. That is a reason to celebrate, and get to know Jesus, the child who grew up to reunite us with God, the source of all peace. Without Him, all the celebrations are never enough. With Him, we can always find something to celebrate.
We can put our troubles aside, for a moment, and reach out to someone else. Find one new thing, something meaningful, to celebrate at Christmas. This season will pass and Christmas will change for us from now on. But it’s going to be okay. We have a promise. Hold onto hope! Fear not!
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Happy birthday, Tempest's Course!

December 17, 2013 is here at last! I've been looking forward to this date for two years.

Two years ago this month I had the chance to travel to New Bedford, Massachusetts and spend a day researching for Tempest's Course. I visited the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park and dove into the city's past.

The front parlor of the Rotch-Jones-Duff house
New Bedford was once dubbed "the city that lit the world" and was the hub of New England's whaling trade. Because the 1850s were really where the story of Tempest's Course began, I needed to walk through the city's history. The part of me who's a history buff strolled the cobblestoned streets, and saw the Seaman's Bethel where Herman Melville attended services.

However, New Bedford wasn't my first choice of a setting for Tempest's Course. A very long stone's throw across the harbor lies the smaller town of Fairhaven.

Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? "Fairhaven."

However, Fairhaven didn't have the draw that New Bedford did for me, and for Tempest's Course.

Despite its warm-sounding name, the town lost out on the setting when I began delving more into the history of the quilt and Mary Gray.

Poor, poor Mary. The seamstress of the Mariner's Compass quilt in Tempest's Course made some decisions that, like ripples on a pond, turned into waves that affected the present.

About Tempest's Course
Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal city of New Bedford to restore an over 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt. But there is one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House, a former whaling captain's home, where the quilt is stored. There she meets Army veteran Tom Pereira, the caretaker of Gray House, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky Massachusetts coastline. Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she and Tom grow closer. And as she reads stories in a daily journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns the secrets of the quilt and Mary's own sad tale of regret, as an unseen adversary tries to keep Kelly from learning the biggest secret of all.

How Does a Facebook Party Work?

Good question -- I'm glad you asked. 

I wasn't sure what that meant before I "went" to a Facebook party. 

So you've received the invitation to the Christmas Bee on Tuesday night, or you heard about it on Facebook or Twitter, and you've clicked the "Join" button. Now what?

Well, now this event will be on your list of events on your Facebook Home page. If you go to your home page, you'll see it listed along with birthdays of your friends this week.

Facebook will remind you (if you have your settings that way) when the party is coming. But, let's go with the assumption that you are beyond excited about our fun chat Tuesday night and you're rarin' to go. Except you just don't know how it works.

On Tuesday night, right before the event starts, go to your Facebook Home page. 

Click on "Events." You'll see the Events link on the left side of the page, two spots below the News link.

Look for the Quilts of Love "Christmas Bee" listing. Click on that.

Voila! -- You're at the party. Start watching the "posts" on the middle of the page. You'll see our moderator, Quilts of Love, start posting questions. Vannetta Chapman, Lisa Carter, and I will also be posting too.

Make sure you have your favorite beverage on hand, and join on in with the conversation.

That's all there is to it. Can't wait to "see" you there!

Several giveaways of Tempest's Course

Wow, here it is only two weeks from the official release date for Tempest's Course!

Two years ago, I was diving headfirst into the Christmas season but also looking forward to flying to Boston from Texas for several reasons--to visit my family, spoil my little nephew and celebrate his first birthday, and also research for Tempest's Course.

In the coming days, I'm going to share about the research fun at places like Museum Textile Services in Andover, Mass., the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Mass., and traipsing through historic New Bedford.

For now, though, I'm sharing some links that you can visit this week to read some interviews about my real-life romance and get a sneak peek at the first page of Tempest's Course.

Visit Shannon Taylor Vannatter's Inkslinger Blog today and tomorrow, and read up on my real-life romance. Shannon will be drawing a name for a winner after December 14th.

Also, stop by Lena Nelson Dooley's blog and read a fun Q&A I had with Lena.

Then, last but not least, check out the December new releases list. They have a BUNCH of books up for grabs, but you have to enter to win. See the list, read more about the books, and enter HERE.

Have a super Tuesday!

~ Lynette