Anacondas & Oracles

“Where in the world is Anaconda, Montana?” Mom asks me, peering over her reading glasses.

Do I look like an oracle?

“Wait…” She starts tapping away on the hand-held shiny thingy. Mumbles something about “Googling.”

“Looks like it’s in southwest Montana. Kind of near Butte.”

I have no clue what that means. Do you? Well, Mom’s smiling. She must be pleased with herself. So I’m pleased, too. Can you see my tail wagging?

“What’s up with Anaconda and Montana?” you ask. Well, ya, see, Mom just finished a book she’s been looking to re-read for a long, long time. Not a single library in our entire state carried it. She had to order it through Inter-Library Loan.  I don’t what that means. Sounds like a hassle.

Anyway, her long-looked-for book finally showed up. From one of those book places in Anaconda, Montana. I still don’t know what that means. But Mom finished all 247 pages of that book in one day. So it must’ve been good.

What was it? Oh. You mean the title? Spencer’s Mountain. Published in 1961. By Earl Hamner, Jr. You know, The Waltons guy. Only in this book, it’s not Walton’s Mountain. It’s Spencer’s Mountain. The family patriarch is Clay Spencer. His oldest son is Clay-Boy. Not John. And not John Boy.

But Mom really loves this story about a large family growing up poor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. They made a movie out of it in 1963. With somebody called Henry Fonda as Clay Spencer. And another someone called Maureen O’Hara as Olivia Spencer, the mom. Some guy name “James MacArthur” plays Clay Boy.

“The movie closely parallels the book,” observes Mom. Even including the Rockfish River, Hickory Creek, and Charlottesville. Of course, the names of all the children are different than in the TV Waltons. But that’s another story.

Speaking of stories, have you ordered your copy of Mom’s latest book? It’s a little bit like this Spencer thing: The Small Things: What ‘The Waltons’ Taught Me About Writing & More.

Find out more at Shushes, Small Things & Plain Vanilla.

Arf! Arf!


Shushes, Small Things, & Plain Vanilla


I’ve heard this a lot lately. Mom’s been working on a project. She calls it The Story. She’s spent like a million years at her keyboard working on it. Or maybe it’s only been 20 minutes?

Anyway, The Story is finally finished. Here it is! (Can I bark now? Like, real loud? Cuz this is like a big bark-worthy thing here, ya know?!)

Find out more at: The Small Things: What ‘The Waltons’ Taught Me About Writing & More.

Here’s one of my favorite parts. Near the end:

High above the river a bald eagle soars in slow circles. Dropping like a stone, the majestic raptor glides low over the water, talons out, and spears a fish. Great wings beating, he climbs to the nearest conifer to tear and eat. Northwest clouds cough out a cold chorus as sable night seeps over the Olympic Mountains.

Night rings down the curtain on day. Ideas roll around in my head like lost pennies. Small things like eucalyptus trees. A Michigan dairy farm. Guitar lessons. A first love. Girl’s chorus and my first creative writing teacher. Lunches and lagoons. Summer adventures and sheer stupidity. Time is like a penny. Life stories that don’t always go the way we planned. Clark Park, to which I’ve never returned….

… Peering out the window at a rising moon, I give thanks for family, friends, and a roof over my head. I recall A.J. Covington’s advice to a fledgling Walton writer and pad back to my keyboard. I can’t help but smile. You were right, Doc. You were right, indeed.

Mom says, “Sometimes even ‘plain vanilla’ has flavor.”

You’ll get that if you get The Story. Woof!

What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Someone who shall remain nameless (hi, Mom) forgot to get me breakfast the other day. So I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy when she started sniffing about a well-worn Christmas writing contest going the way of the Dodo.

“I’ve been writing and submitting entries to that site’s annual writing contest for years,” whined Her Mom-ness. “I’ve even won a couple times. So what’s up with The Final Shutdown?”

“Now you know how I feel?” I wanted to say. I wagged my tail instead. Offered to share my favorite treat with her. She wasn’t interested. Even though these goodies are “100% natural. Non-GMO.” Made “with real mixed berries.” Okay, so it was pre-chewed. But only a little.

“Mom? Mom!” I said, trying to get her back on track. You know how writers are. “Stop that whining already. I’m trying to think here!”

Now. Where was I?

Anyway, Mom kinda didn’t know what to do after being thrown for that wet cat. I’ll let her narrate in her own words (sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste.)

Her Mom-Ness:

Wanting to get a running start on the Christmas story contest season in 2017, I wrote a seasonal story in the fall of last year, as the Indian summer of September slid into the cool kindliness of October. When I sat down to submit it, I found that the site was no longer running the contest. “We hope to be back next year,” the site admin replied to my inquiry. “Please feel free to submit your story in 2018.”

I dug up my 2017 story, One Cold Night, dusted it off and polished it up for submission to the 2018 Christmas story contest. To my dismay, I discovered that not only was the contest not going on this year, but the entire web site had been scrubbed. Closed. History. Gone.

“That was a lot of work for nothing,” I thought.


So Her Mom-ness decided to do something else. “Just because that site no longer exists doesn’t mean I or my story have to follow suit.”

So she spiffed up her story. Ignored the contest-imposed 800 word limit. Added about 600 words. “Now it’s a micro story,” she chirped. “I’ll just publish it myself.”

As in, if a door closes, find another way in. Or open a window.

This right after I gently reminded her about breakfast. With the subtlety of a ton of dog chow. Priorities, ya know?

Mmm… Mom’s Christmas micro tale… crunch… arf… is called… mmmm… good… One Cold Night. And you can get it for FREE right here. It’s almost as good as breakfast! Crunch…. munch… yum…


So I Did

They came out of the woodwork. Friends. Romans. Fellow countrymen and women.

Following the publication of the most popular post on my blog about the loss of our good dog, Eve, the inevitable question was, “When are you going to write more about Eve? We want to know more about you and your dog. You should write a book!”

So I did:

From the back cover:

Nobody told Eve she was a “cast off” dog nobody wanted. Or that she was headed for the pound. But when a family of six took her in, they never imagined the unbreakable bond of love and loyalty that would develop. Or how deeply a “palomino sirocco’ on four legs would touch their hearts.

What readers are saying:

What a beautiful story. The author strikes a balance between tragedy and loss and joy as she describes the special bond between humans and their canine companions. I highly recommend “Forever, Eve” to very dog lover and to everyone who’s ever loved. This brief poignant book touched my heart. Treat yourself to a great read.

Reduced price for a limited time!

Grab your copy here.


Are Your Veins Open?

Public domain

One of my all-time favorite writing quotes is by sportswriter Walter “Red” Smith:

There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  

If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. If not, well. Hang on a min. It goes like, “I sometimes think that if my veins were cut, they would bleed Mount Rainier snow melt.”

12 Top Trails at Mount RainierThat’s because my latest, 12 Top Trails at Mount Rainier, combines two long-time faves: hiking and Mount Rainier National Park.

From the Author’s Note:

Asking a Rainieraholic like me which Mount Rainier trail is her “favorite” is like asking a mom which kid she likes best. So selecting the “top 12” trails at one of the world’s most majestic mountain sites isn’t quite like falling off a Douglas fir, if you know what I mean. But as my dear hubby, Old Iron Knees, says: You were born to write this book.

Why does he say that? Well, either he hasn’t yet had his morning caffeine fix, or he knows I’ve been hiking Mount Rainier National Park since 1964. I have a pretty good view of the Mountain’s trails from my perch here in the nosebleed section of the “50+ yard line.”

I wouldn’t trade it for all the snow in Paradise.

So this little tome is my version of Top 12 Trails at Mount Rainier National Park (MRNP). Kindly note that it is my version of top trails at Mount Rainier. Not yours. Meaning, this list is highly subjective. If you don’t mind, neither do I. Also note that these are day hikes. Not week or month-long adventures or multi-night backpacking excursions. Savvy? …

And just so we understand each other: This isn’t another Mount Rainier trail guide. If you’re looking for mileage, elevation gain, landmarks or where to park, etc., some of that’s included. But 12 Top Trails is more like a trail guide/personal narrative/carpe diem/how in the world can you miss any of these, because your life’s not complete till you do kind of tome. Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor. Just sayin.’

Includes trails in Longmire/Reflection Lakes area, Paradise, Sunrise, and Chinook Pass. Part trail guide, part memoir, part humor. All heart. Or in this case, Mount Rainier snow melt.

Happy trails!



‘Something Big’

“Just a few more minutes” Dad whispered as orange tongues of flame licked the yurt’s wood-burning stove, “and we’ll be warm as toast.”  He winked.  Burrowed under a mountain of blankets, I winked back.

There was Something Big in Dad.  Something you didn’t see at first.  Something you had to look for.

Mt. Rainier Refl. Lakes RESIZEThese are the first two paragraphs in my true-life short story, The Monument.  I just received word that The Monument won First Place in the Christian Creative Writer’s Short Story Contest.

Read the full story here.  It’s short. I promise.  Let me know what you think in the Comments section.


Also – have we connected on Facebook? Like my page here.  Don’t forget to connect on Twitter.  Catch my tweets at Road Diverged.  If you’re a writer or outdoor woodsy hiking type, I follow back!

One other quick announcement: I’m taking off the rest of August thru mid-September to focus on some family projects and priorities. See you back when temperatures start to drop and the winds turn chilly!

‘A Likely Story’ Coming Soon!

A Likely Story: When Spiritual Abuse Comes Knocking is coming soon to Kindle!

Controversy clouds the departure of women’s ministry director Rhoda Pemberton after her sudden exodus from Maple Glen Community Church. No is talking, least of all Pastor Pearson.

Rhoda shows up at her best friend’s door in a downpour, desperate for healing from something she scoffed at until it happened to her. Can two lifelong friends – a soul-sick skeptic and the founder of LightLife Christian Counseling – battle an unseen darkness and fight their way through to health and hope? Or will shame and stonewalling short-circuit their quest for truth?

Includes ‘What Is Spiritual Abuse”‘, 13 Tips for Healing and Hope, and Resources.

Coming soon to Kindle:

A Likely Story:

When Spiritual Abuse Comes Knocking.

By yours truly.

Keep an eye out!

FREE (No. Really.)

FREE Christmas Gift!

Grandma Peggy's Kitchen Cover.1

If you’re not yet in the Christmas spirit, grab a free copy of my newest ebook, Holiday Recollections & Recipes from Grandma Peggy’s Kitchen.  Favorite, time-tested recipes plus easy, inexpensive craft ideas to spruce up your home for the season.  Also a section on Simply Celebrate! – which pretty much says it all.

Grandma Peggy’s Kitchen is my Christmas gift to you to thank you for reading.  Download your free copy here.

A Favor?

Would you do me a favor?  If you enjoyed this brief book, kindly share the links and/or post a review.  Thanks.

Isabella's Torch Cover Photo.3Also, my Thanksgiving-themed memoir, Isabella Torch, is still available.  Yours free here.  Stir up a mug of hot cocoa, add a peppermint stick, a cozy fireplace and treat yourself to a two-fer!

Stay warm and well and Merry Christmas!

To Thank You…

How did it get to be November already?  Weren’t we ringing in the New Year just last week?

The older I get, the faster time flies.  That’s one reason I decided to write  Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir

We set aside a time for thanks and reflection in just a few days.  In between the feasting, football and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, may I make a suggestion?  Sit down with your family.  Hold hands.  Count your blessings.  Hug your kids.  Thank the One who’s the Source of every good and perfect gift.

The fourth Thursday in November is a time for thanks.  To thank you, my loyal reader, I’m offering a FREE download of my latest ebook, Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir.   It’s brief and centers around family, hearth and home.  You can read it during halftime.

Oh, and do me a favor?  If you enjoy Isabella’s Torch, how ’bout taking a minute or two to post a review at Smashwords?  I’d be thankful!

Just click for a free download.  Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!

… And now for a shameless plug…

Forgiveness: What It Is, What It Isn't, Why It Matters

“Genuine forgiveness isn’t for wusses or weaklings,” writes author Kristine Lowder in her new release, Forgiveness: What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters.  “It can require immense strength, fortitude and grace.”

Emphasizing that  forgiveness is always a choice,Lowder says  “Choosing to forgive does not mean you have to excuse bad behavior, or return to an unhealthy, abusive, or unsafe environment.”  She cautions, “Forgiving doesn’t mean going back for more.”   Examples  from the Amish community, an Auschwitz survivor, Jesus and many others are included.

Brisk and brief, this book’s “kitchen conversation” flavor is peppered with personal anecdotes, historical examples and real-life observations.  It includes a look at  “trigger-happy forgiveness,” essential elements of an apology, the necessary link between repentance and reconciliation, apologizing versus blame-shifting, seven steps toward forgiveness, when and how to apologize, forgiveness praying and spiritual warfare.  Lowder also debunks common “forgiveness myths” and  cites physical, spiritual and psychological benefits of forgiveness.

In Why It Matters: The Fight, Lowder asks, “Why are unity and charity within the Body so hard to find?  Why is it easier to allow a broken relationship to stay broken than it is to do the hard work of peace-making and rebuilding?  It’s almost as if something or someone is set against us.”  Someone is.  Find out how to fight back.

Includes How to Apologize and Mean It, Reconciliation Readiness Indicators, and a recommending reading list. Forgiveness: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Why It Matters offers real help to real people with real questions.

Available in both trade paperback and as a digital download. To order, click here.


An independent writing professional and creative consultant, Kristine Lowder is a multi-published author specializing in creative non-fiction, inspirational fiction and humor. Her byline has appeared in hundreds of publications as well as several anthologies including Whispers of Inspiration, Our Fathers Who Art in Heaven and A Pixel-Perfect Christmas.