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Monday, June 20, 2016

Wishing Well

This past Saturday was a great day to be outside. The humidity was low and the sky was a beautiful blue. I was thinking a long walk or a picnic would be a good idea, but Carl had other plans. Earlier I said I'd help out, so how could I back out?  Saturday was the day we stained and painted our wishing well that sits at the front of our yard by the mailbox.  Carl built the well two years ago and it was in need of some TLC. The wood was begging for paint and stain.

The project took about 5 hours, and at the end, Carl said I should add a sign I'd painted weeks ago --- WELCOME. At first, I wasn't sure the sign would add to it, but then I began to see he was right. I think the sign gives it that extra "accessory" that makes it sparkle.

As we cleaned brushes and put lids back on paint cans, Carl said, "See? We can work well together."

If you are in the neighborhood, you are welcome to stop by and have a look.  Feel free to toss in a coin or two, make a wish.  And if you'd like to purchase the wishing well and transport it to your yard, we're open to that.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Random Reflections of a Passionate Neglector

This morning I announced that I'm a Neglector.

I said it aloud: "I am a Neglector," and instead of feeling bad or beaten up, I felt honest and authentic. I had admitted a truth about myself and apparently, that's okay to do.

I neglect so many things from the master bathroom to friends to projects to this blog. I think one of my problems is that I have great ambition but the follow-through is lacking.

Acknowledging that I start things and don't complete them actually frees me to focus on what I have started and have finished. And it brings me to what I want to do, what I would do if I had more hours in the day.

Life can be crowded with all the things you have to do----pay the water bill, buy groceries, earn money, sleep, take a shower-----and pretty soon you realize that you are going to have to make time for the passionate things, the things that call your name when you stand before a sunrise and take in its beauty.

I'm all about lists, especially To-Do ones, so I made a list.  This was not about want needed to be done, but the kind of list to boost my ego.  I jotted down the recent small tasks I had accomplished: cutting old clothes for rags in our workshop (our woodworking business), having family over for Mother's Day, crafting my own recipe for a summer iced drink, arranging for a lawn service to mow our weeds--- er----yard, washing the car (that was on my to-do list for three weeks) cleaning the downstairs bathroom (guests do have to use this one).

As I reflected on my list, I realized that often it's important to have only a few projects at a time.  What's the point in overdoing it?  And is it wise to put whimsical ideas down on a To-Do list?  Learn to play the saxophone, learn to paint like Monet.

As much as I love the feel and smell of the Lowe's and The Home Depot nurseries at spring, I know that I'm not going to be a gardener.  Yes, I love the idea of growing our own tomatoes and have enjoyed sun-ripened juicy Better Boys from a small garden we used to have.  But when I hear my gardener neighbors talk about how they find peace and serenity while working in their beds of lettuce and Swiss chard, I know that right now in my life, gardening is a whim; I am not willing to take the time to dig in dirt and remember to water. That does not bring me any tranquility. I do, however, appreciate the produce from their gardens that my neighbors share with me. I'd like to be passionate gardener, but I'm not going to throw myself into it because I have other things that are calling me in louder voices.

Our business calls me because it allows us to make money to pay things like the electric bill and buy wine and cheese. When a business is new, it takes all your time and then some.  You have to promote it, come up with new ideas, iron out the kinks, make it work. It's both exciting and exhausting (as is working with my husband).

Lately, I ask myself if my desire to accomplish something stands the test of time. This comes with knowing myself and doing some serious self-examining. Is this a goal I really want to accomplish? Is this goal feasible? Do I need another task to neglect?

It seems these days I have few hours in the week to read for pleasure and to write. I dream of spending a week at a cabin by a river and eating chocolate, reading for inspiration, and being creative. Writing my memoir has not just been softly calling me; it's been hounding me  After four years, I still want to do it. Over the years, I've written articles for publications about making time for writing. I made it all sound possible and I know it is, but that was when I was a full-time author.  Now we have a full business and between promoting it online, emailing customers, and helping my husband with crafting the orders, there leaves little time to be creative.

I steal moments here and there to work on my memoir.  I might be 60 when it's finished, but I won't neglect it because it is my passion.  I want to persevere. I just hope I get it completed before I die. 

How about you?  What do you neglect?  What have you given up in order to pursue your passion? How do you find the time/make the time to do what beckons you at sunrise?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Morning with Author Rose Johnson

This morning, I'm glad to have Rose Johnson at the Patchwork Quilt Blog to tell us about her new novel, My Father's House.

Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to her one constant – her father’s love. But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning with her father’s sudden death. There begins Lily’s struggle to find herself and a life she thinks is gone forever.   

Marriage to her prince charming promises fulfillment, but their happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Beneath the sophisticated fa├žade lies a brooding man who hides dark secrets. When all Lily’s illusions of happiness shatter, she must make hard choices – abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. . . . 

In spite of heartbreak and regrets, will she find the strength to survive whatever comes? Or will her husband find her and shatter all her hopes . . . again. This is one woman’s compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to faith and who she’s meant to be . . . in her father’s house.

 What others are saying about My Father's House:

Fast-paced and entertaining, Rose Johnson crafts a debut novel that is sure to delight readers.
--Alice J. Wisler, award-winning author of Rain Song and How Sweet It Is

Talk about a book drawing me in! I was enchanted by Lily Rose from the beginning and very much wanted to know how her story unfolds. My Father’s House is at once a sweet romance and a page-turning thriller. Kudos to debut novelist Rose Chandler Johnson for a job well done!
--Ann Tatlock, award-winning novelist

Rose Chandler Johnson has written a story that tugs at your memories and your heart. Even when loving the wrong man creates devastating hurt and pain, she shows you can turn back and God will lead you through the darkness into the light. Take the mistakes, bring good out of bad and lead us back where we belong with those who love us, pour joy in our hearts and give us a new beginning.
--Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine.

About Rose . . .  
My Father’s House is Rose’s first novel. Her devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments won the Georgia Author of the Year Finalist Award in 2014. It was also awarded the Selah Finalist Award in the same year. Rose enjoys writing for her blog, Write Moments with God and engaging with her readers. A native Georgian, Rose has lived in a suburb of Augusta for the last thirty years. Before retiring from Georgia’s public school system, Rose taught English and French. She is currently an adjunct English instructor at a community college. In addition to reading and writing, Rose enjoys cooking, sewing, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their growing families. And yes, sweet iced tea is her beverage of choice.

My Father’s House is available on Amazon.
Amazon author page:

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and through your local independent book stores.

Connect with Rose:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Writing in Spring

Spring is the time to sit down and write!  Or take a walk and see what you come up with.  Let the warmer weather and the beauty around you open a world of writing. 

I like to take my pen and notebook to a park and see what transpires. While seated near a stream, I've met talking turtles and a team of dancing flowers.  (They were included in one of my books.) After writing for a bit, I get up and walk. Walking generates a host of ideas, dialog, and emotions. These can be used in your writing.

Spend fifteen minutes a day writing whatever comes to mind.  You'll be surprised at what those moments with your thoughts can produce. Writing for a specific amount of time each day is an opportunity to get some problems solved (the more you write, the better chance you'll have at coming up with solutions). I call it cheap therapy.  It's also a great way to boost your word count for your current work-in-progress.

Let this spring cultivate your writer's heart!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"If I hate, I should hate war itself."

(Taken during the 9th grade field trip, January 29, 2016.)

When I wrote my novel, I didn't know her. But because I wrote my novel, I got the opportunity to meet her in Kobe, Japan. Sometimes things happen that you never expect.

Tiny, humorous, endearing, Koko Tanimoto Kondo told her story inside the Canadian Academy auditorium to ninth grade students. She was just eight months old the day her world exploded.  Literally. The Enola Gay did what it was sent to do over her hometown of Hiroshima. At just 1.2 kilometers away from the epicenter, the Tanimoto house crashed around Koko and her mother. When Mrs. Tanimoto regained consciousness, she heard a baby cry.

That baby belonged to her. She had to do something quick.

Koko was too little to know what was happening to her city at that moment, but over the years, she heard the story and now tells it to audiences across Japan and the USA. "My mother made a hole (in the debris) and was able to make it out," she said.  "Our house was on fire."   Her father was working at his church that morning, but desperate to find his family.

Koko grew up angry.  She wanted to "get back" at the people who had destroyed her city. She wanted to punch and kick those who had marred the faces of the older girls who came to her father's church after the attack. Their faces----distorted from the burns of the bomb's blast. Their bodies, disfigured and permanently scarred.

Authors always have their characters and novels close by in their hearts.  More than anything, we want to be authentic in our portrayal of both history and human emotions. As I listened to Koko talk, I briefly made a mental note:  It's in line.  What I meant was how I portrayed my characters following the attack. In my World War II novel, Under the Silk Hibiscus, I let my characters (Japanese-Americans living in Heart Mountain, a Wyoming internment camp) be devastated by what the USA had done to their country of origin. Papa Mori had family in Hiroshima----his home town before coming to California to raise his own family----and getting letters about relatives dying from radiation tore him up inside. He was only a shadow of the man he once was when the war finally ended.

Koko's words brought another scene from my novel to mind as she continued her talk.

When she was in fifth grade, she and her family (after their story had been documented in John Hersey's Hiroshima) were invited to be on the American show, This is Your Life. Koko recalled that day and lifting a fist into the air, told us that at that time she was ready to punch and kick the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, also a guest on the show.  She wanted revenge.  When the host of the show asked Captain Robert Lewis how he felt after dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, the co-pilot said, "Hiroshima disappeared. And I said, 'My God, what have we done?'"

Instantly, Koko saw the "bad evil" in herself.  "If I hate, I should hate war itself.  Not this person," she recalled. Slowly, like a crab, she walked over to Captain Robert Lewis. She just wanted to touch his hand. When she got close to him and reached out her hand, he took it and squeezed.


Nathan, my main character, forgives an American soldier from Heart Mountain, the camp where Nathan was interned.  Was the forgiveness realistic? As I listened to Koko's rationale for forgiveness, I knew that forgiveness for a act so grievous could be granted. For like Koko, my fictitious Nathan realized that he was just as wretched in his own heart as the soldier was. He desired to be forgiven and, in turn, knew that he wanted to forgive his enemy. God's grace.

Under the Silk Hibiscus at Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan

Again, I made a note:  It's in line. Check!

Koko, now 71-years-old, promotes peace.  "It's up to you," she said to the students in the auditorium, as she encouraged them to become peace keepers. "Will you help me to spread peace in this world?  I want you to be the ones to change the world."

After her talk, I was invited to eat lunch with her and Bob Hengal, a teacher at Canadian Academy who was instrumental in bringing me from my home in North Carolina to the school as an alumna author. Koko's lively comments over each course that was served showed appreciation for the culinary experience. Before we parted at the train station, we had photos taken together.

It was an unexpected day of inspiration coupled with a wealth of history for this missionary kid born and raised in Osaka.  It was one of those experiences that are so monumental that you feel you don't deserve, but you are graciously given.

And gratitude dances in your heart.

Koko Kondo and me, daughters of ministers
Kobe, Japan

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Breaking the Band Saw: An Author Looks at a Change in Plans

Do what you are called to do and do it well.

It sounds like advice a mom would give a child.  You know, be yourself, everyone else is already taken. Pep words.

Actually, it's advice I've had to tell myself as I've embarked on a new journey.  This venture is not one I had on my wish list.  Like any author-at-heart, my list consisted of meg-book deals, fame, and speaking engagements.  A purpose, fulfillment. I also wanted readers to like my stories, of course. Oh, and money for the mortgage, those bills, and Earl Grey tea.  Dear God, please hear my prayer.

So what happened when the tide changed and I found myself sailing away from that sunny island, that big dream, the one I had had a taste of, but wanted more of?  What happened when the boat turned into the wild and windy sea?

In other words, what transpired when a little business morphed into a bigger story?

First, I thought my husband Carl could make all the products and I'd just do what I'm good at---customer service. But after he complained that he needed someone to help him with the increasing orders, I knew I needed to enter the garage-transformed-into-workshop and get to know tools bigger than hammers and needle-nose pliers.

I have no skill set for this, I reminded God in case He had forgotten how I broke the band saw blade one evening last spring. And how mad Carl had been, emphasizing how I don't listen to instruction. God, I'm so much more comfortable creating characters.

As Carl became swamped with orders, I had to put my settings and characters aside and put my full attention into the business.  After all, it was making us money, much more than novel-writing.

Months later, I'm still the one emailing customers, and, when necessary, calling them. I take the photos of our products and write the listings for four of the five online sites where we sell.  But I also get dirty. I stain, sand, and paint.  I help install new lights in our workshop. I use a drill press and don't call it a drill saw and have not broken it. . .   yet. I have been to Lowes and The Home Depot more times in the last three weeks than I've been to my old hangout, the library. I've even gotten bold and tried my hand at making some of my own wood creations on our new laser-engraver.

Carved By Heart continues to evolve and gets noticed for many of its products----especially our Log Cabin Mailbox that was featured in Reader's Digest and at PeeWee Herman's blog.

Instead of a review from a reader, I get emails from customers that say things like:
Wow!!! Just got the most wonderful call from my brother!!! He absolutely loves his gift and said he has always wanted one. Thank you!!! (The brother had lost his young wife a year ago.)

And people have paid money for my mini bird house ornaments and wood Christmas blocks!

Perhaps a book deal will happen sometime in the future . . .  Perhaps not . . .

Right now I'm grateful.  I'm thankful knowing that this business is what God has called us to do.  A husband-wife team of working every day together is not an easy feat and Carl and I have had our struggles. But even in the midst of communication that goes sideways or sheer stress due to machines that need parts that aren't readily available or spending four hours packaging and mailing out orders (13 of them came in just yesterday; we mailed out 31 last week), there is a deep sense of fulfillment.

Best of all, I see that God is doing a work in my heart.  Surrounded by machines and tools, God's voice speaks to me about love, patience, humility, and forgiveness. As I work with pine and birch, I learn the need to pay attention to detail. Along with the wood, I'm being crafted into whatever this is God has for me now.

There is nothing like doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Have faith.  Trust.  In His time, He reveals what He has for us, especially as we enter seasons of new beginnings.

****    Carved By Heart is having a sale this weekend.  Stop by and see what we've got for you!  ****

Friday, November 20, 2015

Author Interview: Carol A. Brown

Hello, readers!  Today Carol A. Brown is my guest and I'll be asking her some questions about her newest children's book.  

Hi, Carol, welcome to The Patchwork Quilt.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog! I always enjoy sharing with others.

For those who aren't familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I began writing in 1996 about highly sensitive people and how sensitivity affects you as in individual. My purpose was to give voice and vocabulary for people’s experience of life. It was a lot of work and I was relieved when it was done! I told God that I didn’t want to do any more hard books. I guess He was good with that because then He downloaded the stories in the Sassy Pants series!

Whether I am writing for adults or children, my focus is to leave the reader not only with a nugget of knowledge, but that they are in some way wiser, stronger in character and more able to make wise decisions. I believe humor helps us learn more easily so you will find I use it liberally!

How many books have you written? 

I’ve written 3 for adults and about 10 for children.  Three of them are published.

What is the hardest thing about writing for you? 

Editing is tedious for me, but the marketing aspects of writing bewilder and nearly overwhelm me. So, I am very thankful for my friend and publisher. She keeps me on task and grounded!

Do you ever get discouraged? 

Yes, but not with the writing as much as with my energy level which impacts how much I can do on any given day.

How do you overcome it? 

I’ve learned that the fastest way to come out of a physical or mental slump is to be gracious and give myself permission to recover at whatever pace my body sets for me. I’ve also learned that growing joy in relationships kick-starts energy.

Can you tell us about your new book? 

Sassy Pants Learns About Strange Creatures finds her worrying about reactions as she tries to make amends and encounters critters that are different from herself or any other resident of Farmer White’s farm. She is not sure how to react! She seeks the advice of someone older and wiser. She learns there is a “strange” that is just different from me – these are friends you have not yet met. And then there is “strange” that is dangerous and that requires a very different reaction! She discovers an entirely different picture of her father.

Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp? 

Yes  Fear and worry exaggerate our problemsThe good news is that we can overcome fear and worry.  And secondly, if we can not be offended by differences (like looks or smell) we may find a good friend. On the other hand, some strangers are truly dangerous. We need to learn the difference and know who to call for help.

What inspired you to write this book?  

My husband urged me to write a sequel to the first book in the Sassy Pants series. He argued that she was so naughty in the first book that I should give her the opportunity to redeem herself. But I didn’t have another story in me. I even asked God’s help in convincing him there were no more stories, and that was when God downloaded the rest of the series. So . . . here we are!

Do you have any other books in the works? 

Yes, there is an adult devotional that is in process and at least three more children’s books in this series.

Do you talk to your characters? 

Yes! Of course, that’s how I find out what is going on with them. Some of the characters in the novels I’ve not yet written will step out periodically and ask if I’m ready to start. I hate to send them back, but I have to finish publishing these children’s stories. Then I will be free to begin the research.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 

When you have an urge from God, an inspiration or idea, start writing as fast as you can. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling—fix that later when the inspiration is spent. Then go to someone whom you trust “with the things precious to you” and have them read it. Ask for an honest reaction/critique. You can become so involved with what you write—you know what you mean—that you can miss important transitions and places that need further clarification. You can make connections in your mind that you have not put down on paper, which can leave readers scratching their heads. Another writer friend can point these places out for you.

Thank you again for hosting me!  Blessings!

About Carol
“I began telling stories when I had enough brothers to make an audience!” (She has four brothers and one sister!) She and her husband reside in Grand Rapids, MI. with Carol’s elderly mother. They have two daughters on the west coast and five grandchildren. Carol was raised in a farming community in Iowa. She enjoys reading, nature and music, playing the piano, knitting, crocheting, painting and telling stories! As a retired educator, “I dedicate myself to knitting sweaters and spinning yarns!

Find Carol at these links:

Twitter account: @CarolABrown4