Amazing Grace in a Garden

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After spending yesterday morning weeding the garden, I thought it was time to reward my labor with a trip to the plant nursery. I found this little guy nestled in next to the sturdier succulents, looking bright and hopeful that I’d notice him. He wasn’t showy but his tag, protruding through tiny leaves and even smaller flower buds, proclaimed him to be named “Amazing Grace”. That arrested my attention. How auspicious for a Good Friday to meet him there. Providential, tender mercies are often like that, unexpected.
Despite the labor required to maintain them, gardens have always represented to me a place of rest. Nowhere else am I able to forget the burdens and distractions of life than in their nurturing environment. So much of the labor there is metaphorical for our own garden life. Pruning, weeding, removing pests and rocks all parallels to maintaining our healthy growth. There is death and rebirth to be found in a garden as well, even redemption. Now that we are living in the Pacific Northwest, I can even witness the wonder of plants resurrected from winter’s freeze, further proving that life is a garden. I’ve learned many lessons in the quiet gardens, some thorny and painful, others fragrant and beautiful.
Is it little wonder that the Messiah chose a garden to seek peace before his trials? He is, after all, along with being the Good Shepherd, the Master Gardener. I am pruned, fed and blessed with amazing grace under his constant and loving care.
So, I welcome this little plant with the bold and beautiful name into my garden. I hope he thrives and becomes a blessing, not just to me. If his life is short, that is as it should be. While he’s sharing this garden, he may teach me to look beyond the physical to the greater spiritual truth of his name, amazing grace. I’m glad I don’t have to go to the nursery each year to purchase real grace, because the fact that I don’t is what makes it truly amazing.
What lessons have you learned from a garden? I’d like to know. There’s too much wonder in the world to keep it to ourselves.
Don’t forget that http://www.samanthastclaire.com is our new address.

Samantha is Moving!

We're Moving

Samantha’s website is moving to a new address! You can go there now at http://www.samanthastclaire.com and say, Hi! I’d love to hear from you and receive your comments. The key change is .com instead of .net!

Look for the next releases from Whitcomb Springs, “Tracking Amy”, “Retribution Road” and “Forsaken Trail”. All three will be available in April of 2018. Stay tuned for the latest news and opportunities to win one of these short stories.

 

 

Wonderfear

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As I’m preparing, researching, and generally agonizing about this new writing project, I’ve been spending time in the natural world. For me, that’s outside the walled dwelling space where I usually work. My daunting task is to write to life a character that will journey from fear to a focus on the wonder of her Creator and his creation. That is where this author believes the answer will reside–in a place and state of wonder.

We have the privilege of living in two beautiful locations. One is in Idaho and the other is on the remote tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The morning we walked out on the beach I’d been pondering this truth of finding peace in proper perspective of our place in creation. I walked out on the sun-kissed beach with senses heightened, ready to receive inspiration. Nature did not disappoint; it rarely does.

A mile down the beach a group of five eagles were gathered around a carcass of a dead harbor seal. When we encroached on their buffet, they flew off to sit and observe our passing from a distance. Perched on the driftwood at the edge of the tide line, they appeared more like magnificent carvings than living creatures. We passed and settled down to watch them. Before they returned, a plucky seagull chose to take advantage of the free feast. It was an ill-advised opportunity.

A flash of white, a flutter of wings, and one eagle swooped down on the unobservant seagull. The gull flew up, but too late. The eagle caught it in flight. A struggle ensued. The eagle lost its grip and the gull plunged into the sea. We held our breath, hoping the gull had escaped death’s snare. It was not to be. After a few minutes of floating, the gull’s head lowered to the waves and it was lifeless.

Stunned, we watched the body float a few feet from shore; the eagle returned to his perch. It was a drama played out in less than five minutes. Raw and awe-inspiring, this glimpse of the naturally ordered world left us speechless. I realized that my heart-pounding reaction was a response to wonder. Awful and wonderful. The term that had filled my imagination was realized on the beach that morning. This was wonderfear.

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It’s Launch Day!

Whitcomb Springs

There’s a new release!

I’m so excited to be a part of this collaborative venture into creating stories for the fictional Montana town of Whitcomb Springs. Today we release the first two stories of that ongoing series set in a mountain valley in southern Montana.

I’m sharing this release with award-winning author MK McClintock, the creator of this series. You can visit her site and learn more about her books as well as this series.

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Each story is a stand-alone read, but the residents do occasionally bump into each other. Enjoy learning more about each character throughout the series in surprising ways.

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Quiet Places

Quiet is not measured in Decibels

Once I thought that a quiet place to collect one’s thoughts and recharge lost energy was, in fact, quiet. A recent trip to the seaside convinced me that my perception is flawed. Quiet and peaceful are not necessarily equivalent. I’m sure this is not a revelation to occur only to me.

What I recently realized was that peaceful places where we go to calm our rattled nerves or lost perspective can be full of sound and fury. As I sit on my rock at the edge of the roaring sea, the crash of waves fully absorbs me. It drowns the clamor of thoughts vying for my attention, calling me to focus all my being to fully listen.

Such places can be found anywhere that the natural world has a chance to be heard. A flooded mountain stream. A meadow symphony of bird songs. Wind whistling through the pines. I think that a quiet place is not determined by decibels but by the attitude of the soul, my willingness to yield to forces greater than myself.

Sometimes the “noise” of a place is what draws from us the noise of negative voices, our own and the world’s. The pounding surf demands to be heard. It’s an ancient truth whispered in the foam and sea spray. Be still and know…

Knowing that I am small and that the universe is a very large space in which to find oneself brings a healthy form of fear. I am as much a part of this created wonder as the sea and the silent wind and gravity that propels and pulls it to the shore upon which I stand. I am undone and I am quiet in the presence of the Power that sang it all into being.

Practice Positive Perspectives

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It’s like an under-worked muscle. Many of us are born with it well-developed. As children we meet the world with eyes of wonder and imaginations ready to accept the impossible. We want to be awed. We know that beneath every rock we turn over is an exciting discovery. Until we stop exploring life with those eyes of wonder life is beautiful.

When I snapped this picture, my initial thought was ‘how unfortunate for the poor pansy’.  In the process of writing my new book, A Light From Friday Harbor, I’ve been reading and reflecting on the theme of hope. One recurring solution to hopelessness is the alteration of perspective. Sometimes we know it as attitude. For my character, Abby, dealing with diminished vision, the shift in perspective and diminished vision become metaphorical. How would Abby, with her striving for hope in a hopeless situation “view” this image?

If we were to call up our memories of childhood wonder, might we see delight here? There has always been something childlike in the face of a pansy or a violet or a primrose. These early heralds of spring have pluck. The fact that they are small compared to their showier cousins, the roses, adds to that impression of fortitude. If I were to caption this photo now, as I practice positive perspectives like Abby, I think I would pick words like ‘Courage’ or even ‘Hope”.

One of the few things we have control over in our brief time in this wonder-filled world is our attitude. Perhaps we’d be more mentally healthy working that muscle of perspective. Life might even become beautiful again. Wouldn’t that be a wonder?

 

Sneak Peek at “Whitcomb Springs”

“Whitcomb Springs” by MK McClintock

In the spring of 1865, a letter arrives in Whitcomb Springs for Evelyn Whitcomb. The Civil War has ended and the whereabouts of her husband is unknown, but she doesn’t give up hope. With courage, the help of a friend, and the love of a people, Evelyn finds a way to face—and endure—the unexpected.

“Whitcomb Springs” is the introductory, stand-alone short story of the Whitcomb Springs series set in post-Civil War Montana.

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Amazon ~ Amazon CA ~ Amazon UK

For a complete listing of all currently available and upcoming Whitcomb Springs stories, visit http://www.mkmcclintock.com/whitcomb-springs-series.

Excerpt from “Whitcomb Springs”

Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory—April 25, 1865

The letter fluttered to the table. Evelyn stared at the sheet of paper but could no longer make out the words as they blurred together. Surrender. She prayed this day would come, they all had, and after four tortuous years, the war was finally over.

There would be more capitulation on the part of the South, and too many families who would never see their men again . . . but it was over.

Separated, yet not untouched, from conflict, Evelyn Whitcomb lived in the same town her husband and their two friends founded one year before news of the Civil War reached them. By way of her sister, who lived in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania with their parents, they were kept informed as often as Abigail could get a letter through. Evelyn often wondered if she should have returned to Rose Valley to help with the war effort, much as her sister Abigail had done, yet she found the needs of Whitcomb Springs to be vast as the town continued to grow.

Many men and boys left, leaving their wives, mothers, and sisters behind to fight for a cause they didn’t fully understand, yet still felt it their duty to serve. Others remained behind to continue working in the mine and watch over those families with or without kin.

Evelyn read over Abigail’s letter once more, letting the words settle into her mind, for even now she struggled to believe it was over—that her husband might return home.

Dearest Evelyn,

For too many years now I have shared with you the horrors and travesties befallen many of the young men with whom we spent our childhood. News has reached us that on the ninth of April, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Oh, sister, I dared not believe it was true when Papa brought home the news. He tells us not to become overly excited for there will surely be a few more battles waged until the news reaches both sides, but we can thank God that this war is officially over.

Your news of Daniel’s disappearance has weighed heavy on my mind these past months since we heard, and Papa has attempted to learn of his whereabouts, to no avail. We have not given up! There is much confusion right now on both sides and Papa said it could be weeks or months more before the men return home. Do not lose faith, sweet Evie.

Your most loving sister,

Abigail

MK McClintock is an award-winning author of historical romance and westerns, who has written several books and short stories, including the popular “Montana Gallagher” series, the “Crooked Creek” series, and the “British Agent” series. She continues the search for a time machine that can transport her to nineteenth-century Montana or Scotland—either works. MK enjoys a quiet life in the Rocky Mountains where she spins tales of romance, adventure, and mystery set in bygone times.
If you’d like to know when MK’s next book will be out, please visit her website at www.mkmcclintock.com, where you can sign up to receive new release updates.

To read an excerpt from Samantha St.Claire’s short story “Healing Fire” visit the Whitcomb Springs page on this website.

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Whitcomb Springs – Tracking Amy

We’ve so many good stories to tell and can’t wait to share them. You’ll find straight-up westerns, love stories, humor, encouragement and adventure throughout this new series set in the wild and beautiful Montana Territory. Start with MK McClintock’s lovely short story, “Whitcomb Springs” where you can learn about those pioneers who founded the town. From there let your fancy take you where you will. There is something for everyone!

“Tracking Amy” is another short story scheduled for release April 15, 2018. It is a stand-alone in the new western series, Whitcomb Springs, and written for those who’ve ever struggled with the weight of self-doubts. Riley Buchanan rides into Whitcomb Springs in 1872 and directly into the life of Amy Sutton.

Riley Buchanan knew he’d been in the mining camps way too long when he mistook the pretty widow, Amy Sutton, for a boy! Why a woman like Amy Sutton who could shoot so well was struggling to put food on the table for herself and her daughter presented a puzzle to Riley, one he thought worthy of solving. Curiosity put him on her trail. Destiny placed him in her life at just the right time. Would Riley become the missing piece to the puzzle that was Amy?

Sign up for the newsletter if you want to be the first to learn of new releases.

 

Whitcomb Springs Cover Reveals

Welcome to Whitcomb Springs!

This is a collection of short stories, and the occasional novella, written by multiple authors. The series is filled with stories of adventure, danger, romance, and hope, and is set in the fictional town of Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory. The stories span the years of 1865-1885. Although each story may be set during a different time, they are stand-alone and may be read in any order. While the first stories will publish on March 15, 2018, this is an on-going project. New stories may be published at any time by one of the participating authors.

This first short story is written by talented and award-winning author, MK McClintock. It tells the story of Whitcomb Springs origins in a lovely valley of Montana Territory.

“Whitcomb Springs”

“Healing Fire”

My first short story for this series is a tender one. It began when I imagined a very clear image of a blacksmith carving the lid of a child’s coffin. Strange that a blacksmith should also be a carpenter? I had recently read of how the job of undertaker often fell to the lot of the blacksmith in small towns on the frontier. Perhaps it was their access to tools needed to repair wagons. The memory of that article somehow gave birth to the first scene of “Healing Fire”.

Here is a preview of “Healing Fire”.

Nora Hewitt cleared frost from the window with her dish towel. She peered across the yard at the open barn door. What was keeping the boy? Surely, he could gather a few eggs in the time she’d taken to stir the stove back to life and boil water for tea. She made a swipe at copper-colored locks which refused to stay restrained by hairpins. Spinning on her heel away from the window, she stamped across the wood floor and threw her dishtowel into the basin.

She braced herself, hands gripping the sides of the basin. A dim, inaccurate reflection shimmered in the murky water. The image glared back at her, those blue unseeing eyes, blinded by grief. What she wanted to do most was break something, anything! Hear it shatter as she could not hear the splintering of her own heart. The days of crying had done nothing to assuage her grief. Now, all that remained was this awful rage. So she held onto it, a grip of fierce desperation to feel something.

The boy, lost in boots too big for his feet, stumbled through the door. “Look, Mama! Three hens have started laying again. Spring is sure to be coming now.” He set the basket carefully on the table, but as he spun back to close the door, his jacket cuff caught the basket, sending it crashing to the floor.

Their collective intake of breath seemed to suck the air from the room. The boy looked up at his mother, face pinched. Before he could say anything, Nora grabbed his arm. “Matthew! How could…” She released him, taking one long stride to the broken eggs, bleeding yellow. Her boot heel came down on the shells, hard and deadly accurate, shattering fragile shells and sending rivulets of yolk in star-like patterns beneath her shoe. Each met the same fate.

Her chest heaving, she glared at the destruction beneath her feet. She brought her shaking hands to cover her face, savoring the emotion and hating it. The small hand that touched her back was warm. It trembled just a little.

“It’s okay, Mama. It’s okay.” The boy’s voice was uncertain, as though he wished it to be true.

Nora knelt before him, her hands on his shoulders. “I’m sorry. I should not have raised my voice.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “I know you hurt, Mama.”

The anger that had sustained her these past two days drained from her like the yolks into the cracks of the floor. In its place stood her son. A resolve flowed back into the aching chambers of her heart. She couldn’t steal his childhood by making him bear her grief. Rising to her feet, she lifted the boy into her arms. As she did, his father’s boots slipped from his feet.

You may pre-order your copy today.  

Available March 15th on Amazon.