I think of myself as a BBQ Ph.D.

(if you already read this on the home page, scroll down for more.)

Although I’ve earned a doctorate in mineral economics, I’ve never been a silver spoon Ph.D., sitting in an ivory tower. I’m a regular person—a wife and mother. Sometimes I feel like a little girl pretending to be a grown up. My car breaks down. My dog throws up on the carpet. Recently, I dropped my cell phone in the toilet. I thought I had rescued it in time, but no. I had to get a new one.

I struggle to find purpose and identity. Yes, I have a lot of letters behind my name but most people don’t care.

My mind and education give me a unique perspective. I’m curious about everything. When I go to amusement parks and performances, I wonder what’s happening behind the scenes. How was the experience created? When I drive past homes at night I peek in the windows. Who lives there? What is their life like? I’m not a creepy stalker. I don’t linger. But I wonder.

Writing fiction gives me an excuse to delve into other worlds and experiences. I’ve held a lot of interesting sounding jobs—chemist, professor, economic development specialist, financial analyst. Okay, financial analyst doesn’t sound that interesting. I’m geeky and like Excel spreadsheets. It’s part of my charm.

I’ve started a Blog, Ponderings of a BBQ Ph.D., so you can follow my journey. I’ll post random observations and interesting things I run across. I don’t want to compete with all my friends who write serious and thoughtful blogs. I’m going for fun. Life can be very entertaining.

I write Christian fiction—historical and contemporary—and Christian devotions. Most recently, I’m working on a dual timeline project that ties the historical story to the contemporary story.  Best of both worlds. I’m available for speaking engagements and women’s retreats.

On Writing

Most writers wanted to write from a young age or penned stories as a child. They studied English or journalism. Not me. Writing never entered my mind until well into adulthood.

I studied engineering chemistry and economics, taking only a few required writing classes. As a young adult, I became an avid reader of Christian fiction. A fun escape with some Biblical truths.

While reading, I identified the structure and the elements of story. I could write. Story design is like computer program design or financial modelling. Don’t let that scare you. My stories don’t resemble computer programs. That would be terrible. Characters and scenes still surprise me as they come to life on the page. Once I’ve fleshed out a story, it looks nothing like computer code or boring lists.

I studied writing for fourteen years before landing a publishing contract. Classes. Conferences. Critique groups. I carried illusions of grandeur to my first writers’ conference. I didn’t know anything about writing or publishing. If I had known the length of the journey, I never would have started. With career, family, and life, I considered quitting many times.

God called me to write. I have no natural gift for writing and often stare at the blank page, asking God what to put there. For me, writing is a dance with The Creator. Somewhere along the way, nothing becomes something and amazes me every time.

Not everything I’ve written is awesome or good enough for publication. Each piece moved me forward to the next step in my writing journey. I hope that the finished product serves you in some way—entertainment or edification. In the end, writing is about the reader.

On Faith

I accepted Christ at a young age and don’t remember a time I didn’t attend church. I don’t have an amazing conversion story and love to hear about people who became Christians as adults.

Eugene Peterson titled a book, “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.” This phrase describes my Christian journey. Along the way, God has shown Himself in unique and undeniable ways. I’ll talk about some of these in my blog posts under the topic Christian Journey.

After being baptized in college, I continued to seek God and He delighted me. I studied the Bible as an intellectual pursuit, like a textbook in a class. For years I didn’t appreciate the Psalms. Then one Bible study showed me how I can use the Psalms as prayers when I don’t have the words.

I’ve considered attending seminary because I want professors to teach me about God. But I’m not called to seminary. Perhaps God would rather reveal Himself without leaning on my intellect. I’ve participated in many kinds of Bible studies and classes. The best part of group study is hearing other people’s stories and seeing how God gives us each a part of His story.

I would love to hear your story.

Click here to see my statement of faith.

Small Town Girl

I grew up in a small town in southeastern Colorado and have spent most of my life in small(ish) towns. Some have been close to cities. Others way out in the woods. For a couple of years, we lived two hours from the nearest city with a Pizza Hut. Every time we traveled and passed a Pizza Hut, my pre-teen son said, “We must be in civilization, there’s a Pizza Hut.” I live in a city now and the nearness of so many stores still surprises me. I’ll always think of myself as a small-town girl.

Small towns provide a sense of community. Everyone knows everyone else. If the drivers’ ed car stopped at the doughnut shop in the middle of the day, my mom heard about it. If I liked a boy, my mom knew his family history.

I raised my kids in a town with only one middle school and high school, creating a similar environment. Teenagers walked to my house for snacks between school and evening activities.

My kids learned to drive on curvy mountain roads and small town streets. I taught them what to do when they saw a bear or mountain lion. Bear sightings were more common than mountain lion sightings. Town bears generally leave people alone, but mountain lions must be relocated. I taught the kids to stay away from cute baby animals because Mama is nearby.

Colorado Outdoors, Mining, and History

I’ve lived most of my life in Colorado and married a mining engineer. I love exploring the mountains and studying Colorado mining history. When we vacation in the mountains, I read a novel or biography about the people who came before us, imagining life in the old days.

My writing reflects that. When I decided to write historical fiction, I discovered a big shelf of research books in my living room. Writing gave me an excuse to buy and read more. It connects me to my husband who also enjoys Colorado mining history.

I like camping and four-wheeling, although I cringe and close my eyes on the four wheel drive roads. Exploring ghost towns feeds my imagination.

Mountain scenery soothes my soul. When I get a chance I hike through the mountains to places I can’t reach by road. About six years ago, I thought my hiking days were over. I had gained weight over the years. On one hike I wanted to give up so, my husband carried my pack up the mountain. After that, I stayed behind while my husband and daughter hiked.

Four years ago, I lost fifty pounds. The first thing I did was climb a fourteener (14,000 foot mountain). Since then, I have hiked several fourteeners because…I can. The weight loss journey was tough and I struggle to maintain my weight. Always will. Hiking in the mountains is one way I fight that battle.

Crazy Container Lady

I recently lost fifty pounds. Couple that with my geeky organizer tendencies and you have a crazy container lady. I’m always looking for more efficient ways to make my life work. I spent a lot of years working full time, raising kids, managing the household, learning to write, and trying to have a life. Compulsive organization made everything work.

When the kids were little, I prepared supper ahead of time. I created a felt board to show how they should set the table and what to be heat in the oven before I got home. I used a database to create my grocery list. It ordered the list like the store aisles and gave a price estimate.

I make salads for lunch with different parts in little containers. A lunchtime, I dump everything together. My friends are envious because my lunch is tasty and fresh. Their envy could be in my head, but I get to enjoy tasty, healthy, brown-bag lunches. I also cut up fresh fruit and vegetables for a grab-and-go healthy snack. Dipping apples in lemon juice keeps them from turning brown.

I ‘m always seeking a more efficient way to manage my life. It’s a game for me. I’d love to share my ideas. You may want to try some of them. Others will seem crazy.

 

Wife and Mother

Thirty years ago, I married a mining engineer. I know a lot about mining and have visited a more mining museums and historic sites than I can count. I never want to be in a mine myself. I suffer from claustrophobia. Don’t know how he does it. If I get the chance, I visit each mine where he works once, but I cringe during the whole tour, anxious to leave.

I loved every stage of being a mom. I never cared much about other people’s kids, but mine were great. Don’t judge me. I didn’t dislike kids. Just never paid much attention to them.

Now my kids have both graduated from college and are beginning their own life adventures. My son lives nearby and works at a wastewater treatment plant. It’s the kind of job that won’t go away.

My daughter and her new husband both sing opera and are starting their life adventure together. Not sure how that happened. I don’t even read music. They are the ones in the picture to the right.

 

Never Too Late

It’s never too late to start something new or go on a new adventure. My grandmother learned to paint when she was fifty years old. She enjoyed painting for forty years. Forty years, people! That’s a long time. She won awards at the county fair and several of her paintings grace my wall.

I’m starting my writing career in my early fifties. If I follow in her footsteps, I’ll write for forty years. How exciting is that?

When I took my youngest to college, she worried about how I would spend my time. I said I’d start the other half of my life. The next day, I signed up at the kickboxing gym. What a fun workout. Makes me feel powerful and strong. I’m one of the older people there, but, I’m good with that.

Next, I’ll learn to play the piano. Now is my time.