Friday, April 13, 2018

The Artist In Me and In My Books

It had to happen eventually.  I've been an artist all my life and I decided a few years ago to write about artists.  This desire turned into the Artisan Mysteries. In the series, I draw from my own experiences as well as from a wellspring of ideas and a rather wild imagination. Since I love writing mysteries, the novels had to include a mystery and suspense. And Romance. I can't seem to write a mystery without a little romance. My characters are, of course, artists.  They also come with a variety of life problems that they must overcome, murder being one of those obstacles.

 But more about that later.  First, let me share my own artisan story.

Created to Create

I don't ever remember not being an artist. What I do remember is a father, who despite his poor health, used to cut out pieces of pressed board for me to paint on. He encouraged me to enter art contests and even bought me art books meant to teach me the craft. I also remember never having money for art lessons. As an adolescent, I used to save my babysitting and berry picking money to buy art supplies. Usually canvases and oil paints at a local hardware store.

I don't have any of the artwork I did as a child except for one oil painting that I  couldn't part with. It hung in my son's room until he left home and then I hung it in various places. It now hangs in my office. I'm thinking I may need to find a home for it and right now my great grandson Carlisle seems a perfect choice. Then again, maybe Maddie, my oldest great granddaughter would love it since she is quite the artist and craftsperson herself.  

Or maybe I'll keep it for a while to remind myself of how important it is to never lose sight of your creativity. It was a hard lesson to learn.

 A High Price to Pay

 My artistic side blossomed as I continued to paint. In high school, I took a drama class and became an actor. I worked on sets, played the lead in a number of productions and became a five star Thespian. Then came graduation and dating and working for a living. I found no time to create.
Eventually, I met the guy who swept me off my feet. We married and had two children. I returned to school and became an RN. Then I worked at being the best nurse, mother, and wife I could possibly be.

But something was missing. I couldn't live up to the expectations I'd placed on myself and my life seemed overwhelming. I fell into an acute depression and couldn't escape on my own. My doctor took me out of my chaotic world and put me in the hospital for a short rest.
I was devastated. How could I be depressed? I should have been stronger. The I am Woman song I thought I could sing with gusto became a whimper for God to do something. 

I came to realize that in my desire to be the best and do the most, I'd lost a part of myself. I'd ignored the part of me that needed to create. The artist. When I recovered I knew I had to make the time to be the woman God created me to be. I went back to work part-time and loved my children and my husband. But I also brought art back into my life.

 Coming Into My Calling

My first step back to creativity was to work with ceramics. I made dozens of beautiful things. I learned a lot about ceramics and eventually turned to pottery. With the money I'd made from ceramics, I bought a wheel and kiln and over time the glazes and chemicals used to make the glazes. I became a production potter and loved it.

I loved the feel of clay in my hands and how it reminded me of God molding and shaping his creations. I wrote poetry and prose about my journey back to the light and to the life I had left behind.

The Master Potter

He is the potter, I the clay
He holds me in his hands - centers me - encircles me.
Like clay, I am weak and shapeless without the sustaining power
of the potter's hand.
When I resist, my life becomes turmoil, my impurities overwhelm me.
If I submit he takes control, he opens me, molds me.
I begin to take shape and form. I am real, full of life in His Holy Spirit.
Then again, if I resist, I become worn and weak.
I may break for my walls are thin and transparent as the finest porcelain.
I know that to survive, I must submit once again to the Potter's loving hands.
There I find joy and peace and a sense of being close to God.

One day while I was molding a piece of pottery and distinctly felt God calling me to write. I had already written some poetry, but this was more like a life changer. I resisted at first but agreed that if this was really a message from God, I would comply. I went to a writer's conference because I knew it was where I needed to be. I began writing in earnest and now have more than sixty books to my credit. 

Writing is a craft, a creative outlet, but I've always maintained my soul's need to play in various art forms. I no longer do pottery, but I do paint.  I recently took up watercolors and use acrylics and oils as well.

As you can guess, this drive to be an artisan had to be channeled into writing.  Thus, The Artisan Mysteries was born.  In this series, you will meet artisans, Carolyn Hudson, Alaina Neilson, and Lindsay Montgomery. 

Deadly Deception

The series begins with Carolyn Hudson, a painter, who finds herself in a compromising position when she awakens in a hotel room in a pool of blood. The dead man lying next to her is an acclaimed politician, Adam Burke.  A week earlier, Mr. Burke had commissioned her to paint his portrait, Carolyn has no idea how she got there. She only knows that she was drugged and soon learns that she is the killer's next victim. Carolyn must go into hiding and accept police protection. Still, nothing can prevent her from investigating on her own and clearing her name, even if it kills her.


The Quiltmaker's Daughter



In the second artisan mystery, my passion for quilting comes into play.

Alaina Neilson, a sometimes artist, is taking a Caribbean Cruise with her best friend to recover from yet another failed marriage. Her life is a mess and it's about to get worse. Her estranged mother, a master quilter, suffers a stroke. Alaina knows she should go home, but isn't sure she can. Her mother had abandoned her years ago and Alaina feels nothing but resentment toward her.

Still, Alaine can't fight the urgent need to see her mother before she dies. Once home, she is not only faced with her mother's debilitating stroke, but a suspicious stranger who has eased his way into her mother's life, the theft of her mother's highly valued quilts, and murder.


Watercolor Dreams

My third artisan mystery actually began many years ago.  Watercolor Dreams was the first novel idea I submitted to an editor. My query letter caught her attention and I was asked to submit a proposal, but never did. My career in writing non-fiction superseded my desire to write romantic suspense. Writing non-fiction kept me busy for many years. Finally, in 1986, I decided to write a novel for teens, Kristen’s Choice.  I then submitted an idea to Bethany House Publishers to write a mystery series reminiscent of Nancy Drew. Out of that, the popular Jennie McGrady Mysteries were born.

I was hooked on writing mysteries and romantic suspense. Forty-some mysteries later, Lindsay Montgomery, the protagonist in Watercolor Dreams, burst on the scene demanding I finish her story. I tried to ignore her but eventually realized my protestations would not silence her. Characters can, at times, be quite pushy. Lindsay Montgomery’s decision to leave the family’s lucrative business to become a full-time artist nearly kills her father and opens a Pandora’s box of family secrets. Deception, lies, and murder follow Lindsay as she struggles to pursue her dreams. 

Mark Owens, Lindsay’s crush from high school, has come home to take over the business and wants Lindsay to stay. Can Mark and Lindsay uncover the truth before the killer takes another life?

 I hope you will enjoy reading my artisan mysteries as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  

You'll find my books on Amazon.com by clicking on the titles, and on my web site.   www.patriciarushfordbooks.com

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Writing for Kids


Kids love mysteries.  I always did.  Loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I grew up reading mysteries and it's no surprise, that when I decided to write fiction, I would gravitate to mysteries. Truth is, it's not easy for me to write a novel without the element of mystery.

I began my career as a mystery writer by creating the award-winning, Jennie McGrady Mysteries with Bethany House Publishers.  You can imagine my surprise when the second book in the series, Silent Witness, won the Silver Angel for excellence in media and was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe Award by Mystery Writers of America.    

I love writing for kids and take the responsibility very seriously. I want to produce books that not only entertain but enable and encourage young people to be the best they can be and to have confidence in themselves.  Children today are exposed to so much negative and destructive behavior.  My goal is to provide a safe place where I can tell a story and maybe impart wisdom to make good choices.

The Max & Me Mysteries

Meet Jessie Miller

Being a fiction writer is a great way to meet new people--even if those people don't actually exist outside the confines of your own mind. That's how Jessie, the main character in my Max & Me Mystery series, came to be. Jessie arrived in my head as a twelve-year-old girl with leukemia urging me to write her story. So I did.

The series takes place in Washington State in a small tourist town that sits on the edge of a large lake in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Chenoa Lake. 


You'll enjoy meeting Jessie and Max, who form a deep, but unlikely friendship. Jessie is thin and frail and has leukemia. Max is wild and adventurous, with spiked hair that changes color from day to day depending on her mood. Jesse has no real friends until Max comes along. She sees Max as being very brave and tries to keep Max out of trouble. Then Jesse discovers Max's dark secrets and must lead her friend into danger in order to set her free,

The Trouble with Max  (Book 1)

Max Hunter and Jessie Miller, two sixth-grade girls living near the Cascade moun­tains, make an unlikely pair: Jessie has leukemia and is bald. Max dresses in thrift-store grunge and acts tough in school. But their friendship holds life together when everything else falls apart. Then one day Jessie discovers Max’s best-kept secret. Jessie wants to help her, but doing so means risking their friendship and possibly her life.




 Danger at Lakeside Farm  (Book 2)

Jessie is thin and frail, Max is brave and adventurous, but together they’re a great team. Following their first adventure in book one, Max has moved in with an eld­erly neighbor, Amelia, at Lakeside Farm. Soon strange things start happening at the farm, and Max and Jess wonder if someone wants Amelia out.




Secrets of Ghost Island  (Book 3)

Max and Jess discover a family of orphans trying to avoid deportation. The girls decide to help them when the town is hit by a rash of burglaries. The authorities are blaming their friends, and Jesse, Max, and Cooper set out to prove their innocence.  Clues, unfortunately, lead to the one place no one wants to go—Ghost Island.  Stormy weather, unexpected thieves and a cougar have them wondering if they’ll ever get off the island alive.  


 Look for the Max & Mysteries soon on Amazon.

Writing Out of Love

It may seem strange to some that I would choose heroes like Jessie and Max Hunter—one with leukemia and the other living with an abusive aunt and uncle. I suppose it’s because I have cared for children who have suffered and even died from life-threatening illnesses and I have worked with children tormented with emo­tional and physical pain at the hands of abusive adults.
These children were so often brave and resilient and able to overcome great adversity. They showed me what being a hero is all about. As a pediatric nurse and then a counselor, I have always had a heart for children and a desire to help them in any way I can. My earlier nonfiction books Have You Hugged Your Teenager Today? and What Kids Need Most in a Mom, were written to help and encourage parents in their endeavor to better care for their chil­dren. It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Kid helps parents, teachers, and caregivers to recognize abuse and to help bring healing to broken children.
Several years ago, I began writing The Jennie McGrady Mysteries for kids because I love a good mystery and according to the fan mail I receive, so do kids. My goal has been to provide great, excit­ing, and adventurous stories, but also to empower kids to rise above the problems they may encounter in life. Jessie and Max do this very well. I hope my readers and fans will enjoy their adven­tures as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Blessings, Patricia Rushford





Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 2016 Newsletter

Mysterious  Musings

Greetings. I haven't posted for awhile but I did send out a newsletter.  Thought I'd post it here.  

Mysterious Musings
Patricia H. Rushford, Author, Newsletter: June 2016


Unbelievable!
I have recently released a new book and in updating my website, I realized it had been two years since I worked on it. Two years. I am so remiss. What have I been doing? Funny you should ask.
I started a book, Deadly Deception about two years ago and have occasionally typed in a few words. I have also taken up my past love of painting. Of course, I'm still quilting and cooking up healthy -- well mostly healthy foods.


Okay, so about the new book.
Deadly Deception is premiering on Amazon Kindle Edition.
In it...Carolyn Hudson, finds herself in a compromising position when she awakens in a hotel room in a pool of blood. The dead man lying next to her is acclaimed politician, Adam Burke, who had, only a week earlier, commissioned her to paint his portrait. She has no idea how she got there. She only knows that she was drugged and soon learns she is the killer’s next victim. Carolyn must go into hiding and accept police protection. Still, nothing can prevent her from investigating on her own and clearing her name, even if it kills her.

Some History
Fans often want to know the who, what, when, where and how of a book. Deadly Deception started about three years ago as a premise for a class on writing mysteries at the OCW summer conference. As with many of my mysteries, I begin with a character. In this case it was an artist who awakens in a pool of blood. From there I determined a victim, someone famous. The ideas banged around in my head and I eventually decided to make it a romantic suspense. It took me a long time to write this book. I loved working on it, creating the romantic interest, a police detective who struggled between remaining objective and finding his beautiful suspect too hard to resist.

What took so long? A few years ago, I was writing two to three books a year--under contract with various publishers. Writing under contract can be very stressful. An author not only worries about getting a book in on time, he or she must work on all the elements of promotion and sales.

I was also struggling with some health issues. When my doctor told me I had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a serious heart condition, I decided I needed to change a few things in my life. One was to stop pushing myself with contracts. A good thing and a not so good thing.

Without contracts, the amount of writing one does and the times slotted to write fall directly on the writer. And I am the master at procrastination. So I began not writing. At least not very much. The ideas kept flowing and from time to time, I took the writing seriously. I did manage to write a prequel to the Helen Bradley Mysteries, Death on Arrival, and to rewrite my very first young adult novel, Kristen's Choice, but Carolyn's story languished. I came up with a lot of ideas for books, but struggled to finish them. Sooo.. I am really excited to have completed Deadly Deception and I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Other Publishing News
I'm also excited to share the good news about the Jennie McGrady Mysteries. They are all updated, newly packaged and available as audio and e-books.

In the Meantime
Working on novels is something I enjoy. But I also love being an artist. I turned my dining room into an art and sewing studio. And I have taken up oil painting again. I've taken some classes on the Bob Ross style of landscaping from my sister-in-law, Ann and am having a ball. Here's one of my newest paintings. I'm hoping to sell some paintings eventually and am working on a web page featuring my art work.

I've taken up art quilting as well and in addition to making quilts for family and charity.


Back at the Ranch

As many of you know, my daughter, Caryl and her husband Ben run a non-profit organization called Stable Days. They rescue horses and mentor kids and are swamped from dawn til dusk. They now have two properties, the second being a ten acre farm with an arena where they can board horses and give lessons.
The ranch is into so much more than horses as they are taking on gardens and bees and sheep, chickens, donkey's and much more. Please check out there website for all there updates.
(The photo here is Maddie, loving the tree in the front yard at the ranch.)


My Time at the Ranch
Every year I try to visit my family at the ranch and this spring I was able to stay for a month. Wonderful!!! I got to hang out with my great grandchildren and especially enjoyed seeing and bonding with our newest, Carlisle Bennington Lester, Jonny and AJ's baby boy. What a doll.

Andrea, Maddie, Olivia, Adalia and my soon to be great granddaughter, Eve, and I spent quality time on art work, sewing projects and fetching eggs from the hen house. 

In addition to catching the family up on laundry I had the privilege of cooking meals and working in the greenhouse. So much work and such a pleasure.


Another Wedding

  
More excitement at the ranch. Hanna and Adam are getting married. This means we get another great grandchild--Adam's daughter, Eve. A delightful little girl with whom I'm already in love . This also means another trip to the ranch in September. Yea!!!

So much life and so little time. Please check out my newly updated website at [www.patriciarushfordbooks.com]

As always thanks for your prayers and support. Blessings to all.

Pat

Patricia H. Rushford








Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Neglect...




I’m Guilty.   

 Not of everything, of course, but certainly of a number of important details.  I’ve neglected my blogs—both the Healthy Norwegian and my writing/life blog.  It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to say, quite the contrary.  It’s just that I haven’t felt like doing it.  

I neglected to send a Christmas letter and/or cards.  I have no real excuse except that I spent December 4th (my birthday) through January 13 in frigid Minnesota/North Dakota totally absorbed in my daughter and her family which consists of three adorable great grandchildren and one teenage granddaughter.  We did crafts.   

I did most of the cooking and lots of dishes which freed Caryl up to work with Stable Days Youth Ranch.  And let me tell you, managing  SDYR takes a lot of energy and time and plain old hard work. Try caring for horses and all that entails in minus degree weather. 

I spent a fair amount of time cuddled up to the fire.  While I managed to work on the updates of one of my Jennie McGrady Mysteries, I neglected my writing.   I have neglected my quilting—mostly because didn’t have  my sewing machine or materials there.  I did however, manage to mend and put the binding on a partially completed quilt from my last visit—did I mention that I fixed the defunct sewing machine?

So yes, I neglected to do a number of things I would normally do.  I won’t say I’m sorry because I’m not so much.  Okay, maybe for not sending Christmas greetings to some of my favorite people. 

When I talk about neglect, I have to add something that I have sadly neglected for years and years.  Or maybe it wasn’t  neglect so much as redirection.

 

The Lost Artist

 Many of you don’t know this about me.  I am an artist.  In my teens I loved to paint. I would spend most of my babysitting money on oil paints and brushes and canvases.  I painted all kinds of things and I was pretty good at it.  I loved being an artist.    

Then along came adulthood, marriage, kids and a career that actually brought in an income.  I had somehow lost my creative-artist-self amidst the business of life.  I didn’t realize how destructive the loss of my artist self was or how much of a toll it had taken on me until I fell into a terrible depression.Over time,  I managed to crawl out of it with God’s help, and I came to realize that I needed to fulfill a part of myself that I’d lost. 

 Coming Full Circle

To fill the need in me to create, I became a ceramicist and then a potter.  For years I created vessels from clay and eventually turned to writing.  I’ve missed painting however and recently decided I had to go back to my roots.  Oils.  

So, yes, I have neglected many of the things on my to-do list to immerse myself in painting.  I’ve taken some classes and am still not back to where I was, but I’m having a great time.  While back in MN, I worked with Maddie and Andrea and Caryl on creating landscapes.  I encouraged them to create and we created together.   

 
I suppose in a way I have created a monster—neglecting far too many things in lieu of art.  I’m sure things will even out eventually, but in the meantime, I’ll be posting my works of art here and there. Here's one of my recent efforts. I’ll continue to amass paintings and may eventually be forced to sell them.  For now, I’m reliving my  passion for art.  I’m spending my hard earned money on oils and canvases and brushes and classes to improve my techniques.  I’m smiling more. 

Never Neglect Your Passion


I guess if there is a lesson in all of this for readers and friends is it to never walk away from your passion.   If you are going to neglect something let it be the things that don’t really matter in the end.  And be true to who you are.   With that I’m getting ready to spend 4 days at a quilting retreat. Yes, I’ll be neglecting some important stuff—like work, cooking, cleaning, even painting, but I’m going to have a great time and I’ll be creating quilts for family, friends, and for charity.  And I’ll be smiling. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 2014, Newsletter




Greetings all:
Summer is nearly over and kids are going back to school. I'm trying to catch up. But that's not too unusual. I have had a crazy summer. It started with major surgery at the end of June. Happy to report I'm almost back to normal, at least in the health department. And do I have some great news.

News on the Helen Bradley Front

As many of you know, I recently wrote and published the prequel to my Helen Bradley Mysteries because I didn't have access to book one, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. 

Well... I am thrilled to report that I now have the rights back and have revised and updated the book and released it on Kindle as an e-book.
I am more than delighted to now have the complete series on Amazon. To buy a copy simply click here

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep takes place in Portland and in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Helen Bradley, ex-cop, grandmother and travel writer, learns that a prominent gerontologist has been murdered. When the doctor's widow also dies, Helen checks herself into a convalescent home to discover the truth surrounding the mysterious deaths. Edgewood Manor is the perfect place for Helen to recover from a gunshot wound and do a little detective work. Good plan, as long as she doesn't die in her sleep.

The prequel, Death of Arrival,  is still available for $.99 and the other books in the series are only $3.99 each.

More Exciting News!

A number of years ago, I wrote the popular mystery series for kids, The Jennie McGrady Mysteries. The series sold recently to Blackstone, who is bringing out the entire series as audio books and e-books. To Learn more, click here.

I'm especially excited about this because today these award winning books are reaching a whole new audience of young people. Three of the books are already out and available online.

The series is being revised and updated for today's teens and pre-teens. Silent Witness was selected as a finalist in Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allen Poe Award and was named Winner of the Silver Angel for Excellence in Media.

Pursued takes place in Portland, OR and is about a rose Festival princess who is being stalked. Jennie, of course, is hot on the trail.  

I'm thrilled with the covers and quality of the audio books. I'm already getting fan letters and rave reviews. Check them out on Amazon or your favorite online stores.






Family News...

I'll be traveling to the frigid mid-west again this winter. My grandson Jonathan and his fiance A.J. will be getting married on Dec. 20. It's only one day before my wedding anniversary. On Dec. 21st, my husband and I will be celebrating 51 years. I'm hoping for a cruise.

 

On a Sad Note

My daughter, Caryl and her husband, Ben Lester, run Stable Days Youth Ranch where they rescue horses and Mentor kids. Sadly, Merida, one of their rescued horses died this summer. While she received excellent love and care once she was at the ranch, she couldn't recover from the abuse she suffered prior to the rescue.

 

The Big Move

My granddaughter Kyrstin will be moving to Chile in about a week. She and James plan to work and live there and they are thrilled. Me? I have mixed feelings, but I remind myself that they are young and carefree and adventurous. And, it gives us reason to visit there.

As for my adventures, now that I am back to being my creative self, I hope to return to work on my newest mystery novel,Deadly Deception.

As always thanks for your prayers and support. Blessings to all.

Pat