Thursday, April 2, 2015

Straight Chatting from the Library: Harvest Of Blessings

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn commenter will receive a $50 Amazon/BN GC.


My Desk, My Mess!
By Charlotte Hubbard

You know, when I read articles about Feng Shui and other high-minded schools of thought that tell me I would be so much more productive and spiritually unencumbered if I’d clean off my desk, I want to agree. Really I do. My house, in general, is picked up but my kitchen counter and the desk in my office are a perpetual mess! I tell myself that “when I finish this book, I’ll clean up my desk”— and I do. Sort of.

But then I begin another book, and by the time I’ve been cranking out pages for a few hours the clutter has already crept back.

I really don’t understand this. I’m neatly dressed (in public, anyway), color-coordinated, and I’m generally considered well organized to the point that I’ve never missed a book deadline and I’ve never, ever had an overdue library book. But when it comes to my work space, where I spend the largest portion of my days, I can’t seem to remain neat and tidy. And my kitchen counter? A disaster area. Everything lands there and gets shuffled around for weeks, until we have company and I clear it off to avoid acute embarrassment.

Needless to say, I really love the Einstein quote, above, and the idea that a messy desk is a sign of genius. When I look at photos of desks that belonged to Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, and other guys who have rocked the world, I’m proud to have something in common with them! My husband just shakes his head. He’s an auditor. His desk is pristine. Just sayin’.

As I look at this photo of my desk, which I just snapped, I think I deserve an award for being a very colorful creative genius, don’t you? Color sparks my imagination. It also keeps me awake. So, left to right, what are you looking at that I can’t seem to work without?

My Mac and keyboard, of course—and sticky notes reminding me of deadlines for renewing my website domains, sending blog posts, etc. Peppermint Chapstick and a tube of hand lotion, because writing can dehydrate you—and beside my printer there’s my glass of iced tea, too. The yellow sheet with the green and orange cross-outs? My weekly schedule of page quotas for the book I just finished—and on the other side of the printer tray is my list of book deadlines running from now through January of 2017. How would I possibly remember all that stuff if I didn’t have it taped to my desk as a constant reminder of when my work is due?

There’s also a hen-scratched list of potential titles for the books in my upcoming new Simple Gifts series, because I’ll be noodling with those until I decide which ones are exactly right. Under that is a newsletter from a writer friend. The yellow steno pad is where I scribbled the quotes I might use for this blog post. The calculator just helped me do a long line of subtractions from my checkbook—which balances to the penny, thank you. Beneath that is a page of research notes about the eye-popping Amish emergency fund each church district keeps in a secret place (not a regular bank)…fodder for the villain of that Simple Gifts series.

Those folders and spiral notebooks hold the notes for two of my ongoing Amish series—character name lists, synopses, story calendars, town maps, and other info I check pretty frequently. At the bottom of that heap lies the draft copy of the book I just finished, printed on pink draft paper. It’s time to put that away because I’ll be starting a new draft soon—except if my editor wants to call and ask some questions about certain pages/chapters, I prefer to leaf through the paper copy instead of scrolling through the doc on my computer.

The mouse pad you see is a Mary Engelbreit design of a girl holding a clipboard, declaring “I’m In Charge Here.” That would be me to a T—and it’s colorful, too. I have Mary Engelbreit prints on all of my office walls and, hmmm…Mary’s designs are very detailed and multi-layered to the point of looking almost cluttered. Mary and I surely must be kindred spirits.

I see the connection now between my messy desk and my disaster-area kitchen countertop, too: I love to cook and concoct new recipes, so the kitchen is my secondary area of creative endeavor. (Or, OK, maybe I’m just too interested in doing other things and don’t get around to cleaning it . . . because the recipes and cookbooks are on the opposite side of the room, neatly lining the wall. Go figure.)

So now you’ve seen my desk, the place where I’ve created more than 11 complete books plus the proposals for 5 more, just since I moved to Minnesota three years ago. That’s a lot of pages I’ve written and dozens of characters I’ve created! Entire worlds might crumble if I put away my notebooks or threw out those odd slips of paper I’ve scribbled ideas on.

Just to be on the safe side, I think I won’t be cleaning up my desk any time soon. Why mess with success . . . even if it’s a mess?


The tranquil little town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick Landwehr is determined to make it her home again—and put her past to rest. Cast out by her own family, Nora can’t reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict father. But she’ll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . . and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. She certainly has no time for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost everything. And how can she trust him if he always seems to believe the worst about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances for forgiveness—and love.


Nora’s hand found the inside of Luke’s elbow. His skin felt smooth and warm beneath the short sleeve of his tan cotton shirt. His eyes were the deep green of the shaded cedar trees along the road, and the intensity of his gaze unnerved her. “Um, maybe before we get to Willow Ridge, we could . . .”

“Shall I pull over?”

Nora’s breath escaped her as she nodded. She felt like a nervous girl on her first date. Her heart hammered as Luke brought his horse to a halt on the side of the road. He just kept looking at her, waiting for her to make the first move. Nora was once again impressed by Luke’s control, because even as desire danced in his eyes, his hands remained on his lap.

When she reached for him, Luke pulled her close and kissed her for several long, lovely moments. His soft sighs mingled with hers as he explored her mouth. When she eased away, Nora knew she’d followed a path from which there was no retreat. No turning back.

“Wow,” Luke murmured as he caught his breath. “Wow.”

“You got that right,” she murmured. “This is the first time I’ve ever been kissed in a buggy— which sounds odd, considering the reason Dat sent me away. But before Borntreger took what he wanted, I’d led a very sheltered, good-girl life.”

“Maybe I can re-introduce you to Plain dating,” Luke replied as he took the lines in his hands again. “The basics between a man and a woman don’t require a car or cell phones or electricity, after all.”

Nora grinned, for it seemed they had generated their own type of electricity—and it was very different from what she’d known with Tanner Landwehr.

“Will you need a ride to pick up your painted van?”

“No, the Stutzman brothers offered to deliver it, to be sure everything drives the way it should after they’ve checked it over,” she replied. “Poor planning on my part, eh?”

Luke wrapped his hand around hers as the horse clip-clopped along the blacktop again. “The best parts about getting to know someone usually don’t follow a plan. Although I’ll confess that I accomplished everything on my agenda today. And I liked it. A lot.”

Nora smiled. Who could’ve imagined that cool, self-assured Luke Hooley would admit such a thing in a way that seemed so guileless? So sweet and open.

When the mill came into view, Luke kissed her once more, gently guiding her chin with his finger. He drove her to the front door of her house, and as Nora got out of the buggy she felt so giddy she wasn’t sure what she said to him. When she entered her front room, the fabric hangings stacked on her couch reminded her that she had a million things to do to get ready for her store’s opening, but she went straight upstairs. She changed into a cape dress and pulled her hair into a bun with a kapp over it. In the bathroom, she washed off her makeup.

Grabbing the wardrobe boxes she’d used for her move to Willow Ridge, she went to her closet and quickly took out every pencil skirt, silk blouse, and pair of tailored slacks, plus all the sundresses and suits and high-dollar shoes and purses that went with them. She bagged her jewelry and colorful scarves, and yanked her tee shirts, jeans, and shorts from her dresser drawers. Waves of emotion rolled through her as she recalled the occasions when she’d worn some of this stylish clothing, but before she lost her resolve, Nora sealed the boxes shut with packing tape. She would haul this stuff to the thrift store in Morning Star as soon as her van arrived.

She felt purged. Clean. Her English wardrobe represented a life she felt good about leaving behind, even though she’d known some shining moments and had gained a world of experience that would never leave her. But it was time to move forward, even if that meant stepping back in time to the simpler life she’d known as a girl.

Nora looked in the mirror and smiled. The woman gazing back at her belonged in Willow Ridge. No matter what her father thought of her, she had come home. To stay.


Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith- based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

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  1. The beautiful cover is my favorite part of the post today.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Mai! Good luck in the drawing!

  2. Thanks so much for posting my excerpt and my messy desk essay on your site today!

  3. If your messy desk helps to write such excellent stories, then so be it. I love this excerpt.

    1. We think alike, MomJane! Thanks for stopping by !

  4. I love the controlled chaos that is your desk, Charlotte!

    1. Good to see you here, Pamela! Thanks for spending some time with me today!

  5. I love seeing your desk, where you create all your wonderful stories. It is controlled chaos -- I bet you know where stuff is when you need it lol.

    1. Yes, Debbie, it's only when I put stuff away that I lose it! Thanks for stopping by today!

  6. Enjoyed the excerpt, love the cover of this book. Entering under the name of Virginia

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Virginia! Good luck on the drawing!

  7. Very intriguing excerpt!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com