Daddy Was a Musical Instrument

No kid in my family, or the generation before mine, took music lessons. But we had the music in us. I know, because if Daddy was with us, there would be music wherever we went.

He didn’t need to haul around a guitar, a banjo, or even a pair of bongo drums. He was the musical instrument. Yes, you read that right.

Mom grew up on the West Coast. Dad was born and raised in West Tennessee, so we traveled back and forth across country many times. He always had the radio on. He’d listen to it all–hillbilly, cowboy country, rock-n-roll, or preachin’. But during those times when radio was not available, he made his own music.

He was not singing. There were no words to his music. Literally.

music-624421_1280Daddy played the nose trumpet, the mouth harp, the pec drums, the ab drums–you get the picture? He also played the harmonica, but not as often. And once, when I was ten, I saw him strum an electric guitar.

Oh, this man was talented. He had rhythm. He was right on key, and his nose trumpet was to be envied. His audience adored him. We laughed till we cried and sometimes had to beg for a potty break along the way.

Mom was a little less enthralled by his grand abilities. When she wouldn’t laugh at his concerts, he’d make his pecs dance. Guaranteed giggles, especially from the peanut gallery.

Tom was a navy boy
Tommy Thomason, US Navy

Where did he develop these wondrous talents? We’re not really sure, but he definitely honed them in the Navy. I guess they had a lot of down time on board ship and  had to learn to entertain themselves. And he was guaranteed a captive audience.

It’s not really something he passed on to the next generation. I don’t think either of my brothers inherited this talent. But in my mind and heart, I can still hear Daddy playing his music. The memory always makes me smile. And I really believe that was the purpose of his one-man concert.

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15 NKJV

Scripture from <>

Summer Soup

VeggieSoupOne of the characters in my latest release, Annabelle’s Ruth ( Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer series), makes what she calls “Summer Soup.” It’s a healthy sampling of summer’s bounty, fresh from the garden. Grandma simmered her soups all day on the back of the stove, but her summer varieties, what she would’ve called “fresh soup,” took only a couple of hours, and were often bits and pieces of leftover veggies from her canning.

Today, we can chop these up and put them in a crockpot, add vegetable or chicken broth, cover it, set it on high or low (depending on how long you have) and walk away. When you get home from work or wherever you had to go, it smells wonderful. Dip it out into bowls and eat.

What makes a good summer soup? In the picture above, I started with minced garlic, diced onions, sliced carrots, chopped celery and summer squash. Instead of potatoes, I used something a little more flavorful–a turnip–but you can substitute potatoes. The herbs pictured are from my garden–thyme and sage. I start with a 32-oz. carton of organic chicken stock, then add about a cup each of the chunky vegetables, two or three cloves of garlic. I chop up the herbs and add them last. Then I usually add a 14.5 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, a dash of pepper and salt. All of this goes in the crockpot for 5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

Don’t have a crockpot? Add all the ingredients to a Dutch oven or other soup pot, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the veggies are tender and the flavors are fully combined. This should take at least an hour, but longer is better. Add more broth if needed.

The beauty of this soup is, you can add or subtract. I may add a can of drained beans, fresh or frozen corn, a teaspoon of chili powder–whatever I’m in the mood for. The shorter, cooler days of fall are perfect for this yummy soup. And the best part is, the house smells wonderful.

What else do you need? I’m from the south, so I often make cornbread to go with soup. Annabelle Cross (Annabelle’s Ruth) makes really good cornbread. There’s nothing so satisfying on a cool fall evening as a hot, buttery wedge of skillet-baked cornbread alongside a bowl of steaming veggie soup.

I’ve started working on the second book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. A lot of the characters from the first book are showing up in the second story. One of them reminded me that he is a reader’s favorite. He’s my favorite, too. And he loves cornbread, as well.

If you’ve read Annabelle’s Ruth, you might guess who I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it, and would like to, you can find it at most online booksellers. I’ve left a couple of links below to make it easy to find. If you just really, really want an autographed, print copy of the book, I can mail you one for just about the same price as you’d pay online. I do have to charge shipping…use the contact tab above to email me. Thanks so much for stopping by–

Enjoy the bounty of summer!

Annabelle's Ruth FRONT final CoverAnnabelle’s Ruth — After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could change everything once again.
Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?
Buy it at Amazon ♥   Buy it at GoodReads ♥ Thank You!



Jennifer Slattery – Intertwined

Jennifer Slattery

I met Jennifer Slattery at the Atlanta Christian Writer’s Conference. When I heard her tell the story behind her upcoming release, Intertwined, I knew I had to help her publicize the release. Here’s the gist of the story:

Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Betty: My dad received a donated kidney, so your husband Steve’s story touched me deeply. God used Steve to meet a dire need, and God’s way of bringing it about was nothing short of miraculous. I heard you say your research and preparation for this book helped bring him to this place.

Jennifer:  It’s totally a God-thing that I even wrote this story, and I know now that God had much bigger plans than just a novel. He used my book to bring about the events that helped save a young man’s life.

Steve: I would never have thought of donating an organ prior to being baptized and prior to hearing my wife’s discussion with Ami over the book. Coming to Christ gave me a different perspective; changed my attitude a little. Christ has made me more empathetic, compassionate, and considering others.

Betty: That’s so beautiful. I’m reminded that God so loved the world, He gave His only Son. His love in us extends toward others, sometimes at great cost to ourselves. But His grace is sufficient, and at times, even extravagant.

So, Jennifer, how did the idea for the book come about?

Jennifer: One day, a friend who worked as an organ procurement coordinator suggested I write a novel on donation. The idea didn’t appeal to me, so I promptly told her no. But a week later, I awoke with a story about a single mother who worked in the organ donation field and needed to see God’s attentive caring hand. I’d been walking with God long enough to realize, when stories unfold like that, they come from Him. So, I called my friend. I told her I’d write the story on one condition—that she’d help me, a lot, because I had zero medical knowledge and knew such an endeavor would require immense research and understanding.

Betty: And, I know she did  agree to help you. Something else came out of this time with her. Can you tell us a little about that?

Jennifer: She agreed, and over the next six months, we met regularly as she taught me the ins and outs of organ donation. Often my husband joined us. He’d eat his lunch, listening, asking questions on occasion, merely curious.

Steve & Jennifer Slattery
Steve & Jennifer Slattery

Steve:  I wanted to be supportive of my wife and her writing. I don’t know if I really thought of anything at that time, but once Sam’s need came up, it made me think, “that’s not so bad—donating a kidney and helping someone else. I think it was the three things together. I don’t think it was just one thing. There was a fellow shop director at work that donated a kidney for his cousin, and I thought that was pretty cool that he would do that. When I heard about Sam’s need, I went and talked to Jeremy and went and asked him about it because I thought it was something I could do. I didn’t know all the particulars and Jeremy helped me understand what I’d be up against if I decided to do it.

The book made me think more about organ donation. Prior to her writing the book, donation had never crossed my mind. It made me start thinking about donation.

Betty: Here’s the instance where God really showed up. You’ve mentioned Sam. Jennifer, how did you first become aware of Sam and his need for a kidney?


Jennifer:  Not long after moving, I connected with a woman who had arrived in the Omaha area the year before. Having two teenage daughters herself, she understood my worries and pain. As a result, we became quick friends. Each morning, we’d walk around a small, man-made lake, praying for our children, for others, sometimes for one another. But one day, our prayers became more serious, more urgent.

“Do you know Kathy?” she asked. “She works at the church.”

I admitted I didn’t.

“Her son has gone into kidney failure and needs a transplant. He’s only seventeen.”

This hit my mama’s heart hard as images of my own child surfaced. I worried when she came down with the flu. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to fear losing her all together. And what must life be like for this poor child, spending three hours a week, four hours at a time, hooked to a dialysis machine? It seemed there was nothing my friend or I could do but pray.

Betty: And this was Sam. You did pray, and you shared this with your family. God had already prepared you and your husband in advance. He’d moved you to Omaha, where you would come into contact with this special friend who would become a prayer partner, and touch your husband’s heart with this great need. So of course, we know your husband was a match and he was able to donate a kidney to Sam.

Sam, Post-Surgery
Sam, Post-Surgery

Jennifer: Yes, he was actually a paired match. It’s been just over a year since that beautiful, miraculous day, and both my husband and the recipient are doing well. Better than well, because through their prayers, they caught a glimpse of God’s ever-faithful heart and tender care.

Betty: What a beautiful testimony! Knowing this, and reading the book’s blurb at the beginning of this post, I really want to read it. Why another book on organ procurement? What message do you and your friend hope to convey through Intertwined?

Jennifer: Although the idea sort of came out of the blue for me, Ami had been wanting to see an accurate novel on organ donation for some time.

From Ami Koelliker: It’s one of the biggest frustrations in the transplant community—seeing novel writers completely misconstrue donation. Often they’ll get the process of determining death, how the recipients are chosen, and how it impacts the family that’s donating, wrong.

Donation is not a romantic concept, and when you turn it into one, it affects people in the wrong way. It causes people to believe in myths and distrust the medical process and community.

Betty: Donation might not be a romantic concept, but it can be a life-changing one, correct?

Ami Koelliker
Ami Koelliker

Ami People want to see that good came out of someone’s life; that their life mattered, and this is often what they see once they consent to donation. They see their loved one’s legacy through donation. Years later, people look back on that legacy with peace and joy. In the moment when they’re loved one dies, they don’t understand the who, what, why but when they choose donation they can look back three years later and see how God was working.



Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at and connect with her on Facebook at


IntertwinedAbandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!

Click on a link below to buy the book         ♥           ♥

Virginia Smith – Authorview

Virginia Smith Headshot Reduced

Today’s guest is multi-published Virginia Smith, a fellow Kentucky author.  She’s really showing versatility with her latest release, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, The Tales of Goose Creek B&B. It’s been compared to Jan Karon’s Mitford series, with intrigue, humor, and romance. I love the sound of that.

So, Virginia, tell us a little about your new series– The Tales of Goose Creek B&B

Parade - website lgIt’s about the lovable, laughable residents of a small town called Goose Creek, Kentucky. In The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, we meet Al and Millie Richardson, a near-to-retirement-age couple who are at odds over her desire to sink their retirement funds into the purchase of a falling-down Victorian house with the idea of turning it into a bed and breakfast. Al is absolutely against the idea and digs his heels in, but in a match of wills, he secretly fears Millie’s is the stronger. In the meantime, the town’s iconic water tower needs to be repainted, and the community is in an uproar over the mayor’s idea to hire an outsider for the job. And meanwhile, a new veterinarian moves to town and unknowingly insults one of the oldest—and most influential—residents.

The publisher summarizes the series like this: “Get lost in a novel that reminds you why you love reading.”

In writing the first book, what inspired the story/situations?

My publisher, Harvest House Publishers, contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying something new. They were looking for a series about a small town with quirky residents, lots of humor, and subtle wisdom. They thought my writing style was well suited to that kind of book. Was I interested? You bet I was! My first three novels were exactly that—small towns, lots of humor, quirky characters. I’ve written in a lot of styles since then: romance, suspense, mystery, historical, contemporary, even biblical fiction. But from the moment I put the first words on paper, I was in love with Goose Creek. In some ways, this style of writing is like returning to my roots.

Wonderful! Please tell us about your main character(s). What endears them to you?

This book has several main characters. In fact, you could almost say the town, Goose Creek, is a character itself. But among the residents there are a few who take center stage. There’s Al and Millie, the late-middle-aged couple who buy the old house in order to open a bed and breakfast. I have to confess that there is a lot of my husband and me in that couple. I absolutely love their relationship, quarrels and all. Then there’s Dr. Susan, the veterinarian. I love her blundering mannerisms and sincerity.

Is the location real, or based on a real location?

Goose Creek is a fictitious town, but it is based on Midway, Kentucky. Midway is a charming town not far from my home in Frankfort, and like Goose Creek, its Main Street runs one-way on each side of a railroad track. Midway is one of those towns that cropped up around the railroad back in the mid-1800’s, and while many of those communities closed up, Midway survived. Its claim to fame is that Jesse James’ mom was born there.

Can you give us a sort of “snapshot” (brief description) of any important secondary characters you love?

Since this book has an ensemble cast, there are several characters who aren’t necessarily center-stage, but give the story so much flavor and fun. One is Mayor Jerry Selbo. There’s an interesting story behind his character. My church holds an annual auction as a fundraiser, and people donate all kinds of stuff to be auctioned off. When I was working on this book, my donation was the chance to be a character in one of my books. Jerry Selbo, one of my friends, won the auction. At first I was simply going to name a character after him. I made him the mayor of Goose Creek. As I was writing, I couldn’t help but picture the real Jerry as I was writing about Mayor Jerry, so some of his mannerisms and personality came through. I loved him so much he’s become a continuing character in the series. In the next book, Renovating the Richardsons, Mayor Jerry Selbo has a significant role.

I like recurring characters. They give a series continuity and draw the reader in faster. I haven’t read the book yet, so tell me what you hope will draw readers to this series?

The humor, of course. I love to laugh, and I think there’s a lot of funny stuff in these stories. But the messages really do run deeper than that. They’re about relationships, and cooperation, and compassion, and the need to see other people’s viewpoints.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Horatio - website lgThough The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade is officially the first book, I launched the series on August 1 with the release of an e-only novella, which is a story roughly one-third of the length of a novel. It’s called Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat, and it takes place five years before the opening of Parade. In that eBook you’ll meet Millie and Al, and you’ll discover the origin of the town’s beloved six-toed feline pets.

I read the novella and was delighted with it. I look forward to reading the series. What’s up next for you?

At the moment I’m working on the third full novel in the Goose Creek series, The Room with the Second-Best View. I really do hope this series is well-received by readers so I can keep writing Goose Creek stories. We have to wait and see what the readers think of Parade. In the meantime, I’m working on an unrelated book. I don’t want to say too much, but I’ll tell you this: I’m taking pottery lessons as part of my research.

Oh, boy! One of the things I love about writing is research. I know from past experience, you love to actually get into the roles you write. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Local readers, Virginia Smith and Ann Gabhart will be signing books at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky on October 6th at 7 p.m., so mark your calendars and plan to attend!

Virginia Smith is the author of more than two dozen inspirational novels, an illustrated children’s book, and over 50 articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Visit her on the web at Follow her on Facebook at

Links to purchase The Most Illegal Goose Creek Parade:

Parade - website

Barnes & Noble:

Links to purchase Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat:

Horatio - website lgKindle:


A Timely Delay

earringsI don’t have any sisters, but I have an older cousin named Norma, who is as dear as a sister to me. I thought about her one day as I was putting on a favorite pair of earrings I hadn’t worn in a while. When my grandmother was dying, I wore those earrings when I went to the hospital. My cousin Norma arrived from Illinois wearing earrings just like mine. I guess that means we have similar taste, good genes, or something like that.

I kept thinking about Norma, throughout the day. I’d not heard from her in a while, and she’s not on the computer, so I found a card with an appropriate message and wrote her a note.

“Do you remember when Grandma was in the hospital and we arrived wearing the same earrings? Well, they’re back in style, and I’m wearing them today. I’ll always think of you when I see them.” I finished with some news about the family and sealed the card.

The next day, I had the card with me at work, planning to mail it, but I’d forgotten to write the address on the front, and I didn’t have her information with me. She didn’t have a “land line” so her address wasn’t in the online phone book. I put the card back in my bag so I could mail it the next day. A few days later, I was looking through the bag and came across the card I’d forgotten all about. So I took it out, found the address, and put it back in the bag.

I finally remembered to mail the thing several days after I had written it. A few days later, I received Norma’s answer.

Aunt Jen

“You are such a blessing,” she wrote. “Your sweet card arrived on Mama’s birthday.” Her mother, my favorite aunt, had died a little over a year before. Norma was feeling sad when she went to the mailbox and found my card.

I smiled at the memory of my forgetfulness, but after re-reading Norma’s note, I wondered. My delay in sending the card meant it arrived on Aunt Jen’s birthday (which I’d forgotten about). Coincidence? I don’t think so. I prefer to believe in a loving heavenly Father who cares about our every need. His plans for us sometimes include precious surprises that brighten our day and help us through difficult times.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3 NIV

Originally posted on Facebook, September 15, 2011