My kids, grandkids, and sister will be coming tomorrow around noon. Thirteen of us. The entertainment this year will be taking turns snuggling little five-week-old Adeline Ruth.

I’m also deeply thankful that my oldest granddaughter, Hannah, is here safe and sound. She is a voice student at Pepperdine University out in California. Her school was right in the middle of that terrible forest fire in Malibu.

Here’s an aerial photo of the campus and surrounding area right after the fire. The circle is where my Hannah was living. Firefighters managed to save the school. The students are all okay and home with their families now, but it was very frightening.

Something else I’m extremely thankful for is my readers! I think I might just have the best readers in the world. Sometimes they astonish me with the depth of the emails they send.

This one from a reader in Australia left me in tears. I think it is too inspiring to keep to myself. It came after a reader finished one of my historical romances, The Measure of Katie Calloway, a novel which deals with a wife escaping an abusive husband. I am printing it here with the author’s permission. I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspires me.


The Year of the Spud

Dear Serena,

Katie reminded me of my younger self.

I came from an abusive background. Life was a struggle at every stage and yet amongst that struggle came faith and joy and eventually love. I learned that HOME is people. Community is a blessing when as a group we share experiences. I learned that finding ways to survive and the ability to do so is of greater value than money alone. Your lumber felling community brought this to mind again.

I was reminded of a similar situation in my own life: The Year Of Spuds and The Year Of Apocolympic Rissoles.

Let me explain:

I’d had to escape a ten year marriage of every abuse my husband could think up. Fortunately for me, he was so promiscuous my young conscience freed me, biblically, to run and hide from him after ten years of abuses and having lost multiple pregnancies. I was still only 29.

Two abandoned children came into my life soon after. Their parents left them with me for a week or so which turned into ten years. Their excuse? “we need to find ourselves”. Apparently they had to abandon their young children in order to do that. The children had come to trust me, with their big eyes and one thumb firmly plumped in one mouth to self soothe…there was no way I could leave them to Social Welfare. Yet I had nothing at all to offer, except my love. For I’d escaped literally with only the clothes I had on my back and two mismatched shoes!

Having so little, I made a game of everything. Even eating potatoes creatively for a year! 

I could dig potatoes locally. And so by day, I ran after tractors filling huge baskets with potatoes. Each basket was tallied to give me cash and then by night, with the children, we’d grate potatoes, or cook potatoes in milk and onion, or fry potatoes with an egg drizzled over, a potato chowder, or potato mornay and so on. It was indeed THE YEAR OF THE SPUD.

The Olympic Games was a highlight the year after the spuds. Also a religious cult was on the TV, declaring the same year as being The Apocolypse. 

The lad I was bringing up cleverly called it The Year Of The Apocolympics. They were both frightened by what this cult predicted and so to make light of it, we made a game of it.

A slight increase in finances that year meant we could afford one kilogram of minced meat each week. Lamb was economical but I varied it to include beef, fish or cheese. And so at night we’d grate whatever vegetables we could find, with wild herbs, the meat and an egg or two, mixed it with stale bread by hand into burgers. And so it became The Year Of The Apocolympic Rissoles. The children never complained about eating vegetables because they were involved in growing them and preparing meals.

I remember that even though we were poorer than most families, I felt powerful for the first time in my life. And the children thrived under my care as we learned together how to stretch a tiny income. The Social Welfare paid us a visit right in the middle of one of our food preparations and they were noticeably impressed. I remember the social worker asking the children if they always helped. It gave me joy when they answered by saying it was fun living with me because they were allowed to help. 

And I felt closer to God as I was clearly able to see His hand at work in my basic, uncluttered life.

Thank you for reminding me of what truly brings joy into a home Serena.

— Posted with permission by Mandy QKS —

The Year of the Spud © 2018 Mandy QKS | First Published Nov 21 2018 


WOE_ISO_CoverI recently stepped outside my historical and Amish genres and did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I wrote a real nail-biter of a romantic suspense. My heroine, nike tn noir Erin Ramsey, nike air max pas cher is a mild-mannered high school English teacher until her family comes under attack. Chaussure Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11 Then she turns into a mama tiger ferociously trying to save her daughter’s life. There is also Cole, the damaged and very unexpected protector. mochilas kanken no.2 Available through Amazon, Sac À Dos Kånken Fjällräven Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Billige Nike Sko Google Play,

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You dream about it. Your book. People who are not buying it just because they are your mother 🙂 You hear horror stories from other authors about book signings where no one shows up, or where the only person who speaks to them is asking for directions to the bathroom. But you dream that some day if you work really, really hard, you’ll write something that people will want to read—and maybe even ask for an autograph. And so you dream.

My first book signing was July 31 in Berlin, Ohio, at the Gospel Bookstore. The Hoestettlers, who own the store, promoted the signing well, and it was WONDERFUL!!!!! I loved talking to all the people who came. Three hours later, I got to sign at Rhoda and Freeman’s Gospel Bookstore in Sugarcreek, Ohio. My fantastic editor, Connie Troyer, her husband, Tom, and her sweet mother-in-law, Maryjane, came to keep me company. Maryjane writes a column for The Budget, which is the Amish/Mennonite newspaper published right in Sugarcreek. She was gracious enough to write a terrific review of my book. I was especially touched that Maryjane came, even though she had lost her beloved husband only two weeks earlier.

Les Troyer, the linguist who helped me SO much with research over the phone, also came. Les was raised Amish, but eventually left the Amish faith to become a Mennonite and Bible translator. Les is recovering from a recent stroke, and I know he didn’t feel all that good, but he and his sweet wife, Maddie, honored me by coming to the book signing in Sugarcreek. It meant the world to be able give him a hug and thank him for all his help.
I drove home with this silly, sloppy, grin–remembering all the sweet faces of the people who came to encourage this brand new author. I have decided that people who read and promote inspirational fiction have to be some of the nicest people in the world.