Saturday, September 25, 2010


Steve with sons Russell & Aaron
On the Trail with 
Stephen Bly

I’ve got a picture of me with my sons and it reminds me of an alarming trend in our society. Every generation seems to be getting taller and bigger. To me, this presents hazardous implications. My great-grandson will need very high ceilings in his house. His kids will get sore backs from stooping down to stare into the frig. And my great-granddaughter will need to ride a draft horse to barrel race.

Steve with grandkids
To prove my point, my Daddy measured a good 4 inches and 50 pounds lighter than me. My three grown sons are big 6’2” galoots who could chill any man standing in their shadows. 

The word ‘galoot’ originated in the east—a slang word for an awkward, simple fellow. But when it came west, it meant ‘the man who wasn’t there.’ Not a derogatory term though. By the late 19th Century, galoot became synonymous with hombre. . .man. . .friend.

Buffalo Bill on right
Galoot’s another nickname for an Old West crammed with nicknames, such as--Wild Bill, Buffalo Bill, Crooked Nose George, Three Finger Charlie, Galena Smith, Sawtooth Ed Mason, Cactus McQuary, Oh Be Joy Miller. Seems like that’s a trend for wherever two or three men gather together.

Jesus didn’t hesitate to give his disciples nicknames. 
Simon Peter was called “The Rock.” 
James and John got tagged “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17)
These monikers revealed their main character traits.

Makes you wonder. What nickname would the Lord give to you? 

Might have to do with your reputation, or the habits you’re building, or just the winsome way He perceives you. Maybe he’d call you and me  His Big Galoots.

Whatever the name, it’s born out of His great love and He’ll say it with a tender smile.

Have you ever thought about what name you’d like Him to call you?

COMING MARCH 2011: my next novel, a western romance called Throw Away Heart

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Friday, September 24, 2010


Janet Chester Bly
Janet in office

Need peace? I sure do. Especially today. Here's what I'm trying to do.

Start at your place. In your home. In your own heart.
Plant peace among your own kith and kin. Then, branch out from there.

How? Here's some hints:

1) Aim for unity, but don’t insist on uniformity. Respect those who don’t think just like you do. Determine to love them anyway.

2) Flee when you can from those who spark continual explosions. However, strive to do the hard work of getting along with difficult people. Sometimes you just have to let them be. Admit you can’t ‘fix’ everyone.

Bly bunkhouse
3) Pray and release. Find a private place where you can scream or cry when you want and no one’s disturbed. Wrestle with your burdens. Figure out a temporary escape route. A healthy retreat. A haven of rest. Even if it’s a closet. . .or bathroom. A perfect Peace Place can be a sanctuary, a wooded area, a corner of the library, or a table at Starbucks. Prove to yourself that peace is possible, even if you snatch it for only a few instants each day.

Stop by a church on a weekday. Claim a secluded beach or bench. Drive, bike, hike … or take the subway … to the most scenic place closest to your dwelling – a park, a lake, a river, a reserve or a garden.

4) Head for your house. Close the curtain. Shut the door. Just for today.

5) Or maybe all you have is privacy. You’re alone all the time. If so, what’s your main need? Take it to God in prayer … until you know from your heart that he is enough, whether or not he provides a friend or mate right away.

6) Practice God’s peace today in every phone call, every irritation, every contact, in any disappointment or sorrow. Build a habit of peace when you’re confronted by a person who you just don’t get. Who needles your most fine-tuned nerve. Who seems to use you.

7) Be calm. Be cool. Be collected.  Be kind and gracious … no matter what is said or done. Just for today.

"Try to stay out of all quarrels ... Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God's best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives." (Hebrews 12:14,15 NKJV).


How hard has it been for you to find peace lately?
What's your best solution?

Article: Download for free “31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace” at

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Work Horses, Steve Lyles
  photo sent by Steve Lyles, Oregon

   Says Steve:

Some might say these old vehicles are useless and should be recycled. But they, like older people, are fruitful - if only for their uniqueness, color, and charm. 

Here's some other possible titles: Colorful History, Retirement, Field of Dreams.

Picture taken in eastern Oregon (I don't know where).

I don't have a site, but my wife has a Grandma Gone Granola blog:    
Here you’ll find Simple, Inexpensive Tips for Healthy Living from Becky Lyles. Her most recent articles focused on the topics of “high fructose corn syrup” and “fat phobia.”

Note from Becky Lyles:
"FYI, I was at the OCW (Oregon Christian Writers) conference last year and enjoyed getting to know you and your husband through Stephen's keynote addresses." 


This sunset through the barn photo sent by . . .
author & speaker, Charlene Ann Baumbich. 
Sunset thru barn, Charlene Baumbich

I ‘hide’ to write in a little rental farm house in Minnesota. The landlord boards horses on the property. At the end of a long writing day, I went to the barn to listen to the horses breathe, and discovered this breathtaking scene.  Grateful, tingling senses ….

Your blog sure struck my heart. I ADORE old barns, and have, on occasion, nearly driven myself into a ditch gawking at them. So, I thought I'd chime in with a submission--as if I have nothing else to do.  HA!  You know how that is:  writer under deadline, so please interrupt with something else they I don't really need to do.

My dad used to race harness horses as a hobby, so I grew up with a barn filled with peace, wonder, and the mighty presence of horses. My writing hideaway in MN brings back so many memories for me.

Thanks for the opportunity and the memories.
Charlene’s website: 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Shelter of Hope
By Lyn Cote

BLURB:  The House that Love Built

Struggling single mother Rosa Santos is deeply touched when volunteers
band together to build her a home. With a waitressing job, community

college and church, Rosa barely has time to help, let alone dream about a husband and father figure.

But when handsome volunteer Marc Chambers hands her withdrawn young son a little hammer, her heart swells. Her son blossoms. But the closer she and Marc
get, the more he pulls away. Why?

He's built her a shelter of hope…one she—and her son—pray he'll take refuge within….

Shelter of Hope is the 1st in the New Friends Street series and published by Steeple Hill

Monday, September 20, 2010


A novel by J. Bradford Lawler
Taming the Eastern Frontier
Capital City Books

The half-breed moved only when the wind blew. The breeze rustling through the trees helped to mask his movements...Silently, he crossed the property line. He was on his family's land for the first time since he'd been forced to flee with his mother and little sister four years ago. The exhilaration of setting foot once more on his father's soil gave his senses a rush of clarity.
from The Adventures of Hood & Fudd

Hood has picked the perfectly wrong time to return to Iron Gate.

The year is 1888. The town’s on edge, plagued by the attacks of a dangerous mountain lion. Worse yet, a mysterious stranger confronts a gang of outlaws--including Emmett Stone, the man who murdered Hood's father four years ago.

Rejected by those who call him "half-breed," Hood must figure out where his allegiances lie. What does it mean to be both white and Cherokee? How can he balance the urge to avenge his father's death with the wisdom passed down from his grandfather, Chief Namar?

Hood, driven out of town four years earlier, this time resolves to stay, and, if necessary, fight to reclaim his family's homestead. The deck is stacked against him, but he finds an unlikely friend in Ruben Fudd, a fellow woodsman and tough rodeo competitor.

Hood and Fudd should fear for their lives, but they are determined to stop at nothing until justice is served and the safety of Iron Gate is restored.

J. Bradford Lawler grew up in Virginia and happens to be a small part Cherokee. After attending the College of William and Mary, he joined his father in the home building business. Twenty-five years later, Lawler decided to return to his roots and his grandfather's profession of gentleman farmer. Currently, he raises goats and chickens as well as planting a vineyard in Midlothian, Virginia.

A link to Western Fiction Review blog’s review of this book:    

Check out the publisher’s site:

Monday, September 13, 2010


Winchester rifle 1886 45-90 half mag

Steve with rifle in golf bag
Stephen Bly

As a writer of western novels, I have a deep interest in the guns of the old West. 

Like all inventions, there’s been progress and improvement in firearm construction. I work hard to make sure I have the right gun for the right era for my fiction. Nothing troubles me more than to read a story or see a movie, where the hero totes a weapon that had not yet been invented. Makes it hard for my wife or family to watch westerns with me.

John Wayne, of course
That means my characters don’t pack a repeating cartridge rifle before the Civil War.  Nor do they use smokeless powder before the mid 1890s. And they never carry a Winchester 1892 before...well, before 1892. Sorry, John Wayne (who insisted on carrying his own rifle, no matter the time of his movie).

Winchester 1873 saddle ring carbine
I own and have shot all the weapons I mention in my books. I find it tough to communicate a scene if I haven’t felt the kick of the gun, the explosion in my ear, the heat of the barrel, the acrid smell of black powder in my nostrils and the cloud of smoke that hangs between me and my target. For me, the scene has to be authentic.

My faith’s that way too. 

My walk with God has got to be genuine, first-hand, and include daily contact with Jesus, God’s Son. I’ve felt the kick of his discipline, the explosion of his truth, the heat of walking with him through trials. I know about the acrid smell of failure, the cloud of doubts. That way I can communicate my living, active, tested faith to others. 

My goal, my aim is to be able to say, like St. Paul, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9)

Quite a challenge to be that authentic.


Check out my Antique Winchester Collector's site: 


What do you collect or create that relates to your faith or philosophy of life?

Saturday, September 11, 2010


She risked everything to rescue him.
But what if he doesn’t want to be saved? 

Belgium, 1916 

The German Imperial Army may have conquered Belgium on its march through Europe, but the small country refuses to be defeated. An underground newspaper surfaces to keep patriotism alive and bring hope and real news of the war to the occupied country. It may be a whisper amongst the shouts of the German army, but it’s a thorn in their side nonetheless—and Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print . . . even risk his life. 

Isa Lassone is a Belgium socialite whose family fled Europe at the first rumblings of war. Now, two years later, she sneaks back across enemy lines, determined to rescue Edward—the man she has loved from afar since she was a child. 

But will he ever see her as more than the wealthy, silly girl his mother once cared for as a daughter?

When Edward refuses to leave, so does Isa, and soon she is drawn into his dangerous double life. But the Germans are closing in on the paper, and Edward had never planned to put any one else at risk . . . especially the beautiful, smart, yet obstinate young woman who has inconveniently managed to work her way into his life—and into his heart. 


Whisper on the Wind  brings to life a time and place too often forgotten in historical fiction. . . . The suspenseful climax kept me on the edge of my seat!” Lynn Austin, best-selling author of Though Waters Roar 
“A suspense-filled romance. . . . an exciting page-turner, one that will have readers racing to reach the end so they can discover how it will turn out. I highly recommend Whisper on the Wind.”  Robin Lee Hatcher, best-selling author of A Vote of Confidence


A note from Maureen: 
Whisper on the Wind  holds a special place in my heart, because I conceived the idea during a time in my life when I wasn’t actively writing. I knew “someday” when I could devote myself to writing again, this would be the book I’d write. And here it is, years later—a book inspired by the true events surrounding a Belgian newspaper, La Libre Belgique. During the German occupation of Belgium in the First World War, the Germans ordered every legitimate Belgian newspaper to submit to censorship—and so sprang up La Libre Belgique, one of the few voices of opposition to the propaganda the Germans circulated. Their goal was to bring hope to a suppressed nation, and many people lost everything from their freedom to their fortunes, some even their lives to see this paper circulated. With so much material, it was easy to create a romantic tale of adventure and intrigue, so I hope you’ll enjoy the story—knowing the story-behind-the story is full of factual history.

A little about Maureen:
Maureen Lang is the author of several novels, including Pieces of Silver (a Christy finalist), The Oak Leaves (Holt Medallion Award of Merit, finalist in ACFW’s Book of the Year and Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contests) and Look to the East (Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest winner and Carol Award finalist). She is also the recipient of RWA’s Golden Heart and ACFW’s Noble Theme Award (now the Genesis). Maureen lives in the Midwest with her family and their much-loved dog, Susie.

Her next book will be Springtime of the Spirit, April 2011

Visit Maureen at: or

She’s also on Facebook:!/maureen.lang

Whisper on the Wind is available at any bookstore, from Tyndale House Publishers or online at:

Barnes and Noble: 

Christian Book Distributors:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


We’ve got two different “Country Life Captions” features for you today, offered to us by Gail Pallotta and Dr. Edna M. Ellison, who both happen to be authors too . . . .


“I watched this farm horse graze close to her foal on an outing my husband and I took when our daughter attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Seeing it now sparks memories of the peaceful countryside and the people there with hearts as big as the sky.”

Gail Pallotta
Sent by Gail Pallotta, author of Love Turns the Tide, a romance with a bit of suspense. Gail lives in Georgia with her husband, Rick. When she isn't writing, she enjoys traveling, swimming and visiting friends and relatives. Read more about her at

Love Turns the Tide
LOVE TURNS THE TIDE available from Awe-Struck E-Books:


When the wind blows through Texas country, hold on to your dress! Christian mentor and Bible study writer, Edna Ellison (left), braces against the wind as she and friend, Lois Robinette, walk in the bluebonnets. After a book signing, Edna visited Lois, who lives on a ranch near Ennis, Texas.  
Yellow Jessamin

“I have friends in Texas. You know Texans are sentimental about bluebells, their state flower. I'm from South Carolina, but not as rabid about ours, the Carolina yellow jessamin.”

Sent by Dr. Edna M. Ellison, 
South Carolina
Dr. Edna Ellison has written 19 Christian/inspirational books and counting, including Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, co-authored with Linda Gilden. Check out her website at, or book her for your next event by e-mailing her at

Monday, September 06, 2010


Janet & Jan
Janet Chester Bly


A friend and I discussed the points of a sermon we heard Sunday morning. We both agreed that even though we know that God loves us … one of the hardest things we struggle with is feeling free to be ourselves. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to stand out. We want others to like us.

We both shared times when we acted out, or blurted words, perhaps part of our true natures, that reaped embarrassment or guilt.  We’ve blown it. This caused us sometimes to be reticent to say or do anything in a similar situation again.

“How do I release the dumb things I’ve said or done and find relief to be the person I really am?” she asked.

We all dread dredging up past painful memories. When we’ve done wrong things. Or failed to do something right. We fired lightning sparks in the situation, instead of enlightenment. We flunk the tests of life. Guilt’s our grade.

But at least guilt’s better than a dead conscience. Still, finding a way to reconcile, to make peace with ourselves, with others, with God … that’s glorious. Working through the trips of guilt proves our spirits are alive. We’re responsible persons. We’re accountable citizens. We’re spiritual beings. We repent, turn around, and go the other way.

In all sorts of moods and weather, finding true inner peace when we disappoint ourselves, when we hurt others, can take a long time if …
We won’t admit it when we’re wrong.
We know we’re wrong, but we’re full of excuses … such as, blame others.
We’re unable to admit we’re capable of wounding words or fatal flaws.
We refuse to apologize without qualifiers.
We’re unable to accept forgiveness and go on.
We fail to realize we’re as faulty as those we judge.
We won’t allow God to heal us, to put us together again, as only he can.

We make peace with shame when we give our moral failure to God’s Son, Jesus (1 John 1:9). We call it what it is. We place a name to the deed.

My friend and I discussed the need to transfer every detail of wronged relationships and their aftermath to God, our best Friend.  To surrender to his wise and powerful keeping everyone involved and affected.

When we depend on him to make crooked places straight, when we do a free-fall into his love, his acceptance, his grace … we rid ourselves of remorse. We release that best part of us we call personality, our unique gift to the world. He heals our souls.

“They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed” (Psalm 34:5 NKJV).

When do you experience the most freedom to fully be yourself … and have no need for later regrets?

You may download the free article, “31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace” at

Friday, September 03, 2010


Jannie & Howard Johnson
We received permission to relate this inspiring story, which we read about in our friends' Mark & Beth Ward's newsletter recently. The Wards have served as NAIM (North America Indigenous Ministries) missionaries in Canada for many years. Mark is now a Field Director. They reside in British Columbia.

Jannie Johnson is Dutch-born, tall, attractive, quite musical, and carries herself like a queen.  She and her husband, Howard Johnson, dived into their roles as missionaries by learning the Shuswap culture and language. 

Last summer Jannie was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Jannie believes that her health is being restored after chemo and radiation treatments.

Jannie stayed, during the weekdays, at a cancer clinic in a town several hours away from their home in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, to do daily radiation treatments.  She brought her laptop, iPod, knitting projects, and her trust that God was in control.

Her husband, Howard, wrote this on April 4, 2010.

Jannie teaches a "Kye7e" (Grandma) to shoot
Jannie met a Native lady from Adams Lake Indian Band at the cancer clinic in Kelowana.  Jannie recognized her and said, “Weyt-k”.  The elder looked up with a surprised face as she greeted a tall white woman speaking her language.  Jannie introduced herself and over several weeks had many opportunities to visit and get to know her.

The elder told Jannie that she was going back to ALIB (Adams Lake Indian Band) in Chase to have a birthday party on Saturday.  She said there would be a lot of drumming and singing. She invited Jannie to come to the family party.  Jannie mentioned that she had a drum song she would like to sing for her.

So, yesterday, we found ourselves in the ALIB band hall, which was packed with family and friends of the elder. After hours of drumming and singing, the master of ceremonies passed out gifts to honor those who helped sing, and to honor family members.  The gift given to each was a single side of dried salmon.  Cultural protocol was being followed.

The last fish was taken out and the master of ceremonies called for Jannie, the friend of the elder, to come forward. Jannie and I were quite surprised. As she strode to the front, she addressed the group in Secwepemtsin, the Shuswap language, gave her name, and told who her language teacher was.  You could have heard a pin drop.  There was a tall blond woman speaking their language and holding a Shuswap hand drum in the Band Hall, surrounded by fluent speakers and professional singers.

I prayed quietly.  Jannie began to speak in English. “I want to share a song that was written by a Mohawk man.  It tells us that Creator loves us and cares for us.  He cares for us when we are young and into our old age.  He cares for us when we deal with cancer, too. This is for Auntie.”  She then began to drum and sing.

What happened next brought tears to my eyes!  As she sang the drum song, the whole room of people rose to their feet in respect!  It was so beautiful and powerful. I was all choked up with emotion.  When Jannie finished, she was greeted with applause and received her gift of the fish. Last night at the birthday party, we saw God empower us – especially Jannie – to serve.  He gave her the courage to seize the moment for God, and sing for Him.

When has a debilitating experience in your life provided a bridge to someone whom you may never have interacted with otherwise?

To learn more about NAIM, go to 

Thursday, September 02, 2010

THE BRIDGE OF PEACE, new novel by NYT bestselling author, Cindy Woodsmall

Scott Walston
First, a personal note: 
We've been away from our office & away from our blog the past couple weeks, due to a family emergency that took us--with just one hour's notice--on a long 2-day drive to our home state of California. 
Our 44-year-old nephew, Scott Walston, son of Steve's only sibling, Judy Walston, was killed in an industrial accident. We stayed long enough for the rest of our family--our sons & their wives--to fly there too and for Steve to officiate at the graveside & memorial service at Woodlake Presbyterian Church. Scott...we will never stop missing you & your humor, your work ethic, your integrity, the wonderful menus you prepared, your beautiful gardening, and most of all your infectious smile!

Now that we're home, we have some catch-up to do...including to let you know about a new novel release by a New York Times bestselling author! We're delighted to present to you. . . . 

Book #2 Ada's House Series
The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall
Release date: August 31, 2010

Headstrong schoolteacher Lena Kauffman finds herself at the center of controversy in her Amish community when a young man in her classroom refuses to submit to her authority. As her friends and family rally around her, especially longtime friend Grey Graber, things go from bad to worse when Grey’s wife, Elsie, becomes an accidental target in trouble meant for Lena. As the present unravels around them, each must find their own way through their private pain in order to find peace and a brighter future.

The Bridge of Peace is the second novel in the Ada’s House series and it returns to Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and the beloved characters from The Hope of Refuge. The Hope of Refuge—Christy finalist, Inspirational Readers Choice Contest finalist, and a Carol Award finalist.

Cindy Woodsmall 
To read the first chapter of The Bridge of Peace or see a list of places to order it online, go to

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. She’s co-author of an upcoming spring release, Plain Wisdom, which is a nonfiction book of touching and humorous life events written with an Old Order Amish friend.