2018 in review

Hi Everyone, Can you believe that in a few short hours it will be 2019? This year sure has flown by for me. It’s been a year of ups and downs, but at its close, I want to focus on the positive–the things that have stood out for me this year as highlights, events that I am especially grateful for. So here’s my top five:

5.  This was my complete year of writing full time. I loved being able to follow my passion on a daily basis. I finished and published four full-length novels, a record for me, and had many more sales than in the previous years of my writing career. I finished book eleven in my Peakview Series and the first book in my new Aspen Ridge Series.

4.  I was able to travel to Denver this summer to attend RWA (Romance Writers of America Conference). What a wonderful experience being around so many talented authors and members of my tribe. The classes were excellent and I came home renewed and excited about my career.

3.  Lost Valley Ranch–my favorite place on the planet. This November I got to spend a weekend at this beautiful resort high in the Colorado Rockies. I started going to Lost Valley in 1967 with my family on vacation, later worked there when in high school and college, and its been a favorite weekend retreat for me and all three of my children and granddaughters. This time was especially great because I was there with both my daughters, my brother, who had not been there since 1973, and my sister in law and son in law who were first time visitors. What a great family weekend.

2. Time with family. This year one of my biggest blessings was time with my family. I was able to travel to Colorado four times this year to spend time with my son, my granddaughters, and extended family members. I traveled to San Diego for a week this summer to spend time with my oldest daughter at her home on the beach. I got to meet her boyfriend and experience her lifestyle. Most precious of all, I got to spend an entire year living only a couple of miles from my youngest daughter. Whether it was meeting at Starbucks, taking walks with our dogs, or enjoying local events, we had a great time spending moments together. I cherish the time I get to spend with those I love.

1. Merlin came into my life 🙂 Anyone who follows me on social media is well-acquainted with Merlin, my toy Australian shepherd. Merlin joined my family just twenty-four hours after the sad event of the passing on my dog, Laddie, who had been my best friend for sixteen years. Merlin had brought such joy into my life. He’s gone from 3 pounds to almost 15, where he should stay for awhile. He gets me moving–we walk four to five miles a day to try and use up some of his never-ending energy. Not a day goes by that I don’t laugh out loud at some silly thing he does. And at night, he’s there curled up beside me his head on my body. Who knew something so small could bring so much joy.

There you have it, my five highlights of 2018. I’d love to hear yours 🙂 Happy New Year and cheers to an even better 2019!!

Merlin 2019

Character Talk Tuesday-Ethan Charm

Welcome, introduce yourself.

I’m Ethan Charm. I moved here to Peakview with my mom last fall. I’m fifteen and a freshman at Mountain High School.

What activities are you involved in?

I’m a runner, so I’m on the high school’s cross country and track teams. At first it was hard running at such a high altitude with my asthma, but I’m getting more use to it now. The elevation is much higher than where we came from in Nebraska.

How do you like Peakview?

It’s great. I’ve made a lot of friends. Everyone is very down to earth and friendly. I like being at a rural school. Now that mom and Jake are married, I love living on our ranch. We have so many animals. I love them all, but my favorite it my cat, Carrie. I was there the day she was born. She was the runt of the litter, but what she lacks in size, she makes up for in personality.

What are you doing for the summer?

I help Jake around the ranch and I’ve been working part time for Jerry at Heart’s Haven doing some repair work and trimming of trees and lawn stuff. I like it. It’s good to be outdoors in the mountains in the summer. In my spare time, I like to fish and hang out with the cross country guys. We have practices all summer, so running continues. I’ll go back to Nebraska for a couple of weeks with my dad, but I’ll be ready to come back. This town really does feel like home.

Author Spotlight

Hey everyone, I’m the guest on LA Sartor’s blog today talking about my latest release, Mountain Hearts. Hop on over and check it out.  https://anindieadventure.blogspot.com/2018/04/author-spotlight-featuring-jill.html

Love is being there

It was a pretty uneventful Mother’s Day for me this year. My son did cook me a nice dinner, but the fact that my two grown daughters both now live out of state and were not here to celebrate was sad. The cold wet weather outside didn’t help my mood. I sat and reflected on all of my years as a mother. (This was my thirty sixth). As a single mother of three children money was often tight and I wasn’t able to always buy my kids the fancy things they wanted. Despite my shortcomings, they have all turned into amazing and successful adults. People often ask me how I raised such wonderful kids.  I think the secret is just being there–for all their events and activities. Letting them know day by day that you support them in everything they do. That you are their biggest fan. That they are stars! This was really brought home to me this Mother’s Day, when I got the Facebook post from my youngest, now an Emergency Room doctor in a big city. Along with the several cute pictures of her and I throughout the years this picture was attached. mother's day notes

You see through all those years, I always managed to stick a little note in my kids backpack or athletic bag the day of a big game or meet. Just to let them know I loved them and would be there cheering them on. As you can see they were written on little sticky notes of scraps of paper. It didn’t matter, it let them know I cared.  I had no idea my daughter had hung on to them for all these years. It was a great Mother’s day just knowing the love that is there, no matter what the distance in miles separate us. I love being a Mom!

Things you see at airports

I’m not a frequent flyer, I don’t travel that much and when I do, I usually opt for a road trip instead. I’ve never been a big fan of flying. But my daughters have recently moved out of state and I frequent Denver International Airport to pick them up and drop them off.  There is something I love about airports.  Every time I sit there waiting, I am amazed at how busy the airport is. At any given time of day , there are literally thousands of people coming and going. Last week, I picked my daughter up on a Wednesday morning.  Who were all these people traveling in the middle of the week? Didn’t they have jobs? Or maybe they were traveling for work.

airport 2

Anyway, last Wednesday, my daughter’s plane was slightly delayed, so I was sitting and waiting for her arrival, when I noticed this line of people. They were all clearly very excited, jumping up and down and conversing among themselves. After watching, like those around me for a few minutes, I walked over and asked if I could take a picture of them for my blog. I spoke to the lady that seemed to be in charge of the group. She told me that her son was coming home after a mission trip for their church to Brazil. They hadn’t seen him in two years! So his parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and cousins had all assembled to welcome him home. As she told me their story, the lady who had been sitting next to me, a stranger, broke into tears of joy for them. As anxious as I was for my daughter to get there, it had been three months since I’d seen her, I found myself hoping that their son go there first so I could watch their celebration. Well, he did, and they all went crazy jumping up and down and taking their turns welcoming him home. This is one of his sisters.

airport 1

Shortly thereafter, my own daughter arrived,  and though she had been gone a much shorter time, I was equally excited to have her home.

airport 3

Airports are happy places, places where people reunite with loved ones. They remind us of the value of human relationships. I love airports!

Whats in a name?

Haymaker LnDriving through the town where I have lived for almost 40 years last week, I took a short cut through a new neighbor and there it was–a street named Haymaker Lane. Of course I had to jump out of my car and take a picture.

Growing up I didn’t like my name Jill Haymaker much. Jill wouldn’t have been a bad name, but the reason I got the name was that my dad’s name was Jack.  I spent the early years of my childhood hearing over and over “Oh Jack and Jill that’s so cute!” To me it was just annoying.  Then there was my last name. Do you have any idea how many jokes can be made about Haymaker.  I got jokes about being a farmer (not that there is anything wrong with being a farmer, I just wasn’t one).  Also there were the jokes about the knockout punch known as a Haymaker.  I had one teacher in seventh grade who insisted on calling me Muhammed Ali the entire year. It was embarrassing. When I got to college and joined the Greek community, a bunch of clever frat boys changed it to Haybaler, which was then shortened to Baler and by my junior year everyone referred to me as “the baler.” Needless to say, I longed for a nice normal name like Smith or Jones.  My dad on the other hand loved the uniqueness of our name.  Every vacation we ever took, the first thing he would have my brother and myself do when we got to a motel was to pull out the phone book and look for Haymakers.  He would delight every time there were none, which was the majority of the time.

So it will not surprise you that when I married someone with a much more common name, no tears were shed as I gave up Haymaker.  I didn’t look back and quickly identified with my new last name.  Even when I was divorced, I chose to keep my married name.  Fast forward until two years ago when I began writing.  Having a full time professional career, I immediately decided I needed a pen name.  I was not sure that I wanted any professional clients connecting me to any steamy romances I might create.  So at this point, had I been more creative, I probably would have made up a sexy. romantic sounding name, but since that was not the case, I decided to revert to my maiden name.  It was easy–I wouldn’t forget it.  I didn’t know if it was a good fit for a pen name, but then a wonderful writer friend of mine (thanks Pamela!) Came up with the following tag line “Haymaker to the heart-romance that knocks you off your feet.” I loved it! And I began to like my name.

What surprised me most was shortly before my first book signing, I realized maybe I should decide how I was going to sign my name that I hadn’t used in over thirty years. I sat down and without thinking wrote it out. Wow, I wrote it exactly like I had in high school all those years ago! It was spooky! Even though over the years, the way I wrote “Jill” had drastically changed as had many of the letters in “Haymaker”, when I signed it, I reverted back to my high school style. It brought back many happy memories. My dad had passed away at a young age many years ago and my brother, the sole remaining Haymaker in our line of the family, had no children so the name would die with him. Maybe this was a way to carry on the family name and honor the father I adored through my writing.  For the first time in my life, I loved the name I was born with!