If there’s anything I cherish as much as I love and cherish spending time with my family, it’s spending time with friends. I think it’s something that people today don’t appreciate enough. When one can brag about having close to 1000 friends on Facebook, and the number of followers on Instagram is more important to them than the number of minutes spent face-to-face with live people, then there’s something very wrong with our world.Read more
A few years ago, I was toying with the idea of writing a book about a former female Navy SEAL. I didn’t know her name or her story, but bits and pieces were beginning to come to me. I couldn’t find any direction and didn’t feel like the character was talking to me as I sat at my desk in my office on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I needed a break to clear my head. Some time away with a good friend was just what I was hoping for.
When I arrived in the Arkansas Ozarks, my dear friend, Tammi, assured me that I would one day write a series that takes place in one of the picturesque towns in the area. I was dead set against writing a series, but I went with an open mind. After several days of driving around and visiting many of the picturesque towns, I was even more convinced that I was not meant to write a series, and my character was still hiding in my brain, refusing to show herself. Then we drove through a town that broke my heart.
The sidewalks were cracked, most of the windows were boarded up, and the fountain in the center of town was dry and crumbling. Suddenly, I saw Andi, arriving home from the Navy, standing in the middle of town with a hole in her heart. She was dying inside, and the one place she thought could revive her was dying as well.
Here we are, three years later, and Andi is happily married and living in Buffalo Springs, the town she helped restore. Her sister, Helena, is engaged to the town doctor and piloting every organization in town. Their brother, Jackson, well… he’s trying to find his way out of Buffalo Springs as fast as he can.
Sapphires in Snow
Award-winning author, Amy Schisler, takes us home for Christmas to Buffalo Springs where every season is a time for love… and danger.
Award-winning author, Amy Schisler, takes us home for Christmas to Buffalo Springs where every season is a time for love… and danger.
The little white house on Main Street in Buffalo Springs, Arkansas, is the only home Jackson Nelson has ever known. With college behind him and both his sisters back in town to look after their aging parents, Jackson knows now is the time to make his big move. All he’s ever wanted is to move to New York and lead the high-stakes life of a real estate investor. He’s determined to leave town right after Christmas and never look back.
Cindy Kline has never had a real home or a real Christmas. Abandoned by her father and raised by an unfit mother, Cindy thought she had finally found the family she always wanted when the man of her dreams asked her to marry him; but when his Navy SEAL helicopter went down in a fiery crash before their wedding, Cindy had nothing left to keep her in sunny California. Packing her meager belongings into her old, beat-up car, Cindy drives straight to Buffalo Springs and to the only real friend she’s ever had – Andi Nelson. With Christmas around the corner, Andi, Jackson, and the whole Nelson family convince Cindy to stay through the holidays.
Just when Cindy is beginning to get into the Christmas spirit, her life is once again up-ended – this time by a series of break-ins and the news that her dangerous father may be lurking nearby. Cindy has no idea that her father’s mysterious past will put her life in jeopardy, and Jackson has no idea that the bright lights of New York are but a flickering flame when it comes to the sparks of the heart.
A cold wind—the precursor of a coming storm—shook the trees and rattled the shingles, but the flames flickered in the fireplace, and the house smelled of freshly baked bread and roasting, Thanksgiving turkey. Jackson slipped out the front door and leaned against one of the columns that framed the steps of the only place he’d ever called home. He took a sip from the bottle in is hand and heard the door open behind him.
“Cold night to be stargazing,” Jackson’s father said as he slowly moved to stand beside his son, using the furniture and porch railing to guide his steps. He hated using his walker.
“Cold but clear. The best kind of night to see the stars.” He gestured at the sky with the bottle.
“I guess you don’t see many stars in the city,” his father said.
Jackson took another sip. “Not as many as here,” he agreed. “But there are a lot of things the city has that Buffalo Springs doesn’t.”
“I suppose I probably thought that way when I was your age.”
Jackson ignored the comment and leaned closer to the man whom he had always admired. He asked quietly, “How’re you holding up, Daddy? Are you feeling okay?”
Joshua beamed up at his son. “Never better.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Jackson said though he doubted there was much truth to his father’s statement. “We just don’t want you overdoing it.”
“Nonsense,” Joshua said, waving his hand in dismissal. “I’m as fit as a fiddle.”
Joshua wished that was true, but one look told him otherwise. His father had aged at least ten years since his stroke back in June, and though Jackson had seen his progress in the months leading through August, he was shocked to see how fragile his father had become while Jackson was at school.
Joshua Nelson’s blue eyes seemed dimmer, and he had lost more than seventy pounds. His arms were thin with none of the muscle Joshua had built up after years of heavy lifting in the town’s paper mill. When the mill shut down a few years back, Joshua had no problem getting a job lifting and carrying loads at the local hardware store. It was only after he was laid off, during the town’s bad years, that Joshua’s health had declined. Now, he stood stooped over, his face sagged with wrinkles and empty skin, and his legs didn’t always work the way they should.
“Daddy, you must be freezing out here. Let’s go back inside. I’m sure Mama could use some help, and your game shows will be on soon.”
Jackson remained alert, his arms ready to give aid, as his father shuffled back toward the door. His heart broke to see his strong, capable father reduced to half his size and a quarter of his strength.
“Your mother’s the one who always overdoes it,” Joshua said. “I told her to wait to cook that bird in the morning when the girls are here, but she insisted that she always cooks it the night before. Says it’s easier for me to carve it that way.”
That was something Jackson hadn’t thought of. Was his father capable of carving the turkey? Could he even hold the knife steady? Maybe Jackson should suggest that it’s high time for him to learn to do the job. After all, he’d be a college graduate in less than a month. Time to start taking on some more responsibility around here. For what little time he’d be around here anyway.
After helping his father get settled in his armchair, Jackson’s eyes fell on the carpet where the repair stood out, the threads bright and colorful. He recalled the day a fireball had been thrown through the window and onto the rug. He frowned, remembering the men who tried to burn down his parents’ house and attack his sister, Andi, when she and Jackson devised a plan to save the town from the drug lords who were running it. It was during that time that Andi convinced Mayor Wade Montgomery to join their efforts, and Wade went from being a figurehead who bowed to the crooked town council to a legitimate mayor who fought for the best interests of Buffalo Springs. Both Andi and Wade came close to being killed by the men who thought they ran the town, and Jackson’s already high admiration of his sister had grown even more.
“There you are.” Grace’s voice pulled Jackson back to the present. “I called from the kitchen, but y’all didn’t answer.”
“Sorry, Mama. We were on the porch. Do you need help with something?”
“Can you lift the bird from the oven for me? It gets heavier every year.”
Jackson smiled. “Sure, Mama.” He started toward the kitchen.
“Just put it on top of the stove for now,” Grace called.
The aroma of spice-laden skin and toasted stuffing filled the air, and Jackson’s stomach growled despite the hearty supper they’d eaten only an hour before.
He hefted the turkey onto the stove and turned off the oven. Before he returned to the living room, he gazed around the bright kitchen with its yellow walls and lacy curtains. Nothing about this room had changed in at least fifteen years, but instead of comforting Jackson, it made him uneasy. Not much in this town ever changed even with all the new businesses that his sister and her husband were bringing in. It was no place for a young man just starting out in life, and as much as he would hate to break the news to his family, Jackson knew that come New Year’s, he would be long gone from here. He didn’t plan on ever coming back.
October 15 and 16, 2022 – St Mary’s County Fairgrounds, Leonardtown, MD
Amy will be signing and selling books at the festival. All ages are welcome for a day of sun and seafood! See event website for more details.
October 29, 2022 – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD
Amy will be signing and selling books at the festival. The event features live music on two stages, boat rides, retriever demonstrations, oysters and other local fare, an oyster stew competition and cooking demonstrations, along with children’s activities, oyster demonstrations, harvesting displays and Chesapeake-related documentary screenings. More details coming soon.
Write What You Know Writer’s Workshop
November 12, 2022 – Time TBA – Leonardtown Library, Leonardtown, MD
Amy will be giving a workshop for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). She will talk about how to write a more authentic and readable novel by writing about what you know – the people, places, and events that have shaped your own life. More details coming soon.
November 19, 10am-4pm & November 20 10am-3pm – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD
Amy will be selling and signing her books at the annual event just in time for Christmas! The Festival will feature artisans from around the country selling coastal and sea-glass related jewelry, home décor, art, and more. The two-day festival ticket includes entrance to the festival, live music, and all the exhibitions and historic structures on the campus of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
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What I was writing about one year ago this week: I Surrender.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s new book, Seeking Tranquility, was released on June 15, 2022. Buy your copy now!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021), Seeking Tranquility (2022).
When I had my first child, my mother and grandmother stayed at the house to help me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. My husband couldn’t get off from work, and I would have been on my own. Here we are, twenty-six years later, and I’ve taken up the mantle and am at my daughter’s house helping take care of her newborn.
When Rebecca told me that her husband had two weeks of paternity leave and would be there to help as well, I honestly didn’t think too much of it. Sure, he’d be there, but what good would he be? If Rebecca needed guidance and help from someone who had “been there,” she would have me. Anthony certainly wouldn’t have anything to add to the equation. I pictured him coming home from the hospital, tired and hungry, eating whatever I made before going to bed and returning to the hospital the next day to bring Rebecca and the baby home. From there, I assumed he’d make an appearance during the day, but his primary role would come into play at night with diaper changing and then handing off Evelyn for feedings.
Boy, was I in for a surprise!Read more
Any day now, possibly by the time this goes to print, I will be a grandmother. For the past nine months, I have marveled at how I could be a grandmother already. It seems too soon. I’m excited, but I don’t feel ready. I don’t have enough life experience yet. I’m still busy screwing up my children’s lives! I still make parenting mistakes all the time. How can I help my daughter navigate her own life as a new mother?
I was lying in bed last night, unable to put my mind to rest, when I thought, I don’t know how to do this yet. My mother and grandmother were so good at it, so perfect, and I’m so much younger than they were when they took on this role.
Then reality hit as I did the math…Read more
It’s that time of year when I start thinking about good, old-fashioned comfort food. The air is beginning to feel a bit chillier, the days are getting noticeably shorter, and my youngest has already been away at school for an entire month. When I’m planning my weekly menu this time of year, my shopping lists fills with ingredients for hearty soups, delicious pastas, and foods that fill the house with long hours of scintillating aromas. And chicken pot pie is always the family favorite.
Last week, our middle daughter, Katie Ann, said, “Mom, I think it’s time for chicken pot pie.”
Now, this is not an unusual request from Katie who could eat homemade pot pie 365 days of the year, but I knew what she meant. It’s not a meal I make in the summer when my handmade, flaky crusts are reserved for blueberry, peach, or strawberry rhubarb pies. It’s one of those meals that is just right for a cold, blustery, snowy, or rainy day. A day like this past Sunday.Read more
It has been a quiet summer here at the homestead. Other than Rebecca’s baby shower, we haven’t had many people over, which is not normal for a Schisler summer! Last spring, our backyard movie screen came down in a windstorm, and we haven’t figured out how to put it back up since it took the trees with it. We’re working on some ideas to have it back up before next summer! I had a lot of personal appearances for my latest book, and we spent a fair amount of time helping Rebecca and Anthony get ready for the baby (any day now)! But our summer was pretty consumed by one big project.
About a year ago, we attended the beautiful wedding of the young man I consider a son. Rebecca’s best friend for many years, Nick has been as much a part of our family as Rebecca’s husband is. The wedding was held at the bride’s family home where the shower took place a few months prior. The moment I walked into the backyard at Corrine’s shower, I fell in love with the setup. I went home and told Ken that we needed a patio and outdoor entertaining space similar to that one. At the wedding, Ken agreed. I’m pretty sure he agreed because he saw how much I loved the space, but he agreed all the same.Read more
“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”(Luke 12:21).
We heard these words in Sunday’s Gospel just before leaving on our summer vacation. Vacations are sacred to us, treasures to be kept in our hearts and cherished. They aren’t tangible, and they can’t be stored physically, but they are precious gifts that we always look forward to and look back upon.
Many years ago, Ken and I made the decision to never skip a family vacation. He has always worked high pressure jobs and rarely has the ability to just take a day off or check out early. Before he had his present job, he traveled so much, he was hardly home for the equivalent of an entire week per month. For his own mental health, we knew that we had to make vacations one of the top priorities in our marriage.
When we lead marriage prep classes for our diocese, we do an exercise in which the couples have to list their individual priorities for their marriage and then share and discuss with their fiancés what their couple priorities for the marriage are. Many of these couples include travel as a priority. We always encourage them to keep that as a priority, especially when they have families, because those times are a treasure indeed.
I’ve written before about how important vacations are in a marriage and family even if it’s just a trip to some place in your home town. But they are more than just jaunts away from home or time off from work.
They are treasures to be grasped and held onto.Read more
This past weekend, Ken and I went out to dinner with another couple. The four of us try very hard to get together about once a month, which isn’t easy with the busy lives we lead, but it’s crucial that we make the effort. We’ve known John and Alix for almost twenty years. Alix and I have been in the same Bible study group for nearly that long. Our kids went to the same school from first grade through high school. Ken and John went on a mission trip to Guatemala together. Our friendship is based on all these things, but what really holds it together is our faith. I have learned so much about prayer, faith, and healing from these wonderful people.
My long-time readers probably know that Ken was in politics for a very long time, almost half our marriage. His political career came to an end during a very tumultuous time in our lives. It was difficult for all of us. Imagine that the person you love most in the world is made into a scapegoat, has his name and reputation smeared by people he trusted, and is dragged through the mud for no other reason than political motivations. It was a heart-breaking time for me, to see my husband’s face on the news and read his name in the paper and know that everything being said was a lie. Rather than being relieved when the state ethics board cleared him 100%, I was angry because our lives had been turned upside down and because the media never once acknowledged his innocence other than a teeny, tiny one paragraph blip hidden at the bottom of an inner page in the local paper. I asked my husband over and over again how he was dealing with all this, how he was coping with the loss of trust and friendship he had, how he showed no anger toward the people who did this to hm, and his response to me was always the same. He simply said, “I pray for them.”
Now, if that doesn’t stop you in your tracks and make you look inward, nothing will.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Matthew 5:44
But there’s more to those four little words than I could comprehend at the time. So much more.Read more
Over twenty-six years ago, when I was pregnant with Rebecca, a dear family friend gave me a really special gift. On the surface, it doesn’t seem special, but over the years, it has become a cherished item in our family. It’s an item that is used several times a year but only on special occasions – typically birthdays. It’s a reminder that each of us has something to offer, that each of us is unique, that we are all special.
This simple plate that says, You are special today, has made an appearance at occasion after occasion throughout the girls lives. Using it has become a time-honored, beloved tradition in our house. Everyone knows that the table is not completely set unless the plate is in its proper place at the seat of the guest of honor.
It might seem silly, but you see, it’s about so much more than a plate.Read more
All month long, I’ve written and posted about love. I’ve touched on romantic love, self-love, and the love between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters. I’ve talked about our Father’s love more than once. What I haven’t mentioned is the love between a daughter and her father, a love which I happen to think transcends all other types of earthly love as a reflection of the love between a daughter and Our Father.
Pope John Paul II said, “In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.” How true that is.
It took my parents several years to have me. Just as they were in the throes of adoption, I gave them the surprise they’d been praying for. By then, my father, at thirty-three, was a little older than most first-time fathers of the time. Of course, I didn’t realize this until much later in life; but now I am reminded every day how truly blessed I am to still have him with us at eighty-four (eighty-five in April).
Growing up, my father was loved and adored by everyone, which was no surprise as he was always a kid at heart, and he has a heart the size of a mountain.Read more