Running from Treasure Hunters…

When I set out to write The Lost Dutchman’s Secret, I had no idea the trouble it would get me into. I knew that people still searched for the mine, but I hadn’t a clue just how obsessed some of them still are. You would think, after 150 years, the hullabaloo would have died down. Apparently, it has done no such thing.

It all started the week of my book release. In the beginning, I thought someone must be pulling a prank. After all, leaving a note by the door when I got home came directly from a scene in my story. However, when I found a note on my car when I left my favorite coffee shop, I decided it might be time to take action.


While I still didn’t know whether or not they could be serious, I decided I had better take precautions. Before the day had ended, I’d sent a special delivery to Cathe Swanson. To be signed for.

The notes, however, didn’t stop. I had another when I headed to church the next morning. And another a week later. And then came the calls, emails, and messages. I started hearing about the notes and strange visitors that my fellow authors were receiving, as the map passed through their hands. Threats, intimidation, espionage. Men in Indiana Jones Fedoras. From what I heard from April, some of them even seemed to succumb to the greed of gold and tried to form their own branch of rogue treasure hunter, (I’ve made note to be wary of Sandy and Cathe for awhile,) while Chautona, Marji, Liz, and Denise experienced the more threatening side of gold fever.

I needed to put a stop to this and fast, before someone else got hurt.

When the weasel with his Fedora wearing backup caught up with me, I stood at the base of the Superstition Mountains, watching a group of deer meander through the rocks.

“There you are!”

The voice startled me, rough and halting. I did wonder why I thought coming alone was such a good idea. I tensed, taking a step back, slipping a hand in my pocket. I knew how to press “record” without looking.

“Did you think that we wouldn’t notice watch for you here?”

“I don’t think I thought that through, actually.” I heard the laughter of children not far off, and the conversation of a couple hiking down the trail. I took another step back.

“Where is the map?”

He really didn’t sound intimidating at all. His friends’ glares and crossed arms caused rather more trepidation than his voice. Or anything about him, really.

“We don’t want to hurt you, Miss Jones, but we will.”

“I don’t have it.”

“Because we believe you.”

I shook my head. “The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine is lost for good reason – and it’s going to stay that way.”

The man nodded and his men uncrossed their arms.

My hands shook and I glanced around, hoping a random stranger or five would show up to help me if I needed it. “You won’t find the map. I can promise you that.”

“Because you don’t have it? We don’t believe you.”

“Because I buried it.”

The man started. “Buried… what?”

“The map.”

He looked back at his companions and then back at me. “She just admitted she has the m… Wait. Where did you bury it?”

“In the Superstition Mountains.”

“Then we want the map to the buried map.”

“I don’t have one.”

“You lost the map to the Lost Dutchman? Are you insane?

I’ll have a reader note here that I never said I lost anything. I said that I buried it and didn’t have a map. There is a rather amazing difference. However, I didn’t see any need to correct a crazy man. He and his friends stared up at the Superstition Mountains with horror. “You’re insane.”

It seemed unfair to be called insane by a man who literally seemed to embody that trait in the treasure hunting sphere, but again, I didn’t see any need to correct him.

“We could have been rich.” He paused, an evil grin forming. “We will be rich. We’ll find that map before you do.”

I only blinked at him.

He nodded to his men. “Come on. Look at her shoes. She didn’t hike far into the mountains to bury the map. It’s fairly close. We’ll find it.” He raised an eyebrow at me and pointed a menacing finger. Or what he thought was menacing. “Don’t bother trying to get it back. We’ll find it first. We’re good like that.”

I stepped back, clicking off my phone. I felt pretty confident I had the message recorded.

With a last attempt at a glare, the three started off toward the mountain base.

“Are you all right, Miss?” The young man who asked might have been twenty-two. I wasn’t sure what he saw or heard, but I nodded with a shaky smile.

“I am now, thank you. I’m just headed to my car.”

Once in the car, I shuddered, then with a glance back at the Superstitions, I smiled to myself. They were right, I hadn’t hiked far into the mountains that day. I hadn’t even started to climb.

I also never said that I buried that map today any more than I had said I lost it. It wasn’t my problem, however, if their search had been based on faulty assumptions. And until they realized their assumptions would lead to literally nothing, I had evidence to send to the local authorities. And a map – safe, sound, quite buried, but hardly lost. I’d just have to wait awhile before I paid my next visit to the mine. I didn’t want to be followed.

On the other hand, there’s another treasure that’s up for grabs (well, it’s a book but books are treasure, right? And I can call it that, even if I wrote it?) – make sure you enter the GIVEAWAY for The Lost Dutchman’s Secret!

Christmas Carol Society is Live!

Did you see what went live this weekend? Christmas Carol Society is available in both Kindle and Paperback!

How did this book come about? Let’s travel back in time a bit to commence…

December 2013

That year, I spent most of December living with friends. One night, I sat on my bed in my little room, my laptop in front of me as I worked on the final rewrite of Journeys of Four. I hadn’t ever been away from home during Christmastime and while I worked, I analyzed what I missed about the traditions I had grown up with.

Toward the top of my list, I missed A Christmas Carol. I had neither book nor film with me. Mixing my thoughts with my work, I grew distracted, saw a white bunny and jumped down a rabbit hole. Which is to say, I stopped working and wrote down a new book idea that I titled Homeschooler’s Christmas Carol. Then, because I had a lot of work to do, I went back to work on Journeys of Four.

December 2018

Five years passed. Then, Sarah Holman asked if I wanted to write a novella for A Very Bookish Christmas. The idea sounded fun! I asked for A Christmas Carol and I got it.

It had been years since I even looked at my file, but the idea of spinning A Christmas Carol into a contemporary fiction story with no fantasy and a greater emphasis on the gospel had continued to intrigue me. How should it be done, however?

While December slipped by, January crept in. One afternoon, I made a hungry little person a grilled cheese and the character of Charlie Baker occurred to me. He wasn’t quite right – really, I pictured him about fourteen years younger – but I knew I had my starting point. I rushed across the room to write it down.

Possibly ten minutes later, I rushed across the room again, when Charlie grew into a man in my head, followed by the birth of Miss Dartmoor and the Christmas Carol Society. I could see them all so clearly, that I nearly forgot what else I had been doing. Only nearly.

However, by early 2019, if not before, I had begun struggling with my writing. While I still had moments of excitement regarding my stories, I struggled when I actually tried to write them. That didn’t stop me from trying, however, and I pushed on with my book, trying to grasp an elusive thread for this story that I knew just dangled beyond my reach.

Then, I went to Oxford, where the LORD allowed me to learn more than I could have expected. On my return, armed with lots of prayer, critiques on my first chapter, and a renewed vision, I began my book again on page 1. The LORD allowed first draft completion of my manuscript in six weeks.

I learned so much with Charlie. I’m still trying to absorb the lessons myself, as I am not fictional, and clearly, not as receptive as he is. I love this book and the characters. I thank the LORD for letting me write it.

I did have a single problem, however. Christmas Carol Society is not a novella. It’s a novel. Too long for the collection. The LORD provided there as well by letting me come up with and somehow find the time to write Gingerbread Treasures in a very short time. (Which, LORD willing, will be released with the other stories in the collection later this month!)

The end result is, that after six months of drafting the manuscript, typing it into my computer, letting it rest while I did other things, waiting on edits and readers, and finally doing the final edits and formatting – I get to present you with the completed novel in time for the celebratory season! I never have got over the awe of seeing the LORD allow a story that I wrote, reach the stage of publication!

I hope that my readers will enjoy Christmas Carol Society, will be blessed by the story within, and, ultimately, will be pointed toward the LORD in the reading.

To the KING be all the glory!