Bluesky Familes

I grew up watching television shows like Leave it to Beaver, Make Room for Daddy, and Father Knows Best. Every week the family would be presented with a problem. In the course of the thirty-minute show, the issue would be resolved. The parents always seemed to know what to do and the children always responded in a way that helped them see the error of their ways. In reality, family life is so much more complicated.  Things were a little simpler when I was growing up, but even back then, we dealt with serious issues.

In writing the Handy Helpers books, I wanted to present strong family values. My families share meals together, pray, go to church together and genuinely care for each other. They go on picnics, have game night,  ride bikes and spend quality time together.  Accomplishing these things can certainly be more difficult in the fast-paced world we live in today. But creating a cohesive, loving family environment is worth the effort it takes.

My friend, Teresa, had this to say about the Handy Helpers books:

“I just love how the Handy Helpers get to experience all the things that kids their age experience. When they make wrong choices, they have to suffer the consequences. When they make the right choice, they get the good rewards that come with making good choices. It is so neat to see them learning and growing with each new turn in their lives. I also love that the parents play a big role. I believe the author wisely depicts the role that God meant for parents to have in training and guiding children to do and make right choices. As an adoptive parent I relate to Gus and his heart to help these three children, who so greatly need him, to become a whole family. I highly recommend the whole series of the Handy Helpers.”

You can now purchase Handy Helpers books at 50-60% off directly from


All Saints Day

Today is All Saints Day. It is a feast day to celebrate all of the saints who don’t have their own feast days.  When I was confirmed, I chose St. Teresa of Avila to be my patron saint. She lived in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. She was very spiritual as a child. In her early teens, she lost her mother. Her father was very strict and when Teresa began choosing a more worldly life, he sent her to a convent school.

At school Teresa began to follow a spiritual life again and became a Carmelite nun. Shortly after that, she became very ill and experienced intense pain. In order to bear the burden of pain, she surrendered completely to God.

Later, Teresa would experience scrutiny due to the Spanish Inquisition which was suspicious of any deviations from orthodox religion. Teresa complained to God, who told her, “That is how I always treat my friends.” To this Teresa replied, “That must be why You have so few friends!”

Teresa’s prayer experiences were so intense that at times her body would spontaneously levitate. Not wanting a public display, she would have other nuns sit on her so she wouldn’t float away.

Believing that being a Carmelite did not allow her to develop the prayer life she desired, Teresa founded her own order. She traveled all over Spain, setting up convents. She died at the age of 67.

Teresa was a writer and poet. The following is one of her poems.

“God alone is enough.”

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of St Teresa Avila “, Oxford, UK – . 12th Jan. 2013. Updated 26 June 2017

Book Four is Live!

  The Handy Helpers, Not a Happy Camper is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris. It is not available as an ebook yet.

I hope you will take a few minutes and check it out. According to my young reviewers, it is the best one yet. You’ll find out what happened to the Cole children after they were rescued from the forest fire. Spike deals with another bully. Melissa hopes to strike it rich, panning for gold in Fox Creek. Beth Anne makes a huge sacrifice. And so much more. You won’t want to miss it. I’m hard at work on Book Five. Hopefully, it won’t take me so long to finish this time.

Hiking Spree 2017 is underway!

This is the tenth year of the Hiking Spree. With twelve hikes to choose from for each year, that’s 120 hikes in or near Prescott, AZ! You can get maps for all the hikes at the Highlands Center for Natural History website.

I’m hiking alone this year, as my husband is no longer able to make the treks with me. And since my time away from home is limited, I’m taking the shorter hikes. That doesn’t mean they aren’t spectacular. That was the case with Willow Lake, north. I thought I had explored all of the trails around Willow Lake, but apparently, this is a new one. Although I had a map with me and there are maps posted periodically, I still managed to miss the trail.  To help assure that you don’t miss it, I took this picture to show the white dots. When you reach the end of the approach trail, follow the dot on the left. Bear left as you proceed across the granite rock. Soon you will find yourself in a secluded canyon. Following the Canyon Trail a short distance, you will come to the Apex Trail.  It is a short, steep trail that will give you great views. Returning to the Canyon Trail, proceed to the James Trail, another short trip to another great view.

One great feature of the Canyon trail is that It is flatter than most of the trails in Willow Lake. The entire loop is only two miles but it is an amazing hike!

The Handy Helpers, Book Four–The End–At last

I have said so many times that I am almost finished with Book Four, I wanted to wait until that was actually true. Last Friday, the completed manuscript was emailed to my publisher for copy editing. So I think I can safely say that it is finished.

This is the story of Beth Anne’s quest to go to summer camp with her friends. Her parents want her to go to a camp for children with special needs. Thinking it is because they are worried for Beth Anne’s safety, she and her friends plead their case. Finally, Beth Anne’s parents admit that it is because they don’t have the money for the registration fee–the special camp is free.

That’s when the Handy Helpers devise a plan to raise the money. Registration check in hand, everything seems set for Beth Anne to go to camp. But Beth Anne shocks her family and her friends when she suddenly changes her mind and wants to go to the special camp after all. The reason for her change of heart is a story in itself.

Some other surprises in Book Four:

  • The outcome of the forest fire that took place in Book Three is revealed–the fire damage and what happened to the Cole children.
  • Logan’s dad–absent more than ever–shows up with someone he wants Logan to meet.
  • The history of the Clawson sisters is revealed, along with the history of Bluesky.
  • A big change is coming for Beth Anne’s family and she is excited about it.
  • In Book Three, Spike learned a lot about dealing with Bullies. At camp he encounters another bully and has to put his skills to the test.
  • At camp, Laura and Melissa’s friendship is stretched to the limits. Amber, who is put in the middle, must act as peacemaker.
  • Chris faces one of his fears and works to overcome it.

I hope you are excited about reading Book Four. I’m already at work on Book Five. Hopefully it won’t be so long before it is ready.

Check out my author page and order books on Amazon.


Red, White, and . . . Bloopers

Chris and Logan were already there when Spike arrived at the watermelon-eating contest. Gigantic watermelons had been cut up, and large slices were waiting for the contestants. “Last call for the watermelon-eating contest!” Mr. Howard, the president of the town council, shouted into the microphone. Contestants had already taken most of the seats at the table. Spike noticed Todd sitting on the far end and made his way there so he would be able to give Todd his slice of watermelon along with a big slice of revenge. Troy Fillmore was already in position, looking confident in his ability to win the contest for a second year.

            “Before we begin,” Mr. Howard said to the contestants, “I’m going to go over the rules. Your hands will remain behind your back during the entire contest. You must eat all of the red portion. Emmitt Dugan here will be the judge. He will determine when you’ve eaten all of the red portion. His judgment is final. We’re just about ready to begin. Go ahead and set the watermelon in front of the contestants.”

            While Mr. Howard was speaking, Spike had carefully removed the bottle of red dye from his pocket. Using the pointed applicator, he carved a groove in a watermelon slice and filled the groove with the contents of the dye bottle. Then he set the slice of watermelon in front of Todd. Spike recognized Mayor Goodwin standing nearby. He had removed his leather jacket but was still wearing the white T-shirt.

            “Okay, I think we’re all ready,” Mr. Howard spoke into the microphone again. “Wait a minute, there’s an empty chair. Hey, Mayor, don’t you want to get in on this?”

            “I think I’ll pass,” Mayor Goodwin said, patting his belly. “I just ate a big lunch.”

            “Oh, come on,” Mr. Howard urged. “You can’t let Troy win this thing again, at least not without a challenge.”

            The crowd started chanting “Go, Mayor, go! Go, Mayor, go!”

            At last, the mayor relented. “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.” The chair on the other side of Todd was vacant, but because the chairs were crowded together, the mayor asked Todd to move over so he could have the chair on the end. All the contestants had bibs tied around their necks to protect their clothing from watermelon stains. Because the mayor joined at the last minute, no one thought to give him a bib. Spike watched in horror as Mayor Goodwin took the seat in front of the sabotaged watermelon slice.

            Before Spike could switch watermelon slices, Mr. Howard yelled “Go!” into the microphone. Slices of watermelon were sliding around the table as the contestants plunged their faces into the red flesh of the melons. Chomping sounds could be heard as well as groans from the spectators as they saw Troy Fillmore’s watermelon slide away from him and fall under the table. Chris quickly replaced it with another slice, but Troy was now far behind the other contestants. Jennifer was jumping up and down, yelling Todd’s name. Todd was focused on eating the watermelon, but his mouth wasn’t as big as the mayor who was devouring every red speck in record time.

            Spike, who had been watching the excitement, looked down at his hands. They were stained with the red dye. The empty dye bottle lay at his feet. Spike quickly picked it up and walked as fast as he could without drawing attention in the direction of the restroom. As he left, he could hear the crowd cheering.

            “Here’s the winner!” Mr. Howard shouted into the microphone, holding up Mayor Goodwin’s hand. “It looks like we have a new champion this year!” he continued as the contestants were given towels to wipe their faces. “Our mayor has pulled it off for the good old red, white, and . . . red, white, and . . . bloopers! Holy moly, Mayor, what happened to your face?”

            Spike quickened his pace toward the restroom. Everyone stared at the mayor, who was holding the towel in his hands. On his face was a red smile that went from ear to ear. It wasn’t a happy-clown smile but an evil, scary smile. It looked like he had been drinking blood and the blood had splattered onto his white shirt. Women nearby shrieked in terror. Toddlers in strollers and babies in their parents’ arms began to cry. People came running from every direction to see what had happened.

            “Better go clean up,” Troy whispered to the mayor.

            “You!” Mayor Goodwin called out as he entered the restroom. “It was you!”

            Spike looked up from the basin where he was scrubbing his red hands and peered into the stained face of Mayor Goodwin. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then Spike broke away and ran for the door.

From The Handy Helpers Book 3: Red, White, and . . . Bloopers!  The Handy Helpers series is available on amazon


Day Four: The end of the trail

Indian Gardens is a lush oasis halfway down the canyon. It is surrounded by steep vermilion walls. A small creek flows through the campgrounds leaving the trail muddy in spots.

We pitched our tents under a large willow tree. After a nap and lunch, I  was ready to hike to Plateau Point. It was only me and the boys, as everyone else elected to cool off in the creek. The trail to Plateau Point is relatively flat but totally exposed. We were hiking in ninety-degree heat, but without our packs it wasn’t so bad.

When we reached Plateau Point, we could look down at the Colorado River. From another vantage point, we could see much of the trail we had hike that morning. While we were enjoying the view, we encountered an Asian couple who asked us to take their picture. In return, we asked them to take ours.

As we hiked back, we caught up with the couple. She asked, “Grandma, how old?” I told her that I am sixty-eight. She said that she is sixty-two, but her grandchildren are much smaller than mine.

Back at the camp, a ranger came to tell us that she would be giving a talk in the amphitheater. Mike and I decided to check it out. Had I known the topic–Canyon Night Life–I might have skipped it. As I listened to her talk about the creatures that come out at night, all I could think about was that I would be hiking in the dark. Rattle snakes, skunks, scorpions, big horn sheep, and mountain lions are all out there for me to encounter. The rattle snakes in the canyon are pink. We had already seen one in the campgrounds

Still, I decided to stick with my plan to get up early. After dinner, I got my pack ready and then did my best to sleep in spite of the wind that was trying to carry me away in my tent like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. At three o’clock, I was up and getting ready. This time no one else stirred. The entire campgrounds was still except for me scurrying around like a large squirrel.

At four o’clock I was hitting the trail and by five I had reached the Three-Mile rest stop. After a brief pause to have a snack, I pressed on. I had passed the One-and-a-half-mile rest stop before I could reach anyone on the radio. Mike and Vikki were the last to break camp and they were on their way out. I had just over a mile to go before reaching the rim. “If you can’t find me, check in the Bright Angel Lodge. I’m going there for breakfast,” I told Mike.

The last part of the trail is the most challenging. Hikers were coming down the trail, but I was the only one going up.  Just as I was nearing the end of the trail, I encountered two rangers. “Where’s my banner and confetti?” I asked. “I’m the first hiker out of the canyon today.” They were impressed that I had hiked out in only four hours. I was elated that I had made it all by myself. As I told Mike I would, I headed for the lodge and ordered a huge breakfast. Real coffee and food that had not previously been freeze-dried was all I could think about.

After breakfast, I still had an hour to wait before the rest of my party began showing up. Loaded in Mike’s truck, we headed for home and a much-deserved rest.

I had done it! I could check this one off my bucket list.  That first night in Bright Angel Campgrounds, Mike told me that if I ever got another one of these hair-brained ideas , they weren’t in. I would like to say that I now have it out of my system, but the truth is I can’t wait to do it all again. Who will go with me? Maybe I’ll go it alone this time. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Written by Rosemary Heddens