Greetings to all my valued newsletter subscribers!
I'm sorry I haven't sent a howdy or an update the last few months, but boy-oh-boy, have I got news for y'all :) Before I get into that, though, I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year! I hope you had a great Christmas and that 2024 is off to a good start.
As you can tell from the graphic above, I love animals. I also love devotionals. Put those together and you've got a wonderful magazine called All God's Creatures, published by Guideposts. Yes, Guideposts. The one and only Guideposts founded in 1945 by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. (As a kid, this publication was spoken of in reverent tones.)
I suppose that's why it's such an honor to tell you that I'll be writing for 2026's All God's Creatures Devotional!! Yes! I can hardly believe it. I'm teary-eyed just telling y'all about it. Anyway, if you haven't heard of this devotional, here's a snippet:
All God’s Creatures Magazine
This heartwarming, daily devotional magazine reveals all the miraculous ways God uses animals to nurture our faith and draw us closer to Him. Every heartwarming—and sometimes humorous—true story will inspire, comfort, and encourage you as only animals can.
You may recognize the cover with the orange kitten as it played a role in my newsletter entitled God Wink. I'm beyond thrilled---and so humbled to be a contributing writer with some really amazing authors. Pinch me, I'm dreaming. (My mama would be so pleased.)
I know 2026 seems like a LONG time from now, but with big publications like Guideposts, they plan WAY ahead. If you're interested in checking out the devotional, go here --> ALL GOD's CREATURES
In other news, Piper got herself a koi pond. Yep, it's a big commitment. And VERY time consuming. And honestly, a little addicting. Every day she has to clean the filter, feed and play with her fish, and if she earns enough coins, she can splurge and get a pack of dragon flies. Or maybe even a new koi. Here are a few shots of her in action.
And finally, I'm excited to tell you that I finished the fifth draft of book 4 in the Shady Gully series. In fact, I just wrote the blurb. I'm very, very, very excited about this book. Truth is, I love the town and these characters more with each book, and I hope you do as well.
In my NEXT newsletter I'm going to give you a teaser. Well, not really a teaser, I'm just going to tell you who SG #4's three featured characters are......
Anybody care to guess? Tell you what, if someone happens to guess all three in the comments below, I'll mail you a signed copy when the book is released, or I'll send you the eBook BEFORE it's released. Your choice.
Rule: You only get one guess, and in that guess, you can ONLY pick THREE characters. If and when someone gets the correct combination, I'll let y'all know in the comments. I'll announce the winner--along with the highlighted characters--in the next newsletter.
For now, SG #4 is off to my editor, and then my publisher and I will get to work with the cover, the technical mumbo-jumbo, as well as the fun stuff. I'll keep you updated.
Until then, Stay Fearless,
Boo! It's me!
Hey FRIENDS of HALLIE, how's everybody doing? Are the temps dropping in your neck of the woods? Do you feel the hint of the holidays ahead? Is this your favorite time of the year or do you prefer the beachy summers?
More importantly, what is the correct answer to the following question? The most important scent of fall is..........Gumbo or Pumpkin Spice?
Sorry if you got it wrong.
I'm approaching the season with a cautious amount of optimism. I have a fuller than usual plate ahead with a heavy list of To-Do's, but since God recently led me through a particularly challenging project, I'm trusting He'll guide me through the rest.
Since it's November---the season of gratitude---I'd like to show my appreciation to my loyal, true-blue, read-and-leave-a-review-no matter-what readers. THANK YOU! Y'all are simply the best!
I'd also like to give away a few audiobooks, which not only make great Christmas presents but are a great way to revisit Shady Gully through the amazing narration of the fabulous Kathy Fox Vancil.
As current subscribers, y'all are automatically entered in the drawing, and ALL NEW SUBSCRIBERS WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING as well, so please encourage your friends to join the FRIENDS of HALLIE newsletter! IF THEY WIN and SAY YOU ENCOURAGED THEM TO JOIN, you're also a winner!
The contest will last through November 30th, so you have plenty of time to tell your friends and family about the Shady Gully series AND give them a chance to WIN!!
And now, for a PIPER update! She's fabulous, and for those wondering, yes, orange cats are definitely crazier than regular cats. However, she knows how to kick back and relax as well. For your viewing pleasure, I now offer you the many Positions of Piper.
And finally, I'll be offering 10% off my books this Christmas for those of you who want a signed copy for your family, friends, and co-workers. As of now, I have both hardcovers and paperbacks on hand. The order cut-off date is December 15th because I want to make sure I can get them to you in time for Christmas. And remember, it's a WHILE SUPPLIES LAST deal so get your orders in early! Contact me at Books@HallieLee.com with your order.
And with that, I wish you all a month full of cozy naps and many, many, many blessings!
Hey to all my FRIENDS of HALLIE out there!
It's hard to believe that we're already into September, isn't it? Any die-hard summer fans out there? Or are most of y'all ready for fall?
Well......I have a bit of personal news to share! After we took our time visiting landmarks on our way to Louisiana for a very special wedding, aka our Grand Adventure Trip which you can read about here, I began to hear murmurings from my family about...adopting a kitten.
Since my husband was doing some consulting in another state, he and our daughter, Bree, thought it would be good for me to have a furry baby at home. As most of y'all know, we lost our dog, Lucy Belle, in 2021, and then our twenty-two-year-old cat, Patches, in April. "No, I said firmly, "I'm not ready yet."
But clearly God had other ideas. What follows is an amazing, miraculous journey of hope, patience, excitement, disappointment, frustration, and finally .... a gift. A GOD WINK.
The week after our return from Louisiana, Bree started her "Get Mama a Kitten" campaign. Daily she scoured all the local shelters, sending me photo after photo of adorable kittens. My responses were full of reluctance.
She pushed. "If you were going to get another kitten, Mama, what kind would you want?"
"Orange," I said impulsively, thinking I'd never had an orange kitten before, and I didn't want anything that would compare to my others.
Over the next few days, she sent dozens of texts featuring orange kittens, but none of them sparked any emotion in me at all. Still, the seed had been planted. Then one day, she texted me a picture of Ava, a beautiful long-haired orange and white kitten. I cracked. Just a little. And for Bree, that was all it took to get the ball rolling. She filled out an application and emailed it to the shelter.
Unfortunately, the shelter denied my application because (you really won't believe this) there were "no other pets in the house." However, they told me I could adopt two kittens. No thanks.
But Bree didn't give up though, and the random kitten texts continued as she searched other shelters for potential adoptees.
Meanwhile, storm season had hit Kentucky with a BOOM, and we got rolling storms for the next few weeks---with LOTS of power outages. I found myself alone and down in the dumps, so when our neighborhood got power again, I decided to go to our local Pet Smart. Sometimes they had kittens, I thought, and I'll just look.
But they didn't.
Just as I was about to leave, a woman who'd been working in the back cleaning cages peeked her head out. "Can I help you?"
I told her the story of losing Patches, and what I wanted, and she said she ran a shelter in Danville, Kentucky, and they supplied kittens to places like Pet Smart. She said she thought she'd heard of one coming soon that looked similar to Ava, the orange kitten at the other shelter. "If I come across one," she said, "I'll send you a picture." She added, "But I may not remember."
I left feeling at peace about it. I mean, maybe I wasn't really ready for another cat. God knew better than I did what was best, and if this lady came across an orange and white kitten, and remembered me, then maybe it was meant to be.
Several days went by without a word, and then, DING, a text from the Danville lady. She told me she'd found an orange kitten that I might like. I waited, but there was no picture. When I prompted her, she said, oops, I forgot, and as I could see the dancing dots of promise in the text, I half hoped the cat was double-dog-ugly. Then I'd be off the hook.
But she wasn't......
Oh no, I thought. That face. She was a hundred times cuter than Ava. My heart opened up and I started to imagine scenarios with this little mug in my life. Linda from Danville said as soon as the litter of kittens arrived at the vet to be vetted, I could meet her. FYI, "vetted" means the shelter gets the kittens, spays/neuters them, and gives them their first round of vaccines. (Right? It's been over twenty years, so I had no clue either.)
Anyway, several days passed, and then a week. I'd begun to lose hope. Again.
The next day I trudged to my mailbox and rec'd my Guidepost's All God's Creatures monthly devotionals. (I highly recommend their daily devotionals, especially for animal lovers!) As usual, it was in a white envelope, and all the way back home I kept thinking, I wonder what will be on the cover. A duckling? A bunny? A robin? As much as I love All God's Creatures, they rarely feature a cat or a dog. But, I think, as I neared my door, if there's a cat, or better yet, a kitten, this is going to work out with Piper-----yes, I'd already named her in my mind.
I opened the envelope, and not only is it a kitten...
...but it was an orange kitten!
To put an exclamation on that point, my phone goes off with a text. It's Linda from Danville! She says she just got word that the litter of kittens were on their way to the vet to be vetted! She'd let me know as soon as they were ready for adoption.
So, I go shopping. I buy kitten food, toys, and stare at that fluffy little face for seconds upon seconds. Okay. Minutes upon minutes. I look at my Orange Kitten Devotional and can't wait until July 1st, so I can read the first one!
But a week went by, and I heard nothing. I restrained myself as long as I could, until one day I texted Linda and asked if she'd heard anything. "I'm sorry," she said, "the people never showed up at the vet with the kittens." She apologized and told me she'd keep her eyes out for another orange kitty.
But somehow, I knew in my heart, there wouldn't be one. Not one like her. Like Piper.
Terrible weather rolled into Kentucky (again) the following week, and this time, we lost power for days. Long, hot summer days. Long, dark nights without light.
Because she sensed my gloominess, Bree upped her game on social media, once again on the hunt for an orange kitten. But I didn't want just any orange kitten anymore. I'd opened my heart just a little, but the moment had passed.
One night, while I was sitting alone in the heat and the dark (still no electricity) Bree sent me a photo of an orange kitten that was available. She'd been texting with the owner and said we could go get her that weekend! July 1st. "I'll go with you, Mama."
But I couldn't decide. Every time I looked at the photo against the dim light of a candle, I felt .... nothing.
"But we have to let the lady know now," Bree pressed.
I hemmed and hesitated, and finally, because my daughter is a bit of a bulldog, I agreed. But I didn't feel good about it. The next morning, after a sleepless night, I texted to say no. "I'm sorry," I said, "but it's not the right time." This was June 28th.
On Friday, the 30th, our electricity popped on for just long enough to charge my phone and get a glimpse of what was going on in the outside world. While I was chatting with Bree, the lights flickered, and went out again. Seriously?
In order to preserve my phone's battery, we ended the call. When I received a text, I assumed it was from Bree. I glanced at my phone with a giant sigh.
"I have the kitten!" Linda from Danville said. "She's fully vetted and ready to go."
"What?" My heart raced as tears puddled at the corners of my eyes.
(I still don't have any idea how it happened. Some confusion between the owner of the kittens and the vet's office. A miscommunication. A changing of the mind. I don't know.)
But the next day, July 1st, I read my All God's Creatures Devotional with the orange cat on the cover, and Bree and I went to Danville, Kentucky, to pick up Piper.
How can that be anything other than an absolute and total God Wink?
IN BOOK NEWS...
On June 5th, the All I'm Sayin' online book club, hosted by Mark Cermak, began an in-depth conversation of Paint Me Fearless. I had the honor of popping in from time to time to take part in their incredible discussion. As a host, Mark thoughtfully guided them through the book, chapter by chapter, and the dialogue was profound, honest, and courageous.
For anyone who has read Paint Me Fearless, you understand why parts of the book would be hard to talk about, especially with strangers. While some of them knew each other from high school, many of the participants were new to the group. Relationships were built. Friendships were renewed.
And solidified in August when the entire group met in Pennsylvania to celebrate the book, the discussion, and the unfathomable bonds that emerge from sharing a story about trauma. The human spirit at its best!
For me personally, it was a heady experience. I was brought to tears when I received a special gift from these beautiful people. A copy of my book, autographed by them.
Thank you, Mark Cermak and All I'm Sayin' book club! You are shining stars in a hard profession. FYI, if you're interested in joining an online discussion of Wolfheart, book 2 in the Shady Gully series, Mark has graciously agreed to host the conversation. It starts November 6th at the Cozy Corner! You can join here: Shady Gully's Cozy Corner Chat!
As always, I encourage you to leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon after you've finished one of my books. Reviews (even if only a sentence or two) are crucial in a writer's journey.
And with that, I wish y'all a Happy Fall!
How's your summer going? Are you kicking back at home, enjoying Netflix and getting in a little reading time? Or are you traveling the world? Or somewhere in between?
As many of you know, after losing both our cat and dog in a span of two years, my husband and I are petless. It's a strange sensation, and not in a good way.
Still, over the last couple of months we've tried to make the best of it. We've been doing some traveling. Now, as a true-blue homebody, I wasn't entirely comfortable with this notion, but since a good friend of ours from Louisiana was getting married, we decided to make it a "Grand Adventure."
So, if you're game, fasten your seatbelts. We're hitting the road!
Grand Adventure: Part 1
Singing horses, Chris Stapleton 2.0, and flying guitars.
Grand Adventure: Part 2
Hot Springs. The restaurant is The Vault
And the lighted menus were especially helpful for those of us who are visually challenged.
(I couldn't get the video to work, but if you click here ->>you'll go to my Facebook video showing you how cool they were!
Grand Adventure: Part 3
Our home away from home on the lake. Catching up with my brother. Meeting my (grand) nieces! #Louisiana #family #lakelife
Grand Adventure: Part 4
Fishing, Cajun sausage, morning devotions, and coffee with friends. #GertytheGator #FelixtheFrog
Grand Adventure: Part 5
These two, my hearts! Over thirty years of sisterhood filled with joy, laughter, grief, sorrow and everything in between. Another Life Moment for all of us.
Grand Adventure: Part 6
Memphis. Yes, please! While we didn’t make it to Elvis’s mansion, we fell in love with Germantown. We found a restaurant called Southern Social that is now on our Best Restaurants Ever list! Their tagline? “Updated Dixieland classics served in a fine-dining setting.”
Seafood gumbo. Barbecued shrimp. Redfish over Cheese grits. Mascarpone risotto. Sea bass cooked to perfection. And they even brought us chocolate covered strawberries and champagne to celebrate our upcoming anniversary!
Grand Adventure: Part 7
Had a great day with the animals.
The Nashville Zoo has an especially sweet group of kangaroos! My absolute fav was the leopard in the tree. He was one cool cat! We closed the night out with another group of “party” animals at Opryland. Great catching up with these two.
Grand Adventure: The Conclusion
We arrived safely home to the sound of--
Well actually, no, there was no pitter-patter of little paws. And no Patches, pouting from the hallway at the edge of our bedroom, her green eyes brimming over with indignation at being "abandoned." (She'd always forgive us eventually and curl into our suitcase as we unpacked.)
While our homecoming was certainly different this time, there were bright spots, like the tulips I received from my daughter, which were blooming violet on the kitchen bar.
It was a fantastic trip filled with laughter and joy. We were able to reconnect with family and friends and make more memories.
But there is just no place like HOME!
But the Fun Wasn't Over....
One of my favorite authors and bestest online buddies is Janetta Fudge-Messmer. What can I say? The two of us hit it off three years ago after a long phone conversation, and since then we've stayed in touch. We've laughed, vented, shared, and celebrated both good and bad times. Finally--thank you, Lord--I got to "meet" her in person when she and her hubby visited Lexington.
A fun night was had by all! And they even visited our hardware store the following day! If y'all haven't read her books, check out her website here.
What's next? Well, actually, there is a plan....but you'll have to wait until next month to find out! How's that for a cliffhanger?
Now, please tell me what you're doing this summer.
Welcome to the Summer Edition of the FRIENDS of HALLIE newsletter!
One of the best things about being a published author is the opportunity to meet other authors. While it's true we spend the majority of our time alone with our characters, on occasion, we DO get out of the house.
Book festivals, author panels, and book clubs are always a great way to meet fellow writers, but just like any other small business shindig, things don't always click. But when they do....hallelujah, the flood gates open and soon we're rambling about plot lines, marketing woes, disappointments, triumphs, and everything in between.
And if we're really lucky, this shiny, remarkable human being who totally "gets us" lives close enough to continue the conversation.
Michelle Bennington is a prolific writer in the vein of Janet Evanovich and Rita Mae Brown. That's right. I said that. She's that good. Her cozy mysteries are overflowing with surprises and twists, peppered with romantic tension, and chock-full of relatable, quirky characters.
Amid all that feel-good fun, Michelle manages to weave page-turning stories that grab ahold and don't let go until the very end, at which point, you want more. As I said, she's that good.
FRIENDS of HALLIE, please meet my friend, Michelle Bennington.
Hallie: As you know, I'm one of your biggest fans, and I could talk books with you all day long. Oh wait, we've already done that, haven't we? Ha! Before we get into your Small Batch Series, would you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Michelle: You're so kind. You are not only one of my favorite authors, Hallie, but you're one of my favorite people! So, a little about me. I grew up very blue collar in rural Kentucky--catching crawdads and lightning bugs, playing in creek beds and such--and I'm so thankful for that foundation. But I was also a bookworm and loved reading. When I was thirteen, I decided I wanted to be an author and I began writing as much as I could.
Long, circuitous journey short, here I am. Still reading, still writing. It took me a long time to gain the confidence to pursue publication seriously. I still struggle with confidence and reckon I always will, but in my forties, I had finally come to the realization that my one life is getting shorter each day. I had to try and see what happened.
Hallie: We have so much in common. I was also drawn to the power of the written word at a young age. And I collected lightning bugs. However, down in Louisiana, we call them crawfish, not crawdads. LOL. Have you ever been to a crawfish boil?
Michelle: No I haven't, but I've heard of them and would LOVE to. I love trying new things--especially food and beverages. The closest I've come to one is eating at The Stormin' Crab in Lexington where they serve a seafood combo boiled in a bag and I think I got crab legs.
Hallie: Ha! We haven't been to the Stormin' Crab yet, but next time we do a Crawfish Boil at home, we'll give y'all a call. Now, when you're not writing, what do you do for fun?
Michelle: When I'm not writing I'm buzzing around involved with family and friends. I love to travel, even regionally and locally; love to dance and get involved in a wide variety of arts and crafts; love doing tours of old houses, distilleries, or anything of historical significance. And I love hanging out with my husband and my sweet-n-sassy cockapoo pup, Miss Maple.
Hallie: Okay, here is where I should confess to my readers that Miss Maple was, in fact, the one that brought us together. While researching "who-was-who" for an upcoming author signing we were both attending, I perused your Facebook page and found Miss Maple. It was love at first sight. Thanks for her Insta handle. I know my readers (and I) would like to see more pics of Miss Maple and you in your Dance Duds. Please tell us more about that :)
Michelle: I've been dancing since 2011 (off and on because life often gets in the way). I do international dance. I started with Middle Eastern folkloric, cabaret, and fusion style dances, which most Americans know as belly dance.
Hallie: Wowzer, that's quite a pic!!! And you don't look half-bad yourself! LOL! Okay. So, tell us about the Small Batch Series.
Michelle: Well, first I've always been a big fan of mysteries and thrillers, Forensic Files, Law & Order: SVU, and true crime documentaries. Then several years ago, I'd gone to Buffalo Trace for a distillery/ghost tour, which was a lot of fun. But then the ghost stories worked on my imagination and because of my interest in true crime, I began to wonder: "What if the tour operator stumbled on a dead person while giving a tour?" And a story began to unfold in my head. Then soon after, I read a newspaper article about the Pappy Van Winkle heist back around 2013 and, for anyone who understands bourbon, that was a HUGE ordeal.
Hallie: It really was! Pappy is way $$$$$! When my husband "retired" someone gave him some Pappy. Last Christmas I made a Bourbon pie and as he was eating it, I asked if he liked it. When he said he said yes, I told him I'd used the Pappy.
(Just kidding.) Okay. Tell us about Devil's Kiss, book 1 in the series.
Michelle: In Devil's Kiss (which is the name of the rare bourbon) Rook Campbell is struggling with an ex-husband and sick grandma when she lands a job at a distillery. Soon after, someone dies, and some rare bourbon goes missing. Rook becomes entangled in figuring out who's committing the crimes before she's the next to die.
Hallie: First, can I just say that I loved that you wondered, what would happen if a tour operator stumbled onto a dead person while giving a tour? LOL! Also, I want to tell my readers that I straight-up, totally, and absolutely loved this book. Sometimes when reading a writer-friend's work, I find myself looking for my friend's mannerisms and personality in their fictional characters, and it can be distracting. However, while reading Devil's Kiss, I totally forgot all about you. Sorry. Ha! Seriously, I was consumed with your characters and their drama, as well as the mystery.
Hallie: I seriously loved it so much, and now, I'm counting down the days for book 2. What can you tell us about it?
Michelle: In the second book, Mermaid Cove, Rook and her friends from the Mermaid Cove distillery are in a bourbon contest. But when one of Rook's friends from Mermaid Cove goes missing, Rook is determined to find her--or die trying. My main goal in writing these books was to not only honor my home, Kentucky, but to write clean, entertaining mysteries that practically anyone could read. Mostly, I wanted to write books my mom would be proud to read.
Hallie: I cannot wait for this book, and because I know many of my subscribers personally, I'm sure they will love the series! I mean, who wouldn't love hanging out at a Kentucky bourbon distillery? By the way, you paint a wonderful picture of the Bluegrass State in your books. Okay, please tell us what else you're working on.
Michelle: My current projects are to finish up the Small Batch Series. I'm working on the third book now. Then in June 2023, I'll have a short story in an anthology: A Sampling of Sleuths, which will feature Birdie Harper from my Hazardous Hoarding series. In October 2023, the first book in my historical mystery series, Widow's Blush, will be released.
Hallie: Wow. My head is spinning just thinking about all those projects. Tell us more about the Hazardous Hoarding Series. Birdie Harper sounds like a great character! And I love the title of the first book: Dumpster Dying. Classic! It sounds a lot like the Small Batch Series.
Michelle: Yes, it's definitely set in the same universe as the Small Batch Series and it's about a hoarder, named Birdie Harper, who lives with her husband's ghost and gets caught up in solving mysteries. I wanted to write a cozy that had elements of Southern Gothic. Who knows where I got that notion or why. LOL.
Hallie: I love it! I really do see shades of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum in your work. Or even Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series. I'm a fan of both of those authors, who are up to at least thirty or so books in their respective series. Are you up for that?
Michelle: Oh, mercy! I don't know about that. I love my characters and of course I would want them to live on, but I don't know that I would have the patience or focus to write a dozen or more books in the same series.
Hallie: Michelle, I'm simply in awe of you and your talent. Thanks taking time away from all your projects to visit with me and my FRIENDS.
Y'all, I promise, you'll love Michelle's books! If you need one more nudge, check out this super interview she did with local TV station, WKYT. Interview Here!
For more information on Michelle and her fantastic books, visit her at www.michellebennington.com -->Click here
You can purchase her books anywhere books are sold.
Amazon links to buy: Small Batch Series or Hazardous Hoarders Series
Find her on Facebook
Find her on Twitter
Find her on Instagram
Find her on Goodreads
Find her on YouTube
Find her on Pinterest
Find her on Bookbub
Until next time,
Our sweet, beautiful Patches passed away on Monday, April 10th. Y'all may have known her as my Creative Director, and boy-oh-boy, did she have pizzazz!!!
But when she wasn't calling the shots (demanding more cat scenes in the Shady Gully series) she was really quite the charmer...
The grief we're feeling now is in stark contrast to the blooming flowers and tweeting birds of spring. Seasons change, of course, but I wonder, are we ever really "ready" or "prepared" to lose a loved one?
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, has filled my head, heart, and soul these last few weeks. Verse one says, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven."
Here is my social media tribute to Patches, the cat that was definitely All That :)
We had to say goodbye to our sweet, beautiful Patches yesterday. Twenty-two years old and gifted with an amazing constitution, she waited out a variety of cats and dogs to finally have us all to herself. When Lucy died almost two years ago, Patches truly lived her very best life. A heated cat bed in every room. A diet consisting of treats and the finest tuna. She thrived being the only furry child in the house.
While she had her share of setbacks, especially lately, she fought hard and resisted her final farewell…right up until the end.
We are devastated. It truly feels like the end of an era. She grew up alongside our daughter, Bree, and purred in her arms when she went away to college. And then gave her the side-eye when she married and got a cat of her own.
Patches lived in three different states, enjoying sunsets in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Kentucky. She oh-so-patiently schooled a very select group of sitters whenever we traveled. Sarah Hopkins, Rachel Dodge, John Brothers.
I’ll never forget the kind and gentle words from Mr. Wimberly from the Pineville Animal Shelter in Louisiana. Twenty-two years ago, he told me with certainty, “She’s going to be a big cat and live a long life.”
I can’t imagine how he knew that, but she WAS, and she DID. While I’m so grateful for the time I had with her, as I circle the empty cat beds and her electric blanket perched on the couch next to my spot, my heart aches for more.
Back to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, specifically verse 4, "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."
While I'm mourning and weeping for our sweet Patches, I DO have some super, exciting news to laugh and dance about. And you guessed it, it's BOOK NEWS!
That's right, the audiobook of Shades of Violet is NOW AVAILABLE! The great Kathy Fox Vancil, aka the voice of Shady Gully, is back to narrate the third book in the Shady Gully Series. Here's what she said about her experience:
"From a narrator’s perspective, Hallie Lee writes immersive fiction. Her characters live and breathe because Hallie knows how to create and sustain real life experiences, emotions and personalities through the turn of phrase and masterful wordsmithing.
There were times, when narrating Violet, that I had to stop because the insecurity parallels hit a little too close to home. Meadow’s combined bitterness and hopefulness was a rollercoaster … a thoroughly exhilarating and unsettling ride. Lenny, dear man, is rock solid on the outside but needing real answers. One of the highest praises I can offer is that Lee’s male characters are men, not female author “idealized” male characters, but real men.
It was a privilege to narrate the 3rd book in this delightful and gritty Shady Gully series. Can’t wait to see where Hallie Lee takes us in the next book." ----Kathy Fox Vancil
The audiobook is available on Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. Here is a link to purchase at your favorite retailer--> https://www.books2read.com/shadesofviolet
Now. Don't you think the Shades of Violet audiobook would make a GREAT Mother's DAY Gift? I do, and I'd love to give one away. Any takers? Just comment below or email me here and tell me why you want the audiobook of Shades of Violet. I'll pick a winner before next Friday.
The response to Shades of Violet has been fantastic, and as always, I'm grateful to all who have taken the time to rate and offer a line or two about my work. You can do that anytime on Goodreads as well as Amazon, and wherever you purchased the books.
So there, even amid sorrow and pain, there is always something to laugh, dance, love, and embrace. In fact, if you're wondering what's next for my husband and me, who suddenly find ourselves petless, stay tuned. I see a GRAND ADVENTURE in our future. Stay tuned!
And most of all...
Greetings FRIENDS of HALLIE,
Is it safe to say that winter is OVER? You're right. I should probably keep that on the down low, eh? Just in case Mother Nature starts feeling ornery again. Seriously though, storms ran rampant across the country this year. How did y'all fare?
Did you make it through without losing power? Without slipping on ice? Without a windstorm lifting two heavy grills off your patio and plopping them into your yard?
A little too exact? Yep, that's what happened to yours truly when the Great Windstorm of February 3, 2023, charged through Kentucky. We lost power for a number of days, and sadly, lost some trees. Our back porch was twisted and mussed as if a tornado sneezed on us, but thankfully, nothing worse.
So, what about y'all? Any Winter War Stories?
Shades of Violet made its debut on January 11th, and the response has been exciting. If you haven't had a chance to read it, here are a few reviews to get you in the mood.
Speaking of reviews, I have some FANTASTIC news! PAINT ME FEARLESS is only 10 REVIEWS away from 100!!! From what I hear, lots of good things happen when you get 100 reviews on Amazon. Pixie Dust, Balloons, Spiked Punch, and a favorable algorithm--whatever that means.
To me, it means PRIZES! So expect some Giveaways when that day comes!!
If you haven't reviewed my books yet, you can REVIEW THEM ON AMAZON HERE
And finally, can we talk? About the future of Shady Gully? I figure if you've read all three books, you've got a vested interest, so I want to know, whose story do you want to read? A few characters are rattling around in my brain, but I'd love some input from my True Blue Shady Gullians.
Quietdove? Sterling? Micah? Dolly? Adam? Timothy? Fireman? Sigourney? Father Patrick?
Speaking of Father Patrick, he and his jolly, Irish heart want to wish you an especially beautiful and lucky day today!
In parting, Father Patrick and I would like to leave you with a snippet of dialogue from Wolfheart. This is when his personality really took shape for me. Enjoy! Cheers!!
Excerpt from Wolfheart:
(FATHER PATRICK): “Oh please, I beg of you,” he said, "spend me a yarn about some scandalous secret mission. Perhaps you’re about to take off to Peru to wrestle a notorious drug lord. No?” He guffawed. “How about a jaunt to Tahiti to meet a glamourous, shapely spy?”
(WOLFHEART): I couldn’t help but laugh. “Afraid not, Father. How are things with you?”
“Business is quite good actually. No doubt it will continue that way as long as Cain and Abel carry on as they do down the road.”
I laughed again. Twice in one day.
“Shame on me. Gossiping is wrong. Now I’ll have to go to confession.”
“Are you going to confess to yourself?” I teased.
“I’ll have you know, Mr. Wolf, I’m a very good listener.” He considered me. “Sorry to hear about your incredible garden. Simply tragic. Especially those tomatoes. All gone up to create a heavenly marinara for our Lord, I suppose.”
Stay Fearless, y'all, and since it's St. Patrick's Day, be sure to wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage--or maybe marinara--and have a wonderful day!
Happy New Year to all my FRIENDS of HALLIE newsletter subscribers!
I hope that (so far) your 2023 has been filled with excitement, joy, and gratitude. While we're only into February, I can honestly say I've experienced all three in abundance.
By the time Shades of Violet was released on January 11th, I felt purple all over! Seriously, the buildup was intense. There were so many details to consider like Goodreads listings, contacting libraries, new links, updating websites and social media, etc.----but wow, was it exciting!
The response to this book has been amazing! My first readers (including Advanced Review Copy readers) have been extremely positive. As y'all know, my method with the Shady Gully Series is to use three strong characters to drive the series forward. In this case, Violet, Meadow, and Lenny. While Violet's conflict frames the book, Meadow's journey has affected readers in an almost visceral way. And Lenny, well, Lenny has always been a fan favorite. And I love him. So, there's that.
To all my readers, and especially to my FRIENDS of HALLIE loyalists, I want to thank YOU for loving these people and this town. Because of YOU, there will be more Shady Gully books to come.
This is the thing about reviews, this is why they're so important. They let publishers and those in the industry know that the books are resonating. Reviews matter.
As much as I think of what I do as creative and artful, it is a business. A business that depends on you. So, to those of you who have left reviews--even if only a one-liner--I'm grateful.
If you haven't, please consider going back and leaving an honest rate/review on books 1 and 2, and of course, 3 when you read it. You can do this on Amazon or wherever you bought the book--even if you bought it at Bellerive True Value Hardware! Or borrowed it from the library!
All you have to do is pull it up on Amazon and leave a review.
Another great place to leave a rate/review is Goodreads. Not only does it help me, but it's a great resource to those of us who love to read.
And now, I have a few newsworthy surprises for you. Back in January, amid a wicked smoke alarm battery problem in our home, I was a guest on Chautona Havig's "Because Fiction" podcast. It's quite the big deal, let me tell you. Chautona is a bestselling author, an advocate for Christian Fiction, and a great host and interviewer.
Well, this was my first podcast and there was the ...er.... aforementioned random and quite terrifying SHRIEKS of the alarm to contend with, but we got through it!
We had a great time and I'll be honest, since I'm a southerner, I have a tendency to go and on, and then circle back for good measure.
So you'll hear things you've never heard before.
About Shady Gully.
About my inspiration.
You get the point. The podcast airs on Valentine's Day. How perfect is that?
And lastly, and perhaps I should have opened with this, because it's...HUGE...
You'll soon be getting a special Announcement from me. It will be a neat, little email (perfect to forward to friends, family, and co-workers) with some MAJOR NEWS!
It's a celebration of sorts. For the first time EVER, my publisher is dropping the (eBook) price of PAINT ME FEARLESS to....99cents!
That's right. The eBook will be available to download EVERYWHERE. ALL RETAILERS. I know, right? I'm over the moon about this price drop!
But it won't last forever. The discount will run from February 13-17th. So please help me spread the word by forwarding the email announcement, telling a friend, or sharing the promos you see on social media.
Who do you know that needs a little Shady Gully in their life?
Blessings to you All,
Greetings FRIENDS of HALLIE!
It's mid-December now, and my guess is y'all are knee-deep in shopping, list-making, and wrapping presents. All that is fun, but----
No. Let me be honest with you, especially since y'all are so generous with your time when you read my books. Here's the truth: I find it all a bit daunting. I even (mostly) shop online these days and I STILL find it overwhelming. How about you?
Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. It's the shopping that wears me down. On the other hand, decorating the Christmas tree is always a soul-stirring experience for me. Why?
It's all about the bulbs. Seriously. Every year we add a few more, which are lovely, but it's the ones that are seasoned with memories that make me emotional. Here's one my daughter made for me in elementary school.
Isn't it fabulous? Sure, the glitter has thinned over the years, and it's starting to look a tad weathered, but when I hang that particular bulb on the tree it always transports me to a time long ago.
Christmases were different when my daughter was younger. The magic of the season felt more palpable when she bounced around the house, eager to "decorate" the tree, eager for the big day to arrive. Just eager.
Then there is the following one (pictured below) from that same time period. A time when we were surrounded by friends (the group, we called ourselves) and we celebrated and laughed almost every weekend. It was hard to imagine then that things would ever change. But they did, and they do, as this very special bulb was a Christmas present from one of my friends in the group's mother, who we lost to cancer a few years later.
Yes, time changes everything. Circumstances. Health. Everything.
As you can see, inside the bulb is a picture of my daughter, Bree, smiling along with the daughter of another of my cherished friends in the group. All our kids called each other cousins and called us aunts and uncles. Yes, Shady Gully fans, I'm sure that sounds very familiar to you.
Every Christmas, when I hang this beloved bulb, I am moved by the sheer joy in those young faces. Once I gather myself, I always text the mother of the smiling blonde girl in the red shirt. Within seconds, she texts me back. She gets it. Sure, it's just a text, but it's also a ritual, a way of connecting even when we can't be together physically.
Then there is this one.
I love the pear bulb and my husband hates the pear bulb, so naturally it goes on the tree. That's the price he pays for sitting on the hearth of the fireplace watching as I decorate the tree every year. Oh, he does help. He oh-so-helpfully directs me to the bare spots in the tree while sipping a cocktail.
Every year, almost on cue, we glide into our back-and-forth banter about the pear bulb. Again, it's a ritual that is part of our history. It's nice to have a history with someone, isn't it?
When my husband, daughter, and I moved from Louisiana to Santa Fe, New Mexico (a career move for him) we had to say goodbye to our family and friends, and to the group. The change was profound.
And yet, eight years later we'd managed to make new friends, friends we'll carry in our hearts forever. Friends whose memories we brought across the country to Kentucky in the form of this Christmas bulb.
Every year, when I put this bulb on the tree, I think of one of those Santa Fe friends in particular.
I was nowhere near being a published author then, but this friend believed in me. She encouraged me. "Keep on writing," she insisted, "one of these days it's going to happen."
Nostalgia washes over me every year as I decorate my tree. I'm flooded with a lifetime of memories that make me want to weep for the loved ones who are no longer with us, and smile through tears as I recall those weekends of fun and laughter and joy with the group.
Yes, things do change. Constantly. Always. Except for one.
Hebrews 13: 8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
How wonderful is that?
What stories do your Christmas bulbs tell? Please share!
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my special FRIENDS of HALLIE. I truly hope it's a wonderful season for you and your loved ones.
Oh, and before I forget, if you're an eBook reader like I am (as one of the things that has certainly changed is my vision) the eBook of SHADES OF VIOLET is now available to preorder everywhere. Paperback and hardcover to follow soon.
Click on pic below for links to a variety of retailers.
I know you've been waiting oh-so-patiently for this book. I’ve received emails and texts, and messages on both Facebook and Instagram, all curious about when book 3 would hit the shelves. I even naively told a few of you it would be released during the summer of ’22. Well…. that didn’t happen.
Despite my unbridled enthusiasm over book 3, life has a way of foiling the best laid plans. What does scripture tell us about plans?
Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
While unforeseen circumstances threw a kink in the timing of book 3, AT LAST it’s time to show you the cover and share some details!!
When my publisher asked if I had any ideas for the cover, I didn’t hesitate. After the striking emerald green jacket featuring a courageous wolf in book 2, I wanted a softer, more feminine look this time, something that mirrored the story...
When Book 2 ended, we left Brad WOLFHEART standing at Shady Gully’s four way stop with little more than a prayer on his lips as he mused over the fiery destruction of his town.
Fast forward two years later as Book 3 unveils a time for healing and new beginnings.
"Pinks," I enthusiastically told my publisher. "Lavenders and purples. And violets..."
I mean, really, does anything say "new beginnings" quite like a wedding?
I hope you love it as much as I do!
Shades of Violet will be released January 11, 2023! Stay tuned for lots more updates and giveaways to come!
Speaking of giveaways, congrats to Buffy Birchfield who won the drawing this month. She chose the ebook of Paint Me Fearless as her FREEBIE, and Mark Cermak, who recommended the FRIENDS of HALLIE newsletter to her, takes home the audiobook of Wolfheart.
Woohoo! Welcome to the family, Buffy!
P.S. Feel free to email me at Books@HallieLee.com with your reactions to the Shades of Violet cover!
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