You can call her my friend, because that's exactly what Rachael Lundin is. She's also an accomplished professional, inspirational woman and now published author. Her new book, and first in her Young Adult series, The Chorus Chronicles, is due out this May. I was honored that she recently took some time to answer my curious questions about her writing journey.
1) How long have you been writing?
I entered and took home honorable mention in my first writing contest in middle school for Born Captive, Died Free! It was the story of a horse as told from the perspectives of his different owners.
I was pretty proud of myself and decided that I had reached the peak of my writing career. I didn’t try writing another story until 2005. Once I got started, I wrote all the time: on the bus, during lunch hours, and after the kids were in bed. My late husband, Charlie, was my biggest cheerleader.
I entered my second writing contest the first year Write on the River hosted a contest and I took home first place with All Alone. It was fictional, but based on my experience as a six-year-old coming to terms with my parent’s divorce and feeling lost. A few years later, I entered the Write on the River contest again and this time got 2nd place for Road Trip, which was a true account of my sister and me renting a U-Haul to take our Grandmother’s body back to North Dakota for her funeral.
2) What is your story about and when can readers find it?
Serenade of the Sasquatch is YA book that explores possibilities. What would happen if you randomly ran into a bigfoot in the woods? What if that bigfoot was on a quest? What if the whole reason you were in the woods was because you were trying to impress a girl? It is an adventure story that explores friendship and loyalty while solving a mystery. It will be available for purchase in May 2024.
3) How did you get the idea for your story?
I have always loved books where the characters meet and interact with legendary creatures and I have felt cheated when a book hints of a creature like bigfoot in the woods, or a mermaid in the bay, but you don’t get to actually meet the creature. I figured if I felt that way, maybe someone else does, too. So, I wrote the book I wanted to read.
4) Do you have other stories like this?
As a matter of fact, I’m currently working on the second book in the series. It is called Music of the Mermaids. I’m having a great time writing it. The plan is a 4 book series.
5) Where can readers find you?
My webpage is RachaelLundin.com. I’m on Facebook under Rachael Lundin – Author Page. Come May, Serenade of the Sasquatch will be available through Amazon and bookstores will be able to order it for their shelves.
6) What books have you recently finished? What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list? Any recommendations for us?
I’ve been obsessed by Sheila Turnage, who writes a delightful series in my genre starting with Three Times Lucky, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, and The Odds of Getting Even. Also recently, I finished the Wildwood series by Ellis Carson and Colin Meloy, which takes place near Portland, OR. I recommend both these authors. Also, everything by Eoin Colfer.
Well hello there! Thanks for clicking! You are in for a treat! … I’m not sharing this with everyone, just YOU who clicked to be here. Why?! Well, because you’re here, in my funnel and I am oh so grateful for you! The fact that YOU are HERE right now, means you took extra time to click a link. I figure it’s only fair for me to favor you and for you to savor the attention! ;)
I’ll share what I learned about gratitude (and THE change) below but we’re coming into the time of year where gratitude and gifts get the spotlight and “YAY” I say! Because with the losing of the daylight, we need something to keep spirits up! By the way, if you use a SAD light, or have ever used one, I’d be grateful for your opinion on them. I’m about ready to buy them in bulk. This early darkness is really getting to me this year! I think it might be because THE Change is upon me but whatever it is, I need some light in my life! I digress…
Ah yes, gratitude for my favored friends! I want to say thank you for being here. For clicking. For buying. For reading. For reviewing. There’s a story in the bible where two men named, Peter and John were asked to give a man money. He was a beggar man and that’s how he made his living. Peter and John told him they didn’t have money, but they’d give him what they had… They happened to have miraculous healing power from the Holy Spirit! Like them, I have no money to give you. Unlike them, I don’t suppose I have the Holy Spirit power to heal (but if I did I’d send it out to a man named Carl Carlson who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer – please do say a prayer for his miraculous healing if you would). As for what I do have… well, you already know. I have books! 10 of them now!
~ I’d like to give you a book in gratitude of your support!~ Hang on! There is a slight catch! ~
If you’re not local, you’ll need to provide your mailing address as I only have print books to give away, and you’ll have to be patient… I have a habit of delaying shipments until I have five to send. Bear with me.
If you’re local, as some of you know and have experienced, I’m not the best at actually getting books delivered in a correct or timely fashion. So… I will have the books with me at Bianchi Vineyards on Wednesday, December 13th 5:30pm-7:30pm for their Wine Down Wednesday event. Come on down, enjoy Elaine Eagle’s music, and get a good read on me! Please let me know which book you’d like so I’m sure to have enough on hand. (Check out the BOOKS tab to see what your choices are)
Oh and if you didn’t know… Elaine Eagle is the musical inspiration for the Gia’s Sonata series (now an Amazon Bestseller!). Way back when, she graciously gave me hours of her time to help me craft Gia’s character. I am so grateful for that!
And now to what you actually clicked for...
Gratitude, simple sentiments of thankfulness and appreciation. I’ve made an effort this month to notice something I’m grateful for daily! Sometimes the thoughts end up on my Facebook page as well, which leads to another by the way... if we’re not friends on FB you might want to find my Author Page before the holidays are over. I have some fun, festive plans for Christmastime, which include gifts, artisan fairs, giveaways and probably a NEW BOOK RELEASE!!
Again I digress… Ah yes, gratitude…
Not only am I intentionally expressing gratitude daily, I’m trying to speak it out loud, offline! I challenge you speak your grateful thoughts too. Clearly, written words are of utmost importance to me, and they matter, but there is definitely something to speaking words. Spoken word influences our personal thoughts, not to mention others. There are amazing studies on words, language and emotion I encourage you to check them out, but I challenge you to SPEAK gratitude out loud this holiday season.
What we say directly affects thoughts, feelings, emotions and even our health and anxiety levels. Spoken words are POWERFUL! The cool thing is that it doesn’t even have to be said to someone else to have significant influence. In fact, some studies show that what we say out loud to ourselves is more influential that what others say to us. So, speak it loud, speak it strong, speak out your gratitude to yourself and to others if you’re brave enough! Be grateful my friends and know that I am oh so grateful for each and everyone of you who chooses to give a small amount of space in your life to me! Thank you for your time & loyalty :) I hope to see you at Bianchi Vineyards on December 13th!
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute… there was more to this article wasn’t there? Why yes there was! It must have slipped my perimenopausal mind! I tell you what friends, this CHANGE is no joke. I am a mess of emotion and physical symptoms that have me fuming one minute and loving the next! I’m in the early stages. As best as I can tell, I’ve had “major” symptoms for just under a year. It took the better part of this year, though to figure out what was going on. Have you started the change? Whew! Not for the faint of heart…
As far as the change goes, what I’ve learned is that the UK is actually all about The Change and helping middle-age women navigate it with a little negative effects to relationships and careers as possible. Did you know the Change can cause symptoms other than hot flashes and night sweats? I honestly didn’t, maybe I heard about mood swings and heavy or awkward periods, but nothing more. There’s so much more! One of my worst symptoms has been dry eyes. I am so glad I learned about this before reaching for eye drops or prescriptions that may have more side-effects than I want to experience. I’m going to try HRT and will probably share sporadically about my experience on my social media.
If you wan to keep the conversation going I HIGHLY encourage you to download the “Balance” app. It’s a squiggly blue “B” icon and within it you can find so much more information than anything I can share here. You’ll be welcomed into the community and a have access to a symptom tracker that you can use to document your symptoms for your health care provider. They also encourage the use of #PauseToTalk to keep the conversation going on social media. Go ahead and check it out! I absolutely love it and have learned so much from it.
So there you have it, as the seasons change, so too do our bodies and lives, but we don’t have to go it alone or in ignorance. I’m glad you’re here with me! Until the winter … you know where to find me!
Oh… Here’s another great article on how words affect us! I couldn’t figure out where to link this one, so I’m just adding it here: https://brm.institute/neuroscience-behind-words/
When Katie and Jonathan Biron decided to grow their family through adoption, Katie had no idea the choice would catalyze her to create children’s books and even change Washington State law. The couple chose to adopt through Amara, an agency that required adoptive parents to first become licensed foster parents. They went through the motions but didn’t take any foster children, staying the course to adopt. They were matched with a mom about to give birth and the meeting with her changed the direction of their family journey forever.
Up until then, Katie saw adoption as a joyful event. The moment the baby’s birth mom placed the baby in Katie’s arms, she realized her greatest joy was someone else’s greatest sorrow. The birth mom wished desperately her own mother, who was not well, could see the baby girl before she went home with the Biron’s. Katie and Jonathan reached into their humanity. Instead of sticking to the rigid rules of adoption, they offered to bring the baby, Emma, to her biological grandma.
That’s when Katie knew the traditional adoption trail was not for their family. She and Jonathan bravely tip-toed into an exploration of a different kind of open adoption. They found a far more pleasing path. While building a relationship with adoption at the center wasn’t always easy, Katie knew deep in her heart that she was doing the right thing for Emma. Her way ensured there was space for all of the important adults in Emma’s life.
A pediatric nurse by trade, Katie later regretted never fostering kids, especially when there was huge need for homes for medically fragile children. The Biron’s decided to get relicensed and care for kids with special needs. All of the events; the meeting with Emma’s birth mom, the relicensing, their experience within the system, evolved their ideas about what adoption and foster care could look like.
Maybe it’s wasn’t about “us” and “them.” Maybe instead of an adversarial relationship, parents and caregivers like the Biron’s could build a collaborative, child-centered relationship. With this belief, Katie began to facilitate visits for the family of the baby placed in their home.
Katie’s first experience with an open visit was for a medically fragile newborn. He hadn’t visited his biological family for over three weeks. The social worker hadn’t yet scheduled any visits. Believing in her heart he needed to see his mom, and vice versa, Katie gathered her gusto, and with all her children in tow, facilitated a visit with his family at a Starbucks in Target. Slowly Katie and the baby’s family built a relationship. Eventually a decision was made that the Biron’s would adopt the baby. His would be an open adoption that welcomed his family, including his mother, into their own. They now enjoy a blended family partnership and Katie’s son has the benefits of both families in his life.
Katie was convinced the traditional version and view of adoption wasn’t the best plan. She felt strongly there had to be an alternative. When she couldn’t find anything, she created it. Out of their family’s experience with two non-traditional adoptions, the Family Connections ProgramTM was born. The program utilizes the expertise of parents with lived experience navigating the child welfare system. These individuals help mentor parents whose children are currently placed in out of home care and those caring for the children to build and sustain child-centered relationships.
Political activism crept in quickly after that. Katie started talking to legislators about a better way to “do” shared parenting for children in foster care. The Family Connections Program bill had great bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2020. It was fully funded and then… COVID.
Due to the state’s emergency, the Governor vetoed necessary funding. This left DCYF (The Department of Children, Youth and Families) with a mandate to provide the Family Connection Program but without money to facilitate it. Katie mourned the developments, then dried her tears and worked with Amara to seek alternative funding sources to keep the program alive. In 2021 the pilot program was again funded by the legislature and became a permanent state program in 2022.
Like the bill, Katie’s book, The Love Tree, was born out of her family’s non-traditional adoption story. A seemingly simple school assignment required her child to create a family tree. Their family made their tree tricky. Katie wanted a way for all the important people in a child’s life to be represented. Out of that grew the Love Tree, an endearing story revisioning the family tree. Katie enjoys sharing her book and family story with schools and in classrooms. It is always fun for her to see who makes it onto kids’ love trees.
In addition to The Love Tree, Katie has plans for more children’s books. Her next book, the first in a series, will help parents talk to kids about Substance Use Disorders. She has plans for a story about attachment styles and how children grow bonds. She dreams of books that touch on really tough topics like why some people are unhoused. It’s already out there for kids to bump into and she intends to give parents safe tools to help tackle the sticky subjects.
Katie has done much in the last decade and has more in store. Ten years ago adoption seemed like such a simple path, it will be interesting to see where another ten years of Katie’s advocacy and passion lead. Katie, thank you for keeping kids safe!
For more information on non-traditional adoption options check out these great resources:
Katiebiron.com – offers workshops and classes to adoption and foster agencies
The First Legal Clinic – Snohomish – provided parent mentor and attorney to help make plans for baby’s care after birth so it’s not a traumatic removal
Amara - has done a lot of work to change their program from just foster to adopt. They’re trying to be on the prevention end of adoption and offer services to help preserve families in crisis so they don’t have to end in adoption and if they do relationships with the biological families don’t have to be completely severed.
Birth and Foster Parent Partnership – a national group with people from all different states working to build relationships between foster and biological parents so that there is continued connection and support for biological parents when kids return home.
KATIE’S BOOK STATS:
Last book read: I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Current books: The Searcher, Tana French
Her book rec: Attached. Amir Levine, MD and Rachel Heller, MA
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
I can't not hear Beyoncé, how about you?!
OK friends, not sure how many of you are single ladies, but I’m 111% sure you all know at least one single lady. My newest book, You Are A Keeper is for her! If she is you, and you are a Christian woman currently looking for long-lasting love, you will want to read this book today! If she is your friend, you will want to give her this book before she goes out with, or turns down, yet another guy.
If you or your friend aren’t necessarily of the Christian persuasion, don’t you worry, I’ve got a book for you too! UNF*CKABLE! has the same statistics and strategy without the super spiritual flavor to it. Either version is sure to entertain and provide a valuable dating strategy that will get more dates, and significantly improve chances of finding and keeping long-lasting love. Snag it today! (Prices will go up after the holidays!)
The goal was to publish two new books this year. Y'all... I SMASHED that goal! (Assuming this book is officially published by 12/31 that is). It's down to nothing but production minutia now. Production and all that self-doubt that hits me every time I get "here" and wonder what it's all for. It's not for me, but then again, I honestly want to make my living writing, so it kind of is, isn't it? Hobby, passion, calling, failing business... I can't ever decide what exactly it is. I hope you know that they're for you, these words I write. You know that right?! YOU matter to me. I can far more easily keep them all to myself and enjoy them in the ether between my ears just fine. I have these thoughts, feelings, ideas and stories and compulsion to share them with anyone who wants them. They are yours and for you. I get better every day and long to pour more words out for you. Thank you. If you've ever purchased a book I wrote... thank you. If you've ever read one of them... thank you! If you've taken time to leave a review for someone else... thank you!! If you've shared a book or post with someone else... THANK YOU!! If you want to click the "Buy Me A Coffee" button and throw a few bucks my way... THANK YOU!!! If you actually do it... YOU'RE THE BEST!
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