Lilly Maytree is in Alaska today...

Lilly Maytree is in Alaska, today...looking for adventure and divine appointments. Want to follow along? Enter her ARMCHAIR TRAVELERS PORTAL


Gospel Thoughts...

Continuing our spotlight on Michael Duncan, author of SHADOWS: BOOK OF ALETH PART ONE here is a guest post that gets down to the real truth about things...


by Michael Duncan

I would like to try and equate the gospel to a simple illustration of a man who was stuck in a ditch on the side of the road.  For all his effort and skill, nothing he did could extricate him from the ditch.  He tried vainly to put his car in reverse, then forward, and then reverse again.  To his dismay, his efforts not only made his car filthy with the mud and grime of the ditch, but further entrenched his vehicle.  

During his great frustration, along came a man who, like the first, had been stuck in the ditch.  He spoke to the first man about a tow truck which was able to pull his vehicle clear of the hazard and put him back on the road.  The second man told how he had been in a similar circumstance and how much he appreciated the tow truck for its rescue.  The first man nodded and had to note in his mind that the second man was free to drive the road, but he doubted the story of the tow truck.  

The second man departed only to be followed by another and another, all sharing a similar story of being rescued by a tow truck.  He couldn’t deny that all the people spoke so highly of the tow truck and that they each insisted that the tow truck could help the first man from his plight.  He finally asked a solitary traveler how he could find the tow truck and be set free from the ditch.  He was told that when the time was right, the tow truck would find him.

Time passed and the man, in despair, cast his face to the earth and wept, longing to be free from the ditch.  When he did, he heard the rumble of a powerful engine roaring up the road.  Turning his eyes back to the road, he saw what appeared to be the largest tow truck he had ever seen.  His hope grew and he delighted to see the tow truck arriving to remove his vehicle from the ditch.  

Then, as it grew larger in his sight, he wondered how much the tow truck would charge him to free his vehicle.  He wondered if he could afford it or if it would be better to just keep trying to leave the ditch on his own.  As he looked at it he wondered if such a tow truck would even notice his small, insignificant vehicle stuck in the ditch.  Surely such a tow truck would never even notice a worthless vehicle as his.  

The tow truck stopped where the man was stuck and the driver came out to evaluate the situation.  The tow truck driver asked if the man wanted to be set free.  The man asked how much it would cost.  When the tow truck driver said it was free, the cost had already been paid; the man could hardly believe it.  He doubted the driver and told him so.  The tow truck driver informed the man that there was no other means of escaping the ditch, that he alone had the truck and equipment that could release his vehicle.  The man asked the driver how he could be sure and the tow truck driver told him that he had to trust and believe. 

Despite his doubts, the man received the tow truck’s cable and attached it to his vehicle.  Amazingly, the truck wrenched the vehicle from the ditch without any difficulty.  The tow truck driver helped the man clean off the mud and grime and asked the man if he would simply tell others when he sees them stuck in a ditch.  

With gratitude and joy the man drove off in his vehicle and, a few miles down the road, spotted a vehicle in the ditch….

“…because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction.” 

– 1 Thessalonians 1:5


Michael Duncan


The Truth About Michael Duncan...

This week, I'm visiting with Michael Duncan, author of: 

SHADOWS: Book of Aleth Part One 
(see Lilly's Book Club page for my review) 

He is also a man who is very dedicated to the truth. No doubt why finding the truth is the main focus of his fantastic adventure. I happen to think it's a topic we all find most important at some time, or other in our lives. So, Michael… 

How did this theme come to be so important to you, and why did you write this particular book?

Well, during a time of great suffering I was forced to the very edge of despair. To keep from going over the edge, I turned to my childhood desire to create stories and found a great catharsis in the process.  

I wrote, Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part One to express through allegory the need to passionately pursue the truth. I like to write about the need for and restoration of truth.  I find that our world is filled with lies and in each strata of life, truth must be made known.

How interesting that so much of who we are in our adult years can be traced back to childhood. Can you think of any specific experience in your youth that you feel most contributed to who you are today?

On a log, bleached white by the sun, I once sat and watched a storm slowly progress through the islands until it began to approach my location.  I was amazed at the simple grandeur and awesome power of the storm as a wall of rain approached.  I knew then, there was a God.

You were on an island when that happened?

I grew up on an island. Probably why I love to visit the islands of Puget Sound in Washington State. It brings me a sense of being “home.”

So, it sounds like you've been a writer "with a calling" for a very long time then. What do you like most about that?

I love the ability to express God’s gifts of creativity and imagination.  God is not a static, sterile Creator.  To look at the wonders of the world and the universe, and the micro-universe of cellular biology and the intricacies of life itself, you must conclude that God is the God of creativity and imagination.

I agree, and it is so true. That being said, exactly what kind of readers do you write for?

I write for the hungry heart.  My readers are young and old, men and women, professional as well as the “blue-collar.”  If a person is looking for nothing more than an escapist story, they will find what they need.  But for those who seek to go deeper and find meaning in what I write, they will discover that there is a message in the midst of the story.

There definitely is, and I liked that part best. Now, just for my own curiosity, have you ever had what you would consider a divine appointment?

I’ve had many “divine appointments.”  Meeting the woman who would become my wife, connecting with the church I currently pastor, and finding my writing accepted by Harbourlight Books I would consider all divine appointments.  The most current, I believe, is connecting with Tony Marino of Alive in Christ radio network (  We met through a social network (LinkedIn) and through an author interview he did with me, we’ve become friends and co-laborers in Christ, leading to the probability of hosting my own weekly radio program.

That is so exciting, Michael. A Definite imprint of God's "footsteps" if you ask me. And as long as we're talking about future plans, can you tell us a little about the  manuscript you're working on right now?

I’m working on three manuscripts right now—two fiction novels and one non-fiction biblical look at the church.  One of the novels is the third in my “Aleth” series.  The first book is already out and the second comes out in the summer of 2012.  The other novel is a closely guarded secret.  The third, the biblical look at the church, explores a question that I have often heard: “How do I know a good church?”

Those all sound very interesting, I'll look forward to them. I have to admit I'm especially drawn to the "closely guarded secret."  Then, again, I guess that's just human nature. Which is probably why I'm curious about something else, too. If it were possible to take a "time-travel" trip, where would you most like to go?
Evan Roberts in 1905

I would take a trip back to 1905, to the country of Wales, to listen to the preaching of Evan Roberts during the Welsh revival.

Ahh… signs of your calling, again. Considering that, I wonder what the best adventure you ever had was.

Well, after leaving the Air Force, I took two months and traveled through the western states preaching and teaching God’s word, spending time in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and a host of small towns and villages until I arrived back home in Washington. 

Truly the adventure of a lifetime. And I'm sure one that gave you a first-hand look at an amazing variety of people. So,having seen things on such a wide spectrum, what one thing would you change in the world, if you had the power to do so?

I think I would change the hatred that people have for others.

What a wonderful world that would be, too. I have to say I have really enjoyed this little opportunity to get to know you better, Michael, and I especially want to thank you for talking about so many of the things that are really important to you. What would you say to sharing a bit of a story that's close to your heart, tomorrow?

I'd love to do that, Lilly.

Wonderful. I'll look forward to it, then.


The Illusive Eddie Jones (part two)...

We're back, again, with Sonny Cay, talking about the illusive Eddie Jones...

author of

ready to pick up where we left off, yesterday, when we ran out of time. Let's see, I believe we were discussing a certain heart to heart talk you two were having about Eddie putting you through all those trials...

Yeah, I asked him if he could back off a bit, on account of I really didn't think I was up to all that. But he just said, "Every story is like a track heat." 

In what way?

It's like this. You start out of the blocks, strong. Then, in turn one, you confront your first hurdle. It’s usually small and easily overcome. Shortly after that, there's another, and then another. Until finally, on the backstretch, the journey is nothing but disaster after disaster. Each obstacle is more difficult than the one before. Pretty soon, I could hardly land before I was forced to jump over the next barrier. I think Eddie’s idea was to build hope in my heart, but at the same time, create such intense opposition that I became convinced I’d fail. 

Did that work?

It worked. But if you asked me before all this started if I thought I could do any of that stuff, I'd have said, what -- are you kidding? Not even half. I mean, what ordinary person ever tries to sail a rented sailboat in the middle of a tropical storm while dealing with a stage four cancer? Or gets locked up for destroying a golf cart, chased by a deranged Cuban terrorist, accosted by a presidential candidate polling in the single digits, tossed into shark-infested waters, or stranded on a deserted island? Then, as if that isn't enough, I'm forced to surf hurricane swells before I get dropped from the eye of the storm, right onto some Russian submarine. All this in the same week! It's a miracle I'm even sitting here, Lilly.

I'd have to agree with you. Speaking of which, does Bahama Breeze have any significant underlying message for its readers?

Oh sure. It’s about pursuing your dreams. About taking life by the tail and trying not to get bit too hard and often. My message is, even when you think you've failed, you have not. For instance, a long time before the book was even finished, the manuscript won first place at a writers conference. The award put a THOUSAND DOLLARS in Eddie’s pocket. 

I didn’t receive a penny, of course, but… as a character in the book, my job was to bring glory to the author, not shine the light on myself. As it turns out, it’s a good thing the book took first prize. Because when our Mr. Eddie Jones got back to his campsite later that evening, his tent had collapsed and lay in a puddle of rain. So you see, no matter how hard it rains, there’s always a rainbow on the horizon: assuming you live long enough to see it. That's all I have to say about that. I think that's all the talking about Eddie Jones I better do, too.

Why, are you starting to feel guilty?

 No, I'd just like to work for him, again.

Oh, I see. Well thank you for visiting with us, Sonny, and here's wishing you and Eddie all the best with Bahama Breeze. I certainly enjoyed reading it.

Glad to be here, Lilly. You want to take a peek at the real Eddie Jones, before I leave?

You mean know where to find him? 

Sure. He sort of leaves a trail everywhere he goes. You'll understand him a whole lot more after you watch this video...

Well, that definitely explains a lot of things for us. And I can see why you two seem to have something in common.

You mean boats?

Boats, too. 

Yeah, there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. I haven't even touched on his association with pirates. But you can find out more about that over at You can get in touch with him on his blog, too. Of course, he pretty much tells all in that other book of his called Hard Aground... Again. Wherever he is, he's always up to something. 

Most interesting people are. Especially the illusive ones! Well, fair winds and calm seas, Sonny. Come back, anytime.

Same to you, Lilly. And I will.


The Illusive Eddie Jones...

He is not an easy man to catch up with. In fact, I never did. However, Sonny Cay, that easy-going, one-of-a-kind, hero of

(see Lilly's Book Club page for my review) 

agreed to share a few secrets with us that he personally knows about Eddie. Welcome, Sonny! I really appreciate you doing this. It isn't going to cause any problems for you, is it?

Well, the love of my life, Anna Fortune, once said, "Guilt is God's way of nudging us into life's guard rails so we can find our way back onto the right road." But I'm not feeling any guilt right now, so, let's go with it.

That sounds like a great way to stay out of trouble, anyway. How did you meet Eddie Jones in the first place?

Me? I always wanted to write a novel. But my English teacher suggested I peruse an alternative line of work: one that didn't involve pronouns, prepositions, or dangling participles ⎯ which at the time, I thought was a small organ attached to a frog’s intestines. Happens, I heard Eddie wrote a few books about how to write and even teaches at some well-known writers conferences. So, I made an appointment with him. And I'd have to say he's a pretty upfront guy.

I've heard that. You feel he helped you out with your novel, then?

He said, to be honest, he had to agree with my English teacher. But he was willing to work with me, which is how I got the other job.

    Are you telling me even characters for novels are desperate for work these days?

    You have no idea how competitive it is to get a gig during tough times. Writers aren't the easiest people to work for during good times, either. But have you looked at the unemployment numbers lately? Shameful what’s happened to the middle class. Only I’m not here to discuss our government’s economic policies, or how messed up our electoral process is: though I defiantly have some strong opinions on those issues. I thought we were here to talk about Edie Jones.

    And we are. So. That's why you agreed to star in Bahama Breeze. Very interesting. Had you ever had any experience working with authors or screenwriters before?

    No, but I figured it would be a great way to learn the business. Never pass up an opportunity to work with professionals, I always say. But honestly? Yeah, I needed the work. Not that I’ve made a dime off this project. But Eddie assures me the royalties will begin arriving any day. Of course, this is the same guy who earns his living by making up stuff, so I’m not holding my breath. Except when he’s hovering over my shoulder because, as it turns out, he has a really bad case of halitosis.

    A little more information than we needed, there. But moving right along, when did you first discover he was going to cast you as a toilet paper salesman? Did you have any aversions to that, considering it was your debut performance?

    Maybe he was looking for some common element everyone can relate to, I don't know. He doesn't tell me everything. But like I said to Anna (she's the pretty, smart one in the story, did I mention that, yet?) Hey, I got to hand it to Eddie for creating someone like her for a guy like me. She's way above my pay grade, if you know what I mean. Still, being a toilet paper salesman may not be as exciting as working for a government spy agency, like she does, but at least I’m good at what I do. Besides that, everybody needs my product. Right?

    You do have a point there, Sonny, that's a different way of looking at things. 

    Yeah, I'm good at that. It's the only way I could survive all the stuff Mr. Eddie Jones put me through.

    Sort of ran you through a ringer, did he?

    You can say that, again. Eddie Jones, like the Author of Life, put me in tough circumstances. Said it would create tension in the story and force me to mature. Well, about three quarters of the way into the book, I had a heart-to-heart with ol' Eddie, and asked if he could back off on the trials. But he just said...

    Goodness, we've run out of time, already. Especially if we want to leave a bit to read the review. Will you come back tomorrow, Sonny? We haven't even talked about Eddie Jones' real secrets, yet.

    That's just what I was leading up to. But I guess I could save it for tomorrow.

    Wonderful. Tomorrow for part two of "The Illusive Eddie Jones," then. I should think we have enough time to chat a bit about boats, though.

    Off the record?

    But of course... 


    The Unexpected Jayne Self (part two)...

    We're back, again, with the mysteriously unexpected, Jayne Self...

    (author of MURDER IN HUM HARBOR

    ready to pick up where we left off, yesterday, when we ran out of time. Let's see, I believe we were discussing the nuances of creating characters. And I was wondering if you think up characters to fit into your plots, Jayne, or think up plots to fit your characters...

    I suspect my initial ideas are plot related, although thoughts of character jump in almost immediately. I toy with both, trying to decide if they’re a good fit for each other. Sometimes they are, and the writing flows quickly. At other times I must rework and readjust. It then depends on which I’m more enamored with, the plot or the character, when I choose which stays and which moves on.

    There seems to be so many more decisions involved in writing mysteries! But you must like that. What do you enjoy most about writing them?

    What I enjoy most about writing mysteries is writing characters. And, it's true, I love exploring the nuances of each personality. I know this is not unique to writing mysteries, all stories are driven by character. But this genre allows me to explore people’s hurts and foibles in a way I don’t think that I would do, if I didn’t write mystery.

    Hmm… more evidence that being involved with so many different people is an asset to your craft. That and having a lot of life experiences of your own. Which I'm sure you have, because I've heard you've lived in many different places, and done a lot of traveling. Looking back, which was your favorite?

    Being a Canadian is an immense privilege. Canada is a wonderful country, vast, wild, beautiful. I’ve lived from Victoria, on the west coast, to our Nova Scotian cottage on the east, loving every place for its uniqueness. I feel most privileged to have lived in Labrador. That's the expansive, thinly populated region bordering north-eastern Quebec. I remain passionate about every aspect of our time there, from the isolation and natural splendor, to the cultural and life-style differences Labradorians take for granted. And outsiders would never imagine. 

    Things like morning sky so pale it’s yellow. The green northern lights dancing across the night. Summer roads, and winter roads, and roads that end while the land goes on and on. Moose, wolves, and caribou… ravens, eagles, and little white ptarmigan with feathered feet. Grocery stores without milk, towns without fresh produce. Buckets of salt pork, and racks of sun dried fish. It was spectacular.

    Ah, it sounds like you have the heart of an adventurer, too. A lot of those things would scare the socks off most people. And so would performing in public, which I understand you are also very good at. Especially music. What kind of music are you involved in?

     Whether I’m awake or asleep, there is always music running through my head. I listen to and enjoy almost all styles, but as I grow older, I admit loud, rambunctious music has less appeal. Music is an integral part of my worship. It is a gift I give back to the Lord. Because of that I have been involved in choirs, choral groups and solo vocals for –yikes!—fifty years.

    Don't worry, we won't go there. How about telling what manuscript you're working on right now?

     I have just finished Death of Highland Heavyweight, my next Seaglass Mystery for Harbourlight Books. I’m not sure what comes next. I have a few unfinished projects on my computer right now. Any suggestions?

    Personally, I favor the fisher-folk, as their children are absolutely amazing, and they are always being stretched to their limits. Whether by the economy, or the weather, or all the crazy regulations they have to abide by. But I'm sure whatever characters you come up with will be as intriguing as the others, simply because you are such a character, yourself. Which brings me to the subject of that video about yourself that I so enjoyed. 

    Yes, I enjoy that every time I see it. It's where I first realized how pleasantly unexpected you are, Jayne, and immediately wanted to get to know you better. Which I'm sure others will, too. So, do you happen to have a newsletter? If so, how often do you send it out and what do you write about?

    Do I have a newsletter? Oh, the guilt, the guilt! I know I should. And I’m working on it, really I am. But right now blogging over at is the best I’ve managed. People can definitely catch up with me there.

    Well, I will be looking in on you over there, for sure, because it's been a real pleasure visiting with you, this week, Jayne, and I hope you'll come back often.

    Thank you, Lilly,  and God Bless!


    The Unexpected Jayne Self...

    Mystery writers often lead mysterious lives. Which is one of the reasons I'm so pleased to have the author of 
    (see Lilly's Book Club page for my review) 
    Jayne E. Self  

    as my guest today. Welcome, Jayne! You live in a very unusual place for a mystery novelist. Do you find being around so many people stimulates your creativity, or do you have to withdraw into your "creative world" to find those inspirations?  

    I suppose living in a manse does seem like an odd place to contemplate murders. And yes, my experiences do color my writing, absolutely. Snippets of people, experiences, scenery, and funny situations pop up all through my work. Hum Harbour, the setting for my Seaglass Mysteries, is based on two communities near where we’ve summered for over twenty years. It's a whole different life out there. In fact, if you wanted to bump into my other life, you might catch a glimpse of me on Nova Scotia’s north shore.

    I love Nova Scotia, too (it's so good for sailing), so I just might do that someday.  Where you do most of your writing? An amazing amount of atmosphere shows up in your book, and I was wondering if there are any specific things you have around which promote that.
    I need to see outside when I write. My home office is in a corner of the house where I have windows facing two directions. One faces the street and the Legion with its WW II cannon pointed right at me. The other faces the church and my garden. When I write at the cottage, I’m in the screened porch. Although I know it makes absolutely no sense, I don’t think I could write without a view.

    Oh, but it does. Perfectly. In a way, it's a picture of life, isn't it. A cannon pointed at you on one end, a church on the other, and in the middle, an occasional safe haven by the sea. My goodness! Almost a revelation, there. I could see some underlying currents like that in your book, too. Do you find yourself purposely writing about any particular theme, or does that sort of thing just come to you as the story unfolds?

    I do not begin with the intention of inserting themes, but my writing does reflect my world view. I am a committed Christian. I believe in the value of each person, whether their faith or lifestyle is compatible with mine, or not. I believe God calls me to share His love through respect and empathy, not judgment and criticism. I hope my writing encourages those who think otherwise, to see the difference. Apart from that, I have noticed the recurring theme of belonging, crops up in my work. I’d lived at twenty-one different addresses by the time I turned forty so, perhaps it’s not surprising.

    Well, Gailynn MacDonald definitely belonged in Hum Harbor. I couldn't picture her anywhere else, in fact. She seemed as natural as one of the local plants, and just as much at home there. By the way, do you think up characters to fit into your plots, or do you think up plots to fit your characters?

    Oh, but we've run out of time, already, especially if we want to leave a bit to read the review. Will you come back tomorrow? We haven't even got to the most "unexpected" part, yet.

    A "to be continued" sort of thing?

    I suppose so, yes. 

    I'd be happy to.

    Wonderful. Tomorrow for part two of "The Unexpected Jayne  Self," then. I should think we have time for a cup of tea, though... one lump, or two?