Dressing for Independence Day (plus a giveaway)

Nothing puts me in a patriotic frame of mind more than seeing bunting proudly displayed on homes and businesses. In fact, I recently took a trip to Honey Grove, TX, the setting for my most recent release, More Than Words Can Say, and I saw this house.

Not only was this a gorgeous Victorian-era home restored to its former glory, but it was a patriotic home as well. It was only the middle of June, but they already had their bunting on display for all to appreciate and enjoy. I knew I had to take a photo because a key turning point in my story centers around a 4th of July Parade in Honey Grove.

Abigail and her sister Rosalind have decorated their bakery with red-white-and-blue bunting and paper festooning in keeping with the holiday festivities, but in addition to decorating their portion of the town square, they decide to decorate themselves as well. Rosalind (a young beauty) has been chosen at the very last minute to be Honey Grove’s Queen Bee and is to be featured in the parade. Despite the late notice, Rosalind agrees to participate so that she can promote the bakery by handing out honey-glazed biscuits to parade goers. Thankfully, Rosalind is handy with a needle.

Here’s a scene from our hero’s point of view. Like most men, Zach has grown impatient waiting on his wife and her sister to appear . . .

The door opened. Zach spun around at the sound of the hinges.

“It’s about t—” The complaint died on his tongue as his wife stepped through the doorway. She’d abandoned her work apron and changed her dark blue shirtwaist for a white lacy confection with a pleated front that highlighted her abundant curves. She’d tied a red sash around her waist that set off her blue skirt with patriotic flair and had somehow folded a scrap of leftover paper festooning from the shop’s decorations into a circle thing that looked remarkably like a flower. It sat pinned it to her blouse like a brooch. Not only that, but she’d magically woven red ribbon through the braid on her head, a ribbon he was certain hadn’t been there when they’d been working side-by-side that morning.

I imagine Abigail and her sister dressed a bit like this. Abby with a red ribbon at her waist and a patriotic paper flower brooch. Rosalind in a fancier white dress with leftover red-white-and-blue bunting draped over her hips and bustled at the back.

“Isn’t she stunning?” Abigail asked as she turned her face away from him.

She? He only saw Abigail.

However, when Abigail gestured behind her, Zach finally noticed Rosalind stepping into the hall. She didn’t make his heart pound like Abby did, but he had to admit she was a right fine looking female. They must have taken curling tongs to her hair, for it hung in blonde ringlets down her nape in a way that reminded him of the fancy women in New York who used to bring donation baskets to the orphanage at Christmas.

Her clothes were much fancier than her sister’s, too. All white and frilly. She’d taken some of the bunting fabric and fashioned an overskirt that draped down her front and pulled up into a big bow at the back. She wore a straw hat decorated with more of those red, white, and blue paper flower things.

For someone who’d known for less than twenty-four hours that she was going to be the star attraction of the Fourth of July parade, she’d done an impressive job of improvising a patriotic ensemble that would no doubt put Sophia Longfellow to shame.

Abigail shot him a look that felt remarkably like a kick to the shin. Obviously, she expected him to say something. And not to her.

He smiled at Rosie. “I’ve never seen a prettier Lady Liberty.”

Abby beamed at him, making him stand a little taller since he’d somehow managed not to stick his foot in his mouth. Then she took her sister’s hand. “You’re beautiful, Rosalind. No one deserves the title of Honey Grove’s Queen Bee more than you.”

Abigail and Rosalind might not have been dressed quite like the lady on this vintage Victorian postcard, but they were creative in using what they had to create festive and patriotic ensembles.

I don’t have too many patriotic ensembles myself, but when the time is right I have been know to pair red, white, and blue items from my closet in new and interesting ways.

What is your favorite way to decorate either your home or yourself for the 4th of July?

Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of More Than Words Can Say and see what disaster befalls Abigail during that fateful parade.

Karen Witemeyer
For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

Warning! Tim McGraw will make you cry.

For those of you who lived through the Vietnam War, you’ll remember the violence and discontent from our country’s involvement.  As crazy as it sounds, many Americans blamed our soldiers for being there, and their suffering and the terrible things they witnessed made no difference to those back home.  The soldiers were shunned and rebuked upon their return to US soil.  They were made to be the enemy when they were, in truth, fighting to help keep us all free, something everyone should have appreciated more than they did.

Nowadays, thankfully, the tide has turned, and the men and women in our military are honored and revered, as they should be.  Patriotism is surging.  The flag once again flies with respect.  Who can keep a dry eye while watching a news clip of a soldier dad returning home to surprise his child?

One of the ways to show our patriotism is through songs and videos.  Yesterday, my sister-filly, Cheryl Pierson, wrote an excellent blog with many examples of patriotic songs, and our readers loved chiming in.

Funny how great minds think alike.

Tim McGraw is one of my top three country singers, and I’m sharing his popular video for “If You’re Reading This.”

During our Special Event week celebrating patriotism, please enjoy.  And be sure to grab a Kleenex.

Pam Crooks
Pam has written 24 romances, most of them historical westerns. She has just released her newest sweet historical romance, TRACE, the launch book for the Bachelors & Babies series starting in June, More of her books are coming! Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com
Updated: June 24, 2019 — 4:24 pm

THE TOP ‘MOST PATRIOTIC’ COUNTRY SONGS–WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE? by CHERYL PIERSON

 

Summer seems like the most patriotic time of the year in general, doesn’t it? We kick off the summer months with Memorial Day in May. Poppies are worn in remembrance of veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day in November.

On June 6, we are reminded of the sacrifices made on a faraway beach in Normandy that resulted in many deaths in WWII, but turned the tide for the Allies and helped us gain victory. June 14th is Flag Day, a fine “tune up” for our huge 4th of July celebration that’s right around the corner.

Is anyone more patriotic than a cowboy? I don’t think so!  So many country and western songs have been written through the years that are a tribute to not only our troops, but to first responders, and to all the “regular” American people who love our country.

Here is my list of top country and western patriotic songs, compiled from several on the internet—all different, but all wonderful—and all with one thing in common: our love for our country. These are in no particular order. I don’t know how anyone could choose one over the other since they all are products of excellent songwriting and musicianship—and heartfelt sentiments about America! And goodness knows, I didn’t list them all here—no room! Like I said, there are a lot of patriots in the country music field, and a huge number of songs to listen to in order to get in the patriotic spirit of things! I’ve included the youtube links in case you want to pop over and give these a listen!

This first one is an odd one, but I just love it. It was recorded by David Ball, who didn’t have that many hits, but this one will stay in your memory when you hear it for the very first time. I get chills every single time I hear it.  A young man buys a ’66 Corvette and discovers a letter in the glove box “My name is Private Andrew Malone, and if you’re reading this I didn’t make it home…” Which always makes me think about so many young men who could have written this following line…“For every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true…”  It’s called RIDING WITH PRIVATE MALONE and it has a very twisty ending you’re sure to love!

 

https://youtu.be/v5dyHPX8Cos

 

Probably the most recognized country song that many call our “unofficial” American anthem was written and performed by Lee GreenwoodGOD BLESS THE U.S.A. Written in 1983, it’s become synonymous with patriotism, and is loved by countless Americans, whether they are typical country and western fans or not. Its simple message is one that grabs you and holds on, and I have to admit, that even after nearly 40 years of hearing it, I still get teary! “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me—so I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, for there ain’t no doubt I love this land—God Bless the U.S.A.!”

 

https://youtu.be/yH61hFsma24

 

Another “oldie but goodie” is Merle Haggard’s THE FIGHTIN’ SIDE OF ME, written in 1970. Oh, goodness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my husband play and sing that back when we used to have our band…fond memories, and it was a song that was a frequent request, whether we lived in West Virginia or here in Oklahoma. “If you don’t love it, leave it, let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’—when you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me…” I love the sentiment of this song. In true “Merle” fashion, he’s saying that we can disagree on things without trashing our country. I think everyone in the audiences we played to knew the words to this song!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIxBmyRQlwQ

 

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? is not a “patriotic” song in the way we’d normally think of one, but it was not written during normal times. Penned by Alan Jackson in 2002 after the horrific events of  9/11/01, this song is packed with emotion and validates the many thoughts and feelings that Americans went through during the aftermath of that day. Each chorus of this song ends with the reminder that God’s greatest gift to us is love—even though we were going through some horrendous times. This song was nothing short of a masterpiece that drew Americans together, gave us hope, and let us know we were not alone in our feelings.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNsfx_4k-JA

 

In 1974, Johnny Cash wrote RAGGED OLD FLAG, a recitation about all the incidents that happened to “the ragged old flag” that hangs in a little town’s courthouse square as told to a town newcomer by one of the old men who lives there. “She’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…on second thought, I guess I do like to brag, cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KqrjeScLSI

8TH OF NOVEMBER, another patriotic song written about the Vietnam war, is performed by Big and Rich. It is the true story of a terrible battle in which the 173rd Airborne was engaged. That day, 48 Americans died with very few survivors when they were ambushed by 1200 Viet Cong. “With the fire rainin’ down and the hell all around there were few men left standin’ that day…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozpdBvB0hek

 

 

 

There are countless others, in case you want to put together a country and western playlist for your big Independence Day shindig! Take a look!

SOME GAVE ALL by Billy Ray Cyrus

LETTERS FROM HOME by John Michael Montgomery

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? by Darryl Worley

IF YOU’RE READING THIS by Tim McGraw

HOME by Dierks Bentley

I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK by Lee Brice

FOR YOU by Keith Urban

IT’S AMERICA by Rodney Atkins

FLYOVER STATES by Jason Aldean

COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN) by Toby Keith

WHERE THE STARS AND STRIPES AND THE EAGLE FLY by Aaron Tippin

AMERICAN SOLDIER by Toby Keith

THE BALLAD OF IRA HAYES by Johnny Cash

This isn’t all of them, either! Hope you all have a very happy 4th of July with family, friends, and loved ones. What’s your favorite country and western patriotic song, and why? It’s hard to pick just one!  

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

Janet Syas Nitsick Has a Winner!

Wow! Thank you for bringing such an interesting blog, Miss Janet. We loved it!

Now I know you’re all dying to see who wins a copy of the book.

All the names are in the ten gallon hat……….

The winner is…..drumroll ………..

ROXANNA GILPIN

Woo-Hoo! I’m so happy for you, Roxanna! 

Miss Janet will contact you for be watching for her email!

And everyone, don’t forget to come back tomorrow to kick off the Stripes and Spurs week!

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: June 23, 2019 — 2:55 pm

The Fillies Present Stripes and Spurs!

 

YOU’RE ALL INVITED!

What’s better than a week of patriotism and cowboys?

Not much.

WHEN: Monday, June 24 – Friday, June 28

FUN! FUN! FUN!

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: June 15, 2019 — 10:19 am

We Never Sleep–The Pinkerton Detective Agency

“With shelves of books behind him, Clyde David Robert III settled in his library chair  … he grabbed the rolled up paper [inside his desk] from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

“Spreading out the gold sheet, he examined it once more along with the agency’s guarantee of finding his daughter. The document was dated March 21, 1896. Where was she? How could his daughter have escaped without detection?”

-An excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s recent release, The Heiress Comes to Town.

          Slipping out of her father’s New York mansion on her wedding day, Nina Robert . . . leaves her luxurious life to settle on the Plains where she discovers romance, but all could end with her father’s hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find her and enable him to fulfill his arranged marriage contract.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency

Motto: We Never Sleep

Formation and Prominence

          The private-eye detective business began with the formation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

          But they did not become famous until credited with foiling a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, as he was to take the reins of his first term.  

          How did the Pinkerton Agency claim to do this? With the help of the first female detective hire, Kate Warne, a widow, this woman and other agents arranged for President-elect Lincoln to board an overnight train hours before he was publicly scheduled to appear.

Abraham Lincoln posed as Warne’s invalid brother, and agency’s operatives cut telegraph lines, so Southern sympathizers could not communicate with one another.

The Civil War

          The detective agency continued to make its mark during the Civil War with its enemy spy rings of Southern sympathizers in the North. The operation did not always go well.

          One such misstep was in the 1862s during the Peninsula Campaign when spy intelligent agents reported Confederate forces around Richmond were more than twice as large as their actual number.

          The result was General George B. McClellan delayed the Union’s advance in part due to his request for more troops. But the intelligence was wrong since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was in fact much bigger than the Confederates.

Wild West Bounty Hunters

          The Reno Gang

          The Pinkerton Agency often was employed to chase after Wild West bandits, which began with the Reno gang of John and Simeon Reno holding up an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County Indiana. What was different about their holdup?

           A booty of $13,000 and no detection since they committed their crime on a moving train – the first such type train robbery – while traveling in a sparsely populated area. However, the Pinkerton agents often get their man, and they did the same to the Reno gang by infiltrating it.

          Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

          Remember Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch? Well, the Pinkerton detectives chased after them, too.

          Jesse James and his Gang: A Pinkerton Failure

          The pursuit of bank robbers, Jesse and Frank James, by the Pinkerton agents started in the 1870s.

          One detective attempted to infiltrate the Missouri-based gang but was exposed and then murdered. Then two more agents died in a shootout.

           If this was not bad enough, the hunt for the James brothers ended in 1876 during a raid on his mother’s home. The famous brothers had been tipped off and had left the premises.

          The Pinkertons questioned James’ mother. An argument pursued. During the standoff, a posse member tossed an incendiary device through a window, which blew off part of her arm and killed James’ 8-year-old half brother.

          Journalists portrayed the Pinkerton agents as murderers. Humiliated by their depiction of his detectives and the public outrage, Allen Pinkerton stopped pursuing the James gang. Thus Jesse James was able to continue his havoc for seven more years until 1882 when an assassin’s bullet killed him.         

Larger than the United States Army

          In the 1890s, the agency grew until it had 2,000 detectives and 30,000 reserves. This was larger than the United States Army at the time.

The Agency Exists Today 

It operates today as Pinkerton and is a private security and guard service.

 

*Janet Syas Nitsick is offering a signed paperback copy of The Heiress Comes to Town, a Christian, historical, page-turner mystery and clean romance to one person picked at random from those who leave a comment today.

The Heiress Comes to Town

by Janet Syas Nitsick is on Nook, Kobo, iBooks.

 Click here for the Kindle and paperback link on Amazon:

Janet Syas Nitsick

Shy, natural redhead Janet Syas Nitsick’s writing passion began as a child when she wrote a neighborhood play at 10-years-old. In 2010 Janet’s story, “The Silver Lining,” placed 10th in the Writer’s Digest mainstream/literary competition.

Janet writes suspenseful, clean, Christian, historical, homespun-romantic tales set in Nebraska. She is married and has four sons – two with autism. Her late father, Nebraska State Sen. George Syas, served 26 years in the Unicameral.

Click here to check out Janet’s website, blog or Facebook page.

Guest Blogger
Updated: June 21, 2019 — 9:05 am

Hee-Haw! Here are Margaret’s Winners!

Oh, me, or my.  Didn’t we have a grand time today?  Thank you to all who responded. You’re all great and  I wish I could send each of you a book!  Today’s winners are:

Valri Western

Sally Schmidt

Lori Smanski

Cathy Thomas

Becky Elliott

& Grumpy the Cat

 

 

Congratulations, Ladies! Tell me if you prefer print or eBook.  If print is your choice, I need to know your mailing address.  Contact me at margaretbrownley1@gmail.com

 

Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 40 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Updated: June 20, 2019 — 6:31 pm

Stripes and Spurs Party is Coming!

 

YOU’RE ALL INVITED!

What’s better than a week of patriotism and cowboys?

Not much.

WHEN: Monday, June 24 – Friday, June 28

FUN! FUN! FUN!

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: June 15, 2019 — 10:14 am

If You Give a Mouse a Review: plus 5 book Giveaway

Years ago, I was a restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper.  My husband and I would dine at a restaurant like regular customers.  At the end of the meal, I’d pull out my card and announce that the restaurant had just been reviewed.

Once I became known, restaurant managers and owners offered me free meals and other bribes in exchange for reviews.  In order to write a fair and unbiased review, I never accepted anything free (though I must admit the costly bottle of champagne challenged my integrity), but you can’t blame anyone for trying. Restaurants depend on reviews for survival.  So do writers.

Whereas a single review in a newspaper or online can increase business for an eatery, writers needs a number of book reviews to notice a difference in sales.  In recent years, writers have lost important review outlets such as Romantic Times.  Now writers must depend on reader reviews on outlets like Amazon and Goodreads and those are not easy to come by.

Oh, sure, writers can pay review services and many bestselling writers do just that.  But the services don’t come cheap and there’s no guarantee that enough reviews will be provided to offset the costs.

Why All the Fuss About Book Reviews?

  1. Reviews offer writers greater visibility and a better chance of being found. Also, many promotional sites require a certain number of reviews before an author can use the service.
  2. A study conducted by the Northwestern University found that people bought products based on popularity, meaning the most reviews. Oddly enough, the reviews didn’t even have to be good.  Products with a lot of bad reviews sold more than products with fewer but better reviews.  (With that criteria, even a mouse could become popular if given enough reviews.)   
  3. It doesn’t take much. 20-50   reviews are enough to give consumers confidence enough in the product to purchase it.

Why don’t more readers leave book reviews?  According to my unscientific survey among friends and family, here are the top excuses, oops I mean reasons, for not leaving a review.

I didn’t purchase it from Amazon

Amazon allows reviews whether the book was purchased from them or not. If purchased from Amazon, it will say verified purchase.  Amazon does have an instinct for sniffing out reviews by a writer’s family members and friends (okay, you can’t blame me for trying), but otherwise anyone can review a book.

 I’m not a writer

You may not be a writer, but we writers value your words.  You don’t have to write anything fancy and you certainly don’t have to compete with a professional reviewer. I liked this book because….is a good start. Or maybe you didn’t like it as much as the author’s earlier works.  Honesty is always best when writing a review.  If you simply can’t bring yourself to write one, you can locate the book on Amazon, find the review that is closest to expressing your thoughts and click on “helpful.”  Yep, in the wondrous and sometimes confusing world of Amazon algorithms, “likes” and “helpfuls” count.

Don’t have time

I heard this one from someone who had recently won a free book from an online contest. I’m sure most winners don’t think about the time it takes the author to package and mail a book. Also, books don’t come free.  The writer probably paid for the book out of her own money, not to mention postage.  But writers do this willingly hoping the winner likes the book enough to recommend it to her friends, and yes, give it an online review. 

 My one review won’t make a difference

 Oh, but it does, it does, and we fillies appreciate readers who take the time to post reviews. You’ve helped contribute to the success of our books and we can’t thank you enough.

So how important are reviews to you in choosing books, movies, restaurants or Amazon purchases?

 Okay, now here’s the good part. Post a comment and you could be one of five winners to receive a copy of my new release The Cowboy Meets His Match—yep five.  BUT (yep, there’s a catch!) I’m going to ask for the very thing most writers are too embarrassed to ask for: All I’m asking in return is that winners consider posting a review of the book.  Yee-Haw!

 

Amazon

B&N

 

Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 40 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Updated: June 19, 2019 — 9:24 am

Janet Syas Nitsick Has a Romance for You!

Romance author Ms Janet Syas Nitsick will return for a visit on Friday, June 21, 2019!

And does she have a romance for you!

She’ll talk about that as well as share some great facts about the Pinkerton Agency.

By the way, she’s toting an autographed copy of her newest to give to someone.

That is if she doesn’t get ambushed along the way.

Come and join us on Friday and chat awhile.

You might just learn something plus get entertained.

* * * *

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: June 19, 2019 — 9:19 am