Connie Porter Saunders
Connie I will email you to get a mailing address!
Connie Porter Saunders
Connie I will email you to get a mailing address!
Sophie Dawson has been making up stories in her head ever since she was a child. She has written fiction and non-fiction, contemporary and historical romance, and has also ventured into the increasingly popular arena of audio books.
She lives with her husband on the family farm in Illinois.
Two grown sons, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter round out her immediate family.
Sophie is giving away a copy of each book she talks about today,
one to each of two commenters.
Women were scarce in the West in the 1800’s. We all know that. Mail Order Brides were, maybe not as common as in romance novels of today, but one way men could find wives. How scary would it be to leave all you knew, whether it was a good situation or terrible, travel the arduous hundreds of miles of empty land, then marry a man you only knew from a few letters? In our novels, every couple has a happily ever after ending. We know this wasn’t the case. Common sense and human nature tells us that.
But, what if you lived in a mining and logging town in Oregon, having moved there or been born and raised there and suddenly all the men, or those who were marriageable or husbands already, died in a disaster leaving the women to pick up the pieces of the town and their lives? That’s the premise of the Silverpines Series.
Many women in the West were widowed and left with children they needed to support and raise. Men were widowed too in the same situation. It wasn’t unusual for these grieving people to rapidly marry, sometimes the same day they buried their spouse. She needed a protector, a supporter, a father for her children. He needed someone to take care of his children, be their mother, and to do the work in the home so they could all eat, stay healthy, and teach the children as there might not be a school nearby.
In Silverpines, Oregon in 1899 there weren’t men in town to marry. And there were many women left as widows or young women who wanted to marry someday. The solution… Send for Mail Order Grooms. I’ve written two books in the series so far; Wanted: Shopkeeper and Wanted: Bookkeeper.
Millie Messer is the widow of the mercantile owner with four young children to raise. One still in diapers. She needs to run the store, do her regular work tending the children, help those in need, and be wary of the con men who’ve come to town in the wake of the disasters.
Clay Cutler answers her advertisement. He’s experienced in running a store. His family owned on and he’d been raised in it. He seems the answer to her prayers. There’s just one detail he forgot to mention; he has five children. Millie finds out when they get off the train. Needless to say, she is not pleased.
Do they get their HEA? What antics do nine children come up with as they blend the two families? What danger lies ahead for all of them? What secret is Clay keeping from Millie?
Find out in Wanted: Shopkeeper.
Poor Tilde Lasek, she’s lost her father and brother in the disaster. her mother is overwhelmed with her grief. She’s left to run the bank they own by her herself and is in way over her head. Then there’s the attempted bank robbery. Thankfully, it was foiled and she wasn’t kidnapped or injured. BUT, it was the last straw. Not telling her mother, who is against the idea, Tilde advertises for a husband. She’s smart enough not to mention the job he’ll do is in a bank.
Joel Richards is her choice. They marry hours after he arrives in Silverpines, without informing her mother who isn’t happy with the marriage. Then there are the changes Joel hopes to make at the bank. Tilde’s not happy with those.
Can Joel convince Tilde to bring Silverpines bank into the 20th century? Will Tilde be able to be the wife he wants without letting him bring even more change to her life? Will Mabel Lasek ever accept her daughter’s marriage? Will there be a Happily Ever After with all three living in the same house?
Read to find out. Wanted: Bookkeeper.
Get these and the other great Silverpines Series books on Amazon Kindle, print and KU.
Sophie Dawson is an award winning author of sweet historical romance set after the Civil War, as well as Contemporary romances. She’s participated in several Multi-Author Projects with her newest one being The Pinkerton Matchmaker. Her novel, An Agent for Mina debuts November 9. Check her Amazon author page for details. http://amazon.com/author/sophiedawson
Sophie Dawson Reader Friends group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/139425236751751/
I’ve been known to have someone actually hang off a cliff in my books. Not lately though. I may do that again soon.
But in the meantime I like to catch a reader’s attention and HOLD IT!
And I like to do it from the jump. Start the book off with a bang. Hopefully write something that is RIVETING. Something that makes the reader pay attention and keep turning the pages.
So this time, in The Reluctant Warrior, I have my characters wake up choking to death as their cabin fills with smoke. They have been buried (the cabin) by a monster snowstorm…well, there’s more. There’s a killer. There’s fire. There’s freezing. There’s screaming and running and digging and climbing and exploding.
You know, the usual.
But to write a book a story needs to grab hold…and it needs to do it not GRATUITOUSLY but in a way that tells the story, begins it, advances it. You can’t just have a random action scene.
This book, The Reluctant Warrior does not open with gratuitous violence and action. It is completely relevant violence and action! I’m sure you’ll agree.
But I just mention it because as a writer………..and all of us at Petticoats and Pistols know this….it is tricky to start a book. Oddly enough, it’s not uncommon to start a book at the wrong place and have to go back and move the story farther in the future or back into the past. A weird but true fact about writing. Authors get used to that kind of editorial study of their work. Mulling over details to make the story pick up and go at the right pace at the right time and place.
It’s part of the fun of writing, and I can’t help but be glad my book starts right where it does, although I gloss over a couple of months of what must’ve been real trouble in that cabin before the smothering smoke billows into the room while my characters sleep.
Today, let’s talk about stories that start with a bang. Can you think of a book you’ve read (or maybe one you’ve written) that have a beginning you love. Not necessarily first lines, but more general, a beginning that grabbed you and held on and wouldn’t let you go.
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of The Reluctant Warrior.
Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.
When danger descends on the cabin where they’re huddled, Cam is hurt trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to help him win back their affection–and in the process he might just win her heart as well.
Miss Sophie Dawson has pulled on her boots and will arrive on Friday, October 19, 2018!
This lady’s Silverpines series is very interesting with a new twist–desperate women seeking mail order husbands. Fact was, there were a lot of widowed men and women in the old West.
Miss Sophie is toting books to give away!
All you have do is join the party and leave a comment. Very easy!
So hightail it over on Friday and start chatting. We’d love to have you.
And if you want to help clean, we’ll put a broom in your hand. This place could use it.
Good luck and we hope to see you.
Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.
We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.
This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!
The stories begin releasing November 1.
Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.
Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It releases Nov. 1.
You’re never too old to fall in love . . .
Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?
Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.
Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.
When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?
As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess while he recuperates from knee surgery.
She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her, but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…
“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.
Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”
Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”
“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”
He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”
Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”
“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.
“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”
“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”
“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”
“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”
Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”
Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”
A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”
“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”
“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”
Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”
Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!
A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love.
Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.
A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?
A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.
Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.
If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?
…People living in the shadows in desperate need of saving.
I’m launching a brand new series January 29, 2019 called Outlaw Mail Order Brides and here is the gorgeous cover for the first book!!
By the way, it’s available for preorder. Not that I’m begging or anything.
The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride is about Clay Colby and Tally Shannon. These are both characters from my Men of Legend series. Clay was Houston Legend’s right-hand man in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy and I’m thrilled to give him his own story. In fact, I’m beyond excited for my Legend series to bleed over into this one. Readers weren’t done with my Legend men and neither was I, so they’ll appear some in these. Luke probably will more than any because he and his wife Josie have formed a private mail order bride service to match men and women living outside the law for whatever reason.
You first met Tally Shannon and her band of women living in Deliverance Canyon in To Love a Texas Ranger (the first Men of Legend.) They’re in hiding after escaping the Creedmore Lunatic Asylum—only none are crazy. They were put in there by family members wanting to get rid of them. In fact, there’s quite a lucrative racket going in that horrible place.
Tally knows they can’t live in hiding forever and it’s time to walk in the sunshine. She volunteers to go first and try marriage. The outlaws can protect her but she’s struggling with trust issues. She doesn’t trust anyone—not even Clay. And this causes big problems between them. Still, she sees Clay’s huge heart and begins to lose her fear.
Tally begins to feel safe in Devil’s Crossing and loves working by Clay’s side in making it a town. He needs this as much as she. But there are lots of potholes in the road.
Can they smooth them out and stay alive long enough to make this marriage work? It’s anyone’s guess.
This cover perfectly depicts their rustic life. The big fire is in the center of the town where all the people gather and a lot of nights one of the men gets out his fiddle and they dance. I modeled Clay after the real life gunfighter and outlaw, Clay Allison, who loved to dance more than–well, shoot bad guys. So….do outlaws really dance? You bet’cha.
Book #2 – Saving the Mail Order Bride – follows a few months later on April 30, 2019.
Question: how do you like the cover? Is there anything that draws you? I just love the splash of red. If you don’t want to talk about the cover…how do you like fall so far?
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There’s an old saying that “the devil’s in the details” that’s true in many circumstances in life, but I think it’s especially true in all forms of art.
Of course, it’s obvious to us in visual art—paintings, drawings, photography—and tactile art such as a beautiful quilt or piece of pottery, or a woven basket.Hexagon Quilt–selling for over $6000! But look at the work and the detail that went into this “work of art”!
But what about books? Are you a reader who loves lots of descriptive details? Or do those bog you down and leave you frustrated and impatient?
I have to admit, as I’ve gotten older, there are many kinds of stories that I feel could do with less detail in some areas. A lot of my “changes” come from looking at the way details and descriptions are presented more closely when I read. I’ve evolved into this kind of reader.
As a younger reader, I needed those details to help me create images in my mind. The descriptions were beautiful to me because I knew less of the world, and everything I read was a learning experience! Have you ever thought about it like that?
When I was a YA reader, whether reading sci-fi books (during the flying saucer craze) or historical fiction, I needed those descriptions and details to feed my hunger for learning about—well, everything!I loved this series by John Christopher–read it when I was about 12 or 13, and it stayed with me all through the years so that when my own kids were young, I went searching and found it for them! The descriptions of the aliens that were determined to take over earth, the bravery of the young people that fought against them, and wondering what in the world was going to happen kept me reading far into the night!
“Back in the day” I think authors engaged readers with a different type of writing style, too. Ours had not yet become a world of technology such as it is now. Life “took longer”—and happened at a much more unhurried pace. It was important for writers to create pictures in the readers’ minds—because there was no way to already have a pre-conceived idea of the things the author was trying to describe.
Here’s what I mean: In today’s world, we are inundated with images of all kinds, from instant pictures on our phones that we take ourselves, to movies, to ads on television, to video on Youtube. And so much more—this is just the tip of the iceberg.
One of my very favorite paintings by the very fabulous Jack Sorenson. This one is called “Horse With Christmas Spirit”–love the “details” in this one!
Can you see how this de-values art? When a beautiful picture can be photoshopped together in minutes and seen by millions, or even mass produced in ways that hadn’t been thought of fifty years ago, the artist who painstakingly delivers every brush stroke “the old-fashioned way” can be under-appreciated in a hurry!
Some writers suffer this same twist of fate in a different way. Because our lives are so rushed, and our society has been geared toward “quick reads” we’ve lost the pleasure of savoring those descriptions of the setting, the characters, even the emotions of the “players” in the books we read. It seems that finishing a book is more important than, as we once did, lingering over certain passages and re-reading them for the sheer joy of the way the words came together, the image they created for our hungry minds—and souls.
My confession—and you may all think this is weird—I do not ever skim. Even when I don’t feel the need for the minutiae that may be included, I read every word. What if I miss something? Deep down, I believe the author must have thought it important or he/she wouldn’t have included it!
What’s your pet peeve? Too much description? Not enough? More description needed of the characters? Or do you want some things left to your own imagination?
One does a whole painting for one peach and people think just the opposite – that particular peach is but a detail.
I learned no detail was too small. It was all about the details.
Sometimes when you start losing detail, whether it’s in music or in life, something as small as failing to be polite, you start to lose substance.
Do you remember a book you’ve read that you thought was too detailed? IS there such a thing? I think many of the authors from the earlier days wrote in that style—it was just how it was done—and there was no mass media to show instant pictures, so there was even so much more to learn through reading.
As one who wrote very descriptive passages, James Fenimore Cooper comes to mind, but Diana Gabaldon’s books are full of wonderful descriptions of the landscape, the characters, and so on, and that skill she displays for description makes her stories and characters come to life!
For modern-day books that show a complete mastery of adding wonderful detail and pulling you into the story, there is no better author than Kathleen Eagle. I’ve never read a story by her that I didn’t love and one of the main reasons is the adept talent she has for adding the smallest details as the story moves along and drawing the reader right into each and every scene, as if you are truly there with her characters, experiencing their pain, loss, worry, and love.
Do you have a favorite author who gives just the right amount of description? More about this next time on CHARACTER descriptions–I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this subject!
Lets give a big Wildflower Junction Welcome to author Tina Radcliffe! Many of you already know her and her stories! They’ve won all sorts of hi-falutin’ awards. Most recently Claiming Her Cowboy was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Carol Awards. She has always been one to “give a hand up” to others and was honored recently as the 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year. Tina is giving away two copies of her book, Christmas With the Cowboy to two lucky folk who comment!
Christmas in the 1800s wasn’t that much different from our celebrations today. But out West, it was most certainly simpler. Many prairie families couldn’t even fit a tree inside their small dwellings. Decorations were homemade and the presents beneath less fanciful and more practical. While cowboys on the trail didn’t have the luxury of a fireplace with stockings or a tree in the corner, caroling, and libations were still in order.
Researching this topic piqued my curiosity about the food prepared to celebrate the holiday season.
I’m all about the food!
According to Food Timeline’s review of the time period, “Christmas menus reflect traditional foods of the celebrant’s original culture.”
From “American System of Cookery,”by Mrs. T. J. Crowen [T.J. Crowen:New York] 1847
“To Arrange a Christmas Dinner. Place a high pyramid of evergreens (made as before directed) in the centre of the table. Let a roasted turkey of uncommon size occupy the middle or centre of one side of the table, on one end let there be a cold boiled ham, and at the other, fricasseed chicken or a roast pig; with the turkey serve mashed potatoes and turnips, boiled onions and dressed celery, or other salad with apple sauce–near the ham place fried or mashed potatoes and pickles or mangoes: and with the pig or fricassee, the same as with the turkey; large pitchers of sweet cider (or where that is not desired, ice water) should be placed diagonally opposite each other, on two corners of the table; boiled turkey with oyster sauce may occupy the place of the fricassee, or instead, a fine oyster pie. For dessert, there should be only two very large and ornamental mince pies, one sufficiently large that each of the company may be helped from it, in token of common interest, is desirable. Ice creams and jellies and jams and ripe fruits and nuts, with sweet cider and syrup water of different sorts, or wines, complete the dessert. Biscuit and jelly sandwich may be served at dessert, or paste puffs and charlotte de russe or blancmange with strands of jelly.”
Charlotte de Russe?
Betty Crocker tells us that the Charlottes are molded desserts. “The mold is lined with cake and filled with fruit and custard or cream mixed with gelatin. Charlotte Russe, made with ladyfingers and rich Bavarian cream, is served with fruit sauce.”
“Blancmange is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mold and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given alternative colors.” Wikipedia
Sounds a bit fancy for prairie homes and cowboys on the trail who made due with what they could obtain.
A perfect example would be Black Pudding and Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake.
From Wink Crigler, owner of the X Diamond Ranch and curator of The Little House Museum in the White Mountains.
1 Cup Sweet Milk
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Soda
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Molasses
Mix well. Pour into 1-pound can and steam for 2 to 3 hours by placing in a kettle of boiling water. Keep covered.
This is to be served with a vinegar sauce:
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
2 Tbsp. Vinegar
½ Tsp Nutmeg
Put in enough boiling water for the amount of sauce wanted.
Add two slightly beaten eggs and cook stirring constantly to the desired consistency.
Boil a cup of brown sugar in a cup of cold water with 1 and 1/2 cup raisins.
Add a teaspoon each of salt and cloves, and cinnamon.
Also, add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/3 cup of shortening.
Boil for 3 minutes and let cool.
Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in 5 teaspoons of hot water, add 2 cups of flour, and half a teaspoon baking powder. Add the baking soda mix with the first mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 F.
This talk of food circles back to my holiday release, Christmas with the Cowboy
and the favorite food in the story, made by the heroine, Emma Maxwell Norman.
Emma’s Chocolate Muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1?2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1?4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1?2 cup butter, melted
1?2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cup cupcake tin or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda in a large bowl, mix together.
Add eggs, milk, chips and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Spoon into muffin tins.
Bake 18-20 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar or sprinkle with extra mini chips (optional).
Adapted from Genius Kitchen.
Now that I’ve made you hungry, leave a comment or even a recipe sharing about your own historic family recipes. Two commenters will be drawn for a print (or ecopy for international winners) of Christmas with the Cowboy.
Merry Early Christmas to you the Fillies and you readers!
Former navy SEAL Zach Norman has been avoiding his ranching roots—and the woman he couldn’t have. Back to visit his brother’s widow, Emma Maxwell Norman, and her adorable toddler twins, the bah-humbug cowboy is roped into helping prepare the ranch for the holidays. Working side by side, can Emma and Zach overcome their troubled past…and receive the greatest Christmas gift of all—love?
A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe is an RWA Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and three-time ACFW Carol Award nominee. She is a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year recipient and a 2018 Carol Award finalist. Her 10th book for Harlequin released in October 2018. In addition to novel-length fiction, Tina has sold over two dozen short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. A former library cataloger, Tina is a frequent presenter on writing topics and an online instructor. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make arrangements to get your copy of WANTED! right off to you!
Everyone did super-great answering my question! It was a fun little game, a nice change of pace, and I appreciate everyone who played.