Yup, you read that right. How do I get from the first two to the later? It’s easy when the wedding is in Estes Park, Colorado, at The Stanley Hotel, the famed inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining.
First a little history. Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora, missing the east’s grandeur, opened The Stanley Hotel complete with electric lights, telephones, en suite bathrooms, uniformed staff and a fleet of automobiles in 1909 among the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado. However, by the 1970’s the hotel’s splendor had faded, and it might have been demolished if not for Stephen King.
The famed author stayed in Room 217 and a dream here inspired The Shining. The room is thought to be haunted by Elizabeth Wilson. Injured in 1911 in an explosion lighting lanterns in Room 217, when recovered, Mrs. Wilson became head chambermaid and worked at the hotel until her death. Since then, guests have reported luggage being unpacked (now this I’d appreciate ?) and lights being turned on and off. Mrs. Wilson, not a fan of unmarried couples sharing the room, has been known to show her displeasure by climbing into bed between them!
The Concert Hall is another room frequented by otherworldly inhabitants including Flora Stanley. When the hotel opened, F.O. presented Flora with a Steinway Grand Piano. Since her passing, guests and staff claim Flora can still be heard playing. Paul, a jack-of-all trades at the hotel, enjoys frequenting this room as well. Charged with enforcing the hotel’s curfew during his tenure, guests and workers claim Paul can be heard saying “get out” after hours. He’s also said to “nudge” construction workers and flicker flashlights for tour groups here.
On the hotel’s fourth floor, originally a cavernous attic where female staff, nannies and children stayed, guests report hearing children running, laughing, giggling and playing. People also claim a certain closet opens and closes on its own. In room 428, guests report footsteps and furniture being moved above them. However, many claim this impossible due to the roof’s slope. But the room’s most frequent ghostly visitor is a “friendly cowboy” appearing by the bed. Now that’s the room for me! What a great opportunity for hero research!
These are a small sample of the ghost stories associated with The Stanley Hotel. If you’re interested in more tales, I recommend Ghost Stories of the Estes Valley Volumes 1 and 2 by Celeste Lasky. (I purchased mine at The Stanley but they’re available on Amazon.)
If you visit Estes Park, maybe you’ll be inspired as I was. That’s where the idea for my first novel sold to Harlequin, Big City Cowboy, literally walked up to me. But that’s a story for another blog…
If you stay at The Stanley Hotel, could you’ll encounter F.O. Stanley hovering behind his staff at the reception desk. ? If you do, keep these tips from tripsavvy.com on how to capture ghosts on camera in mind. “Take five or six quick shots to capture a fleeting spirit. Oh, and bring up back-up batteries because paranormal experts will tell you if spirits are present, they’ll have a draining effect on your batteries.”
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about a place where you’ve encountered a ghost or that’s left you feeling a bit creepy to be entered in my give away. And oh, yes, Happy Halloween!
Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year … Halloween! Not only did I have a granddaughter born on Halloween and she’ll turn 21 tomorrow, but I love the kids, their costumes, and giving out treats. I took ten bags of candy to the church today for our annual Trunk or Treat. So many wonderful memories.
But oh do I love apple wassail to kick off the holiday season. I didn’t realize the tradition of Apple Wassail, which is a form of wassailing practiced in the cider orchards of southern England during the winter some five centuries ago. The first recorded mention was at Fordwich, Kent, in 1585. Groups of young men would go between orchards performing the rite for a reward. The practice was sometimes referred to as “howling”. On the Twelfth Night, men would go with their wassail bowl into apple orchards. Slices of bread or toast were laid at the roots and sometimes tied to branches. Cider was also poured over the tree roots. The ceremony is said to “bless” the trees to produce a good crop the next season.
A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the Apple Tree Man, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is thought to reside. In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried gold.
Here’s a couple of well know and fun traditional Apple Wassail rhymes.
“Stand fast root, bear well to
Pray for God send us a howling good crop.
Every twig apple big.
Every Bough, apples now.”
19th century Sussex, Surrey
“But by far here’s the one we all know.
Here we come a wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wandering
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too.
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.
And God send you a happy New Year.”
The wassail recipe is very easy and fun to make and drink.
1 gallon apple cider
1 quart cranberry juice
¾ cup sugar
2 cups orange juice
16 whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 stick (6 inch size) cinnamon.
Tie the spices in a cheesecloth bag. Add the spice bag and all remaining ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
For a party or a carry-in, heat in a crock pot on low temperature.
Optional: Garnish individual servings with a cinnamon stick and orange slice. Serves 24.
My question to you: What is your favorite holiday beverage?
To one reader who leaves a comment, I will give away an eBook of my latest Kasota Springs Romance “Out of a Texas Night”.
Today is one of the happiest days for children and adults, outside of Christmas and birthdays. Or at least that’s my opinion. I’m fortunate to share my blog with Fellow Filly Shanna Hatfield. I’m going to blog about some history and fun facts; before turning it over to Shanna to tell you a little about her special Pumpkins Cookies, yummy!
To my surprise, Halloween has roots in age-old European traditions. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns. Around the world, as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
In the late 1800’s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.
Thus, a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion, yes with a “B”, annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you all about how Halloween traditions fit in with young women identifying their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday…with luck by next Halloween…be married. In the 18th century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.
Another fascinating tradition was when young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; and, some also tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water.
One of the beloved events is our church’s Trunk or Treat which is a safe and fun environment for kids to go trick or treating out of the trunk of member’s cars in the parking lot. It’s open to the public, not just the youth of our home church.
I’m happy to have Shanna Hatfield chiming in with one of her favorite Halloween treats.
“I’m a pumpkin fanatic! The fascination with pumpkin treats started with my aunt’s decadent pumpkin roll and ends with pumpkin pie (which I would eat any time of year). This recipe for pumpkin cookies is a fast, easy way to satisfy a pumpkin craving… and a sweet tooth! Happy Haunting!”
From Shanna Hatfield, USA Today Bestselling Author
1 box of spice cake mix
1 small can of pumpkin pie filling
1 cup cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cake mix and pumpkin until thoroughly blended.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment and drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheet.
Bake about ten minutes, until the cookies are just set, but not yet starting to brown.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Warm cream cheese frosting in the microwave for about 12 seconds, or until thin enough to pour. Drizzle over cookies. Top with toffee bits, cinnamon, sprinkles or candied nuts if you want to get all fancy-pants (which I generally do).
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will give away a copy
of any of my eBooks from Amazon! Happy Holiday, Phyliss
And, thank you, Shanna, for sharing your recipe with us.
Like many of you, I love the autumn season. In our little corner of the world, we have four very distinct seasons and in the last few weeks it has definitely transitioned into fall.
The leaves have set aside their verdant shades of green and seemingly overnight slipped on the jeweled hues of crimson, gold, amber, and tangerine.
The air smells spicy and rich, laced with a hint of wood smoke from the neighbor’s fireplace. It’s cool enough to dig out my sweaters and scarves, to unearth my warm lap blanket I like to curl up under in the evenings when the early dusk brings nose-nipping temperatures.
Then there are the glorious, wondrous flavors of fall… pumpkin and caramel and apple. Yum. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
In an effort to capture some of the sweetest, most wonderful aspects of fall, a group of sweet romance authors got together and wrote ten brand-new novellas all centered around a Fall Festival that raises funds for an animal shelter while finding homes for pets. The stories are bundled together in a boxed set.
The stories all take place in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon. If it really existed, visitors would find it about an hour south of Portland, where autumn is particularly beautiful and the sights, sounds, and scents of fall weave around the romance lingering in the air.
My contribution to the boxed set is Blown Into Romance, the story of a free-spirited artist and a feet-firmly-on-the-ground rancher. And piglets! Five of them, to be exact, all named after characters from a favorite children’s book. Winnie, the mama pig, and her four babies (Roo, Tigger, Eeyore, and Robin) need a home and Brooke needs a little company in her newly-opened blown glass shop.
(See the disaster coming… five pigs in a blown glass shop?)
I wanted Brooke to adopt something other than a dog or a cat. How much crazier could she get than five pigs?
Luckily for her, Blayne Grundy knows about pigs as well as cattle and horses. He offers her a hand when she needs it most and soon realizes she’s stolen his heart.
Artist Brooke Roberts spent her life without roots, wandering from town to town. When she seeks refuge from a freak storm in the town of Romance, she decides to stay and open a blown glass studio. Determined to immerse herself in the community, she adopts a family of pigs. Brooke is unprepared for the chaos and comfort they bring to her world, or the dashing cowboy who rescues her heart.
Solid, dependable Blayne Grundy runs a busy ranch, volunteers on various committees, and takes in stray animals too large to stay at the local animal rescue. Then a chance encounter with a beautiful, beguiling woman leaves him so befuddled, he can barely remember his own name. His predictable organized life is about to be blown away by free-spirited Brooke.
A sweet, lighthearted novella, Blown Into Romance highlights the mighty power of love and letting go.
She arched an eyebrow. “Did you adopt a new pet, too?”
“I’m actually more of a temporary home before a permanent place can be found. Brent had a donkey and a bunch of chickens that needed a place to go. Grams handled the chickens, but I’m in charge of the donkey.”
“A donkey, huh?” Brooke grinned again. “That might be incentive to visit your ranch.”
“Kong would like to think it is.”
A laugh spilled out of her. “You named the donkey Kong? Are you kidding me?”
“Nope. That was his name before Brent took him in. I’m not sure if Donkey Kong or King Kong would have been worse.”
“Okay, you win. I have to meet this donkey. I have a project I need to finish and it has to be shipped Thursday morning. If it works with your schedule, I could come out that evening.” Brooke walked Blayne over to his pickup.
“That will work great. In case you think about changing your mind, I could probably come up with a more compelling reason for you to come.” He looked at her with an intense light glowing in his eyes.
Rather than back away from him, as he feared, she stood her ground. “What reason might that be cowboy?”
“Just this one.” Blayne stepped close to her, holding her gaze. He wrapped one hand around her waist and slid the other into her messy hair. Before she could protest or pull away, his lips skimmed across hers in a light, tentative kiss. When she moved closer to him, he kissed her again. The long, lingering kiss erupted an explosion of fireworks behind his eyes while her body turned limp in his arms.
When he lifted his head, he kissed her cheek and slowly released his hold on her, making sure she was steady on her feet before backing away. “I’ll let you consider if that’s a compelling reason. If not, let me know. I can come back later and do a better job.”
If you could adopt ANY pet, what would it be? Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Fall Into Romance. Three lucky winners will be chosen!
Fall Into Romance is available for a limited time for just 99 cents at these online retailers:
Did you ever place dress-up as a kid? I remember trying on my mother’s shoes and throwing her purse over my arm and pretending to be a grown up. There is something powerful in the act of putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else. Perhaps someone you wish you could be for just a short time.
I think that is one of the reasons readers (and authors) love historical novels. We get to step into the shoes of someone who lived in a different era and imagine what it would be like if we had lived then. And it’s not just novelists and readers. Think of all the living history museums there are around the country. How many reenactors dedicate months of their time and significant dollars from their bank accounts to recreating battle scenes from the civil war. How many historians make presentations in costume to help bring their topics alive to their audiences.
At one of the writing conferences I go to every year, there is a genre dinner on the first night where authors have the chance to dress up like one of their characters or in a way that represents their genre. I typically wear a denim skirt, boots, and cowboy hat, but I secretly long to become more authentic in my dress-up.
I recently found a website that offers professionally made historical costumes, and I felt like a kid in a candy store. A rather expensive candy store . . . but there were so many delights, I stopped caring about the price tags.
I’ve decided to start saving my pennies. Maybe by next year, I’ll be decked out in the outfit below.
Shoes – $50
Cameo Brooch – $20
Crinoline for underneath – $50
Professionally made Polonaise set – $275
Getting to step back in time and live for a few hours as one of my characters – Priceless
Hi everyone! I wanted to talk a little bit about my brand new single-author western romance anthology, WINTER MAGIC.
This is a collection of three stories that appeared in some of Prairie Rose Publications’ anthologies over the last year. Sometimes, it’s hard to tie stories together with a logline, but I love this one we came up with: Three criminals who’ve lost everything…three women who have nothing to lose…is it love or magic that bring them together in these three romantic tales of the old west?
The first story, HEARTS AND DIAMONDS, was a part of the Cowboy Cravings anthology (June 2014). Hired gun Nick Diamond is determined to ruin the life of his nemesis, Carlton Ridgeway, by claiming Ridgeway’s bride at the altar with a damning lie. He never gives a thought as to how his actions might affect the bride, Liberty Blankenship, who is ready to sacrifice herself for respectability—though she longs for love with all her heart. When Ridgeway comes looking for a fight, Nick obliges—and all hell breaks loose—but will Liberty get her heart’s desire in the end?
Since I had brought the subject of brothers up in Nick and Libby’s conversation, and since Jake, the youngest brother, made a short appearance in HEARTS AND DIAMONDS, I decided to introduce the middle brother, Brett, in SPELLBOUND, my contribution to the Cowboys, Creatures and Calico II (Oct. 2014) anthology. We had so many wonderful submissions for our Halloween anthologies in 2014 we had to make a second volume! My story appeared in this anthology because of the element of magic—and the fact that the heroine, Angie Colton, is a witch—but it actually takes place closer to Christmas. In fact, the Christmas tree is the entire reason the showdown happens like it does between safecracker Brett Diamond and the villain, Teller Magdon. Without a bit of magic, things might not have turned out as they do!
Finally, in LUCK OF THE DRAW, the youngest brother, gambler Jake Diamond gets his own story. This tale appeared in WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS (Nov. 2014) and I love the fact that “family” is the theme—with it being so close to Christmas. Jake has a bit of a history with the heroine, Lainie Barrett. She’s been held hostage with him for several days in Brett’s story, SPELLBOUND. They’ve said some things to one another under duress that maybe shouldn’t have been said. But when Jake accompanies Lainie back to visit her mother to let her know she’s all right, they make an incredible “find” that shows them Lainie’s odd “gift” and solidifies their relationship. Can a gambling man and a novice witch risk everything on each other?
Here’s an excerpt from the first story in the collection, HEARTS AND DIAMONDS. Nick has just forced Libby to marry him. They’re in the honeymoon suite having their first “heart to heart” talk…
“Be honest, Libby,” Nick said softly. “You weren’t any more in love with Carlton Ridgeway than you are with me. So what difference does it make you which one of us you marry?”
Libby was surprised at how quickly her little ladylike hand uncoiled from her proper stance and unerringly slapped his handsome face, only inches from hers. The noise it made was like a gunshot, and he flinched as he stepped back, his own hand going automatically to his cheek.
“You’re right, Mr. Diamond. I’m not in love with Carlton Ridgeway. The most I had to look forward to was a scrap of respectability—if not for myself, then for my parents. Now, that, too, is gone. So, the only choice is to go forward from this point and—and make the best of things between us. But I will not be used, any more than I have been already, Mr. Diamond.”
“Nick,” he corrected unthinkingly. “And we—can get an annulment, if that’s what you want.”
Libby’s smile held all the promise and danger that was stored in the reckless wildness of her spirit.
“I wouldn’t dream of disappointing you so, Nick,” she said sweetly. “No, we’ll make our dreams come true together,” she continued. “A home of our own, filled with children and, of course, true love.”
His lips quirked at her words. “That sounds pretty damn good to me, Libby. Uh…you do know what makes babies, don’t you?”
Though she only had a vague idea of how it was done, she wouldn’t give him the upper hand. She nodded sagely. “Oh, yes. And I’m looking forward to it.”
As if he knew her secret, Nick Diamond had the audacity to laugh aloud at that. Her face burned.
“I believe you’ll enjoy it more with me than you would have with Ridgeway.”
She moistened her lips and tried to settle the frantic pounding her heart had begun. “Well, then. Perhaps we should—start—immediately. With our family. Our baby.”
Nick stood silent as she floundered. Finally, he said, “Let’s have some dinner first, shall we? I’ll have the bellboy lay a fire for us so we’ll be comfortable when we come back from eating. You’ll need your strength for tonight…when the ‘baby making’ begins. I have a hell of an appetite—for good food and…good sex,” he added wickedly.
WINTER MAGIC BLURB:
The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.
HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!
SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.
LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!
Thanks so much to everyone who has stopped by today!I want to give away a digital copy of WINTER MAGIC to one lucky commenter, and also a digital copy of the boxed set of COWBOYS, CREATURES, and CALICO I and II–which is now available for only .99 at Amazon for a limited time, so please leave your contact info in your comment in case you win!
If you can’t wait to see if you won, here are the buy links for each of these collections!