Category: Holiday

Cowboys & Mistletoe Starts TOMORROW!

 

The time has almost arrived!

TOMORROW is when the fun begins!

Be sure to stop by every day from

December 2nd through December 5th

when we present our Christmas novellas and books for each of you to enjoy.

We’ll make you fall in love with falling in love during Christmas.

Each filly is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card.

**THAT’S TWELVE $10 AMAZON GIFT CARDS!**

Because it’s Christmas, and because we love each of you, we’re going to make it easy to WIN!

Join us!

(Please share and tell all your friends, too.

The more, the merrier!)

Fa-La-La-La-La!

 

Updated: November 26, 2019 — 8:35 am

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE – Only 8 More Days!

Christmas is coming!

And it’s that special time of year for holiday stories that warm your heart with romance and happy endings.

Which is why we’re presenting to you our collection of

Christmas Romances!

Be sure to stop by every day from

December 2 – 5

We’ll make you fall in love with falling in love during Christmas.

We’re giving away lots of $10 Amazon gift cards, too.

Even better, we’re going to make it easy to WIN!

Ho-Ho-Ho!

 

Updated: November 15, 2019 — 8:42 am

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE is Back!

Christmas is coming!

And it’s that special time of year for holiday stories that warm your heart with romance and happy endings.

Which is why we’re presenting to you our collection of

Christmas Romances!

Be sure to stop by every day from

December 2 – 5

We’ll make you fall in love with falling in love during Christmas.

We’re giving away lots of $10 Amazon gift cards, too.

Even better, we’re going to make it easy to WIN!

Ho-Ho-Ho!

Updated: November 14, 2019 — 8:37 am

Happy Cabbage Night!

I knew Halloween evolved from the Celtic festival of Samhain and All Hallow’s Eve, but that was about all I knew. This year I decided to change that and dove into researching Halloween. First, I learned in New England the night before Halloween is Cabbage Night. Right now, I’m glad I live in Texas, because this tradition involves “pranksters” leaving rotten vegetables near a neighbor’s front door! I doubt this did much to promote good neighbor relations! Despite that, Happy Cabbage Night y’all.

Now on to Halloween…

I discovered many Halloween traditions revolved around helping women identify her potential husband or reassuring her she would indeed find a one. In 18th century Ireland, a cook would bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween. The hope was that the ring would bring the finder true love.

In Scotland, fortune tellers instructed marriage-minded women to name her hazelnuts after her suitors. Boy does that sound odd. 🙂 Then she was to toss them, the hazelnuts not her suitors, 🙂 into the fire. The nut that burned completely rather than exploding represented her future husband. Another legend insisted if a woman ate a sweet treat of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg on Halloween, she would dream of her future husband that night.

Women would throw apple peelings over their shoulders in hopes of forming the initials of her future husband’s name. I wonder if there was strategic throwing involved with this tradition to get a desired result. Another legend told a woman to stand in front of a mirror in a dark room holding a candle. The hope was if she peered into the mirror, would see her husband’s face over her shoulder.

Halloween parties could get competitive regarding matrimony. For example, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut hunt would be the next one to marry. The first one to successfully bob for apples was predicted to walk down the aisle soon. This tradition had visions of unmarried women practicing their bobbing for apple skills before Halloween parties to ensure a victory to pop into my head!

Because beliefs of different European countries mixed with American Indian traditions, America developed its own unique version of Halloween. At first, celebrations featured “play parties” to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors shared stories about the dead, told fortunes, danced and sang. The night also included mischief. But in the late 1800’s, people tried to shift the holiday away from ghosts, pranks and witchcraft to a more community or neighborly get together holiday. Parents were encouraged to remove anything frightening, grotesque or scary from their Halloween celebrations. Despite this community-centered focus, adding parades and town-wide parties, by the 1920’s and 30’s, vandalism became prevalent.

However, by the 1950’s communities had tampered down on the vandalism and Halloween became a more child-centered holiday. This probably was a result of all those post-war babies, too. Communities revived the tradition of trick-or-treating after it was halted due to sugar rationing during WWII. The thought was people could prevent being pranked by giving children a small treat.

Today, Halloween is America’s second largest commercial holiday, surpassed only by Christmas. We spend around 9 billion, yup with a billion with B, annually. That’s a lot of candy, costumes and yard art. It works out to an average American shelling out $86.79.

Speaking of candy…we haven’t even touched that delicious subject. But let’s do that now. Leave a comment on what’s your favorite trick-or-treat candy and why or what one makes you you want to pull a trick on someone to be entered for today’s giveaway. One random commenter will receive the pumpkin coasters and a copy of Family Ties.

Updated: October 30, 2019 — 8:31 am

Cowboys and Christmas

When I was thinking about a title for today’s blog post, of course my brain went right to Cowboys and Christmas. But from there, it tripped along over a fun old Christmas song. Emmylou Harris’ version is my favorite and the one playing on the soundtrack in my head this morning.

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Truthfully, I’ve had Christmas on the brain for months and months (okay, maybe it’s been there since last Christmas!). But I have a good reason. Well, several good reasons, but I’m excited to share three of them with you today. 

The first reason I’m so excited for the holiday season is my newly released non-fiction book – A Cowboy Christmas.

 

The book features interviews with rodeo and ranch families who share their favorite holiday traditions. Readers will find holiday how-tos, gift ideas, decorating tips and recipes (more than 70 of them). Some of the recipes are my family favorites and others come from the ranch and rodeo families. I tested (and tasted!) them all. I also had fun taking all the photographs of the food and how-tos. It was a great learning experience and one I’m so happy I had the opportunity to explore. 

Several of the families mentioned in the book have had their lives touched by a special organization called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF steps in when a rodeo athlete sustains a catastrophic injury and is unable to work for an extended time. They’ve provided $8 million in funds to more than 1,100 athletes, giving the cowboys a hand up when they need it most. And every dollar donated goes directly into the fund without any administrative fees removed. 

Back in 2013, I was working on the first book in a new series and reached out to the Justin Sportsmedicine Team with some questions. They kindly helped me and that’s when I first learned about the JCCF. 

This is the sixth year I’ll donate ten percent of my book proceeds to the fund. 

Any Shanna Hatfield book purchased between now and Christmas counts and will help benefit a great cause. 

To find out more about the JCCF and my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign, visit my website

 

Another reason I’m all excited about Christmas is the release of my first sweet romantic comedy written in first person.

Oh, my gracious! 

I had so much fun writing this story and I hope you’ll have fun reading it!

Between Christmas and Romance  is part of the sweet and wholesome Christmas Mountain series, set in the fictional town of Christmas Mountain, Montana. My story is book seven in the series.

Here’s a little about Between Christmas and Romance: 

There’s nothing like a little Christmas glow to light up a holiday romance. . .

When the bright lights and big city lost its luster, Carol Bennett returns to her Montana hometown disillusioned and ready to embrace a simple, quiet existence. After she takes over the Christmas Mountain bookstore, she is determined to forget the glitzy world that left her with broken dreams. The store provides the perfect place to hide from her past while indulging her secret joy of reading sappy romances.

Then she encounters a cowboy too handsome for his own good and too insightful for hers. Although she adores his grandmother, rancher Tim Burke is stubborn, bold, and opinionated. He refuses to let her hide when he sees her all too clearly and does his best to draw her out of her protective shell.

In spite of her determination to detest the man, the sparks sizzling between them could light up the town’s Christmas tree. Carol has to decide if she’ll choose being brave and latching onto happiness or staying safely tucked away in her store.

Will two such opposite people be able to find love somewhere between romance and Christmas?

You can find more details about the book on my website, including buy links.

 

Also in its sixth year, I’m thrilled to invite you all to join me for the annual Cowboys and Christmas party taking place on Facebook November 7! There will be guest authors, game, giveaways, and so much fun!  Hope to see you all there!

What about you?

What is one thing you are looking forward to about the holidays? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Between Christmas and Romance!

 

Remembering is Honoring

As I am writing this, it’s Memorial Day. To most of us, this is a day off work to spend with family and friends. We know the holiday is meant as to remember those who died serving our country, but do we really do that? Do we take the time and make the effort to do that? Do we realize how important this day is to those who’ve lost a loved one in service to our country? So many lives given for our freedom.

Today I’m remembering a young man I never met. Lloyd Wohlford, Jr. died serving our country in Vietnam on June 17, 1967. I learned about Lloyd when my uncle, Wayne Walter married Margaret Wohlford, Lloyd’s sister. From everything Margaret has told me about Lloyd, I’m sorry I never knew him. I also know the world is a much better place because of him.

Margaret describes her brother as a hard-working farm boy raised in Decorah, Iowa. She said Lloyd “always knew what needed to be done and the right way to do it.” When he went to Vietnam, he took those values with him.  When Lloyd and his buddies were ambushed, this farm boy did what needed to be done. He carried others, as Margaret said, “numbers too many to recall” to safety. After saving numerous lives, he picked up his weapon and returned to battle. That was when he was lost.

Margaret Walter, Doug Bishop, Chris Bolson, Lloyd’s sister, at the Vietnam War Memorial

For families of those who died serving our country and those who fought alongside the fallen, as Margaret said, “Memorial Day is not for those alive but for those we have lost.” It’s a day for remembering and to ensure heroes like Lloyd are never forgotten. We need to remember not only that heroes like Lloyd sacrificed their lives, but the legacy their actions leave behind. People are alive today because Lloyd Wohlford, Jr. was in Vietnam that day to save them. He lives on through them and everyone who remembers him.

As you read this, Memorial Day is over, but that doesn’t mean the remembering is. We have so many freedoms in the United States. It’s easy to take them for granted and forget how others fought and died for the freedom we enjoy. It’s true—freedom isn’t free. Many have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. 

If you haven’t lost someone close to you serving our country, ask someone who has to share memories of his/her loved one. When you see a post on a fallen soldier on social media, please share. Help keep that memory alive. We can never repay our debt to those who died for our freedom, but we can start with ensuring they are never forgotten.

Thank you for stopping by today. To be entered for the random drawing to win a copy of the Blessed wall handing and Home on the Ranch:  Colorado Rescue leave a comment. If you’ve lost a loved one serving our country, please share his/her story with us. I’d love to help you honor your hero.

 

Updated: May 28, 2019 — 8:23 pm

The Very Personal Story of Gray Hawk’s Lady

Howdy!

Since we are coming up very soon on Valentine’s Day, I thought we might talk about love, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love.  The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California like my home.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…

So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and I told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….

But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.

So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.

The date was good — okay.  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.”  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”

I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  So I accepted.

Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite some kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware of that.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world was spinning — but in a good way.  Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”

Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.

Did I mention that my earring (the night of that first kiss) fell off — and I have pierced ears…!

In May of this year, we will have been married 23 years.  Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 23 years more or less have gone by now.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.

I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss.    Ah, sweet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.

Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift?  You bet I will.  I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.  Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top. 

And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

http://www.amazon.com/Gray-Hawks-Lady-Blackfoot-Warriors-ebook/dp/B0723B3VCM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1549300185&sr=8-3&keywords=gray+hawk%27s+lady+by+karen+kay%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: February 5, 2019 — 9:02 am

The Simplest Gift

I think my love of the west and cowboys grew out of my love for my grandparents’ Iowa farm. I loved that place. I did a lot of thinking and dreaming there. I also learned a lot, mainly from my grandmother. The older I get the more I appreciate what I learned from her. She was an incredibly strong woman, but she possessed a quiet strength. She worked the farm and raised six children. I always thought her the most patient person I knew. She never had a cross word for anyone, and I can count on one hand the number of times she lost her temper.

My grandmother always made time for me and my endless questions. Such a simple gift, her time and attention, and yet, such an important one. And I had a lot of questions about whatever she was doing, whether it be gardening, crocheting, sewing or cooking. All of which I still enjoy doing today.

One day when she was making one of my two favorite treats, cream puffs–the other was her angle food cake with fresh strawberries–I asked questions and wrote down what she told me. Because of my curiosity, I have my grandmother’s recipe for cream puffs.

For a holiday gift, I’m sharing her recipe with you.

Cream Puffs

½ C butter

½ tsp salt

1 C water

1 C sifted flour

4 eggs

Combine butter, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once. Stir until the mixture sticks together in a ball and leaves the edges of the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until egg has been completely absorbed. Drop by tablespoonful, heaping in the middle, on greased baking sheet with 3 inches between each. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 10 minutes. Do not open oven during baking or cream puffs could 

collapse.

Filling:

Mix together—

4 Tablespoons sugar

2 egg yolks (beaten)

1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch

2 Tablespoons milk

 

In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 C milk to a boil. Stir in above mixture. Reduce heat and cook until thick. When cool combine with ½ pint whipped heavy cream.

Leave a comment about your favorite holiday treat and be entered to win a cup and plate set along with a copy of Family Ties. May 2019 be filled with many wonders and joys for you and your family, and remember, of all the gifts you can give, the best is your time and attention. 

Updated: January 2, 2019 — 8:59 am

The Golden Age of Christmas Music

The 1940s and 50s has been called the golden age of Christmas music, and for good reason.  White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland and Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer are just some of the treasures that came out of this period.

Following World War II people were ready for messages of hope and change, and song writers were only too eager to comply.   

Some of the greatest Christmas hits have fascinating and even funny stories behind them.  Silver Bells, written in 1950, is one of them. 

Inspired by the number of different kinds of bells heard at Christmas, the songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evan decided to write a song about them. 

They called the song Tinkle Bells.  After they finished writing the lyrics, they played it for Evan’s wife and were shocked then she almost fell off the couch laughing. 

She then explained that the song might make people think more of the bathroom than Christmas. The two men didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about until she explained that mothers used the word “tinkle” to get their youngsters to use the toilet.

The two men wisely changed the song title to Silver Bells.

Jay and Ray weren’t the only songwriters saved from making a mistake. Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane wrote Have yourself a Merry, Little Christmas for Judy Garland to sing on screen.

What they hadn’t counted on was Judy rejecting their song and threatening to walk off the set unless the lyrics were changed. In the original song, they’d written that the two lovers might never see each other again.  Have yourself a Merry Christmas/it may be your last/next year we’ll be living in the past.

Judy knew that wasn’t the message that people wanted to hear in times of war. She sent the song back for a rewrite. Though Martin and Blane were convinced it was a mistake, they gave the song more upbeat lyrics and scored a hit.

Another hit was inspired by a parade. Gene Autry had been invited to be a special guest at the Hollywood Christmas parade.

Fearing that his prewar career success was behind him, he was delighted to be greeted by thousands of screaming youngsters.  It seemed he had not been forgotten.

However, Gene soon learned his mistake. The children weren’t screaming for him. They were screaming for the man behind him.

“Look, Ma,” one boy yelled.  “Here comes Santa Claus.”

Gene Autry had been upstaged, and his worst fears had been realized. The screaming children had no idea who he was.  Later, he recounted the incident to his composer friend, Oakley Halderman.

Halderman laughed.  “Sounds like a song to me.”

The two men worked on the song together. Here Comes Santa Claus became Autry’s first hit in a decade, and helped to relaunch his career.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is The Little Drummer Boy.  What is your favorite?

“This book charms.” -Publishers Weekly

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Updated: December 15, 2018 — 8:51 am

Why Heavenly Cowboys Couldn’t Celebrate Christmas

 

 

Why Heavenly Cowboys Couldn’t

Celebrate Christmas

 

Cowboys corralled in Heaven pulled

All kinds of vexin’ things,

Like tippin’ halos crooked-like

And ropin’ angels’ wings.

They’re so well known for cuttin’ up

Since back when time began,

For no one’s pulled shenanigans

The way that cowboys can.

No, cowboys didn’t get high marks

In God’s reported word

While they were ratin’ risin’ stars-

Too many tales were heard

Of cowboys playin’ naughty tricks,

Upsetting schedulin’s,

And gettin’ Angels so upset-

God said, “We’ll clip those wings.

That cowboys use to horse around

We’ll have them guard the gate.

The night of our blessed happening

While we all celebrate.

They won’t have time to hatch their schemes

To upset this event.

On Christmas Eve, they’ll have no part –

And maybe – they’ll repent.

As shepherds herded sheep that night

And knelt in starlit fields,

The cowboys learned the penalities

That cowboy teasin’ yields.

While Angels’ voices sang of the Birth,

And glow lit up the skies,

Sad cowboys only got to hear

The angels lullabies

And that’s how Heaven evened score

For tricks those cowboys played; 

They didn’t get to join in praise

When the world knelt down and prayed. 

                                              By Marianna Logan McNeil

 

Thank you to the late multi-award-winning poet and friend, Marianna Logan McNeil, of Petticoats and Pistols who gave this poem to the Fillies before her passing. 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

                                      

Updated: December 23, 2018 — 10:58 am