Category: Personal Glimpses

Introducing Pinky

Hello everyone! I would like to introduce my new calf Pinky.

She’s not like her brothers and sisters.

 

She was the result of a difficult birth and she and her mother had to be separated from the herd for several days while she recovered and learned to nurse. We had to give her her first feeding manually to make certain she got the colostrum she needed to develop her immune system. She always sticks close to her mama now.

This is Pinky getting ready to be vaccinated.

She’s not too sure about all of this.

The herd is out on summer grass now. The grass is literally shoulder high. The calves disappear into it. We feed in sections, moving the fence every couple days so that the cows have new grass and the old grass has time to recover. We’ll rotate through the pastures twice this summer if all goes well.  Can you spot Pinky in the photo below?

And that’s it from me and Pinky. We hope you have an excellent day!

Welcome Guest – Karen Kirst!!!

Isn’t it funny how seemingly random things can be linked to childhood memories? Every time I eat a summer ripe tomato, I’m reminded of my best friend, Angela. She lived in a house on the lake, and after a full day of sun and water, we worked up quite the appetite. I can still picture us in her kitchen, maybe ten or eleven years old, eating fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes like they were apples. My dear friend is gone now, but I have a whole host of sweet memories to remind me of our time together.

I was in a bookstore the other day and came across a toy called Fashion Plates. Instantly, I was taken back to long road trips in my parents’ station wagon. We were allowed to ride in the open space in the back, and I whiled away the miles assembling various outfits and tracing my crayons over the paper to create pictures. I almost bought it, even though I don’t have daughters. I wanted to buy it simply for nostalgia’s sake.

This month marks the end of Love Inspired Historical. While I’m sad about it, I have many of my favorite authors’ books on my keeper shelf. And I have cards, letters and emails from readers that I will keep and treasure in years to come.

What about you? Do you have certain songs, objects or places that remind you of your childhood? I’d love to hear about it.

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Karen is giving away one print copy of Romancing the Runaway Bride to only lucky reader. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered!

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Romancing the Runaway Bride
by Karen Kirst

Click to buy on Amazon

Though she came west in her wedding dress, Deborah Frazier isn’t looking for a groom. She fled St. Louis to escape marrying a man she didn’t love. In Cowboy Creek, she’s found shelter, friends and a job. All that’s now in jeopardy, thanks to a handsome newcomer.

Undercover Pinkerton agent Adam Halloway is hunting for his family’s greatest enemy. The pretty baker at the boardinghouse is certainly hiding something—but is she an accomplice to a criminal? As eviden

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Karen Kirst was born and raised in East Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains. She attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she received a B.A. in Speech Communication. A lifelong lover of books, it wasn’t until after college that she had the grand idea to write one herself. The pursuit of her dream would take longer than she first anticipated…years, in fact. In the fall of 2010, she got the happy news that Harlequin Love Inspired Historicals wanted to publish her manuscript-a true blessing from God. Now she divides her time between being a wife, homeschooling mom, and romance writer. She and her husband, along with their three boys, recently said goodbye to military life and are thrilled to be back home in Tennessee.

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Updated: June 14, 2018 — 8:13 am

Laura Ingalls Wilder at Rocky Ridge

 

Back in April, I attended a writing retreat in Branson, MO. It was a wonderful time of rest and fun and great writerly conversations. But thanks to a reader’s recommendation, one of my favorite parts of the trip was a little side journey to Mansfield, MO. When I discovered that the home where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and wrote the Little House books was only an hour away, I knew I couldn’t miss the chance to visit.

I grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie books and watching the television series. It is because of Laura’s books and others like them that I became so enamored with historical fiction. Getting to actually walk through the house that Almanzo built for Laura, to see the room where their daughter Rose slept as a girl, to see the small desk where Laura sat to write her novels . . . it gave me chills.

The tour guide took us through the house in the order that it was built. It started as two rooms and expanded over the years to contain three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, music room, small library, and front parlor. Laura and Almanzo both lived into their 90’s, and the caretakers have kept their house almost exactly as they left it upon their deaths. There were several lamps that Almanzo made by hand along with chairs and other furnishings. They wouldn’t let us take any pictures inside the house, but I bought a few postcards to help me remember.

This the back of the house where the tour began. There is a screened off porch leading to the kitchen, a narrow ladder staircase that led to Rose’s childhood bedroom upstairs, and the dining room just past the kitchen.

Front of the house. This is the section built on in later years . If you walk up the steps, you will enter the front parlor. The library will be in a little walled alcove behind the fireplace on the left and the music room will be down the hall to the right. There is also a doorway to the right before the music room that led to Laura’s writing desk, her and Almanzo’s bedroom, and a staircase to a guest room on the second floor where Rose would often invite her New York friends to stay when they needed a break from city life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Wilder Lane was a successful writer well before her mother decided to pen the stories of her life. Rose published several novels and wrote for many popular magazines. She traveled extensively in Europe and made quite a nice living for herself. So in 1928 before the stock market crash that would send the country into an economic crisis, Rose decided to build her parents a new house. She purchased it from the Sears & Roebuck catalog and hired an architect to make a few structural changes. They called it The Rock House because Rose had it fashioned like an English stone cottage. It was less than a mile from their farm at Rocky Ridge. Laura and Almanzo moved to the Rock House and stayed there for eight years. But in 1936 when Rose decided to move back to New York, the Wilders moved back to their beloved farm house. As much as they appreciate their daughter’s gift, the Rock House just wasn’t home.

Back at Rocky Ridge, we had the opportunity to visit a wonderful museum filled with artifacts from Laura’s life including her Pa’s fiddle and original manuscripts. There were notes in the margins where Rose had obviously given her mother editorial advice, and no doubt Rose’s connections with the publishing world in New York opened doors for her mother that Laura would never had been able to open for herself, but seeing those manuscripts in Laura’s own handwriting made it abundantly clear in my mind that those who claim Rose was the true author of the Little House stories are mistaken.

The final place we visited was the small community cemetery where the Wilders are laid to rest. Having seen their lives portrayed on television and in novels made them seem larger than life. Yet seeing their graves made it truly sink in that they were real people, living real lives. What an amazing adventure they shared.

So, if you ever happen to travel through Missouri, do yourself a favor and spend a couple hours in Mansfield with this amazing family.

  • Did you grow up reading the Little House books?
  • Did you watch the TV show?
  • Besides Laura, who was your favorite Little House character?

Thank You Bees and Lady Bird Johnson

A couple weeks ago, my neighbor discovered a bee swarm on one of our fence posts. (When I first saw it, the swarm was twice the size of the one pictured.) Being a conservationist, I was concerned the swarm was honeybees. Being a paranoid dog owner/foster, I was worried what could happen if dogs and bees met. Thankfully, my ever-calm hubby hopped on the Internet and called Little Giant Beekeepers.

The woman he spoke with said the swarm was probably resting after their hive had been disturbed. They’d send out scouts, find a new home and move in a day or two. But, if we wanted, they could send a beekeeper. With me imagining one or more dogs not having the sense to leave the bees alone, getting stung, and having an allergic reaction, we opted for the beekeeper.

Turned out the bees were honeybees. When Miguel came, he suited up, and with an Amazon box and brush in hand, he swept them into the box! He accomplished the task amazingly fast. (Miguel later told us once the queen is in the box, the remaining bees pretty much follow.) Then he taped the box shut and said the bees would be relocated.

The bee incident made me thinking about Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy. This time of year, wildflowers, particularly Texas’ state flower bluebonnets, bloom along highways and in medians, continuing the conservation efforts she started decades ago. According to http://www.pbs.org/ladybird, on January 27, 1965, Lady Bird wrote in her diary, “Getting on the subject of beautification is like picking up a tangled skein of wool. All the threads are interwoven—recreation and pollution and mental health, and the crime rate, and rapid transit, and highway beautification, and the war on poverty, and parks—national, state and local.”

I’ve always felt passionately about issues. Rarely am I on the fence. These days, two of my soap box issues are conservation and saving honeybees. I keep thinking about planting bee friendly plants–sage, salvia, lavender, clover and native wildflowers. Honeybees are struggling to survive. I believe we all need to do our part to help. After all, as Lady Bird said, everything is interwoven, and honeybees pollinate most plants, including our food. No bees? Life will get tough for other animals. Humans included.

I think the bee swarm was the universe telling me to quit talking about it and improve my garden. This weekend I intend to take a tip from Lady Bird Johnson and plant flowers, because like she believed, “beauty can improve the mental health of a society,” and of course, I’ll choose bee friendly plants. We should be kind to our planet and its inhabitants, honeybees included. We’re in this together, and we should keep the Earth healthy. As French president Macron said, there is no Planet B. 

Tonight I’ll select one reader who leaves a comment to receive a Book Club wine glass and a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy, where my heroine runs a B&B, The Bluebonnet Inn.

Updated: May 2, 2018 — 7:22 am

Life Always Looks Better in the Saddle

I know the Easter Bunny has come and hopped away, but one day at my favorite shop, Rustic Ranch, I saw the little guy below and couldn’t resist him for a blog giveaway! Since I had an Easter giveaway, I decided to stick with the theme for the post. While researching old-west Easter traditions—or attempting to because my brain and Google’s are on two different wave lengths—I stumbled across an April 21, 2011 article on patch.com. The story by Ryan E. Smith was about Shepherd of the Hills Church and them encouraging people to ride to Easter service on horseback!

The article according to Kathy Alonzo says, “…riding around the area—whether it’s to the store, a service, or a local event can be a wonderful experience.” Then it mentioned that Alonzo is involved in two therapeutic horse programs. Those two things got me thinking how my characters often find the world looks better on horseback. In fact, at least one of my heroes has utter almost exactly those words.

Many animals, particularly horses and dogs, have healing properties we haven’t begun to understand. Equestrian programs help people suffering from traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, and other physical, mental, social or emotional challenges. If horseback riding can help with these major life difficulties, think of what it could do for day-to-day stresses. On their website, Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding, the organization that assisted with my research for Roping the Rancher, says, “To anyone who has been smitten by the calm I’ve-seen-it-all gaze of a horse, or who has stood beside a horse and believed the horse was literally seeing into her soul, the concept of horse-as-healer is not a great stretch.”

In my stories my characters often have a connection with the land around them and have a sense of the Old West heritage. Not only that, but they frequently learn how this connection, along with one to animals changes a person for the better. Technology is wonderful and has improved our lives in countless ways, but there needs to be a better balance between old and new. Maybe we should do more of what Shepherd of the Hills Church did and encourage people to ride a horse to ride to church.

Not all of us have access to a horse, but there are other options that we aren’t using in our society. Families used to live closer together and when Mom and Dad had to work, grandparents were there to help with children. Everyone benefited. No one was alone. That reminded me of an episode of The Middle where Patricia Heaton’s character Frankie wonders why we have separate animal shelters, nursing homes and daycare centers. She talks about how all three groups would benefit from spending time together. I’ve often thought so, too.

My recommendation today is for everyone today to spend time with a young person. Pet a dog or cat. Or, if you’re lucky and have access to a horse, saddle up! Ride to the store, or just around the countryside. No matter what your problems are, I’m betting life will look a lot better after you do.

Now leave me a comment for a chance to win my Easter giveaway!

Updated: April 3, 2018 — 6:11 pm

Allison B. Collins Dreams Up Her Stories

I’m so excited to be here on Petticoats & Pistols today! What a wonderful group of women who all love cowboys as much as I do.  Thank you for having me here, ladies!

A couple of years ago I had a dream about five brothers who ran a ranch with their dad. In this dream I saw the oldest brother was a wounded Army veteran returning home, there was a veterinarian, a charmer, a very cynical man burned by love, and a rebel cowboy.  I even saw their assorted girlfriends or wives.  The only anomaly was that the dream ended with a fashion show in which they all participated. (That was my day job insinuating itself into my cowboy dream!)

When I woke up from the dream, it was still so vivid in my mind I had to write it all down. And it stuck with me so much I knew I had to turn it into a book. Or rather, five books.

The first book in the series about a wounded rancher debuts this month, published by Harlequin. I’m so very excited that “A Family for the Rancher” is finally here.  This quote from Pinnochio has been running through my mind all week: “I’m a real boy!”  Well, for me now “It’s a real book!”

I’m a fifth generation Texan, so I’ve got the Old West running deep in my veins. I was born and raised in El Paso, which is THE farthest west you can go in Texas.  Among my ancestors are a Texas Ranger and a spy for Robert E. Lee. Future stories? You better believe it.

I live in Dallas now, practically at the base of Southfork Ranch. Remember J.R., Bobby, Sue Ellen, and Pam? It’s still a thrill every time I drive by that house, and the theme song runs on continuous loop in my head.

I guess my love of cowboys has been with me all my life.  I love sweet tea, bluebonnets, cowboy boots, and western hats.  Heck, the Resistol Hat factory is practically around the corner from my house!  Cowboys have a code of honor bone deep, one they live their entire lives by. They’re good to their mommas, their sweethearts, and their animals.

Perhaps John Wayne said it best: “A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.”  My Sullivan brothers follow that creed.

For the Cowboys to Grooms series I took the story to Montana. Where else could I write about vast open lands, soaring mountains, sunny summer days, and cold winter days where the hero and heroine are snowbound in a log cabin for days on end?

My husband and I spent some time in Montana a few years ago, and I just fell in love with the whole state. Crystal clear water, abundant wildlife, and cowboys!  In fact, the scene in which Kelsey sees a bear while kissing Nash was inspired by my first bear sighting on that trip.

As I write, I have to visualize the characters, so Pinterest is my best friend.  If you’d like to see who my inspiration is for each of the five Sullivan brothers, here’s a link to my board:  https://tinyurl.com/ycrflp2

Oh, and since I also love weddings, I couldn’t resist writing a little twist into the last scene of each book—it’s what determines which brother’s book comes next in the Cowboys to Grooms series!

* * * *

Nash Sullivan doesn’t need help from anyone. Not his father, not his brothers and sure as heck not from a physical therapist—even a darn feisty one like Kelsey Summers. He lost his leg during his overseas deployment and he just wants to be left alone. Besides, the last thing a woman like Kelsey needs is half a man.

Single mom Kelsey knows all too well that the scars on the inside run the deepest. She needs to move on from her own tragic past, but the Sullivan ranch is starting to feel a little too much like home. And she can’t stop thinking about her wounded—and gorgeous—patient. Could Nash be the cure for her own broken heart?

* * * *

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of “A Family for the Rancher” (Kindle ebook or autographed print book – winner’s choice), let me know who your favorite cowboys are (old or new), and why.  I’d love to chat with you here on Petticoats & Pistols!

It’s New Year’s Eve!

New Years Eve

It’s December 31st! What are you up to?

I feel like I am standing in the warm sun at the edge of sparkling blue swimming pool preparing to dive in!

Okay…that may be a bit over-dramatized. It’s bitterly cold here in the Midwest. And will be cold for several more months. But I am ready to turn the page on 2017 and start afresh with a spanking new year.

With three family birthdays between Christmas and New Year’s, I have always felt as though the holiday season is one long party…which for an introvert can be a bit overwhelming! By the time New Year’s Day comes, I am ready for things to calm down. Although I love the hubbub and the rich food and the gathering with friends and family in the days leading up to the first of January, New Year’s Day is special to me in that there are no expectations from “the outside.” None of those “shoulds” that accompany the holidays here in the States.

 

New Years

Tomorrow, I plan to enjoy a fire in the fireplace, write the birthdays in my new Mary Engelbreit calendar, and cook a large batch of chili while my husband and sons watch football on the T.V. There is a holiday puzzle out on the coffee table that we are almost finished and tomorrow is DONE day for that. In the evening, likely we will play a board game or two. Everything will be slower and winding down. I am looking forward to it!

Last year’s puzzle.

I look ahead to the new year with expectant hope. It is a blank page – and as a writer, a blank page fills me with excitement. How will I fill it up? What type of story will I write? I hope that what I write will entertain and bring encouragement to others and help them on this journey we are all on together.

Here’s wishing you a hopeful, happy New Year for 2018!

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Tomorrow, my new release, The Prairie Doctor’s Bride will be officially released in both formats – print and eBook!
I hope you will take a moment to check it out. Here are a few links…

To see reviews & a short excerpt, check my website:  KathrynAlbright.com

To purchase at Harlequin, check HERE.

To purchase at Amazon, check HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

My Most Meaningful Christmas Gifts

At age eight, I received a most meaningful gift. It was a big beautiful doll with blond hair and eyes that opened and closed. I had worked hard for that doll. To get on Santa’s “good” list, I cleaned my room and did my chores.  Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I even did everyone else’s chores.  When I opened the box Christmas morning and saw two big blue eyes staring back at me, I was elated.  I felt as if I could make every dream come true if I wanted it bad enough and was willing to work for it.

At twelve, I received a most meaningful gift.  It was an angora sweater. A year earlier, I had received toys for Christmas. “Graduating” to clothes was a big deal. I remember feeling so grown-up. That gift told me that others saw me that way, too.

At seventeen, I received a most meaningful gift.  It was a heart-shaped necklace from my boyfriend.  I believed at that moment that love would last forever.  The chain snapped less than a week later, and we broke up soon after. That gift taught me that some things are meant to last for only a short time, and that we must enjoy them while we can.

In my twenties, I received a most meaningful gift.  Our oldest son was born just before Christmas. It was a gift that both elated and humbled me. This baby—this beautiful gift from God—was solely dependent on me and I wanted so much to be the perfect mother.  But as I walked the floor that Christmas day trying to comfort a colicky baby, I realized the futility of that goal. I soon learned that no child ever said that his or her mother was perfect, only that she was the best.

In my thirties, I received a most meaningful gift.  The Christmas I most remember during that time was a bleak one.  My husband’s company was on strike and we were down to our last fifty cents.  As I filled our three children’s stockings with nuts and oranges, I dreaded the following morning when they would see how little Santa had left.  Much to my surprise and delight, I never heard one of them complain. If anything, they seemed to be more appreciative of the few gifts they did receive.  That was the year I learned that sometimes less is more.

I received the most meaningful gift during our saddest year. Our oldest son died a few months before Christmas and I couldn’t even bring myself to put up a tree.  I cried most of that day and I don’t remember what presents I received, but I do remember one important gift.  For it was that year that I learned that we’re stronger than we think we are, and though we lose so very much with the death of a love one, we can’t possibly count all the blessings that remain.

I don’t know what gifts are in store for me this Christmas, but I do know this: the gifts that touch our hearts are the ones that stay with us the longest.

Merry Christmas and may the gifts of love, peace and joy be yours.

 

Enjoy the Gift of Reading

      

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iTunes

Updated: December 21, 2017 — 9:19 am

A Little Christmas Cheer

Oh my goodness! I feel like I’ve been stuck on some amusement park ride all year. You know. The one that yanks you high in the air then drops you like a sack of potatoes and sometimes does some wild loops on the way down. But I did it. I released five books and I’m pretty proud of that. Still, I’m saying lots of prayers for an easier 2018. Not complaining. Just old and worn out.

So, Christmas is almost upon us with just a few more days left. I don’t do a lot of decorating. My tree is in the attic and that’s where it’ll stay. (I’m referencing the old and worn out part here.)

For the last 30 years no matter what, I’ve always put my Christmas angel out. She’s getting a bit frazzled (like me) but still looking beautiful.

I also decorate my dining table. This year, it’s candles and poinsettia. I lit the candles the other night when I ate and took a picture. It brightened up my spirits and put a warm glow in my heart.

I thought my French doors leading to my patio needed some cheer too. No one will see it but me but I kinda like it. It looks nice. By the way, that wreath is old too.

To celebrate this season, I’m offering two copies of CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS. Six heart-warming stories by six very talented writers—including our own Margaret Brownley.

My story, The Christmas Stranger—

Alone, in a blizzard, no shelter in sight, Hank Destry pushes in all his chips and comes up losing. Half-frozen and unable to go any farther, he falls from the saddle into a snowbank. Spinster Sidalee King is returning from visiting a sick friend and sees a barking dog. The pet leads her to Hank. She digs him from the snow and takes him to her home on the Lone Star Ranch.

Her job in the mercantile represents the sum total of her life but the drifter’s plight touches her. Everyone needs someone to spend Christmas with. Could he be Miss Mamie’s lost son that she speaks of? And what are the ugly rocks Miss Mamie doles out as payment for kindnesses? Mystery and love abound this Christmas season as two lonely people receive an unexpected gift.

To enter the drawing for one of two copies of this anthology, tell me if you have a tradition at your house. Or just talk about anything. That’ll work.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Feliz Navidad! Happy Hanukah!

God be with you all.

Making a List for the Perfect Wife…or Husband

 

Are you a list-maker?

Pen and InkA wonderful friend of mine, when she was young, made a list of qualities that she wanted in a husband. She wrote it on purple paper with purple ink (The color purple is kind of her thing. Her house is varying shades of lavender…along with her garden…her clothes…and her Christmas tree decorations.) She put the list away and forgot about it. It survived through many years and several of her moves.

A few years ago after she’d been happily married for more than fifteen years, she came across her list. Lo and behold, the man she married after meeting him on an internet dating site turned out to fulfill all the qualities she’d long ago written on her list. I thought that was pretty amazing. And I decided to use the same idea in my book that is coming out in late December.

As you may remember from some of my other posts on the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Society of Oak Grove has been busy sponsoring mail-order brides for the many lonely bachelors in the area.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, takes place in the spring of 1879 in Kansas and the good doctor is in need of a nurse. Nelson Graham figures that by marrying a smart, resourceful woman, he’ll get both—a nurse and a wife. It’s a win/win situation, or so he thinks. The first train-load of women have come and married men in the town and he sees that they are all quite happy. So, with the second train-load of women, he is set to make a play for the perfect woman for him.

Here is an excerpt ~                      

Left to himself, Nelson considered the notes he’d made earlier that day and withdrew the paper from his vest pocket. It was a “wish list” of sorts. Likely, no woman would meet all his expectations, but perhaps it would help him stay on course as he considered each of them.

  • Amiable.
  • Biddable.
  • Able to take constructive criticism.
  • Skilled in the domestic chores: cooking, laundry, cleaning, sewing and gardening.
  • Willing to work by his side as his nurse.
  • Quiet. He didn’t want a woman who disrupted his research or his daily habits.
  • Willing to put another’s needs ahead of her own.

He’d added the last as a cautionary point, remembering his fiancé. He’d thought they were compatible in all things, but then suddenly she had broken off the engagement, unable to accept the numerous times he’d been called away to help someone who was ailing.

He wouldn’t let that happen again. What he needed was a practical woman as his wife. She didn’t need to be a raging beauty, but like any man, he wouldn’t mind if she was pleasant to look upon.

He tucked the paper back into his pocket and headed to his office. Now, all he had to do was interview the ladies, one at a time, and see which one came closest to fulfilling his wish list.

I hope you enjoyed that short passage. As for list-making, I think there are those that are prone to making lists and those who keep everything in their head. I tend to be someone who has a list for everything – shopping, daily chores, books I want to read, goals for the day, the month, the year and on and on. Then of course there is the infamous “bucket list!” Even though I don’t always meet the goals I set, they are at least in front of me (making me feel guilty!)

What about you? Are you someone who makes lists and if so—what are the things on it?
What type of qualities would you list for the perfect mate? 

For those who comment, you will be entered into a giveaway drawing for a copy of
Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

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