Category: Uncategorized

Hee-Haw! Here are Margaret’s Winners!

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

Valri Western

Sally Schmidt

Lori Smanski

Cathy Thomas

Becky Elliott

& Grumpy the Cat



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


Updated: June 20, 2019 — 6:31 pm

Pioneer Pit Stop

Philip Foster Farm in Eagle Creek, Oregon was the last stop along the Oregon Trail for weary travelers to rest before continuing on to Oregon City. This year the farm is opening The Lucy House, which Philip Foster built for his daughter.
Lucy and her husband Josiah enjoyed a home with a parlor, kitchen, and a bedroom on the first floor. The second floor contained two additional rooms; another bedroom and what historians believe Lucy used as her sewing room. The house also has a front and back porch. 

It took three years of restoration to bring the house back to its historical roots, and the loyal volunteers of the farm are still working on it. The first-floor bedroom still has a few things planned, so next year the house will be complete.

The house, originally located across the road, has had various homeowners over the years who of course added a bathroom and laundry room. These were removed to bring back the house’s historical authenticity. I had fun visiting the Lucy house this weekend and seeing what had been done with the place. Of course, it’s fun visiting the farm anyway!

This weekend was also made special by cooking demonstrations of pioneer food — biscuits and cookies mostly — along with the blacksmith demonstrating his wares and the function of the black smith’s shop. The Oregon Trail folks were there with maps and books on the subject along with various vendors and a little music tossed in. Kids loved trying out the two-man saws in the sawmill portion of the huge barn that sits on the property. There are covered wagons and various other conveyances to see. There are gardens, a general store and of course, Philip Foster’s own home. A two-story farmhouse that never ceases to amaze me. Here are a few pictures …



Philip Foster’s house.                              Hey, the biscuits are done!



Working at the dry sink.                    Pioneer biscuits.



                      Philip Foster’s dining room and parlor.


Churned butter and cornbread muffins!   Volunteers working in the General Store.


Longtime volunteer and Philip Foster Farm participant Elaine Butler (pictured above) invited me to do a book signing at the farm’s Garden Days held the third Saturday in July. Of course I said yes! When you write about pioneers and get invited to be surrounded by them for a day signing books, well, that’s my cup of tea!

The farm also hosts a week-long summer camp for boys and girls ages 7-12, and a girl’s camp, also for ages 7-12. During these camps, children get to learn pioneer skills, stories, songs, dances and work with experienced crafters. What a great way to get to experience pioneer life! 

For more information on the Philip Foster Farm, check out their website here.

I’ll let you know how the garden party goes! Until next time …




Updated: June 17, 2019 — 1:20 pm

Matrimony Vine

I was flipping through an old book about the Oregon desert the other day when a photo caught my eye of a vine climbing up the side of an old cabin.

The caption beneath the photo said, “Homesteaders’ wives needed something green in the middle of the gray desert.” 

Of course the photo was black and white, but the description went on to state that most women planted a matrimony vine. 

Matrimony vine? 

Although I loved the name, I’d never heard of it. 

A quick search revealed matrimony vine is also known as Chinese Wolfberry, Chinese Boxthorn, Himalayan Goji, Tibetan Goji. The deciduous shrub has roots that go back to Japan, Korea, and China. 

As the book I was reading stated, homesteaders who were trying to make a living in the sagebrush-dotted desert lands longed for a spot of color, something that would grow with minimal attention and water.  Many of them found what they were searching for with the matrimony vine. 

I could so easily picture a hardworking farm wife dumping her dishwater on the plant, eager to keep it green and growing in the sometimes harsh desert climate, especially those found in the dry interior of California, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon. 

Legends state a newlywed couple would plant the vine at their homestead to bless their marriage.

Matrimony vine was also a “pass along” plant that could be easily dug up and shared with others. Can’t you just see a mother digging up a bit of her beloved plant to share with her daughter when she wed?  The “lifted and gifted” plants seemed to thrive amid the desert climate.

Another way the plants came to America where with Chinese workers. The berries, popularly known as Goji, have been used for centuries by the Chinese in teas, as dried condiments, additions to stews and soups, as well as for medicinal purposes.

Waves of Chinese immigrants began arriving in San Francisco in the 1850s, and with these immigrants came components of their native culture, including the Goji berry. Tens of thousands of immigrants arrived, escaping poverty and civil war in China, initially bound for the gold fields of California. As they journeyed throughout the west for work, the Goji berry traveled along with them.

Today, stands of matrimony vine mark where homesteads long ago lost to time, fire, or other causes, once stood. The shrubs can also be found growing near old Chinese cemeteries.

Sadly, the plants have become host to the potato psyllid which is related to aphids and secretes a toxic saliva during feeding that causes great harm to potato plants. 

During my growing up years on our farm, we had one of these plants growing out behind our milk barn near the shed where we bottle fed calves. I had no idea what it was, but each spring, it burst forth with beautiful purple blossoms and each autumn, bright red berries begged to be picked. My mother told me it was poisonous and to leave it alone. Now I’m kind of wishing I’d plucked a few of those berries anyway. 

And there you have it, how matrimony vine came to be an invasive plant in the Pacific Northwest!

If you close your eyes and envision a homesteader dutifully keeping alive a plant in the midst of dirt and sagebrush, what do you picture?  


Have you ever read a story that made you wonder why the author spent such a long, boring time describing an item or place that seemed of little importance to the story?

Usually when that happens, it’s because its importance will be revealed later on, or some scene will call up that particular memory or description for some reason—and its usually a pretty darn good reason!

Let’s look at Cinderella’s slipper as our first example for this. Of course, a glass slipper would be highly unusual, wouldn’t it? In fact, most likely, there would be no other slippers like that one pair!

This particular pair of shoes serves as a symbol for the entire story—improbable things happening to a young woman who has been treated so terribly for so long that lead to her ultimate happiness—it’s a story we can all relate to!

The magic that brings her happiness is not just going to the ball and all the wonderful things that happened on the way—the beautiful gown, the carriage, and so on—the true magic for Cinderella is falling in love. And how can the two lovers hope to be reunited? Well, if it weren’t for those exquisitely, perfectly-fitting glass slippers, everything else that came before—all the magic, hopes, and dreams—could have amounted to nothing at all. Everything hinges on the glass slipper fitting!

Hence the description of the slippers themselves, carrying the slipper on a pillow (which I always believed was taking a terrible chance!) and the endless search and trying on of the slipper throughout the kingdom.

The slipper is all-important because it is the proof that she is “the one” –and it has come to symbolize the very story itself. When we see a picture of the glass slipper, we know it “means” Cinderella, right?

Think about Lous L’Amour’s iconic western, Conagher. Two lonely people meet and fall in love through heartfelt notes that Evie, the heroine, writes and ties to tumbleweeds. They could be found and read by anyone—or no one at all.


But the fact that Conagher feels they speak directly to him, shows us how important what she did is to the story. This is further borne out when, in conversation with him, she uses a phrase she’s written on one of the notes—and he knows immediately it is she who has been writing them.


Loneliness and the vast emptiness of the land is a common theme throughout the book. It was unimaginable to her that Conagher would be the one who found “that note” – the one she repeated the phrase from in conversation with him—but it wasn’t impossible. And his line to her is one of the most romantic of all time, in my opinion.


He takes one of the notes out of his pocket and asks if she wrote it, and she says yes, she did. She tells him she was just so lonely she had to talk to someone, even if no one was there to hear. He says, “There was, Evie, there was me.” 


The details of:

  • The land around them and their feelings about the emptiness and aloneness of where they are…
  • Evie’s acting on those feelings by just writing them down on paper and tying them to tumbleweeds…
  • The act of Evie repeating the phrase in conversation she’d used on the note Conagher found…

all add up to make this story so special and memorable—and one you will not want to put down once you start reading!

Conagher isn’t a fairy tale, but it does have its own brand of magical connections that lead to love. The details and descriptions in both of these stories, as different as they are, give the reader insights that the author, in both cases, was masterful in providing throughout the story!


Finally, another couple of tales that come to mind are two short stories many of us read in our high school English classes—The Necklace, by Guy De Maupassant, and The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry. Do you remember these—both based on objects that were described in great detail—and the twists at the end that left you gasping in surprise?


If you haven’t read them, or even if it’s been a while, they are always good to revisit and are classic examples of why detailed descriptions of “things” can be so important to a story’s premise.

Can you think of an example in your reading where the detailed description of something had deep importance to the story?


Winner! Winner!


A warm and wonderful thank you to everyone who came to the blog yesterday and who joined in with the conversation and left a comment.

Really had a good time reading all your posts.

A drawing was done and the winner of the e-book SENECA SURRENDER is:    STEPHANIE JENKINS ORTIZ CERRILLO

Many congratulations to Stephanie!  Stephanie, please contact me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at) and we’ll arrange to get that book to you.

Again, many thanks to all who came to the blog!

Updated: June 5, 2019 — 9:44 pm

Interview With Karen Kay on Writing and the Life of an Author


And welcome to another spectacular Spring and Tuesday blog. 

About 3 years ago, E.E. Burke interviewed me when the e-book release of SENECA SURRENDER was just coming on the market.  Upon reading that interview over again, I noticed that it says a lot about the writer’s life and what inspires one to write.  So I thought I would revisit that interview again for any of you who might have missed this three years ago.

So grab that cup of coffee (or tea or protein drink), sit back and get ready to comment, because I’ll be doing a drawing and will be giving away a free e-book copy of SENECA SURRENDER to one of you who leave a comment today.  Please, also, have a look to the right here which has a link to our rules for the drawing, and know that I will depend on you coming to the blog Wednesday or Thursday eve to see if you are the winner.



  • E. E. Burke: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?


Karen Kay:  As long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the life and times of the American Indian.  I grew up in the 50’s and still remember always being on the side of the Indians, even if they were portrayed in an unfriendly light.  Always, I felt that there was another side to the story.


And then there’s my daydreaming about love and romance when I was practicing the piano.  I’d make up stories or scenes to what I was playing – I still do this.


And so when I picked up pen and paper (literally), two things drew me to this genre:  My love of romance and my love of the American Indian culture.


  • E. E. Burke:  What inspires you daily?


rwa-2012-001Karen Kay:  In truth, this would have to be my husband.  I met him when I was writing GRAY HAWK’S WOMAN.  Our first kiss is in that book, and he continues to find his way into my stories, even if I don’t intend it.


Then there’s history – real history – or perhaps I should say the truth.  : )  It’s a real eye-opener to read accounts of people who were there at the time.  I think I can truly say that the old saying that  “the winner is who writes the history” is true.  The truth is rarely found in history books in school.  At least this is what I’ve found.


And so I find it inspiring to find the truth of different aspects of the American Indian way of life and to write about it.


  •   E. E. Burke:  Is writing or story-telling easier for you?


Karen Kay:  This is an easy question for me.  Story-telling is hands down easier for me.  As a matter of fact, I consider myself a story teller first and a writer second.  Lately I’ve been telling my grandchildren stories off the top of my head – mostly because my grand daughter found out that I write stories and she’s asked me to write a story about mermaids for her.  And so I’ve been telling her several stories lately to see which she likes the best.


So definitely story-telling.


  • E. E. Burke:  Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?

Karen Kay:  Yes, I do write to music – sometimes.  When I’m actively creating a story I find music helps.  However, if I’m editing my work, sometimes it detracts, cause I get lost in the words of the song or some such thing.  Then, there’s just the fact that I love music and so it’s a real pleasure to turn on music that I love and write to it.

When I was growing up, my brother and sister and I had to practice the piano and our other instruments every day.  As piano playing grew easier for me, I found I would start making up stories to fit the song – especially if that piece was beautiful and romantic.

I write to all different kinds of music.  The only thing I look for in a song is if it inspires me.  If it does that, then I’ll play it while I write.  Right now, country music inspires me, particularly Keith Whitley songs.  But in the past I’ve written to classical music, opera, Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy operetta, and sometimes contemporary – but rarely contemporary unless it’s country.  I find the classical and the old country  sad songs have a lot of heart and that makes a difference when I’m writing creatively.


  • E. E. Burke:  How often to you get lost in a story?


Karen Kay:  Actually I get lost in almost every story that I read.  I have my favorites, of course, but I get lost in these stories. ..particularly if the stories are about something that I write.  And that includes all genres.  I’ve had to give up horror stories, however, as they can cause me to lose sleep.


Once on a writing tour, I was driving at night (not something I usually do).  But this time I was.  I had a book on tape playing in the car – and it was a scary story, and I was really frightened.  I decided after that to never listen to this kind of story if I’m driving when it’s dark – even if it’s early evening.  : )


But I get lost in stories and am known to stay up getting no sleep whatsoever rather than put a book down.


  • E. E. Burke:  What’s the first book you remember reading?

Karen Kay:  That would be Fairy Tales, I think.  It might have been Cinderella or maybe Alice in Wonderland.  It might even have been Woody Woodpecker – remember him?

Or it might have been Dick and Jane from school.  But I like to think it was Fairy Tales.

Now the first romance book that blew my socks off was a library book entitled THE PINK DRESS.  I read it over and over and over and over.  It was a teen romance, and I literally fell in love with the genre right there.


  • E. E. Burke:  Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?

lila-paul-me-313Karen Kay:  This is a really easy question for me.  A real-life hero I’ve met is my husband.  And who has he saved? Well, me for one.  After my divorce early on in my career, I wanted nothing more to do with men, marriage, relationships, or even dating.

My husband turned all that around for me by simply being kind.  Yes, he’s a real man, who very much loves things that men do (cars, gadgets, trucks, etc).  But he is one of the kindest people that I know.  He tempers the forcefulness of a man with kindness – and that’s about the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.

Who else has he saved?  Two of my cats – he literally saved one of my cats lives, and found a lost cat, whom he saved.

He is a hero.  Truly a hero.  Above here we are with our granddaughter.


  •  E. E. Burke:  What is your real opinion about books?  Why are we drawn to them?

Well, I think of books in a rather intense way.  I believe they help us through difficult times, and some of the stories I read are as though those characters become real people.

It was when my own children were young that I sat up and took notice of romance books.  I’d always read stories – mysteries, romance.  But if I’d had a choice to play outside or read – it was always outside that I would choose.

But when my kids were young, my husband was often gone.  And he didn’t support me or the kids when he was gone – usually because he was doing some study or apprenticing, and so he wasn’t making money.

This left it to me to be everything, from earning the money – to paying the rent – to buying the food – to taking the children out each day – to planning and cooking the meals, etc., etc.  Yes, daycare helped.  But the brunt of the raising of the children was left to me.

It was during this period that I discovered that books could take me places, could ease fears, could sympathize when I needed it, could even educate me on things I didn’t know.  And all of these books were romance books.  Every single one of them.

I gave up reading almost any other genre at this time because romance books ended well, and I knew that no matter what, the characters would work it out.  They were…delightful, inspiring and they helped me through a tough time period.

I’ve never forgotten that.  And so when I write, I try to entertain, yes, but I always remember that I need to take people to other places, other times and that the most important thing is that this book becomes a companion when one needs it, and sometimes that’s all we need to get through these trying times.

I love writing.  I love this genre and I fall in love with my characters – and other people’s characters too.  And this is one reason that why I write.  But there’s another:  Not always can people go to the places they’d like to see or experience the things one might like to see.  Maybe they’re sick or maybe they are crippled in some way.  I’ve never forgotten that I write for these people, too.  Books can take a person places, can be a friend when in need and books can uplift and help us to live through another day.  A true romance book accomplishes all these wonderful things.  I’m so honored to be able to write in this genre.

Well, that’s it.  I hope you enjoyed the interview, and I would really like to hear from you and what you think about romance books and this genre in general.  Do you also love it?  So come on in and leave a comment.


Updated: June 2, 2019 — 9:57 pm

Calendar Confusion! A Not Unusual Twist!

Guess who forgot that she was on three times in May…

Yes.  🙂

You guessed it!


Sorry, guys, there’s something about holiday weeks and a rotating schedule that gets me…. Does that happen to you, too? And sometimes I forget to put things in Google Calendar (although that wasn’t the problem this time, I just had it in my head that it was next week…)

Please tell me you do that.

Please tell me that I’m not alone in my absolutely and totally expected confusion.

I’d worry that it’s an aging thing, except that I’m thirty-seven…. (that is a bold-faced LIE!!!!)

Okay, well, I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, so my family just deals with it… and it’s part of the reason I never, ever, ever leave a book until last minute, because what if I mess that up? When it comes to books, better four weeks early than one week late.

So, since I’m covered in mud (literally) right now, let’s keep it simple, my darlings….

Do you mess things up?

Do you ever post things incorrectly or just plain forget to look at the calendar?

Leave a comment below and I’ll tuck you in for another copy of my newest Love Inspired Western “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart”…


I’ll pick an extra winner for a copy of my first Guideposts mystery “A Light in the Darkness”….

Holy Moly, it’s the least I can do for messing up my calendar, ladies!

And we had a winner from last week’s Game Day….

Charlene Whitehouse, you’re last week’s winner of “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart”!

E-mail me at and I’ll put your address on my mailing list!

And now…. I’m going to eat some humble pie!

Updated: May 30, 2019 — 11:10 am

Julie Benson’s Winner

The winner of the Blessed wall hanging and signed copy of Colorado Rescue is. . .

Sabrina Templin


Look for an email from me regarding how to claim your giveaway.

Again, congratulations Sabrina, and thank you to everyone who stopped by to help me keep

Lloyd Wohlford, Jr’s memory alive. May all those who died

serving our country never be forgotten.


Updated: May 29, 2019 — 6:56 pm