This is a holy season and a time for sweet treats and books so sweet and warm they make you sigh.
All the better if the books hold within them the true meaning of Christmas.
To celebrate Christmas two things
A sweet treat:
Seriously if you haven’t got the recipe and/or have never made this (Heaven knows I’ve posted it before)
You will be back here in Petticoats & Pistols thanking me!
It is just so delicious.
Connealy Crunch 2 pound package Almond Bark (melted) Melt in microwave 1 ½ minutes. Stir. Melt 1 ½ minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn’t lose its shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if it’s enough. Add: 3 C. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal 3 C. miniature marshmallows 3 C. Rice Krispies 3 C. mixed nuts Spread out on waxed paper. Let cool. Break into pieces.
Talk about the Sweetest Gift–a new granddaughter!
And a Sweet Book
I am giving away a signed copy of my Christmas Novella collection called:
Three Christmas Novellas
Those three books are all previously released, but two have never been in print before, just ebooks.
The middle book, The Sweetest Gift, is a fictionalized story about my grandparents marriage of convenience. I’ve changed times and dates and locations, for example my grandpa was a farmer in eastern Nebraska, in this book he’s a cowboy in western Nebraska. But the fundamentals, the train ride, the widower, the deathbed promise my grandpa made to married his dying wife’s college friend, the piano…though it wasn’t gained in quite so dramatic a way as in the book, my grandparents old country farmhouse had a grand piano in it, so big, in this room that was so small you couldn’t walk around the piano. I never knew how it got in there and I imagined they built the room around it, left a wall open to get it in, then boarded up the wall.
My mom (the fourth child born to this marriage) didn’t know when they’d gotten the piano, how they’d gotten it in that room or how long they’d had it. And you’d think she’d know that. And when my grandma died that piano vanished. (this part of the story isn’t in the book)
Now I’m sure someone just took it and either has it or sold it but it’s not known to me or my mom where it went.
I always thought of that piano as a bit magical. It appeared in that little country farmhouse and when my grandma died it disappeared.
An assassin takes a shot and hits two people with one bullet. Natalie Brewster, a deep undercover agent for a group that doesn’t officially exist, saw the gunman aiming. He definitely waited, lined up the shot, and tried to kill both of them. Nat and Case Garrison hit the ground bleeding. They both come up shooting and kill the assassin—but that just makes him mad. Now Case and Nat, who have never before met, have to figure out what they have in common to make them prey for a killer. And they have to do it while running for their lives because, despite the two of them being highly skilled at keeping a low profile, the killer keeps finding them. They are running at break-neck speed, hiding with all the skill of long-time undercover agents, and falling in love with a passion that might be part of what brought a killer down on them.
I love the music of Christmas. I could play it all year long if I weren’t married to someone who isn’t as crazy about it as I am. Those songs are so uplifting and beautiful that they make me feel good just to hear them, and you can’t help but sing along with them.
My dad always loved Christmas, and was a great practical jokester. He delighted in making phone calls to his grandchildren, pretending to be Santa. He’d call back later on for a rundown about what happened on our end—the looks, the comments, and the joy of getting a real live phone call from Santa! One of the traditions in our house was the box of chocolate covered cherries that was always under the tree for him from my mom, a reminder of hard Christmases in years past when that might have been the only gift she could afford. Another was that our house was always filled with Christmas music.
I was a classically trained pianist from the time I turned seven years old. My father’s favorite Christmas carol was What Child Is This? Once I mastered it, I delighted in playing it for him because he took such pleasure in it, and since it was also the tune to another song, Greensleeves, I played it all year round for him.
The tune known as Greensleeves was a British drinking song for many years, a popular folk song that was not religious. In ancient Britain, there have been more than twenty different known lyrics associated with the tune throughout history. It was first published in 1652.
Shakespeare mentions it by name in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in which it is played while traitors are hanged. It has been attributed to King Henry VIII, and said that he wrote it for Anne Boleyn. How did this song become one of the best-loved Christmas carols of all time?
In 1865, Englishman William Chatterton Dix wrote “The Manger Throne,” three verses of which became “What Child Is This?” During that particular era, Christmas was not as openly celebrated as it is today. Many conservative Puritan churches forbade gift-giving, decorating or even acknowledging the day as a special day for fear that Christmas would become a day of pagan rituals more than a serious time of worship. Although Dix wrote other hymns, in the context of the times, it was unusual for him to write about Christ’s birth, since many hymn writers and religious factions ignored Christmas completely.
The words represent a unique view of Christ’s birth. While the baby was the focal point of the song, the point of view of the writer seemed to be that of a confused observer. Dix imagined the visitors to the manger bed wondering about the child who had just been born. In each verse, he described the child’s birth, life, death and resurrection, answering the question with a triumphant declaration of the infant’s divinity.
“The Manger Throne” was published in England just as the U.S. Civil War was ending. The song quickly made its way from Britain to the United States. Dix died in 1898, living long enough to see “The Manger Throne” become the Christmas carol “What Child Is This?”
And here is Brad Paisley singing WHAT CHILD IS THIS? What is your favorite Christmas carol? Mine is Silent Night.
It’s Christmas Time! It’s a season for giving. And today I will be giving away not only a free e-book of my latest release, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, but I’ll also be giving away another free e-book of the first in this series, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF. So come on in, leave a comment, and also please sure to check back here for the winners on either Wednesday or Thursday evening.
One of my most favorite Christmas memories is being told a story the night before Christmas in an attempt to get me to go to sleep. It didn’t work very well (getting me to go to sleep). But it is a wonderful memory.
And so I thought I’d regale you with this beautiful story, an ancient, timeless, American Indian Legend. I was late today making the post, and so I’ve posted the legend that I told you last year, but this year, because I’m late, I’m first going to tell you a beautiful story of The Gift of the Creator. This story is taken from the book, LEGENDS OF THE IROQUIOS, by Tehanetorens. Enjoy!
Long, long ago, an old, old man came into an Iroquois Village. He was tired and hungry, and his clothing was tattered and torn. As he walked through the village, he came first to a longhouse of the Turtle Clan. Pulling on the entryway, he asked for food and lodging for the night. But he was turned away because he looked to be an old beggar, and he was instructed to go away.
Next the old man came to the longhouse that had the symbol of a snipe on the house — a snipe is a kind of wading bird. Again, he pulled back on the entryway and he asked for food. But like before, he was scolded and turned away. He moved on.
He walked on to the longhouses of many of the other clans, including the Wolf, the Eagle, Beaver and more. Each time he asked for food and lodging, but each time he was turned away.
Exhausted now, the old man came at last to the very last longhouse in the Iroquois Village. Pulling back on the cover across the entrance, he was met by an old woman. Again, he asked for food and lodging for the night.
However, this time the old woman took pity on him, and asked him to come inside, where she treated him to a hearty meal, and invited him to stay for the night. She made him welcome, giving him warm clothing and warm bedding.
However, the next day, the man was very ill, and he asked the woman to please help him by going into the forest and gathering the roots of a plant.
This she did for him. When she returned, he guided her on how to make a soup and a tea from the plant, which he then consumed. Soon he was well. But it wasn’t long before he became ill once more, and again, he instructed the woman to go out into the forest and to gather the stalk of yet another plant. This she did. Again, he instructed her how to make a tea of it, which, when he drank the tea, he became well.
Over and over again, the man became sick, and sent the woman into the forest to pick different herbs and plants, and each time, when he drank the tea, he became well. One day, the woman came home to the longhouse and found that the old man had become a handsome, young man.
The old woman became frightened, but the young man told her to be calm. He told her that he was the Creator, and that because of her kindness to him, he was going to bestow upon her, and the Bear Clan, a wonderful gift: the gift of healing. And so it came to be. The old woman became the most respected member of that tribe, and from that day forward, the Bear Clan, and all within it became the Keepers of the Medicine. The lesson learned is that kindness, empathy, and good-will are always rewarded. We may not always see it, as did the old woman in this story, and yet, we will, in our own way, be rewarded.
And now comes the story that is so beautiful to read about at this time of year.
This is the tale of a girl who married her one, true, love, a man who was a star. It’s origin is Sioux — I don’t know if that’s Lakota or Dakota or Nakota. All three are Sioux, just different dialects. By the way this story comes to us from the book, Favorite North American Indian Legends, printed by Dover. Before I start, I wanted to say that this story reminds me of a legend from one of my books, Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, which is now in e-books. Although the story of Soaring Eagle’s Embrace is based on a similar legend as the one I’m telling you today, it is a little different. Mainly in Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, it was the young man who fell in love with a star. Okay, that said, let’s pretend we are sitting around a fire in a warm, warm teepee. The scent of smoke is strong in the air, and loved ones surround us as we wrap ourselves in warm blankets. And so the storyteller begins:
Long ago, there were two sisters, one whose name was Earth and the other’s name was Water. This was at a time when all people and animals were in close communication with each other and so the animals supplied the sisters with all their needs.
One night the sky was clear and beautiful and both sisters looked up to the sky through their wigwam — comment, now we know that this was most likely the Dakota since they were living in Wigwams — anyway, they looked up through the hole in their wigwam and admired the beautiful stars.
Earth said to her sister that she’d had a dream about a handsome young man and that she thought he might be a star. Water responded saying that she, too, had seen a man in her dreams who was a brave man.
The sisters chose stars that they thought might be these men that they had dreamed of. Water chose the brightest star for her husband. Earth chose a little star that twinkled.
Then they slept. When they awoke, they were in the land of the Sky. The stars were, indeed, people. Now it happened that the man that water chose was an older warrior and that the man that Earth chose was a young, handsome man. Both sisters married these men and they were very happy.
One day the sisters went out onto the plains to dig turnips (a much favored food at this time in history). Both of their husbands warned them not to strike the ground too hard. But Earth, in her haste to dig the turnips, struck the ground so hard that she fell through the sky to the ground.
Earth was found and cared for by two older people who tried to help her. But she was so upset about losing her husband that all she did is cry. She could not even see her husband in the sky because he had blackened his face because he was now a widower. Earth waited and waited for him to come to her, but he could not. However, he did give her a most precious gift.
That night when she went to sleep, she dreamed of a beautiful red star. It had never been in the sky before. She knew at once that it was her son.
When she awoke, she found a handsome boy by her side — her son. Although Earth’s husband could not come to rescue her, and though he loved his son deeply, he gave to his wife the only gift that he could — their son, Star Boy. It was a gift from his heart..
‘Tis the season of giving. I hope you have enjoyed this story, short and simple though it is. I thought it was quite beautiful.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY to some lucky blogger. I’ll also be giving away a free e-book of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF to some lucky blogger. Please do read the Giveaway Guidelines that govern our give-aways — off to the right side of the page.
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY is my most recent book. By the way, the paperback is reduced in price from $14.99 to $11.99 for the Holiday season.
THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF is on sale for the Holiday season for $.99, and the paperback is on sale for $11.99, as well.
The picture below and to the right is of myself and my husband with Chief Mountain in the background, the setting in the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE — on the Blackfeet reservation.
And so from my heart to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! And, or, Happy Holidays!
Back in the 19th century, women developed, (in epidemic numbers, mind) an entire syndrome even doctors sometimes interpreted as a power grab rather than a genuine illness. This new disease was called “Hysteria.”
For example, my character Mrs. Dunnigan of Clear Creek, a character from the Prairie Bride and Prairie Groom series, uses hysteria on several occasions to get her way. Many authors have had their characters “afflicted” with this malady, but fiction is one thing. Reality another. Back in the nineteenth century, this new disease epitomized the fact that a lot of women didn’t have proper emotional outlets. Interestingly enough, the “disease” affected upper and upper-middle-class women almost exclusively. The “working class” were far too busy working to catch it. Naturally, it had no discernible organic basis and it was totally resistant to medical treatment. For those reasons alone, it was worth considering in some detail.
Doctors, however, were baffled. Hysteria appeared, not only as fits and fainting, but in every other form: hysterical loss of voice, loss of appetite, hysterical coughing or sneezing, and, of course, hysterical screaming, laughing, and crying. The disease spread wildly, yet almost exclusively in a select clientele of urban middle and upper-class white women between the ages of 15 and 45. Doctors became obsessed with this most confusing, mysterious and rebellious of diseases.
In a lot of ways, it was the ideal disease for the doctors. After all, it was never fatal and it required an almost endless amount of medical attention. On the other hand, it was not an ideal disease from the point of view of the husband and family of the afflicted woman. This put most doctors on the spot. It was essential to their professional self-esteem either to find an organic basis for the disease and of course cure it or to expose it as a clever charade. Women weren’t too happy when the latter occurred.
Doctors began to observe that many “afflicted” never had fits when alone, and only when there was something soft to fall on. One doctor accused patients of pinning their hair in such a way that it would fall luxuriously when they fainted. The hysterical “type” began to be characterized as a “pretty tyrant” with a “taste for power” over her husband, servants, children and, if possible, her doctor.
But doctors’ accusations had some truth to them. The “hysterical fit” for many women was the only acceptable outburst they had for emotions like anger, despair, or simply to expel pent-up energy. However, it would be years before men recognized women as anything other than sickly, weak and fragile.
Perhaps this is why we are so attracted to strong female characters of Western romances and other stories. Sure, we don’t mind if a heroine faints. But it’s more fun to watch her fight for what she wants. It’s hard for a woman of the 21st-century to relate to the hysterical fainting woman of the 19th-century. Though we do like to have them in a story or two, don’t we? Sometimes as the antagonist, sometimes as a secondary character. They’re still fun. Not only that but historically accurate in a lot of cases. To sum it up, if you lived in the nineteenth century, one could probably make a good living making fainting couches. My character Mrs. Dunnigan doesn’t own a fainting couch, she preferred to fall on the ground for a much more convincing effect. I’ll choose a random winner from the comments below to win a free copy of Her Prairie Knight, in which Mrs. Dunnigan uses hysteria like a pro, as you can see in this excerpt from Her Prairie Knight (Prairie Brides Book Two):
Now Belle’s laughter caught everyone’s attention, as she and Colin were over halfway down the trail. Some turned and waved at the newcomers, others headed over to greet them.
Mrs. Dunnigan also turned to look, with a huge smile on her face. Then the smile vanished. Her eyes widened, closed tight, opened and widened again. She snorted like an about-to-charge bull, threw down the serving spoon she held in her hand and took a few steps forward, glowering at the couple as they reached the bottom of the trail.
Belle and Colin didn’t notice. But they were walking toward Harrison and Sadie, who most certainly did.
Mrs. Dunnigan took one last look at Belle with Colin, glanced around herself and let fly with a noise somewhere between a wail and a locomotive whistle. Belle turned just in time to see her aunt drop to the ground in a faint that had it been on the stage, would have brought applause and some gasps from the audience. As it was, it did elicit a gasp from Fanny Fig, who threw up her arms in shock before making her way to her fallen friend.
Harrison would have been running to her as well if he hadn’t noticed Mrs. Dunnigan looking for the best possible place to land beforehand. He turned to Sadie, who stood with her mouth open in shock. “Oh, dear.”
“Auntie!” Belle exclaimed as she pulled away from Colin and dashed toward her aunt, who now lay in the grass on her back. Fanny Fig knelt beside her, fanning the unconscious form with her reticule, its long thin strings of beads hitting Mrs. Dunnigan in the face.
Harrison rolled his eyes at the scene. “Do you think they rehearsed it?” he asked his wife dryly.
Sadie was about to object to his cynicism, then stopped and thought about it. “Most likely,” she replied before making her way to the gathering crowd.
Colin, meanwhile, watched in exasperation as he joined his brother. He grinned despite himself. “Did you see that? I didn’t know Mrs. Dunnigan had it in her.”
“And I didn’t know our little picnic would come with a show.” Harrison laughed and put his arm around Colin. “Come along, dear brother. Let’s go see what she does for an encore.”
Colin’s face took on a more serious look. “Frankly, I’m afraid to find out.”
* * *
Aunt Irene’s eyes fluttered open as Fanny Fig continued her furious fanning/beating. Belle reached out and grabbed Fanny’s wrist to stop her. At this point, she was convinced her aunt hadn’t really fainted. Who could possibly stay insensate when one’s face was being whipped by beaded fringe?
“Doc Waller!” Fanny cried.
Belle looked at the faces of the townsfolk who’d gathered. Doc Waller wasn’t among them, but Grandma was. The old woman pushed her way through and bent to look at the patient. “You all right, Irene?”
Belle watched Aunt Irene moan and her eyes roll back.
“Someone fetch me a cup of water!” Grandma yelled.
“I don’t think she’s in any shape to drink anything,” Harvey Brown commented.
“I’m not going to have her drink it! Nothing brings a person around quicker than a cupful of cold creek water thrown in their face.”
Aunt Irene’s eyes fluttered once more. Belle closed her own eyes and sighed. How far was her aunt going to take this?
“Here ya go, Grandma,” Mr. Dunnigan said, handing her a cup.
“Land sakes, Wilfred! How’d you get this so fast?”
“Went to the creek the minute I seen her go down.”
Belle looked at her uncle, who didn’t seem overly concerned. It seems I’m not the only “doubting Thomas.” Oh, Auntie, really?
“Belle …,” Aunt Irene moaned. She sounded like she was auditioning for the part of the ghost in Hamlet.
“You want this?” Grandma asked Belle, shoving the cup at her. Belle took it. “If she closes her eyes again, toss it at her. She’ll come around.” Obviously, she suspected Aunt Irene’s faint was nothing more than theatrics as well.
Not all of the other townsfolk were so astute. “I’ll help you take her back to town, Miss Belle,” Harvey Brown offered.
“That’s mighty neighborly of you, Harvey, but I’ll take Irene back to town,” Uncle Wilfred replied. “No sense you missing out on any of the festivities.”
“Oh, well … if Miss Belle is going to be staying, I’d be happy to keep an eye on her, Wilfred.”
Belle stood as Harvey looked her up and down and smiled. Maybe she ought to toss the cup of water in his face …
“No need, Harvey – the Cookes will look after her,” Uncle Wilfred told him.
Aunt Irene moaned again.
Doc Waller finally showed up, a fishing pole in one hand, a lovely trout in the other. “What’s all the commotion?”
“Irene’s done ‘fainted’.” Wilfred drawled. “We’d best get her back to town.”
“Belllllle ….” Aunt Irene wailed. “I need Belle!”
Doc Waller handed his pole and fish to Harvey. “Let’s have a look.” He knelt next to Aunt Irene and began to examine her. “Any headaches lately, Irene?”
She looked at Belle. “Yes,” she moaned. “I think Belle should take me home and take care of me.”
Grandma snorted. “A young gal from Boston taking care of a sick woman? What does she know about doctoring? I’ll take you home myself and give you a good dose of castor oil! Trust me; it’ll fix you right up!”
Aunt Irene moaned again. “Belle! Belle, where are you?”
Belle was now having trouble keeping a straight face. She felt sorry for her aunt, stooping to such childish antics – but not so sorry that she wasn’t willing to have just as much fun with it as her uncle and the Wallers. “I trust your judgment, Mrs. Waller. If castor oil is what she really needs, then you’d best get her home and give her some.”
Her aunt perked up at that. “Oh, Belle, just take me home, will you? I’ll feel much better after I lie down.”
“You’re already lying down,” Grandma quipped. “Seems to me you should be feeling better already.”
Aunt Irene scowled. “Don’t tell me how I should feel! You’re not the doctor!”
“I agree with Grandma on this one,” Uncle Wilfred said with a chuckle. “Now let’s get you up and take you home.”
“But … but what about Belle?” Aunt Irene screeched.
“What about her?”
“She’s going home with us!”
“Why should she? She isn’t feeling poorly. Harvey, give me a hand, will you?” Harvey helped Uncle Wilfred pull her aunt up from the grassy ground. She stood unsteadily and tried to grab Belle for support, but Uncle Wilfred, God bless him, was quicker and grabbed her instead. “Belle will be in good hands with the Cookes and the Figs. And Colin can bring her home,” he added.
Belle couldn’t believe her uncle had said it. She could believe how quickly Aunt Irene’s face reddened in fury. The townsfolk backed up en masse.
Woo Hoo! Susan Johnson, you’re the winner of my mail-order bride post! Oh, and it looks like Ernie is the gent most of you would pick as your future husband! Susan, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and then tell me which books you’d like!
Hi, Kit Morgan here. As some of you may know, I have a lot of books out. 84 at present, most of which are, you guessed it, mail-order bride stories.
So why do I write so many? Because there are readers out there who can’t seem to get enough of them. They LOVE stories of two people thrown together and marrying that very day or within days (at times a couple of weeks depending on circumstances) and starting a new life. Scary, right? You betcha!
But I’m not the only author who’s delved into this realm. Many of the other fillies here at Petticoats and Pistols have too! And, like me, I’m sure while researching this fun and interesting topic, they’ve discovered that becoming a mail-order bride wasn’t all it was cracked up to be back in the day. In fact, it could be downright dangerous.
Chris Enss, a wonderful author who writes about women in the old west, wrote a fantastic book on the subject entitled Hearts West. I remember buying my copy in the gift shop at Crater Lake in Oregon (we were camping nearby) taking it back to the campsite, starting it that night and finishing it the next day. I was fascinated by all the stories of love gone wrong, but also the many that went right. Still, the women braving such an endeavor were taking a huge risk. Often times their grooms never met them at the train station or stage stop. Worse, the man was horrible. One look and the poor bride wanted to tuck tail and run! The terrible truth was they had nowhere to go in a lot of cases. Of course, these historical facts make for some good storytelling as my fellow fillies can all agree. We love to take things that happened in the past and make them our own. My personal favorite is to have a mail-order bride show up and the poor groom had no idea she was coming! All of us at Petticoats and Pistols who’ve written mail-order bride stories have put our own twist on the subject with wonderful romantic results! Myself I have entire series devoted to mail-order brides and their ups and downs
But could any of us become a mail-order bride today? Yes, we have the internet now and contemporary romance authors have written about e-mail-order brides. With matchmaking sites all over the web, people are having those first-time face to face encounters all the time. Many resulting in marriage, though not on the first date! I’ll be writing a book next month involving a mail-order groom. I’ve always wanted to do one!
Okay, so for fun, picture yourself as a mail-order bride back in the old west. You’ve gone to the mail-order bride agency and you’re sitting across the desk from the matchmaker. She hands you a stack of applicants. What kind of man are you hoping to find among the pages? Back then I would imagine things would come down to some basic requirements. But here are your choices for a husband. Which would you choose? Pick from the ads posted here and below.
And yes, these are actual ads posted by men looking for mail-order brides back in the 1880’s.
I’ll pick one lucky winner from the comments to receive any THREE of my mail-order bride books! You can check out my books on my website at http://www.authorkitmorgan.com
You know (or maybe you don’t) that I’ve been doing a little Indy pub work. Along with three new releases I’m tracking down older books that are out of print. The rights have reverted to me!
I’ve got some other stuff, too. It’s WEIRD. I keep remembering books. “Oh, yeah, THAT book!”
So I found these three books, Christmas novellas. In my head a book would just POP IN! I’d have to hunt it down and figure out if the version on my computer was the edited, shiniest, best version…or something lurking, old and scruffy, left from the last century.
So I got these all done and shined up and printed them in a collection called Three Christmas Novellas. The three novellas contained with are called Longhorn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. Two of them have never before been in print, digital only until now.
Longhorn ChristmasNetty Lewis, a lonely young widow is saved from a raging mama longhorn by a passing cowboy who’s been wandering since the end of the Civil War. She needs help surviving her rugged life and caring for Jeremiah, her young son. Netty and Roy, along with Jeremiah begin a journey toward Christmas, family, home and love. And a herd of longhorns are making the way hard.
The Sweetest Gift A sweet re-telling of The Gift of the Magi–with a happy ending. She longs for music. He needs a valuable horse to improve his herd. When Christmas comes the gift they truly give is the gift of love.
The Christmas CandleA lonely widower with a pair of out-of-control sons he never got to know while their mother was alive. A woman with a love of nature and beauty and scent…and the little boys seem determined to destroy her way of life. A feisty Ozark mountain granny who doesn’t put up with much nonsense.The gift of a candle for Christmas and a Christ child who is a perfect match for this scent of heaven.