Tomorrow I leave to join a group of writer friends in Branson, MO for a weekend retreat. I can’t wait. It’s going to be fabulous. No only are we renting a house that has antique writing desks in every bedroom (the owner is a writer, herself!) but we will be filling the creative well with brainstorming sessions, quiet writing time, and play time, too.
On Friday night we are going to see the live production of Samson at the Sights and Sounds Theater.
On Saturday, we are participating in a Meet & Greet at the Taneyhills Library. We will be participating in a Christian Fiction Panel Discussion and interacting with readers – always a joy.
If you happen to be in the Branson area, we would love to have you come by.
On Sunday, thanks to a reader’s recommendation, a few of us plan to drive an hour to Mansfield to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder farmhouse and museum. This is the location where she and Almanzo lived out their later years and where Laura wrote all of the Little House on the Prairie books.
I’m so excited by the prospect of seeing Laura’s home and learning more about the woman who wrote the stories that inspired my love of pioneering the west. I grew up reading her books and faithfully watched every episode of the television series. I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to see this!
As it turns out, the city of Branson itself evolved into a tourist haven because of a book. The Shepherd of the Hills was published in 1907. The book was written by Harold Bell Wright, a young minister who had spent extensive time visiting the Ozarks in southern Missouri near the Branson area. This story of mountain folklore and forgiveness became extremely popular. Almost overnight, tourists started flocking to Branson – the now famous Shepherd of the Hills area. The book has been made into a feature film four times – the most famous iteration staring everyone’s favorite cowboy – John Wayne.
Have you ever visited a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum? I think there are a couple across the midwest.
If you were to ask me to describe my ideal getaway, I would describe a picturesque log cabin in a mountain forest. Beautiful walking paths through the woods. A babbling stream nearby. Perhaps even a waterfall within hiking distance. The cabin itself would be cozy. Lots of wood features and fuzzy blankets with western/antique decor. But my practical side insists on having the Internet (pretty essential for a writer). And since I’ve never really been much of a “roughing it” type camper, I would prefer it have all the modern amenities. Let’s give it a hot tub, too, while we’re at it.
You see, if I’m going to have cabin fever, I want it in the best possible way. I want to create a place so cozy and comfortable that I won’t want to leave. So, I decided to go online and do some research, and I think I found the log cabin that I would be glad to be stranded in.
The home is called Pine Haven, and it was designed by Teton Heritage Builders. If you feel the urge to drool, you should definitely check out their website. There’s plenty of room in this cabin if anyone would like to join me for a feverish getaway.
(All photos credited to Roger Wade Photography)
Love those wood beams and chinking.
Main living area – gorgeous windows to let in natural light and an astounding view.
Master bedroom with fireplace and balcony – so romantic!
Upstairs hall with so much light and fun look-overs.
Bedroom for my guest – that’s you!
Gorgeous kitchen with all the amenities. Might as well have good food while we’re stuck here.
And since everyone knows that the best way to deal with cabin fever is to get lost in a great book, I’m handing out a dose of cure today. Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of Short-Straw Bride, a book featuring a secluded cabin in the Piney Woods of Texas housing four brothers who never leave their land. Until the right woman comes their way.
So what do you think? Want to share some cabin fever with me at Pine Haven?
How would you describe your ideal place to get cabin fever? (An actual cabin is not required.)
Yesterday, my latest novella collection released. It’s always fun to see a new book launch into the world of readers, but this one took a bit of a crooked path.
First off, I have to say how much I love the lacy cover. It has such a feminine, antique feel. And this is one time where I believe keeping the cover model’s face a mystery is a good thing since there are three different stories with three different heroines in the volume.
Second, I love being in a collection with Jody Hedlund and Elizabeth Camden. Both of these ladies are colleagues and friends. In fact, Jody and I signed with Bethany House at the same time and have been close ever since.
Now for the crooked path part. Each of the three novellas in All My Tomorrowswere previously published as e-singles. This is the first time they will be available in a print format.
My story is Worth the Wait, the second installment of the Ladies of Harper’s Station series. That particular series just ended this past January when my final novella in the series released as part of the collection – Hearts Entwined. Most of the time, my novellas come out as part of a print collection first, then break off into e-singles a few months after the print version releases. This time, however, the e-version came first, and more than a year passed between the digital release and the print version.
One of the benefits of this new collection, though, is the chance to bring Tori and Ben’s story to a group of readers who have not read it before. Many readers prefer print to digital books and simply won’t buy digital. Well, now you don’t have to! With the release of All My Tomorrows, every story in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series is now available in print. Yay!
Benjamin Porter has fallen hard for shopkeeper Victoria Adams. A savvy entrepreneur, Tori is the ideal partner for his business and his life. Too bad she’s against courtship. But Ben is patient, believing a life with Tori to be worth the wait. When an accident strikes, however, what once was a chance at love may be lost forever.
And for those who might not have read any of the Harper’s Station books, here’s your chance to start at the beginning. I’ll be giving away two autographed print copies of the first full-length novel in the series – No Other Will Do. To be entered for a chance to win, simply leave a comment.
Which do you prefer to read – print or e-book?
Would you rather read novellas in collections or as stand alone stories?
I’m not one of those moms who gets everyone dressed up in their Sunday best to take a family photo to be used in Christmas cards. In fact, the last several years I’ve been a complete slacker when it came to mailing out Christmas cheer. No cards at all. Not a one.
This year, I decided to kick that Bah Humbug to the curb and find some Christmas cheer. So I dug through my photo stream to find a shot of the family all together. Not as easy as you might think. Plenty of the kids. Not so many with hubby and I in there with them.
Then I found one! The day we moved my daughter into the dorm. We are all wearing matching ACU shirts (well, except the girl who is actually the student there – ha!) and we look fairly good. I photo-shopped some Christmas hats on to hide some of the been-unloading-boxes-for-an-hour hair and . . . voila!
Family Christmas card!
(Try not to notice how not-thrilled my daughter is. Ha!)
Maybe next year I’ll try to photo-shop Stetsons and cowboy boots on everyone.
May each of you have a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, fun, and fantastic fiction!
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Karen’s Big Christmas Giveaway Results
Congratulations go to:
Jazmine Collins – Autographed copy of Heart’s Entwined
Jackie Lyles – Autographed copy of Heart’s Entwined
Mary Wardlaw – Audio book CD set of To Win Her Heart
Brenda Dowdy – Audio book CD set of Heart on the Line
I’ll be contacting the winners via email this week.
I love giving gifts at Christmas time, and who better to honor than my dedicated readers? So this week, I’m running a contest to give away 2 autographed copies of the novella collection Mary Connealy and I have stories in along with 2 different audio book CD sets.
I will post the results on my Dec 23rd post. Use the form below to enter. Hope you win!
I love Christmas movies. Especially the classics. Miracle on 34th Street is probably my all-time favorite. It’s a Wonderful Life is a close second.
It’s rare to find a western romance Christmas movie. At least for me. (I don’t have time for the Hallmark Christmas movie marathons.) Maybe you know of some good ones to recommend. Please leave me movie names in the comments!
I did run across a made for TV Christmas movie many years ago that has stuck with me. It was as corny as all get out, but I loved every minute of it. Dolly Parton and Lee Majors were the two stars. It dates all the way to my high school years – 1986. A Smoky Mountain Christmas. Anyone remember this one? I actually bought a copy of it about five years ago, just because I wanted to see it again.
Dolly plays country music star Lorna Davis who is suffering from writer’s block, so she decides to leave the big city and get back to her roots in the Smoky Mountains over the holidays. When she gets to her cabin, however, it’s filled with seven orphaned children who are hiding away from a bad situation. This is where the plot overlaps with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Mountain Dan has been watching out for the kids on the sly, which bring him into contact with Lorna and pulls him out of his hermit shell. The two of them work together to save the kids. But not only the kids need saving In true Snow White style, there is a wicked witch, a poison apple, and a true love’s kiss that come into play as well. Yes, it’s corny – I warned you – but for someone who loves fairy tales and rugged mountain men and heroines who take in orphans – it was perfect.
Besides, it might have been a few years between this show and Lee Majors’s appearance as Heath Barkley on The Big Valley, but he still makes a mighty fine western hero.
What are your favorite holiday movies?
Any recommendations for romantic western Christmas movies?
This is the time of year we pause to count our blessings, but fostering a spirit of gratitude year-round is a goal I strive to achieve. Did you know that people who make a regular effort to be thankful, live richer lives? Counting blessings and expressing gratitude for what we already have instead of focusing on what we don’t makes us happier.
Psychological studies have shown that a grateful attitude increases self-esteem, reduces depression, and makes us more resilient when hard times come our way. It improves our relationships with others, makes us more optimistic, and makes us more likely to be generous givers. On the physical side, studies have shown that fostering a thankful spirit reduces blood pressure, promotes relaxation and improved sleep, and can even shorten recovery time from illness.
I can’t help but think of the iconic cowboy. Humble, grateful for the little things in life, unbothered by the big things that reside outside his control. He’ll let God tackle those. He counts himself fortunate if he has a horse that don’t limp, a roof that don’t leak, and a wide open sky to gaze upon. He’s content.
I know that’s a romanticized ideal, but I like it. It helps me put things into perspective. But then again, maybe it’s not quite so romanticized. As I was searching the internet for ideas for this post, I ran across this story that ran on the CBS evening news back in September of last year. Not only did this story make me laugh, but it made me want to stand up and cheer for the humble cowboy who made a choice to do what was right and asked for nothing in return.
I love cowboys, and I love laughter, and when I can put the two together, I’m in a very happy place. So today, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite western-themed TV ads.
This is the most recent ad that I’ve fallen in love with. It cracks me up with the vocalized stage directions. My favorite is: “Hide the eyes, then show ’em real slow.” Makes me wonder if some of those tough movie star cowboys I loved were thinking the same thing.
Here’s another classic from Geico with the classic cowboy riding off into the sunset, only to collide with the words some careless author left hanging in the scene.
Then Direct TV did a clever series on the Settlers. These were so fun, and really made me appreciate my modern conveniences.
And true romance!
But not all western ads are funny. Some are just plain sweet. I always love the Budweiser Clydesdales, but when they come to the rescue of a lost puppy, it just melts my heart.
What are some of your favorite western-themed ads?
Ever have one of those weeks where every big project you could possibly be involved in falls into your lap at the exact same time? Yep. That’s where I’m at this week. Slammed at the day job, just got handed rewrites on the novel I turned in in August, have a deadline coming for a novella I’m about halfway through writing, and a proposal to refine for a new book contract. Not to mention all the other responsibilities that go along with kids starting school and soccer and marching band and . . .
I know I’m not the only one. We all have crazy weeks like this from time to time. And since my flood is merely metaphorical and nothing compared to what my fellow Texans along the gulf coast are experiencing, I have absolutely no room to complain. So instead of whining, I’m going to celebrate the fact that I have the privilege of being gainfully employed in two different spheres and have a house that is not buried underwater.
And since my favorite way to relieve stress and forget my responsibilities for a little while is to read, I thought I’d giveaway a handful of western romance books that I picked up at the RWA conference back in July. Many of these are autographed copies, so I know you’re gonna love ’em.
Also, for those of you who haven’t heard, I’ve started up a private Facebook group for my fans. I call it The Posse. This is not a promo group, so there are no requirements for joining beyond being a fan of my books. I picture it as a place where you can help me brainstorm characters and plots, where we can swap favorite reads, and discuss the pros and cons of corsets. (Just kidding on that last one, though I have tried one on as part of a historical workshop, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Ha!)
So here is what I’m giving away. Two winners will be drawn from those who leave comments. One winner will receive a pair of Joan Johnston novels and the other winner will receive three signed copies of great stories from authors Carolyn Brown, Lynette Austin, and Delores Fossen.
For a chance to win, tell me about your favorite way to de-stress.