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.
Many of us fell in love with westerns from watching them on television. I know I did. So when Jeannie and I teamed up for this Birthday Bash post, it was easy to collect our favorite TV westerns. We tried to find series that covered a wide range of decades, and since it was difficult to rank them by preference (they’re ALL fabulous!), we decided to list them by premiere date. I hope this takes you down memory lane and maybe even inspires some binge watching.
And speaking of binge watching . . . read to the bottom to see the giveaway Jeannie and I are sponsoring. Super fun!
10 Favorite TV Westerns
1. Maverick (1957-1962)
2. Wagon Train (1957-1965)
3. Rawhide (1959-1965)
4. Bonanza (1959-1973)
5. The Big Valley (1965-1969)
6. The Young Riders (1989-1992)
7. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998)
8. The Magnificent Seven (1998-2000)
9. Longmire (2012-2017)
10. The Pinkertons (2014-?)
In honor of these wonderful westerns, Jeannie and I are giving away the first seasons of Rawhide and The Magnificent Seven on DVD as Birthday Bash party favors. WooHoo!!! Hunky cowboys coming your way.
Leave a comment about your favorite TV Western for a chance to win. We will draw two lucky winners, one for each DVD set.
May the commenting commence!
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giant birthday bash giveaway (separate from this daily giveaway). You can find all the details along with the entry form HERE.
I love TV westerns. From the good old days with Bonanza to more recent times with Longmire, I truly enjoy getting lost in a good western tale of cowboy heroes with grit and honor. Several months ago I discovered a new offering on Netflix that immediately piqued my interest. I love a good crime drama as much as I love my westerns, and here was a show that combined them both – The Pinkertons.
This beauty of a show was actually made in Canada even though it follows the cases of Pinkerton Detectives in Kansas City, Missouri following the end of the Civil War. My favorite thing about this show is that it is officially licensed with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and its episodes as based on actual cases taken from the Pinkerton Detective Agency archives from the 1860s.
While Allan Pinkerton, founder of the agency does occasionally make an appearance on the show, the two main characters are Will Pinkerton (Allan’s son and Pinkerton agent) and Kate Warne (a Pinkerton and the first female detective in US history).
Kate Warne was a widow by the age of 23 and joined the Pinkerton Agency in 1856.
Pinkerton, in his book, The Spy of the Rebellion: Being a True History of the Spy System of the United States Army During the Late Rebellion… described her as:
[a] commanding person, with clear cut, expressive features…a slender, brown-haired woman, graceful in her movements and self-possessed. Her features, although not what could be called handsome [beautiful], were decidedly of an intellectual cast… her face was honest, which would cause one in distress instinctly [sic] to select her as a confidante.
Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in response to an advertisement in a local newspaper. When she walked into Pinkerton’s Chicago office, according to Pinkerton company records, he further described her acquaintance:
“[he] was surprised to learn Kate was not looking for clerical work, but was actually answering an advertisement for detectives he had placed in a Chicago newspaper. At the time, such a concept was almost unheard of. Pinkerton said ” It is not the custom to employ women detectives!” Kate argued her point of view eloquently – pointing out that women could be “most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” A Woman would be able to befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals and gain their confidence. Men become braggarts when they are around women who encourage them to boast. Kate also noted, Women have an eye for detail and are excellent observers.”
Warne’s arguments swayed Pinkerton, who employed Warne as the first female detective. Pinkerton soon had a chance to put Warne to the test. (source)
There is only one season available of this show, but it contains 22 episodes. I’m about halfway through them right now and savoring each one.
Click cover to order.
As it turns out, I have Pinkerton detectives in my most recent book, Heart on the Line. And in my story, the Pinkertons themselves are the mystery. Fraudulent identities and corrupt agents make it unclear who can be trusted. Yet in the end, I think Allan Pinkerton would be pleased with how things turned out.
Do you like stories about Pinkertons?
What historically set shows do you enjoy watching?
(I’m always on the lookout for something new to add to my queue.)
I love hearing everyone’s description of the ideal man. So many wonderful traits! And many of you are married to your ideal or had a father or sibling who demonstrated these characteristics for you. I love that!
Thanks to Random.org I have two winners.
Congratulations goes to . . .
Be watching your email inbox, ladies, for instructions on how to claim your prize.
Heart on the Line is finally available for purchase. The third story in the Ladies of Harper’s Station features our shy yet she-carried-a-derringer-in-her-handbag heroine Grace Mallory who has been using Harper’s Station as a refuge to hide from the man who killed her father.
Now when it came time to find the perfect hero for Grace, inspiration came from a source close to home.
The romance genre in general is dominated by alpha-male heroes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good alpha, but this time around, I wanted to switch things up a bit and remind readers that sweet, caring guys can be swoon-worthy too. Maybe it ties in to the fact that my own hero in real life is a glasses-wearing, bike-riding, computer nerd. His passionate love for me and our family, his devotion to God, his kind demeanor, and his dry sense of humor make him my ideal man. So when I started crafting Amos Bledsoe, Grace’s “online” suitor (on the telegraph line), I followed the same pattern. As a telegraph operator, Amos is a 19th century technology nerd. He prefers bicycles to horses. He wears spectacles. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sacrifices himself for those he loves without regret. A true hero in every sense of the word.
Here’s a excerpt that shows them courting over the wire before they ever meet in person:
It was him. Mr. A. She’d recognize his quick touch at the key anywhere. So crisp and precise. A metronome couldn’t create spaces any more rhythmic. She’d long admired his deft hand at the key. Setting her tea on the table, Grace slid into her office chair, a giddy tickle in her stomach despite her best efforts to maintain a sense of detachment.
Yes, Station Dn. I’m here.
Excellent! I worried I had waited too long to call. Dinner at my sister’s took longer than expected.
I hope you didn’t rush away on my account, Grace tapped.
I was eager to escape. Believe me.
What dastardly plague did they set upon you? Grace grinned to herself as she tapped out the words. Mr. A always seemed to have a humorous story to tell about his family, his life so wonderfully normal that whenever she listened to him, she managed to forget all about danger and unseen foes. For a few blessed minutes, she was simply a girl talking to a young man, no worries in sight.
I dare not tell you, for fear of spreading the contagion. It seems to strike the women around me with alarming regularity.
Intrigued, Grace leaned forward. Surely the distance between us will serve as adequate protection.
My mother and sister have both been afflicted for some time, I’m sorry to say, but tonight their symptoms worsened.
That sounds dire, indeed. Did you call a physician?
No point. There is only one cure to their ailment. And apparently I am the one who must distribute the healing dose.
Then you should do so at once, Grace replied, grinning as she reached for her tea. Mr. A never failed to entertain.
I would, of course, he said, but I find the key ingredient in the required elixir to be frustratingly elusive.
Can you not simply visit a druggist?
I’m afraid not. You see, the item I must find in order to cure this plague of interference is . . . a wife.
The tea Grace had just sipped spewed from her mouth to splatter over the table in front of her. Coughs spasmed in her throat.
A strange fluttery sensation danced through her belly. So, he wasn’t married. Why did that particular piece of knowledge please her so well? Her hand trembled as she reached for the key. She had to make some kind of response to that. But what exactly should she say?
I’m sure they only have your best interests at heart.
They do. But a twenty-eight year-old man doesn’t really want his personal life dictated by his female relations.
Twenty-eight. A man in his prime. A man who was suddenly sharing more personal details with her than he ever had before.
Grace dabbed at the spilled tea with a handkerchief fetched from her skirt pocket, her mind spinning. Was he fishing for details in return? She wanted to reciprocate. It was what a friend would do. Yet she couldn’t afford to say too much.
I can’t claim as many years of experience dealing with meddling relations as you can, but a couple friends of mine have recently decided that marriage is not without its advantages. Thankfully, they have as yet avoided seeing me as a matchmaking prospect.
Grace yanked her hand from the telegraph key and made a fist, her heart pumping in a wild rhythm. Details cloaked in vagueness. Would he understand what she’d just revealed? The wire remained silent for an eternally long moment.
Count your blessings, he finally sent, his usually metronome-like precision stuttering slightly. Perhaps we could meet sometime to commiserate. I would—
Clear the line, a brash staccato tapping interrupted. I need to break in. This is an emergency.
Grace nearly jumped from her chair at the pounding intrusion. It exploded across the wire like cannon fire in a still forest.
Proceed, came the answer from Mr. A. Immediate. Meticulous. All hint of personal vulnerability gone.
Grace replied in kind, though she feared her touch on the key had yet to reassert its professional tone.
Hs. Dv station has a message to relay. Are you on the wire?
A message from the Denver station? Grace shivered even as she lurched forward to answer. Yes. This is Hs station. G on the wire. Go ahead.
Message relayed from R as follows: He knows where you are. Coming for you. Sorry.
Everything in Grace stilled. Numbness spread from her mind to her limbs and finally to her heart. Her day of reckoning had arrived. Chaucer Haversham had found her.
What characteristics does your ideal man embody?
Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Heart on the Line along with a set of these fabulous, handmade, heart-shaped, crocheted dishcloths/trivets. Multipurpose, washable, colorful, and a wonderful romantic reminder to follow your heart.
I’ll draw two winners from those who leave comments.