If Not Now, Then When?

The if not now, then when question has been on my mind as I grow older and played into why I’m writing this while waiting for the remaining passengers to load on my flight to Los Angeles. More about how this unexpected trip came about later. Great teaser, huh? ?

I think I’ve mentioned I’m not big on change. I’m a routine gal. It’s called a comfort zone for a reason, after all. When plans get thrown off, I get stressed. I’m not the most spontaneous person either. As Alison in one of my favorite movies, The Sure Thing says, “Spontaneity has its time and place.” Yup, that’s me.

When I travel, I start thinking about what to take weeks in advance. I consult the weather repeatedly, pull outfits with coordinated jewelry, and plan for contingencies. Because I hate waking up and having to wear something, I take more clothes than necessary. I worry I’ll forget something or have the wrong clothes. I love traveling once I get on the plane, but everything before stresses me out.

For 2023, I’m working on these issues. I want to be more spontaneous and live without regrets. I refuse to let fear or stress hold me back. I’m also tired of putting things off, of saying someday I’ll do _____. Fill in the blank. Visit dear friends who’ve moved away. Travel to Hawaii. Whatever. I’m saying no to things I don’t want to do. That gives me more time for what I love and what brings me joy. Too often we forget how limited and precious time is. We say if only the timing were better. If only I had the money. If only ___. Again, fill in the blank.

Which brings me back to flying to LA. My youngest received a week’s notice he’d been selected as a contestant for a game show taping in LA. Even before we learned neither his boyfriend or best friend could attend, my hubby and I wanted to go. But it wasn’t a good time. Flights would be expensive. My bff, Lori, was to arrive two days before we’d leave for LA. After a long phone conversation, she decided not to go with us to LA, but insisted I go. Her exact words were, “This is a once in a lifetime thing. You are going.” (Thankfully, Southwest would issue a voucher to reschedule if she cancelled her flight.)

So here I am, flying to LA. This trip helped me work on the issues I mentioned earlier. I had to pack with little notice. (I’m impressed how efficiently I did considering if Nathan gets to the final round we will be seen on TV.) Leaving Tuesday and returning Friday threw my work and life routines out the window. The cost was more than we should’ve spent, but hubby and I don’t care. We would have no regrets the way we did when we missed Nathan’s first once in a lifetime experience. Yup, that’s right. Nathan, at 25, has had two once in a lifetime experiences.

While Nathan was in college, Tony award winning actress Kristin Chenoweth sang at Rowan University and needed backup singers. When no baritone students auditioned, the professor charged of selecting the singers contacted Nathan . Between the super short notice—maybe two days—and it being December, tickets prices were insane. (More than double the LA tickets.) We didn’t go, and I’ve always regretted not being there.

I’m trying to ask myself “If not now, then when,” when I have decisions to make. If I may never get this opportunity again or I’ll have regrets, I’m saying yes.

I’m writing this last bit on the plane home. While I can’t share how the game went for Nathan until after his episode airs, I can say hubby and I were incredibly blessed to have shared this experience with him because if not now, then when would we ever have a chance like this again?

Giveaway: To be entered in my giveaway for the Valentine’s Day heart shirt and a signed copy of Family Ties, tell me what’s one spur of the moment decision you’re glad you made. 

My Favorite Things ~ Karen Kay

 

Let me say a big Howdy to you all!

Like Linda said in her blog yesterday, I thought for a long time about what I might blog concerning this.  My favorite things.  Hmmm….  Finally I decided to blog about some of the heroes of the stories I write and to tell you a personal experience that caused me to realize how important these romance stories can be.  Probably you are aware that for writers, these characters we create become real people to us, and, in addition, they can help us in so many different ways.

Let me start first with the hero, Eagle Heart, from SHE STEALS MY BREATH.  The title for the book comes from being inspired by many poems from John Trudell — of AIM and Rock & Roll fame.  But the hero of this story came to me recently at a time when things were not so easy for me.

This hero entered into my dreams, calming some fears in my life at that moment in time.  His care and concern for the heroine in the story was really somewhat based on the care that he showed me in my dreams.  It was this hero who encouraged me to research and write about the Medicine Man of old.  Now, this might seem strange that a hero talks to the author.  But, if you have a chance to talk to many writers, they will probably tell you the characters in these books take on a life of their own and often they do talk to a writer.  Also, sometimes they resist my attempts to write a scene they feel is out of character for them.  I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to this.

In the book, SHE CAPTURES MY HEART, the hero of this story, Gray Falcon, showed me what exactly a medicine man was all about when his concept of right and wrong was challenged.  Instead of caving, however, he made light of the problem, and he brought humor (as did the heroine) into the story.  Strangely, the humor came at a time when it seemed there wasn’t too much to laugh about.  These two (the hero and heroine) often gave me the giggles when I was writing the book.

In the book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the hero’s struggle in a world foreign to him brought about some understanding of what those men faced so long ago and how they coped with what was thrown at them and how they went on to make a good life for themselves despite many trials and tribulations.

In the book, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, this hero stunned me with his determination to keep his marriage alive, regardless of the lies and “road-blocks” set in his path.  This hero refused to believe the worst of the heroine and also gave me many insights into the Indian character of old because he realized there was foul play afoot and went about discovering it.  And, his determination and “smarts” to figure it all out impressed me.  He never gave up.  I thought it was a good lesson to learn.

In GRAY HAWK’S LADY, I was treated to a hero, who, despite his anger at what heroine had done to him, did not sink to treating her in a bad way.  In fact, he went on to treat her with respect, even protected her from others’ gossip.  It was also this book I was writing when I met my husband, and Gray Hawk was quite willing to re-enact our first kiss, which is written in the pages of that book.  Because of his care for this heroine who had, at first, treated him in a bad way, both she and I fell in love with his character.

These are some of the stories where the hero of the story has taken over and has somehow changed my perspective about something.  And, I love how, when the characters change, I do, too.

And now, for a story about romance and romance books in general and why they are one of my most favorite things:

Long ago, when I had very small children (they were both babies, really), there was a time when my husband (my ex) was often out of town.  He was doing internships and so finance was scarce.  My own parents were no longer alive to help out and my brother and sister lived very distant from me and my husband’s parents lived far away, also.  So, it was up to me to somehow take care of the babies and all this entails, including “bringing home the bacon,” so to speak.  It was at this time when I discovered the real treasure of romance books.  They calmed me down, helped me to get a good night’s sleep and helped to keep me going.  Also, I made some very good friends along the way, too, romance books being one of them.  Life got better, of course.  But, I’ve never forgotten that time, nor the simple pleasure the books provided.  Interestingly, one of my daughters tells me one of her finest memories from that time period is  going to sleep while I was reading a book.  From this, I’ve realized that sometimes all one needs is a good story to get a person through a tough time in life.

Well, that’s all for today.  Am hoping you enjoyed the blog on this terrifically fine Tuesday and, if you did, please leave a comment about your own favorite things.  Oh, I almost forgot.  When you leave a comment, you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing for the e-book SHE CAPTURES MY HEART.  See the Giveaway Guidelines to the right for the rules.

 

 

My Favorite Things ~ Linda Broday

 

Hi everyone and welcome to our first Favorite Things post! 

I had such a hard decision on what to write about. The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m a collector. I collect all kinds of things – teapots, coffee cups, coins, books, western memorabilia to name just a few.

But today I’m going to talk my rock collection. My fascination with rocks started when I was a little girl. My dad would get so irritated to get home from a trip and find the car loaded down with rocks. He’d grumble for a week and the next road trip he’d lay down the law. No rocks! But it would be same thing. He finally gave up.

I love anything that comes from the earth. It’s like God’s gift to me and I have no choice but show my appreciation by picking them up.

No, it’s not hoarding!! It’s not. It’s just collecting.

Rocks are my beautiful treasures and they fill my heart with joy. I have them all over my apartment in every room. I keep select ones next to my computer.

This is called a Calligraphy stone. It’s a collection of fossils and shells compressed by the earth’s natural movements. It’s supposed to help creativity.

 

I’ve combined a lot of smaller rocks to save space. In the first box is raw emerald, raw citrine and raw amethyst. Blue agate is so pretty and next to it is two pieces of ocean jasper. Then, there’s amethyst crystal and to the left of it is a sugar rock that really sparkles under the light.

The second box contains desert jasper, malachite, tiger eye, an amethyst palm stone, and an amethyst chevron.

In the third box are two fossilized rocks. The gray is a cephalopod and the brown one is an ammonite.

 

I really prize this large piece of Labradorite that my sister gave me for my birthday. It’s gorgeous under the light with it’s changeable color.

 

These are just a few of my favorite things. I probably have two hundred. They make me happy and fill me with contentment and that’s what it’s all about – finding things that bring joy to your life. I’m unable to walk across any piece of ground without scouring it for rocks that grab my eye.

Leave a comment about something you collect and I’ll enter you in a drawing for one of two $10 Amazon gift cards!

Jeannie Watt has Winners!

Thanks to everyone who commented. The winners of digital copies of Home with the Rodeo Dad are:

Janice Hopkins

Kathleen O

Judy Sexton

 

Please contact me at jeanniewrites @ gmail.com to receive your prize.

Thank you!

Kimberley Woodhouse Has Winners!

What a fun visit! Thank you for coming, Miss Kimberley!

It’s time for the drawing ….. Drumroll ……

Three people are winners of A Mark of Grace!

And the lucky commenters are………

NADINE

VALRI WESTERN

LAURIE GOMMERMANN

Huge congrats, ladies! I’m excited for you. Watch for Miss Kimberley’s email and check Spam if you don’t see it.

Everyone be sure to come back Monday and Tuesday for our debut posts called My Favorite Things! The Fillies are going to pull back the curtain and let you see things that are important to them. So stay tuned.

Welcome Kimberley Woodhouse!

Hey, y’all! I’m super excited to be with you today. Not only is this one of my favorite blogs, but two of my favorite people are here – Karen Witemeyer and Mary Connealy. (Waving at you two!)

Today, I’d love to share an excerpt from A Mark of Grace, book three in my Secrets of the Canyon series from Bethany House Publishers. My readers have been begging for Ruth’s story and it’s finally here.

A little background: Ruth Anniston has been a Harvey Girl for a long time. Since the El Tovar opened on the rim of the Grand Canyon in 1905, she’s been the head waitress there. But a tragic and horrifying accident with a mountain lion (which took place near the end of A Gem of Truth – book two), has left her injured. But not just physically. Every aspect of her world—professional, physical, emotional, spiritual—has been upended and she’s struggling. Big time.

The series has been so much fun to write. The Grand Canyon, the historic El Tovar, the Harvey Girls, and the still-untamed-remote-West. I hope you enjoy this little snippet from the Prologue of A Mark of Grace. (And don’t forget to check out the giveaway details below.)

 

1907

Thirteen years later

El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon

“You’re such a pretty young lady, Ruth. Don’t sell yourself

short.”

Pretty young lady. As the memories of the past washed over her, Ruth couldn’t believe how many years had rolled by since that day.

But now look at her. No longer did she have a pretty face. No longer was she young and eligible. Had she let her stubborn pride get in the way? Was she destined to be alone forever?

At this moment, the mirror across the room was the worst villain she could ever imagine.

The more Ruth thought about it, the more she wanted to throw something at it and make it shatter into pieces. But she wouldn’t do that. Couldn’t do that.

Because she was a Harvey Girl.

The head waitress.

In control at all times.

An example to all the girls under her. Mother hen. Mentor. Friend.

She couldn’t allow herself to lose all command of her faculties just because her world would never be the same again. This had been her dream.

Even though she now faced the nightmare before her.

Ruth gingerly patted the bandage on her cheek. Lord, give me strength to handle whatever comes. She’d repeated the prayer too many times to count as she waited for the doctor to arrive.

She wasn’t a vain woman. At least she hadn’t been before a mountain lion mauled her face. Had she? Now she spent an agonizing amount of time consumed with her appearance and how it affected her future.

She was thirty-two—almost thirty-three. A veritable spinster. If she couldn’t work, what was she to do? Where could

she go? Working as a Harvey Girl had been her entire adult

life. It had brought her so much satisfaction. Hopefully, she’d brought God glory through it all. And even when she was younger and struggled when all the other girls were getting married and settling down, the Lord had given her peace.

Now she was the head waitress at the crown jewel of the Harvey Empire—an accomplishment she’d worked hard to obtain. It was all she’d ever wanted after donning her first black-and-white uniform. And after a year on the job, it had been easy to think she still had plenty of time for God to bring the right man into her life. She’d been completely content.

Being a Harvey Girl was the perfect job for her. More to the point, it was the only job she knew. What if she couldn’t do it anymore? Harvey Girls made people feel comfortable. They were trained to be efficient. Pleasant. And spotless.

Without blemish, as the Bible verse went. Her soul might be spotless before the Lord, but people were far less forgiving than He. And she was no longer without blemish . . .

Mr. Owens had bent the stringent Harvey rules for Emma Grace in her time of need. Surely he would do the same for her. Only, Emma Grace could still do her job. Ruth couldn’t.

Not to the Harvey standard. Her leg would take a long time to heal. And she’d probably always walk with a limp. But that wouldn’t be as visible as her face. She closed her eyes.

What would she look like?

Reaching up with her right hand, she covered the bandaged area of her face. And for a moment, she looked normal again.

Lord, give me strength to handle whatever comes.

Against the doctor’s orders, Ruth began to peel back the edge of the bandage. She stepped close to the mirror, hoping the damage was far less than she feared…

I’m going to give away three paperback copies of A Mark of Grace to three wonderful readers. All you have to do is comment with answers to these questions: Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? If so, what was your favorite spot? If not, is it on your bucket list?

Until next time, keep on reading!

Kimberley

Rocking Chair Trivia Quiz!

I’ve been having a lot of fun researching my new series, The Rocking Chair Ranch. For no reason in particular, this got me to thinking about the history of rocking chairs. I mean, did they start with mothers wanting a way to soothe their fussy babies to sleep or elderly people who sought to relieve their weary bones? Whichever, rocking chairs have long provided natural relief for life’s little discomforts.

So, just for fun, I put together a short trivia quiz about rocking chairs. Let’s see how many of them you get right. Answers are at the bottom.

  1. When was the first rocking chair invented and where?
  2. Which came first, rocking chairs, rocking horses, or cradles?
  3. Which president had an affinity for rocking chairs (due to a back problem) and owned 14.
  4. Rocking chairs were originally designed as outdoor furniture – true or false?
  5. According to Irish legend, what does an empty rocking chair mean?
  6. Where is the world’s largest rocking chair?
  7. What does the saying ‘off your rocker’ mean?

  1. In 1725, some ingenious person decided to fasten skates to the bottom of an English Yorkshire Windsor chair. It might have looked a little like this chair. Maybe. That person was from North American, so the rocking chair is truly an American invention.

                             

  1. Rocking horses (early 1600s) and cradles (late 1400s) were around long before the rocking chair.

  1. John F. Kennedy. His doctor recommended rocking chairs for is back woes.

  1. True – rocking chairs were invented for the outdoors first.

  1. It’s an invitation for evil spirits — which explains why my mom always put decorative pillows on the seat of our rocking chair.

  1. Casey, Illinois. The chair weighs 46,000 pounds and is made of recycled wood and pipe. That is one big chair.

  1. A little crazy, possible because old people who can suffer from senility often rock in their chairs.

I hope you had a good time today. I learned a lot more about rocking chairs that I put in this post. Hopefully, I’ll find a place for some of it in one of my stories. Thanks for joining me and, in closing, here’s a rocking chair quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“There are rainy days in autumn and stormy days in winter when the rocking chair in front of the fire simply demands an accompanying book.”

Kimberley Woodhouse Visits on Friday!

Christian romance author Kimberley Woodhouse is coming to visit Friday, January 27th, 2023!

We’re so excited to have Miss Kimberley come and talk to us about her new book set in the Grand Canyon. If you’ve ever visited there, be thinking about your trip.

She’s giving away three copies of A Mark of Grace! That’s a big Yee-Haw!

Come Friday, get your chatting britches on and head over to help us welcome her.

It’s going to be fun and you don’t want to miss out!

Home with the Rodeo Dad and a Give Away!

I am  happy to announce the first book of my sweet romance trilogy The Cowgirls of Larkspur Valley has been released. Some books are fun to write and this was one of them. Home With the Rodeo Dad includes a lot of my favorite tropes–a protective single dad who happens to be a rodeo rider; a tight community; a family of rambunctious siblings (the heroine’s family); horses; and a baby.

Here’s a the opening scene:

“Easy, Button. We’re almost there.”

Troy Mackay glanced in the rearview mirror of his Ford F-250 as his six-month-old daughter’s warning cry became a full-fledged howl. His shoulders tightened in response, but he didn’t panic like he would have only a few months ago.

Livia hit a particularly high note just as the headlights shone over a mailbox with a crooked flag, at which point he was supposed to turn left, according to the directions his new landlord had given him.

“Just another mile, kiddo.”

Livia hiccupped, sucked in a breath and then howled again. Troy winced as he fought with himself to keep from stopping the truck right there.

An eternity later, which showed as four minutes on the dashboard clock, he rolled to a stop in front of a dark house and turned off the ignition. Livia went quiet, as if sensing that a big change was taking place.

It was.

Troy Mackay, former career rodeo rider was now Troy Mackay, single dad and full-time farrier. Or he would be full time as soon as he hung out his shingle and got Livia enrolled in the local daycare center.

Troy opened the rear door of the truck and unlatched the baby carrier. He was debating about whether to leave Livia strapped in or take her out and hold her when the porch light came on behind him.

He whirled toward the light, wondering if a place this old had motion sensors, then he saw movement in the reflected light on the windows. There was someone in the house. Quickly, he relatched the baby carrier, closed the door and stood protectively in front of the truck. This house was supposed to be empty, so what was he facing?

A squatter taking refuge, maybe?

Livia let out a howl that shattered the stillness of the night.

Get in the truck and drive. Come back in the morning.

The need to protect his daughter was paramount, and Troy was about to do just that, even though he had no place to go. Then the front door opened, and a young woman stepped out, hugging her long sweater around her body.

“Hi,” he called in the friendliest voice he could manage. “Maybe I’m at the wrong place. I’m looking for Littlegate Farm.”

“Why?” The woman pulled her sweater more tightly around her, and her chin lifted as she spoke.

Troy shifted his weight, perplexed by the woman’s tone. “Because I rented it.”

Her back stiffened. “I don’t think so.”

He frowned. “I have a contract.”

“No.”

“You want to see it?” he asked.

“No need. It’s not valid.”

Troy cocked his head stubbornly. “How so?”

“I own Littlegate Farm, and I promise you that I haven’t rented it to anyone.”

Me again. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt.  I’ll be giving away three digital copies of this sweet romance. If you’d like to enter, simply leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of romance trope, such as working together to overcome the odds, enemies to lovers, single dad, grumpy hero-feisty heroine, mistaken identity, etc. I’m looking forward to hearing what you like.

Best,

Jeannie