Wednesday will be a fun day on account of Miss Tina James coming to visit.
Miss Tina just happens to be the senior editor of Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired Suspense books and the Fillies are falling all over themselves to get the place in order.
It’s fair to say that Miss Tina loves books and always has. From the moment she learned to read she’s haunted bookstores and public libraries. As an editor she’s always looking for new authors to buy from. Good stories are her bread and butter don’t you know.
Miss Tina has bought from several of our own Fillies. Bet you can guess which ones.
Hitch up the wagon on Wednesday and follow the trail to the Junction.
Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.
But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?
‘You don’t know, do you?’ asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing outunder the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. ‘You don’t REALLY know!’
from ‘The Halloween Tree’
All Hallow’s Eve – a celebration of the end of summer, the coming of the time of waiting, the time of the wandering dead. The traditions on which what we know as Halloween have been practiced for centuries. With bonfires and fests, the ancient Britons celebrated in honor of their sun-god and Samhain (pronounced Sow-un or Sow-in), their lord of death, who gathered the souls of the dead who had been consigned to time in the bodies of animals in punishment for their sins.
The Romans celebrated the same kind of festival at this time in honor of their goddess Pomona, a patroness of fruits and gardens.
I wonder if that’s where the idea of the pumpkin patch started?
It wasn’t until the eighth century that the Church designated a date for All Saints Day, which in November 1, the morning after All Hallow’s Eve–the vigil of All Saints. “She chose this time of year, it is supposed, because in her part of the world it was the time of barrenness on the earth. The harvest was in, the summer done, the world brown and drab and mindful of death. Snow had not yet descended to comfort and hide the bony trees or blackened fields; so with little effort man could look about and see a meditation on death and life hereafter.” http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/civilization/cc0070.html
Some cultures spent the night before All Saints–or All Hallow’s Eve–staying vigilant, expecting the souls of the dead to walk the earth, since those liberated from Purgatory were free to visit their old homes.
It wasn’t until centuries later that people began dressing like the creatures of nightmares, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved.
Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a “soul cake” in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household.
Listed below are the upcoming releases from our talented writers here at Wildflower Junction. To purchase any of these fine books, just click on the book covers. And to learn more about the authors, click on thier names.
RIGHT TO BRAGG (4th in the Heart’s Crossing series) By Tanya Hanson
Disowned by her family, believing it’s all her fault, Tiffany Vickers faces a lonely Christmas and takes great comfort in the baby boy in her care. Her faith is in tatters, and she guards her heart against the baby’s uncle, handsome cowboy, Bragg Martin. It’s the season for forgiveness, and while Bragg longs to open his heart and family to the lovely nanny, he doesn’t understand her interest in his arch enemy. Saving a man’s life and saving Tiffany’s faith bring the couple together…and home to Hearts Crossing Ranch.
He’d been ready to move on, to marry a woman who’d provide him with heirs. But a year of separation hasn’t slaked rancher Clayton Worth’s raging desire for his soon-to-be-ex-wife. And Trish is as unpredictable as ever. Her mysterious reluctance to have kids was what drove them apart. Now Trish is back in Red Ridge, mother to a baby girl. The irony is maddening.
Trish urgently needs to finalize their divorce before Clayton’s irresistible charm can melt her resolve. Because his touch awakens a consuming hunger than hasn’t died. They’d thought it was all over between them…but their hearts have other ideas.
As the month comes to an end, I find myself getting more and more excited about my 34th book coming out and dancing faster with each day of my writing life. We expect THE COMFORTS OF HOME to come out of the gate at a full run on November 1. Also coming back into print this month is THE TENDER TEXAN in trade paperback (my first national bestseller) and my anthology, A TEXAS CHRISTMAS. It came out the first of this month and is on the New York Times list this week. Adding to all that mix, I’m writing on the next historical every night until after midnight and it’s coming along great.
So, dear friends, come along with me into fiction because it promises to be a wild ride.
Also, next week is Halloween, a fun time at my house. Last year we had over 1,ooo trick-or- treaters. I buy a dozen big bags of candy, invite my friends who have few kids to come by and bring their candy and join us. We pass out candy for three hours straight. So…when I thought about this blog, I thought about what frightens me. Growing up in Texas, I have to say RATTLESNAKES. In truth, I’ve seen very few in my life that were not in cages, but whenever I walk in the country, I’m very much aware that I’m walking on their land.
My first memory of a rattlesnake was one found under my Grandmother Kirkland’s house when I was about four. My grandmother chopped his head off with a hoe. I don’t remember the exact words, but she said something like, ‘to get along with snakes, you got to be smarter than the snake.’ That may explain why I live in town. I’ve never wanted to test my intelligence with my life the wager.
So, some facts about snakes:
The diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in North America. Sometimes easily eight feet long and can weigh as much as 10 pounds. I thought I saw a twelve foot one on a country road one day, but it was one snake eating another snake. Yuck!
Their bites are very painful and can be fatal. Thanks to antivenin, they are rarely deadly.
Some things to do:
Avoid rattlesnakes! Seems pretty simple but you wouldn’t believe the people I know who ride out on horseback to check out the rattler nest.
If you see a snake—make noise. He’ll probably wander off.
If you do get bitten:
Relax, be calm. Yeah, sure. Good luck with that.
Keep bitten area at or below heart level.
Go to hospital or see doctor within five hours.
Watch where you walk as well as where you ride. Trust me, falling off a horse is also painful.
Some thingsNOT TO DO IF YOU GET BITTEN:
Don’t use ice to cool bite.
Don’t cut the wound open and suck out the venom—that’s something left for heroes in books not in real life.
Don’t use a tourniquet unless you know what you are doing. Right, if you knew what you were doing you wouldn’t be hanging out with snakes.
And last, if all else fails, hit the rattlesnake on the head with a hoe. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for live and let live, but if he’s in my backyard where my grandchildren play, I’m thinking just like my grandmother did, ‘that snake’s got a death wish.’
So, come in and tell me how you feel about snakes.
From a distance, you might think one cowboy looks pretty much like another, but on closer inspection, you’ll find that though their gear contains the same staples, a cowboy finds a way to make his equipment truly his own. From the type of horse he rides, to the tool work on his saddle, to the way he shapes the brim of his hat–a western man can tell you a lot about himself without ever opening his mouth.
One prime example of this is how the man wears his gun. In the 19th century, it was unheard of for a man to ride the range without a weapon within easy reach. Dangers abounded. Wild animals. Snakes. Not to mention the trouble that originated on two legs from rustlers or Indian raiding parties. Some carried rifles in a scabbard attached to the saddle, but after the advent of the Colt Single Action Army revolver or Peacemaker in 1873, most cowboys carried a sidearm either instead of a rifle or in addition to it. It was always at hand, even if one’s horse was not.
But how a man chose to wear his Colt, well . . . that was a matter of style and expediency. The leather holster could be plain or decorated, usually natural or brown-colored leather, though sometimes black. Some men stamped their initials or their ranch’s brand into the leather. Holsters in the 1870s were open at the top and had a belt loop on the backside which slid over the cartridge belt. By the 1880s, holsters tended to be made from a single piece of leather with a back that looped over the belt and provided slots to secure the front. The holster at the top of this post shows this later style with a double loop holster.
Gun belts usually ranged from 3-4 inches wide, and the number of catridge loops on them depended on the caliber of the revolver as well as the length of the belt. Most carried between 40-50 loops. Since ammunition came in boxes of 50, one box could generally fill the belt and the revolver, leaving one chamber empty for safety purposes.
Look at the two men pictured below. Both wear their guns on the right hip. However one man is left-handed. Notice the butt of the pistols. The man in black is wearing his in the usual fashion, with the handle pointing backward. In contrast, note how the man in white shirt sleeves has his handle pointing forward. This is called the “cross draw” position. While most preferred drawing their weapon from the same hip as the dominant hand, some found it easier to reach across their body to draw their weapon, hence the outward facing handle. In fact, if you look carefully at the picture above with the four cowboys together, you’ll notice the third man from the left wears his pistol in the cross draw position.
Despite what we see in the movies, a working cowboy rarely if ever wore more than one gun. If he did wear two, usually the second was simply to have on hand to save the time of reloading as a man would not be nearly as proficient a shooter with his non-dominant hand. And those holsters that tied down to a man’s thigh? Well, those were usually reserved for professional gunmen whether on the right or wrong side of the law. The tie served to anchor the holster so that no slip of the leather would impede a fast draw.
So do any of you have antique holsters or gun belts in your family treasure chest? The wearing of sidearms waned after the end of the 19th century. As populations grew, towns passed ordinances against carrying weapons. But some die hard cowboys never gave up on packing their Colt when riding the range.
What are your Desert Isle Keepers? Which stories stayed with you long after you closed the cover? Do you have comfort reads? And the last question for writers, which books made you say, “I want to do that!”
Here’s my list in no particular order….
1. Christy by Catherine Marshall. I was twelve when I read this story of a young woman going to the Appalachian mountains to be a teacher. In the town of Cutter Gap, Christy Huddleston experiences life in a whole new way, and she learns to see and love people for who they are. Her friendship with Fairlight Spencer is both glorious and heartbreaking. The story is fiction, but it’s based on the life of Catherine’s mother. It’s also considered the book that gave birth to the Inspirational market, and the Christy Awards are named after it.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Love this story! The movies first brought it to life for me, namely the Hallmark movie with George C. Scott and Susannah York. A romance writer was born the night I saw the made-for-TV movie. Later I read the book for a Women’s Fiction class at UCLA. Forget symbolism and literary stuf, this is a story of redemption, transformation and romance. My favorite film version is the one with Timothy Dalton as Rochester.
3. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley. Alec Ramsey was my first crush. I read this series over and over, mentally riding in the races and taking on whatever challenges came Alex’s way. They fed my child’s imagination in a big way.
4. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. We’re getting off the beaten path with this one. I read it as a college freshman at the recommendation of a teaching assistant. In short, it’s about a woman trying to make sense of a chaotic world. The title is derived from structure of the book. It’s made up of narrative, four “notebook “sections–each a different color and about a different part of the main character’s life–and finally a Golden notebook. I’m now light years away from the content of the book, but it made me want to write.
5. Hawaii by James Michener. I read this in middle school, around the time I read Christy. I thought the beginning was a bit dull, but I plowed through and discovered the joy of historical fiction. Does anyone else miss the days of long books? Some of my favorites by Michener are Centennial, The Source, Space and Chesapeake.
6. Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell. I read this shortly after my first son was born. What a wonderful mix of history and drama! In the coming years, I read every Taylor Caldwell book in the Thousand Oaks, California library.
7. The Outsider by Penelope Williamson. I will never forget reading this book for the first time. It’s a mix of violence and faith, love and hate, guilt and forgiveness. I finished it at 3 a.m., blinked away the tears and thought, “I want to do this . . . I want to write books like this one.” That’s a lofty goal and I don’t think I’ve met the challenge, but I intend to keep trying. No one uses language like Penelope Williamson. This book doesn’t just tell the story, it sings every word.
So those are my favorites. What about you? What’s on your keeper shelf? I don’t think any of us could pick just one.
P.S. My current release is available now at Amazon . . .Marrying the Major . . . Check it out along with the other titles in the “Women of Swan’s Nest” series!
Love time travel? Crazy about holiday reads? Well, then, I’ve got some great short stories to tell you about, including my latest release, MEANT TO BE, that appears in a new Christmas anthology from VICTORY TALES PRESS.
MEANT TO BE is a time travel set on the last Christmas of the Civil War, in 1864. A young single woman, Robin Mallory, from present day set out to pay a surprise holiday visit to her elderly relatives. When one of her tires blows out, she finds herself stranded on a lonely stretch of road with no one to call for help.
When a handsome ‘Confederate soldier’ tackles her in the early evening shadows, Robin is outraged and frightened. Jake Devlin is dressed from a time gone by, but what are re-enactors doing in these woods over the Christmas weekend? When the predicted winter storm moves in, Robin has no alternative but to take a chance and trust Jake.
Jake’s presence is comforting, and Robin welcomes the sanctuary from the raw night that his camp offers. But something isn’t right. Once they arrive at the camp, she realizes she’s walked down a gravel road that’s taken her backward in time nearly 150 years. Jake is an officer of the Confederate Army, serving under Cherokee Chief, General Stand Watie.
Unsure of Robin’s motives and who she is, the general puts her in Jake’s care. When they are separated from the rest of the unit, Jake is severely wounded. What will Robin do? Will she seize the only opportunity she may have to return to her own time? Or will she stay in 1864 with Jake and take a chance on a love that was MEANT TO BE?
MEANT TO BE appears in the Victory Tales Press Sensual/Spicy 2011 Christmas Collection anthology, along with four other great stories by my fellow authors, Kit Prate, Stephanie Burkhart, Christine Schulze, and Sarah McNeal.
I also want to tell you about some great stand-alone paranormal holiday short stories that are available for only .99 through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER PUBLISHING.
MEANT TO BE is not the only paranormal Civil War era holiday short story I’ve written. Another one, HOMECOMING, is a sweet love story that first appeared last year about this time in A Christmas Collection: Sweet through VICTORY TALES PRESS (VTP). It’s still available in the anthology, but now is also available in the .99 gallery at WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER as well. Though it’s a Civil War themed short story, it has a very different take and a surprise ending I hope you will enjoy.
Homecoming by Cheryl Pierson A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission to fulfill his promise of honor to a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. In an odd twist of fate, a simple assurance to carry young Billy Anderson’s meager belongings home to his family a few miles away becomes more than what it seems. As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier’s final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he’s suffered because of the War, including his fiancee, Sarah. Despite his suffering, can Jack remember what it means to be fully human before he arrives at the end of his journey? Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?
SCARLET RIBBONS is a story of lost love regained through a holiday miracle. The hero, Miguel Rivera, is a bordertown gunslinger who believes his heart can’t be touched. Christmas brings him a miracle he never expected; one that can’t be ignored. SCARLET RIBBONS by Cheryl Pierson Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.
When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing. Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the Scarlet Ribbons set Miguel on a new path?
A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES is a novella available through THE WILD ROSE PRESS. This story takes place in Indian Territory of the 1800’s. A widow takes in a wounded gunman and three children on Christmas Eve. The small gifts she gives them all reveal something even more precious for all of them on A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES.
These are all great holiday short stories that will leave you wanting more. I f this isn’t enough paranormal reading for you, try my latest novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, a WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER publication. Here’s the blurb for this time travel story of good vs. evil.
Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to 2010. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive?
I write a mix of contemporary romantic suspense and historical western romance. Please leave a comment and let us know the best paranormal western romance you’ve ever read. This is kind of an up-and-coming subgenre, and one I’d love to read more of. I’ll be giving away a copy of the brand new 2011 Christmas Collection to one lucky commenter! Please be sure to include an e-mail addy in your comment.
Here’s wishing you a very happy holiday season with lots of great reading ahead!
We have a winner from the drawing today. The prize is a copy of the book, THE LAST WARRIOR. I should have stated this, but for purposes of postage expense (since it’s all snail mail), the winner does need to reside in either the United States (all 50 states) or Canada. And the winner is: Lizzy Star!