Kat Martin Visits


Hello Darlings,

The New Year is starting off with a bang when Miss Kat Martin pays us a visit. She’ll arrive here on Monday, January 2nd.

This time around she’ll talk about her New Year celebration with hubby. Since the dear lady once drank champagne with celebrities it’ll be something to hear about.

Miss Kat is also going to be talking about HOT RAIN, one of her previous books that she’s made into that newfangled e-format. I hear it’s all the rage.  Course, I wouldn’t know. I’m still too busy trying to figure out this automobile business and chasing my mule Jasper.

But for those of you who Santa brought a Kindle, Miss Kat is going to give away an e-book of Hot Rain to one lucky commenter.

So, hitch a ride over to the Junction on Monday and you might come away a winner.

We’ll be tickled to death to have you.

It Is Well With My Soul

Though this is not a Christmas song.

I chose it because the story behind it is incredibly powerful

and captures the true


It Is Well With My Soul

By Horatio Spafford

Horatio Spafford

This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the Great Chicago Fire. During the two days the fires raged through the city, Horatio Spafford, heavily invested in Chicago real estate, literally watched his fortune go up in smoke! Although his home, being north of the city, and his family all survived, his financial fortunes had taken a tremendous blow.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Concerned about his wife’s health, the family doctor suggested a vacation and Spafford planned an extended stay in Europe. At the last minute, a business obligation prevented Horatio, a successful lawyer, from making the voyage, so he sent his family ahead: his wife and

Anna Spafford

their four daughters; Annie, 11, Maggie, 9, Bessie, 5 and two year old Tanetta.

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on November 22, 1873, in the darkness of the North Atlantic, their

ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and 226 people perished in the sea when the Ville du Havre sank.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Anna was picked up unconscious on a floating spar, but the four children had drowned.

A fellow survivor of the collision, Pastor Weiss, recalled Anna saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

It is well (it is well),
With my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Upon arriving in England, Anna sent a telegram to Spafford beginning “Saved alone…

Anna Spafford’s Telegram

Spafford then sailed to England to meet his grieving wife.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,

Bertha Spafford, the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna, one of three children born after the loss of the four daughters, recounted that during her father’s voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge.

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

The captain said, “A careful reckoning has been made and I believe we are now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.”

He wrote to Rachel, his wife’s half-sister, “…we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs.”

It is well (it is well),
With my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul

l-r Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta

As he passed over his children’s watery grave, Horatio Spafford wrote the great hymn declaring the comforting peace of the believer, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

That Spafford was able to write this hymn, full of pain, but also ringing with victory over death is one of the great testaments to faith I’ve found in music. It seems to have come straight from a loving God to help Spafford through the darkest hour of his life. It is the only song Horatio Spafford ever wrote.

Listen to: It Is Well With My Soul


To buy my Christmas novella A Home for Christmas, available as a special Christmas promotion for 99 cents…as an ebook only,

for Kindle click HERE

for Nook click HERE


Elvis Presley’s famous holiday song, Blue Christmas dates back to 1957 when Russ Morgan, Hugo Winterhalter and Ernest Tubb also had hits with the song.  Elvis recorded his slightly different “bluesy” pardon the pun, version at Radio Recorders in September 1957 with the Jordonaires singing back-up. The song was a part of Elvis’s Christmas album that year, but it wasn’t released as a single until 1964, seven years later.  The Beach Boys also released a version of Blue Christmas in 1964.  Their record made it to #3 on the charts, but The King’s rendition became a Christmas classic, shooting straight to the top as number one, even amid the British Invasion and changing tastes in music.  To this day, Elvis Presley’s version of Blue Christmas continues to top the Christmas music charts. 




I’ve always been fascinated with Elvis Presley.  I have seen every movie he’s ever made and many of them, numerous times.  I’ve seen him live in concert in Las Vegas in Lake Tahoe, where we were honeymooning, no less. And my running joke was that going to the Elvis concert was the Highlight of my honeymoon. Thankfully, dear hubby didn’t take offense.  So when the Fillies decided on sharing holiday songs and their history for our Special Holiday Week, I knew Blue Christmas was just for me! (And you!)   Here are the short lyrics and to make life even more grand, tune in to Elvis’s YouTube performance!  

I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

And when those blue snowflakes start falling
Thats when those blue memories start calling
Youll be doing all right with your Christmas of white
But Ill have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas

You’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white,
But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas


Be sure to enter THE COWBOY’S PRIDE Contest on my Win Stuff page at  www.charlenesands.com

Have a great holiday!!




How the Chipmunks “Stole” Christmas



Snowmen, Santa and angels generally come to mind when thinking of Christmas, but chipmunks?  The Chipmunk Christmas song has an interesting story, starting with an imaginary  witch doctor and a very stubborn rodent.


Song writer Ross Bagdasarian was born in Fresno California in 1918.  He co-wrote Rosemary Clooney’s Come-on-a-My-House but failed to score another hit.  He did some acting jobs and had minor roles in such major movies as Rear Window and Stalag 17, but none provided enough income to take care of his growing family.




In 1957 he had only two hundred dollars to his name and being a gambler Bagdasarian spent all but ten of it on a tape recorder.   He sat down to write “Witch Doctor,” a strange  song about a man  hopelessly in love who goes to see a witch doctor for advice. Bagdasarian needed a different voice for his witch doctor and that’s when the tape recorder came in handy.  He experimented with different speeds, found the witch doctor’s unique voice and had a hit on his hands. 


   How a Chipmunk Saved Us from Singing Potato Bugs


The song saved Liberty Records from bankruptcy but not for long.  They needed another hit and asked Bagdasarian to write one.  His four year old son clamoring for toys inspired the words to a Christmas song but he wanted to do something creative like Witch Doctor.  While driving through Yosemite and thinking of singing potato bugs, butterflies, gophers and ostriches, he was forced to stop his car for a chipmunk. The furry creature stood on hind legs in the middle of the street daring him to pass.  Bagdasarian loved the audacity of the chipmunk and a star was born.


In a brilliant piece of marketing, Bagdasarian named his chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore after  record executives at Liberty.  All that was needed was the straight man for the chipmunks. Since the name Bagdasarian was too lengthy to fit on a 45, he changed his name to David Seville (Seville was the city where he was stationed during World War II). 


Christmas Wouldn’t be the Same Without ALVINNN!!


The song was released in 1958 and sold as many as 500,000 copies a day!  Bagdasarian won three grammys and six months later the chipmunks landed their own network show.  Bagdasarian died suddenly of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of fifty-two but his son carries on the legacy and the chipmunks continue to delight young and old.    


What’s the Best Western Romance of 2011?

We don’t know yet, but with your help it could be one of our filly books. 

Voting is fun and simple and you could win a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card. But hurry, voting is about to end.

Vote here


  Click Cover to Preorder

Book 1 in Margaret’s exciting new series


I love the music of Christmas. I could play it all year long if I weren’t married to Scrooge. 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?”

 I’m posting some of my Christmas covers for anyone who might be needing some historical Christmas story reading over the holidays! The link appears below.


Hope everyone has a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!






“Away in the Manager”, the Song and the Story


When I began plotting my story for A Texas Christmas I knew that my hero was going to be a grouchy old blacksmith who wanted to celebrate Christmas in the only way he knew how … in solitude because of a tragedy he’d experienced during the holidays three years prior.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that wasn’t gonna happen because of the blizzard that hit the Texas Panhandle in 1887.

My proposal had him snowed in with a lovely, pregnant woman who gives birth on Christmas Eve, thus the name Away in the Manger.  But how I first envisioned my story and how it began unfolding was totally different.  Yes, a pretty lady is stranded but instead of being with child she has three year old twins, a boy and a girl, who are precious, inquisitive and much harder for my hero to handle than a pregnant woman would have ever been.  As I wrote my story, or as it wrote itself, I realized that my little girl was a mirror image of my youngest granddaughter, Addison Claire … thus the creation of Addie Claire and her brother Damon.

And, of course, once Rand and Sarah discover they love one another and want to be a family; and with one twin in each arm, Rand begins to sing Away in the Manager and is quickly joined by his new love and the children

Here’s a little history I found on the song.

  • It doesn’t have a clear-cut author, as it was written in counterpart, but it is one of the most popular hymns and also Christmas carols sang. Whatever the refrain, whichever of the variations; and/or whoever is the true composer, there can be no doubt that this sweet song is a favorite of children and adults alike.Most current publications of Away in a Manger indicate that the writer of the first two stanzas is unknown. Others name Martin Luther as the author. The song was first published in an 1885 Lutheran Sunday School book compiled by James R. Murray (1841-1905), who gave the song a subtitle of Luther’s Cradle Hymn. The third verse was written by John T. McFarland in 1904.
  • Some credit the music to Murray; others think he merely harmonized an old German folk song. The words are frequently sung to the tune of the Scottish song Flow Gently Sweet Afton.
  • The beloved children’s Christmas Carol is generally sung to one of two melodies. In the U.S. the most popular tune is Mueller, while the United Kingdom prefers the melody of Cradle Song.

Modern research confirms the words date back to the late 19th century and originated in America, not Germany. Richard S. Hill, librarian at the Library of Congress, found that the origins of Away in the Manager came from celebrations of Martin Luther’s 400th birthday among Lutheran churches in the United States in 1883. Hill concluded from his research that an unknown person or persons wrote the words of Away in the Manager  as a poem for use in a children’s play at one such Luther birthday party.

There have been several variations of the song, including one or more of the following:

  • The first line of the 1st verse – exchange ‘no crib for a bed’ for ‘no room for his head’
  • The third line of the 1st verse – omit the word ‘bright’ or exchange ‘bright’ for ‘night’
  • The first line of the 2nd verse – exchange ‘the baby awakes’ for ‘the Babe awakes’ or add the word ‘poor’ and remove the (‘The poor baby wakes’)
  • The last line of the 2nd verse – exchange ‘stay by my cradle ’til’ for either ‘stay by my bed until’ or ‘stay by my bedside ’til’
  • The last line of the 3rd verse – exchange ‘And take us to Heaven’ for either ‘And fit us for Heaven’ or ‘And throw us to Heaven’


Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle ’til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.

And, from me to you, I pray each of you had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for a very prosperous and happy 2012!

This is my final blog for 2011 and I want to thank everyone for making my 2011 at Petticoats and Pistols so much fun.  I thank you all for sharing your stories with us and look forward to a wonderful New Year here at Wildflower Junction.


Oh Little Town of Bethelehem ~Tanya Hanson

For centuries, Christmas carols and Christmas hymns were not synonymous. Stately hymns were sung in church, while carols –deriving from the old French “querole” included dancing and were sung to dance tunes. This instantly made carols frowned upon by church leaders.


In the thirteenth century, Francis of Assisi is believed to have added instructional hymns to his nativity tableaus, thus legitimizing the practice. Congregants would recess from the scene, singing the Bible story. Few people knew how to read to begin with, and only clergy had access to the Scriptures, which almost exclusively were Latin translations.

Christmas caroling as we know it gained importance in Britain where it gradually displaced the pagan Yule custom of “wassail.” The term means “be in health” and, when called out as a greeting, was usually answered by “all hail.” Groups of revelers would gad about through the town, singing in exchange for gifts and a hot drink from a household’s Wassail bowl.

Indeed, the vision of Dickens carolers by a Victorian lamp-post is the vision I most often get in my mind at Christmas. So it was with great delight when I learned that one of the great classics, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, was written by an American!

Upon a visit to the Holy Land in 1868, Phillips Brooks, a young Episcopal rector from Pennsylvania, was stunned by the beauty of peaceful Bethlehem at midnight on Christmas Eve, as he headed for worship at the Church of the Nativity. This sublime experience became such a cherished memory that it inspired a poem he wrote three years later for the children of his Sunday school class at the Church of the Advent in Philadelphia. Called “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, it was one of many songs he wrote for them, but the one that endured.


The composer of the tune was organist and Sunday School superintendent Lewis Redner. He promised to write a melody for the poem so the children could sing Pastor Brooks’ poem at church the following Sunday.

But on Saturday night, the melody had yet to be written. During the night, Redner suddenly awoke and hurriedly jotted the notes to the beautiful tune, claiming he’d heard an “angel strain.” Redner insisted ever after that the melody was a gift from heaven.

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) became one of the greatest pulpit orators of the 19th century as well as the bishop of Boston, but perhaps his greatest distinction is the lovely carol that lives on today.



If you want to hear “an angel” sing this song, here’s Sarah Maclachlan. I love her voice—she sings a heart-tugging song in an ASPCA video supporting abandoned critters.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and God bless you all, everyone, now and in the new year.

I Wonder As I Wander…


Christmas carols have to be my favorite form of holiday cheer. My husband and I both sang in choir during college as well as in an adult classical chorus a few years ago. My children love to sing too, and one of our friends from church jokingly calls us the family Von Trapp.

As soon as the Thanksgiving dishes have been cleared away, we immediately grab the Christmas CDs and switch out the music in the car as well as in the home stereo. The kids love jamming out to the Phineas & Ferb Christmas album while my husband prefers Straight No Chaser. I love them all. But there is a special place in my heart for the classic carols that echo sounds of ages past.

One of my favorites is I Wonder as I Wander.Written in a minor key, this hauntingly beautiful song evokes strong emotion with it’s simple music and lyrics.

John Jacob Niles

I Wonder as I Wander originated as a folksong from deep within Appalachia. As is true of most folk songs, it was handed down through an oral tradition, the original author unknown. However, in 1933, a collector of folk music, John Jacob Niles traveled to Murphy, North Carolina and came across a revivalist family camped out in the town square. The mother was cooking and hanging her wash on the Confederate monument. The family had been deemed a public nuisance and was on the verge of being ejected by the police. They needed to hold one more tent meeting in order to earn enough gas money to take them out of town.

This is where Niles encountered the young daughter of the family, Annie Morgan. Unwashed but exceptionally pretty, she sang three lines of a song that captured Niles’s attention. He paid her a quarter to repeat the tune. And another, and another. He paide her eight times in all, giving him the chance to transcribe her music and put her lyrics on paper. She sang the same three lines each time, but it was enough to inspire Niles to expand the song and eventually publish it.

Today, this classic carol lives on, it’s haunting melody and spiritual lyrics touching untold hearts. And it all started with a young girl’s song.

I Wonder as I Wander

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God’s heaven, a star’s light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God’s Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

         In case you’re not familiar with the beautiful melody, I’ve included a recording for you to enjoy. Just click on the song title below. Merry Christmas! 

10 I Wonder as I Wander

The Friendly Beasts

The Bible doesn’t mention the animals that were in the manger on that first Christmas Eve.  But surely they were there, silent witnesses to the miracle.  What would they say if they could talk?

“The Friendly Beasts” is a song about the gifts the animals gave to the baby Jesus.  The melody comes from a Latin song first sung in 12th Century France to give thanks for the donkey that carried the Holy Family into Egypt.  The current English words were written by Robert Davis (1881-1950) in the 1920s.  Since then it’s been recorded by artists as varied as Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Garth Brooks.

Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town.”
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the cow all white and red
“I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave him my hay to pillow his head.”
“I,” said the cow all white and red.

“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.”
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

“I,” said the dove from the rafters high,
“I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I.”
“I,” said the dove from the rafters high.

Thus every beast by some good spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.

This simple song has always been a favorite of mine.  When my children were young, our family spent 6 months on a remote volunteer site in Guatemala.  Missing music, I bought a cheap guitar in the local market and taught myself a few simple chords.  This song is one I sang to my children at Christmas (I sing to kids and cats, no one else).

I try to remember animals at Christmastime.  My daughter, who died in an accident in 1985, loved animals.  Every Christmas I remember her with a gift to Best Friends, a wonderful no-kill animal sanctuary in Southern Utah.  My sister and I, who need nothing, give each other charitable gifts.  For her, I donate to Heifer International, an organization that provides livestock to needy families in many parts of the world.

Do you include animals in your Christmas celebration?  Tell us how.

Here’s a link to a cute version of the song:

Do You Hear What I Hear

Hello, Winnie here.  I love Christmas carols.  And not just at Christmas time – all year round.  I raised my children to love them as well.  When they were little, one of our nightly rituals was for me to go to each of their rooms at bedtime and sing them a song.  Among the usual (and not so usual) lullabies were show tunes and, yes, Christmas carols.  Many’s the night I would get requests for The First Noel, or Away In A Manger or Angels We Have Heard On High.  So, needless to say, I was very excited when we decided to do a special spotlight on Christmas carols event here at Wildflower Junction.

The song I picked to focus on was Do You Hear What I Hear, Partly because I’ve always liked the song and partly because I was curious to learn a bit about its history.  And what I learned surprised me.


I’d always figured this was a long standing traditional carol with European roots.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In fact, it wasn’t even written as a Christmas carol at all. 


A little of the song’s history.  The lyricist was a man named Noel Regney (what an appropriate name!).  He was a Frenchman born in 1922 and trained as a classical composer.  Noel was drafted into the German army during WWII.  He hated the Nazis and secretly joined the French Resistance.  The horrors he witnessed during the war haunted him throughout most of his life.


After the war, Noel worked in French Indochina for the French Overseas Radio Service and then in 1952 moved to theUS.  There he met Gloria Shayne a pianist working in a hotel dining room and the two were married.  The couple wrote a number of successful songs in the 50s and early 60s.  Normally it was Gloria who wrote the lyrics and Noel who wrote the music.  But in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Noel, who had experienced the horrors of war firsthand, was moved to write the lyrics of this song as a plea for peace.  In a later interview, Noel Regney made this statement “I am amazed that people can think they know the song and not know it is a prayer for peace. But we are so bombarded by sounds and our attention spans are so short.”

Noel’s favorite version was the one sung by Robert Goulet.  You can hear it here


My favorite is this one, sung by Bing Crosby


And of course there is nothing more touching than a song such as this sung by a youth choir.  You can hear one such version here


To all of you out there I’d like to wish you a very joyful and blessed Christmas!