A Haunted Mission, a GIVEAWAY…and Christmas Stories…~Tanya Hanson

One never knows what spookiness lurks in your own backyard! And being Halloween, well, I wonder if the vibes are eerier today.

Now I’m not talking about bodies buried in Gramma’s garden, or skeletons in the attic. I mean, local places with their own ghostly cachet.

Like the San Buenaventura Mission of California’s central coast, not far from my homestead.


It was established by Franciscan padre Juniper Serra in 1782 (his last) and is sometimes visited by a gray-robed spectral monk!  Or so it’s said. It’s been going on for years. A local woman, awash in family troubles, had just lit a candle when she saw the monk by the church door. He was dressed in flowing gray robes tied around his middle. Although certain she was at church alone, she was not convinced he was a spirit–she even reported feeling warmth emanate from him. But as soon as he smiled at her, he disappeared.

Thing is…Franciscans wear brown!


Hmmmm. How about ghosts in a church? What do you think about that? Or about spooky stuff in general?

But that’s not all you get today. I am thrilled to have been invited to be part of the newly-released Christmas anthology from Prairie Rose Publications along with my filly sisters PHYLISS MIRANDA, TRACY GARRETT, and CHERYL PIERSON as well as Livia Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Sarah McNeal and Jacquie Rogers. Wishing for a Cowboy is available in both print and e-book editions.

I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy or pdf. TODAY, so don’t forget to leave a comment! 

Here’s some  quick words on my story, Covenant.   (I LOVE Hallmark Christmas movies that just wrench the heartstrings, so that’s what I tried to do with this one.)

Wishing for a Cowboy Sm

Alone, abandoned, struck with guilt and grief, mail order bride Ella Green refuses to celebrate their first wedding anniversary by herself on the Nebraska homestead. Her fault Charlotte died.

Her fault her husband couldn’t stick around. So it’s back to Pennsylvania. Until the snow hits. 

But do the spingerle cookie molds depicting her life–Carsten’s hand-carved courtship gifts to her across the miles–still have more story to tell? 

Or is it truly The End? 

Widower Carsten Green took on a bride merely to tend his little daughter. Unbeknownst to Ella, he gave her his heart instantly. Yet he believed she’s got no reason to stay after the child’s death. So he’s left her first. 

How can the Christmas blizzard separating them warm their hearts, brighten their future, and ignite love gone cold? 

Springerle cookie molds play a huge part in the story. I remember my gram making them when I was little…and I LOVED spinning the rolling pin and examining the carvings close up. But her recipe and rolling pin, sadly, were lost to time. However, King Arthur Flour has generously allowed me to use their recipe for the book, and their pictures for promo.

Springerle rolling pin


Merry Christmas early…and Happy Halloween right on time!

Buy link, print.

Buy link, Kindle




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47 thoughts on “A Haunted Mission, a GIVEAWAY…and Christmas Stories…~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Hello Tanya. I love this kind of book and would love to win it in a PDF since my Kindle App has never worked. Loved your review. I have to hope for a good reunion of these two. If only he would have shown his love for her. I am sorry that your Grams rolling pin disappeared. It looks so neat. I’m sure hoping to win. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. Hi Tanya,

    I’m not into spooky stories or ghosts. I do not go to spooky movies.

    I went to a grade school with Franciscan nuns and priests. They wore black coverings with white accents.

    I’d love to read the Christmas anthology WISHING FOR A COWBOY! Your story featuring a mail order bride and unconfessed love (on both sides) sounds like a tearjerker.

    You can’t go wrong with the duo: cowboys and Christmas!

  3. Hi Tanya, didn’t know about the mission ghost, but recently went to the Santa Paula Inn which is supposedly haunted. I once thought my house was haunted because things kept moving and doors kept slamming. That was just before the big Northridge Earthquake hit. I think I would have preferred a ghost.

    Congratulations on your new book. Your story sounds terrific!

  4. I don’t know of any old hauntings here – I swear I live in boringville. 🙂 The cookie mold is beautiful! I would have loved to see that in person and make cookies that way. What fun.
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  5. Not sure if there are any haunted places near me, but there are a couple supposed ones in Indianapolis. I love cookies, but am not real fond of the anise flavor!

  6. What an interesting story! Spooky!! I don’t know of any haunted happenings in my area. I am certainly not one for scary things.

    I love the carved rolling pin and have never seen one until now. How lovely!! COVENANT sounds like a wonderful, emotional story and I can’t wait to read the anthology!!!

    Congratulations on the release of WISHING FOR A COWBOY!

  7. Tanya, I love a good ghost story, but your Christmas story in WISHING FOR A COWBOY wraps around the heartstrings and gives them a big ol’ yank. The springerle recipe is icing on the…cookie. 😉 And how lovely is that rolling pin? I’d have to hang it up as a decoration.

    HUGS to you! 🙂

  8. Tanya, that is really interesting. I have had a couple of “ghostly encounters” myself and both were in public places. Also, there’s one thing about my house that is weird. From time to time I smell cigar or pipe tobacco that smells pretty good–not like cigarette smoke at all. No one in my house smokes. At first I thought it was just me, but one day my husband came in and asked “What’s that smell?” I asked “What does it smell like?” And he said “Some kind of tobacco smoke.” It doesn’t happen often but when it does, you know it.

    I’m so glad you were a part of Wishing For a Cowboy, our launch book for Prairie Rose Publications. Can’t wait for our next one, HEARTS AND SPURS, for Valentine’s Day. I absolutely LOVED “Covenant”–it was really beautiful.

  9. Love that rolling pin! I’ve never experienced this, but my parents have. Lights turning on and off when nobody’s in the room, etc. Congrats on what sounds like another exciting romance, Tanya! You can crank ’em out, girl!!

  10. Maxie, so happy to see you here! This story just bloomed. When I cleaned out stuff left behind…obviously some cousin or other got a hold of it, which is okay. There are 14 of is LOL. Even though today is Halloween, I’m sure in the mood for Christmas after reading everybody’s stories.

  11. Hi Laurie, so glad to see you here, too! My career teaching English was in a Catholic high school…we only had one (Carondelet) who still wore her habit. The others gave up theirs for street clothes. I always thought maybe they could wear their habit for special days, like Christmas, but no, once you gave it up, that was it. I always loved Sister Mary Catherine in her long black robes. Memories! Have a good day!

  12. Hi Margaret, I found a neat book of local haunts at a Ventura County Writers club conference a while back. There’s a ton more here, too! I didn’t know any of ’em despite my years here.

    I love learning about haunted hotels. Someday I want to stay at the Menger in San Antonio if I’m brave enough. Thanks for your kind words. xoxo

  13. Hi Janine, oh, there are other tales around here, too. I’ll share some more over time. So nice to see you here today.

    Susan P., as Margaret says, it’s pretty boring and rural around here…other than the occasional earthquake. Those are scary!!

    The springerle can also be made from separate molds, too. That’s kinda how I got the idea of Carsten carving scenes from her life.

    Oh, I love Christmas. And everybody, Hallmark Christmas starts TOMORROW here on the West Coast. I’ve already got some movies scheduled to record. Yay.

    Thanks to you both for stopping by and wishing our antho well.

  14. hi CateS, I remember not exactly liking these either when I was a kid, other than the pictures. They get kind of hard which is why they last so long. I guess like biscotti you should soak ’em. I remember a lemony tinge too, though. Thanks for the comment, I so appreciate you.

  15. hi Britney, you can’t believe how excited I was when I was invited to contribute to this wonderful book. Sometimes good things happen just at the write/right time 🙂 I won’t say the story “wrote itself”–writing is hard work IMO, but the words did flow off my fingertips. Thanks today for your good wishes.

  16. Hi Sherri, it is something, isn’t it? I’ve never had one personally and I definitely don’t like eerie sounds in the night. But for spooky movies, I heartily recommend The Others with Nicole Kidman. It’s amazing…and the ending blows you away.

    Hubs ALWAYS figures out movies…I think he should write a screen play. But even he didn’t figure it out. Wow.

    Thanks for the coming by, my new filly sister!

  17. Hi Kathleen, my fellow antho-story-teller! Yay! I know, I would love to have one but they are mega-expensive online. Maybe I’ll treat myself, though. I love your story, too. It was such fun…and we get to go it again for Valentine’s Day. Almost done with that story…Colorado was very inspiring. xox

  18. Hi Cheryl, that’s funny. The historic mantion whre out daughter got married is supposedly haunted. “George’ is a friendly ghost though. He moves paintings once in a while and leaves a cigar burning. They even have a stub under a glass dome on display. Too funny.

    I am so thrilled and honored to help launch Prairie Rose Publications. As I said above, wow, sometimes things happen just at the write/right time. Thanks, my friend. xoxo

  19. Hi Dora, my wonderful friend and Rock of Writing-Gibralter! You help keep my focused and hopeful, that’s for sure. I think I waited so long (until the kids went off to college) to write seriously that I have to make up for it now.

    Hey all, I’m also at Dora’s wonderful blog today if you have time to jump over there. xo


    Love to all…

  20. We had a ghost in our Boise house, and we had to help her along her way. No ghosts in this house although the g-sons insist there’s one living in the garage. ?

    Congrats on Covenant! What a wonderful story. I enjoyed all the stories in Wishing for a Cowboy, in fact, and was tickled to be included.

  21. Tanya, I love ghost stories and strange goings on even though I am quite a cynic about such things…I just love hearing about them. I haven’t read all the stories in the anthology yet, but I’m going to get started on them ASAP. I know each one of them is going to be fabulous. Great blog.

  22. Hi Tanya, Long time, no see/hear. The Anthology sounds like a really good one. If I should be so lucky to win, I’d prefer a pdf because I don’t have an electronic reader.
    Now, ghosts are another matter. I was living on the local Indian Reservation and the house just happened to be built on top of an old trail. I had doors opening and closing as well as windows. My Mother’s mobile home was on another trail and she had worse. She had the cigarette smoke and laughter. I finally sat down in a quiet house one day and laid down the law–No more walking through. Go around! That actually stopped the noise. My Mother visited with her travelers. (She had a gift). I have been touched, too!
    NOTICE: For all of our California readers, the 100 Mule Walking the Aquaduct will be at the Cascade on November 5. I think I told Margaret B the 11th. They will be in a parade down Western Ave., in Glendale on the 11th. Today they are in Mojave. Go see them if you can. It is a sight to see all 100 lined out. Brings tears to my eyes–really.

  23. I love the post, so interesting! I also love Halmark movies. No scary for me! Feel good movies and stories are the best!

  24. Thanks for the post!!! Even though im not a fan of spooky things or movies my family home was haunted. My brother and I were little but we still noticed things. But it was my mom who saw him. one day when my family was getting ready to leave the house my mom thought she forgot something so she pulled back into the driveway but then saw she did have what she need sitting in the passenger seat. Anyway as she looked up to the window of the upstairs bathroom she saw an old man standing in the window wearing a yellow shirt and red suspenders. She says it was very freaky. im glad we didn’t live there for long. mom always said though that the upstairs bathroom always smelled like old man bo.

  25. Oh Mary, I’ve got tears just thinking about it! Do take plenty of pix. Maybe I/you can do a post. Such treasured animals.

    Ah, we just visited Mesa Verde. They say there’s another plane of existence. Fun to thin about.

    Thanks so much for coming by today. xo

  26. Hi Jacquie, wasn’t it the best fun? Such a wonderful group! The stories are all keepers, to cuddle up with in front of the fire. xox Yikes, a ghost in your house? Goose-bumps! Glad she left. 🙂

    Sarah, our other fellow author, I share your feelings yet…I was too nervous to go on a ghost-walk when I was in San Antonio. I would have had to walk to the hotel all by myself…too short to take a cab. But I weenied out.

  27. Hi Melanie, Oh, I hear ya. I love the Good Witch series, and A Christmas Wish is my favorite so far. Ah, sob. Thanks so much for posting today.

    Wow, Cori. I wonder if he lived there once, or on that site before your house was built. Spooky indeed!

    What a fun day to read about everybody’s ghosties!


  28. Fabulous post! I love the rolling pin and have never seen one like it. They have moved our Holloween until tomorrow night because of the storms headed our way. Thanks for a great post and giveaway!

  29. Tanya, I’d love to visit that old mission. I love spooky places…as long as the light is on. Just a few more hours here before the little ghosts and goblins will be ringing my doorbell. I remember as a child how I couldn’t wait for it get dark so I could begin trick-or-treating. And is seemed to take forever.

    Congrats on the new anthology! Your story sounds so good. I’ve downloaded it into my Kindle but haven’t read your story yet. Wishing you all the best!!

  30. One of my very first book ideas, and I was really young, like 18 years old….driving down the highway with some friends as I recall, and we drove past a cemetery and our headlights somehow caught a headstone and it flashed, sort of lit up, just reflecting the headlights.
    In one second, I’m not kidding, just instantly, a whole book was in my head.
    A gruesome murder mystery.
    I still vividly remember it and could write it today.
    Graveyard. Teenagers disrespectful of the dead. Open graves that progressive fill in as teenagers turn up missing. Lots of running and screaming.
    Oh yeah baby.

    And this was before movies like Halloween and Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

    Of course there have always been ghost stories so it’s not like I invented the ghoulish horror story.

    But anyway, not to say I’ve ever had a run in with a ghost….except maybe……inside my strange head! I don’t suppose I knew I was a writer back then….but I should have suspected. LOL

  31. I also dreamed a book years ago. Inspired by the book The Island, written by Peter Benchley who wrOte Jaws. About a motorcycle gang who kidnapped a ranch wife.

    I dreamed the whole book. Beginning, middle and end.

    That’s still rattling around in there, too.

    As always, I’m off topic. Sorry. 🙂

  32. I used to write and direct the Christmas Program for our church’s Sunday School. And it was in the evening. Most years I’d try, in our little church’s modest way and my own modest way, to do something with lights.

    So to have any idea of what the church’s lights would do, the smaller lights, the tree lights, the lights on the pastor’s podium, how I could bring some lighting drama to my little play, I’d try and get in there on a night before the play and fool with the lights.

    So I’d be in there alone……….so very, very alone.

    Our church is not old. It’s not like I’m wandering in a massive stone building left from the 1600s or anything. But I found out that in a very dark building, alone, all sort of SOUNDS occur that are probably there all the time, unnoticed.

    Until it’s dark and quiet.

    Throw in the Holy Ghost and me with–let’s face it–an amazing imagination, and I can sort of need to RUN FOR MY LIFE!!!!

  33. hi Quilt Lady, oooh, stay safe in those storms! We get frustrated here in central coastal California…all the “storms” headed our way (okay, I’m talking about a half inch of rain at best) skip right over us and head to Los Angeles. NOT complaining.

    Have a belated “boo” day! Thanks for the post…always so good to see you here.

  34. Hi Linda, I’ve been to a wedding at the mission, and a funeral, too. No ghosts for me though. I do kinda like the spook factor, although the place is gloriously peaceful in the daytime. Beautiful gardens. Thanks for your support with the antho. I know it means the world to the rest of us. Are you joining us for Valentine’s Day LOL?

    Love you, filly sister. Always grateful for your friendship!!!

  35. LOL Mary! I remember somewhere in my life (not at our church, though) hearing that a Sunday School teacher brought in toy ghosts to explain the Holy Spirit. Sheesh.

    Any place dark and quiet is kinda creepy, even our house. Hubs spent many, many overnights at the fire station, and after the kids left for college, wow, I heard and imagined many things home alone after dark. I purposefully never read really scary suspense books when alone, that’s for sure.

    I totally understand about The Island. Bet you were glad to wake up! xoxox Thanks for sharing today, great fun!

  36. I have never seen a roller like that before… that is a really neat thing. Congrats on the anthology… great combo… Christmas and Cowboys! 😉

  37. hi Colleen, thanks! I am so grateful to King Arthur Flour for loaning me some promo pictures…the recipe that appears in the book! And I soooo agree…what possible combination could be better than cowboys and Christmas!

  38. Hi Again. Just wanted to tell you about my very small town and how we do Trick or Treating. At 5pm, all the main street business’ open their doors for the kids. Main street is filled with all the ghosts and goblins from our town and the neighboring town of Independence. Hardly any kids trick or treat on the side streets. Everybody is on main street. We can get away with this because we are a very small town. And it keeps all the kids safe and they have a great time going up and down the street. My daughter and I set in front of “Jakes” Saloon and hand out candy. (Since the kids can’t go into the establishment.) We have done this for several years, now. And it gives us an opportunity to see all the kids dressed up. Some are priceless and very creative. Just love the small town.
    Since our main street is Hwy 395, we have older kids wearing Vests, that help the little kids cross the street and stop traffic. It all works out.

  39. Hi Mary J, there’s so much to be said for small town life! I can just imagine the older kids watching out for the little ones. This idea really illustrates community spirit! Have a wonderful time!

  40. Tanya, what a great blog. I’ve never seen that type of rolling pen. I love it! My favorite mission on the Central Coast of California is La Purisima in Lompoc where my oldest daughter and family live. It has the ghosts of the Spanish soldiers and the Chumash Indians from their battle of 1820. I’d love to write an historical set in that mission. The Chumash, soldiers and the Franciscan padres lived together for many years. I love it. As a matter of fact, I had to look up the spelling for the mission and was shocked at the number of buildings in California who have ghosts. I love the Winchester House in San Jose, too. My book “The Tycoon and the Texan” has a real ghost that lives up on Harris Grade a winding, dangerous road leading out of Lompoc. Her name is Agnes and she and her child ran off the road on one of the turns on a foggy, rainy night in the 1800’s or earlier and both were killed. She searches the area for her child. Now the stories have it that Agnes is a made-up ghost to keep teens off the road, but as I said in my book … just tell that to someone who has seen her! I had a reviewer that didn’t believe the story and thought it was nothing but a filler, but Agnes is real…I promise! Thanks, Tanya, for a great blog. Hugs, Phyliss

  41. Hi Phyllis, Oh I love La Purisima…it’s probably my favorite of the missions I’ve visited because it’s a real working rancho. I loved all the animals there. You can even have retreats there! Wouldn’t that be something…didn’t know it’s haunted, though. Shiver…lo-o-o-o-ove the story about Agnes.
    Thanks for the great comment today, filly sister! xo

  42. Oh this is fun! It is the first time I’ve read a blog that I personally know some of the places that you all are mentioning. Have been to that fabulous Mission Inn..just stepping inside makes you feel as if you are transported into the past. It does make a body have the shivers with the thought of all the famous & not so famous who walked & might still walk those halls! La Purisima is another walk with the ghosts of the past. Cool,quiet areas where the ancient ones lived, in power for some, in powerlessness for others. It feels like they are all whispering to the visitor Tanya, your book sounds like a wonderful read. I might need my blankie & cup of tea to ward off those shivers from your book! If I can find MY mother’s springle rolling pin, I’d like to try that recipe as an added treat. Good luck on the book! 🙂

  43. Tanya, forgot to tell about a house we lived in in WY. at times we would hear our bathroom door open so plainly that once when my husband was working nights, I heard that door and thought sure my husband get up and started fixing his breakfast. My 2 girls heard it too. But then went to tell him it was ready, he was in bed and said he had not gotten up and went to the bathroom. Also one night when we went somewhere the girls heard someone on the closed in porch or backdoor, so called the Police. They told us they had come and checked real good and there wasn’t any tracks in the snow. Sure scared those girls. And, have wondered about this MobileHome. I hear real loud crashes at night that makes me think something maybe fell off the wall like a photo. Makes me stay awake for a long time tho I get my gun and quitely check everything. Looked for something thats fallen , even off a table. Nothing. This has happened a lot in the 16 years I’ve lived here. Maxie

  44. Yikes, Maxie, looks like you have a spectral friend. I say…write this into a story! Fun!

    Thanks to all y’all for wishing us well, for all the love, and for all your ghost stories!

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