That’s right, I’ve chosen two winners instead of one for my “Name That Character” contest. I really appreciate all the great suggestions, but two of them really spoke to me, so much so that I’d like to use them both and give my current heroine two friends who will be heroines of future stories instead of one. Both winners will receive the same prize — books from me and acknowledgment of your name suggestions in my novellas.
The winners are…
Cindy Woolard — for the name Gwynette (Gwynnie for short); this will be the heroine who works at the antique store.
DebraG — for the name Tallulah (Tally for short); this will be the second friend, about who I currently know nothing. LOL!
If you both could contact me with your email and physical mailing addresses via the Contact page on my website, I’ll get the books out to you.
I’ve always loved spring despite the fact that seasonal allergies have been the bane of my existence in recent years. But we moved away from pollen-ladden Nashville (a great city full of great people but also full of copious amounts of pollen that staged attacks on my sinuses) to the Gulf Coast of Florida. This past winter was the first one in my entire life where I never saw frost or a single snowflake, and I’m not complaining. 🙂 Even so, there’s still a different feel to spring here versus an admittedly more pleasant winter. It’s warmer, the sun is stronger, and people are flooding to the beach during their spring breaks from school. There’s the scent of sunscreen in the air, and when my husband and I went to the zoo yesterday I saw a lot of unfortunate sunburns.
I’ve always loved the sense of renewal that comes with spring. Gray, cold days giving way to warmth and sun. Dead grass giving way to green. Flowers popping up everywhere. So it’s extra exciting that this spring is also giving birth to the latest book in my Blue Falls, Texas series, In the Rancher’s Arms. I really like this story because the heroine has a similar background to me — as a journalist. Although she was an international reporter covering really important stories that were often dangerous, the latest of which led to her being kidnapped by human traffickers. I never had the nerve to go that route in my work, although I greatly admire those who do. After being saved, Arden comes back to her hometown of Blue Falls, Texas to heal and, this being a romance, finds love.
I’m also excited to be working on an independent project that’s connected to Blue Falls. I’ve created a new small town (Poppy) nearby and am going to be self-publishing a series of novellas set there. (You’ll also see Poppy appear in my Blue Falls book that will be out this fall.) I’ve only just started on the first one, so it’ll be a while before I’m ready to reveal that story to the world. However, I thought it would be fun to have a giveaway today that’s a little different than normal.
My heroine’s best friend, who I plan to be a heroine of a future story, helps run an antique store with her parents in this little town. I’d like her to have a fun, unique, perhaps even quirky name. So I’m asking for suggestions. I’ll pick my favorite and the winner will receive a packet of books from me as well as acknowledgment in that novella for your contribution. (Legal Note: The winner won’t receive any monetary remuneration or have any claim to the character and/or her name. This is just a fun way to engage with my readers that I thought everyone might enjoy.)
On the ranch, spring means new calves! It’s an exciting time to see all the babies that have to be vaccinated and marked for identification. Believe it or not, cattle rustling is still common, so the mark is a necessary measure to keep cattle with their rightful owner.
Today we do our best to handle our animals with the least amount of stress possible. We freeze brand instead of hot brand. The freeze brand kills the hair follicle and the new hair that comes in is white, so instead of a scar, the animal has white hair in the shape of the brand. The freeze is accomplished by mixing dry ice and alcohol. The special iron is soaked in this solution in a cooler, and when it comes out, it’s extremely cold. Getting a freeze brand can be compared to removing a wart with liquid nitrogen.
Here are some photos from last spring’s branding:
First the cattle are brought in and the calves sorted out.
The calves are moved through a chute and put onto a rotating table, which is eased onto its side.
Once on its side, the calf gets the necessary vaccinations and the mark is applied. The record keeper marks down the ear tag number and the sex, and any important notes about the animal. If the animal has any injuries or concerns, they are dealt with then.
After the calve is marked and innoculated, it is released to return to its mother.
Branding is an activity shared by family, friends and neighbors. Everyone pitches in and afterward there’s a big dinner. This gathering of neighbors and friends is very important in communities where ranches are often separated by many miles, and many hands are needed to accomplish an necessary task.
But they’re cute enough it might be okay to post them again. And this one of a baby standing up for the first time is just so fun, to see it’s wobbly little self. IF that embedded link doesn’t work click HERE
And another sign of spring around here…DAFFODILS
They look beautiful this year, most years they seem to almost bloom then FREEZE OFF!
But 2017 is a good daffodil year.
And I got this picture but JUST BARELY of a spring kitten running through the cow yard.
I hadn’t seen it before and it’s already getting big, but still a baby kitten.
It’s springtime at the Junction, and it’s my favorite season of the year. The countryside is turning green, wildflowers are blooming, the Texas sun shines without the deadly summer heat, and blue skies lift my spirits. The signs of new life and fresh beginnings fill me with hope.
By far, my favorite spring sightings in Texas are the bluebonnets. I start looking for them every year around this time. They don’t generally start blooming this far north until April, but sometimes I catch a glimpse of a few early ones peeking through the grass along the highway.
One of my other favorite things about spring is all the birthdays in my family. My husband’s birthday was March 9, my youngest son’s was March 22, and today is my mom’s birthday.
In honor of my mom, I’m going to give away a set of three books by the lovely Tracie Peterson. This is her Sapphire Brides series – and since sapphires are blue and bluebonnets are blue – it seemed fitting. (OK, that’s a bit of a stretch, but who cares? It’s free books!)
To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment describing your favorite element of spring.
I am thrilled to kick off the Spring Special Week for Petticoats and Pistols. Being a born and raised Texan, I couldn’t resist doing a blog on the Spring wildflowers of Texas.
We have an abundance of variations of wildflowers in the state. Being 1,244 miles wide and 801 miles from north to south, we equal some 268,601 square miles with topography from the Gulf of Mexico to the caprock of the Panhandle then east to the thickness of East Texas and back west to the Llano Estacado. The “Lone Star” state has 254 counties spread over this quarter of a million square miles. Needless to say, we have a record number of wildflowers.
Our state flower is the beautiful bluebonnet; one of more than 5,000 species of flowering plants native to Texas. Their abundance is the results of an exceptional multitude of plant habitats and weather conditions. One of the old sayin’ around our parts is: “If you don’t like the weather, just stick around it’ll change by tomorrow.” I don’t know who coined the phrase, but it’s so very true.
My darling husband retired from the Texas Highway Department (now the Department of Highways and Public Transportation). Along the roads of the Texas highway system lie more than 700,000 acres of right of way. TexDot cares for every acre and their commitment led to making the landscape more beautiful by transplanting wild flowers. I’m not going to go into where the 5,000 wildflower species are planted, I’m just going to hit some of my favorite types of wildflowers and a tad about them. One little personal note that might save you a ticket. It’s against the law to pull a wildflower along our highways.
In my town on the corner of two of our busiest streets is a huge Yucca plant that always blooms in the spring. Native Texans held the Yucca in high regard for its practical uses. The stalks were roasted or dried for eating. Prehistoric humans reportedly twisted the fibers into twine and rope to make belts and bow strings. Yucca roots were pounded to a pulp and mixed with water to make shampoo. It’s still a popular base of many shampoos and body bars today.
The Indian Blanket of bright red-and-yellow-flowers in the height of spring, hold many legends. One came to light around 1928 and really stands out for me. A young Native American girl was lost in the woods, and as the cold night fell, she asked “The Great Spirit” to cover her with the beautiful blanket she had seen her mother weaving for her warrior father. When she woke the next morning, she found the fields covered in gaillardia, which her people called the Indian blanket from that day forth. The original Indian Blanket flower were entirely yellow, per folklore.
Another flower native to Texas is Indian Paintbrush. They are known as the co-star to the Bluebonnet and are seen together in many fields. There are approximately 200 different species of the flower, and nine are Texas natives. While Indian Paintbrush is by far the flower’s most common name, it is occasionally called butterfly weed, prairie fire, painted lady, and grandmother’s hair. The last nickname can be attributed to the Chippewa tribe, who used the flower to make a hair wash and treat women’s ailments including rheumatism.
I want to leave you with one of the least favorite wildflowers of Texas, but one that really sticks in my mind. The Jimsonweed, also known as the Thorn Apple and Angel Trumpet, is a large, white, trumpet-shaped flower that can be found from one end of the state to the other. It holds a refreshing surprise. My first encounter with the Jimsonweed was in San Antonio where my oldest daughter and family once lived. They built their house in an area where they had land behind the house and in the spring a number of vegetables and flowers would come up, corn for one. Along the sidewalk there was natural Jimsonweed; therefore, the walk was built to follow the plant up to the house. During the day there was nothing but a vine, no flower, really nothing by big green leaves. This went on for months until I went outside in the middle of the night and there were beautiful trumpet flowers on the branches. This wildflower stays dormant until sundown and blooms at night! One of the amazing things is that the plant is poisonous by nature and has a bad odor and taste; therefore, livestock and wild animals stay away from it. It has to be one of the most interesting wildflowers of Texas.
What is your favorite wildflower? I know I focused on Texas, but every state has their favorite. If you don’t have a favorite then please share with us your state’s flower.
For three lucky winners, I am giving away an eBook of my latest Kasota Springs Romance “The Troubled Texan”.
I just received word that “The Troubled Texan” eBooks is still on sale at all major retailers and they’ve extended both the special pricing of 99 cents to April 12th, as well as additional outlets.
Howdy to all our friends and family! This year, the fillies are taking turns celebrating each beautiful season. Join us all next week for a spring fling of blooms and beauty, fresh starts and fun as we take a Spring Break!
You never know what you’re gonna find so come and join the fun!
Yee-Haw! You might win something!
Special thanks to Kelli McCaslin of South Lake Tahoe, California, for the beautiful photographs. We so appreciate you sharing your talent with us!