Julie Benson’s Winner

I hope y’all had a Happy Halloween. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk ghost stories. Some of your experiences left me more than a little spooked. 

The winner of my Halloween Giveaway is…

Stephanie Jenkins Ortiz Cerillo

Stephanie, send me an email at julie@juliebenson.net with your snail mail address, and thanks again to everyone who stopped by to talk about things that go bump in the night!

Julie

Author Nerys Leigh Coming to Visit Friday!

Historical Christian author Nerys Leigh will visit on Friday, November 2, 2018!

She’ll discuss the problems that often arose when a woman married a stranger such as what happened over and over when a mail order bride went west.

I know you’ll want to join this interesting conversation.

Leave a comment to enter the drawing for an ebook!

Winner will choose any from her Escape to the West series.

So pull up your garters and hitch up the wagon on Friday.

Help us welcome Miss Nerys.

 

Halloween, Ghost Stories, and Weddings! What? Weddings?

 

Yup, you read that right.  How do I get from the first two to the later? It’s easy when the wedding is in Estes Park, Colorado, at The Stanley Hotel, the famed inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining.

First a little history. Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora, missing the east’s grandeur, opened The Stanley Hotel complete with electric lights, telephones, en suite bathrooms, uniformed staff and a fleet of automobiles in 1909 among the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado. However, by the 1970’s the hotel’s splendor had faded, and it might have been demolished if not for Stephen King.

The famed author stayed in Room 217 and a dream here inspired The Shining. The room is thought to be haunted by Elizabeth Wilson. Injured in 1911 in an explosion lighting lanterns in Room 217, when recovered, Mrs. Wilson became head chambermaid and worked at the hotel until her death. Since then, guests have reported luggage being unpacked (now this I’d appreciate ?) and lights being turned on and off. Mrs. Wilson, not a fan of unmarried couples sharing the room, has been known to show her displeasure by climbing into bed between them!

The Concert Hall is another room frequented by otherworldly inhabitants including Flora Stanley. When the hotel opened, F.O. presented Flora with a Steinway Grand Piano. Since her passing, guests and staff claim Flora can still be heard playing. Paul, a jack-of-all trades at the hotel, enjoys frequenting this room as well. Charged with enforcing the hotel’s curfew during his tenure, guests and workers claim Paul can be heard saying “get out” after hours. He’s also said to “nudge” construction workers and flicker flashlights for tour groups here.

On the hotel’s fourth floor, originally a cavernous attic where female staff, nannies and children stayed, guests report hearing children running, laughing, giggling and playing. People also claim a certain closet opens and closes on its own. In room 428, guests report footsteps and furniture being moved above them. However, many claim this impossible due to the roof’s slope. But the room’s most frequent ghostly visitor is a “friendly cowboy” appearing by the bed. Now that’s the room for me! What a great opportunity for hero research!

These are a small sample of the ghost stories associated with The Stanley Hotel. If you’re interested in more tales, I recommend Ghost Stories of the Estes Valley Volumes 1 and 2 by Celeste Lasky. (I purchased mine at The Stanley but they’re available on Amazon.)

If you visit Estes Park, maybe you’ll be inspired as I was. That’s where the idea for my first novel sold to Harlequin, Big City Cowboy, literally walked up to me. But that’s a story for another blog…

If you stay at The Stanley Hotel, could you’ll encounter F.O. Stanley hovering behind his staff at the reception desk. ? If you do, keep these tips from tripsavvy.com on how to capture ghosts on camera in mind. “Take five or six quick shots to capture a fleeting spirit. Oh, and bring up back-up batteries because paranormal experts will tell you if spirits are present, they’ll have a draining effect on your batteries.”

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about a place where you’ve encountered a ghost or that’s left you feeling a bit creepy to be entered in my give away. And oh, yes, Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Here We Come a Wassailing

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year … Halloween!  Not only did I have a granddaughter born on Halloween and she’ll turn 21 tomorrow, but I love the kids, their costumes, and giving out treats.  I took ten bags of candy to the church today for our annual Trunk or Treat.  So many wonderful memories.

But oh do I love apple wassail to kick off the holiday season.  I didn’t realize the tradition of Apple Wassail, which is a form of wassailing practiced in the cider orchards of southern England during the winter some five centuries ago.  The first recorded mention was at Fordwich, Kent, in 1585.  Groups of young men would go between orchards performing the rite for a reward. The practice was sometimes referred to as “howling”.  On the Twelfth Night, men would go with their wassail bowl into apple orchards.  Slices of bread or toast were laid at the roots and sometimes tied to branches.  Cider was also poured over the tree roots.  The ceremony is said to “bless” the trees to produce a good crop the next season.

A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the Apple Tree Man, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is thought to reside.  In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried gold.

Here’s a couple of well know and fun traditional Apple Wassail rhymes.

“Stand fast root, bear well to

Pray for God send us a howling good crop.

Every twig apple big.

Every Bough, apples now.”

                                                                            19th century Sussex, Surrey

“But by far here’s the one we all know.

Here we come a wassailing

Among the leaves so green,

Here we come a wandering

So fair to be seen.

Love and joy come to you,

And to you your wassail too.

And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.

And God send you a happy New Year.”

                                                            Somerset, 1971

The wassail recipe is very easy and fun to make and drink.

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 quart cranberry juice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 stick (6 inch size) cinnamon.

Tie the spices in a cheesecloth bag.  Add the spice bag and all remaining ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

For a party or a carry-in, heat in a crock pot on low temperature.

Optional:  Garnish individual servings with a cinnamon stick and orange slice.  Serves 24.

My question to you:  What is your favorite holiday beverage?

 

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will give away an eBook of my latest Kasota Springs Romance “Out of a Texas Night”.

Deadline Brain and a Contest!

I’ll admit it. I have deadline brain. Thus the reason I’m writing this post at 2:38 a.m. after finishing writing for the day. You see, I have a book due Friday, the third book in my Once Upon a Western series, and my brain feels as if it’s the consistency of oatmeal. Yum, oatmeal, I’m hungry. I need to go to bed and have the oatmeal tomorrow (or later today, ack!). Anyway, let’s have some fun today. I’m going to ask you five questions, and I’ll draw for a winner at the end of the day for a surprise pack of three books from my western backlist.

Okay, here we go:

1. You’re driving through the wide open American West and listening to your all-time favorite song. What is it? This is my favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx51eegLTY8

2. You win a vacation to a week at a dude ranch or a spa with views of the red rock formations of the Southwest. Which do you pick?

3. If they were going to remake a classic western movie, which one would you like to see remade? Who would you like to see in the lead?

4. You are invited on stage to sing with someone famous. Who would it be?

5. You get to pick a name for the newest bull on the PBR circuit. What would it be?

Tina Dee Has Winners!!

 

Thank you for visiting, Miss Tina! We loved having you and talking about ranches.

Now for the random drawing……………….

Here are the winners for Wildflower Ranch……………………

MELANIE BACKUS

SHERRIE

KATIE ANDERSEN

There you go. Big congrats, ladies! Watch for Miss Tina’s email.

 

We’ve got lots in store for everyone in November so stay tuned!

Welcome Guest Author ~ Tina Dee!


Heritage and Legacy – Lessons from Rankin Ranch to an Author

Tina Dee author photo
Tina Dee with Molly

 

My name is Tina Dee and I write Christian romantic-comedy, both contemporary and historical.
My stories feature heroines with grit, gumption, and grace—and the heroes who fall in love with them. My characters are flawed but loveable.

I love the old west. But what I really love is bits of the old west’s grit, gumption, and grace preserved in today’s world. Dude or guest ranches fascinate me, especially ones that had their beginnings, of some sort, over a hundred years ago.

 

~ Researching Rankin Ranch ~

I found one such place while researching ranches for my Wildflower Ranch series—a fascinating 31,000-acre place called Rankin Ranch, located in what they describe as a ‘mountain valley deep in the heart of California’s Tehachapi mountains, and at the southern end of the Sequoia National forest.’

Rankin Ranch has all the makings of a great western story—it is a great western story, but I’m not going to retell it, since the Quarter Circle U Rankin Ranch has its own incredible story already shared on their website. I’ll just highlight a few things and invite you over via their link later in this post.

For now, I wanted to share what really pulled me into their story and why their place—their story—is an inspiration for a story I’m writing now (which will be out at the end of the month, called The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch, book 15 in the Whispers in Wyoming series), and why it’s my continued inspiration for my own series called, Short Stories from Wildflower Ranch (Wildflower Ranch, book 1 and Wrangled Into Love, book 2—with more stories to come this year and next).

Overland Team at Rankin Ranch barn

-The Quarter Circle U Rankin Ranch once served as a stage stop for the Overland mail route. The old barn where the teamsters’ horses were tended to is still used today for hay storage.

-The ranch is still run by 4th, 5th, and 6th generation Rankins.

The Rankin Family

For me, the most incredible part of the story comes during the 1950s when the matriarch of the family, Helen—who was newly widowed—had to make a decision about the ranch—to sell it, or to keep it. I invite you to read about the cattle ranch’s rich history here, and then read about its guest ranch history here. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Helen Rankin

In my stories, I always try to write about women with grit, gumption, and grace who are facing challenges that they feel are beyond them but they find their way to their future and their everyday-romantic-hero by those same virtues. Helen Rankin was an archetype of those very qualities; she was faced with overwhelming challenges that she met head-on, and generations later, the family and the ranch are still thriving.

Here’s a little blurb from my book …

 

Sometimes love blooms in the places you least expect…

Charlene “Charlie” Evans is ready for a new beginning after a terrible riding accident leaves her unable to compete in the Rodeo World Championship. When she receives a job offer, as foreman for a ranch, she gladly accepts. So what if she sort of passed herself off as a man in order to get the job?

Dan Richards is offered the ranch of his dreams from his terminally ill uncle for a price he can’t refuse. He jumps at the chance to own a ranch he has loved since childhood. However, when he arrives at the place it’s not what he had hoped for, or as he remembered. The ranch is in shambles. With no experience, where does he go from here?

Will Dan and Charlie let God help them find new dreams on Wildflower Ranch?

A Christian romantic-comedy novella.

Thank you for letting me share a bit about my Wildflower Ranch series and where the real-life inspiration for the ranch came from. 

For updates about my stories, I send out a newsletter twice a month with giveaways and other fun stuff. Please feel invited to sign up for my newsletter at Tina Dee Books Newsletter. You can also follow me on Amazon here.

I will be giving away a copy of Wildflower Ranch to three commenters. If you’re not chosen, you can still get the book on Amazon here.