A New Year, A New Western Series!

I am absolutely delighted to start off the new year with a brand new Western trilogy from Love Inspired Books.

 

On shelves nationwide right now, at Walmarts and Krogers and Winn-Dixies, and wherever mass-market paperbacks are sold. I’m so excited about this series, tucked into the heartland of Washington State, where fruit rules the land, and small farms are being gobbled up by major fruit conglomerates as soon as they become available. And I’m not against big business. I’m a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise.

But I’m also a small farm owner and the landscape of the American farm will change drastically if we lose all these small farms, roadside stands and  hands-on farming opportunities. Sure, bigger is better in some ways…

But it can also be production-line impersonal, so we need to strike a balance.

And that’s why I wrote this book. The pumpkin farmer in me loves small business and roadside stands and loves shopping local whenever possible, but it went deeper than that. It went to the hero’s story, a man who served his country well but lost his edge after a tragic military accident.

And then God puts Libby Creighton in his path. A falling-down farm. Time to harvest. A very sick elderly man. And Jax McClaren has every skill that Libby needs to make this final season a good one for her aging grandfather, but does he have the inner strength to do it?

I fell in love with Jax. I think you will, too!

And you’re going to love this glimpse of orcharding, a spunky pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps heroine, a super cute kid, a guy who learns to forgive himself and maybe– just maybe– has the chance to re-script the life that he thought he didn’t deserve.

So January here on the farm begins four months of quiet time… much appreciated quiet time! I get to write more, and I start each year by planning my writing schedule for the upcoming two years. That way I know when I have breaks in the action and how to plan out my writing hours to make sure everything gets done.

We have snow.

We have cute kids.

We have a new furnace, and this will be my first winter with warmth, so I’m frankly excited about that, LOL!  We’ve been heating with wood but long cold winters and a sprawling old farmhouse left cold pockets, but no more… And heat is something to happy dance about!

So what’s your winter look like? Is it peaceful like mine or do you have 400,000,000 things to do? Tell me about it!

I have two copies of “A Hopeful Harvest” to give away today, so leave a comment below and we’ll chat!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. I love the old New England version of Thanksgiving with the turkey and stuffing and potatoes and all the trimmings, minus green bean casserole. (No offense, green beans, but I don’t like them mushy!)

Cranberry and orange relish…

Eggnog.

Apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, pecan pie, banana cream pie, cream puffs.

I love a great dessert table after a beautiful meal, mostly because we spend summer and fall living on burgers and sandwiches and whatever we can grab quickly because there’s little time for fussing. So it’s fun to fuss on Thanksgiving and there are a whole bunch of us helping.

Now we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday (today). We do the family Thanksgiving tomorrow so that my kids with in-laws aren’t split by two hours at one house, two hours at another, and then two hours at another. So today whoever is at our house baking for tomorrow will have Chicken French and Artichoke French and for the two fellows who don’t love those, we’ll throw a steak on the grill….

That picture is two years old, but you get the idea… All hands on deck for baking!

And then tomorrow, tradition reigns.

I love seeing family all get together, but it happens rarely with a couple of kids far away, so whenever it happens, we celebrate! It doesn’t have to be a holiday because anytime I’ve got my kids around is a holiday.  And that’s even when we’re grabbing bologna sandwiches during the busy farm season because we’re all doing this together. And together is what makes it special.

And if you’re at a stage of life where you can’t or don’t get together with family for Thanksgiving, then you can spend your day with the sweet Lord who offers life and hope. It’s fun to have family around, but I know it’s tiring, too.

God isn’t tiring. He’s inspiring and loves you to distraction, so whatever your day holds, I pray that it’s a warm, embracing day, filled with love near and far.

A day to just simply give thanks.

God bless you!

And yes, I’m giving away another copy of our Christmas anthology “Christmas at Star Inn”!

I love these stories!

Leave a comment about whatever you’re giving thanks for today… no thought is too little or too grand. It’s all good. And if you’d like prayers for something, well we’re happy to do that, too!

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet friends!

Ruthy

Ruthy’s Winners!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Happy to announce two winners for a copy of “A Hopeful Harvest” because lo and behold, I opened the prize vault and there were TWO COPIES!!!! Congratulations to Abigail and Joye! Email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com and she’ll get your snail mail from you!

Nationwide Release Mid-December!

An Old Western Thanksgiving

by Pollyanna-loving blogger Ruth Logan Herne

We’ve all got our own traditions for Thanksgiving, don’t we?

Being in Western New York, our traditions are very New England… the turkey and stuffing and gravy and mashed potatoes and maybe corn… rolls and butter. Cranberry sauce!

Oh, it’s a delightful way of putting on the dog and thanking God that one day a year…. (I’m of a mind we should be doing that on a more daily basis, but this is a Thanksgiving post, not a lecture. 🙂

Down south I have friends who can’t have Thanksgiving without barbecue…. and I mean real “cue” with brisket and cornbread or corn pudding (SO DELICIOUS!!!) and shrimp-and-grits and coke.

Notice the lower case, because all soft drinks are cokes. 🙂

And if you wander to Tex-Mex country, you might find traditional turkey in some places, but you might find a vast buffet of Hispanic foods, too….

And in an Italian house, what’s Thanksgiving without lasagna?

Unthinkable!

In the old west, in the early railroad days or pre-railroad days, you cooked what you had. What you grew. What you shot or trapped or bagged.

So Thanksgiving might be fresh fish or salt cod.

It might be chicken and dumplings if you were lucky enough to have started a flock of chickens and could spare one.

It might be smoked venison if you bagged a deer or an elk.

Or it could be birds… Not turkeys. Smaller birds. Game birds.

Or if you had the know-how to grow a pig over the summer, then butchering time might give you a fresh ham or a smoked ham… or bacon… or chops. Smoking and salting cured meat so that it would last longer.

We’re talking about lack of ice in an upcoming post and that was a big concern in parts of the west. you could cut block ice in the north, but that wasn’t happening in the lower states… not with a huge degree of keeping things cold because their winter is much shorter.

But when it comes right down to it, does it matter what we eat?

Naw.

Or what day we celebrate giving thanks to God for all of our blessings?

Nope.

When family is together, we choose that day. With a big family you can’t be governed by a calendar… so we choose to be governed by love. 🙂

How about you? Do you have a traditional-style Thanksgiving?

Or are you a little more regionally acclimated?

Let me know below!

And I have a copy of my upcoming Love Inspired book “A Hopeful Harvest” in the prize closet for one lucky person!

Next week is my mailing week…. and I’d love to pick your name!

Nationwide Release Mid-December!

Happy Halloween from The Pumpkin Farm!

It’s rare that I’m publishing anything on a blog right on Halloween, but this year I am!

How fun is that?

And just so you know, I’m not a big Halloween fan although I love kids going trick-or-treating. It’s just crazy fun and my kids loved it. I loved it as a kid, too! Free candy! #BONUS!!!!

But here on the farm Halloween marks the end of the pumpkin sale season.

This farm wagon was a find two years ago and we love it. It’s the perfect focal point for our displays and it “morphs’ as the season matures. It starts out with lots of big stacks of pumpkins, like you see here, but as those sell out, we replace them with smaller stacks… and more big orange or big green or white pumpkins. Like any season, it’s ever-changing and we truly celebrate the season of color that’s so famous here in the Northeast Woodlands. Being so close to Lake Ontario, our leaves stay green longer, giving the feel of a longer and nicer fall season!

Closing the farm stand is always a mixed blessing. We love wrapping things up… Having time for other things for six months, until it’s time to plant, till, plant, spray, water, plant, repeat!

Our theory is this: Sell every pumpkin and squash you can at great prices and people will be happy, they will love you and they’ll come again and again and they will bring friends.

This concept, a wholly different marketing ploy than the USDA recommends, is building us a solid business that benefits the community, our little farm, people outside our community and our family because it is truly a family project. And that family includes friends, too… friends who volunteer their time on weekends to help customers so we can keep prices down.

This Mandy and Lisa and Lisa’s daughter McKenna, all set up for business on an early September day…

It means insight, too… annual growth within a budget because trying to build on credit and interest is a rookie mistake. Few of us are going to turn into Chip and Joanna (Loved their Magnolia Story) and end up with an HGTV contract that goes viral, so trying to invest while living within the budget is the trick. Stuff costs money. And expansion isn’t cheap, but when we’re talking small business, building a base is the beginning, just like building a Lego house. Without a strong platform/base, the blocks will topple in the wind.

I’ve shown you pics of the “results”… the gorgeous pumpkins and displays and so many happy customers. What a treat!

So for a business like this there are both tricks… and treats. And Farmer Dave and I aren’t exactly young. (Well, I feel young, so does that count????) But we’re living a dream that we’ve always wanted to do…

And who knows how much time the Good Lord will give us? Not us, certainly, but there’s an Erma Bombeck quote that I hold close to my heart in family, in writing, in business, in pumpkins:

“I want to stand before God at the end of my days and be able to say I used everything you gave me.”

That’s me.

Talent is given to so many, but taking that talent and mixing it with a strong work ethic is a wonderful thing. And the fact that it’s not a universal trait is what gives some a leg up.

Our beautiful nation was built on hard work. On sacrifice. On sacrificial love. Those elements are part of our platform and our heritage. I want to see them help shape our future.

Tonight I’ll go trick-or-treating with a few cute grandkids… We live on a country road, so generally there are no trick-or-treaters at our house, but the joy in knowing that lots of those pumpkins and displays were part of Blodgett Family Farm and our goal to bring affordable family fun back to the farm is like being part of new family traditions.

And that makes us happy!

AND to add to today’s fun, I collaborated with the amazing Margaret Brownley and Mary Connealy for this beautiful collection releasing in SIX DAYS!!!! “Christmas at Star Inn” is a wonderful anthology of weary travelers who lodge at the iconic “Star Inn” in Heywood, Oregon at the base of Mt. Hood… It’s time to get in the season of faith, hope and love… and the greatest of these is love! I’m giving away an e-copy of this to one happy reader, but let me know you’d like it… when you tell me about your upcoming holidays. Love ’em? Or kind of dread ’em? Or somewhere in the middle??? Let’s talk it out right here. Right now!

 

Our new release!

 

OH! AND WINNER FROM LAST MONTH!!! Do you see where my brain is? It is mush in September and October, and for good reason. Joy Ellis, you are the winner of “The Sewing Sisters Society” novella collection! Let me know if you would like a print or an e-copy and I’ll have my friends at Amazon send that right out to you! Congratulations!

When is a Western a Western?

Well, this cover leaves no doubt, right? Aya caramba!

This is one of those conundrum questions with no right answer.

Does a Western need cowboys?

No.

But cowboys are always welcome here! 🙂

Does a Western need six-shooters or guns or shoot-outs?

Nope, but they want you to respect the 2nd Amendment and their right to carry.

Where are Westerns located?

Oh, gadzooks, this is a tough one! Typically west of the Mississippi, but would you set a Western in California? Probably not. Oregon? Yes, in parts, away from the coast especially. How about Washington state?

Yep, Central Washington is cowboy territory, with or without traditional cowboy dress or western garb.  Texas, yes… Arizona? Not so much, maybe, even though there are ranches in Arizona, the spiking temps and lack of water don’t lend themselves to a lot of Western settings. But like anything else, there can be exceptions to the rule.

Part of this is researching your area. We all understand western expansion, the purchases that netted America from “sea to shining sea” which is pretty amazing in and of itself, right? And that gives us a whole scope of locations and settings, and then the author’s job is to be true to the setting. It’s amazing how differently school calendars and sports and systems are run from the east vs. the west. Or even within certain states. Learning the flora and fauna so you don’t plug sagebrush into Indiana or Missouri… or Live Oaks in New York or Ohio when they love, need and want a warmer climate.

We authors think long and hard about setting. We want it to balance the book and fit the situation and often to tax the characters whether it’s my blizzard-like snows in “Back in the Saddle” in Central Washington (Double S Series) or the hard, craggy landscape surrounding Pine Ridge Ranch in my Shepherd’s Crossing series set in Western Idaho.

And of course living in Western New York gives me every right to write westerns, right? 🙂 Laughing here, because an author’s love of genre or setting or style isn’t about where they’re from–

It’s where they’re willing to go and research and explore! To that end, I loved creating my historical western series set in Second Chance, South Dakota, smack dab in Laura Ingalls Wilder country. It’s so much fun to mix two favorite genres: Western & Historical and come up with absolutely delightful stories.

What’s your favorite kind of Western? Contemporary? Historical? Or is it the location that makes it sing to you?

 

I’ve got a copy of my Sewing Sisters’ Society novella collection for one commenter today… a fun look at settling the west, one romance at a time!

 

Color on the New York Farm for This Western Author!

All y’all know that I live in Western New York, right? And I figure that the title “Western” is all I need to write wonderful award-winning westerns… and a whole lotta other stuff, too, because I am so blessed to be doing exactly what I always hoped, dreamed of and wanted to do. Write the kind of stories I love to read…

But we talked about the other side of being me, and that’s the farm side which from May to October is REALLY INTENSIVE and mostly fun, we will not talk about GFS.

“Grumpy Farmer Syndrome”

We’ll keep that under wraps, okay? 🙂

I had two books release in June and July… The final mystery of “Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard” “Just Over the Horizon” and I loved being part of that New England series! So fun! And I worked with a great team of authors and editors to put it all together. SWEET! 

AVAILABLE HERE!

Beautiful ending to a wonderful series!

And then there was the third Fitzgerald Sister story “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart”, the beautiful finale to the Shepherd’s Crossing series set in ranching country of Western Idaho,

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON….

 

How fun to be able to do two things I love. Write books, and help run a pumpkin farm that’s about to explode with pumpkins, corn stalks, hay, straw, ornamental corn, baked goods, stacking tables (for stacking pumpkins) mini-donkeys (Alexis and Tanya) wood rounds, wood stumps, firewood (all Dave, please…. although I can run power tools, I don’t play with chainsaws!)

And yesterday our pest control service came to annihilate multiple bee hives, including a monster-sized paper wasp nest with a LOT OF INHABITANTS that’s right over our display yard…. sorry, wasps. When you start paying the taxes, you get to stay. 🙂

Here are some shots of the busy-ness that’s been going on the past two weeks, including bringing small people on board. Our maxim is: Start ’em young at Blodgett Family Farm!

 

Decorating the big red wagon is always a fun job! This is where it begins…

 

My sister Ginny and wonderful niece Amanda are here, helping paint things in the garage/artist studio. (It’s really JUST A GARAGE that’s filled with nice people volunteering their time!)

My buddy Lisa is the creative genius behind a whole bunch of new things on the farm, pretty fall decoratives that add color and punch to the displays.
Amanda and Paul are building the backdrop to the photo op… so families can stand in front of it and have their picture taken at no cost…. We’ll finish it up in a day or two, but here’s a shot from last year’s photo op…
Photo op when Cinderella came to visit the farm last October!
Always time for romance!!!!
One of our newest mums, aren’t they gorgeous?
Xavier, creating stacks of pumpkins for the displays… Don’t you love those rich tones?
My friend Lisa designed the new mum signs… and check these colors. Aren’t they wonderful? This Rustic look features classic mum colors and our “Farm Chic” display is more Fixer Upper/Joanna friendly, with subtle tones. So fun to play in this world and make my entire yard a decoration!
Xavier with a couple of his stacks as we fill the wagon!

 

And this is what the wagon looks like right now:

 

So this is how I keep busy over the summer, and after a wondrously busy August, September and October, I am sooooo ready for winter. No kidding, that’s my time of peace and focus on writing, writing, writing….

It puts me in my happy place!

 

 

Summer on the Farm

I don’t live in the West.

I love to write westerns (and other stories, too!) but I live in Western New York. I am in the “Eastern Woodlands” according to the Kratt Brothers (we love Wild Kratts!) but if it’s the western part of the state, that should count for something. 🙂

We grow pumpkins.

We grow other stuff too, but we’re a small farm (using about 22 acres of our fifty acres of land) and we sell everything from our front yard…. Which means come September and October, my yard is filled with all kinds of wonderful people!!!!

Hundreds of people. Big people. Little people. People who come to see all the cool stuff we grow and display.

 

 

Polar Bear pumpkins and my friend Becky…. Gotta have friends!
Display ideas for stacking pumpkins…. look at those colors! We grow pink, blue, gray, silver, tan, orange, white, yellow, green, red and orange pumpkins and squashes, many are old heirloom varieties that we teach folks about all the time! The pallets you see are for the 1500 chrysanthemums I grow to go along with the pumpkins….
Our September/October front porch photo op… folks can sit on the old steps or their kids can and take photos…. or we take a photo for them! We have several photo ops for people, where they can commemorate their visit with no fee attached. Folks love being able to have a farm-friendly visit at reasonable prices. And we love it!

 

Chrsyanthemums.… this is my venue. This and baking for the customers, cakes and cookies and breads to make everyone smile…. but the mums are a huge undertaking and I have some young friends who help me with daily watering and feeding….

Mums in so many colors…. 1500 of them and it’s an amazing thing to see how excited customers are when they see the gorgeous colors and display ideas of mums with stacked pumpkins and a bale of straw or hay.

 

So while I still write in the pre-dawn hours, the rest of my day is filled with farm work… the house is NOT clean…. and I don’t cook all that much, we eat a lot of sandwiches!!!… but in the end, the folks are so excited to come and see the new things, shop, have fun, visit the miniature donkeys (must love donkeys!) and spend some time on the farm, tucked in the country…

So while I don’t live in the west, I’m not afraid to help run a real-live farming effort with my husband and help from family and friends….

 

Just in case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing….. and then THIS HAPPENED!

Bestselling book from Waterfall Press, the 2nd book in my “Wishing Bridge” series from Amazon/Brilliance has been named a finalist in the “Maggie Award for Excellence” sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers! I was so excited to get this phone call

So that’s how my summer’s been going…. no complaints! How about yours? Do you garden? Farm? Work in an office? Tell me what’s going on this summer in your neck of the woods!

Ruthy