Art of Letter Writing

 

Did you know January 23 is National Handwriting Day? It’s true! The celebration began back in 1977 when the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association established the day to promote the use of pens, pencils, and paper. It also happens to be the birthday of John Hancock, a man remembered for his stylish signature on the Declaration of Independence. In fact, in the U.S., his name became a synonym for one’s signature.

As technology pervades (invades!) more and more of our daily life, it seems we write things by hand less and less.

There’s just something about writing something by hand that is almost therapeutic. And it’s an art that is quickly becoming lost. 

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love getting something handwritten in the mail, whether it’s a card or a letter. Even a sticky note with a message written in Captain Cavedweller’s chicken scratch handwriting brightens my day. 

Writing a letter is an art – from choosing the card or paper to the writing utensil, to the words that are expressed. 

Writing a letter does require a little more effort than sending a quick text, but think about how personal a letter can be. How special it is to the recipient. How meaningful and appreciated even the simplest message of “I’m thinking of you” is to someone who loves you. 

Letters build relationships in a way, a personal caring way, that text messages and emails never will. It’s something tangible that can be held in the recipient’s hand. Whether it’s a card full of glittery sparkles or a formal piece of heavy parchment, what really matters is the message conveyed from your hand to the heart of the reader. 

 

In my sweet historical romance, The Christmas Wish, the heroine, Brynn, writes anonymous letters to people in the town of Hardman. Her only goal is to offer encouragement and cheer to the recipients.

Here’s a little excerpt from the book:

Percy had heard about someone writing letters full of positivity and hope to people in town. His parents had been the recipients of one a year ago, and his mother proudly kept the letter in the desk in the apartment. It was one of the first things she showed him when he returned home.

The handwriting was sometimes shaky, which made Percy wonder if it was an elderly person, but the turns of phrase the writer used hinted at someone younger.

Regardless, the wisher’s identity remained a mystery that Percy rather hoped continued. It gave the people in Hardman something happy to focus on and look forward to since a letter popped up once a week and no one could guess who would be the next recipient.

He glanced at Brynn as the conversation shifted to the holiday season and noticed her looking quite pleased. He wondered if it had something to do with the wisher or the way her grandfather continued to cast adoring glances at Dora Granger.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if  there were more Brynn’s in the world? 

I’m going to try to be more like her, and write by hand more personal notes this year. 

What about you?

Do you write notes for friends and loved ones? Do you enjoy receiving them?

Do you have a favorite note or card that you’ve kept as a keepsake? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a handwritten note from me! 

 

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE is Back! 11/30 thru 12/3

And it’s bigger than ever!

Yep! It’s our 3rd year celebrating our heartwarming Christmas novellas and books. Each one is sure to fill your heart with holiday love and happy endings.

Even better, we’re giving away prizes. LOTS of prizes!

 

Thirteen – $10 Amazon Gift Cards

Plus . . . a Grand Prize of a $130 Amazon Gift Card!

 

Simply answer one trivia question for each filly’s book. 

If you enter each contest all four days, and get every answer correct, then you’ll be eligible

for our GRAND PRIZE!

 

Ho!  Ho!  Ho!

 

All answers can be found either in the first page or two of the Amazon “Look Inside” preview or in the book’s blurb.

All winners chosen by Random.org. US entries only.

13 Fun Filly Facts to Celebrate our 13th Birthday!

Yep! 13 years ago on August 13, 2007, we launched our very first blog, amateurs that we were. In that time, 35 bestselling western romance authors have called themselves fillies. Of those, 10 were founding fillies, and of those, 3 of us still remain. 

Linda Broday   ~   Pam Crooks  ~   Karen Kay

Want some more stats? In 13 years, we’ve had:

6,743 Posts

127,559 Comments

1,639,080 Views

That’s ALOT of activity on Petticoats & Pistols, and you, our dear readers, have shared yourself with us over and over again. We’ve become friends. Sisters, almost.

And that got us to thinking.

 

Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly! 

#1 – I was born in a tent to homeless parents and have twice seen that same situation since. My husband and I rode out an F-5 tornado inside our Texas home, lying flat in a hallway over our three little ones then shifted from place to place for nine months trying to survive. With only a high school education and pure grit, I will reach a publishing milestone in April 2021 with my 30th book that kicks off a new series.

#2 – I skydived when I was younger. Yep, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. I highly recommend it (if you’re not afraid of heights). The thrill is stupendous, the view is amazing, and the accomplishment lasts forever. I quit after my 5th jump, when my chute didn’t open, and I had to throw the reserve. Oh, and you have great stories to tell your grandbabies!

#3 – My life is a musical. My husband and I were both band nerds in high school, but after one semester of band in college, he convinced me to join choir. We sang all through undergrad and graduate school and even with an adult chorus that took a European tour. Our children grew up singing Disney, Wiggles, and VeggieTales songs, playing in the band in school, and on any given Sunday our pew sports all four parts in acapella style. Once, when my kids were little, we had a lady from church babysit for us. She said it was like watching the Von Trapps.

#4 – I worked in the deepest mine in North America at the time. My level was 6900 feet underground. My pard and I loaded muck from ore chutes into mine cars and hauled it to where it was dumped in a larger chute to be hauled up out of the mine during the graveyard shift. I know what the blackest of black looks like. I’ve also been underground in the Arctic. The most amazing ice crystals grew in the mine there—giant snowflakes about 6 inches across.

#5 – I was in my 40’s when I was adopted into the Blackfeet Tribe in Northern Montana. Chief Old Person adopted me into the tribe in July of 2001 in a ceremony during the Indian Day’s Pow-wow.  The Chief gave me an Indian name that I won’t share here because one doesn’t speak their own Indian name. (It’s considered boasting.)  I was adopted into the Tribe because of my work with them on literacy, and my life was changed forever…always yearning to be in Montana on the reservation.

#6 – While I was hunkered down in a London air raid shelter during the war, someone gave me a teddy bear and said, “May God protect you.”  Thinking “God” was the name of the teddy bear, I took him everywhere.  One night, while my mother and I were racing through the streets to the shelter, I realized I’d forgotten God. Doing what any self-respecting four-year-old would do under the circumstances, I threw myself on the ground and had a full-fledged temper tantrum.  Not knowing what else to do, my poor mother took me back to the house to retrieve the teddy bear.  As we were leaving the house, a bomb went off at the end of the street where we would have been had we not gone back. So,  just as the stranger promised, God had protected me. 

#7 – When I was about six, I was at my cousins’ house and they had a horse! Everyone was getting a ride but my mom said I couldn’t, I was too little, unless a grown up was out leading the horse. Well, the grownups went inside and left me with some terribly irresponsible children. So I begged and whined and finally convinced them it’d be okay if one of them led the horse. And I got up on what now seems to have been a huge animal, and walked along, and whoever was leading the horse let it slip out of their hands and the horse went trotting toward the barn and I fell off and broke my arm.

The only good part of that was, my two big sisters and my cousins got in Terrible Trouble.

#8 – I worked full time in the legal field, while co-owning two antique shops. With a business partner, I purchased the oldest barbeque cafe in town. That had me not only working full time in a demanding profession, having a wonderful husband and two teenagers, but owning three businesses. Then came along the acquisition of an ol’ timey Texas honky-tonk. I learned the bass guitar. Strange fact, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and couldn’t play that well; however, only at closing time my partner allowed me to join the band … most likely to clear out the customers before closing time. Thinking back, it was during that period I took my first writing course.  Fun, sweet memories!

#9 – While working as a newspaper reporter, I used to get sent out to do many agriculture related stories. One day, I went out to interview a couple that had sold their herd of beef cattle so they could turn their place into a “buffalo ranch” and sell the meat commercially. The husband was busy when I arrived, so the wife and I climbed in their big pickup and drove out to the pasture so I could get an up-close look at the animals. We reached the bison but they soon went from docilely grazing to agitated in seconds. The wife realized her husband had left a butchered carcass in the back of the pickup. The smell of that drove the bison wild and they stampeded. The wife swung the pickup around, hit the gas, and we bounced and jostled our way for the gate we’d left open, hoping to beat the bison there before they could escape. It was summer, the windows were rolled down, and one big ol’ boy stuck his head right up in my window. I could have counted his eyelashes if I hadn’t been scared witless. Then the wife said, “When we get to the gate, jump out and throw up your arms. I think they’ll stop.” I looked at her and told her she was crazy if she thought I was jumping in front of a few dozen beasts thundering straight at me. Thankfully, her husband appeared just in time to head off the bison and we made it safely out of the pasture. If I ever decide to include a stampede in story, I have first-hand experience! 

#10 – Have you ever been an unwitting participant in an FBI bust? I was! A lowly secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor, it was my job from time to time to man the front desk and screen guests. Imagine my surprise when, one day, a man came in, and when I asked, “May I help you?” he flashed his FBI shield at me with an “official” glare. “Quiet,” he said.  At that point, he went right on back to his intended target, a claims examiner who was taking money under the table to process black lung claims more expeditiously–and the black lung claimant, who was wearing a wire as the money was changing hands! Four of the six claims examiners were led out in cuffs that day and placed in a nondescript white cargo van, and Mr. FBI told me, “Don’t leave town. You may have to testify.” That was probably my most exciting day at work–ever.

#11 – I was lucky to have some fabulous and very interesting summer jobs during high school and college.  They included working as a data entry clerk for the local water works company (great first job with an interesting cast of characters), as an assistant at a library for two summers (Best. Summer. Job. Ever!),  schlepping backstage and ushering at the New Orleans Repertory Theater during their production of Three Penny Opera (Mack The Knife anyone?) and working as a computer science intern at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (awesome place with some incredibly smart and dedicated people).

#12 – I was an opera major with a flute minor in college and belonged to the top 15% of musicians in my age group on the west coast. I played my way into college (quite literally, winning a scholarship to a conservatory of music with Mozart’s Concerto in G). I have taught flute over the years, helped with my local high school music and drama departments, and was getting ready to join my local concert band (just to keep in practice) when the pandemic hit. As soon as the chaos is over, I’ll sign up!

#13 – As a young girl, I wanted to be a nun. Being from a devout Catholic family, my uncle was a priest, and my aunt was a nun. I remember going to visit her at the convent while she and the other nuns roller-skated in the basement, their habits and veils trailing behind them. They were laughing and having such a good time while they went around and around that small room. It made me think it would be fun to be a nun, too, and my aunt, who was only fifteen years older than me, did her best to convince me I should be one. 

Obviously, she failed.

#14 – BONUS FILLY FACT! – I turned to fostering dogs four years ago when faced with an empty nest. After seeing a post about an adorable female black pup (my weakness) needing a foster, I responded. While that pup had already found a foster, I took a tri-colored male mix puppy named Rowdy about to be euthanized, and a crusader was born. Since then, my family and I have fostered over 25 dogs or puppies. We’ve dealt with mange (zombie dogs are the best!), heart worm treatment for HW positive dogs, Parvo, and have loved every animal we’ve fostered. When I’m asked how I can let them go, I respond “Every one we let go makes room to save another.”

 

It’s our birthday, but you get the gifts!

  • Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly! 
  • Be sure to number your guesses in the comments.
  • You’ll be eligible to win a $13 Amazon Gift Card.
  • Check back on Sunday to see how many fillies you guessed right.
  • And if there’s any fun fact about YOU you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear it!

Happy Birthday to us!

June’s Game Day!

 

Yeehaw! It’s another game day. 

Today, we’re playing a game of What if… As a writer, I do this all the time, especially when I get stuck in a story. Now you get to try your hand at what if. Post your answers in the comment section. 

One lucky random winner will receive the cactus ring holder above and a digital copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy.

What if you woke up one morning in the Old West? Where would you be, and what would you be doing?

Here’s my answer.

I had trouble with this, except for knowing I’d be in Texas as I am now. Give me too many choices and my brain shuts down. My first thought was I”d be on a ranch. But doubts crept in. Could I hack working that hard? I turned to other options. Maybe I’d be a teacher, because I had just received my teaching certification when I sold my first two books to Harlequin in 2011. I thought about making lesson plans and not having an adult to talk to all day, and said maybe not. I considered being a Hurdy-Gurdy girl, (shout out to our guest blogger Jo Noelle for that idea) but I’m a lousy dancer and being on my feet that much didn’t sound fantastic. Would I maybe be running a boarding house? I ruled that out. Too much cooking and cleaning. Could I run a restaurant? Standing over a hot stove rated right up there with on my feet all day. I decided I’d be on a ranch. Hopefully with the four strong men in my family–my husband and my three sons. We’d be working the land. I’d have a huge garden similar to the one my Grandma Walter had. I’d be taking care of chickens and out helping care for whatever other stock and crops we raised. Best of all, I’d have horses, something I’ve always craved. 

Now it’s your turn. In the comments, tell me where you’d be in the Old West and what you’d be up to.

Fall off that horse and come on in!

In 2018, I wrote on western, and particularly Texas, sayings. Then all of you commented with others I hadn’t heard. You had me laughing pretty much all day. My favorite came from fellow filly, Pam Crooks. “He’s foolish enough not to realize he shouldn’t jump a barbed wire fence naked.”

Pam’s saying reminded me of my four Wishing Texas Series heroes, because that’s the kind of friends they are. When one is being a jerk, the others call him on it. As my heroes aren’t traditional cowboys riding on the ranch, I often add western or Texas sayings to add to their western character. I had to find a way to use Pam’s saying. I’m writing Book 4 now, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, and Zane’s best friend says to him, “I suppose you think jumping a barbed wire fence naked is a good idea too.”

As I sat to write today’s post, I realized I needed a laugh. With everything going on in the world, I figured you could too. So, here are some sayings I found but didn’t have space for last time. I hope they make you smile and maybe even chuckle.

Might was well. Can’t dance, never could sing, and it’s too wet to plow.

So crooked you can’t tell from his tracks if he’s coming or going.

If I say a hen dips snuff, you can look under her wing for the can.

He’d argue with a wooden Indian.

He’s the only hell his mama ever raised.

He may not be a chicken, but he has his henhouse ways.

So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.

Better to keep your mouth shut and seem a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

He’s got a big hole in his screen door.

She’s two sandwiches short of a picnic.

He always draws the best bull.

He could sit on the fence and the birds would feed him.

My newest foster Bella, to make you smile!

If a trip around the world cost a dollar, I couldn’t get to the Oklahoma line.

He’d steal his mama’s egg money.

He could talk the gate off its hinges.

She speaks ten words a second, with gusts to fifty.

You were too hard to raise to take chances.

Anytime you happen to pass my house, I’d sure appreciate it.

You smell like you want to be left alone.

If brains were leather, he couldn’t saddle a flea.

He couldn’t hit the floor if he fell out of bed.

Looks like he was pulled through a knothole backwards.

There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.

To be entered in today’s random drawing for the scarf, car air freshener and a copy of Home On the Ranch: Colorado Rescue, leave a comment about your favorite western saying. If you don’t have a favorite, tell me which saying above spoke to you the most. Thanks for sliding off and letting your saddle cool while you spent some time with me today. Stay safe until the next time we meet around the corral. 

 

 

Wishing Wells and Various Lucky Charms

As I took pictures of my foster Kimber for a St. Patrick Day’s post, I started thinking about “lucky” items. I love horseshoes. I pick up pennies I find. “Find a penny pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” I’ve always wished on the first star I see in the night sky. I throw coins in fountains. I’ve never found a 4-leaf clover, but if I had, I’d have kept it. Considering all that it’s not surprising that when I wanted to add something special to my fictional east Texas town, I chose a wishing well. But I’ve never thought about how the wishing well lore started.

Deciding to fix that, I did some research. The lore started because of man’s natural obsession with water. Since without water we humans are toast, water has been a major concern since we burst onto the scene. Many ancient cultures viewed underground springs as sacred gifts. In appreciation, people dropped tokens for the gods into the water. Wells or well houses built around water sources to protect them became gathering places. Germanic tribes believed spirits who liked to intervene in humans’ lives inhabited these waters, and if someone voiced a wish or hope, the spirits might grant the wish. Someone could increase the chances of the wish being granted by dropping a coin or small token in the well. And it turns out poor Odin, Thor’s father, lost his eye because water deity Mimir, who lived in and guarded the Well of Wisdom, demanded his right eye as payment for a drink. The legend says his right eye was thrown in the well for others to know there was a price for the well’s wisdom.

When I created my well, I wanted a twist so I made my well persnickety, only granting wishes made for someone else. I created a legend which started with two sisters, Anne and Alice. The short version is, after the Civil War when Anne’s husband failed to return, she became despondent and took to her bed. Alice, not knowing what else to do, stood at the family well, her tears dropping into the water as she tossed in a coin. She wished for her brother-in-law to return to the family who loved and needed him. Two days later, Sam returned, and the town’s legend was born.

I’ve had fun starting each book with a wish for the hero or heroine and weaving references to the well through the stories. In To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s sister Aubrey turns to the wishing well when she’s concerned he’s marrying the wrong woman. Book 2, To Catch A Texas Cowboy, opens with Ty making a wish for his best friend AJ Quinn. In To Tame A Texas Cowboy, my latest release in the Wishing Texas Series, Cheyenne Whitten’s sister Sheridan wishes for her to receive help with her health issues.

But like Odin, a price is demanded before the wish is granted. My hero and heroine must survive trials, struggles and conflict, often caused or exaggerated by what or rather who fate has decided possesses the answer to their loved one’s wish. Yup, my well enjoys stirring up lives and causing trouble before answering those wishes. Because just like in real life as the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.”

Today’s giveaway is a horseshoe and a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy. This book contains my favorite wish so far. It’s my favorite mainly because it’s done in such a guy fashion. You’ll have to read the story to find out what Ty wishes for AJ. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about your favorite lucky charm or item to wish on.