Dreams of Love Unfurling Tomorrow

 

 

I’m excited to share a brand new series with you that will start releasing tomorrow!

Three sweet and wholesome historical novellas are set in my fictional town of Holiday.  If you haven’t read any of my other Holiday stories, start with Holiday Hope, which is the story of Jace and Cora Lee Coleman and the beginning of Holiday. After that check out Henley, and then you’ll be ready for this new series.

 

Each book can be read as a standalone, but it’s fun to read about the characters you meet in other books too.

DREAMS OF LOVE

 Release Date: March 21

Will dreams of love lead to an unexpected future?

Weathered from too many years of apprehending outlaws, Marshal Dillon Durant is resigned to a life of solitude. The small community of Holiday, Oregon, offers the opportunity for him to build lasting friendships while discovering a sense of belonging. Then he encounters an exasperatingly beautiful woman attempting to break into the local school, leaving him to contemplate the possibility of a new chapter in his life.

Desperate to escape the arranged marriage her father is attempting to foist upon her, Zara Wynn accepts a job as a schoolteacher in Holiday. Intent on a fresh start, she doesn’t want anyone to discover she’s a runaway bride. But concealing her past proves difficult, especially when the astute and handsome Marshal Durant captures her heart.

When her father and fiancé find her, will Zara be forced to abandon her dreams of love? Or will Dillon make them come true?

Amazon

DREAMS WITH FAITH

 Release Date: March 28

Can faith conquer their fears?

John Ryan is committed to his role as pastor in the quaint town of Holiday, Oregon. He values each member of his congregation, and aims to lead by example. However, his resolve is tested when a free-spirited woman arrives in town. John struggles with his growing attraction to her, determined to keep it from distracting him from his calling.

Following a devastating tragedy that leaves her isolated and shattered, Keeva Holt is eager for a new beginning. In need of consolation and clarity, she decides to seek refuge with her brother in Holiday. As she navigates through her grief and attempts to find direction for her future, Keeva’s vibrant spirit and exuberance challenge those around her, including the reserved Pastor Ryan. While logic tells her that John is beyond her reach, her heart urges her to pursue her dreams and embrace the possibilities of tomorrow.

Will John and Keeva learn to lean into their faith and let go of their fears?

Amazon

 DREAMS FOR COURAGE

 Release Date: April 4

Will two lonely hearts find the courage to love?

A loner for most of his life, Rowan Reed wants nothing more than to be left alone. He buys a run-down farm near Holiday, Oregon, intending to turn it into a successful ranch through hard work and determination. When a nosy, albeit beautiful, woman shows up on his doorstep, the instant attraction he feels to her sets off nearly as many warning bells as her barrage of probing questions.

Private detective Rhetta Wallace always unearths the truth. Involved in a lengthy investigation into a man suspected of killing a politician’s son, her pursuit leads her to the town of Holiday. Accompanied by her adopted son, Rhetta finds herself squaring off against the grumpy, growling rancher she believes is the suspect. Whether or not Rowan admits his true identity, Rhetta is sure of two things: his innocence of the crime, and the deep affection he awakens in her heart.

Will their dreams for courage help them release the past and embrace a future together?

Amazon

The heroines are all so different.

Which one would do you most relate to?

Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Dreams of Love!

Valentine’s Day Reflections

Some days I swear I can’t be as old as I am (and no, I’m not sharing that detail). Other days, I feel old. Not so much physically but in the slap-me-upside-the-head-with-a-reminder way. When my children’s babysitters started having children, that was a rude age awakening. (Now some of their children are going college!) This year as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’ve had another odd age related realization.

I remember what a big deal that day was in elementary school. Would my latest crush, Chris or Lester, give me a Valentine. Yes, I’m old enough that we didn’t have to give valentines to everyone in class. In college, I wondered what to do on that day because goodness, no one wanted to be sitting home. And of course, when I was dating, Valentine’s Day was a big deal. Do I give a gift or simply a card? If I go with the gift, what and how much do I spend? Such angst. When I had young children, Valentine’s Day was a great excuse to get a babysitter, go to a restaurant, and have couple time.

This year as a woman married forty-two years, the holiday isn’t as big a deal in the romantic love sense. Hubby and I will have a quiet night at home. We’ll get takeout, but don’t want to deal with getting a reservation and fighting packed restaurants. After dinner, we’ll watch a movie. Now I see the day as a reminder to tell those I care about how much they mean to me, including my exceptionally patient husband.

I want to make a point to thank all of you for being a part of my life. The first Wednesday of the month, you take time out of your busy day to chat with me. You share the ups and downs of this crazy writing life and have helped with my stories in more ways than I can count.

Since candy/sweets is the most popular Valentine’s gift, and I assume most of that is chocolate, I as my Valentine’s Day gift, I’m sharing my grandmother’s Chocolate Drop cookie recipe with you.

 

Chocolate Drop Cookies

1/2 C butter

1 C sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 C flour

1/2 C milk

4 Tbs Cocoa powder

1/2 C nuts (optional)

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a different bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add egg and milk. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and combine. Drop a small dollop on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for # minutes. Insert a toothpick to test for doneness. Cookies will have a cake like texture.

Frosting

1 C powdered sugar

1 Tbs cocoa powder

2-3 Tbs butter softened

2-3 Tbs milk

Beat until creamy and smooth. Frost cookies when cool.

These cookies and chocolate covered strawberries are my favorite Valentine’s Day treats? What’s yours? Let me know.

Valentine’s Day in the Old West

Goodness, it’s February already! And that means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. So, whether you love or loathe it, there’s no doubt it’s one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world.

But how did we arrived at a holiday in the dead of winter, and symbolized by a chubby baby wearing a diaper carrying a bow and arrow, that will bring in revenue over $14.2 billion this year?

History

Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day or the Feast of St. Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14th. It originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named St. Valentine and is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

Formal messages or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Because it was thought that the bird mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day.

Up until the end of the Civil War, men might shower their special lady with a card to express his sentiments.

A “window” valentine ca. 1864.

This card was called a “window valentine” because front flaps opened to reveal a hidden message or image.

Or if a fella was well-to-do, he would purchase “eating chocolates” for his sweetheart. Produced by Richard Cadbury, these chocolates were sold in beautifully decorated boxes that could be used again and again to store mementos, from locks of hair to love letters.

           

The Old West and Valentine’s Day

Once the war was over, many soldiers left the war-torn East for a new life in the West. So, if a man was lucky enough to have a wife or sweetheart in the far reaches of the frontier, what was available to him?

In lieu of tangible gifts, the suitor might present his lady with something of himself. A carefully handwritten love letter in his best penmanship was a gift many a lady would highly cherish.

 

Carving out a life in the West, many men acquired skills which came in handy when crafting a gift for his intended. Whether it was a hand-tooled leather sewing box, a wooden blanket chest, or a poem of his own creation, men in the West were determined to show their affection on Valentine’s Day by manufacturing something hewed by his own hands.

 

By the last decade of the 1800s, access to a mail-order catalog (Sears & Roebucks, Montgomery Ward, and Eaton’s in Canada) offered jewelry, hat pins, parasols, and rings to the man who had hard cash and the desire to impress his lady.

Today, as in the past, Valentine’s Day celebrations are as varied as the people planning them. However, in 1873, this advertisement in the Matrimonial Times actually occurred in San Francisco.

            “Any gal that got a bed, calico dress, coffee pot and skillet, knows how to cut out britches and can make a hunting shirt, knows how to take care of children can have my services till death do us part.”

What women could resist an invitation so eloquently stated?!!!

Turning the clock back to the late 1950’s – early 1960’s…

I have such wonderful, vivid memories of Valentine’s Day in elementary school. A week before Valentine’s Day, every student would bring in a shoe box. During art class, we would decorate our boxes with crepe paper, hearts cut from red and pink construction paper, and paper lace doilies, making sure there was a large slit in the cover for all the Valentine cards we were sure to get. Ironically, most of the cards had a western cowboy/cowgirl theme! Do these look familiar to anyone?

      

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, share your comments about a favorite Valentine’s Day memory from your school days.

 

 

 

The Christmas Letters series

Back in 2022, I bought a pre-made book cover from Covers & Cupcakes LLC.

I had no idea what I’d do with it. but the image of a snowy mailbox with mountains behind it just spoke to me.

I started thinking about that cover, and a storyline about a woman who was a Santa expert came to mind.

Then I started thinking about letters. Actual, in-the-mail, hold-in-my-hand letters. Hardly anyone takes takes the time to write a pen to paper letter these days. In fact, I’ve had several friends mention how much they miss receiving letters.

So, that got me thinking about how special and meaningful a hand written letter can be.

And I started thinking about a series of stories that begin with a letter.

The cover I originally bought became the cover for the first book in my new Christmas Letters sweet and wholesome contemporary romance series.

And the idea for the Santa expert story became the third book, which I wrote last, because the second book and fourth books are about cousins, so I wrote those together in an effort to keep as much consistency between the books. (And that wasn’t confusing at all!)

Christmas Letters is a series about four friends, all experts on something related to Christmas, and their journeys to finding love.

He can’t save Christmas, but he can save her tree farm.

Dr. Jaxon Frost, a highly regarded authority on Christmas trees, is known nationwide for his expertise in the field. Preferring solitude, he dedicates his life to his work. However, his routine is interrupted when he receives an unexpected letter from Holly Crest Tree Farms, seeking his assistance in identifying a disease affecting their Christmas trees. Jaxon heads to the farm and is caught completely by surprise to find the owner isn’t a crusty old farmer, but a beautiful woman who captures his interest and admiration. He will do anything to help Jaylyn save her trees, even at the risk of losing his heart.

Jaylyn Smith carries the weight of immense responsibility as the owner and manager for Holly Crest Tree Farm, a family-owned business passed down through four generations. The fate of their cherished legacy, symbolized by their beautiful Christmas trees, rests solely on her shoulders. When she can’t identify a disease attacking a section of trees, she reaches out to an expert for help. Jaxon Frost is nothing like she expected, but everything her heart has been longing for.

Will their collective efforts salvage the valued heritage of her family?

Discover the answer in Dear Mister Frost, a heartwarming and sweet holiday romance that exudes warmth, laughter, and the joy of the festive Christmas season.

He can’t create a miracle,  but he can give the gift of love

 When heirloom ornament maker Sam Silver receives Erika Esposito’s heartfelt letter, he is deeply moved by her plea for a special ornament for her dying son, Joey. Despite having shut himself off from the world due to his own personal trauma, Sam feels compelled to step out of his shell to help Erika and Joey.

Erika, who has already experienced a profound loss with the unexpected death of her husband, is desperate to bring some joy into Joey’s life as he battles cancer. She reaches out to Sam, unaware that her plea will bring not only hope but also the possibility of finding love again.

Rich in Christmas spirit, Dear Mister Silver offers a tender and heartwarming holiday romance. Sam’s journey as Ornament Guy, crafting heirloom ornaments as a way to rebuild his life, takes on a whole new meaning as he pours his heart into creating a special ornament for Joey. Through his efforts, Sam not only brings joy to a little boy but also discovers the wonder of opening his heart to love.

Filled with warmth and touching moments, this story reminds readers of the magic that shimmers in acts of kindness, and how love and hope can be the greatest gifts of the holiday season.

 

She’s striving for success, not searching for romance

 Lyra Nicholas is a renowned expert on all things related to jolly old Saint Nick. When she receives a letter from Tucker Lee, a rancher in a small Oregon town, she hesitates to consider his request to help his sister with a museum exhibit. But something in the note intrigues her, and she soon finds herself in The Dalles, preparing for a grand Santa installation. Then she meets Tucker and finds herself falling love.

Tucker Lee will do anything for his sister even if it means groveling to a snooty Santa expert to set up an exhibit at the museum Remi manages. Expecting an old, dowdy female, Tucker is taken aback when he meets Lyra, a beautiful young woman who makes him realize there may be more to life than running his ranch.

As they work together to make the exhibit a success, sparks dance between them like twinkling tree lights.

The essence of Christmas, the joy of family, delightful humor, and heartfelt emotions take center stage in Dear Miss Nicholas, a wholesome and uplifting holiday romance.

 

She’s not about to give him a second chance, even when it comes to love

Halston Baker’s career took a nosedive when she crossed paths with Kutter Hayes five years ago. Now, Halston has rebuilt her life and found success as a gingerbread house designer. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase her skills at a Las Vegas resort with a life-size gingerbread village. Little does she know that Kutter, the man who turned her life upside down, is also in town for the finals rodeo. Despite her head shouting at her to stay far away from the troublesome cowboy, her heart has other plans.

Kutter has his own plans and ambitions for his career as a stock contractor and not a single one of them involve fiery, feisty Halston. She blames him for ruining her dreams, and is as prickly as his grandmother’s pin cushion. But as Kutter spends more time with Halston, he realizes there is far more to the fascinating woman than her ability to create amazing gingerbread houses.

As the magic of the holiday season wraps around them, Halston and Kutter must decide whether to follow their hearts and pursue love or step away from what might be their chance at a happily ever after.

Dear Miss Baker is a treat for the senses, combing the flavors of the season with the joys only Christmas and first love can bring in a wholesome holiday romance.

What about you?

Do you like to receive or write letters?

What’s the most meaningful letter or note you’ve ever received?

Or who would you like to receive a letter from?

Share your answer in the comments for a chance to win a digital set of all four books!

Music! Music! The Gift of Christmas Music!

Howdy!  Howdy!

Since it is the season of giving, I’ll be giving away two e-books of the new release of the 25th year anniversary edition of WAR CLOUD’S PASSION.  Just leave a comment to enter into the drawing.

Because one of my favorite memories of the Christmas season is story telling, I thought I’d tell you a recent Christmas story.

And so here we go — a Christmas story:

About 10 years ago, my daughter had asked me if my husband and I might consider relocating to the East so we could be closer.  She specifically asked if I might help her by becoming a nanny for her daughter.  My granddaughter was then two years old and my daughter was pregnant with her son…my grandson.  Of course, my husband and I decided this is what we should do.  So in 2013, I came to the East to help my daughter and to become my granddaughter’s “nanny.”  (My husband came a little later, in 2014.)

Anyway, a year went by and I loved being with my granddaughter day in and day out — and we went to the local toy story a lot.  At least once a week.  It was a beautiful store and friendly and always had lots of new toys.  The 2013 Christmas season came and my grandson was born only a few months previous to Christmas and so, with my daughter being home, recovering from giving birth, I was spending even more time with my granddaughter.

One day we were in a toy store and I saw a book of karaoke sing along Christmas songs, meant to be sung in the car.  It contained a CD disk and at least three different song books, as well a book full of information about the various songs and the words.

I couldn’t believe my luck.  I bought two of them and I’m glad I did.

We sang and we sang and I think my granddaughter’s favorite song was Jingle Bells (of course).  My husband was yet to join us in the east and so I was with my granddaughter a lot and we sang and sang and sang as we drove to various places (parks and museums, etc.)

A year went by and my grandson was now one by the next Christmas and my granddaughter was four.  She was in school, but the school was a 45 minute drive away and my grandson did NOT like car rides…at all.

Well, I discovered that one particular Christmas song from this sing along CD would sooth his utter dislike of car rides.  Can you guess what the song was?  It is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, and although it is usually sung at Christmas, it was actually written to be sung to celebrate Easter.

Do you know what it is?

It is The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

This beautiful music kept my grandson from whatever it was that caused him to dislike car rides so much.  He would listen for the entire car ride, which was really something considering he was only a year old.

Gosh, we must have played the song all the way over to where my granddaughter was going to school and all the way back home again.  My granddaughter and I soon memorized the words and sang and sang and sang it.

Well, once again, time has gone by and with all the activities both the grandchildren are in nowadays, we seem to be in the car again…a lot.

So it was that only two or three nights ago, as we were driving home, we had on the same karaoke CD and Handel’s Messiah was playing.  We were all singing along loud and strong.  My daughter knows the harmony and the rest of us sang the “melody,” which often changes here and there as I’m sure y’all know.  It was one of those moments for me — one of those pleasant times when “all was right with the world.”  Even though it was only a brief moment when time seemed to stop temporarily, it was beautiful.

And so in honor of this extraordinarily beautiful piece of music, I thought I’d include a sing along.  So I hope y’all will have a wonderful time enjoying and singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  Oh, my goodness!  There’s one of the fillies singing right along.  Hope you’ll join in with her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nV2Q-eNqMY

Did you do it?  Did you sing along?  I did and I hope you enjoyed singing along, too.

And so now a little about this 25th Year Anniversary Edition of War Cloud’s Passion.  When we do these anniversary books, we freshly edit the book, which is another full edit.  We put a new cover on the book which is a little more up-to-date, and additionally, putting these out again brings the original map (drawn by my then teenage daughter) back in the book, along with the original poster.

Here’s a short blurb of the book:

The Orphan Trains .Anna’s act of kindness to War Cloud’s kidnapped brother has saved the orphans lives. War Cloud, who led the attack upon their train, is enraged because honor demands he lead them to safety. But as passion grows, War Cloud must resist Anna’s charm because a curse hangs over his family, endangering them all should he fall in love.

tinyurl.com/warcloudspassion

Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll tell me some of your favorite Christmas songs and memories.

 

 

 

 

Kissing Under The Mistletoe


Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

One of the many signs of the season is the appearance of mistletoe – on the trees, in holiday movies, on Christmas cards and hanging in homes. And being the curious person I am I thought I’d dig a bit into the traditions around this plant and how it became associated with Christmas and with kissing. And I’m going to share a little of what I found out with you today.

The mistletoe’s romantic association can be traced back to ancient times, where it held a special place in various cultures and traditions. The ancient Druids, who inhabited the British Isles, revered mistletoe for its seemingly magical properties. They believed it had the power to bring good fortune, ward off evil spirits, and even bestow fertility upon couples. During the winter solstice celebrations, the Druids would gather mistletoe from sacred oak trees using golden sickles and distribute it among the people, fostering a sense of unity and goodwill.

The mistletoe’s romantic symbolism is also deeply rooted in Norse mythology. According to one of the most popular myths, the goddess Frigg, who was associated with love and fertility, had a son named Balder. Distressed by prophetic dreams of her son’s impending death, Frigg sought a promise from every element in creation not to harm Balder. However, the mischievous Loki discovered that Frigg had overlooked mistletoe, thinking it was too insignificant to pose a threat.

Taking advantage of this, Loki fashioned a weapon from mistletoe and tricked Balder’s blind brother, Hodr, into using it to unintentionally kill Balder. Devastated by her son’s death, Frigg’s tears turned the red berries of the mistletoe white. To honor Balder and symbolize love triumphing over death, Frigg declared that the mistletoe should never again be used to harm but rather as a token of love, leading to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe as a sign of goodwill and affection.

Fast forward to medieval England, where the mistletoe’s association with love and celebration persisted. As Christmas celebrations evolved and incorporated various customs and rituals, mistletoe found its way into the festivities. The plant’s evergreen nature and ability to thrive in winter contributed to its allure as a symbol of life and renewal during the cold and dark days of winter. During the holiday season, branches of mistletoe would be hung in homes and gathering places, inviting couples to share a kiss underneath. It became a symbol of peace, love, and reconciliation during the Christmas season, fostering a sense of unity and merriment.

The Victorian era, known for its romantic sensibilities and elaborate traditions, saw a resurgence of interest in mistletoe as a symbol of love and romance. As Christmas celebrations became more elaborate and festive, mistletoe found its way into holiday decorations, and kissing under the mistletoe became a cherished custom at Christmas gatherings and balls.

Over time, the mistletoe tradition became widespread, not only in England but also in other European countries and eventually in the United States. Today, mistletoe remains an iconic and enduring symbol of Christmas romance, with couples and revelers continuing to share kisses beneath its branches during the festive season.

Fun Facts and Trivia:

  • There are over 1,300 different species of mistletoe, and not all of them produce the iconic white berries. Some varieties boast vibrant red or yellow berries.
  • In Victorian England, there was a charming custom associated with mistletoe kisses – for each kiss, a berry was plucked from the mistletoe. Once all the berries were gone, the kissing had to cease. This added an element of anticipation and playfulness to the tradition.
  • Mistletoe has made its mark in literature, adding a touch of romance to various works. One notable example is Washington Irving’s “The Sketch Book,” where the author beautifully describes the festive atmosphere surrounding the mistletoe.
  • White berries are toxic, but not poisonous, to humans. But keep your pets away from mistletoe, it’s poisonous to them.
  • Some doctors prescribe mistletoe to cancer patients to help ease side effects from chemotherapy.

So there you have it, my short history of how kissing under the mistletoe became associated with Christmas.

Did you ever receive a kiss under the mistletoe? Do you hang mistletoe in your home as part of your Christmas decor? Leave an answer or comment on this or any thought on other Christmas traditions to be entered in a drawing for a Christmas book and a little surprise.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and a New Idea of How to Give

 

Morning!

Cathy McDavid here. I’m going to do something a little different this month. Since my day to post for November is Thanksgiving, I wanted to, of course, wish everyone here a happy holiday. My hope for you is that you’re spending time with loved ones and friends and, if you’re like me, eating too much delicious food.

It’s traditional for many people on this special holiday to express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. I’ll be doing that and including all of you wonderful readers here at Petticoats and Pistols.

I’m also going to make a suggestion and ask you to not just express gratitude for your blessings but to “give” on this day of National thanksgiving. And you don’t have to spend a dime.

Here’s my list. I doubt I’ll accomplish every item on it. But even if I accomplish only a few, my life will be a bit brighter and happier. And the best part? I don’t have to stop at just one day ?

So, what about you? What will you give on this Thanksgiving Day?

A warm smile

A kind word

A friendly wave

A show of appreciation

A compliment

A visit or phone call to an old friend

A friendly chat with a neighbor

An available ear to bend when a loved one needs to talk

An offer to help with chores

An open mind

An even more open heart

A reassuring touch

A hug

An “I love you”

Warmest wishes to you, my dear friends.

Cathy McDavid

The Legacy of John Trudell and a Special Valentine E-Book Give-away

Howdy!

Welcome, welcome to Valentine’s Day Tuesday! Just to remind you, today I’ll be giving away eight (8) different e-books to eight (8) different bloggers.

This give-away was announced earlier this month, and here’s the post:

Valentine’s Day Give-Away.  Come to my blog (Karen Kay) February 14th, and enter the drawing for a chance to win one of these e-books.  Eight e-books (one each from the books listed here) will be given away on my blog on that date, February 14th.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to read over our Give-away Guidelines to the right of this page and check out our rules and then, in order to be a part of the drawing all you have to do is comment on this post and you are automatically entered into the drawing.

Onward…

Tomorrow is the birthday of John Trudell.  And, in case you are not familiar with his work, John Trudell was a Lakota broadcaster in the early 1970’s.  He was a member of the American Indian Movement in the 1970’s and was their spokesperson.  After the tragic loss of his wife, his mother-in-law and all of his children, who perished in a fire while John was away, John took several years to mourn their loss and it was at this time he began to write poetry.  John went on to write some of the most beautiful poems I’ve read.  He also became a philosopher and toured and spoke to many groups of people about his ideas of life.  Around this time, one of his friends approached him and said he could set his poems to music.  John then went on to record his poems which were then set to American Indian music, as well as Rock ‘n Roll.

He was involved in many different protests during these years and was also in the film, Dreamkeeper.  (I believe he was the coyote in one of the legends told in the movie.)  He was also in the film, Thunderheart, a movie starring Val Kilmer.  There is also a documentary of his life available for purchase at Amazon, entitled Trudell.

On this special Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post a few beautiful lines John wrote to his wife in the poem, YOU WERE.  This poem was set to music and one can view it on YouTube here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3qarkF-bfI

“You were here, but not long enough.

“Pretty woman in my mind,

“that laughter in my soul,

“those memories in my heart…”

John Trudell

John is no longer with us, having passed in 2015.  But John’s poems, his views of life and his philosophy have brought inspiration and enlightenment to many people and I would like to honor his life in this blog today.

Well, that’s all for today.  Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog.  And, may I wish you all a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

 

 

Sleigh Bell Serenade

I’ve shared before how inspiration can strike from anywhere when it comes to me writing a story.

Two Christmas seasons ago, I was happily decking my halls for the holidays and listening to a traditional Christmas music station.

A song started to play—one I’d never heard—and I literally stopped in the midst of hanging a holly garland and listened to Bing Crosby croon about a “Sleigh Bell Serenade.” If you’ve never heard the song, it’s so cute and you can listen to it on YouTube.

Anyway,  by the time the song ended, I knew I wanted to write a story with that title and have one of the main characters do something with sleighs or sleigh bells.

It wasn’t until I started writing The Snowman’s Sweetheart, which released in January of last year, that I figured out how to run with the sleigh bell idea. In this book, the hero, Ky, has a best friend named Bo who is a rancher, but also runs a sleigh tour business during the winter months.

Sleigh Bell Serenade is book two in the Winter Wishes sweet romance series, and shares the story of Bowen Jensen and Juniper Haynes, a hot-shot real estate agent who is really ready from a break from her big-city, fast-paced life.

The book releases tomorrow!

He keeps his heart heavily guarded.

She meets everyone with a friendly smile.

Will the attraction sizzling between them pull them into the space between their two worlds?

Burdened by too many responsibilities, Bowen Jensen struggles beneath their overwhelming weight. Between raising his teenage sister, running their family ranch, and managing Sleigh Bell Tours, he barely has time to sleep let alone do something just for himself. He can’t even recall his last date. Then a chance encounter with a beguiling woman leaves him pondering if there isn’t more to life than trudging through one lonely day after another.

Juniper Haynes appears to have it all with a successful real estate career and a picture-perfect life. In reality, she’s tired of dealing with demanding clients, wary of her so-called friends, and secretly longs for the peace she finds at her sister’s mountain home. After a magical New Year’s Eve kiss with a cowboy she barely knows, she realizes true happiness might only be found outside her comfort zone.

Can Bo and Juniper find the courage to embrace change and explore the possibility of a future together?

Find out in this sweet winter romance full of small-town charm, memorable characters, laughter, hope, and love.

 

Annoyed by his infatuation with Juniper, he took a step back, uncertain what to say.

Words had never easily come to him. He was more of a doer than a talker. In his younger years, his best friend, Ky, had always filled the gap since he could talk to anyone, anytime, about anything. Ky had received the gift of gab, while Bo had been given the gift of brawn and endurance.

But at that moment, an idea or two of something witty to say would have been helpful.

“Do you live around here?” Sassy asked as Bo stood there like one of the snow carvings that would fill the town next month at the Winter Fest.

“Cedar lives in Faraday with her husband. I live in Portland,” Juniper said. “I’m just visiting through the holidays.”

“So you’ll be around for New Year’s Eve?” Sassy asked.

Heaven help him if the girl decided to take it upon herself to ask Juniper to go out with him to ring in the new year.

Juniper nodded uncertainly.

“We’re hosting a little gathering of friends that night. Would you like to join us?” Cedar asked, smiling at Bo and then Sassy in invitation. “It’s very casual and informal. We’ll have finger foods and things like pizza and jalapeno poppers, and family-friendly games.”

“Why is this the …” Juniper started to speak, but Cedar gave her a quelling look that made her snap her mouth shut.

Bo might have laughed if he hadn’t been certain there was matchmaking afoot. Under normal circumstances, he would have run in the opposite direction as fast as possible, but he really wanted to see Juniper again. A party with her sister and friends seemed harmless enough.

“We’d love to come,” Sassy said with enthusiasm before he could respond. “Thank you for inviting us.”

Do you have a favorite winter memory?

Sleigh ride? Sledding? Nailing a smug sibling with a snowball? 
Share your comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Sleigh Bell Serenade!

Keeping the Lights On


 

I love decorating for the holidays both outside and inside. Pulling out the decorations every year always fills me with joy. Every item has a story attached to it. My music box snowman reminds me of my boys. I still remember finding it at a small local shop right after Christmas. The three little snowmen immediately reminded me of building a snowman (the few times there was enough snow in Dallas) with my three boys and my hubby. I don’t recall the price, but I remember the piece was expensive enough on sale I thought long and hard before buying it. I wandered around the shop and kept circling around to look at the music box before I finally picked it up.

Other pieces remind me of the person who gave me the item. The snowman and penguin spelling snow was a gift from my Aunt Wanda and Uncle Erlin. The geese came from my Aunt Mugs and Uncle Wayne. The crystal angel, the large size not the small, came from my BFF Lori. (She pointed out I got the larger one as did her mother and sister, while other friends got the smaller angel. ?) When I put out these gifts, I smile, think of these incredible people, and say a prayer of thanks for the difference they’ve made in my life.

Snow blocks

 

 


I put lights everywhere starting with my mantle and the behind the sofa table. The Christmas tree in the entry way adds a sparkle there. In the family room, I have candles, the penguin (that I bought because my youngest loves penguins), and another snowman with lights. My favorite thing to do during the holiday season is light the candles, turn on the other lights, turn off the overhead ones, and watch a Christmas movie.

The downside of having all the decorations and the lights is taking them down. Not that I don’t like and have connections to the items I have out the rest of the year, I do, but somehow removing the holiday décor makes me a little sad to return to the everyday. I guess that’s it. Taking down those decorations mean we go back to our everyday lives filled with work, responsibilities, and day-to-day activities. Too often it feels like the joy and wonder of the season gets packed up in the boxes along with the decorations and we go through the  post-holiday blues. Add winter to that with its shorter, colder days (however as I’m writing this it’s 68 degrees here in Dallas) and it’s a double whammy. But this year, I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be that way, and I’ve decided to make a change.

I’ll take down the Christmas trees and some of the decorations. But this year, I’m leaving up the lights/garland on my mantle and sofa table. I don’t know yet if whether I’ll replace the holiday with my non-holiday items or leave the snowmen out, but put away Santa and the stockings. I’ll see what speaks to me when I get started. The snowman and penguin lights could stay for a while since they’re wintery too. Hmmm, maybe I’ll switch from Christmas decorations to a winter theme at least until the end of February. I kind of like that idea. Hopefully it will help me hold onto the joy and light of the holidays longer. I want to embrace the hope that Jesus’s birth gives us, how His light that can shine through us, and can cut through any darkness.

Happy New Year and may your 2023 be blessed and full of memory making moments!

Giveaway:  To be entered in today’s random giveaway for wrist wallet and a signed copy of A Cure for the Vet, leave a comment on how you fight the post holiday blues.