I’ll email you so you can receive an ebook copy of my new contemporary western romance!
Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and chatting with me. We love you all!
I’ll email you so you can receive an ebook copy of my new contemporary western romance!
Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and chatting with me. We love you all!
If you’re a history lover like me, there’s something fascinating about famous historical people. DEAD famous historical people. Nothing like visiting a grave to get my imagination juices going about the life they led, the death they may (or may not) have suffered, and what the world they lived in would’ve been like.
A few years ago, my husband and I visited Deadwood, South Dakota. Seeing the Mount Moriah Cemetery outside of town was a tourist must. First stop was Wild Bill Hickock’s plot. His burial was in 1879.
You can see how large his plot is and how well the community cares for it. He did, after all, put Deadwood on the map.
Nearby was Calamity Jane’s (Martha Jane Burke) grave. To this day, I’m not sure where her grave began or where it ended. It was quite a large retaining wall with the plaque bearing her name.
If you get a chance to visit Deadwood’s famous cemetery, you’ll see even more burial places of notorious characters from the Wild West. But I didn’t have to travel far from home to discover some fascinating graves right here in my own city.
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is Omaha’s oldest, active cemetery. The first recorded burial was on June 6, 1873. Holy Sepulchre is special because many members of my family are buried here, the oldest being my great-great grandmother, Salvatarice Salerno, who emigrated to America from Carlentini, Sicily, in the mid-1800s. My husband and I have burial plots there, too. In fact, our marker is already in place.
It was extremely important to my parents, especially my father, to keep the memories of our ancestors alive. With his help, I wrote a map and detailed directions to each grave so we can “take the tour” every year and decorate the graves.
Last month, we took our daughters and grandchildren “on the tour.” Along the way, we found some pretty fascinating graves of some pretty fascinating people.
Have you heard of Edward Creighton? Along with his brother, John, he was one of Omaha’s earliest and most prominent businessmen who contributed substantially to our city’s growth.
One of his legacies is Creighton University.
Three of our four daughters attended college there, as well as numerous other family members. In fact, two daughters were married at the beautiful St. John’s Church on its campus. You can see it here in this aerial view of Creighton’s campus today.
I’m sure Edward is smiling in his grave at the legacy he started that is thriving today as a world-renowned educational institution.
Anyway, back to the graves. As a testament to his wealth and prestige, he and his family occupy a good chunk of land at Holy Sepulchre.
His obelisk is a landmark in the cemetery.
There are plain markers around the obelisk for various Creighton family members. I found them quite unusual.
Holy Sepulchre is home to many who once led very colorful lives. Vincent Chiodo was one of them. This is his mausoleum.
He was Omaha’s first Italian millionaire. He made his money in real estate and helped build homes for newly-arrived immigrants from his home country, which gained him their unwavering respect and honor.
Along with all the good works he did, though, his life was full of tragedy and drama. He was acquitted of murder twice, lost his fortune in the 1929 crash, and endured the death of his beloved son in his home. The death remains a mystery to this day.
But his mansion still stands. If you’d like to read more about him, here’s a recent article about him in our Omaha newspaper. Just click HERE.
Ah, but I’m saving my favorite for last. Again, thanks to an article in the newspaper, I learned about another famous person who rests at Holy Sepulchre. She was much less flamboyant than Edward Creighton or Vincent Chiodo, but her legacy endures today in a different way.
I, like millions of other little girls, loved my Barbie dolls. Charlotte Johnson was born and raised here in Omaha, but moved to Los Angeles where she became a fashion designer and instructor. In the mid-1950s, while working alongside Ruth Handler, who co-owned Mattel with her husband and is credited with conceiving the idea for the Barbie doll, it was Charlotte who designed Barbie herself, along with her glamorous wardrobe that so many little girls dreamed of having for their own.
I thought it was just the COOLEST thing she was in my cemetery!
Sadly, Charlotte never had a daughter of her own to play with the doll she helped create into an international sensation. She died in Los Angeles, but came back home to Omaha to be buried.
To learn more about Charlotte, click HERE
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For those of you who lived through the Vietnam War, you’ll remember the violence and discontent from our country’s involvement. As crazy as it sounds, many Americans blamed our soldiers for being there, and their suffering and the terrible things they witnessed made no difference to those back home. The soldiers were shunned and rebuked upon their return to US soil. They were made to be the enemy when they were, in truth, fighting to help keep us all free, something everyone should have appreciated more than they did.
Nowadays, thankfully, the tide has turned, and the men and women in our military are honored and revered, as they should be. Patriotism is surging. The flag once again flies with respect. Who can keep a dry eye while watching a news clip of a soldier dad returning home to surprise his child?
One of the ways to show our patriotism is through songs and videos. Yesterday, my sister-filly, Cheryl Pierson, wrote an excellent blog with many examples of patriotic songs, and our readers loved chiming in.
Funny how great minds think alike.
Tim McGraw is one of my top three country singers, and I’m sharing his popular video for “If You’re Reading This.”
During our Special Event week celebrating patriotism, please enjoy. And be sure to grab a Kleenex.
Just this past Saturday, June 1st, I had the pleasure of releasing a new book. TRACE is Book 1 in the Bachelors and Babies series, and I threw a baby shower in our readers group to celebrate. It was fun, a little different, and the whole event was very celebratory.
But to get to that point–a finished book–is not nearly as much fun and much more stressful. Since I was the launch book, the pressure doubled. I had to have a book as good as I could possibly make it to build the buzz and give my sister-authors a boost.
One of the ways to make a book GOOD is to make it REAL. To do that, I relied on pictures to help my writing about Trace and Morgana (the hero and heroine) be more vivid and to immerse the reader in the time period.
TRACE is set in Wallace, Kansas, which was an authentic cow town in 1881. Today, it’s a shadow of its former self. Here’s a few of my pictures.
I based Morgana’s home on this photo, and a large portion of the book is set here. It really was a house in Wallace and still stands today.
One of Morgana’s dresses.
After a terrible tragedy, Morgana immerses herself in music. The harp is her favorite.
Another picture crucial to the story. Baby’s carriage. (You’ll just have to read the book to figure out why a baby carriage is crucial. Ha!)
Any idea what this is? It’s a vaporizer! They were new to the medical community at the time, and I was thrilled to find that they were just beginning to use them in 1881. This vaporizer is extra, extra crucial to the story. Yep! Read the book to find out how.
These are the books in the series. They’ll come out the first of every month. You’ll see some familiar names, including my sister-filly, WINNIE GRIGGS, and former filly, CHERYL ST.JOHN.
And the most important picture of all!
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Let’s chat and you can win a copy of TRACE (ebook).
TRACE is Book 1 of the Bachelors and Babies series. The books are not connected (except for the sudden arrival of a baby!) and stand on their own.
Do you like to read series books, connected or not? What is their appeal to you? Do you prefer a sweeter romance or something a little more gritty?
Join the Bachelors & Babies Readers Group on Facebook to meet the authors and learn about upcoming releases! https://www.facebook.com/groups/2143576775865837/
Through the ages, savvy businessmen have earned their wealth with a vision and brilliance that others had yet to fathom. Some earned their money with ingenuity, some with skill, others with luck for being in the right place at the right time. For the vast majority of us who weren’t blessed with such fortune, it’s hard to imagine having so much money, one can’t even count it all.
Here’s a few of the richest men in history, with their worth adjusted for inflation:
John D. Rockefeller – $367 billion. Made his fortune in petroleum beginning in the 1860s.
Andrew Carnegie – $337 billion – Made his fortune in steel in the mid-1800s
Cornelius Vanderbilt – $202 billion – Made his fortune in the railroads and before that, steamships, also in the mid-1800s.
To their credit, Rockefeller and Carnegie were generous philanthropists who gave away much of their fortune to charitable causes. Vanderbilt, however, kept his fortune until he died and left 95% to a son, William, (one of thirteen children) and William’s four children. Bet there was some squabbling there from the other twelve, don’t you think? Yikes!
There are few men more wealthy today than Warren Buffet. Warren is special because his fortune began right here in my hometown of Omaha. He still lives in the same home he bought in 1958 in a modest, though very nice, neighborhood. Part of his charm is his thriftiness. I remember seeing him in our local grocery store buying a few cases of Coke (his beverage of choice) when it was on sale. Warren is worth $90 billion dollars and is listed by Forbes as the 3rd richest man in America, behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
His best pal and right-hand man is Charlie Munger. Together, they have made Berkshire-Hathaway into a world-renowned investment company with eye-popping success. Charlie is worth $2 billion.
I am fortunate to own some BH stock (not the good A stock, mind you, which is worth $315,000 (approximately) a share). Being a stockholder enables us to get into the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, which is also right here in Omaha, always the first weekend in May.
It is an EVENT, let me tell you. Besides commercial planes, private jets from around the world crowd our airport (about 110 private jets over the weekend.) Tens of thousands of people come to Omaha for the weekend to listen to Warren and Charlie give advice and talk about the year’s investments. Not only are these guys entertaining and witty, they are SMART!! They can quote percentages, stocks, companies and logic like men a fraction of their ages. Oh, did I tell you Warren is 89 years old and Charlie is 95 years old?
My husband and I go to the shareholders meeting nearly every year just to breathe in the atmosphere. It’s fun, organized and INCREDIBLE to mingle with stockholders from so many countries.
One of the highlights of the weekend is the shopping. Literally thousands flow into our big convention center to snatch up BH companies’ products at special prices just for shareholders. Dairy Queen ice cream treats and Coca-Cola are favorites!
Here’s a few fun pictures:
In my new contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my hero’s (Beau) mother brings dinner out to the family’s ghost town resort under construction by my heroine (Ava). She made the meal, appropriately titled “Cowboy Stew” (recipe below) in a slow cooker, often called a Crockpot.
Now, I’d warrant all of you reading this has had a Crockpot at one time in your life. Maybe you still do. While the first slow cooker was actually invented in 1940, most of us will remember the Rival Crockpot, which was officially introduced in 1971 and quickly grew to be the RAGE. I got married in 1975, and you didn’t have a bridal shower (or a wedding) until you got a Rival Crockpot as a gift. We all did. In fact, I still have mine. A 4-
quart, bright orange model. Works great to this day.
As my family grew, I graduated to a 6-quart model which I love, too. However, as most things go, even what’s been wildly popular will eventually lose its stardom for something new and exciting.
Enter the Instant Pot.
Oh, be still my heart. I got mine for Christmas. A complete surprise cooked up (pardon the pun) by my daughters who thought I needed one. I admit to being quite intimidated by it at first. In fact, I didn’t even take it out of the box for a week. But once I did, and I accomplished the first step—boiling water, by the way—I was hooked.
Believe it or not, pressure cookers have been around a very long time. The first one was
invented by a French physicist in 1679, which he called the digester. Yuck. But the name stuck for a couple of centuries, until it was replaced with ‘pressure cooker’ by the military who needed a way to make fast meals in camps, as well as other inventors working to improve canning and beef extract production.
As the years rolled by, the pressure cooker became smaller, more user friendly, and made cooking and preserving food more economical. I’m quite sure no one expected the primitive digester to evolve into an Instant Pot that can make everything from hard-boiled eggs to yogurt so fun and easy!
Here’s the recipe for my Cowboy Stew. I’ve had this recipe for ages, and I’ve made it in my Rival Crockpot too many times to count. Beau and Ava enjoyed it, too!
4 medium potatoes, sliced
4 large carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, cut in strips
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced in rings
Arrange in Crockpot in layers, beginning with the potatoes. Salt and pepper each layer.
Pour 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce on top.
Mix well in a bowl:
1 lb. hamburger
½ cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 slice bread, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Press into circle over vegetables to form a cover. Pour another can of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with ½ tsp. oregano leaves.
Cook until meat and vegetables are done. May be baked in 350 degree oven for one hour, or until vegetables are tender.
***** ***** ***** *****
Here’s my favorite Instant Pot recipe. Since IP recipes tend to be lengthy from the steps needed, I won’t type it all out, but I’ll give you the link from the food blog, Rachel Cooks. It’s DELICIOUS!
Have you ever used a pressure cooker? Do you have a slow cooker? Is it a RIVAL? How about an Instant Pot? Do you love it? Hate it? Share recipes!
Join in, and you’ll be eligible to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Buy A COWBOY AND A PROMISE on Amazon!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person. I need to see it to retain it. I see better than I hear. When I see a list, I get tasks done. And organizing with colored notecards or Post-Its?
Be still my heart.
Just the way my brain works.
So it’s no wonder that I need images when I write. The words form much easier, flow much faster. And like any visual writer who is neck-deep in a manuscript and needing some help, I head straight for my friend, Pinterest.
Writing my contemporary western, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, by Tule Publishing, was no different. If you’ve had a chance to read the book, you might enjoy seeing some of the images that inspired me.
If you haven’t read it yet, but want to . . .
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Here’s a few images, straight from my board:
When I saw this image for Beau Paxton, my hero, I thought “This is IT!” Beau to a T. Love, love.
While writing A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my husband and I were totally binge-watching the thriller series, Homeland, and I was completely captivated by the lead character, played by Claire Danes. Hence, Ava Howell was born.
When Ava first arrives to the Blackstone Ranch and enters the little cabin where she’ll be staying while working, one of the first things she sees is a bouquet of Indian blanket that Beau’s mother thoughtfully picked for her in welcome. The wildflower is common in the Texas Hill Country. Beautiful, aren’t they?
This is a diagram of a Shotgun House, which I mention in the renovation of the Paxton family’s ghost town resort on the Blackstone Ranch. They say that a shotgun blast from the front door will go straight through the house and out the back door. I guess it’s true, eh?
Beau buys Ava her first cowboy hat, something she resists, but this is the one she picked out. On clearance, of course!
Another gift from Beau that Ava absolutely loves. Can you blame her?
Something really scary happens to Beau on the ranch, and that’s all I’ll say! But this hole was my inspiration!
And now I’m going to stop! I can’t give everything away, can I?
But you can see how much I depend on Pinterest. I took a Pinterest class recently, and my teacher said Pinterest is another Google. She’s right. It truly is!
Did you know Petticoats & Pistols has its own Pinterest account? Our sister filly, Julie Benson, keeps it up and running for us, and it’s hugely popular with almost 64,000 views per month! Come follow us and check out our boards. http://www.pinterest.com/thefillies/