BEST BROWNIES EVER–JUST IN TIME FOR MEMORIAL DAY! by Cheryl Pierson

Several years ago, after Hurricane Sandy devastated so much of the East Coast, help began to pour in immediately. But here in the farther inland parts of the U.S., we were left wondering what we could do, other than donate money?

In times of disaster, we all wish we were able to do more. Many people don’t want to give to a nebulous charity, fearing scams of all sorts.

One of my publishers friends, Rebecca Vickery, came up with the idea of a recipe book. The authors that wrote for her three imprints were asked if they wanted to contribute recipes to go in the book. The proceeds from the sales of the book would go to one of two charities, which we voted on. By a large margin, Save the Children was our choice.

The book was a work of love that we all participated in, some with more than one recipe. It was filled with quite a variety, and even though on the cover it says, “Featuring favorite holiday recipes by various authors”, there are several in this book that I have made all through the year.  Who can wait for the holidays to have some of these scrumptious treats–especially now when we are at home more and more?

I’m sharing my contributions with you today, but there are plenty more where this came from in this little gem of a book—many of them easy and geared for our hectic lifestyles. I’ve been cooking a lot more lately with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, so I’m always on the lookout for new and different recipes!

I can certainly vouch for the two below—Blonde Brownies has been a staple in our family since I was born. It was on a “Brownie” recipe sheet when both of my sisters belonged to a troop, and my mom was a leader. This recipe is one of those that doesn’t last long around our house—the ingredients are items you usually keep stocked, and it’s easy to make. Same with the Hello Dolly Bars.

Though the book is out of print, it’s still available in limited quantities on Amazon from 3rd party sellers. 

 

BLONDE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

 

HELLO DOLLY BARS

½ cup butter

1 ½  cup graham cracker crumbs

1 six oz. package chocolate chips (I always add extra!)

1 can Eagle Brand milk (sweetened condensed milk)

1 1/3  cups shredded coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

Pour melted butter into a 9×13 pan. Cover evenly with the following: graham cracker crumbs (press down to soak up the butter), nuts, chocolate chips, coconut. Pour milk on top. Bake at 350 F. until lightly brown or chips have melted (about 25 minutes). Cool before cutting.

(You can also add some butterscotch chips along with the chocolate chips for variation.)

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

https://tinyurl.com/ycd4fo93

Blonde brownies are my go-to comfort food! I can eat them any time of the day or night!  Do you have a favorite recipe you love to make? PLEASE SHARE!

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR READING SHELF? by Cheryl Pierson

Hi everyone! Like most everyone I know, I’m always on the lookout for good reads (even thought I’ve got a huge stack of books on my nightstand, and I’m a VERY slow reader!) From time to time, I like to blog about some favorite books, and hopefully you all will comment about some of your faves, as well! This gives me more books to add to my to-be-read pile, and I love that because I learn, from you all, about books and authors I might not have known about otherwise. 

Teresa Medeiros has long been one of my very favorite authors, and she is so versatile she can write stories set in just about any time period or setting and make them seem so authentic.

Another thing I love about her writing is the way she weaves such wonderful description into her stories, small details that paint a picture for you as you read.

I’m totally enthralled by the latest one of her books that I picked up called THE TEMPTATION OF YOUR TOUCH. No, it’s not a western, but it’s a wonderful Regency story and one that will sweep you up into wondering about the characters–AND a couple of the plot points–and keep you reading into the night! 

Maximillian Burke prides himself on being the man every mother wants her daughter to marry, but after his scoundrel brother steals his bride, Max decides there’s more satisfaction in being a rogue than a gentleman. He flees London for lonely Cadgwyck Manor, and though the tumbledown estate comes complete with a ghost, it’s Max’s no-nonsense housekeeper who haunts his dreams.

Prim and proper Anne Spencer could do without a new master, especially one as gorgeous and temperamental as the Earl of Dravenwood. Even as she schemes to be rid of him, she is irresistibly drawn into his muscular embrace. But when Max vows to solve the mystery of the White Lady of Cadgwyck, he risks both their hearts and tempts them to surrender to a pleasure as delicious as it is dangerous.

 

As if this wasn’t wonderful enough, there is another book that goes with this one. I didn’t realize it when I ordered this from Amazon, but quickly realized my mistake and found the companion story on Amazon, too. Turns out I am reading “book 2 of 2”  right now, but I think it’ll be fine, as book one seems to be more about the younger brother in the family. This companion story is called THE PLEASURE OF YOUR KISS. I’m looking forward to reading it, as soon as I finish this one! 

 

After that, I’m going to launch into something totally different: a book called TOMORROW. Y’all know how crazy I am about animals, especially dogs–and this is a fantasy about a dog that has been granted immortality! Interesting, yes? Also, looks like there is a sequel to this one–so glad I paid attention and am going to read them in the right order this time! 

Venice, 1815. A two-hundred-year-old dog is searching for his lost master. And so begins Tomorrow, a story of love that spans the centuries and of hope as the world collapses into war. Tomorrow is a dog who must travel through the courts and battlefields of Europe in search of the man who granted him immortality. His is a journey of loyalty and determination, as he befriends both animals and humans, falls in love—only once—marvels at the human ability to make music and despairs at their capacity for war.

Tomorrow is a spellbinding novel of courage and devotion, of humanity across the ages and of the eternal connection between two souls.

 

Next up is a book in a time period I don’t normally read, but how could I pass this up? It’s by Shanna Hatfield! It’s called HOME OF HER HEART, and it takes place during WWII. I’m eager to read this, and there are two other books in the series as well!

He needed someone to remember him when he was gone.

Instead, he found a woman he’d never forget.

Orphaned at birth and a loner all his life, the last thing Sergeant Klayne Campbell needs is for feisty Delaney Danvers to entangle his thoughts. Bravely volunteering for a top-secret mission almost certain to get him killed, Klayne can’t bear the thought of dying utterly alone. All he wants is to face death knowing his life meant something to at least one person. Offering Delaney a marriage of convenience, he plans to leave behind a war bride as his beneficiary. After just one night as her husband, Klayne realizes he’ll do anything to survive and return to her.

The moment she met handsome Sergeant Campbell at a holiday party, Delaney’s whole world shifted off kilter. Full of fun with an unquenchable zest for life, she isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. And what she wants is Klayne. When he prepares to join a hazardous mission, she seizes the opportunity to give him a reason to fight his way back home — to her heart.

Sigh…what could be better than this? Not much!

On my Kindle, I’m reading WYOMING WILDFLOWER by Pam Crooks! I have never read a PAM CROOKS BOOK I didn’t love, and this one is no exception!

One of her father’s daughters . . .

All Sonnie Mancuso wants is to be needed by her father. Unfortunately, he already has a daughter–six, to be exact–and all he needs is a son.

One of her father’s men . . .

Orphaned in the slums of New York, fifteen-year-old Lance Harmon needs a home. Sonnie’s father gives him one, on the cattle-rich Rocking M ranch. Through the years, Lance learns to love the land, the work . . . and Sonnie.

And their legacy . . .

But Vince Mancuso’s health is failing, and there’s trouble on the Wyoming range. Sonnie returns home to claim the legacy that’s rightfully hers . . . but learns Lance has already claimed it.

Sweet and gritty romance.

I think I’ve mentioned about a few hundred times through the years that I’m from Oklahoma, and was lucky enough to marry a guy who loved my home state, too–so I got to come back HOME after we married! This next book is one that has some really interesting stories in it…they are very entertaining, but I’m not sure all of them are factually verified. Still, it makes for great reading!

 

The Oklahoma Land Rush was a madhouse scene that brought both smiles and heartache to its participants.There is also the wonderful story about Cherokee Indian Lewis Ross who drilled for water but failed. He wasn’t disappointed though, as he struck oil instead.Then there’s the wild and woolly No-Man’s land in the Oklahoma Panhandle where outlaws could hide without fear of the law. There was no law.No history of Oklahoma would be complete without a run-down on its favorite son, the ever-humorous Will Rogers.

 

 

Well, there you have it. Only a partial list of what I’ve recently read and what’s coming up next. How about you? Please share any past favorites and upcoming reads that you are looking forward to! You can never have too many books! Thanks for stopping by today!

 

 

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE–CAN YOU HELP WITH A REVIEW?–by Cheryl Pierson

Hi everyone! I’ve talked a lot about A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE lately. It was released in October, but had a hard time from the moment it was released, as Amazon didn’t change the release date from the old version of the book. I am hoping you can help me by posting a review! Here’s what’s happening:

Several years ago, about ten or so, I wrote a book called “The Half-Breed’s Woman” about our hero, U.S. Deputy Marshal Jaxson McCall, who was the son of a white man and an Indian woman. Brought up in Indian Territory, he’s lived a very hard-knock life with his younger brother, Brendan, who is also a deputy marshal.

The heroine is a young debutante from Washington, D.C., Callie Buchanan, whose stepfather, Dunstan Treadwell, has nefarious plans for her now that she is eighteen. She is on the run (who wouldn’t be?) and Treadwell hires Jaxson to track Callie down and return her to him.

Jaxson takes the job, but things get complicated, and soon they are both in danger.

As the years passed, I thought of so many things I wanted to change in this book. Writers do that, many times,—and a “do-over” is not always possible. BUT, in my case, I was able to do just that, and what fun I had with this!

I’ve re-released this fabulous story under a new title and cover, A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE. It’s full of surprises and action, and one of the most poignant love stories ever. This is a revised version with new content. It is NOT A CHRISTIAN read, but has been modified to a sweeter format than the original.

Here’s where I need your help.

When Amazon re-released this story with the new content and title, they kept the OLD release date, from the old version of the book! It took many phone calls and e-mails but they finally corrected it nearly a month later–too late for me to be able to post it at many of the advertising sites as a “new release”. So, if you think this is a story you might enjoy reading and reviewing, I will send you an ARC copy of it FREE in exchange for a review! 

If you will e-mail me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com, I will be glad to send a free copy of A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE winging its way to you, and eagerly await your review!

Writers depend on reviews since it helps with our exposure on Amazon. No pressure here, at all, but I could use the help if you think this is a story you might enjoy reading and reviewing!

It’s one of my favorite stories, and I have plans, still, to write sequels as to what happens to these characters—they are some of my very favorite creations. I hope you will feel the same.

Here’s the blurb—it tells the gist of the story much better than I can in the space I have:

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE–A sensual western historical romance that draws you in and won’t let go. 

U.S. Deputy Marshal Jaxson McCall is hired by Dunstan Treadwell, a powerful government official, to track down his runaway stepdaughter, debutante Callie Buchanan. When Jax realizes he’s been double-crossed by Callie’s stepfather, he doubles down to protect Callie from an evil nemesis from his own past who has been hired to kill them both.

The stakes have changed: Treadwell doesn’t want Callie back—he wants her dead. And the man coming after them is a master at murder.

Jax catches up to Callie in Fort Smith, and none too soon, for Wolf Blocker, the man Treadwell has hired to murder his stepdaughter and Jax, is one step ahead of them—and he’s got assassination on his mind. Jax and Callie set out on the stagecoach for Texas, neither of them able to be honest about their circumstances. With Blocker on their trail and Apaches ahead of them, the future is uncertain.

One thing Jaxson knows: he cannot take Callie back to Washington to face an attempted murder charge. Matters are further complicated when Jax and Callie are forced into marriage by worried Cavalry Captain Alan Tolbert to avoid the trouble he believes Treadwell could cause.

Through all the pretense, the hardships, and the deadly danger, one thing becomes obvious. Callie and Jaxson were meant to be together for this new beginning, for this new forever love that neither of them had ever hoped to find. Will they live long enough to see it through?

Have you ever read a story or seen a movie that had characters so REAL that they stayed with you long after the book was finished, or the movie had ended? What characters have stayed in your heart and mind long after the story was over?

CHERYL’S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  https://tinyurl.com/2k7xeddt

CHERYL’S WINNERS!

 

Hi everyone, and thanks so much to those of you who stopped by today to participate in my blog about The Texan and reminisce about some of our favorite OLD westerns, both on the silver screen and on television! 

I’ve picked two winners today and they are…..

DENISE and SEXTONJUDY4!

Ladies, if you two will e-mail me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com and please put WINNER in your subject line I will be glad to see that you get your prizes–be sure and let me know whether you’d like to receive A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE or LOVE UNDER FIRE! 

                                              Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by to participate today!

THE TEXAN–AND A GIVEAWAY! by Cheryl Pierson

 

I have become totally obsessed with an old TV series, THE TEXAN starring Rory Calhoun. I never knew this series existed until we switched cable companies not long ago and were so fortunate to be able to add GRIT TV to our lineup—and it’s about all we watch anymore.

THE TEXAN was a black and white series (yes, that’s how old it is, almost older than I am, but not quite!). It aired on CBS from 1958-1960, and as with so many of these older shows, I love to see so many roles by early “unknowns” who later became famous in their own right.

But the premise of THE TEXAN is really different, and heartbreaking all at once.

The Texan is Bill Longley, who was a captain in the Confederacy during the Civil War. When he comes back to his privileged life at his family’s southern plantation, he finds his young wife has died of a fever, and the plantation lies in ruins. He puts a grave marker up beside his wife’s that says Bill Longley died on this day, with the date below it—the date he returned home and found that his love was dead.

He goes to Texas and becomes a drifter, building a reputation as a fast gun, but he is not for hire. He just takes a hand when he sees wrongdoing and tries to right it, whatever it might be, when he can. I have, by no means, seen the entire series yet—we usually watch a couple of the 30-minute episodes while we eat dinner. Yes, some of them feel rather “rushed” because they are only 30 minutes long and the commercials have been moved around to accommodate today’s programming. But all in all, it’s really a good series, and I LOVE being able to study his character as the shows progress and we get to know more about him.

I truly admire the realism in this show. I didn’t realize it until recently, but there were so many westerns of that era that had the lawmen and the “good guys” always shooting to wound someone. The Lone Ranger even says at the beginning of that series that he will never kill, only shoot to wound, and then, only if necessary.

CREDIT FOR PICTURE: By Desilu Sales Inc., Hollywood – eBay (front & back), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=113095488

Well, let me tell y’all, Bill Longley has been through war and he is as tough as they come. Even though his past has been harsh (at least, it was once he joined the Confederacy and went to war), he still retains his sense of fairness. But make no mistake—he will shoot to kill, and he is fast. I don’t know how fast he was in actuality, but I did read something interesting the other day, as an aside—actor Glenn Ford was said to be the fastest gun in Hollywood, with a draw time of .04 seconds! WOW!

This character, THE TEXAN, is in many ways how I envision my heroes in my own books. My heroes, so far, don’t have his genteel upbringing—but I think if they all knew each other they’d be friends, because they’d see things the same way. Though they are fast with a gun, they don’t use it indiscriminately, and they are not ever ones to believe that “might makes right”.

You know, I have seen only one of Rory Calhoun’s movies, but in it, he plays the same kind of character as he played in THE TEXAN. A loner. A fast gun. Someone who makes tough decisions and takes up the slack when others don’t or won’t.

Now that I’ve started following him, I remember my mom saying something once about a movie she was wanting to see. I must have been about 8 or 9—all I remember was her saying, “It has Rory Calhoun in it!” and giving a little smile. I should have paid attention about 55 years sooner…

If you get a chance to watch THE TEXAN, you will not be sorry. This fictional Bill Longley is like so many of the western heroes we writers try to create, and the ones that readers love to read. It’s odd that they decided to call him Bill Longley, since there really WAS a Bill Longley, an outlaw who was nothing at all like the fictional portrayal. The real Bill Longley died at the age of 27 and was known for his hot temper, rages, and bloody murders he committed. Shudder. I love the fictional Bill Longley much better!

I’ve created many “loner” type heroes in my stories. Many of them resemble the characteristics of Bill Longley in THE TEXAN. Just thinking back on them, I’d say the two that stick in my mind as being most like The Texan are Johnny Houston from LOVE UNDER FIRE and Jaxson McCall from A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE–but it was a hard decision to narrow it down!

Who is your favorite television or big screen movie western star and why? And I’d love to know your favorite western tv series or movie that character played in. I’m giving away a digital copy of LOVE UNDER FIRE or A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE  to one commenter today (reader’s choice)! Don’t forget to leave contact details in your comment!

Here’s a short excerpt from A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE. A ruthless gang of cutthroats from Jaxson McCall’s past have re-surfaced and are holding Callie and Jaxson’s brother, Jeremy, and a young boy, Carlos, hostage. Jaxson is recovering from a poison-tipped arrow, but he and his other brother, Brendan, are there to save the hostages. Here’s the confrontation:

“Turn her loose,” Jax ordered in a low tone.

“Or what, Marshal? You’ll kill me?” Blocker taunted.

But Callie could hear the muted strain in his voice. I must have hit him, she thought, surprised.

“Take me, Blocker,” Jax murmured. Deliberately, he tossed the Winchester to the ground and held his hands out. “You don’t want her—not really. What you want is to finish what you started thirteen years ago. I wonder…” He took a step forward, his silhouette illuminated by the fire behind him in the growing darkness.

Blocker licked his lips nervously. “Wonder what, McCall?”

“Are you man enough to take me? We never finished what we started back in Fort Smith. But you can have it either way, Blocker. A fight, or…not. I’ll—go with you. Just let her go.”

“I don’t think so,” Blocker replied smugly.

“Why not?”

“Because you want it too much, McCall.” Blocker put the tip of the knife under Callie’s chin. “You agree to give yourself up to me, knowing what I’ll do to you?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Girl must mean an awful lot to you. I wonder why.”

“She’s worth money to me,” Jax said quietly. His heart lurched at the hollow, dead look in Blocker’s eyes.

“You’re both worth money to me,” Blocker responded.

Callie could feel the big man’s grip on her easing somewhat. He didn’t realize it, she knew.

“C’mon, Blocker,” Jax murmured. “Let’s fight it out. Just you and me.”

Blocker’s grip slipped a little more, and Callie felt an oozing warmth at her back.

His blood.

Blocker shook his head. “Shorty shoveled out three graves over there. I ain’t gonna fill one of ’em.”

Suddenly, Callie dug her elbows backward with all her might. She heard Blocker’s grunt of pain as he dropped the knife, and she squirmed away from him. He lunged at Jax with a snarl, and both men grappled together, then went to the ground, pummeling one another.

Callie watched in horror, thinking of how Jax had looked just this morning when she’d left him asleep in their bed. The fever, the wound, his fitful rest and lack of food would all surely take their toll. He was in no shape to fight.

“Callie!”

She turned, just as a strong arm encircled her waist, pulling her to the safety of the trees and underbrush along the creek bank.

The man urged her to the ground beside Carlos, then he was gone as quickly as he had appeared.

As Callie lifted her head to peer through the undergrowth, she saw him step out into the ring of firelight. He dropped to one knee, his gun ready, but Jax and Blocker fought too closely together to take a chance on a shot.

 

 

CHERYL’S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  https://tinyurl.com/2k7xeddt

 

Order your copy of LOVE UNDER FIRE today!

 

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE–KINDLE LINK: https://tinyurl.com/yn85vnkk

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE–PAPERBACK LINK: https://tinyurl.com/mryt2fwf

 

Thanks for stopping by today! Be sure to leave your contact info along with your comment in case you win!

Christmas Decor Crawl ~ Cheryl Pierson

Hi Everyone!

Christmas is probably my very favorite time of year–every single year. My husband says I’m still “a big ol’ fifth grader” when it comes to Christmas, and he’s probably right about that.

Today I thought I would just share a few of my decorations–I don’t ever do ‘trendy’ things because my decorations and ornaments are ones that I’ve had since I was a child, going up through my early years of marriage, ornaments my own children made in school, and those we used to buy for them each year and hang on the tree. I couldn’t bear to get rid of any of these and opt for something more modern!  These two pictures are last year’s tree since I have none of my presents wrapped this year yet, and I had to show you all the very best present of all that keeps on giving every day–Sammy, the dog!

Every year, I always include the little ladder with Santa and his elf climbing up to the middle of the tree. I got this when my kids were very young, and my son Casey was fascinated with my earrings. He took a little Christmas sticker and drew a picture of an earring, attached the sticker to the edge and put it on the elf’s ear. That elf wore that earring for YEARS until the glue finally let go and the earring was lost. You can see the ladder, Santa and elf in the first picture on the left side of the tree.

The first Christmas ornament I bought for us when we married--two love birds! Still have it and it's always on the tree!

This is the first ornament I bought when Gary and I got married, waaaaaay back in 1979. It’s hard to see, but it’s two lovebirds with a red heart between them, surrounded by a clear heart. This is all blown glass and very fragile.

 

The last ornament my mom ever bought me. Clear glass, very fragile, and I put it on the tree every year!

 

Another “oldie but goodie”–originally a package tie-on, my mom converted this little deer into a much-loved ornament!

 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I cross-stitched this ornament for her while I was in the hospital after my C-section. She has very dark hair in real life, but who knew? LOL This little angel is blonde!

 

Here’s the poor little mismatched, loved-through-decades nativity set. Mom and Dad had this nativity set before I was born in 1957! Oh, how I loved this, from the time I was able to crawl over to it! Some of the figures are plaster and have not stood the test of time (and three kids) all that well. I cut up a piece of green velvet fabric I wasn’t supposed to use to make Baby Jesus a beautiful blanket about 2 inches square for His cardboard manger. One of the wise men has disappeared, along with the donkey who didn’t make it, and a sheep. But, there are two camels, a cow and a sheep, along with a shepherd, two wise men, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and a plastic angel. The stable is cardboard, too. My mom gave this to me one year for Christmas when I was in my mid-thirties, and my kids were very small. We had a good cry over it at the time, but what a gift I will treasure forever!

This is one of my mom’s paintings that I am using on a display in my living room this year–it’s a very wintry scene and looks great with the bright red lighted poinsettias and some other Christmas-y things on my couch table. Below, you can see the entire display. That’s her painting right next to the old-timey lantern.

Here’s another favorite–back when latch hooking was so popular, I made this little Christmas tin soldier and he goes on my door every year. I can’t even remember how long it’s been since I made him, but I’m sure it was very late 1970’s. It wouldn’t be Christmas without him!

Here’s a couple of new additions to my holiday decor. These beautiful reindeer that I leave out all year round. I can’t bear to put them away. I’ve named them Fred and El Wanda, after my parents.

This is a plate I couldn’t resist and a little cute miniature bird house. Bought all of this just this year, but I won’t ever part with all the traditional decorations I love so much!

I always put “icicles” on my tree–this is something we did from the earliest Christmas I can remember, as a kid. I remember when we used to buy those for .17 a box–now, they are three boxes for $14.29!!!! Times have changed, in some ways, but I’m not sure it would be a real Christmas without those icicles, so it is my one big splurge from my usual practical outlook. 

I’m going to attach a short story here that I wrote many years ago about why icicles are so important in our family tradition. It is based on a very true story, and I hope I did it justice. Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

 

SILVER MAGIC by Cheryl Pierson

Did you know that there is a proper way to hang tinsel on the Christmas tree?

Growing up in the small town of Seminole, Oklahoma, I was made aware of this from my earliest memories of Christmas. Being the youngest in our family, there was never a shortage of people always wanting to show me the right way to do—well, practically everything! When it came to hanging the metallic strands on the Christmas tree, my mother made it a holiday art form.

“The cardboard holder should be barely bent,” she said, “forming a kind of hook for the tinsel.”   No more than three strands of the silver magic should be pulled from this hook at one time. And, we were cautioned, the strands should be draped over the boughs of the tree gently, so as to avoid damage to the fragile greenery.

Once the icicles had been carefully added to the already-lit-and-decorated tree, we would complete our “pine princess” with a can of spray snow. Never would we have considered hanging the icicles in blobs, as my mother called them, or tossing them haphazardly to land where they would on the upper, unreachable branches. Hanging them on the higher branches was my father’s job, since he was the tallest person I knew—as tall as Superman, for sure. He, too, could do anything—even put the serenely blinking golden star with the blonde angel on the very highest limb—without a ladder!

When Christmas was over, I learned that there was also a right way to save the icicles before setting the tree out to the roadside for the garbage man. The cardboard holders were never thrown out. We kept them each year, tucked away with the rest of the re-useable Christmas decorations. Their shiny treasure lay untangled and protected within the corrugated Bekins Moving and Storage boxes that my mother had renamed “CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS” in bold letters with a black magic marker.

At the end of the Christmas season, I would help my sisters undress the tree and get it ready for its lonely curbside vigil. We would remove the glass balls, the plastic bells, and the homemade keepsake decorations we’d made in school. These were all gently placed in small boxes. The icicles came next, a chore we all detested.

We removed the silver tinsel and meticulously hung it back around the little cardboard hook. Those icicles were much heavier then, being made of real metal and not synthetic plastic. They were easier to handle and, if you were careful, didn’t snarl or tangle. It was a long, slow process—one that my young, impatient hands and mind dreaded.

For many years, I couldn’t understand why everyone—even my friends’ parents—insisted on saving the tinsel from year to year. Then one night, in late December, while Mom and I gazed at the Christmas tree, I learned why.

As she began to tell the story of her first Christmas tree, her eyes looked back through time. She was a child in southeastern Oklahoma, during the dustbowl days of the Depression. She and her siblings had gotten the idea that they needed a Christmas tree. The trekked into the nearby woods, cut down an evergreen, and dragged it home. While my grandfather made a wooden stand for it, the rest of the family popped and strung corn for garland. The smaller children made decorations from paper and glue.

“What about a star?” one of the younger boys had asked.

My grandfather thought for a moment, then said, “I’ve got an old battery out there in the shed. I’ll cut one from that.”

The kids were tickled just to have the tree, but a star, too! It was almost too good to be true.

Grandfather went outside. He disappeared around the side of the old tool shed and didn’t return for a long time. Grandmother glanced out the window a few times, wondering what was taking so long, but the children were occupied with stringing the popcorn and making paper chains. They were so excited that they hardly noticed when he came back inside.

Grandmother turned to him as he shut the door against the wintry blast of air. “What took you so long?” she asked. “I was beginning to get worried.”

Grandfather smiled apologetically, and held up the star he’d fashioned.   “It took me awhile. I wanted it to be just right.” He slowly held up his other hand, and Grandmother clapped her hands over her mouth in wonder. Thin strands of silver magic cascaded in a shimmering waterfall from his loosely clenched fist. “It’s a kind of a gift, you know. For the kids.”

“I found some foil in the battery,” he explained. “It just didn’t seem right, not to have icicles.”

In our modern world of disposable commodities, can any of us imagine being so poor that we would recycle an old battery for the metal and foil, in order to hand-cut a shiny star and tinsel for our children’s Christmas tree?

A metal star and cut-foil tinsel—bits of Christmas joy, silver magic wrapped in a father’s love for his family.

This anthology is only available used now, but it’s well worth purchasing from Amazon if you can find it, and reading so many heartwarming Christmas stories from yesteryear! Hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas and a fantastic 2024!

Christmas horses

 

 CLICK THIS LINK FOR CHERYL PIERSON BOOKS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

CHERYL’S WINNERS!

Hey everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by today and reading and participating in my blog about A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES and our own Christmas experiences with unexpected happenings or surprises!

My winners (yes there are two of them!) are….

JUDY SEXTON and KIM HAMPTON!

If you ladies will e-mail me at fabkat_edit@yahoo . com (no spaces) I will send you your prize!

Again, thanks to everyone for reading and participating–that’s what makes this blog so much fun! Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!

 

 

A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES by CHERYL PIERSON (THERE’S A GIVEAWAY TODAY!)

Christmas has always been a miraculous time for me. It still is. When I was younger, it was because of the presents, and the anticipation that came with the season. My parents were not wealthy, but we had the necessities and a few of the luxuries. My mom was a great manager. She could make the smallest thing seem of the greatest value. She could transform our house into a marvelous Christmas haven with her decorations, wonderful cooking and a few well-wrapped packages. When I became an adult, the torch was passed, but the anticipation merely shifted. The excitement I felt was not for myself, but for my children–the joy I could bring to them.

 

 

 

Once I had written A Night for Miracles, I began to think about my heroine, Angela Bentley, and how I might have reacted had I been in her place. I would like to think that I would have done what she did–transformed her small cabin into a memorable Christmas castle that none of the children would ever forget, simply through a good meal, a warm fire, and a gift. But it was all of these things that made Angela’s “gift” — the gift of her heart — special. She put herself out on a limb, having been emotionally wounded before.

I thought about the old legend–that Christmas Eve is a “night for miracles” to happen. Angela was not a rich person by any means, but she gave what she had, freely. She took in the stranger and the three children from the cold, gave them warm beds and fed them. But then she went even further. She gave her heart to them, although it was a huge risk. She comes through with physical gifts, but the true giving was in her spirit. And that leads to a miracle.

A Night For Miracles is one of those short stories that I didn’t want to end. I love a happy ending, and this is one of the happiest of all, for everyone in the story.

Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe! Available now with PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS!

A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS is a collection of Christmas novellas that you are sure to love! These are all my own stories, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES being the first of the bunch.

 

EXCERPT FROM A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES:

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

Have you ever had something unexpected happen around Christmas? What was it? 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS!

AMAZON LINK FOR A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS

AMAZON LINK FOR ALL CHERYL’S BOOKS

 

It’s Yee-Haw Day!

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Linda Broday

Courting Miss Emma will release tomorrow!!

Book 2 Hangman’s Daughters series

“One day I intend to court you, lady. That’s a promise. Hangman’s daughter or not.”

Stone Lassiter and Emma clashed until people tried to take their land and they had to fight to keep what is theirs.

Karen Witemeyer

I’m tickled pink to share that my novel In Honor’s Defense won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Romance. Yee Haw! I’ll be sharing more details about my fun adventure in Fort Worth to accept this award later this week. What made the award even better, was that I got to share the limelight with a filly sister. Shanna Hatfield brought home the silver medallion for her novel – Henley. Shanna wasn’t able to attend in person, but I cheered her on with embarrassing gusto from my seat in the banquet hall.

My editor, Jessica Sharpe, came down to join me for the weekend, and we grabbed a picture together with our medallions after the banquet.

Cheryl Pierson

 

 

Hey everyone! I have a new release that just came out last month, A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE.

U.S. Deputy Marshal Jaxson McCall is hired by Dunstan Treadwell, a powerful government official, to track down his runaway stepdaughter, debutante Callie Buchanan.

When Jax realizes he’s been double-crossed by Callie’s stepfather, he doubles down to protect Callie from an evil nemesis from his own past who has been hired to kill them both.

The stakes have changed: Treadwell doesn’t want Callie back—he wants her dead. And the man coming after them is a master at murder.

Jax catches up to Callie in Fort Smith, and none too soon, for Wolf Blocker, the man Treadwell has hired to murder his stepdaughter and Jax, is one step ahead of them—and he’s got assassination on his mind. Jax and Callie set out on the stagecoach for Texas, neither of them able to be honest about their circumstances. With Blocker on their trail and Apaches ahead of them, the future is uncertain.

One thing Jaxson knows: he cannot take Callie back to Washington to face an attempted murder charge. Matters are further complicated when Jax and Callie are forced into marriage by worried Cavalry Captain Alan Tolbert to avoid the trouble he believes Treadwell could cause.

Through all the pretense, the hardships, and the deadly danger, one thing becomes obvious. Callie and Jaxson were meant to be together for this new beginning, for this new forever love that neither of them had ever hoped to find. Will they live long enough to see it through?

 

HERE’S THE AMAZON LINK: https://tinyurl.com/3jhvkczf 

Pam Crooks

Hot Off the Press!

ARMED & MARVELOUS was voted WINNER by the American Book Fest in their Fiction Novella category.   Yee-Haw!

 

 

Book 8 in the Pink Pistol Sweet Western Romance series.

BUY on Amazon

 

Cowgirls in the Kitchen – Cheryl Pierson

 

Well, it’s my turn in the kitchen, and my rule is “THE EASIER THE BETTER!” (As long as it’s also delicious, of course!

I think I might have found a perfect recipe for what is sure to become a “Fall Favorite” at my house. I bought all the stuff to make this and I’m going to try it next week.

I found this recipe on a site called MAMA’S COOKING, and I know my mama would have really loved this! It’s called FALL DUMP CAKE–and I don’t think anything could be any easier than this. Take a look…

 

 

FALL DUMP CAKE
Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

Here’s what they say about this wonderful dessert:

Ah, fall is in the air… can’t you smell it? Yes, we do mean smell and you’ll understand why here in a
minute! Load up your slow cooker with this Fall Dump Cake for the easiest, sweetest, autumn-flared
scents to circulate your surroundings for hours. Not only does it smell like all your fall fantasies, but
the way the syrupy apple filling blends so nicely with the crumbly, cinnamon-coated cake will have you
dancing around like a leaf on a windy day. Your senses will totally fall for Fall Dump Cake! ‘Tis the
season!

ALL RIGHTY THEN! If it delivers as described, this is one I’ll be making over and over again!

Ingredients
2 (20-ounce) cans apple pie filling
1 (15.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
whipped topping, to taste, for topping

Directions
Step 1
In a slow cooker, add the apple pie filling.
Step 2
Evenly sprinkle the cake mix over the filling, then dot it all over with the butter cubes.
Step 3
Sprinkle the cinnamon over the apple mixture.
Step 4
Cover the slow cooker and cook on high heat until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden-brown,
about 2 hours.
Step 5
Serve the dump cake with the whipped topping.

If you do make it, I would love to hear how you and your family enjoyed it. I know my husband Gary will love it because he is an “apple” kind of guy, but I’m wondering if you could use peaches rather than apple if you preferred it? Or maybe even cherry? Lots of room for experimenting, I’m thinking!