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

I Got THE COVER FOR MY SEPTEMBER CHRISTMAS BOOK!

I’m so excited. I just love the holiday feel to it. So Christmasy and romantic.

A cowboy learning how to start over…A fiery young woman with the heart to save him.

A past neither can escape and a future worthy of a Christmas miracle.

PREODER NOW:   AMAZON  |  B&N  |  APPLE  |  KOBO 

*****Also, this cover is in a contest over at Books and Benches. Please Vote HERE!

Laura Drake

My March Women’s Fiction release is up for Pre-order!

(click the photo to be taken to a retail site)

Jacqueline Oliver is an indie perfumer, trying to bury her ravaged childhood by shoveling ground under her own feet. Then she gets a call she dreads—the hippie grandmother she bitterly resents was apprehended when police busted a charlatan shaman’s sweat lodge. Others scattered, but Nellie was slowed by her walker, and the fact that she was wearing nothing but a few Mardi-Gras beads. Jacqueline is her only kin, so like it or not, she’s responsible.

Despite being late developing next year’s scent, she drops everything to travel to Arizona and pick up her free-range grandma. But the Universe conspires to set them on a Route 66 road trip together. What Jacqueline discovers out there could not only heal the scars of her childhood but open her to a brighter future.

Cathy McDavid

I got the call last week (yes, an actual phone call!) that my book, Her Cowboy Sweetheart, is a finalist in the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Awards! I’m really thrilled. This is one of my favorite stories, and I couldn’t be happier. JD isn’t your typical romance book hero. He suffers from Meniere’s Disease and had to leave his successful rodeo career behind. While he learns to cope with this life-style changing condition, he takes a job at Powell Ranch where he meets Carly, a single mom who recently ended her marriage from an abusive man. Despite their immediate attraction, neither of them believes they’re marriage material.

This is the book I mentioned in an earlier post where my heroine designs and sells jewelry for horses. Another reason I like this book so much. Thanks for letting me share my exciting news!

 

Her Cowboy Sweetheart  

Shanna Hatfield

I’m excited to give you a peek at my September release – Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing.

This book is part of the Regional Romance Series I write with Kari Trumbo, Peggy L. Henderson, and our own Kit Morgan. You can pre-order the book today for the special price of $2.99!
This sweet romance includes three individual stories, as do all the books. Mine is linked together by the three King siblings and the story takes place in a town right on the Oregon Trail where you can still see the wagon ruts!
I’ll be sharing more about this book next month.

Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing

Pam Crooks

My Amazon bestselling book is now on KINDLE UNLIMITED!

 

Hannah’s Vow

 

Hannah

She grew up on the wrong side of the law, daughter of a master thief and student to his trade. But when he dies at the hands of an angry mob, she flees to a monastery to escape the world and her sins.

Quinn

He is betrayed by his brother and sentenced to a life in prison. Only the thirst for revenge keeps him alive. He will do anything to escape . . .

Together . . .

They must run for their lives to survive their pasts. And in the journey, they find truth . . . and an unlikely love in their hearts.

 

AMAZON Kindle Unlimited

Karen Kay’s New Release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, Pre-Sale — Save 20%

Regular price:  $4.99  Pre-Sale price:  $3.99

 

He rescued her from danger.  Then she stole his heart.

Working as a trick rider for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Blue Thunder of the Lakota Nation joins forces with two Assiniboine warriors in their mission to stop a hidden enemy who means to destroy the American Indian people. As a child, he’d witnessed the massacre of his friends and family, including the girl, Sweet Flower, whom he’d vowed to marry. The loss has left him with a burning ache and a prejudice against the white man. So how can he fall for a woman like Marci Fox?

 

Something terrible happened to Marci when she was a child; something that keeps her from remembering her early life. She jumps at the chance to travel from England to New York with her friends working with the Wild West show. But a last minute hitch means the only way to get there is to pretend she’s married to Blue Thunder. Her attraction to him is deep, yet something stands in the way of true happiness—the ghosts from his past and his commitment to a mission that could get him killed.

 

But soon, Blue Thunder and his friends must discover who the true enemy is and stop his evil plans before he can harm more of their people.  Could uncovering the treachery get Blue Thunder killed?  And, even if he survives the threat, can Blue Thunder and Marci overcome their past and discover the sweet flower of true love?

 

Warning:  A sensuous romance that might stir one’s heart to look for, discover and ignite a soul-stirring, forever love.

Pick up your copy today and save 20%.  https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

 

Up, Up, and Away!

After a very long eighteen months of isolation that tried my very soul, this year I wanted to get away on July 4th. I wanted to go somewhere very special to celebrate being alive. I think many, many others had the same idea. So when a writer friend, Dee Burks, who lives in Raton, New Mexico urged me to come for their balloon festival, I didn’t hesitate.

Lord, I was glad I didn’t. It was the perfect getaway. Since this was much smaller than most of the festivals, it was very easy to get that coveted ride in a hot air balloon. There were only something like fourteen balloons—the perfect number.

The first morning, my friend and I got up around five so we’d have time to get ready and get to the pancake breakfast served by the Kiwanis Club. Cool mountain air. Lots of smiling faces.

   

It was after swallowing that last bite that Dee broke the news that we were going to have to crew a balloon called Any Way The Wind Blows that was piloted by Rick Moors of Albuquerque. The ground crew had to spreading the balloon out on the ground so the pilot could fill it with hot air.

Then I found out the balloon weighed 690 pounds!! It took some doing to lay it out. This is me trying my darndest. But, we made it.

The clouds went away and Pilot Rick gave my friend and I the first ride. I was excited and apprehensive and nervous but I climbed in and got a crash course in what to do if something went wrong. I had faith it wouldn’t though. We were far away from power lines and other obstructions.

Then we took off. There was no motion. I could not tell we were rising other than by looking at the ground. We were drifting higher and higher. This was our balloon.

It was quiet up there. And so beautiful. I took a picture of these horses down below. They didn’t even notice us.

We were up about twenty minutes or so then Pilot Rick set us down in a pasture. I have to say the landing was pretty rough but understandable since that thing has no brakes on it. My friend grabbed me or I would’ve fallen out of the basket.

I did it!! It was the ride of a lifetime and I had no regrets. I wasn’t a bit afraid.

After we climbed out, we discovered we had to fold the balloon up and we had already started by the time a four person chase team arrived. I saw every aspect up close and personal. Lord, I was exhausted by the time we finished for the day!!

The next day we went back, although not as excited, and after more pancakes helped out again. Thankfully, we had a little more help so it wasn’t as hard on us ladies.

But, my vacation wasn’t over. The second afternoon, we drove two thousand feet higher up to the top of Johnson Mesa and we found a little church that was built in 1879 by a small group of settlers who once lived up there. It looks like prairie land and not up almost 9,000 ft. A sense of utter desolation came over me and I wondered what lured anyone to that spot of ground. A little cemetery was across the road and inside the church was list of everyone buried there (a lot were children) as well as the names of the former residents.

     

It was such a lonely place I wanted to weep. Once the snows began, the people would’ve been completely cut off from the world with no way to get help or a doctor if they needed one. It sure put me in the right mindset for my next series about three sisters having to live away from everyone because of their father’s reputation.

Then, Dee drove us by the cemetery in Raton and told me that people have put solar lights on the graves and after sundown it’s all lit up. I wanted to see that but couldn’t stay awake for night. I got a picture of this little doe that was right by the cemetery. She was posing for me and not scared at all. Deer and bear wander all through town, into people’s yards and wherever else they take a notion.

Every so often we have these moments that fill us up and make us very grateful to be alive. This trip was that for me and I’m glad I could experience it.

Have you ever gone anywhere or done anything that was out of the ordinary? I’m giving away a $15.00 Amazon gift card to one commenter.

Have Belongings Will Travel

Have you ever noticed the restlessness of people? We’re rather a shiftless lot and maybe for the most part it’s due to getting bored with our surroundings. I’m not one to embrace change. I’m not spontaneous and I’m not brave. I’m a Taurus and we like deep roots that go down into the earth. The kind that takes a bulldozer to get out. But I’ve just completed a move from one city to another and I’m totally exhausted.

I envy the people in Biblical days who threw a burlap bag stuffed full of their belongings onto a camel and took off across the desert.

We humans have stuff—a lot of stuff, most of which takes five men and a boy to lift. My kids have threatened me with bodily harm if I buy another tote bag, piece of clothing or jacket. I do have a lot but I need them all

As with each move, I’ve said this is the last time. However, I mean this one. Here I will stay.

Unless something entices me.

I’ve thought a lot about women who had to whittle down a houseful of belongings to what would fit in a covered wagon. Did I mention I was not brave? I know in my heart I wouldn’t have been a wife who meekly climbed aboard and rode over some of the roughest country God ever created to settle somewhere unknown. They left family and friends. Everything they knew.

It must’ve been very hard.

A dear writer friend of mine is packing up in a few months and moving to Mexico. By herself. Far away from the life she knows here. I can’t imagine doing that.

But then a lot of people live abroad. One of my readers joined the U.S. Civil Service when she was younger and lived overseas for a good number of years working with other nationalities.

Did I mention I was a big chicken?

So I guess my point is…I have a reason for moving. I wanted to be near my children. See my grandkids. Get acquainted with my two-year-old great grandson who doesn’t know me or what to even call me. It’s time to fix that. So I am.

I’m settling in and have most everything unpacked. I’m planting my flag. This is it. I mean it.

What is the farthest you’ve ever moved? Did you lose anything? I lost an entire medicine cabinet full of essentials.

Oh, and I welcome any name suggestions my great grandson can call me. Just simple ones.

Where Did Those Old Phrases Originate?

If you’ve ever read any of my books, you know I use a lot of common phrases. Some I grew up with, having heard my parents or other relatives say so I tend to use them because they’re as natural as breathing. I think they add a lot of flavor to my stories. I sure hope so anyway.

A lot of these go back a very long way. I hope you have fun learning the origins.

IN TALL COTTON – Means successful. Goes back to 1800s. Crops were good and the farmer flush

CAN’T WIN FOR LOSING – 1960s… bad luck keeps showing up to ruin plans

SLEEP TIGHT – In middle ages and later before bed springs, the mattress sat on a latticework of ropes. To keep the mattress from sagging, the sleeper had to keep tightening the ropes.

TOOTH AND NAIL – Fight like a wild beast – with teeth and nails – 1500s origin

HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD – To describe exactly what’s causing the situation or problem

BY AND LARGE – 16th century nautical term – sailing into the wind—means all things considered

RUNNING AMOK – 18th century, wild or erratic behavior

READ THE RIOT ACT – in 18th century England, the Riot Act was a very real document. It was recited to crowds of 12 people or more then the official ordered them to disperse and go home

DIEHARD – Originated in 1700s, describing condemned men struggling the longest when hung

TURN A BLIND EYE – Dates back to Horatio Nelson who held a telescope to his bad eye and proclaimed he couldn’t see a thing

GETTING OFF SCOT-FREE – Originated in Medieval England when a scot was a word for tax. A person who gets off scot free gets away with things.

BURY THE HATCHET – During peace negotiations in early America, the Puritans and Native Americans would bury all the weapons. Now it means to make peace.

BIG WIGS – In old England, the more influential people had the biggest wigs

ONE FOR THE ROAD – During the middle ages, the condemned were taken to their execution down Oxford Street. The cart would stop and they’d give the person a final drink.

GIVE THE COLD SHOULDER – During medieval times in England, the host would cut off a piece of meat from the shoulder and give to guests he wanted to leave.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR – Originated in late 1800s carnival games that used to be targeted to adults, not children. The prizes were cigars instead of stuffed toys.

WAKING UP ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE SIDE OF THE BED – Throughout history the left was considered evil. To keep guests from getting out on the left side, the bed was pushed against the wall so the sleepers had to both get out on the right side. Today it means to start the day in a bad temper.

GET ONE’S GOAT – Means to irritate someone. In horse racing, placing a goat in with a racehorse calmed it down. Rivals would steal the goat in hopes of upsetting the horse and winning the race.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these. There are tons more and probably 60 percent go back to the middle ages and earlier.

What ones surprised you the most? I think for me it’s Read the Riot Act and Get One’s Goat.

The Value of Animals in Stories

Linda Broday

I’m filling in for Phyliss today and still talking about my new release – A Cowboy of Legend. Hope you’re not tired of it.

I just love putting kids and animals in my stories because they add whole other levels of emotion and depth. They’re such a great literary device in that you can show a lot about characters without really coming out and stating it. And they certainly entertain the reader.

Mostly, I’ve written in the normal dog, cat, horse, and mule. Although I did put a raccoon named Bandit in The Mail Order Bride’s Secret.

In this story, I added a little spider monkey named Jesse James. He’s dressed as a cowboy right down to a small gun and holster. Each time he yanks his gun out and fires, a puff of smoke comes out the barrel. I laughed so hard writing his scenes.

And then, he leaps onto the cat Sarge’s back and the war is on.

Jesse James arrives at the Three Deuces Saloon in Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock is sure he’s hit on a gold mine. Folks flock in from everywhere to watch the lunch and supper shows. Just wait until he gets his hands on a real loaded pistol……

Here’s a short excerpt:

Harry muttered something that sounded like, “That little shit,” and hurried to get the monkey away from a customer’s plate where it was cramming food into its mouth. “JESSE JAMES!”

Clearly no love lost between them, the monkey chattered, shaking a finger at Harry. As the skinny bartender grew closer, Jesse James yanked a little pistol from his holster, and shot, all the while chattering and shrieking fit to wake the dead. The miniature gun gave a little pop and discharged smoke. The customers were laughing hysterically.

Deacon watched, entranced. This could have money pouring in. People would flock from all over to watch the hairy little outlaw with the perfect name.

Land. He saw his piece of land.

Just as Harry closed in to capture the monkey, Jesse James leaped from table to table then the long bar. As he reached for a full bottle of whiskey, Clyde clapped sharply, and the monkey clambered down and back onto the man’s shoulder.

* * * *

In the book I just finished that will be out early in 2022, I added a talking parrot named Casanova. He’s even funnier than Jesse James. Plus, he plays dead. Who knows what I’ll come up with next. Maybe a lion. Now there’s a thought.

What pets have you had? Anything exotic? I’m giving away a copy (ebook or autographed paperback) to someone who leaves a comment.

Giveaway rules apply.

Here’s the book trailer for your enjoyment.

The Gilded Age and The Temperance Society

The turn of the century when the 1800s merged with the 1900s was called The Gilded Age among other names. It was an era of great economic growth and the world changed very rapidly, especially in the transportation and industrial sectors. Women were fighting for the right to vote and to have a say in the running of the country, to end social injustice. As they cried out for and demanded change a lot of women’s organizations sprang up.

One such organization was the American Temperance Society who advocated against liquor. They were led by women such as Carrie Nation whose first husband died of alcoholism. Carrie attracted a lot of followers who marched and carried signs decrying the evils of drink.

These women eventually became known as “Hatchettes” due to the fact they’d march into saloons carrying hatchets and destroy the place. It was a wild time and women were fed up being treated as second-class citizens and being abused (or killed) by their drunken spouses.

Grace Legend in A Cowboy of Legend joins the temperance movement and sees a hero in Carrie Nation. One of her childhood friends was beaten to death by her drunk husband so Grace sees this movement as one that will define her life.

She’s living in Fort Worth, Texas with her brother who’s trying to keep her out of trouble and not having much luck. As a baby in “The Heart of a Texas Cowboy” she was a sassy little thing and as an adult she’s headstrong, passionate, and determined to make her mark.

Tempers flare and sparks fly when she descends on Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock’s Three Deuces Saloon with signs, drums, and hatchets.

Having grown up with nothing, he’s worked long and hard for something to call his own and he’s not about to let these women take it from him.

But who is Deacon Brannock? Grace’s search yields no one in the state in Texas under that name. It has to be fake. If so why? What is he hiding?

And who is the young pregnant woman living above the saloon? A wife, mother, sister? Or maybe he’s holding her against her will. Grace wouldn’t put anything past him. He has a dangerous reputation and was questioned for the murder of one man. Who knows how many others he may have killed?

Yet, Grace is keeping secrets of her own as well. Her family would be furious if they knew what she was doing.

This story has a monkey named Jesse James, orphan boys, and a mystery.

A Cowboy of Legend releases a week from today on Tuesday the 27th.

I have two copies to give away. Just leave a comment answering my question. If you had lived back then, would you have joined one of these women’s organizations? Or tell me any organizations you have joined or are still a member of?

 Announcement

Once Upon a Mail Order Bride (ebook only) is on sale for $1.99 until close of day on Thursday, April 22! If you missed the fourth book of Outlaw Mail Order Brides, now is your chance to get it cheap.  

AMAZON  |  B&N  | APPLE  |  KOBO

 

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!!

Karen Witemeyer

The e-single Inn for a Surprise releases tomorrow! YeeHaw!

This was originally part of The Kissing Tree novella collection and is now available as a stand-alone novella for as low as $1.99.

Amazon | Kobo | Christianbook

And to whet your appetite, I have a free prequel short story called The Keepsake available on my website. You can find it here.

Karen Kay

THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, the first book in a series of four, is on sale now for $.99.

** A hunted woman

** A forbidden love

** Time ticking down on an ancient curse.

THE LOST CLAN SERIES, Book #1.

Amazon

Linda Broday

Releasing on April 27th!

Book #1 Lone Star Legends series

Sparks fly when struggling saloon owner Deacon Brannock finds himself pitted against Grace Legend and the Temperance Society.

It’s anyone’s guess as to who’ll emerge as the winner.

 

 

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  APPLE  |  KOBO

Laura Drake

Hopefully book news soon (cross your fingers for me) but right now, I’m ecstatic to be taking my first trip in a year and a half! Next week I’ll be flying to Oregon to meet up with my two fishing buds –  we have over 20 years of memories! Fly fishing all day, and at night, it’s like a high school sleepover!

 

Cheryl Pierson

What a wonderful day we had here today! Hubby and I both have gotten both our shots, and daughter, son, and daughter-in-law have gotten their first one (plus, they’ve all three already had COVID last year!) We got together for Easter and “belated” March birthdays in our household. My hubby turned 70 on March 31, and my daughter-in-law, Kayla, celebrated her birthday on the 15th of March. Here’s what happened through Max (white lab) and Sammy’s (brown love-dog) eyes!

It’s so hard to wait. We haven’t seen them in so long! We’ll just be right here on our bed looking for them–maybe it’ll make them come faster!
They’re here! I will roll on the ground and kick my legs for joy!

 

Well, that didn’t last long enough! Everyone is leaving! Pooey!
I can’t believe it’s over! I did get a new bone today, though.
I’m tired. A fun day, but I’m worn out now. I’m getting very sleepy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m already gone, brother. So tired my tongue’s hanging out!

 

 

A good time was had by all. Happy Easter, everyone!

 

Kit Morgan

 

A Cover Reveal!

 

This was too pretty not to share! Autumn’s release date will be April 30th. I’ll be getting the book up for pre-order this week. In the mean time, feast your eyes! Love those spring time colors!

Your Laugh for the Day

We’re doing something a little fun several times through the year. It might be a Craft Project, how we breathe life into a hero, or any number of things. You just never know. We’re sort of calling it Pot Luck. This is my day and I’m going to tell you jokes. Keep your fingers crossed because I’m not very good at this. Hopefully, you’ll find them worth a chuckle.

Okay, here we go……

A man and wife went to their lake cabin for a little R&R. It was a beautiful day and not a cloud in the sky, so the husband decided to go fishing in his rowboat.

After several hours with not much to show, he rowed in and tied up, telling his wife he was going to take a nap.

Now, the wife liked to read romance and she thought how perfect it would be to drift along in the boat. If she got too hot she could take a dip. So she rowed out a little ways from the shore where she could get a nice breeze and picked up her story where she’d left off. The hero cowboy was having a time getting his little darling to the altar.

She drifted along in the little rowboat and turned the pages, totally engrossed.

Pretty soon, a game warden came by and asked to see her fishing license.

“But warden, I’m not fishing. You can see the poles are inside the boat. Besides, I don’t like to fish. They’re smelly and I don’t like touching them. I’m just sitting here reading my book, not bothering one fish or one person.”

The warden looked stern. “That doesn’t matter. You have all the fishing equipment and could put the poles into the water if you choose. I’m going to have to write you a ticket.”

“I protest.”

“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to take you to jail, ma’am.”

“Let’s make it the sheriff’s office, warden. I’ll need to file a complaint.”

“May I ask what your business is? I’ve been as polite as I can and I’m following the law.”

“The charge will be for sexual assault.”

“You’re crazy. We’ve done nothing but talk. You still have your clothes on.”

She smiled sweetly. “But I’m sorry, Warden, you have all the right equipment.”

Flustered, he threw his ticket pad down. “Have a nice day, ma’am, and continue reading your book.”

* * * * * * *

What Do You Call a Happy Cowboy?  (a jolly rancher)

Why Did the Bowlegged Cowboy Get Fired?  (he couldn’t keep his calves together)

* * * * * * *

I hope you got a chuckle or two. I’m giving away one early copy (autographed) of A COWBOY OF LEGEND. It doesn’t come out until April 27th so you’ll be ahead of the game. I’ll draw from the people who comment and the Giveaway Rules apply – https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/.

Just tell me what makes you laugh. Or tell me a joke. I love to laugh.

 

Excuse Me, What’s Your Name?

This question wasn’t asked much on the American frontier and if you were so bold, you were liable to get shot. The old West offered a man a place to disappear into and leave behind whatever trouble he found himself in.

It was super easy and there was no way to check on anything. No telephone. No internet. No Social Security numbers. Nothing. It was perfect.

There were probably hundreds of men back then looking to change their identities and disappear and did. Outlaws checked into hotels and boardinghouses under an alias as did some politicians and famous people.

In my upcoming release, A Cowboy of Legend, Deacon Brannock has taken a fake name in order to disappear. All is well and good until firebrand Grace Legend marches into Hell’s Half Acre with burning determination to shut his saloon down. She’s a member of the Temperance Society and hellbent on running him out of business.

But, here’s the thing…Grace is also a reporter and writes a weekly column under an alias. Like a bloodhound, she discovers that Deacon Brannock is hiding a juicy secret. Oh, I love it!

A Cowboy of Legend contains a lot of secrets. Writing about secrets is fun for an author. Where there are secrets there’s conflict and those are what drives a story. I just love it when a book contains mysteries. I can’t turn the pages fast enough.

BLURB

Deacon Brannock is determined to make a name for himself and the saloon he’s worked his whole life to afford. He was prepared for the roughness of the Wild West, but he hadn’t counted on Grace Legend…

Grace has always fought passionately for what she believes in, and after her best friend is killed at the hands of her drunk, angry husband, that includes keeping alcohol out of her town. When the owner of the new saloon turns out to be a kind and considerate man, she can’t help but wonder if they could have a future together…if they weren’t on opposite sides of every issue.

This is Book 1 of a new series called Lone Star Legends and releases April 27th. Book 2 – A Cowboy Christmas Legend follows in Sept.

My question: If you could change your identity and disappear, would you? I think I’d chose to be Sierra or maybe Summer or Sapphire. What would you choose?

Nature’s Fury and a Giveaway

Every so often Mother Nature has to throw a fit. That’s just the way it is and the havoc can come in the form of floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados and many other disasters. Sometimes these weather occurrences make their way into our stories.

Living in Tornado Alley, I’m most familiar with tornados. I survived an enormous North Texas twister on April 10, 1979 that took 52 lives when three vortexes merged into one. Meteorologists still refer to that day as Terrible Tuesday because of the immense devastation and the sheer numbers. There were 59 reported tornados on the ground in the area on that Tuesday. The F-5 monster that hit Wichita Falls left a path of destruction 8 miles wide and 47 miles long.

Pretty unbelievable and so frightening.

The impact it made on my life remains 42 years later and to this day get very emotional when I talk about it. The sirens had been going off all day so I didn’t pay any mind to the last one that went off a little before 6:00 pm. I was cooking supper and the kids were playing as normal. It was my first husband and my wedding anniversary and we’d planned to go out to celebrate.

Our kids were 7, 5, and 8 months old—much too young to learn about life and death and the kind of terror that freezes the screams in a person’s throat.

My husband went out to look at the sky and saw the massive thing coming. It resembled a hungry beast gobbling up everything in its path. The rumble was one of the most terrifying sounds I’d ever heard before or since. We had no time to pull mattresses off the beds or blankets over us. We rushed the kids to a narrow hallway that ran the length of the three bedrooms and laid down on top of them. My baby daughter laid under me so very still. I had my eyes clenched shut, praying. I didn’t know of anyone who’d lived through something like that with minimal protection. Here are some pictures. The camera wasn’t very good.

         

It tore right through our house, our neighborhood where we’d felt so safe. I heard when the roof went and boards and debris reined down on top of us. I never felt anything though and thought that was odd. I was just too terrified and in shock. I’m sure that’s probably the way soldiers are in war. You just never think anything like that will happen to you.

Time moved in slow motion and seemed to take hours for the tornado to pass on when in reality it only lasted a few minutes. Then hail the size of golf balls pounded us as we climbed out from under the pile of debris on top of us. We checked the kids and the only injury was a minor cut on top of the baby’s head. So miraculous, especially when we got the first look at our flattened neighborhood. In each direction we stared, it looked like a bomb had gone off and a pungent, sickening smell hung in the air. The smell lasted for months afterward. So did the roofing tar embedded in our scalps. This picture is of me in bell bottom pants with Baby Girl. 

But then, we didn’t know what to do next. Did we hang around and wait for someone to come tell us something? But if we left, where did we go? Our car was sitting on top of a tree, besides we had no close relatives. It was getting dark and the baby was hungry.

We started to set off walking, then realized the older children were barefoot. The tornado had sucked the shoes off their feet. My husband carried our 5-year-old and our son had to pick his way very carefully. Trees and power lines were down everywhere. Thankfully, a man with a carload of others like us stopped and picked us up. We went to a woman I worked with and spent the night with her.

People have asked over the years why I’ve never written my account, but the truth is I couldn’t relive that horror. Or the year of homelessness after that. It had stolen far too much of me. It took everything we owned.  

However, I did insert a tornado scene in Once Upon a Mail Order Bride. But, the only way I was able to do it was by putting Ridge and Addie in open country, somewhere totally different from my experience. They had to run for their lives and leap into a ravine to beat death. But the horrendous sounds, smells, heart pounding fear that rose in their throats, strangling them came from what I remembered and felt.

Have you ever had something happen so powerful that it left a lasting effect on you and maybe altered the course of your life? Or have you read about a big weather event in a book? I know Sharon Sala has written about Hurricane Katrina. I’m giving away a copy of Once Upon a Mail Order Bride to someone who comments. I wish I had room for the excerpt of that scene but this post is getting really long.