Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

16 Things I Love About Christmas!

It's the holiday season and I am way behind on it. My two elders (children) have birthdays in November, one at the beginning and one at the end, so I am just finishing birthday shopping when I have to turn around and start Christmas shopping.

This year has been particularly rough on me as I've not had an overabundance of holiday spirit. I lost my sister on the 20th last year and she was a large part of what gave me the 'mood' of Christmas.

On the first of December she would always call me and tell me what I was getting her for Christmas. (She was mentally handicapped for those that don't know) Every day after that, I would receive similar phone calls-just to make sure that I didn't forget and to find out what I was getting my daughter, so she could torment her with the knowledge. It's hard getting used to not having that.

So, I am running behind on my holiday spirit, much to my kids' dismay, and sadly neglecting my blog in the process. I opened my email and had this terrific idea from my great pal and cp, Louisa Cornell, on doing a blog about 16 Things About Me. I thought, why not? It will update the blog and be fun. But! I thought I would shake it up and post 16 things I love about Christmas, since I need to find my Christmas spirit fast!

Here goes:

1 I love decorating the house for Christmas! Each room would be decorated if my husband felt the same, sadly he does not and restricts me from decorating our bedroom and bathroom. He's a grinch, what can I say? (And I can't argue with him not wanting to use a toilet with a snowman smiling up at him)

2 I love Christmas trees-they can be real or fake, I don't care-as long as they are decorated and aren't white aluminum, I'm happy.

3 Candy canes. I love a cup of hot chocolate with a candy cane sticking out of it. Umm, delicious. And who doesn't love a christmas tree with candy canes all over it?

4 Buying gifts. I do love buying gifts for people, I can't help myself and I usually end up wishing I were a millionaire just so I could buy more!

5 Taking pictures. I'm a scrapbooker, and I love taking pictures of my kids and if you see question #2, I love Christmas trees, so taking pictures of my kids in front of a Christmas tree makes me deliriously happy!

6 Christmas cards. I love giving (although I generally misplace them! and find them in March) and receiving Christmas cards. I think this goes back to my childhood and the way my Grandmother would hang her cards around her door frames. I loved looking at all of the different cards.

7 Carols. I love Christmas carols and often have them playing in the background this time of year. I love them all from Run, Run Rudolph to the Little Drummer Boy. I love them when I'm cleaning house, or driving the car. I especially love them when I'm wrapping gifts! Although there is one exception to the rule-I loathe the song, Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer.

8 Stockings. I am a total fool over stuffing a stocking and watching the kids delight in the cheap toys and candies-it reminds them that not everything has to cost a fortune.

9 Cartoons. Not to be confused with movies, I'm talking the old claymation cartoons, Rudolph and Frosty. I also love the regular cartoons like How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

10 Scrooged. I absolutely adore this movie! Bill Murray is so frigging hilarious and I laugh like I've never seen it before every time! (I would watch this year round but hubby has made a rule where I have to restrict it to Christmas season, told you he's a grinch!)

11 Wrapping paper. It's true, I am the pickiest person when it comes to wrapping paper! No cartoon character paper for me, thank you very much! I want Christmas-y looking paper with doves, trees, wreaths, stockings, or angels. A bit of shine to it, fancy script writing and I am ready to wrap gifts!

12 Christmas lights. I think this is different from decorating because I'm referring to outside Christmas lights on other people's houses. I love driving after dark and looking at all of the beautiful lights!

13 Eggnog. I do like a cup of eggnog, although I'm the only one in my house that does!

14 Christmas cookies. I love baking the cookies with my kids on Christmas eve night. It's become a tradition that I wouldn't trade for anything.

15 Homemade decorations. Don't get me wrong, I have tons of fabulous and fancy ornaments that I've bought, but I love making ornaments with my kids and using them year after year. It's a special memory of them that I get to keep forever.

16 Watching my kids open their presents!! For a parent, is there anything better than telling your kid that you couldn't find something, or that there's no way I'm getting that! and then watching their eyes light up when they open their gifts to see it? (What? You don't torment and tempt your kids about what you bought them?? That's part of the fun!!)

So how about you? If you can't think of 16 things, what's your top 5 favorite things about Christmas?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Our Big Night Out!

Tonight's the big night for the daughter and me. Well, my part is merely limited to being the chauffeur during the big snow storm that is supposed to hit us this evening.

But oh, the lure of the vampire calls and Lord help me if my daughter misses it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just For Fun

69 words

Typing Test

Why I Write Westerns

Have you ever wondered about why you chose the genre of fiction that you write? I've often wondered about mine. I read across the board-Regencies, Victorians, paranormal, thrillers, even some category romances thrown in. Why don't I write any of those?

I tried Regencies, I found that they didn't suit me. I love to read them, but I simply could not imagine myself whirling around at a ball, following rules that made no sense to me. (Several times, I've found myself yelling at a Regency heroine, Tell them to kiss your butt and go on!) And to write a scene, don't you have to imagine it? Don't you have to want to be there to a certain degree?

The westerns just came to me. That sounds silly and trite, but it's so true. I was embarking on yet another failed Regency, when suddenly, I wanted to tell the story of a girl traveling West to find her aunt. I could imagine this girl, the thrill of a new life mingled with the sadness of leaving all that she had known. The bumpy ride over rutted roads. The men sitting across from her. It was just there in my mind like the ballrooms and fancy houses never were. I could see her trying to bring a little politeness to the uncouth men in the Western town where she settled.

Which brings me to this. I KNOW the feel of westerns. They're about a small settlement, growing from a cow town or coal mining camp or logging camp into a community. I grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. My town is still a coal mining town. I grew up in a company house. Our local pizza place has pictures of this town from 100 years ago, and it still looks the same, it just has paved streets now. Those pictures fascinate me. I always end up staring at them, trying to read their stories from their work worn faces.

This small town isn't perfect, but what place is? It has a lot of draw backs, but it has a lot of benefits, too. When my niece was having her bone marrow transplant-the entire town got behind her, wearing butterflies and posting encouraging words.
Recently, the town lost one of their own in Iraq. The entire county came out for a candlelight memorial and then gave him a funeral procession worthy of a movie. The school brought the kids down and they lined the sidewalk, holding small flags in their hands while the procession went by. A very touching moment, but one full of honest emotion. We'd lost one of our own.

This is what I know. Small towns and small town people. The reason we think the way we do. The reason we do what we do. It's in my blood and soul, I think, and it just comes natural to me when I sit down to write.

I hope that my love of small towns and their eccentricities comes through in my writing. I hope that one person reading a book of mine would come away feeling as if they were dropped into their own hometown and recognized some of the characters, after all, we're all basically the same.

What about you? Why do you write the genre you write? Do you think you might ever switch to another genre?

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Haunting We Will Go

Happy Halloween, Ya'll!

I thought, since it's Halloween and on Halloween, everyone loves a ghost story-I will tell you a couple that happened to me.

My daughter and I are huge fans of paranormal shows (Ghost Hunters, John Edwards, etc.). Unfortunately, the daughter and I are huge cowards that are susceptible to flights of imagination. These are not your average ghost stories, so reader beware.

My first one happened about 7 years ago. I had spent the day talking with my cousin's wife, who is part Native American and she told me her belief that if you smell a scent you associate with someone, then the chances are good that they are visiting you. Later that night, I was watching John Edwards and he was saying something about smells being associated with spirits, also. Suddenly, I could smell coal smoke. I smelled it so strongly - I went through the house checking for fire, even going outside and looking at the houses across the way to make sure they weren't burning.

Upon finding no flames, I sat down in the recliner and thought, "Whoa! I always associate coal smoke with my grandparents house. It's Grandpa visiting me!" Feeling somewhat ridiculous, praying the kids and husband wouldn't wake up and hear me, I say outloud, "Grandpa, if that's you give me a sign."

I glance up and see a bright white light in the window on my door. My heart starts beating (hard and fast), chill bumps race down my spine (hard and fast), and being a devout coward I say, "I don't want a visit from a dead person!" really loud. Really loud so that a visiting spirit might hear. My husband hears my statement (or as he says, shriek), comes into the living room and asks what's wrong (or why I am a blubbering mess with chattering teeth, depends on whose version you believe), and I tell him. He rolls his eyes, opens the front door and I see the storm door, unlatched from my earlier trip to investigate the smoky smell, blowing in the wind. It evidently had blown closed enough to just catch the porch light and reflect it on the glass in the door.

Second story. Happened night before last. I now live in my grandparents former home (the one I associate with coal smoke), and somewhere in my subconscious I know that my grandfather died in my dining room. Also floating around in there is the knowledge that my grandparents were huge pranksters. I am watching Ghost Hunters. The TAPS team capture a shape on film (I tell myself it was the cameraman, so I can continue watching), and I glance at the screen of the tv. Yes, I watch these shows from the corner of my eye, only glancing up when I hear something interesting. I see the shape on the heat detector, I blink and go back to my computer, where I am working.

I lean closer to the screen, and out of the corner of my eye, I see a black shadow beside of me at the same moment my dog, Otis, starts barking like crazy. I've always heard that animals can sense spirits, so I jump up, glance around the living room, walk towards where I had saw the shape (which is in front of my window) and just glance at the living room window and scream! Pressed against the glass in a face!! Once my heart settles down, I realize it is Otis, standing on a stack of wood, draped across the porch bannister, staring at me ! The stupid dog was barking at me and when he jumped on the wood pile, he cast a shadow into the living room.

My third story happened in 1991, a month after my grandmother passed away. My mom, my aunt and cousin, and I had went to the cemetary to remove the dead flowers from the service off of Grandma's grave. As we were leaving, I was stepping gingerly through the cemetary, taking great care not to step on a grave, complaining because it was such an old cemetary and the tombstones could have been destroyed back in the Civil War and I could be stepping on someone's resting place.

My cousin, darling person that she is, teases me about it and I reply "Go ahead step on someone's grave, it's Grandma's family and you know Grandma, she would be the sort to haunt a person!" We laugh, we kind of shove each other, and I step on a grave! I scream at her, "Look what you made me do!" I quickly step off of the grave and feel something around my ankle. When I try to pull my foot free of the weeds, whatever has a hold of me tightens. I freeze. "Crystal, something has my foot!" She laughs, the nervous I can't believe this is happening kind of laugh, but refuses to look down. I'm not moving and I'm sure as heck not looking down. "MOM!" I call out. My mom and aunt come rushing and after a rushed explanation from Crystal and myself, Mom bends down and digs through the leaves. I am expecting her to uncover a bony hand at any minute but all it reveals around my ankle is a long buried wire frame off of a wreath of flowers. My aunt is laughing so hard, she is doubled over. "Tiger, you thought Grandma had you by the foot, didn't you?" she asks. Well, duh! The screaming should have answered that question. (Not that I scream)

I don't know about you guys, but sometimes I love a good scary story. Do you have any to share? Any truly scary stories, or do you have a good laugh at yourself story, like mine?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Been a Month!?!?

Wow, this month has flown by.

First I want to thank all of you for your beautiful comments and the thoughts andprayers for Robynn. She has taken Graft versus Host disease in her stomach and colon, so she has endured high fevers, stomach cramps, and other unpleasant symptoms. But our girl is a fighter, and I have no doubt she'll pull through this too.

I have read one of the best books I've come across in a while. In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath. All I can say about this book is WOW! I have been a fan of Ms. Heath since her days of writing westerns and when she made the switch to Regencies, I kept right on reading, and I'm glad I did because she has written the best love story to hit the shelves in a while. Book description from Amazon-

They call him the Devil Earl—a scoundrel and accused murderer who grew up on the violent London streets. A proper young lady risks more than her reputation when consorting with the roguishly handsome Lucian Langdon, but Lady Catherine Mabry believes she has no choice. To protect those she loves, she would do anything—even strike a bargain with the devil himself.

Lucian desires respectability and a wife above all else, but the woman of his choosing lacks the social graces to be accepted by the aristocracy. Catherine can help Lucian gain everything he wants. But what she asks for in exchange will put their very lives in jeopardy. When danger closes in, Catherine discovers a man of immense passion and he discovers a woman of immeasurable courage. As secrets from his dark past are revealed, Lucian begins to question everything he knows to be true, including the yearnings of his own heart.

I tell ya'll, it's bound to be one that I read over and over again.

The daughter and I have been 'bitten' by the vampire bug. After she finished the Twilight series (for the second time), we discovered True Blood on HBO. True Blood is based on the Charlaine Harris books about Sookie Stackhouse. Now, a brief warning-if you don't like foul language or somewhat explicit sex scenes-don't watch it. I have to say that so far my favorite character is Jason Stackhouse and his bumbling antics at being the town Lothario. Although, the vampire is really nice to look at!

We've had frost here for several nights now, nothing like the snow that is being forecasted out west, but cool enough to let us know that the season is changing and it's time to dig out sweaters and jackets. We installed a stove in the house, trying to deflect the costs of heating with gas, and I have to say I enjoy sitting here and listening to the crackle and hiss of burning wood. There's something really soothing about that sound. It's also crockpot season, for me. We eat a lot of soups during the winter months and I thought I would share the easiest one that I know with you.

Cheesy Potato Soup

5 lb. bag of potatoes
one small onion
one small block of Velveeta cheese
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Peel potatoes, dice potatoes and onions. Place potatoes, onions, salt and pepper in stock pot, cover with water and boil for about 25 minutes (I'm totally guessing on how long to boil because I always tend to get sidetracked at this point). Once the potatoes are done, slice 3/4 of the block of Velveeta into thinnish slices (easier to melt)and place in the pot. Keep the potatoes boiling and stir until the cheese is melted. We put bacon bits and croutons in ours and let me tell you-it's delicious and filling. (Plus there's enough left over for lunches the next day!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

A True Warrior

Every once in a while, we recieve somene in our lives that makes a lasting impression. And, every once in a while, we're blessed to call that person family. Such is the case with my niece, Robynn.

Robynn is my brother's child, just six months older than my youngest child. They're both 8 years old. For five years Robynn and her parents lived close to me on our family's farm. For five years, I got to see Robynn every day and watch her grow. With my daughter in school, and the boys into everything, Robynn became my girl. There were plenty of evenings when I sat with my son in one arm and Robynn in the other, rocking them to sleep.

Summer 2007, Robynn wanted to join the Little League Cheerleading squad and a trip to the doctor for her sport's physical ended up in a battle for her life. You see, Robynn has Leukemia, Acute Myelomonocyctic Leukemia. She has been an awesome cancer warrior throughout her ordeal. She has made some great friends while in the hospital, and even lost some to this awful disease, but she has managed to keep her spirits up and her fighting will alive. She has endured long seperations from her brothers and dad while hospitalized, she missed Christmas at home because she was hooked to a ventilator, and she only got to attend 2 months of second grade.

InFebruary this year, Robynn was announced Cancer Free and had her central line removed. We were so happy for her, she had finally made it into remission! March was a tough month as she learned of the deaths of several of the friends she had made through her experience. Relasping was her greatest fear, she had anxiety attacks over the thought of it.

April she got to go back to school and, even better, her hair started to grow back in. She wasn't happy that it was full of curls, but I thought it was adorable (I quickly learned not to say this to Robynn, though, for she couldn't be convinced).

The summer passed in a whirlwind of activities for Robynn and her family-they got to go to DisneyWorld through Make A Wish foundation, she got to attend her first week long camp, and she finally got to go swimming again! (My brother's family is very into camping and swimming in the summer months, weirdos)

But in August, we learned that Robynn had relasped. The month of August and most of September was a whirlwind, also. But this time it was a hard round of chemo and preparations for a bone marrow transplant. The transplant is this friday, September 26, and Robynn has asked that everyone wear a butterfly in her honor on that day.

I am passing her request along, with one of my own. I would ask that anyone that prays, I don't care if you call him God, Allah, or the great Alien in the sky, please remember Robynn and her baby brother, Braden, in your prayers. Robynn has fought a fight worthy of the nobelest knight, and poor little Braden is only 3 and doesn't understand what is asked of him, he only knows he's going to help his sister get better.

So, please, remember my niece and nephew in your thoughts friday, and if you feel like it wear a butterfly and tell everyone it's for Robynn McGlothlin, one of the greatest warriors that has ever lived.

I Love You, Miss Robynn B!

All scrapbooking pages made with products from Digital Scrapbook Place

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Superstitions, Folk Lore, and Wives Tales

I am dying.

I have to be because two of my cousins dreamed that I had a baby. Where I come from (Central West Virginia), that means death. Everyone knows it because we grew up hearing it. Dream of a birth, sign of a death. Dream of a death, sign of a birth. As we joked about my dying because of their dreams, it made me remember other superstitions that abound. So I thought I'd do a post highlighting those superstitions that I grew up with, because those old wives tales were very colorful.

The Grim Reaper

A bird in the house means a loved one is going to die. Oh, and you better hope no one dies, because death comes in threes. Actually, I am a believer of that one-if you accept that several months can pass between them. Dog howling all night long? Nope, it isn't a critter in your yard, it's the sign someone is dying. Hmm, lots of people are dying around here because Otis the Faint of Heart howls all night long if the porch light isn't on! (That's Otis in the picture)

Who's the Boss?

According to my grandmother, it's the one whose toe beside of the big toe sticks out past their big toe. Hmm, neither my husband or I have that trait. I guess that's a good thing. Oh, and I can remember twisting the stem off of an apple while reciting the alphabet. Supposedly, whatever letter the stem comes off on is the first letter of your future husband's name. Don't let anyone sweep around you or you'll never get married.

Show Me the Money!

Palm of your hand itching? Well, aren't you lucky-that means you have money coming your way! And if you find a coin on the ground-don't pick it up unless it's showing heads. Tails is bad luck.

Baby, Baby

A pregnant woman has to be extremely careful, it's possible to hurt the baby in so many different ways. Don't raise your arms over your head-it'll wrap the cord around the baby's neck and strangle it. Don't look at a snake, it'll mark the baby. I'm not exactly sure what 'mark the baby' means, but if I look at a snake I'll probably have a heart attack! And get rid of that pet cat for heaven's sake-it'll suck the breath right out of your baby. Oh, and to relieve the pain of labor, stick a knife under the bed. Yeah, that'll help.

Somebody's Knocking

If your nose is itching, company's coming. Accidentally set the table with one too many forks? No problem, company that is hungry can be expected. But hey, if you drop that fork, expect a man to arrive. Got an itch or burning sensation in your ear? Someone's talking about you. Does your feet/foot itch? Then pack your bags, you're about to walk somewhere you've never been before.

I Can't- It's My Time of the Month

These I have memorized and whipped out when I was a teenager, whether I was on my time or not. They were a surefire way of getting out of work! A woman on her monthly can't help can anything because everything she touches will spoil. Shuck the corn? Chop up lettuce. Darn, I forgot to mention that I started today, didn't I? A woman on her monthly shouldn't be near water because she can take quick TB and die. My turn to wash dishes? Oops, can't. . . it's my time. (I used that ALOT! Until they caught on that I was averaging five periods a month ;0))

Odds and Ends

If you spill salt, throw a pinch over your left shoulder to ward off the devil. If you aren't the one to open a knife, then don't close it or bad luck occurs. When you speak of something good happening, knock on wood to keep the evil spirits from coming to take it away. Who needs the Weather channel? Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Right sky at night, sailors delight. Don't break a mirror or it's seven years bad luck. Don't walk under a ladder or open an umbrella indoors-both are tempting fate. Have a bad dream? Keep it to yourself until you've eaten or it will come true.

Wow, that was alot of superstitions, I'm surprised I remembered that many. How about you, readers? Any superstitions that came in handy to get out of work? Any that make you sweat just a bit with worry?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Camp Sumter aka Andersonville Prison

My new story began bugging me before I had finished my previous one.

I could hear a woman worrying over a man, a drunkard that used to be one of her best friends. The situation was deteriorating to the point that she feared for his life. And she was mad. Mad at him and mad at the woman she assumed had brought him to this level of his life. Only, the problem wasn't a woman. The man is haunted by his memories of his time in Hell. Andersonville Prison.

Andersonville was officially known as Camp Sumter. Sounds innocent enough, doesn't it? Who could have known it was to become synonymous with shame and terror?

Andersonville was situated in southwest Georgia. In Feburary the Confederancy started shipping prisoners to the still unfinished compound. By the time it was completed in July, the 10,000 man camp had more than 32,000 prisoners inside it's 20 foot walls.

By 1865, when the men there were freed, the prison had a population of 45,000 men. 12,912 prisoners died there during it's brief duration. It is said that more than 100 men died everyday during the summer months.

Why did so many die? Dysentry, scruvy, malaria, exposure-take your pick as all of these were rampant in Andersonville. There wasn't enough rations to go around, the men didn't have enough shelter (remember, it was built as a 10,000 man prison-not to accomadate the 45,000 it held), and the creek that flowed through it was both their source of drinking water and the latrine.

I'm not saying that the Confederate camp was the only one of it's kind. The Union had prison camps that had almost as bad statics in New York and Chicago. But the Union had the means to provide for their prisoners of war-the Confederacy was starving, literally. The Confederate Army couldn't supply enough rations to feed their army, let alone prisoners of war. Regardless of where the blame lay, when the Northern people saw the state of the prisoners, they demanded vegenance. After being found guilty of war crimes, Captain Henry Wirz was hanged in November 1865.

But the images that came from Andersonville haunted me. The men looked like survivors of the German concentration camps. Those that were lucky enough to survive it must have been haunted by what they saw. And the fact that they survived. All of this sparked an idea, that turned into a nagging, that is slowly evolving into a new book.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Favorite Outlaw

Being a western writer, I have researched a lot of outlaws. And being human, of course one of them quickly became my favorite. My favorite outlaw has all of the things we look for when wanting a great legend: a Robin Hood-esque reason for becoming an outlaw, a perceived injustice, and, the thing that makes everyone fascinated with outlaws, a mysterious disappearance. Who do you think of when you hear that list? Jesse James? Butch Cassidy? Billy the Kid? But none of those are my favorite. My favorite outlaw is Henry Barry Lowrie.

Henry Barry Lowrie was a Lumbee Indian from Robeson County, North Carolina.
Lowrie, like so many other outlaws, took to a life of crime during the Civil War. Being an Indian in North Carolina during the War meant that Lowrie was harassed by the Home Guard, who regularly came and pressed the Lumbee men to work on building Fort Fischer. If a man didn’t want to be dragged into building the fort, he hid in the swamps that surrounded the area. Lowrie tired of being harassed and decided to strike back, killing two members of the Home Guard that had a long standing feud with his family.

The Homeguard struck back, accusing Lowrie’s father, Allen, and his oldest brother, William, of stealing. On March 3, 1865 the Home Guard arrested both men, convened an illegal court, and executed Allen and William Lowrie. It is said that Henry watched the executions from behind some bushes and vowed to take his revenge.

For months, Henry hid in the swamps while being considered a wanted man. On December 7, 1865, during Henry’s wedding ceremony to Rhoda Strong, the Home Guard arrested him with no warrant. Legend has it that Henry filed his way out of the jail and, still shackled, made his way home to Rhoda.

Henry started a band, known as Lowrie’s band, of disgruntled Indians, two African Americans, and one Scotsman. They started robbing rich white residents of Robeson County, earning them the reputation of being the local ‘Robin Hoods’. When the state government declared them outlaws and posted rewards for them, the band retaliated with violence. This stretch of violence resulted in the deaths of 10 members of the Police Guard and the Lowrie Band.

In 1871, the chief of the Police Guard had the Lowrie women gathered up and held them hostage in prison. Lowrie and his gang sent the chief a letter demanding the immediate release of their women or an escalation of violence and like treatment to their women-folk. What was the chief to do but release the Lowrie women?

The last known crime of Lowrie and his band came on February 16, 1872 when they raided Lumberton and stole over a $1000 worth of goods and a safe containing $20,000. The safe was later discovered, open and empty, in the sheriff’s office. It is said by some that the reward money that the government had gathered had been in that safe at Pope and McLeod’s General Store, others say that the $12,000 reward went unclaimed. But all accounts say that Henry Barry Lowrie disappeared after that heist.

While rumors abounded that Henry had accidentally blown his own head off while cleaning his gun, several others hinted that he had escaped to the West. And to further stimulate these speculations, it is said that at least twice a year, Rhoda took trips out west. She never said where she was going or who she was visiting.

While I gathered all of this information, I little cared about which version was true. We all know that rumors surround outlaws and that the truth is probably a little of all of them. But Henry Barry Lowrie stirred the ‘What if’ component of my brain like none of the other outlaw legends had.

So how about it readers, is there an outlaw, famous or infamous, that strikes a chord with you and has quickly become a favorite?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy, Happy, Happy

It's the time of the month when I update this blog. And for those that still check in regularly I have great news-I've finished revising my wip and have finally gotten to the query stage of my writing career. The Schoolmarm's Seduction is now sitting in several agent's inboxes. Yay! Time to saddle up and move on to the next story.

What I've Been Reading

Reading was slow this month as I put myself on a deadline and meant to keep it come Hell or high water. I've only managed to read three new books. The husband and I each went and picked out a new book by our favorite authors, but I ran across a new hardback by another fave and hubby let me slip it in. The hardback I picked up was Odd Hours by Dean Koontz. This was another great installment to the Odd Thomas saga, which I am a rabid fan of. For those that read it, I like the new addition of Ole Blue Eyes in this book and his turn as a poltergeist. Great scene. I can't wait to see what Odd and Frank are up against next.

I also picked up Suzanne Enoch's After the Kiss. (Sigh), I just love Suzanne Enoch's books. She always packs so much into each book, I find that I can't put them down until I've read every word, and I usually end up re-reading them to death. I really liked Sullivan Waring and the angst he goes through to embarrass his father and half-brother. And Lady Isabel may be my favorite Enoch heroine to date. She starts out blackmailing Sullivan, simply because she can. That is so realistic. First she gets curious, and then she gets infatuated. And finally she falls in love with the most unlikely man-the thief who broke into her home! It's a great book and I highly recommend it.

The last book is my hubby's pick. It is so funny to see my big macho hubby so excited over a romance book that he tracks down an employee of the book store and demands to know why the book wasn't on the shelf! He informs her that he receives the authors newsletter and he knows that today is the release date. The girl, she was a young teenage girl, keeps looking at him like he is pulling a joke on her and looking around for the camera crew. Finally, I tell her the name of the book, Into the Shadow by Christina Dodd, and she goes and looks for it. She comes back with the book and my dearest practically tackles the girl to snatch it out of her hand! I swiped the book from him one evening and read it. I could have waited but it takes him a while to read a book and I enjoy the taunting factor too much to pass up the opportunity. Yeah, we're like that. It's another good read. I'm not too much into the paranormals, but I really enjoyed it.

I tackled my synopsis and am happy to report that it didn't kill me like I feared it would. I couldn't manage to get it any lower than four pages and still make it interesting and informative. I hope the agents understand. I need to give shout outs to Gillian and Erin for all of their help with the synopsis and query letter. I tell you guys, my critique partners are the best! They're always willing to help and hold my hand when nerves attack. I don't know what I'd do without them.

Congratulations must be sent to my other critique partner, Louisa Cornell, who has also finished her revisions and started on the great agent search. I know she'll have an agent soon.

Hubby bought a new car. It's a really bright red Impala SS and it came with a curse. That's right. Curse. Everytime I drive that thing I get stuck in a storm. EVERYTIME! I have managed to dodge tree limbs, saved it's hydroplaning rearend from crashing, and had to sit through a hailstorm while my teenage son practically cried over the damage that he was sure I was inflicting on it. Those were all on different days, by the way. This has been the wettest summer that I can remember.

I've been hearing the plaintive cries that every mother or caregiver dreads during summer vacation. 'I'm Bored!' My youngest is the worse. It is so hard to keep a hyperactive seven year old occupied. He discovered his older brother's X-Box and I've had a time keeping him from spending all day in front of it. I told him today to go outside and play in the sun a while. After a five second trip to the front porch, he came back in complaining that it was HOT outside. Imagine that. A trip to the craft store is necessary, it seems.

Well, faithful readers, how goes your summer so far? Anyone else hearing the dreaded howl of bored children? Anyone else wrap up revisions and launch their baby out into the cold cruel world?

I am off to start a new story.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The World's Worst Blogger

My Apologies For Not Posting

That's me, the world's worst blogger. No matter how many times I think up brilliant blog posts, I usually forget to type them up and post them. I had a bevy of terrific post ideas this past month-but between the mayhem of end of school year, the freak storms that came every other day, and my own inclination to forget to blog-they never made it past the idea stage.

I Was Tagged

I've been tagged by my brilliant CP, Gillian. I have to describe my life in six words. The perfect motto:

Let the craziness ensue, I'm game.

That ought to sum it up pretty well. Because my life is plumb full of craziness at any given time.

I'm not tagging anyone, because I figure everyone that reads this blog has been tagged in my absence.

What I've Been Reading

I've bought some really great books this past month.

I just finished The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn-absolutely terrific book but I wish they would have released it and Mr. Cavendish at the same time-since the books parallel each other and we find out who the Duke is in the first one. I love the dialogue in Julia Quinn's books-it's so realistic and the heroine's always have a smart comeback, a trait I admire in real life so I love finding it in books.

I also read A Wanted Man by Linda Lael Miller, another terrific book. I love how Ms Miller inserts humor at really tense moments-that is so realistic to me, as someone in my family always manages to do that. I just adore her books. She writes some of the best heroes in the business, in my humble opinion.

On To Other Things

I've got a new favorite song. Brad Paisley's I'm Just a Guy. I love this song-it shows the differences between women and men in a fun and quirky way. My favorite part? 'You see a priceless French painting. I see a drunk, naked girl.' That just sums it up eloquently, don't you think? I could imagine my hubby saying something like that, easily. There's parts of this song that make me stop and go-'Oh, I could see a Romance Hero saying something like that!"

Lazy Days of Summer-NOT!

I am determined to have my wip finished and start the query process by the middle of July. Wish me luck. The query letter and the synopsis are worse than getting teeth pulled, I believe. I am actually dreading having to do this. I read on another blog that Harlequin (I am targeting HH) only wants a 2 page synopsis. I have to reduce this book I have been slaving over for a year into 2 pages. That ought to be fun.

So, let me know what's happening with all of you. Anyone else working up the nerve to submit? Any new books you want to recommend? How about a song that makes you stop and go "Now how true is that?"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mother's Day

Did you know that Mother's Day is Sunday? It kind of snuck up on me! I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at Mother's Day-since it started right here in my state!

We all know that Anna Jarvis founded Mother's Day to honor her own mother, Anna Marie Jarvis. The Jarvis' lived at Grafton, WV.

The story goes that Anna's Mother, Mrs. Jarvis, was teaching a Sunday school class on mother's in the bible and ended the class with a small prayer,
"I hope that someone, sometime will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is
entitled to it."

That prayer stuck with Anna and when her mother passed away in 1905 Anna swore that her Mother's prayer would come true.

She started a ceaseless campaign in 1907 to make the holiday a national one. That year, on the anniversary of her mother's death, she went to her mother's church Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, WV and passed out over 500 white carnations to the mothers at the church, since carnations were Mrs. Jarvis' favorite flower. This turned into the tradition of wearing a white carnation to honor a deceased mother and a red one to honor a living mother.

In 1911, every state of the union of was celebrating Mother's Day, although it didn't become official until 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson made it a National Holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday of the month of May.

In the end, Anna was sorry for starting the holiday because it had become too commericalized and not what she intended at all.

At my house, the tradition is flowers. I always get my Mom a hanging basket of her favorite flower, tuberous begonias. So what is your Mother's Day traditions? Do you want flowers or jewelry? Or are you like me and just request a day of peace-no bickering or fighting? No laundry that HAS to be done? We want to know.

And for all of the mothers out there-this is for you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What Are You Reading in May?

Here we are, a whole month later and I've only posted two blog entries since the last one. I am a bad blogger! I was determined to at least get five entries posted in April and fell far short of it. I even had them plotted out in my head, and started one only to get sidetracked by fighting children, barking puppy, and a quarreling hubby. Life, it interfers.

Anyway, here we are at another What Are You Reading? post.

I've been on a re-read spell. Some of my old favorites were needing re-read.

What I just read-A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey
From the back of the book: Courtney Harte is certain her missing father is alive, lost somewhere deep in Indian territory. But she needs a guide to lead her safely through this dangerous, unfamiliar country, someone as wild and unpredictable as the land itself. And that man is the gunslinger they call Chandos.

Courtney fears the enigmatic loner whose dark secrets torture his soul, yet whose eyes, bluer than the frontier sky, enflame the innocent, determined lady with wanton desires. But on the treacherous path they have chosen they have no one to trust but each other-as shared perils to their lives and hearts unleash turbulent, unbridled, passions that only love can tame.

What I am currently reading-Vows by LaVyrle Spencer
From the back of the book:A captivating woman with blue eyes and big dreams, Emily was engaged to a man whose touch left her aching for something more. Tom, the handsome new man in town, was her father's rival in business-and challeneged her heart's destiny with a single, stolen kiss. Whenever they met, sparks flew. Until she showed him how tender she could be-and he showed her how true passion could feel. Until they both realized the importance of taking vows with someone you really, truly love...

What I am reading next-Texas Loving by Leigh Greenwood
From the back of the book:The freedom of the range, the bawling of the longhorns, the lonesome night watch beneath a vast, starry sky-they got into a woman's blood until she knew there was nothing better than the life of a cowgirl...except the love of a good man.

Born and raised on the Broken Circle Ranch, Eden never expected to fall head over heels for the heir to a British earldom. As the youngest of the Maxwell clan, she was used to riding her mustang across the plains, not a carriage through Hyde Park, adn she'd sooner have coffee from a chuck wagon than tea in a society drawing room. But there was one thing London offered that was not to be found in all the Lone Star State: A man who captured her heart and thrilled her senses. Now the only challenge was convincing him to try love, Texas style.

So, as you can tell, there are two older books, both among my favorites and a new one to come. How about you, Readers, what are you reading?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Following Up

To follow up my last post, I thought I would give a shout out to the blogs/sites that I regularly haunt.

The first would have to be Wet Noodle Posse for all of their wonderful help. They post the best advice out there for up and coming writers. This past weekend, everything I've been reading at their site just clicked in my brain and I could see where my WIP needed strengthening. If you have any doubts about your story, check them out.

My second stop of the day is Petticoats and Pistols . This one is made up of Western Romance writers and it has the most entertaining posts. This week has featured discussions about modes of transportation and the amount of time each required and toilets. Yes, toilets! They are always a fun stop(er, Petticoats and Pistols, not the toilets ;0)), and I am proud to say that I don't lurk there, I actually post now and then.

Next I check out the happenings at the Lair of the
Romance Bandits . This is a fun blog and you never know what you're going to see, everything from writing tips to eye candy to a chicken fight. Never mind, just check them out.

I follow that up with a visit to Bookends, LLC . This blog is maintained by literary agent Jessica Faust and it always has great posts that benefit the authors out there. And you never know when they will post a contest that can possibly leap an aspiring author over the slush pile and onto their desks.

New to my daily blog hopping is A Place for Originals , which just debuted the week. It looks to be a fun place to hang and I imagine it will only get better as they go along.

And then we have my lurker sites. I always check these out but hardly ever post. Why? I'm not sure really but I am trying to break the habit! Romance Vagabonds , who are doing a Harlequin Historical week, which I am greatly enjoying. Romance Roundtable , which has been fun watching grow in the last several months. Romantic Inks , I've been visiting this one the longest I believe. They always have such interesting things up.

And then there are the personal blogs, which are just too numerous to list, that I visit sporadically throughout the week because if I done it daily, I'd never get any writing completed.

So how about you, where do you go for a good time in the blogosphere? Are you a fellow lurker? Or are you a regular commenter everywhere you visit? If you are, good for you! I want to be more like you ;0)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Moving Ahead

There is so much we writers have to do to ready ourselves for publication, the least of which is writing the phenomal book that an agent or editor will fall madly in love with.

I've been a member of a critique group for over a year. We met during Avon's FanLit writing contest and formed Passions Slaves shortly after it ended. My fellow Slaves are tremendously talented. I've watched as these ladies took an idea and stretched those ideas to become amazing books. Our Louisa was even brave enough to enter the Golden Heart and she finalled with her entry! So in view of this, the Slaves have been preparing themselves for moving ahead with their careers.

Louisa has set up a beautiful website here you must check out.
Marianne set up another beautiful site here/ that you should see.
And I can't forget Erin's classy and elegant site, here.
Gillian and I maintain our blogs, Gillian more faithfully than myself, The Gentle Art of Conversation.

So, readers that happen to be writers, what are you doing to prepare for your career? Want to leave a link and get some interest brewing for your writing? Any published authors that would like to leave a tip for us unpublished hopefuls? Feel free!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What Are You Reading?

I've decided to start a new feature. Once a month, I'll post that title and I'll share what I've just finished reading, what I am currently reading, and what's next on my pile to be read. I figure once a month might be doable. I used to read on an average of a book a day-sometimes two a day. Since I decided to write my own book and pursue it to publication-I'm lucky to read a book a month!

Okay, here's my list as of April 3, 2008:

What I just finished reading- Outlaw Bride by Jenna Kernan.
From the back of the book: Bridget Callaghan was willing to do anything to save her family, stranded in the Cascade Mountains. The only man who could attempt such a treacherous rescue mission was Cole Ellis, but he was behind bars-and condemned to hang!

Bridget's boldness in breaking him out of jail was the jolt Cole needed to give his life purpose again. But with a posse at their heels and and the mountain looming, she couldn't help but wonder if putting her trust in this thouh, life-hardened man wasn't the biggest danger of all...

What I am currently reading-The Seduction of an Unknown Lady by Samantha James
From the back of the book: Seduction is something Fionna Hawkes knows nothing about. So when she encounters a sexy stranger on a moonlit street, her first instinct is to defend herself against her darkly handsome suitor. But letting go of suspicion and allowing herself to fall for Lord Aidan McBride brings even greater danger. In his eyes, she glimpses a powerful passion she longs to fulfill. In his arms, she aches with the secret she longs to unburden. A secret that could cost her her livelihood-and her life.

Aidan could never resist a mystery, especially one as mesmerizing as the lovely Miss Hawkes! Drawing her into the shelter of his embrace, he won't rest until he convinces her to reveal everything. Braving the danger that stalks Fionna at every turn, Aidan is determined to defend her-and just as determined to claim her as his own.

What I am reading next- Ack! I don't have anything lined up next! It's off to Amazon with me.

I want to send a huge congratulations out to my critique partner, Pamela Bolton-Holifield, for her final in the Golden Heart! I am so proud of you, Pam!

Okay, readers, what's your book of the month?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Woohoo, I've been reconnected to Blogger! I am not sure what went wrong and why I've been unable to post, I'm just glad to know that it's over.

Look for a longer post later, if the Blogger higher ups are still smiling on me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not So Famous Gunfights

In my current wip, Showdown in Timberton, I have a gunfight between two prostitutes that result in the hero being shot. How did I come up with such a scene? Well. I love researching odd but true stories of the American West and found this little tidbit about the first woman killed in Abilene Texas. Luella Hines, aka Louisville Lou, and Jenny Lyons were both sparking the faro dealer from the Applejack Saloon, Quade Hill. Needless to say Hines and Lyons were prostitutes.

After numerous threats of bodily harm, Lyons killed Hines, which infuriated Quade Hill so badly that he beat Lyons and severed all ties with her. A few nights later Hines got drunk and busted into the Applejack saloon amid a spray of gunfire, gunning for Hill. The only casualites were two expensive mirrors and an ormolu lamp. Hill escaped unharmed from the attempt. But it got a city wide ordinance installed about women in saloons, they were no longer allowed entrance.

But it kicked my imagination into overdrive. What if the two prostitutes had a gunfight over the hero? What if they missed each other but accidentally shot the hero? Which one would care for the injured man? What if they decided to have the most respectable, and therefore unlikely to steal their man, woman in town nurse him back to health? Enter my heroine, the town's upstanding schoolteacher, who's shared a mutal attraction with the hero for a while unbeknowst to the prostitutes.

So how about you other writers out there, what sparked the germ that grew to an idea that grew to a story?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Don't Call Him a Cowboy

There is a great post over on today about the real life cowboy today.

Y'all ought to hustle over and check it out.