Monday, January 28, 2019

HISTORIC CONFLICT IN YOUR TOOLBOX?

 The Power of History lingers in the toolbox of authors. Every book written with diligence includes some research.  Even Sci-Fi and Fantasy writers have to research what often is a thin line between truth and imagination. Science breaks barriers all the time, turning what once was a dream or quirk of imagination into reality. Airplanes, automobiles, spaceships, submarines, reactors and robots—all were once locked in the imagination and dreams of inventors and writers. There was a time when such dreamers were ridiculed or even killed. Remember, the earth was deemed flat, until ancient navigators proved otherwise.
  
   History always fascinates me, particularly the drama of conflict, its collateral damage and after-shocks. You’d think that lessons learned from the world’s earliest conflicts to Cyber Wars would serve as cautionary tales for the future. But human nature prevails over caution. And conflict always makes for a good story. Whether it’s spun into a tapestry of war and/or romance between characters, it will be a measured requirement by agents, editors and ultimately readers who determine the next BEST SELLER.Think of Gone With The Wind, a novel which rolled multiple conflicts—real and imagined—into an international best seller that remains on every list of all-time favorite novels. Granted, the movie version gave it a huge boost. Casualties of America’s Civil War reached 1.5 million—more than all combined wars involving American soldiers. Over 65,000 books have been written about this devastating period.  A hundred seventy years later, that war still engages controversy. Think about the recent statue and flag conflicts in the South.  Collateral damage lives long when immortalized in written history about a war that decimated America’s population, ended slavery, accelerated Industry and subsequently grasped the 19th Century need for American settlement of the West. (Another favorite era of romance and tragedy.)

      Almost 40 years ago, I was writing my first novel. The storyline covered the colorful era that accelerated western settlement after the Civil War. Western posts meant to protect settlers from Indians were springing up everywhere in the American West. The novel’s POV was from a German/Irish heroine and a half-Sioux hero who as children were caught in opposing massacres between Indians and whites. Navigating through historic times and their own prejudices, they grow up to find each other in a love storywith conflict that was an epic write—over 700 pages. The size for a lst novel had something to do with ultimate rejection. Devastated, I packaged the typed ms. and put it on ice.  Literally.  For 30 years it was shelved in a garage freezer while children, pets, homes and horses took control of my life.

     Writing was on the back burner, unless it was an occasional article or short story. However, one of the living characters in that huge novel was General Luther Prentice Bradley, the commander of Ft. Laramie from 1874-76.  Coincidentally, this same commander had survived the Civil War. While researching that first novel, I had written to Bradley’s living grandson in 1978. Prentice Bradley, the aging grandson sent me valuable historic anecdotes his father recalled as a child living at Ft. Laramie. It was many years later that coincidence. . . or karma would defrost the freezer novel, which was eventually scanned into a computer word file—with a lot of formatting errors to correct. 

     The Publishing Industry at the time was just beginning to recognize the threat of self-published authors who dared to forego agents and the dreaded “slush pile” of hope. Still, I began to pitch the book to agents at Writing Conferences and got similar blowback. Too long. Could it be a series?  Could you write a shorter book first, establish a website, platform and base? From a dozen Conferences all over the country, I learned what I didn’t know I needed to know and much of that had to do with persistence and timing. 

   
  Fast forward to empty nest, empty barn and finding a publisher for the shorter book I was now pitching—The Accidental Wife—with a contemporary heroine who was now a descendant of my freezer book heroine. About this time, someone online found my letter to the now deceased grandson, Prentice Bradley, in U.S. Army History archives in Pennsylvania. New contact was formed with the great grandson of General Bradley. Robert D. Bradley and I have been pen pals for years now. I was an enthusiastic cheerleader when he decided to self publish his great grandfather’s Civil War letters written home. After he sent me a copy of the project in the hands of Create Space, I helped to edit some of his personal contributions. He sent me the print version last fall, titled BRADLEY’S LETTERS SENT HOME—available also in the eBook version on Amazon. I was first to review the book on Amazon as “a gift to history” because of the amazing, eloquent and revealing letters from the General who had become a character in that freezer book yet to be published. Bob has also become a man-fan of my Accidental Series, frequently sends me something to laugh about, and is providing me with more great historic and family detail I can add to the freezer book—defrosted and warming on the horizon into a new series from Cj Fosdick! Stay tuned. 



                       

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Congratulations Winners of the Season of Blogging Event

Hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday season.

We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Thank you to the authors who blogged and to all of you for stopping by, commenting, and sharing in our special blog event.

and the winners are....

Wanda Patterson - A Kindle Fire!!

N.N Light - 10.00 in books from The Wild Rose Press
Tena Stetler - 10.00 in books from The Wild Rose Press
Jana Richards - 10.00 in books from The Wild Rose Press
Crystal Benedict - 10.00 in books from The Wild Rose Press
C.B Clark - 10.00 in books from The Wild Rose Press


Please email me at lisadawn@thewildrosepress.com to claim your prize.


Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Holidays from the Wild Rose Press!

Seasons Greetings from the Garden
Don't forget to download our gift to you.
The 2018 Holiday Garden Gourmet


And while you're visiting our website, browse our online catalog and enjoy 40% off all ebooks!


Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Power and Peace in Family Traditions


Growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, one of my fondest memories were of the holidays. I was blessed with an abundance of cousins on my father’s side of the family. One family had eight children, another had five. Being an only child, I was definitely outnumbered. Still the joy that we all shared when we were together more than made up for times when it was just me.




There were a number of “traditions” carried out by the family elders. More than once, I’m sure there was an eye-roll from myself or one of my cousins when my aunt would insist we participate. The older we got, the more eye-rolling. Yet, despite our rebellion, there was a comfort in those traditions, a surety that if we did things a certain way we’d likely reap the benefits of a good holiday.



Once I became an adult and had children of my own I attempted to begin new traditions, assuming my way would be better. I was wrong, or at least partially wrong. One of my many attempts at change revolved around food. Or, as my mother’s much smaller family insisted, the fact that the holiday “required” banquet-like meals. Often those traditional holiday meals would include two types of meat/protein: the traditional turkey lovingly basted in ginger ale, and a ham cooked in a sauce made from pineapple chunks and juice and brown sugar. Add to that, three types of potatoes (creamed, scalloped and sweet), two or three side vegetables, homemade rolls and biscuits, cranberry sauce (also homemade), and a gelatin salad (no dangerous greens for us).

Desserts were also important and included my aunt’s no-bake fruitcake, banana pudding, sweet potato pie, lemon meringue pie, and a coconut cake.

All I wanted was to pare down on the volume. It was an argument I lost right up until the last maternal elder was gone.

Grandma Kelley’s Sweet Potato Pie

·         1 lb sweet potato (1 large or 2 medium)
·         ½ cup butter, softened
·         1 cup white sugar
·         ½ cup milk (preferably whole)
·         2 eggs
·         ½ t nutmeg
·         ½ t cinnamon
·         1 t vanilla
·         1 pie crust (9”) unbaked (deep dish is best)

1.      Boil sweet potatoes in skin for 40-50 minutes or until done.  Run cold water over the potato until able to handle and then remove skin.
2.      Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
3.      Break potato apart in large bowl, add butter and mix well with mixer.
4.      Stir in remaining ingredients and then beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth.
5.      Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.
6.      Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Pie will puff up and then will sink down when it cools.
7.      Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.




Now here I am, the grandmother of five and insistent on a few “traditions” of our own. My tree still goes up on my oldest son’s December 16th birthday (also a tradition in his house). We subscribe to the three gift rule for the grandkids (one gift they need, one they want, one they’ll wear). We’ve definitely pared down the “feast” process but there are still requirements such as the banana pudding and sweet potato pie. The responsibility for those goodies now falls to me and I’m more than happy to carry on the tradition.

What I’ve discovered over the years is that there is a definite tranquility, a peace, which comes with repeating certain happy memories. There’s also a power, a sense of personal control over both your life and the happiness of others when you adhere to the familiar.

We still tweak the process, making changes where necessary, altering our food choices to accommodate allergies and likes or dislikes. However, once we’re all gathered around the tree or the table, the love and the peace enclose us and remind of us of all our blessings.

May that same joy and peace be yours throughout this holiday season.

Nancy
Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Christmas Cure by Cynthia Harrison


When I was growing up, Christmas was a mixed blessing. The night before, my grandparents came over, Grandpa roaring drunk, dressed as Santa and bearing gifts. Sometimes he went to the wrong house and distributed our gifts to the neighborhood children. But it was worth that distressful night, which usually ended in tears, because of what came next.

The morning of, I woke to a Shirley Temple dream of beautiful dolls and wonderful toys spread around the tree and all about the living room. There was no space where a toy was not, but my two brothers and I somehow knew our own gifts. Nothing was gift-wrapped and my presents were in the middle of the room, with my brothers’ to each side, so that probably helped them figure it out. As the only girl, I knew what was mine. The little kitchen table and chairs, the sweet easy bake oven, with real cake mixes. The dolls, the velvet dresses, the necklaces and bracelets and the box satin-lined box that opened to a twirling ballerina. In this space, I could lay my trinkets down for safekeeping.

That morning was always the best morning of the year. It’s why, despite knowing it’s not true, I still sometimes equate gifts with love, money with love, abundance with love. I tried very hard to duplicate those Christmases for my own children. Even when I was a single mother and had very little money for gifts, I tried my best. I went into debt, even. Debt doesn’t mean much these days, because I’m not poor anymore, but when I was, I could not afford to pay off my debt, so I stayed under its steady thumb, struggling to pay the outrageous interest.

Christmas is why I became a romance writer. When life is too stressful, too harsh, too much to take, I make another world. One that can be difficult but always ends with the feeling of Christmas morning and its beautiful treasures. I remember that feeling and it’s what I go for in my HEAs, every month of the year.

I’m a romantic and we live in an unromantic reality, but I have a Christmas cure for this, too. I watch Christmas movies, read Christmas novels, deck the halls OTT. There is absolutely nothing in my contract with life that says I have to remember the bad Christmases, like when my grandmother died on Christmas morning just before I reached her hospital room to find her bed empty, the room devoid of flowers.

Or the year my husband left me home alone so he could visit his family while I went to the cemetery. Or all those years I had to hand my children over to their father because we shared custody. Of course, I do remember them, though. And I know life is full of suffering much deeper than my own. Somehow, I managed to find that sweet spot, which is a feeling and not a place, and I know how to find it when, as happens many times every day, I lose it.

Psychology tells us that bad memories are easier to remember than good ones because they cut a painful impression with which sweeter times cannot compete. But I know a few ways to beat the rough hand with which life slap us. I write down the good memories, I create new ones, or discover those written by others and read them over and over. Eventually, they replace the bad stuff, which these days I am adept at kicking away before it stomps me down. 

People make fun of romance and romance writers, but that’s okay. I know many suffering Scrooges. I would rather be happy; reading and writing make it so. 

Cynthia Harrison

https://cynthiaharrison.com/







Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas at Weedon’s Tavern by Diane Scott Lewis


Fredericksburg, Colony of Virginia 1773


Laughter from the taproom made Margaret Gordon smile. Business was good, even though the country was in turmoil. She poked her head out the shutters and watched several horsemen trot down Caroline Street. Her muscles tensed. Rebels, out to ride to the north, to add to the resistance?
The December wind swept up from the Rappahannock, ruffling her white cap, and she finally shut the window. The kitchen smelled like salted meat and acrid smoke—a smell that clung to her skin and hair.
She turned to the kitchen maid. “Clean high up in the chimney, make it good, and keep it that way. I have hankering to smoke a ham in there this Christmas.” A holiday that might be the last peaceful event in the coming storm.
Margaret tucked her neat gray hair under her cap and stared up at the blackened beams over her head. A widow, now, she still owned this tavern although her son-in-law managed the place.
Entering the taproom, where patrons sat on benches at the tables, their voices ebbing and flowing, she stopped the pot boy. “Put the Yule Log in the hearth.”
The lad did as requested amongst the chatter of “rebellion” and “tyranny”. It was December the twelfth, and the log would burn until January sixth, with enough left over to kindle next year’s Yule log. If they were still here next year.
“Mother Gordon, you look distressed. What say you?” George Weedon approached and slipped his large arm around her shoulders.
“Ah, ’tis a season for celebration; however, with much dangerous rumblings.” She smiled for her son-in-law, but wished the customers would keep their seditious words quieter.
“I know you back our cause, our disgust at England’s practices.” Mr. Weedon, a strapping man with bold features, had a nose that jutted like a ship’s prow over his determined mouth.
“I do. But I’d also like to preserve this establishment. The King’s men could enter at any time.” Margaret glanced around the narrow taproom, a place where her husband once prevailed: a bustling tavern on the corner of William and Caroline Streets in Fredericksburg, a tobacco town on the shores of the Rappahannock River.
Soon, the brick and wooden structure with chimneys on each end, small rooms and dormer windows, would be owned by Mr. Weedon and her daughter Catherine. With his marriage to Catherine, he intended to buy out his mother-in-law and become sole proprietor. He had already renamed the place Weedon’s Tavern from the previous Gordon’s.
Margaret fought a sigh and knew she couldn’t stop the changes swirling around her.
* * *

The spicy aroma of mince pies fresh from the brick oven built to the left of the kitchen hearth calmed Margaret. It was Christmas eve and she threw herself into the holiday preparations.
She instructed the new cook in the making of her specialty called a “stack” cake. They rolled sweetened, spiced dough into thin layers and cut slices with a dinner plate to make a perfect circle. After baking, the cake rose but little. They cooked dried apples and peaches separately, spiced and mashed them and spread this paste between the cake layers. “Now this will sit a few days to soak up the fruit into the cake and will be ready to enjoy Christmas day.” She breathed in the rich smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed with the cooked fruit.
“Mama, when you prepare the other cake, be certain that George receives the bean this time,” her daughter Catherine said at coming into the kitchen, her pretty dress brushing across the worn planks. “You remember how he sulked when Mr. Mercer had the honor last Christmas.”
Margaret chuckled. “I cannot guarantee Mr. Weedon will receive that very portion, though he enjoys the mischief.” Every year she prepared a cake with a bean baked into one slice. The person who got that particular slice became the King of Misrule. He would rule from Christmas day to Twelfth Night, performing various trifling acts to ensure good weather for the next year. Margaret only wished for the colonies and England to come to a peaceful agreement. “Now, Catherine, help me fashion our Christmas Bush.”
The women bound two wooden rings side by side; they added fresh cuttings of evergreen, boxwood and sweet William. Bright red apples, some rare lemons and pine cones were included for color. At dark tomorrow, Margaret would hang it in the taproom window.
Early Christmas morning, she made certain the ham was smoking in the chimney shaft. Ham was expensive, so a rare treat. She set the centerpiece, apples speared onto a wooden cone adorned with headless nails, on the long table in the taproom. She stuffed boxwood around the apples.
In her best gown, a crimson robe over a petticoat, she adjusted the tight-fitting sleeves trimmed with ruffles. Her laced-up leather stays almost gave her a girlish waist above the full skirt. She joined her family in the walk to attend church at St. George’s on Princess Anne, the next street over.
After service, Margaret returned quickly to the tavern to prepare for their company of family members and friends. She placed her punchbowl filled with tea, sugar, pineapple juice and rum next to the centerpiece.
Mr. Weedon bounded through the front door clasping two sprigs of holly. “These will ensure that I am master of my house for the coming year.” He waved about the holly before placing them on a hall table.
Dr. Hugh Mercer walked into the dining room then with Margaret’s other daughter, Isabella, whom he had married. Mercer owned an apothecary shop close by, where the servants purchased draughts for the tavern. His frock coat smelled of the cold wind outdoors.
In the late afternoon, the family sat. Everyone one said ahhhh when Margaret carried out the ham surrounded by sweet yams. A maid followed and set the cornbread on the table with a hunk of butter. Two roasted fowl competed with the meal’s delicious fragrances.
“An impressive feast, Mother Gordon.” Weedon raised his glass of punch. “To the brave men of Boston.”
“I must caution you, Mr. Weedon, I’ll have none of your political talk this day.” Margaret gave the younger man a pointed glare. “Let us enjoy our food.”
 “Keeping George from his opinions will be an impossible task, Mother Gordon,” Mercer said with a sly wink.
“Ah, it is true. We will not be able to avoid it, with what is stirring up these colonies, will we, Hugh?” Weedon gave Margaret a sheepish look.
Margaret shook her head and served cornbread to the men, hoping they’d stuff their mouths full.
“Too bad Washington couldn’t be here tonight, but he has returned to Mt. Vernon. I hope he does not enjoy his farming too much,” Weedon said archly. He slathered butter on his slice of cornbread. “He should take a leading role in our current ‘difficulties’.”
“That he will, I’m sure of it.” Mercer smiled with his small mouth in a broad face. “I may have to take a command myself.”
“Hugh,” Isabella protested.
Margaret clacked her fork. “Can we not talk of—”
Weedon went on, “When I served as Washington’s lieutenant in the French and Indian War, his leadership skills were unsurpassed.”
“George, please.” Catherine grimaced. “Don’t upset Mother.”
 “With what just happened in Boston, we will see tempers flaring. Dumping that infernal tea right into the harbor.” Weedon took a bite of ham. “Made me wish I had been with them.”
“England will retaliate against us for that, I have little doubt.” Mercer’s face beamed with admiration. “It was a fine show of courage. Taxing us to the hilt, they are. England should not get away with any more of these acts.”
“We won’t endure it much longer. The winds are howling for change. We’re ready for the fight.” Weedon poured two glasses of bumbo, a popular drink made with rum and sweetened water. “Let us toast a new beginning, if a bit early, for the next year. To a stronger resistance in 1774. No more taxation without representation. No more tyranny from the mother country.” The two men raised their glasses, clicked them together, and drank.
“And what should we women do to prepare for this uproar?” Margaret had lost her appetite. The men would not be deterred. She sipped the tart punch, which burned in her stomach. “Will you teach me to fire a musket?”
Weedon laughed. “I’m afraid you might use it to shoot at me.”
***

At nightfall Margaret placed the Christmas bush in the front window with a glowing candle at its center. The candle lit up the lattice panes, giving the room a festive appearance, the smell of evergreen sharp.
More people entered the tavern to eat, drink and toast the brave souls in Boston and their destruction of the tea. Other ports of call had started to do the same dumping of English goods. The men’s voices rose, carrying good cheer and vows to resist King George’s despotic treatment of the colonies. Many of the women joined in.                     As folk wandered in, shutting the heavy door against the cold wind outside, George Weedon would raise his glass. “Enter, my friends, everyone is welcome on this night.” He spread his arms wide as if he would embrace them all.
Margaret served coffee and cake. She kept glancing at the door, praying no redcoats walked in. She wanted her family safe.
“Rotten luck, George, I have found the bean!” Mercer held up his fork with cake remnants and the elusive little bean. “I am King of Misrule again.”
Weedon shrugged with a wink. “We are all under misrule, I daresay. A king who cares little for his subjects.”
Catherine patted her husband’s shoulder. Isabelle rolled her eyes.
The Rev. James Marye, Jr. approached the men. He’d dropped in to bless them on his way home. “I warn you to be careful with your words tonight, gentlemen. Ears and eyes are everywhere who might not feel the same.”
“As I’ve told them, good sir.” Margaret understood the issues, the anger, and now she might not be able to avoid the shift in her countrymen. Had England pushed too hard? She smiled wearily at the reverend who purchased his communion wine from the tavern for St. George’s. He nodded, donned his cocked hat and departed.
Outside, gun shots cracked, and she and Isabella rushed to peer through the window.
“Just a bit of celebration, I hope.” Margaret squeezed her daughter close. Catherine joined them, and they all held hands.
“Every able-bodied man may be called to arms, if matters progress,” Weedon said from the center of his chattering group. “The government in Williamsburg seethes with unrest against the unfairness of Parliament.”
“Any more treasonous talk and we’ll spend the New Year in the lock-up.” Margaret tried to make it sound light, but the impending threat shoved against her.
“Mother, we must be prepared,” Catherine said. “George speaks the truth.”
“Our lives are about to change forever.” Isabella nudged her mother’s shoulder.
“I’m proud my daughters are both brave.” Margaret took a deep breath. She gathered her strength. “We will be prepared for whatever might happen.” She kissed each daughter on the cheek. “This will be a Christmas we won’t soon forget. Shall we have musket practice tomorrow?”




Diane Scott Lewis

Twitter @DSLewisHF          

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Four-Legged Love


This has been a great year, with Fool Me Once, Book 1 in The Riverwood Series, released in August. Seeing it offered for sale on Amazon was a special and memorable day. Book 2, A Bitter Wind Blows, is a stand-alone sequel. It's under contract and in the process of edits.

Riverwood is a planned equestrian community, co-developed by Horse Country Real Estate agents, Ronnie Chandler, Ricky Ahlers and Andee Barton. It's underwritten by The Westlake Group, venture capitalists from Virginia. Yes, it's a Romance so a relationship soon develops between Ronnie and Luc Deschaines.

But the Riverwood series was never intended to be just a love story. It's set in the fictional town of Emery Pond, in Tennessee, and the characters ride in the very real Big South Fork National Park, acclaimed as "the trail-riding capital of the southeast" (for good reason). These are horse books for readers who love to read about horses!

Reviewers have said "the author's love of horses shines through in every chapter of every book" and "the author obviously knows her way around a barn." The stories are filled with the miracles and minutiae of horse ownership because the main characters all have horses…and the horses all have personalities. (Horse people most often have other animals and readers will enjoy meeting the characters' quirky cats and dogs as well).

The company of my animals sustains me all year but never more so than at Christmas time when I especially appreciate the gift of their unconditional four-legged love.


Happy Holidays
Linnhe McCarron
https://linnhemccarron.wordpress.com/