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Friday, December 30, 2022

Felicity's Fortune: Award Winner!

I'm so pleased to tell y'all that FELICITY'S FORTUNE won best Historical Romance in the N. N. Light Book Awards. It's such a wonderful Christmas present! Felicity and Butch went up against around 1,000 other stories and they came out as winners!

I'm truly humbled and feel so blessed that I get to do what I love. And to learn that characters I love so much are loved by others is why I write. To me, characters are real people. That's probably because they come from real people. Felicity's story is certainly based off a real person....

When we visited St. Joseph, Missouri, we had to stop at Jesse James’ house. While I was walking through those rooms, I wondered about his wife.

She’d set up a house, cooked meals, raised children…and her husband was an outlaw. She knew what he was, and that surprised me. Of course, who knew how she felt about his choices, and I’m sure it was hard to leave him since she loved him.

But I thought…what if she hadn’t known? What if a woman had married a man who was an outlaw, and she discovered it…

And turned him in.


I had to give her a mighty hero, and Butch Wilder grew in my mind’s eye. And he’s a good one. He had to be a little sinful, though, but he’s got a big, big, big heart!

I loved writing this story. Felicity’s daughters are the cutest little things.

I also enjoyed sending Felicity to Hell’s Half Acre, because God bless Texas, but that place was scary. It belonged in a book.

And now, Felicity and Butch have established themselves as winners. They are very deserving, let me tell you.

Are there any other figures from history that should have their stories re-imagined? Or do you have any books to share that have already told the events of someone from the past? Share that with us by commenting below!

Gamblers & Gunslingers
Historical Romance

Felicity Capwell Archer had no idea she'd married a thief and a killer. And even though she's the one who turns him in, people still think she helped her former husband steal and is now hiding the money. To protect herself from the repercussions and attacks, she hires Butch Wilder. Gambler. Gunslinger. And a giant who hides a heart of gold.

Butch Wilder grew up on the streets of New Orleans, learning how to fight, how to gamble and how to use a Colt .45 with deadly precision. When Felicity begs him to protect her family, she's too damned pretty and too intriguing to turn down. Determined to avoid any emotional attachments and to keep it purely professional, Butch takes the job. But he finds himself sitting down to nice meals, walking her children to school and being part of a family for the first time.

Only by finding and returning the stolen loot can Felicity and her daughters ever truly be safe. Following clues she deciphers from her former husband’s letters, Felicity and Butch travel to the outlaw-infested Hell's Half Acre. It's madness, but Butch will do anything to protect Felicity. Even if it means his life.

When Butch reached Rickman’s office, he tried to see through the windows to the inside, but the grimy panes allowed for nothing. Cautious but unafraid, he walked in without hesitation.

But when he found who had come calling, he about swallowed his tongue. He stopped short, his hand on the knob, his mind devoid of all thought.

“Are you Mr. Wilder?”

Her honey voice poured through him, grabbing hold of his senses.

She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry to interrupt your work, sir, but I’m looking for Mr. Butch Wilder. Are you he?”

Snap out of it, man! Butch blinked then cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah. Yes. I’m Butch Wilder.” He shut the door.

She looked him over.

He steeled himself against the fear he might see in her eyes due to his size, but when her gaze touched his face, what he found was desperation. Confused and a little nervous, he wrapped his thumbs around his suspenders.

“Do you know who I am?”

Would it upset her if he did? But he couldn’t lie to her. Somehow she’d know if he did. “Yes.”

She twitched her lips as if frustrated by her infamy. He couldn’t blame her.

After letting out a slow exhale, she said, “My home, and by that I really refer to my children, my housekeeper and myself, has been under attack since my former husband was arrested and tried.”

So…she had gotten divorced. Or was it an annulment? He stayed quiet, not knowing what she wanted or if he was allowed to respond.

“We need constant protection until this is settled.” She waved a hand in the air. “Until either the…the hanging or…” She paused, and her gaze went distant.

He narrowed his eyes slightly. What bothered her? The event she hadn’t mentioned or the hanging?

She shook her head. “I apologize. The last weeks have been rather harrowing.”

He could imagine. From the arrest, to the trial, to now…

A portion of what she’d said registered in his mind. “I’m sorry, ma’am. But why are you here? You mentioned…protection?” Hell. Was she going to ask him to…

“Yes. The sheriff’s office can’t provide anyone, so he suggested I hire you.”

Butch’s mind whirled with the implications.

“I will pay you well, plus meals, because I would prefer it if you moved into my home. People come at all times of the day and night. I’m fearful of what has occurred in my absence for the last few hours.” She pressed two fingers to her temple and rubbed. “Not that I can do anything about it,” she muttered. She let out a weary exhale.

While she struggled with exhaustion, he tried to make sense of what she was offering. It was ridiculous. Him? Butch Wilder? Protect her? And her family?

Hell. That was damned laughable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The New Year by Bea Tifton


Ah, the new year is almost upon us. Sadly, we mark another year and go forth into the new one in which the man bun is still an acceptable fashion choice.

Seriously, though. It’s been a year. We’re still battling Covid, supply chain shortages, and war in the Ukraine.  I lost three friends this year, two of them close friends, from  non Covid causes. I ran across the Christmas present I had bought for one of them last week and it made me sad. I lost the sweetest dog I had ever had and two sweet kitties.

But good things happened, too. After a year combining households with my parents, we’ve hit our stride and fallen into a comfortable and pleasant pattern. I recently got a new dog who is still adjusting to being rehomed, but he’s already shown he’s a sweet little guy. And I read many, many great books.

The new year always makes me feel a bit conflicted. I feel sad as I think about some things from the past year, or the things I haven’t accomplished from my List of Things I Should Have Accomplished ( I bet almost all have one of those), but I’m also hopeful as we start a clean slate, a new beginning.

I try not to make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I’m very good at keeping them. But I do have goals. I want to lose weight, as most people say in January. But I want to do it to have optimal good health. I’m old enough that I can’t take my body for granted. I don’t plan to go on a diet; I am making what I hope are permanent changes in my lifestyle. 

We don’t usually stay up all night to welcome the new year in my household. I’ve found it comes whether I stay up or not. But, in my neighborhood, people go crazy over fireworks and the occasional gunfire (idiots!).  Since I’m awake, anyway, listening to other people mark the new year, I think I’ll stay up and watch the ball drop.

I live in the Southwest, and in the South most people eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. They are supposed to bring luck for the new year.  We always eat them, because, hey, we all need as much luck as we can get. I laugh when I hear people from other parts of the county ask, “What’s the deal with black eyed peas?” Different schools of thought exist as to why. One is that black eyed peas were eaten by slaves and eaten at celebrations for the Emancipation Proclamation that freed enslaved people in the United States. Another is that black eyed peas, generally thought of as cattle food, were among the only crops left to stave starvation during and immediately after the Civil War. The one I like best is that the black eyed peas represent coins, and eating them ensures one will be financially successful. Can’t hurt, and it’s nice to have traditions.

At any rate, the new year is coming. It will bring celebrations and sorrow, happiness and sadness, additions and losses. But it’s a whole new year. A chance to start again in many ways. Without the bad, we wouldn’t appreciate the good. Why not be optimistic and make plans? Why not give closure to 2022 by saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming 2023?

Do you have New Year’s Day traditions or New Year’s resolutions? I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, and successful new year.


Photo Credits: 
Sena "Coffee on Magazine and Calendar on Table"
Messala Ciulla "Notebook with Blank Pages"
Jan Doan "Variety of Food on Wooden Coaster"
Dream Sky "Photography of Fireworks Display"
Belle Co "Silhouette Photography of Group of People Jumping During Golden Time"
Jill Wellington "Happy New Year Text"

Monday, December 26, 2022

This Week Is For Me by Laura Hunsaker

 With the Christmas Season still in full swing, I have noticed that I feel guilty when I take time for myself. I work full time, and the second school was out last Friday, I have spent this week making it as enjoyable and magical for my children as possible. I did read a book at night when everyone was in bed, but for the most part, I spent last week running around and adding finishing touches to everything.

I don't regret any of it. The kids were happy, the family had a great time, and as of now, everyone seems to have had a lovely Christmas Day. 

But I finally finished the book I was reading! I'm assuming if you are reading this blog, you are a reader. You enjoy the stories, you eat up the tropes, you devour the are definitely my kind of people! And when I added the book I just finished to Goodreads, I realized that while I did hit my goal of 100 books this year, I didn't go over. Usually I do. It's not the end of the world or anything, but it does make me look back at how I spent my time this year, and of course with the New Year right around the corner, it makes me think of how I want to spend my time going forward.

I may not have the time to spare to be selfish with my time, however, I do have this week off. And you'd better believe this week is for me. I plan to read, to watch shows, to hang out and play with my kiddos, and if possible to finish writing a short story I can't wait for you all to enjoy!

So for me, this week may be full of re-reads/comfort reads, or it may be full of playing video games with my kids, but whatever the cards hold, I plan to enjoy every single moment. 

So how about you? If you have the week off, what are your plans? If not, what would you do if you did have the week free from obligations?

I'm going to for sure re-read the Ilona Andrews Innkeeper series since the newest one just came out.

If you're in the mood for something fun, has both Hanukkah and Christmas in it, you should check out my book Roughing It. I write as one half of Kenzie MacLir, and while our book features Christmas, one of the other stories in the anthology showcases Hanukkah. 

Caught in the Crossfire by Stacey Agdern

Bryce Emerson only agreed to draw an account of the Empires Goalie Tryouts to humor his brother. But when a vision convinces him the woman who saved his prized pen from a snowy grave is in danger of being injured by a faulty mask, he takes it upon himself to make her a new one.

Goaltender Carly Fein is trying out for the New York Empires, and the last thing she needs is the complication of an artist. But when she agrees to let him make her a new mask, Bryce Emerson finds his way under her skin.

Can Bryce and Carly figure out what happens when they’re caught in the crossfire of love and hockey? Or will the stress of new love and competition drive them apart.

Crashing the Net by Isabo Kelly

Billionaire Connor Evans needs a challenge. Trying out for the New York Empires’ hockey team fits the bill, even if it is just a publicity stunt and a way to shut his twin brother up. Running into the woman who left him six years earlier, a woman he’s never gotten over, is not part of the plan. Once he sees Matty, though, Connor knows he can’t let her go again. But he’s got secrets he can’t risk sharing. And Matty is the one person who could uncover those secrets if he lets her get too close.

After traveling the world, Matilda Thomson is ready for a real job and a more stable life. Her internship with the New York Empires will give her the experience she needs to move into that future. But first, she has to face Connor again, and one of the most painful losses she’s ever experienced. The only way she can move forward is to confront her feelings and risk her heart one more time.

Heat and passion spark as hot as ever between them. But trust doesn’t come easy. And if Connor can’t open up and let Matty in this time, he’ll lose her forever.

Against the Boards by Kenzie MacLir

Kyle Sandberg is living his best life. He’s one of the top hockey players in the world. Has two amazing best friends and all the sarcastic hockey t-shirts he could wear. After his own family turns their backs on him, he’s happy playing for the Empires and hanging out with his own found family. What he doesn’t want is his pain in the ass twin brother back in his life or a mate.

When paramedic Faith Church left Puerto Rico for New York, she had zero intentions of getting involved in the local pack. Having had her fill of pack politics, she was ready to go lone wolf. But being left alone was too much to ask when her cousin was the Alpha’s mate.

What neither was counting on was Fate, having her own plans for them. A chance encounter at a traffic accident changes everything. Kyle and his wolf are willing to go with Fate’s plans. But Faith, having finally broken away from her pack’s expectations wants nothing to do with Fate, or Kyle. Too bad her wolf disagrees…

Saturday, December 24, 2022


 by Judy Ann Davis

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

MAKE TIME FOR YOUR WRITING ~ This tops the list for almost all writers. We resolve to make more time for writing every year, but it’s so easy for life to distract us. We rationalize we have other tasks and chores to do for our kids, our husband, friends, or family. If we wrote only 500 words at day, we would have 15,000 words in a month. One thousand words would net us 30,000, quite an admirable word goal. Don’t feel like writing? Research, writing exercises, outlining, reading for information, and editing also count as part of the writing process since these activities propel us forward.

~ Not only do we need to read in our genre to stay on top of the latest trends and to study other writers’ styles, structure, plotting, voice and pacing, but also we need to read outside our comfort zone. We need to delve into a memoir, a nonfiction book, editorials, the newspaper, and anything we don’t normally read. This will give us a new perspective when we sit down to write again.

GET ORGANIZED ~ Organize your writing space. File that pile of papers you were going to take care of. Clean out your emails. Clean up your hard drive. Back up your data. Review and update your blog, website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Set a timetable for writing a certain project and determine how you’re planning to track your progress.

SET REALISTIC GOALS ~ Stop beating yourself up when you don’t accomplish what you planned. Stop comparing yourself to other writers. Set realistic goals. Maybe you will only accomplish one novel per year. However, you might want to try writing a seasonal short story, or an opinion or a blog piece as well.

EXERCISE ~ Good health is important. Get plenty of rest and find some activity where you can get exercise: swimming, walking, golfing, tennis, zumba, dancing or any other activity that takes you away from the keyboard and gets you moving.

                 Have you made your New Year’s resolutions?
                 If so, share one of them in the comments below.

JUNE ~ The Pianist

(Book 1 of the Musical Christmas Series)


Thursday, December 22, 2022



*Lorena Rambo Fields was born in Dale, Hamilton Co., IL.


            This story is from my mother Thelma (Shorty) Fields Spivey, daughter of Clifford & Viola Glascock Fields. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

            This is a story about memories of my grandparents on their island on the Snake River.  It used to be Fields Island, but when my grandparents died the government took over and handed the island over to the Deer Flat National Refuge for nesting for the Canadian goose, and then the name of the island was changed to Goose Egg Island.

            My grandparents, Arch & Lorena Rambo Fields, Island home was located on the Snake River between Adrian and Nyssa, Oregon on the Snake River & near where the Boise River goes into the Snake River. The Snake River divides the Oregon and Idaho boundary line. The island was near the Idaho Bank, which made them Idaho residents. The Island was a beautiful place. It was called the Fields Island for many years. It is now called Goose Egg Island because it was turned over to the Deer Flat National Wildlife after my grandparents passed away. It’s used for nesting purposes for the Great Basin Canada goose. The island was a Shangri-La type of island with rush trees, rush bushes, yellow willow trees, wild roses, currents, and hollyhocks. The center of the island was cleared and plowed up for pasturing, along with raising hay. They planted fruit trees at both ends of the island. The island contained 4.62 acres on the Oregon side and 16.90 acres on the Idaho side. 

             They grew all kinds of berry bushes. They also grew a large garden every year and they sold their products and used the rest for themselves and their sons' families.


My fondest memories were of my Dad, standing on the hill above the shore of the Snake River honking his horn to let them know that we had arrived. We excitably waited for our grandmother’s appearance as she climbed the steps that went to the one-room house that was built on the side of the hill. At first, you’d see the little rat terrier dog she always had around her. The dog would always dash up the small incline barking at the sound of a horn to let my grandmother know that someone was on the other side waiting for someone to come over after them. In a short while, you’d see Grandma's beloved statuette appear. She’d wave some kind of object to let you know that some would be directly over to get you. She’d disappear quickly to put her hat on. In the summer it would be a sloppy brim hat and in the winter it would be a turban ribbon hat. I loved the sight of my grandmother in her hats and always she’d have a Mother Hubbard apron on which she’d quickly snatch off and put her hat on to come over after you. If Grandma came over after you, which most of the time it was her, she’d row her boat over. If Grandpa came over after you he’d bring the boat with the motor on it. But no matter which one came after you, you’d have to bail the water out of the boat on the way over as the boats always had a small leak. There is a special art to balancing eight people in a rowboat, especially when you’re dealing with a homemade boat that my Dad had built. It had a flat bottom, pointed at both ends with low sides, Dad would row and Grandma would hold some of the smaller children. My mother would hold the others. My sister Jackie and I would sit on the bottom of the boat and bail out water. I know my mother always said a silent prayer before we started across the river, as we never had life jackets on as you didn’t have the modern convenience that you have today, and on top of that a leaky boat. All of us kids thought it was a lot of fun and laughed all the way over to the island. Our Dad would curse all the way over as it took acquired knowledge of the river to row the boat so as to come at the boat dock on the other side. We always felt safe with Dad, as he knew the Snake River as he always swam across when he was younger to eat green apples that were on the Oregon side. He knew where the currents were, how deep it was, and where the undertows were in the river. When you left the bank on the Idaho side you’d have to row upstream until you reached a certain current and row straight across like you were heading upstream, if you didn’t know this you’d end up at the other end of the island or past the island.


            We loved going to Grandma's house. It was a delight and a special treat to go to her house. She was the best cook; she could make gooseberry pies that would melt in your mouth. For some reason, everything tasted better at Grandma’s house. My Dad always loved to get in her breadbox, get a biscuit with a glass of milk and dunk it in the milk. Her hot cereal with cow’s milk was out of this world. When we’d go home and Mom would make the same kind of cereal, but it didn’t taste like Grandma's as we used canned milk instead of fresh cow’s cream. She had a special cupboard that had bins that held flour and sugar. She always had goodies there for you to eat.


            My Grandparents had a herd of cows on the island. My sisters and brother and I would dash through the trail to the house fearful of her cows, as we were not used to being around them. We’d hang onto Grandma to make a dash to the gate. To show how much we knew about cows, my sister, Jackie, spotted the bull and yelled Grandma, Grandma, look at that mother cow she doesn’t have nipples. My Grandmother just grinned from ear to ear and explained the difference between a milk cow and a bull cow. Grandma built her a barn all by herself for the cows. Some of it still stands today.


            My grandparent’s home was a little different than most homes. One part was built in the side of a hill; it served as a bedroom, living room, and kitchen. It was just one big room. A porch was added on where in the summertime you could eat out there but you couldn’t in the winter. From this was a stairway built out of the hillside that linked the one-room house to the other one-bedroom cabin that my Dad had built for them. There was a bed, closet, a couple chests of drawers, a dressing table, a wood heater, and a desk, all in this one-room cabin. To her grandchildren, this room my Dad had built was a treasure house, of beautiful keepsakes, costume jewelry, collections of buttons, photos and etc.

            My grandmother sold Xmas, occasional cards, beautiful stationery, flowers, and garden seeds for extra money. I think she gave more away than she sold. She’d let us look through her sample cards, which she used to show her customers. We’d look through all her photo albums with the past and present members of her family. Her bright shining, glass pearl-like buttons, were a treasure to us. Still today, my sister, Jackie, and I dream of being in this wonderful treasure house. Going through Grandma’s treasures with everything so colorful and beautiful.

            I loved to sleep in my grandma's bed, as it was a goose-feathered bed. She always used flannel sheets that felt like you were protected being cuddled and loved. We’d lie there listening to Grandma tell about her life, sad and happy times. She’d blow the light out and we’d lie there listening to the frogs croaking and the noise of the river. It was such a soothing sound; you’d just drift off to sleep. In the morning you’d hear the roosters crow, birds chirping and the magpies chattering away. You’d see the sunrise that you knew you had found your Shangri-La. You’d go downstairs to the other one-room cabin smelling Grandma cooking breakfast. We’d always have hot cereal with fresh cream and lots of berries. It was such a happy spot in my childhood when I was visiting her.

            In my grandma's room which was a treasure room to me, was an old-fashioned typewriter that she plucked away for hours telling about her lovely Island home, in poetry, stories, books, and songs. Her songs and poems more or less tell the type of person she was. One of her songs “Let Your Rainbow Come Smiling Through” tells about dark cloudy days but Grandma always said to overlook these kinds of days. And to just let your rainbow come smiling through. Grandma was always that way even though she lived poorly; she seemed to find riches in her island home. She wasn’t always poor as she came from a well-to-do family from Dale, Illinois. Grandma left a legacy to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She left her special understanding of what being rich really means. Most of her grandchildren called her "Grammy". I don’t remember when she started being called Grammy. We spent hours making dolls out of hollyhocks & cut paper dolls out of her magazines, which she showed us how to do.



            Grandma must have had the patience of a Saint, as soon as we got to her house, we’d beg her to let us go gather eggs. To us, it was like an extra Easter egg hunt. As Grandma let the chickens scratch for food, we’d look around for their eggs. We’d look in the bushes, boxes, buckets, nests that were built in the trees, and old tubs that were tucked away in the bushes and vines. Once in a while we’d find a sitting hen, chase her off the nest, get her eggs, and dash into the house to tell Grandma we had found eggs all in one nest and she must have missed these eggs. She’d say “Oh my, where did you get them eggs?"  We’d tell her where we got them and she’d tell us "Oh my dears, you’ve disturbed my setting hens, we’ll have to put them back and hope the hens would come back on the nest and finish setting". Grandma never raised her voice to any of her grandchildren. One early spring there was a hailstorm that hit the area and Grandma's chickens and turkeys ate some of the hail. They died shortly afterward. Grandma sent one of her chickens to the nearest government agency. They came out after all of that had died, but they never did let my grandparents know what caused them to die after eating the hail.



     Grandma sold milk to the Dairy to help with the expenses. She’d carry the milk down to the boat dock, put the cans in the boat, and take them across to the other side of the river. She had to take them up a steep hill and sit them down by the side of the road for the dairy to pick up the cans of milk. A lesser woman couldn’t have done this, but Grandma was a big-built woman and was very strong. She had always worked hard all of her life. About the only time, Grandpa helped her take the cans of milk across the river was when the check was there waiting for her to pick it up.


            Grandma had built a cellar into the side of a hill. She used it for storing her fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, canned vegetables, fruits, and jams and to get away from the heat in the summertime as she didn’t have the convenience of electricity until 1957 when they got the power company to put a line over to the island. In this cellar were a couch, an icebox, and a lamp. I can remember her making a fan out of paper to fan herself and her grandchildren. We’d sit down there and drinks lots of lemon aid, as she always had lemon aid on hand as the water on the island wasn’t that good.



            Grandma lived a pioneer life on the island. She did her washing with a gas motor washing machine that had a wooden wringer; the kind that you had to wind the handle to wring out your clothes. She made her own soap. Before she got a gas motor washing machine she had a tub with a scrubber that you had to use by hand. They had a well and hand pump to pump their water. They used kerosene lamps for lights. My Grandpa had a car battery hooked up to a radio so he could listen to the radio. Sometime in the 1960s their son, Hank, had the phone company put a line over to the island so they would have the convenience of a phone. My grandmother never complained about their 33 years on the island, as she loved her island home. She loved listening to the frogs croaking, doves cooing and the chirping of other species of birds. There were always geese and ducks with their little ones that were hatched on the island. The sunsets and sunrise were out of this world. My Dad was always taking pictures of the sunsets and sunrise when he was there, as he loved to see the sunset and the sunrise. I can still remember sitting in an old chair with grandma watching the sun go down. It was just like you were in paradise. She was a believer in the Almighty. A song she and my Dad wrote, “Somewhere There’s A Beautiful Dream World,” more or less tells about her belief in God. Even when she was so sick she wouldn’t let them take her off the island.  Only at the last, she did let them take her off of the island, just a few hours before she passed away.


            Grandpa was a nice-looking man in his young years; you could see why my grandmother fell in love with him. He had this hair that stood out like wire and his top part stood up on ends. Grandpa was a mountain of a man and he was about 6 feet tall.

Now Grandpa loved to play cards. It was his favorite pastime. He used to play cards in the back of a pool hall in Parma, Idaho, even in his seventies. Grandma always had it in her mind that he was making eyes at the women instead of playing cards. I can still hear Grandma talking about his fillies. Grandpa would just grin from ear to ear with a twinkle in his eye as he really enjoyed getting Grandma riled up. I don’t think he felt he was ever any older than he was when he was a young man.

Grandpa would take off in the spring to other places to shear sheep. He belonged to the Sheep Shearer’s Union of North America.

Now Grandpa sometimes had a bad temper. One time Grandma sent him out to see why the milk cows hadn’t come in to be milked. Grandpa took the old tractor (that had been built from an old car), down to the other end of the island and found the milk cows. He tried to round them up with the old tractor, but it proved to be unsuccessful. After an hour of running the cows around in circles trying to herd them home bought him storming into the house, throwing things right and left searching for his shotgun and shells, and found his gun and shells. He roared off with Grandma running behind him calling “Archie,” Archie, you’ll have them cows to where they won’t give any milk, please don’t go out there with that gun". Grandpa yelled back, “By god, they will come the next time I go after them". He went rounding up the milk cows with birdshot, peppering them in the behinds. Grandma just stood there wringing her hands.

I used to listen to Grandpa talk because he always got so excited telling the stories that happened to him. He couldn’t contain himself, he jump every few minutes and raise his hands. Every other word was a curse word, but he’d explain himself. Grandpa would get caught up in his story so much you’d think you were there when it had happened.

The Fields had a laugh that couldn’t be missed. When there was a house full of Fields there was a house full of laughter. Most of the Fields had good humor. But Grandpa, god bless him was devious. He was a mixture of characters and enjoyed cards, games, and people. But it didn’t take very much to set him on a rampage. Sometimes we were scared of him, other times we were happy to be around him. I know occasionally we’d break one of his tools. We’d hide them for he couldn’t find them while we were there visiting. One time we broke a hoe of his, we were scared to face him with it so we stuck some chewing gum on it so it would stick together. Later he found it and came into the house yelling about it.

Grandpa was the type of person that engineered his work to satisfy himself, which was to make an easier job out of his work. For instance, he had an old car made into a tractor with a flatbed on the back of the tractor. On this flatbed, he had a couch on it so he could relax while he was irrigating.

Grandpa was always trying to make wine, but the wine sometimes never came out right. Sometimes when he made wine, it tasted like it had turpentine in it. He was always trying to get someone to sample it but never could get anyone to do the sampling

Grandpa always fixed the gates, doors, and toilet doors with Beaver tails for hinges.

Grandma had been begging Grandpa to dig a new toilet hole but he always had an excuse so she decided to do the work herself. She told Grandpa to stay close by so he could help her out of the hole when she got it finished. But as usual, he left her to do it herself. She dug too deep and couldn’t get out and she thought he was nearby. She yelled and yelled but couldn’t get any answer from him. So she dug some steps up the dirt wall to get herself out of the hole. When she got out she went looking for him and to no surprise, to her he was in his room sound asleep. To say the least she was quite upset with him. One time his grandchildren broke his hoe & glued it back with gum hoping he wouldn’t notice it while we were there. Nevertheless, before we left, he had to use the hoe. When he found out it was broken, he did yell at us. He showed his grandchildren how to make boats out of cucumbers.


Grandpa always went hunting every year. One year he went hunting and as he drove down this road, the road had ended, and there were two tall trees where the road ended. He never likes to walk to hunt his deer. He always drove around in his car hunting. Well, he didn’t want to get out and walk so he drove between the two trees. He just verily made it between the trees. The next year with two of his grandson, Gary, and Rick, he went to the same place to hunt. To the shock of his grandsons, he started to drive between these two trees and got stuck. He ended up tearing his bumper off and putting quite a few dents in his car, but he finally got the car out. He later came by to see Dad. Dad asked him, "What in the world did you do to your new car?" Grandpa said, “Well, you know, I went hunting the same place I did the year before and them two trees were still in the way so I drove through them and got stuck, and I just can’t figure out what went wrong this time”.  Dad told Grandpa, any damn fool could figure out why in the first place you didn’t have the same car and the two trees had grown bigger.

 My Dad wasn’t a bit like Grandpa.  He was a hard worker, serious, no-nonsense, and honest person. My Grandpa never believed in God and my Dad told him he’d better start believing there was a God. Dad made him set down and read the Bible. It was the only time my grandfather read the Bible that I know of. I don’t know if he still was not a believer at the time of his death. He was living by himself in a small cabin in Parma, Idaho, he became very ill, and he got worse as the day went on so he drove himself to the hospital in Caldwell, Idaho which was about 20 miles. Grandpa never left the hospital alive.


            When my Grandparents had to take their cattle to market it was quite a chore, as they had to swim them across the island. One time my Dad and my husband, Joe Spivey were helping my grandparents take their cattle to market. In this herd of cattle was a milk cow named Daisy that had been raised by grandma. Daisy decided she didn’t want to leave the island and after they got her across to the mainland, she turned around and swam back to the island. After three times Dad and Grandpa were doing a lot of cursing and were mad as hornets. Grandma decided to take her across to the other side by herself. She yelled at Daisy to follow her behind the boat.
Grandma was half across the river when Daisy got tired of swimming so she got both front feet in the back of Grandma’s boat. With the boat up in the air, Grandma started rowing with all her strength, as she never learned to swim. My Dad, screaming and cursing jumped out of the other boat to help Grandma. They finally got Daisy over to the mainland, and Grandpa said if Daisy heads back to the island let her go, but by that time Daisy had enough of swimming that she didn’t head back to the island, that was one of many memories of the Island.

Love For My Grandparents 

I loved my grandparents very much & miss them very much. I taped this on a tape for my sister, Bonnie, who could type it up for me. I hope you find this story interesting. I know that some people didn’t think people lived a pioneer life in 1935, but this family did. I live close to this area & I go out in my yard & hear the same kind of birds & the noise of a river as I live next to the Mahleur River & I feel at home. The Island was a joy to my sisters & brothers, especially my sister Bonnie & me.

The End

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

It's Where I Go by Liz Flaherty

One night this past week, we were listening to music at an open mic evening at Gallery 15, a local art gallery. The venue's owners, Sarah and Ron Luginbill, support the arts in every way possible. Sometimes...a few times...I've read essays at the open mic. I'm in no way a performance artist--writing is more a craft to me than an art, something that's been discussed as long as I remember--but I've enjoyed reading. 

I've enjoyed the applause. I've enjoyed a teenager telling me that my soliloquy on stopping smoking made him all the more determined he would never start. I've enjoyed talking to people about writing. I've enjoyed them thanking me for sharing.

Art by Sarah Luginbill
The other night, I asked Sarah, an accomplished artist, when she knew she was an artist. Was she small? Did she always see it and feel it? And she had. Just as I was a writer before I could even read, much less put words to paper. The stories were there, teeming through my mind like skaters in a Will Moses painting

"I think," I told Sarah, "that before it was anything else, writing was a place to go. When I didn't like where I was, I could go there and find happy." Those were not my exact words, but ones like them. 

"Right," she said. "It's therapy."

We could have laughed about what we were saying, because no one knows better than we do that writers and artists probably can't afford therapy, so we bring our own to the party.

Ron makes ukuleles. Perhaps builds is the right term--I should ask him. I've seen short videos of parts of the process, and I wonder what he thinks about when he's doing the work. He uses gourds sometimes in the making, and I wonder if he looks at a gourd and sees a ukulele. And hears it. And feels it. 

My husband is a musician. His hearing--or listening--has been a subject of discussion in our house for over 51 years. It still is. But Duane hears things in music that I will never hear. He feels things that are different from what I feel. 

He goes places I can't follow. And isn't that the funniest thing? Not he, nor Sarah, nor Ron, nor I--nor virtually anyone I know--want to keep our art to ourselves. Sarah has a gallery and has shown in many prestigious places; she and Ron perform music; Duane has played and sung virtually every day of his life since he was seven--often on stage; I write books I want people to buy and enjoy. We all warm to applause and to audience interest, and yet we are all grateful to have that place to go. 

The arts are a gift to everyone. They give pleasure and succor and sometimes lend excitement to lives. But at the very beginning, before the canvas or the page or the findings of the ukulele, the arts are a place to go. 

As I have said before, aren't we the lucky ones?

The Summer of Sorrow and Dance is the third and final book in the Second Chances Series from Magnolia Blossom Publishing. Dinah and Zach are both searching for places to go as their lives change faster than they can keep up. 

In the midst of a summer of change, they’re both searching for an anchor.

Dinah is a mom, a giver, and a doer, so she’s used to change, but this summer is kind of overdoing that. The diner where she’s worked for half her life is closing, her college-age kids aren’t coming home for the summer, and a property on nearby Cooper Lake is calling her name, bringing long-held dreams of owning a B & B to the fore. Newcomer Zach Applegate is entering into her dreams, too.

Divorced dad, contractor, and recovering alcoholic Zach is in Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania, to visit his brother and to decide what’s coming next in his life. He doesn’t like change much, yet it seems to be everywhere. But he finds an affinity for remodeling and restoration, is overjoyed when his teenage sons join him for the summer, and he likes Dinah Tyler, too. A lot.

Dinah and Zach each experience sorrow and tumult, but go on to dance in the kitchen. Together, they have something, but is it enough?

Merry Christmas. Here's hoping for a splendid segue into 2023!

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Addicted to Reading by Cathy Shouse

      Shortly after my husband and I were married, we went to one of his family gatherings and I started a conversation the way I often do. "I'm reading this novel and it's about--"


     "You have time to read?" my new sister-in-law interrupted. It was more accusation than question.


     All these years later, I can still see her in her kitchen, dish towel stopped in mid-air, her eyes boring down on me. She wanted a response, and it didn’t take me long to come up with a sweet little lie. 


     "Sometimes…" I let my voice trail off and changed the subject. By then, I knew the drill.


     In truth, I read all the time. I was obsessed. I would have my nose buried in a book so much that I began lying about my reading habits in 4th grade. It was a matter of survival.


     One day I answered a question in class starting with "I read that . . ." and a kid made fun of me, since I had admitted reading more than the textbook for the third or fourth time. He conveyed that reading wasn't cool. I felt a little sick to my stomach. It was heartbreaking. But instead of stopping my reading, I went underground.


     I started pretending I didn't read as much. I might share information but wouldn’t admit where I learned it. Things were especially tricky around the people I lived with.


     Sometimes my husband would head to bed while I was engrossed in a book. In the morning he would ask how late I stayed up. He was a very sound sleeper. I’d say, "I'm not sure…" That meant anything from 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., or occasionally I hadn’t gone to bed at all. 


     I made sure to appear alert all day and control any inkling of sleep-deprived grouchiness. I think hubby knew. But it's something he learned to live with--the way some men overlook shopping purchases their wives hide from them.


     But from a young age, reading was the main focus of my waking life. When my 18-months-older sister would climb off the school bus with her books, I'd knock her down trying to read them. A schoolteacher advised my mother that teaching me to read at home would make me bored with school. I used to drag the “Reader's Digest” behind a chair to study in private. 


     At seven years-old, the first book I read for myself and fell in love with was Stuart Little by E.B. White. However, I was deeply disappointed in the ending (I won’t spoil it for you, in case you haven’t read it) and have never gotten over it.


     When I was a girl, I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott several times. Although Beth's death saddened me, the sister who made the biggest impression on me was Jo, the writer.


     In college, I read Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook three summers running. In a notebook, I copied down the words of my favorite passages. But normally, I only read books once.

     By the time I was married and had children, my home could have been condemned for an over-abundance of books. I spent so many hours reading aloud to my kids that my son was reluctant to learn to read: “But you enjoy reading to me so much!”


     Desperate to declutter, I started taking them one bagful at a time to donate to the local library. My librarian kept a tally for me, which topped out at 74 hardbacks and 92 paperbacks. Honestly, I hadn’t made much of a dent in my supply. 


     Many were bargains I found in used bookstores and on sale. I lived by Erasmus’s philosophy. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."


     Around 2014, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Her strategies made sense, although I couldn’t live with her limit: 30 books. She claimed you had peak excitement when you got a book and if you had not read it almost immediately, you likely never would. Also, there is no reason to hang on to a book you won’t read again.


     When my husband went out of town, I carted hundreds of books away. Essentially, I emptied three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. He was fairly shocked when he came home.


     Like Kondo, I now keep drastically fewer books. If they start to spill over, I weed them out.


     Here's my main secret for managing my reading habit though. I became a writer so I can read all that I want and call it “work.”

      It's your turn. How much do you enjoy reading? What will you sacrifice to finish a good book?


Cathy Shouse writes inspirational cowboy romance. Her Fair Creek series, set in Indiana, features the four Galloway Sons of Galloway Farm. Much like the characters in her stories, Cathy once lived on a farm in "small town" Indiana where she first fell in love with cowboys while visiting the rodeo every summer.

For a sneak peek at her latest book, go here:

She invites you to visit for more information on her, new book releases, and to sign up for her newsletter.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Christmas Crud by Bea Tifton


Confession, Dear Reader. I’m sitting on the couch writing this post in my jim jams. Yup. I’ve been in my jammies for days. My entire household has been suffering from a wicked respiratory virus. Not *THE* virus; this is an old fashioned, non Covid gremlin. We’re calling it The Crud.  My doctor said we would have to just wait it out, which has thrown our holiday plans in a tailspin.

I’m a list maker. My first sentence was, “Let’s see. Let’s make a list” as I watched my mother make preparations to go to the grocery store. I know. Sigh. Can’t help it. But that’s how I get things done. And my lists are getting longer and longer, with few check marks beside completed items. By now, our house should be clean and tidy. And, since my mother and I love Christmas decorations, it should look like Father Christmas threw up all over our house. Hmmm. Maybe that’s not the image I was hoping for. But, really, combining our household a little over a year ago means that we have lots of decorations. Lots.

My father managed to get the tree up. It looks, um, a little wonky and scraggly, but it’s up. I helped string lights when I could barely stand up without swaying, and they look it. A few days later, to surprise my mother, I managed to hang a few ornaments. My cats are really happy about that.

Since we are still weak and recovering, we’re learning to ask for help. Instead of hanging our outside Christmas lights, we hired a young man who has done a few things for us in the past. He did a wonderful job, and Dad managed to put out our other decorations. Instead of cooking, I’m going to buy a baked ham with three side dishes and just make a few peripheral things that are easy to assemble.

We still feel very weak. To avoid relapsing, we’re taking it easy and trying not to make mental lists.  I’ve watched several Christmas movies and holiday baking shows. Dad and I love A Christmas Carol. Each year I reread the book, and I like to watch most of the adaptations.  Mom and I listen to Christmas music as we read.  We are being very cautious so as not to invite a relapse or progress to pneumonia. It may be a couple of weeks before we feel like ourselves.

The thing is, we could get caught up in the things we, let’s face it, are not going to accomplish. It won’t be the Christmas we had envisioned. Maybe the tree won’t be fully decorated. Maybe we’ll send New Years or even Valentine’s Day cards instead of Christmas. The house won’t be spotless and squeaky clean. But we’ll be together. And that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate, as you gather with family and friends. And you have my permission to throw away your to do lists. 

Photo Credits:

Andrea Piacquadio “Man in Santa Claus Costume:
Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto  “Santa Claus Beside Brown Bauble D├ęcor”
David Osborne “Brown Joy Candle Holder”
Nikolina “Green, Red, and Brown Nutcracker Beside Green Lantern and Plant”
Jessica Lewis Creative “Tabby Cat on Green Christmas Tree”
Nicole Michalou “Person Serving a Food on Christmas Dinner”
Nadi Lindsay "Photo of Book Near Candle"
cottonbro studio “People Sitting Beside Table”
Brigitte Tohm “Christmas Decoration”
Jameel Jassan “Turned on Red and Blue Merry Christmas Neon Sign”
Isil Agc “December Still Life”