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December Dreams

Posted by Maryann on December 9, 2016 |

No, it is not Wednesday, but Slim Randles is here as my guest today with a lovely essay about dreams and hopes and wishes. I do hope he is not offended at me putting “lovely” in the description. Most cowboys would cringe, but I have a feeling he might be just fine with that. After reading so many of his columns and books, I think he is just fine with most everything. There is something so centered about cowboys and farmers and others who are integrally connected to nature and they only take offense at an insult aimed at their horses or their crops.

My December dream, among others, often involves a lovely snow, so here is a picture of snow we had here in Texas a few years ago. We don’t have many snowfalls, so I take advantage when we do. I enjoy romping in the snow.

My dog, Poppy, loved the snow, except when it swallowed her ball.

There is a nighttime sweetness and hope that hovers over us this time of year here at home. This is a time for summing up and looking ahead … and a time for dreams.

And at night… ah, that’s the time, isn’t it?

Outside it’s dark, December dark, and we’re inside and warm and cocooned up. The cold makes our world shrink, especially at night.

But we have our dreams.

For Janice Thomas, our art teacher at the high school, it’s that painting she’s planning. She makes starts at it, from time to time, but she’s wise enough to know she isn’t good enough to paint it yet. She paints other things well, but that one … it has to be perfect. It will be the painting of a lifetime, she knows.

Doc will drift off to sleep tonight thinking about that new fly rod. He has half a dozen, of course, that will take about any weight line, and let him catch anything from mouse to moose. But even the most expensive rod isn’t what he dreams of. This year, for Christmas, he’s giving himself a rod-builder’s jig, and he will make his own rod from a Sage blank. That will be the one. It will have his own wrappings and he’ll put the ferrules on it himself. He’ll be able to feel the fish breathe with this one. It will be true and wonderful and last forever.

For cowboy Steve, the December dream is always the same: spending all his time at that little cabin up there in the mountains. Sometimes he’ll sit by that stone fireplace downstairs and sip coffee, and sometimes he’ll be up in the turret he built and sip coffee. Ol’ Snort, his cowpony, will be out in his corral, of course, except when the two of them are exploring the miles of mountains behind the cabin. And in the cabin, while sipping coffee, he’ll hear music on the radio and and the soft sigh of a  breeze going through the pines outside.

Yes, there is a nighttime sweetness and hope that hovers over us this time of year.

Here’s to dreams.
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Brought to you by “Sweetgrass Mornings” by Slim Randles, memoirs of an outdoor life. From UNMPress.com

– – – –

My short story, “The Gift” is free for Kindle readers until December 12th. This is a feel-good holiday story that is sure to warm your heart. Grab your free copy HERE as my gift to you.

And if you have not entered the mega-giveaway that I am sponsoring with over 30 other mystery authors, do check out the contest HERE. You can win copies of books from me, as well as other authors, and be entered to win a Kindle Fire.

Finally, some Friday Funnies to get the weekend off with a chuckle:

This first one isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it did make me smile.

“I could end the deficit in five minutes,” Warren Buffett recently told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

Growing old is hard work. Your mind says “yes” but your body says, “What were you thinking?”

Kids today don’t know how easy they have it. When I was a kid, I had to walk through 9 feet of shag carpeting to change the channel on the television.

You know you’re growing old when you can’t walk past a bathroom without thinking, “I may as well stop and pee while I’m here.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I can relate to the “growing old” funnies. I will try not to say “pee” out loud in the shopping mall.

Care to share your December dream? Can you relate to the jokes? Do leave a comment and let me know.

Have a great weekend.

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A Day Not to Forget

Posted by Maryann on December 7, 2016 |

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When I was a child, I heard family members talk about the devastating day of December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I didn’t fully understand what they were talking about, but I could feel the somberness in their tone of voice that told me it was an important event.

Much, much later, I was to learn what President Roosevelt meant when he said, “A date which will live in infamy” when he asked Congress for a Declaration of war.

The brazen attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II. It also stunned people on the mainland, and radios across the country were tuned to news stations for days and weeks to follow.

HERE is a special salute to the Arizona and the men who fell that day.

In imagining what it might have been like for my parents on that fateful December day, this is what I wrote in my ongoing attempt to write about my mother’s life:

Later, sitting at the table with Russell, Juanita in a high chair between them, Evelyn played some more with the fantasy, creating a mental picture of what her family might look like ten years from now. Juanita would be a young lady, and maybe there would be other children. They would live in a red brick—

“Listen.” The outburst shattered the peacefulness of that daydream.

There was an unmistakable urgency in Russell’s voice, but Evelyn had no idea why.

“What?” she asked.

“On the radio.”

She had been only half aware of the radio playing in the living room, and the fact that the music had stopped had not penetrated her musings. “What’s happening?”

“A news bulletin. I think a man said there was an attack. On an American naval base.”

“What? Where?”

Russell held up his hand to quiet her and they both heard, “The naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese planes early this morning.”

“Oh my God,” Evelyn said. “That can’t be true.”

“Wait.” Russell got up from the table and went into the living room to turn up the volume on the radio.

“Details are sketchy,” the reporter said. “Stay tuned to World News Today for updates. I repeat this news bulletin just in. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor today, sinking several ships and killing hundreds of people.”

Evelyn walked over to stand beside Russell. “Do you suppose this could be a joke? Like that one a few years ago. When that actor tricked us about an invasion from mars?”

Russell shrugged. “Nobody should joke about something like this.”

Evelyn thought nobody should have joked about an alien invasion, either, but she didn’t voice that opinion.

After a few moments of static and garbled transmission, the reporter came back on air. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have the first eyewitness account of the horror that is happening in Hawaii. This comes from an NBC Blue Network reporter who climbed to the roof of a building in downtown Honolulu, microphone in hand. He said, ‘This battle has been going on for nearly three hours… It’s no joke, it’s a real war.'”

“Oh no.” Evelyn sank into a nearby chair. “That’s terrible.”

They listened to the report for a few more minutes as the announcer said that their country needed all able-bodied men to join up to fight the Japanese.

Russell stood. It was as if he needed to do that for this declaration. “First thing tomorrow, I’m going to enlist.”

“Enlist?” She looked at him, aghast. “You could get killed.”

“Don’t think that way.”

“What should I think?”

“That I will do my duty and make it out alive.”

I’m sure every wife, mother, sister and friend hoped that last statement would be true. We know, however, that it was not true for every soldier who went off to fight. 

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A gentle reminder about the contest that I am sponsoring with over 30 other authors of hard-boiled mysteries. It started on Monday and runs through December 12 Enter now and enter often!

We are giving away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner! You could win a copy of my mystery, OPEN SEASON

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Contest and Book Exerpt

Posted by Maryann on December 5, 2016 |

First off, I hope everyone had a good weekend. I spent Saturday at an art festival, the proceeds benefiting the Holly Lake Ranch Volunteer Fire Department. The downside of the event was that it rained all day long. It was cold and damp, but quite a few people braved the weather to come out and help out a good cause. I almost finished my Christmas shopping that day, and even sold a few books.

Sunday, I spent the day with my youngest daughter, Dany. We colored, cracked pecans, talked, took a walk, and talked some more. It was a nice, restful day.

A new contest that I am sponsoring with over 30 other authors of hard-boiled mysteries starts today! Enter now and enter often!

We are giving away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

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You can win OPEN SEASON, the first book in my Seasons Mystery Series, plus books from authors like Sandra Brown and Libby Fischer Hellman, two of my favorite authors.

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Some good news from Newsmax:  The Michigan presidential election recount is set to begin Monday after a federal judge cleared the way — despite objections from President-elect Donald Trump.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith, acting on a suit by Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, ordered the recount to begin by noon Monday, Politico reports. The order came just after midnight on Monday.

Other good news is that the Dakota Access Pipeline is to be re-routed. For months, members of the Sioux tribe and their supporters have camped out, fighting the pipeline they say could be hazardous and damage the water supply of their reservation nearby. For the full story click HERE

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I have a sick cat that I have to take to the vet, so I will close for today with an excerpt from OPEN SEASON, to whet your appetite. For the duration of the contest, which runs until December 12, the e-book version of OPEN SEASON is only 99 cents!

Sarah took a deep breath and faced Quinlin in the stuffy cubbyhole of an office. The room was hot and musty. Dust motes floated in the slivers of sunshine that had penetrated the haze of accumulated grime on the windows of the old building. The scent of his cologne hung heavily in the still air. Chaps. Rich, masculine, and too easily a distraction.

Dressed in a dark, somber suit, Quinlin didn’t speak. He watched her with the careful scrutiny of a snake considering a field mouse. A trickle of perspiration ran down Sarah’s back and dampened her white T-shirt. Shifting in the wooden chair, she contemplated the wisdom of taking off her jacket, then decided against it. He would interpret it as a sign of weakness.

She thought she was prepared for this. She’d rehearsed it a million times, remembering the images, nailing down the sequence, readying herself for his opener, “Detective Kingsly, tell me what happened that night.”

She recalled the moon playing tag with a few heavy clouds, casting weird, disorientating shadows on the crumbling buildings. She remembered wishing the clouds would give way to rain, anything to relieve the oppressive heat that had pounded the city relentlessly for weeks. She remembered thinking the heat made people do crazy things.

Maybe that’s why it had happened.

The rest of it flashed through her mind like a sequence of freeze frames.

Franco and the boy turn.
A glint of metal in the moonlight.
John pushes her away, reaching for the gun tucked in his waistband.
The clasp on her purse sticks.
A flash of gunfire.
The sharp report of return fire.
Struggling to get her gun.
Franco is down.
The kid swings his gun toward John.
She fires the same time the kid does.
The coppery smell of warm blood.
Hers?
No.
Goddam it, John, get up!
Why is everything so quiet?
Where is the kid?
There’s a big gaping hole in the cheap sequined evening bag.

Every time Sarah played the scene in her mind, she hoped for a different ending. It never came. Her purse always had the hole in it. John was always dead. And so was the kid.

“And you’re sure you had no choice?” Quinlin’s officious voice rankled with unspoken insinuations.

Sarah suppressed a surge of anger as he walked behind her chair. The son of a bitch is not going to trip me up. No way.

“Yes.” She didn’t trust herself with more words.

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Friday’s Odds and Ends

Posted by Maryann on December 2, 2016 |

Before heading into serious content, I wanted to start the day with this cute meme.

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Thank goodness the only bodies I have to hide are in fiction. LOL

IN THE NEWS

The names of people that the president-elect is choosing to fill cabinet posts is most distressing. Steve Bannon, whom The Trumster has tapped as chief White House strategist, is a white-supremacist to the nth degree, and I shudder at the thought of him having a position of power in Washington. You can read a story about his views on genetic superiority in this article in The Boston Globe.

Some of the other people being considered for cabinet posts are more moderate in their bigotry, such as Mitt Romney, but the list is weighted heavily with white, rich, powerful men. That does not bode well for all the people of color in our country.

And there are a lot of them.

Last week when I went to a Dallas shopping mall, I saw many more people of color than people with white faces. Didn’t bother me. In, fact, I thought it was wonderful to see such a rainbow of colors. But I know it bothers way too many people here in the United States.

Too bad, on many levels.

Another bothersome cabinet possibility is Steven Mnuchin. I read about him in an article at Daily Kos by Laura Clawson:

If the fact that Donald Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary is a former Goldman Sachs partner who went on to found his own hedge fund and name it after the view from his house in the Hampton’s isn’t “screw the little guy” enough for you, don’t worry—there’s more. Steven Mnuchin was also a predatory player in the housing collapse, co-founding OneWest Bank:

In Florida, the company foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman after a 27-cent payment error. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo singled out the lender for squeezing Super Storm Sandy victims. This month, the company’s successor, CIT Bank, was accused of discriminating against minority borrowers.

OneWest bought a mortgage lender that had been shut down by the FDIC and ended up foreclosing on 36,000 of its customers, but Mnuchin walked away with a $10.9 million payout, so mission accomplished.

What happened to set up that foreclosure on the elderly lady is a horrible illustration of the abuse of power and dedication to greed.

FRIDAY FUNNIES

GROWING OLD

1) Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.
4) You’re getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
5) It’s frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
6) Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE:

1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don’t believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.

WRITING WISDOM

Anne Greenwood Brown had a helpful post at Writer Unboxed this week with tips on pacing. She mentioned the basics of having the inciding incident that propels the protaganist into the story, the “all is lost moment” that is sometimes called the first plot point, and then the final crisis. Then she wrote about “a pinch” that something little that ups the ante in some way. Here are some of her suggestions:

For example, a pinch point may come as:

  • a foreshadowing of an upcoming major event;
  • a symbol (for example, the Deathly Hollows symbol that keeps showing up throughout Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows);
  • a newspaper headline the protagonist sees as he/she is walking down the street;
  • a missing person poster hung on a lamp post;
  • a scene where Dr. Evil plots the protagonist’s messy demise;
  • a dream that wakes the protagonist up from a sweat-drenched sleep.

I’m not sure about using a dream or nightmare as a plot point, or pinch. I’m getting a bit tired of that technique. What do you think?

Do you share my concerns about the proposed White House appointees?

Hope you will have a great weekend. What are your plans? I am spending the weekend with one of my daughters at an art fair. 

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Female Troubles

Posted by Maryann on November 30, 2016 |

Please help me welcome Slim Randles and the guys down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop as they ponder one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Grab a sweet roll and a cup of coffee and enjoy…

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The morning conference began innocently enough, with Steve and Doc arguing over which of the little packaged jellies went better on sourdough toast, and no one caring which one was right.

Dud and Bert and I sat silently, sucking down the morning elixir until it spread life to our outermost reaches as the Mule Barn truck stop’s world dilemma think tank crept to life. Bert was unusually quiet this morning and we asked why. He hemmed and hawed a little, then said, “Doc, you know about these things. What exactly is female trouble?”

Oh shoot. Pretty heavy stuff for just two cups of coffee, so the rest of us hurried down a third as Doc puffed up a bit and got ready.

“Sure, Bert,” Doc said kindly. Then Doc gave us the best his nine years of college and 50 years of medical practice had blessed him with. He waxed eloquent on hormonal elements, the ebb and flow of female fertility, things that could go wrong with tubular parts, and the effect all of these things could have on the attitudinal proclivities of the dear ladies we all love and admire.

He took a break while Mavis returned with more coffee and with strange looks at our faces while we tried not to stare at her. Then she was gone, and Doc began again.

Finally, when we had been pretty well checked out on the mysterious workings of the gentle gender, Doc said, “Bert, if your wife is having some problems, have her give me a call.”

“Oh, it ain’t her, Doc,” Bert said. “It’s Dud.”

We all looked at Dud. He grinned sheepishly. No one wanted to say anything. Finally, Steve said, “I’m not going to be the one to ask.”

Bert nodded to Dud. “That’s what you said. Right?” Bert asked. “That’s why Saturday’s plans are shot.”

“Female trouble?” Doc said, looking at his old friend.

Dud nodded. “Anita won’t let me go fishing this weekend.”
————

Brought to you by Slim’s book (and a great stocking stuffer) “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.”

~ ~ ~

Sample the new syndicated radio program, “Home Country with Slim Randles.

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 370 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years.

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A Deplorable Situation

Posted by Maryann on November 28, 2016 |

I have been dismayed at how the rights of people have been stripped away to make way for dangerous oil pipelines. The fight against those efforts have gone on for years in Texas, the Midwest, and most recently in North Dakota, where Native Americans have banded together with other supporters to protect native lands and water from the Dakota Pipeline.

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Sioux Chiefs

Instead of moving us away from our dependence on carbon-based sources of energy, the government seems intent on helping the oil companies amass as much wealth as possible without a glance into the future.

I was saddened to receive the following press release over the weekend:

Cannon Ball, North Dakota — On Friday, November 25, after the turkey was pardoned, the Obama Administration issued an eviction notice to the Oceti Sakowin encampments at Standing Rock.  (The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Oceti Sakowin, meaning Seven Council Fires. The original Great Sioux Nation was made up of Seven Council Fires.)

We are a coalition of grassroots groups living and working at the encampments, and we will not be moved. We stand united in defiance of the black snake and are committed to defense of water, our Mother Earth, and our rights as Indigenous people. We call on all people of conscience, from all Nations, to join the encampments and stand with us as we put our bodies on the line.

The eviction notice came in a letter from the US Army Corps of Engineers to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, informing the tribe that on Dec. 5th, it will “close” all lands north of the Cannonball River, where the Oceti Sakowin encampment is located. It is sadly ironic that the Army Corps of Engineers has chosen Dec 5th, General George Armstrong Custer’s birthday, as the date it plans to evict people from the Oceti Sakowin Camp. Custer broke the treaty to dig for gold, the Army Corps is breaking the treaty over oil.

The Corps says its decision to clear the area is necessary to protect people from violent confrontations with law enforcement and to uphold the Corps’s land leases to private individuals for grazing and haying uses. It has designated a ‘free speech zone’ south of the Cannonball River, and anyone outside that area will be considered trespassing and subject to forcible removal and prosecution. Anyone that chooses to remain at the encampment “does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence.”

The Army Corps has no authority to evict us from these lands. The Oceti Sakowin encampment is located on the ancestral homeland of the Lakota, Mandan, Arikara, and Northern Cheyenne – on territory never ceded to the U.S. government, and affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie as sovereign land belonging to the Great Sioux Nation. The encampment is, in many respects, a reclamation of this stolen territory and the right to self-determination guaranteed in the treaties. Our water protectors are not trespassers and can never be trespassers. The Army Corps also has no authority to diminish our right to free speech – where in the Constitution does it establish zones for the right to free speech? Do corporations now decide whether the Constitution applies? We are not moving, and we will not be silenced.

As the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe noted in its response to the Army Corps, this decision “continues the cycle of racism and oppression imposed on our people and our lands throughout history.”

This is not the first time these lands have been destroyed at the behest of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The best of these lands were flooded by the Army Corps in the 1950s and 1960s – countless sacred sites were desecrated, the vast majority of the timber resources and wildlife destroyed, and thousands of people displaced. We will not stand by while the federal government continues this destructive narrative.

The Army Corps’s eviction notice is an aggressive threat to Indigenous peoples. It further empowers and emboldens a militarized police force that has already injured hundreds of unarmed, peaceful water protectors, and continues to escalate its tactics of brutality against us. It adds fuel to the fire of an ongoing human rights crisis.

The extreme escalation of violence by law enforcement in recent weeks demands immediate action from the Obama administration to de-escalate and demilitarize the law enforcement response, not to further criminalize us. As the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe pointed out in its response to the Army Corps, the only way to protect people is to deny the last outstanding easement required for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River. We call on the White House to deny the easement now, revoke the permits, and order a full Environmental Impact Statement in formal consultation with impacted tribal governments. Put an end to the violence.

In the meantime, we will stand our ground for the water and the unborn generations. Our fight is not just about a pipeline project. It is about 500 years of colonization and oppression. This is our moment, a chance to demand a future for our people and all people. We ask you to join us.

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Book Review – Raylan by Elmore Leonard

Posted by Maryann on November 27, 2016 |

Since I have not read a book for review this week, I’m re-posting a blog piece from 2013. 

I thought I would try something different this week. Thanks to a tip from Kristen Lamb, an awesome lady who gives advice to writers on her blog, I found out about a different approach to blog sharing. I have had writer friends, Slim Randles, Tracy Farr and Carl Brookins who have either sent me a review, as in the case of Carl, or given me permission to use one of their blog posts or essays. But what Kristen suggested recently is that we give a teaser on our blog with a link to the site where the original was posted.

Since Sunday is my usual day for a book review, I decided I would link to one of the premier review places, The New York Times. Here is the opening of a recent review of Elmore Leonard’s latest book, Raylan. The review was written by Olen Steinhauer.

 In an essay that appeared in The New York Times in 2001, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle,” Elmore Leonard listed his 10 rules of writing. The final one — No. 11, actually — the “most important rule . . . that sums up the 10,” is “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” It’s a terrific rule. In fact, I liked it so much that I passed it on to a creative-writing class I once taught. However, there’s more to it, which I didn’t pass on: “Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the ­narrative.”

I thought this was a bit serendipitous, as Leonard is one of my favorite authors, and I love his rules of writing, especially:  “Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the ­narrative.”

What we learned in school does not always apply to writing fiction. The rhythm of the words is so very important in setting the tone and moving the story along.

I hope you can go read the rest of the review of the new book in which U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, now the star of the TV show “Justified,” returns to confront gambling, mining and organ trafficking in Elmore Leonard’s latest.

The book is still available, and the television series that ran from 2010 to 2015 can be seen on Netflix.
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BARGAIN BOOKS
One Perfect Love is the sequel to One Small Victory, and both books are still priced at only .99 each. Grab your copies before the price goes upon Thursday.
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 Praise for One Perfect Love

“Jenny Jasik is one tough cookie. Two years ago, her son’s tragic death propelled her to join a drug task force. Working undercover, she helped take down a major dealer. So of course, when her florist shop is burglarized, she can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for the police to find the criminal. But this time, her investigation leads to much more than an arrest. Is it finally going to be happy-ever-after for Jenny and Steve? Buckle up for the exciting conclusion to Jenny’s story!” Catherine Richmond, Inspirational Romance author of Third Cord of the Strand, Spring for Susannah, and Gilding the Waters.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Maryann on November 24, 2016 |

thankful

Family.

Friends.

The Winnsboro Center for the Arts where I share in such a wonderful community of creative people who bring me joy.

My Hacks Writer’s group that has helped me improve my craft.

The vast online community of writers and artists to inspire me every day.

My little piece of heaven here in East Texas, fondly called Grandma’s Ranch.

The critters who live here and give me a reason to get out of bed every day.

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My publishers and friends, Uncial Press, S&H Publishing, Five Star Cengage/Gale, and Untreed Reads. Small publishers do make an author feel like family.

The great feast of Thanksgiving dinner, which was always my favorite meal to cook. I would start early in the week – had to get those pies done with enough for tasting throughout the week. Then I would prepare all the sides, defrost the turkey, get the old roaster cleaned out and ready to accept the turkey early Thanksgiving morning.

This is just one of the times I miss my husband the most. He loved Thanksgiving as much as I did, and was always ready to help chop veggies for the stuffing, clean out the turkey, and help me test the pies.

I will gather with some of my kids today, and we will make new ways of celebrating, just like Carl and I did those many years ago when we moved from Michigan to Texas. No longer connected to extended family, we had to figure out how Thanksgiving would be honored in our new home.

We managed just fine.

All will be well.

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Wishing you a wonderful holiday week. I do hope you are with those you love, eating lots of great food, and laughing a lot.

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I’ll be back on Monday.

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A Different Way to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Posted by Maryann on November 23, 2016 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with an essay that resonates with me since I am a horse lover. Steve, one of the regulars at the Mule Barn Truck Stop, is doing something different for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of which, I always bake pumpkin pies early in the week so we can make sure they are good enough for the big feast on Thanksgiving Day. I have plenty to share, so grab a piece and a cup of coffee. The virtual supply is limitless.

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Steve slowly saddled his horse, Old Snort, and climbed stiffly aboard in the cold snap of morning. He pulled his hat down a little lower and pulled the wild rag up to cover his nose and mouth from the morning chill.

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Image courtesy of WritingHorseback.com

How many mornings had he done this?

As Snort trotted out into the meadows of the hills surrounding our valley, he looked with perked ears for cattle. That’s what Snort does for a living. Those ears worked back and forth like radar, searching through trees and behind logs for the tell-tale movement or color of range cattle.

And Steve just grinned.

How many horses has he ridden on a morning like this? A hundred? Well, fifty, anyway. And the mornings all stay the same in his memory, even if he doesn’t stay the same. On a morning like this, his daily dose of “cowboyitis” lets itself be felt.

That aching hip?

Oh, he remembers when that colt dumped him into the rockpile, putting him on crutches for two months.

The shoulder ache?

Too many years with a rope in his hands.

But he also knows when the fall sun gets a little higher, he’ll stretch and suddenly get younger. His gray mustache will, in his mind, turn brown again, and once more that young cowboy who terrorized stray cattle so many years ago will come back to life.

He began kicking cows out and heading them back to the home pasture, and both he and Snort watched and waited for that one rogue that would make the morning complete.

It was a black baldy cow who made a dash for the high-ups and Steve and Snort were flying through trees and over rock piles and finally headed her and turned her back with the others.

A 19-year-old cowboy couldn’t have done it any better. Steve smiled and reached down to pat ol’ Snort on the neck.

Thanksgiving can be more than turkey and cranberry sauce.

I agree!

I remember one Thanksgiving I went out for a ride on my horse, Turk. We did not go after any cattle, but we had a pleasant afternoon of bonding out in the country.  
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Straight-from-the-shoulder advice: A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right. Go to LPDpress.com

Slim Randles is the author of the syndicated column, Home Country, and the book with the same title. He shares his columns for free, and I appreciate his generosity.

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This is the last day of the Thanksgiving Party at The Romance Studio, where I am a sponsor with One Perfect Love. Hop on over if you are not too busy making pumpkin pies or riding a horse. Lots of terrific prizes for guests. And I do hope you all have a wonderful holiday and weekend.

miller110816

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4

A Heavy Heart

Posted by Maryann on November 22, 2016 |

We had a tragedy in our little town last night when a vibrant member of our arts community was struck by a car and killed. That happened in the midst of the last Monday Night Live event that takes place once a month with live music, food, dancing in the street, and artists of all ilks mixing and mingling and having a grand time.

When something like that happens, it makes us stop and think and say thanks for what we have.

And we who write, process our grief in words, so I am compelled by the emotions swirling around inside.

In my books, and on my author blog, I like to celebrate strong women, and so I celebrate Suzanne Daniel. Despite the pain and limitations of MS, she always had a smile for everyone she met and a genuine concern for the pain and challenges that others faced. Every time we met, she would ask how the pain in my head and eye was doing, and she hated to hear that it was still so bad. She would wince and look away, as if my pain had become her pain.

There were so many things about Suzanne that I loved.

That smile.

gene-suzanne

She won a prize last night.

Her support of the arts. She was at every play, art exhibit, concert that the Winnsboro Center for the Arts sponsored.

suzanne-art

Her love for her grandson and her husband. She often joked that she had to be a strong woman to put up with Gene all these years, but one could tell by the look in her eyes that the love went deep. We talked about how proud she was of Ashten

We had a nice visit last night, and one of the last things she said to me was how proud she was of her grandson, Ashten, whom she and Gene raised.

She also talked about how much she enjoyed reading my latest book.

When we met in town, or at the art center, she always asked about my writing and she shared my love of theatre and I will miss her greatly.

Rest in peace dear friend.

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