It’s Historic Cowboy Time Again

Yep, I did it! I wrote another historic book. When I write the word historic to me sounds as though I just did something epic. No! I wrote a book about two people struggling in the west. I’m going to say that their story isn’t that much different from dozens of other people who lived back then on ranches and did what they did.

People haven’t changed much. The things around us change and that creates different circumstances. So I have to go back and discover what those people had or didn’t have. That is going to change attitudes. I read several parts of this particular book to my writer’s group and one women in the mix was almost angry with me because I had written such a thing. Whoa! Back up about 125 years, please! Yes, women today have more options. Don’t be angry with me because we’ve progressed. What we have today wasn’t available back then.

Women had arranged marriages. Women became mail order brides because they were desperate. Women married men they didn’t know. Women did things we’d never do today. And children did things that we wouldn’t dream of having them do today – after all, they are children. Would we teach a six-year-old boy how to use a gun? The odds are slim, very slim. Back then on a remote ranch, it was a necessary skill. It was as important as learning to saddle his own pony, or using a hatchet to cut kindling wood for the kitchen stove.

So maybe if I can make people see how we lived back then, they will realize how far we have come. And maybe they will realize that in spite of every advancement we’ve made, there are still areas where we need to improve. Yes, we get upset when the washer breaks down and we are forced to repair or replace, but back then, washing clothing was a big deal and if they were lucky enough to have a washer it was a far cry from the wonderful automatic ones we have today. What if you had to stand there and step on a treadle to keep it going. Today we put the clothes in and walk away. Not back then! A washer was a luxury item and you stood on the treadle and pushed down that would cause it to slosh a little. So step-step meant slosh-slosh. And since you didn’t want to put those soapy clothes into another bucket of water, you squeezed the soapy water out by putting them through the wringer. Think two rollers that turned when you turned the crank. Now you could rinse the clothing. Most women used a paddle to keep from hurting their fingers between the rollers as they fed the clothes through. They often used that paddle to slosh the clothes in the rinse water. And then you fed the the rinsed clothes through the wringer (those two rollers) to get the water out of them! Now you can hang these washed clothes on the line so they dry. Except what do you do if the wind was blowing dust? Or it was minus 4 degrees? Clothes freeze! And if they freeze, they will break! So you hung them inside over your wooden floors because you’ve have to be living on the city or or very wealthy to have floors that weren’t wood. And we know what happens to wet wooden floors!

Oh let’s add one more fun thing to this lovely chore of doing laundry, even if you were so lucky to have a washer. That little time of the month when we use all sorts of disposable products to keep everything fresh and nice. They used rolled pieces of rags, and old toweling or strips torn from diapers were prized. Then they washed them and had to hang them to dry. But in those days, such womanly things were unspoken and no male what so ever was supposed to know about such happenings, nor was he ever supposed to actually see your undergarments. Plus who wanted to see such stained and horrible looking things?

But deep down inside, we have not changed. We still love. We love our spouse and our children and we will do everything we can for them. The average young couple today wants all sorts of things for their first home together. That will include things like super-sized TV’s and they look at things such as washers and dryers as basic necessities or they take everything to the cleaners. But back then that washer was as prized as a super-sized TV.

Times have changed and I’m glad they have! But I’ll invite you as a contemporary reader to step back in time and read my historical book Loving Ellen. It’s sexy and gritty, but I keep it sweet enough to read with a child hanging over your shoulder.

coverMorgan’s Crossing, Montana

A new mail order bride, Ellen has now been widowed.

Twice.

With two young boys from her first marriage to raise, a newly deceased mail-order-husband, no food and no money, she is forced to accept an offer of shelter from the neighboring rancher who found her latest husband’s body. Ellen is no stranger to sacrifice as a means to achieve a better future for herself and her children, but there is something different about Nick.

Grandparents are Special

Our grandparents were part of the backbone of our country. They worked hard to bring up their families and prepare them for their future.

Children watched their parents, whether they were aware or not, and learned dedication and the love of family and community from them. Yes, your children learn from you…good or bad.

I’m proud my grandparents were loving Christian people. When they found a neighbor in need, they simply didn’t say how sad or isn’t that too bad. They did something about the situation. My mom often told me stories about them. Grandpa gathered food from the garden and Grandma not only packed it up, she cooked it for them before walking or taking the buggy miles and miles to deliver. And…if clothing was needed, that was acquired too. No one in need went without.

There’s something about the Roberts men and women that makes my heart swell. They would give you the shirt off their backs and the last dollar in their pockets.

So, yes. I’m extremely proud of my grandparents. I could share with you dozens of stories, but that would take many hours. So much love and pride involved with them.

My cousin has written a book and used a photo of my grandparents, with several of their children, on the cover.

I’m so proud of Vicki Collins. Here’s the cover of her book. I’ll post when it’s available, which should be soon.

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That’s my mom sitting in Grandma’s lap. The photo of mom looks a lot like one of my sisters!

What memories do you have of your grandparents?

I wish you love, butterflies and music.

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

New Release Day! BEACHCOMBER HEAT

Today book 6 in the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series is out. Beachcomber Heat sizzles with a heat wave hitting Martha’s Vineyard and a crime wave too. Of course it’s more complicated than that as the crime-fighting partners dangerous Dane and sexy Shana work to catch a jewel thief who’s out for more than jewels.

Here’s a snippet:

BeachHeat FBTeaser- NEW RELEASE

AMAZON          B&N          iBOOKS          KOBO

Sit on a Bike and Change Your Life

2016-07-18 14.47.022016-07-18 09.42.11I took my son out to purchase a motorcycle jacket and helmet this week and made the mistake of sitting on the new Indian Scout.

 

 

 

My son wants to ride because he grew up in a family of riders. He’s been on the back of a bike since he was six – a fact that seems hugely irresponsible in hindsight.

 

Then again, when one thinks about motorcycling, the concept of “responsibility” doesn’t immediately come to mind.

Freedom

Open road

Cowboys and Indians…just a bit of rebellion…all those words and everything they entail makes my heart beat a little faster and a bit more lightly.

I do a lot of praying when I ride. My situational awareness- always present for me – heightens.

I become more one with the moment and attuned to everything around me.

I love it! The energy. The openness. It’s as close to actually flying I think I’m going to get until I take up hang gliding.

I think riding makes me a better writer. Weird, I know. I think it’s a “Joy la Vive” thing, and that energy is contagious.

I don’t need another bike, but I do need a swift uptake in remembering to dwell in the blessings of NOW, and then writing them down.

I,I,I……I think I’m getting another bike!

redscout

Hopefully all good things will follow.

 

Happy Mid-Summer,

Leigh

My Boyfriend’s Back

OK, technically he was never my boyfriend. But back in the 1980s, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran was my one true love. So I couldn’t miss the chance to see the band playing last night at Bluesfest, an outdoor music festival in Ottawa. My current true love was gracious enough to go with me.

Duran (2)

John, Simon and the new guitarist, Dom Brown.

We arrived an hour and a half early to get close to the stage, and spread out a blanket to sit on. Hubby got us a couple of ciders to drink while we waited. I noticed pretty much everyone gathering around us was over forty, but there were some younger people in the mix.

I was psyched when the band finally took the stage. They opened with a song from their new album, then launched into their classic hits – “Wild Boys,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Come Undone,” “Notorious,” “The Reflex,” “Rio” – songs I still know by heart. We were so close, the vibrations from the music pounded through us, and we had a clear view of Simon as well as the bassist, John Taylor (the object of many a teen girl’s fantasies back in the ‘80s). Thirty years later, Simon still looked smokin’ hot, and his vocals were better than ever.

Half an hour into the concert, I regretted the cider I’d drunk before the show. I had to pee and could not hold it. We were packed in, so I had to push my way through the crowd back to the porta potties, and lost track of hubby after that. I ended up watching the rest of the show from somewhat farther back, but still enjoyed myself in a throng of dancing and singing fans. (Thankfully hubby and I had designated a spot to meet if we got separated and were able to reconnect afterwards.)

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This is just slightly embarrassing.

The concert was a sweet trip back in time. The opening keyboard notes of “Save a Prayer” knocked thirty years away in an instant, and I was fourteen again. (Not that I enjoyed being fourteen the first time; my favourite music on my Walkman was the one thing that made high school tolerable.) I haven’t been to a concert in years (decades?), and it was the first time I’d seen the crowd hold up their cell phones instead of lighters during a slow song!

I realized I wasn’t young anymore when my feet and back ached by the end of the show (plus there was the bladder issue), I worried about damaging my hearing, and I really just wanted to crawl into bed. But it was totally awesome to see Duran Duran again, spend a bit of time with my first love Simon – and of course go home with my smokin’ hot hubby at the end of the night!

A Grendel Update

In dog years, Grendel and I are about the same age. She’s eight. I brought her home shortly after my third child left on a two-year mission to Argentina in an effort to stem the depression caused by my children growing up and moving away. Before Grendel and I had met, I  spent some time researching dogs and had decided I wanted a Welsh Terrier. The closest one I could find was in Las Vegas.

I contacted the breeder and arranged to meet her. She refused to let me come to her home and agreed to meet me in the parking lot of a casino. She had four puppies, but they were all lethargic and seemed unwell. I didn’t buy one, but I regretted it by the time I returned home. I called my son who was traveling through Las Vegas on his way home from college. He agreed to meet the breeder and pick up a dog for me.

Hours later, he returned home without a puppy. I was livid. “Mom, those puppies were sick,” he said. I told him I didn’t care. I couldn’t save all of them, but I could save one. “No. You would cry, the girls (his baby sisters) would cry. I couldn’t do it.”

The next day, my son found an advertisement for a Schnauzer puppy. She was just a few minutes from my house. When we got there, we found the Mormon missionaries visiting the home. Because I’m Mormon, I took it as an omen. I met Grendel and fell completely in love.

We’ve lived in happiness for many years. We wanted to breed her, but she never went into heat. On Tuesday, I took her to the groomer but they sent her home saying she was in heat! It seemed overdue, but whatever. On Friday, she vomited twice. I thought that maybe one of my visiting grandchildren had given her something that upset her belly. On Saturday morning, we found her with blood all down her hind legs. Knowing this couldn’t be normal, we took her to the vet.

Grendel had an emergency surgery on Saturday. She stayed at the hospital until Monday morning, but she wasn’t getting rallying. Every time we visited, she wouldn’t even lift her head, although she would cry when we’d leave. We brought her home, expecting her to die. I think if we’d left her at the hospital, she would have. She probably thought we’d abandoned her to a place where she was left in a cage and tortured.

My husband took Monday off of work to help nurse her. We placed her bed by the dining room door so she had access to outside, although that first day she didn’t move very much. By the third day, I came home from my morning run to find she’d made it halfway up the stairs. That must have exhausted her because it took her a few more hours to finish the climb to my room. I had to carry her back down when it was time for her medicine.

It was a milestone when she left her bed to join us in the family room. Another cause for celebration when she ate a piece of bread. More cheering when she ate her dog food.

It’s been a week and she’s not a 100%, but she’s sooo much better! I really think she’s turned a corner and hopefully will be with us for a long time. I’m not sure if she’ll ever be the bouncy, rambunctious creature she was before, but that’s part of aging…for all of us.

Pet Snippets and Why Writers Need Dogs

I have just returned from the pet hospital. Two days ago, my eight-year-old Schnauzer, Grendel, had to have an emergency hysterectomy. According to the doctor, she’s not rallying since the surgery. We brought her home hoping she’ll perk up here. We believe she’ll be happier.

In honor of Grendel, I’m reviving two old blog posts from my personal blog, kristystories.blogspot.com

Every Writer Needs a Dog

As a writer, it’s easy to let myself escape into my head. I consider this a really important part of my job. Some refer to this as being in the flow, in the moment, or in the zone as if it’s a physical place rather than a state of mind. Wikipedia describes “flow” as the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. And this immersion is a good thing. Mostly.

According to Wikipedia, when I’m not in the flow I am depressed. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow.

Here’s me when I’m not writing: Carol drops by with a pan of brownies. She looks like a teenager in that halter top. She says, “I brought these for your husband to thank him for helping me fix that broken window.” I say thank you, but inside I’m thinking I really wish she’d wear more clothes. I wonder what she was wearing when Larry was at her house, for how long was that? I can’t compare myself to her—I had six kids and she has a cat. Maybe my abs would look like that if I had countless hours to spend at the gym. Does she work out at the same gym as Larry? Why does she call him all the time? He doesn’t even like brownies. But I love them. I bet she knows that. She knows that I’m going to eat this entire pan of brownies because now I’m so depressed and one or two or five brownies isn’t going to matter because I’m going to be divorced, single and fat. I better call Larry, although I just talked to him, and he’ll be home for lunch in twenty minutes. I need to hear his voice.

Here’s me when I’m writing: the doorbell rings but I don’t hear it because I’m deep into my story. Somehow Mercy has to stop Eloise from going on a drive with horrid Mr. Steele. What can she do—should she confide in Eloise? In the real world, my dog is pawing at me. No. Eloise is a blabber mouth. She can’t be trusted. My dog knows someone has come to the door and she pulls at my sock with her teeth. I shake her off, but she’s so annoying that I have to investigate. Someone has left brownies on my front porch with a thank you note. It’s from Carol, that darling girl from across the street. I consider the brownies and inspiration hits—Mercy will bake Eloise a pie laced with a draught that will make her sleep through her rendezvous with Steele. I put the brownies on the counter and save them for when Larry comes home for lunch. I hurry back to Mercy, Eloise and Mr. Steele, wondering how to make a sleeping draught.

(FYI- Neighbor Carol is fictional, used to make a point about my own lunacy and not a commentary on my highly respectable, modestly clothed and admirable neighbors or my good husband who always lets me eat more than my fair share of brownies.)

Being a writer isn’t an excuse for poor citizenship. Just because you’re thinking about your book and not about the road doesn’t mean you get to run red lights. Once while writing at the Mission Viejo library, I turned off my laptop, stood up, only to suddenly realize that a person on the other side of the glass partition, not more than eight feet away, must have had some sort of collapse. The room was filled with paramedics, a gurney, and a crowd of about forty people. As I left the library, I passed an ambulance pulled up to the curb, lights flashing. I don’t know how I missed all of this, but I’ve since taken it as a life lesson. I never want to be so caught up in my own private world that I can’t recognize and help someone in need.

This is why I need a dog. Sometimes I need someone, preferably someone furry, someone willing to tug on my socks with their teeth, to drag me out of the flow. And Grendel needs me to feed her, clean up after her, and take her for walks. I also need her for other things, like chasing the bunnies out of my yard and letting me know when the Girl Scouts are at my door to sell cookies.

Is it possible to become so immersed in the flow that I can’t get out? Sure. We all know the very real, gritty stories of the writers who lost their minds. It’s happened to the best of us. A flow so strong can carry us away and before we know it, we’re drowning. Hemmingway had cats, but cats won’t tug on your socks with their teeth. They just won’t.

That’s why every writer needs a dog.

Dog Days of Summer and a Pet Snippet

According to Wikipedia, “the Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term “Dog Days” was used earlier by the Greeks (see, e.g., Aristotle’s Physics, 199a2).

The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as the sun (heliacal rising), which is no longer true, owing toprecession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.

Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time “the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813.”

But if you’re a dog owner, everyday, despite the weather or calendar, is a dog day.

Remember the 1981 movie On Golden Pond? Here are some of it’s accolades:

I was in college, studying literature, when Ernest Thompson won the award for best screenplay. Now, more than 30 years later, I don’t really remember the film, except that I liked it, but I do remember Thompson. He shocked the world by using the F word in his acceptance speech at the academy awards.

We talked about his slip the next day in one of my literature classes. According to my professor, a writer can’t ever pretend to be something he/she is not. Their core values and character will shine through their works.

What does this have to do with the dog days of summer? Not much, but I do think it’s interesting that I like dogs, I’m a dog owner, and I include pets in almost all of my stories. That’s not to say that if I ever win an academy award I’ll get on the stage and talk about my dog, but if you like stories and you like dogs, chances are you’ll might like my books.

Here are a few canine excerpts from my books. (I also threw in cat just for fun.) If you’re a writer, please feel free to share your favorite pet passage, Be sure to include your buy link and a link to your website.

Wyeth’s tail began to beat on the oak floorboards when a child peeked around a chair to look at him.

            “Would you like to pet him?” I asked.

            The golden hair six-year old nodded, but she stayed on the far side of the plastic chair. She sucked on her index finger and watched Wyeth. Her wide, blue eyes stared at him then looked at me. She wanted to step from behind the chair, but Wyeth intimidated her. She wore a red, white and blue sailor dress with a large chocolate milk stain down the front. The child removed her finger. “He’s a really, really big dog,” she said.

            Her mother at the next table looked up from her crossword puzzle book and smiled at me, making me her conspirator in child care.

            I ruffled Wyeth’s ears. “Yes, he is, but he’s very friendly.”

            She looked at us with wide blue eyes. “He’s really ugly. Did you want an ugly dog?”

            That was a very good question. Most puppies, like babies, are cute, even the ugly ones, and then you feed it, clean up after it, train it, fall in love with it, then keep on loving it even after it’s grown ugly. “I guess I do now,” I replied. He always looked and smelled better after a bath and trim, but lately I’d been too preoccupied to groom Wyeth. It’d been weeks since he’d had a bath. I realized I’d make a terrible mother.

            “I have a poodle named Princess,” the little girl told me. “She wears a pink coat.”

From Hailey’s Comments

A thick marine layer blew in from the beach and reminded Deirdre of her smoky dream. She couldn’t see, but she knew where the oak trees, solid and massive, stood. Her leg hit warm fur. She fell with a bump, her hands smashing onto the grass. A large, wet snout attacked. Coyotes, she thought, curling into a ball. She opened one eye to see a massive snout approaching. A dog, a giant dog, but not a coyote. He placed a hamburger sized patty paw on her back as if to keep her down so he could clean her with his tongue.

            “Leave me alone!” she yelled. The dog snuffled through her hair as she rolled onto her hands and knees. Shaking the creature off, she stood, but the animal rose on his back feet and placed his front paws on her shoulders. She had a vision of Beauty and the Beast dancing in the moonlight. She shook him off.

            “You’re lucky I like monsters, mammoths, or whatever you are.” She reached for his dog tag, trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid his tongue. Grabbing his collar, she rotated his tags. “You’re the first dancing partner I’ve had in months,” she read the tag, “Pricilla.” She eyed the dog. He panted before her, looking like a friendly bear. “Pricilla, really? Why not Thor or Zeus?”

            “Because she’s my partner—not yours.” A deep voice spoke in the fog.

From A Light in the Christmas Cafe

 Blair jumped and landed hard on the grass, her hands breaking her fall. She stood in time to see the kitten tear into the library through the wide open door.

               At least it’s a smart cat, Blair thought as she went after it. She tried to brush the mud and leaves off her skirt, then slipped off her filthy shoes and soaking sweater and left them on the front porch.                Standing in the doorway, searching, she called, “Here kitty, kitty.” A tail, gray and rat-like stuck out from under a rack of books. Blair lunged toward the bookcase, and her stocking feet went out from under her.               Finding herself on the wooden floor, she turned to see the kitten watching her with one blue and one brown eye. Blair placed one hand in front for the cat to plainly see, and snaked her other hand behind the creature. The cat tried to dart away, but Blair grabbed it.             Rolling onto her back she held the squirming, skinny kitten in an outstretched hand in the air above her face. She considered the small, gray, rodent-like animal. “I’ll call you either Mouchard or Rat-Fink after my friend, Drake,” she told the cat.

From The Rhyme’s Library