Life Provides Metaphors

Since the last day of 2014 (when it snowed 4 inches in North-Central AZ), I’ve been obsessed with doing jigsaw puzzles. I even got my SIL hooked on them! Some were downright challenging, like this oval of DaVinci’s Last Supper. Last Supper

I thought when the weather turned nicer–and it did almost right away–that I would put the puzzles away and escape to the great outdoors. But I didn’t.  Barn scene

I mentally chastised myself for “wasting” my time, not accomplishing anything. But still the desire, the need, the driving force was there–one more piece, one more puzzle, just one more…Cute Kitten puzzle

I mentioned this obsession to my grief counselor, and she told me something that piqued my writer’s mind. Doing puzzles is a metaphor for picking up the broken pieces and putting something back together.Puzzle pieces

As writers, we all use life experiences to shape our characters and our plots. This is just another example of something we can use in developing a character somewhere down the line.bridge & balloons

Just one more piece… Just one more…

Published in: on February 28, 2015 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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January Round Robin on Reading and Writing

Our topic from Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
this month is: What is your favorite time and place to read? How about writing time? Do you have to make time? Do you have a ritual or is your plan helter-skelter? I had a quilting teacher who followed the swiss cheese method to completing tasks: Make a hole here, and sometime later a hole there; keep repeating this until the whole thing is complete. What’s your method?

 ***

IBook pile_reading have to admit I’ve been reluctant to return to a schedule, following the holidays. It is always difficult to carve out time to write or to discipline myself to put my own writing first, ahead of my blogging obligations and editing projects. But after being on “vacation” I don’t want to return to “Reality.”

Reading: I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a kid. I’ve never been able to get enough of books and always have a stack or a list of TBR (To Be Read) books. I read while I eat, during commercials when I watch TV, when I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, and before I go to bed.

Writing: I belong to a great critique group, so that makes me accountable. I know I have to bring at least five pages to the Writing_in_Journalmeeting every week, so even if I wait until the last minute, I’m at least writing. I find I need a deadline to work—probably a learned response from my time as a newspaper reporter. I found I could write under pressure and now I seem to need it.

How about you, fellow readers and writers—what is your preference?

 ***

Check out the rest of our round robin group and see what their responses are:

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rita Karnopp  http://www.mizging@blogspot.com
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Heidi M. Thomas https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Ginger Simpson http://www.cowboykisses.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Published in: on January 24, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Merry Christmas One and All!

Christmas-Tree-Clip-Art-6Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas! Thank you to my friends, my followers, and readers of my books for supporting me so wonderfully this year!

Heidi M. Thomas

Published in: on December 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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Silver Sisters Co-Authors Share

Thanks for joining us for part II of this interview with co-authors and sisters Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner who are releasing their second Silver Sisters Mystery, Terror in a Teapot. The first novel was award-winning A Corpse in the Soup.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

PHYLLICE: We are working on the second edition of the third book in the series, Vanishing Act in Vegas. The Silver Sisters PHYLLICE BIO PHOTO W CROW SHIRTMysteries were published by L&L Dreamspell, but the company went out of business after the tragic death of one of the partners. A Corpse in the Soup, and Terror in a Teapot have now been reissued by Marina Publishing Group with new covers and some minor edits. The same will hold true for Vanishing Act in Vegas, targeted for release in early 2015. The plot revolves around Mara the Magnificent, a beautiful female magician that Godiva’s son is in love with. The twins start their sleuthing when Mara asks them to investigate the demise of a stagehand who fell to his death during her performance, and soon escalates into an investigation of Mara’s death, too. There are lots of wrinkles and turns, and, as in the first two novels, there’s a twist at the end. Morgan is also working on several other writing projects, I’ll let her tell you the rest.

MORGAN: In addition to Vanishing Act in Vegas, Phyllice and I are halfway through writing the next escapade, Diamonds in the Dumpster, I’m working on a new book with Dennis N. Griffin and looking forward to publishing an illustrated children’s book, LaRue the Llama Helps His Mama. I actually wrote it back in the late ’70s to amuse my children, and it will finally be available via Amazon Kids Books quite soon. And, I’m forever writing new short stories. They are my relaxation. My instant gratification, unlike the novels that take so long to write, I am a fast writer. I can write and polish a short story in an evening, and I love that.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

PHYLLICE: Learn to let go of the things you love. When you finish your first draft, get out the machete and whack out all the parts that bog the story down–even if they are your very favorite passages. Take out the run-on descriptions that break your reader’s focus or lend nothing to the natural progression of the plot. I still mourn the loss of some of my best, but superfluous, creations–but I know they had to go.

MORGAN Bio pic stripes onlyMORGAN: I have two that I believe are imperative. Number One: Keep an open mind. Listen to what experienced authors, agents, publishers, and editors tell you. Then make an educated decision as to whether you will follow the advice, but don’t stonewall others’ ideas. Number Two: Don’t give up. Phyllice and I kept at it until we made it to publication. As for staying on a project you know has merit, it took me fourteen years to write Betrayed but I didn’t give up. It is fiction inspired by shocking true events that happened in the 1950s when a promising teenage ballerina was kidnapped.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

PHYLLICE: I’m not much of a “joiner” so I don’t belong to any writer’s groups. Morgan’s a hot pistol when it comes to joining writer’s groups, though.

MORGAN: I’m a joiner and a networker. Whenever I can, I attend meeting of Henderson Writers Group and Las Vegas Writers Group. I’m also on the board of the Writers’ of Southern Nevada, and we have many exciting events coming up in 2015. When I lived in Los Angeles, I also belonged to Sisters in Crime/LA and Greater Los Angeles Writers Group. I still give workshops at conferences for West Coast Writers Conferences.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

PHYLLICE: I will be doing a guest appearance on the Writers Tricks of the Trade show on Blog Talk Radio on December 10 at 6:00 pm PST/9:00 EST. The topic is WRITING WITH A PARTNER. The link for information or to listen live when the show is broadcast is http://bit.ly/1stwn5V. It will also be archived for future listening.TRICKS RADIO BANNER LG

 

MORGAN: I’ll be doing several things in 2015, including giving a workshop or two at “The Big Story” writers conference in Van Nuys CA in February, but the schedule is still firming up. One thing for certain. I can be found on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month hosting or co-hosting the Writers Tricks of the Trade show at Blog Talk Radio. Check http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com for schedules and also for links to the bi-monthly eZine. All shows and issues of the eZine will be archived. I’m constantly adding new appearances, and try to keep them up-to-date on my personal website, www.morganstjames-author.com and my blog http://morgan-stjames.blogspot.com. For more about the Silver Sisters, visit www.silversistersmysteries.com.

FUN QUESTION: What do you like better, Goodwill or Gucci, and why?

PHYLLICE: I shop at Goodwill all the time. Some of my coolest clothes come from there. Just a few weeks ago I found the neatest cotton sweater with a scene on the front of a black cat looking out a window at a bird and on the back you saw the bird’s view looking in at the cat. I would never, ever, buy anything Gucci…but then Morgan wouldn’t be caught dead wearing my cute cat sweater.

 

MORGAN: I love clothes! I always try to be in style and love dressing up. I also enjoy sharp casual clothes. Makeup, hair, nails, it’s all important to me. Hmm. I’m starting to sound like Godiva! When I met my husband, I didn’t own a pair of flat shoes, except for a pair of Reeboks. The first time I visited Phyllice in Alaska, she said to bring boots. Okay, I did. They had three inch heels and really didn’t work that well in the snow! But the did work for a scene in Terror in a Teapot. Okay, okay, I’m really not as selfish as Godiva and although I lived two houses outside of Beverly Hills, it wasn’t on a magnificent estate.

 

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

 

http://www.bradnerartstudio.com

http://silversistersmysteries.wordpress.com

http://www.morganstjames-author.com

 

Published in: on December 5, 2014 at 6:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Meet Co-Authors of ‘Terror in A Teapot’

Teapot cover in workCo-authors and sisters Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner are releasing their second Silver Sisters Mystery, Terror in a Teapot. The first one was award-winning A Corpse in the Soup.

How does this process of co-writing work? Do you each have separate duties? Do you alternate chapters? What’s the scoop?

PHYLLICE: We live in different states and when we first started writing together, our interaction was done mostly by phone and fax. Now, things are much easier as we email our chapters back and forth. When we are plotting a book, we have a kind of writer’s retreat when we get together and brainstorm plot ideas and such. After a few days we wear each other out and go back to our own desks to work. Trial and error has taught us that we each have specific strengths. Morgan is the “Type A” personality and can’t wait for me to plod along. She is what I call an automatic writer, she sits down and bangs out a draft of the chapter. I am the consummate editor, so even if I’m not in writing mode, when I get that first draft, I just can’t wait to start editing it. I clean it up, move things around and add the humorous bits–although Morgan throws in lots of humor, too. Then I send it back to her for another go-around. Our characters are patterned roughly after ourselves and the stories take place in locales that we know, so I sometimes write the draft chapter if it involves a place I’m more familiar with.

MORGAN: Almost everyone asks us that question. I guess the task of writing with someone thousands of miles away seems daunting MORGAN Bio pic stripes onlyto most people, but like everything else in both of our lives, we figured out how to make it work. Besides the e-mails, we have marathon telephone conversations to both create and edit. Thank goodness for headsets and unlimited long distance telephone plans. Phyllice always refers to me as her A-Type sister…spurring her on. Sometimes I’m a real task master when she would rather draw whimsical cats and dogs than solve complex crime capers, but I always manage to draw her in. Most people think writing teams alternate chapters, and I’m sure many do, but Phyllice described how we do it quite well.

Now for the real scoop: how much arguing goes on and how do you resolve differences of opinion?

PHYLLICE: Although we do have some lively discussions, we never really argue. We decided early on that we had to put our egos aside when it came to editing. If one of us wants to cut something that the other has written, we don’t take it as a personal attack. If one of us feels strongly enough to do battle when an item is cut, she’s automatically the winner.

MORGAN: That’s true. We really didn’t know each other for so many years, now that we’ve reconnected through our writing, I don’t believe either of us could live with “rocking the boat.” Phyllice is pretty mellow and I’m rather hyper, but we manage to strike the balance so we can make final decisions that are best for the book, not for our personal likes or dislikes. Phyllice held out for not having real time action in any of our books, but rather a telling of the story, and I didn’t fight it after she explained why she felt that way.

Tell us about each of your solo writing endeavors.

PHYLLICE BIO PHOTO W CROW SHIRTPHYLLICE: I studied Journalism and Art in college and spent many years as a copywriter and graphic designer. Most of my published writing has been in the form of informational brochures: annual reports, travel brochures, political flyers, newsletters. I did publish two small books, “Touring Juneau” and “The Juneau Centennial Cookbook”. The Silver Sisters mystery series was my first stab at fiction. I spend about half my time as a fine artist and I helped to found “Currents,” a cooperative art gallery in McMinnville, Oregon, where I now live.

MORGAN: I’m an “accidental writer.” I didn’t study writing or journalism. When I was an interior designer, a slick design magazine approached my partner and me about writing an article for them. We did, and I found I loved writing. They asked for more. My partner wasn’t interested, but I was. Many articles for them and other publications about diverse subjects followed during the next several years. When we conceived the Silver sisters and A Corpse in the Soup, it was my first published stab at fiction. There are now three books in the Silver Sisters Mysteries series, with a fourth in work, but I’ve written eleven books in total, have a book, blog and Blog Radio Show all called Writers’ Tricks of the Trade and have written over 600 published articles about the business and craft of writing. Many of them are archived at www.examiner.com. My short stories appear in several anthologies…Chicken Soup for the Shopper’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating People Who Make a Difference, THE MAFIA FUNERAL and Other Short Stories, and several more. TRICKS RADIO BANNER LG

What is the biggest challenge each of you faces as a writer?

PHYLLICE: Time is my biggest adversary. I never have enough of it. I create art, operate a small guesthouse, and put quite a bit of volunteer time into my art gallery. So sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and work on the next chapter. If Morgan wasn’t so good about getting me those drafts, it would never get done. Also, she is our agent, taskmaster, networker and marketer. I am especially challenged in the area of outreach.

MORGAN: Mine is the same as Phyllice’s…time!! It is really hard to fit 28 hours of work into 24 hours. I’m a workaholic, so one of my challenges is knowing when to rest. When to wrap it up for the night.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

PHYLLICE: Our latest book, Terror in a Teapot, is the second in the Silver Sisters Mystery Series. This comical crime caper takes place in Juneau and begins at Goldie Silver’s antique shop. When a shipment of Russian samovars fails to arrive in Alaska, Goldie starts to track it down. The ladies from the Russian Orthodox church have ordered one of the fancy tea urns as a gift for the retiring priest, but before the wayward antiques are located, his young replacement is murdered. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in quiet little Juneau!

After Goldie’s twin, the manipulative Beverly Hills advice columnist, Godiva Olivia DuBois arrives for a visit, the lost crate finally arrives. The samovars sell quickly, and Goldie has only one left when two menacing Russians bumble into her shop claiming that the fancy teapots belong to them and demand their return. She throws them out, but by the next day it seems that the seven beautiful antiques are cursed. Everyone in town who received one of the samovars has been beaten or murdered, and two more customers are likely targets: a lady from Seattle and Godiva’s boyfriend, chef Caesar Romano. Our curvy sleuths, Goldie and Godiva, try to figure out what the thugs are really after. They are hot on their trail as they track the Russians from Alaska to Seattle and Los Angeles. To add to the fun, the twins’ eighty-year-old mother and uncle, Flossie and Sterling Silver, former vaudeville magicians, get into the act!

MORGAN: Our Silver Sisters books can be purchased at most on-line bookstores, or ordered at your favorite local bookstore, available in Kindle, paperback as well as audio books (CD and MP3 download). Our books are also carried by several libraries across the country. The distributor is Ingram.

Thank you, Phyllice and Morgan, for sharing your co-writing secrets. Please tune in again next week for the second half of this interview with with mystery-writing duo.

November Round Robin: Favorite Food

This month’s Round Robin blog topic is a favorite food or meal—appropriate for Thanksgiving! When you’ve finished reading, please visit the other participants to see their favorites.

My favorite food is hands-down…can you guess?…wait for it!…OK, I’ll tell you. It’s CHOCOLATE! No surprise to those of you who know me, of course. I think chocolate covers all the food groups and possibly should be a food group all by itself!chocolate_06

“Chocolate is the greatest gift to women ever created, next to the likes of Paul Newman and Gene Kelly.”—Sandra Bullock

If you weren’t already convinced, here are 10 health benefits of chocolate:

  1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk.
  2. Chocolate boosts heart health with anti-inflammatory properties
  3. Chocolate fills you up because it’s rich in fiber
  4. Chocolate fights diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity
  5. Dark chocolate’s flavenoids offer protection from UV damage from the sun
  6. Chocolate can help stop coughing with theobromine
  7. Chocolate boosts your mood
  8. Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties
  9. Chocolate may also increase blood flow to your eyes
  10. Chocolate may make you smarter, feeling more awake and alert Chocolate photo

Eating chocolate is a bit more challenging when you are trying to avoid sugar, like I do (mostly). I have recently discovered Lilly’s Chocolate, sweetened with Stevia, in several flavors at my local health food store. Also Trader Joe’s Simply Lite bars are scrumptious (sweetened with sugar alcohols).

Here’s a recipe, shared by actress Tracy Pollan that I would like to experiment with, substituting Stevia, unsweetened carob chips and coconut, and canned coconut cream sweetened with Stevia for the sweetened condensed milk.

Micaela’s Nirvana Bars

6 tbsp (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
9 full graham cracker sheets, crushed into coarse crumbs
1⁄4 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup chopped raw walnuts or pecans
1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup white chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, graham cracker crumbs and salt. Stir to mix well. Press crumbs into the bottom of baking pan. Layer on chopped nuts, then semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips. Sprinkle coconut evenly on top. Drizzle on condensed milk, covering everything with a thin layer.
  3. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely in pan, then cut into 1 1⁄2-inch bars. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 dozen Bars.

—Excerpted from The Pollan Family Table by Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan. Copyright © 2014 by Old Harvest Way, LLC. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Now, grab a piece of chocolate and go visit the following blogs to find out other Round Robin participants’ favorite foods:

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Heidi M. Thomas https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
 

Published in: on November 22, 2014 at 6:32 am  Comments (5)  
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There’s Something About A Cowboy

Shanna-Hatfield-Nov-Blog-Tour

Welcome to Shanna Hatfield’s Cowboys & Christmas Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

bronc rider 2

What is it about a cowboy that inspires giddy thoughts of romance in otherwise sane and sensible women?

It could be the way they make a pair of jeans look just right. If you haven’t ogled a pair of fine-fitting Wranglers at a rodeo, please take yourself to the nearest medical facility to make sure you’ve got a pulse.

It could be the dusty boots on their feet. The dirtier, the better. We want a hard-working, real man, after all. Not one who just dresses like a cowboy on the weekends.

It could be that Stetson on his head. There’s something about a man sweeping off his hat in a gesture of polite recognition that makes our knees wobbly and our thoughts scattered. Also, there is something entirely endearing about a man with a hat-ring in his hair.

It could be the little swagger in his walk. Most of the cowboys I know don’t work to put it there. It’s a byproduct of injuries, too many hours in the saddle, and walking in those dusty boots.

It could be the manners they exhibit, no matter how rough and tough they might be. You show me a raised-in-the-country cowboy and I’ll show you a man who respects women and elders, says “yes, ma’am,” and holds doors open. I don’t care how independent and strong of a woman you are, when a good-looking cowboy tips his hat and holds a door open for you, it makes you want to swoon.

For me, it’s such fun to write about cowboys and the women determined to resist their considerable charms.

In The-Christmas-CowboyThe Christmas Cowboy and Wrestlin’ Christmas, the first two books in the Rodeo Romance series, neither heroine wanted to fall for a cowboy. In fact, they fought quite a valiant battle – but as they say, sometimes resistance is futile.

Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®

Now through Dec. 24, Shanna will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.

Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.

Kindle | Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple | AudibleWrestlin'-Christmas-Cover

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here: http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994

In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!

Prize BasketEnter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Childhood Memories, Adult Discoveries

I remember the house–a big two-story white clapboard, with a large wrap-around porch, and the stairway inside that my parents had to block so I wouldn’t try to climb up with my stubby two-year-old legs and fall back down. I remember the scent of tea, the warmth of the coal-burning stove in the corner of the living room, the hardwood floor covered with a bright rug and horse blanket throws on the sofa. Granparents house Ingomar

This is the ranch–known then as “the McCollum Place”–my grandparents moved to in the early 1940s after years of moving around, following the grass for their horses. This was the place they lived the longest, “retiring” in the early 1960s. This was my first home that my parents shared with Grandma and Grandpa for about three years after my mother emigrated from Germany, striking out on a journey of unknowns to the promise of a new and better life.

I hadn’t been back since I was a teenager, but when I visited Montana recently I drove to Ingomar, the “town” nearby. Ingomar is one of those places that you have to WANT to go to–you’re not going to happen upon it while traveling the regular Montana routes. Once the sheep shearing and shipping capitol of Montana in the early 1900s, it then boasted 46 businesses including three banks, railroad station, two elevators, two general stores, two hotels, two lumber yards, plus rooming houses, saloons, cafes, a drugstore, blacksmith shop, claims office, doctor, dentist and maternity home. Now the population is 14 and the main business is the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Cafe.Jersey Lilly

I had a vague recollection of the direction of the ranch from Ingomar, but I asked for directions, and I’m glad I did. Boots, the proprietor of the Jersey Lilly, glanced out the window at my car. “Good, you have all-wheel drive,” he said. I gulped. He explained they’d had some rain recently and the low-lying spots might still be muddy. Since my car was new to me, I dug out the owner’s manual to make sure I knew how to put it in four-wheel mode, just in case.

We (my sister-in-law, Marylou, & I ) followed Boots’ hand-drawn map: turn right after the cattle guard, keep going past the stock tank and you’ll have to open and close the gate… for eight miles over the rough one-track road. Fortunately, no mud remained, and I didn’t have to test out my vehicle and my memory of Montana mud-driving.

We found the house, which is still inhabited by Lance & Connie Moreland, very nice, hospitable people who are leasing the ranch. I had to smile at my memory of this “big” house. It’s two-story, all right, but it’s not large. How cramped the quarters must have seemed to my mother! The porch was not wrap-around as I had recalled, but still was a good-sized one on the front. I remember a photo of mini me at the rail with a chicken egg next to several large hailstones.  The staircase is still there, and the hardwood floors. The Morelands told me that unfortunately the owner doesn’t want to spend any money to fix up the house, so it is a bit on the dilapidated side.

But I’m glad it’s still lived-in and not falling down. Heidi with egg & hail

Published in: on November 7, 2014 at 6:19 am  Comments (1)  
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Traveling the Big Sky Country

I recently returned to my home state of Montana for a book tour, to visit old friends and family, and to drink in the beauty that is “Big Sky country. My sister-in-law (Thelma, or Louise, depending on who’s addressing whom) traveled with me.

Big Sky

We even had a taste of SNOW as we traveled from Great Falls to Helena:

Snow day

 

A display of a one-room schoolhouse at Ft. Missoula brought back memories of my grade school days:

One-room school Ft. Missoula

Stopped in at the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls:

CM Russell Museum

Signed books in Helena, where the state’s governor bought a copy of Cowgirl Up! for his daughter.

Signing in Helena

Another signing at the Miles City Saddlery:

Miles City Saddlery sign

Visited the tiny (pop, 14, plus 2 seasonal) town of Ingomar, near where my grandparents ranched in the ’40s and ’50s. It’s main business is the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Cafe:

Jersey Lilly

And the “conveniences” are located out back:

Out back Jersey Lilly

All in all, a fun trip and a total of 5,000 miles of driving! I’ll be posting more on my travels later.

Published in: on October 31, 2014 at 6:10 am  Comments (2)  
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What is the scariest thing that has happened to you?

I’m participating in a round-robin blog this week about scary things. Please also visit the other participants listed at the end of this post.
We all have had heart-pounding, stomach-clenching moments that live permanently in our memories. In the past, I’ve only had a few  scary experiences.

Ski hill

  • Perched at the top of a black diamond ski run, thinking I should’ve stuck to the bunny hill.
  • Climbing to the top of a 75-foot platform at the water slide park and looking down at that nearly vertical drop. Can I just climb back down?
  • Performing a piano solo at a music competition. Why didn’t I practice more? What if I forget the notes?
  • Giving a talk in front of a large crowd. What if I sound stupid?

All these instances created that flight-or-fight, adrenaline-producing, momentary fear response. But each of these experiences turned into something thrilling, something I would do again. I learned from each scary moment

Now I face the scariest experience of all. My husband—best friend and soul-mate—of 40+ years is gone, and I’m facing life at the top of another one of those seemingly impossible peaks. Do I have the courage, the strength, the stick-to-itiveness it takes to pass through grief and recreate my life without him?

Those scary experiences that now seem so mundane did teach me that I could pause, take a deep breath, and call on some deep inner strength. I learned I had the courage to do it, that I could live through it, and that I came out the other side stronger than I was before.

I hold on to that thought, and it doesn’t seem as scary.

 

Now, please visit the following participants and see what scares them!

Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (5)  
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