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Sunday, December 4, 2016


Post by Doris McCraw (c)

December is a time of snow and cold in the Northern hemisphere, sun and rain in the Southern. It is the month of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. A time of gifts and celebrations.

The gift giving of the three wise men in the Bible are part of the tradition. However the idea of gift giving is a much older one. Ancient Rome, and early Pagan religions had celebrations with gift giving during the winter months, usually starting on what would now be December 17th.

The decorated Christmas tree is credited as having started in Germany in the 16th century, when early Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. They were not the first, however to celebrate with greenery. Most early societies believed the ‘evergreen’ plants were special, especially so during the cold winter months of the Northern Hemisphere. In my story, “Lost Knight, Out of Time” I fudged a bit and brought the decorated tree into the story. But if you read it, the concept fits.

New Year’s celebrations of January 1 began in Rome in 153 BC, because that was the beginning of the civil year when newly elected Roman Consuls took office. In fact January and February were not even part of the calendar until around 700 BC. Prior to that, New Year’s was celebrated in March.

From Authors (C) collection
So as we get ready to share our imagination, our stories and ourselves this season, think back to the rich history that comes with this time of year. The many authors here and elsewhere have spent time creating stories for you and your reading friends.

It is with joy and sadness I prepare to read Sara Barnard’s final ‘Everlasting Hearts’ story. The two wonderful Christmas anthologies PRP “One Winter Knight”, and “Cowboy Under the Mistletoe” are sure to please many. Zina Abbott’s “Bridgeport Holiday Brides” is out and my own “Gift of Forgiveness” is coming soon. Painted Pony Books has “A Christmas Spider” by Randy Lee Eickhoff. Watch for these and so many more stories for the Holidays, and don't forget all the other greats ones that have come to us throughout the year from Prairie Rose Publications and their imprints. 

I am a firm believer in books as gifts. When you give someone the gift of a book, you are not only sharing your love of reading, but the heart and soul of the author. When you have a book, and you know how to read it, you will always have someone with you. So this Holiday season, whether in the Northern hemisphere, where you bundle up to read and stay warm, on in the Southern where the beach is calling., you can’t go wrong with books.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and remember, these traditions go back many centuries! (And yes, I do enjoy Alice Cooper's music, just not his stage shows *grin*)

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Release -- A HEART FOREVER WILD (An Everlasting Heart Book 4) by Sara Barnard -- Giveaway!

Sanderson and Charlotte set out on the dangerous journey to California Territory along with Minerva, Jerry, and the children. Though Charlotte doesn’t want to leave Arkansas, Sanderson is looking forward to building a life for Charlotte, Cotton, and little Charlie in the vibrant new territory. But when they arrive at Fort Bidwell, Sanderson and Jerry are immediately faced with a hard decision—they must free the captive Indians they have been hired to hunt down.

In a world where women are expected to be silent, Charlotte refuses to ignore injustice. When she defies the powerful bank president, it causes repercussions that can devastate the Redding family. In standing up to the town bullies to protect Cotton, Charlotte finds an unlikely ally in the handsome young half-Chinese outlaw, Johnny Tan. But will Johnny prove to be Sanderson’s nemesis or his saving grace?

Charlotte knows she can’t stay in Fort Bidwell, where circumstances seem to be ripping her once-happy family apart. Determined to leave, she must convince Sanderson to give up the security of his railroad job, pull up stakes, and head for Idaho, with A HEART FOREVER WILD…


The thundering hooves from both the stampede and the onslaught of soldiers vibrated the ground. “Sanderson!” Charlotte had to shout to be heard over the growing din. The scene before her unfolded in slow motion as Jerry lifted Minerva, Jay Jay, and Cotton into the wagon with expert precision, one after the other.
Cotton’s normally musical voice tore from his throat in a hysterical shriek. “Mr. Sanderson! Don’t forget Button and George!” Tears left wet trails down his bronze face while more still shimmered in his clear, blue eyes. His arms trembled as they reached for his wolf pup.
George whimpered, scared and helpless, until Jerry plopped Button into the wagon beside him. At once, the gray pup ceased his cries and began to snarl and snap at his brother and friend, both of their fluffy tails wagging, oblivious to the mortal danger that careened toward them from seemingly all directions. Cotton folded his little body over the puppies as Minerva draped her arm over Cotton. Her emerald eyes, wide and staring, darted to and fro.
Sanderson’s strong hands snapped Charlotte from her trance. “Come on!” Her grip tightened around tiny Charlie. “We gotta clear out!”
Nicolai flung his huge head as the herd of wild horses drew nearer and the shouts of the soldiers grew louder. He stomped his hooves as though he may take off with the mustangs at any moment. Achilles, hooked to pull the wagon alongside the younger stallion, glanced over his gray shoulder and whuffed.
Cocoa and Peanut zipped through Jerry’s legs as he pitched a few bags out of the birthing tipi that Charlotte had called her home—the warm, snug, safe place where precious Charlie had come into the world and she herself had almost exited it. Both buckskin and cloth bags landed at her feet in the thin layer of mud. Careful not to trip over them, Charlotte quick-stepped to Sanderson and shoved Charlie into his waiting arms.
Once Charlotte was safe in the wagon bed with her family, Jerry tossed in the rest of the bags as she reached for Charlie.
Sanderson’s eyes were as wild as she’d ever seen. As she accepted their child from him, he was looking everywhere but at her. “Hunker down, going to be a rough ride,” he called, disappearing around the side of the wagon. Nicolai stomped and reared, making the wagon lurch as snippets of conversation made its way back to the bed where Charlotte tried to remain brave. Sanderson’s voice was the clearest. “You drive and I’ll ride!”
Cries from the Indians drowned out Jerry’s reply.
Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook of A HEART FOREVER WILD.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Paper Dolls, Sears and Roebuck Catalog, and the Accidental Author

Many authors have said the urge to write was natural and a life-long goal. In fact, it seems that most writers “always had a dream.” This often made me wonder why I don’t fit the mold. Of course, I had an imagination, but don’t all children have one to some extent?
Playing make-believe is as natural to little girls and boys as is breathing.
I grew up when paper dolls were popular. When I had a fifteen cents or a quarter, that’s what I bought—a paper doll book. My little sister and I spent many hours of our childhood cutting out the dolls and their clothes. Each piece of clothing had little tabs to fold over the doll’s shoulders or around her waist. We had boxes of paper dolls—Victorian ladies, teenage girls, little children, mommies, and Western cowgirls. We gave each a name, a personality, and emotions.

Shoe boxes held our paper doll sets, and heaven forbid we should ever mix up the dolls and their clothes. If my dolls became intermingled with my sister’s, that was cause for all-out war. The shoe boxes also made very nice homes for paper dolls. For a house, though, we needed beds, refrigerators, stoves, tables, rugs, and chairs. Mother gave us last year’s Sears and Roebuck catalog and we became the nation’s first recyclers. Never threw away a catalog. They furnished our doll homes perfectly. True, everything lay on the floor of the “home,” but that was all right because we played “make believe.”

The paper dolls lived in a world of grand adventures. Why, they went to parties, rode on trains to big cities, married, went shopping, roped cattle and rode horses, met kings and knights, and became princesses and beauty queens. So, perhaps I carried the idea of inventing stories in my head and heart, after all.

Another writer I know calls herself The Accidental Reporter. Well, I suppose I’m The Accidental Author. The first pieces I wrote were scientific research papers and lab reports while attending school. Nothing else, not even a diary. After early retirement, I began to “dabble” in this and that, and one day, I accidentally began to write a story. I say “accidentally” because I only intended to add to my minuscule store of knowledge about the computer, especially WORD 2002. Thus, many weeks later, I had a 90,000 word novel stored—yep, you guessed it—written in stiff, correct, scientific language. The first editor who rejected it said—“this reads like a textbook.”

Oh, I had much to learn, but fortunately, I have an attribute perhaps all authors have—persistence. Also, I’m a fast-learner, and most often, a self-learner.

My first published book was ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. This was not the first I had written, but I thought I had a good chance to get this story in print. Another publisher took it right away, which thrilled me. After several years, I took my rights and now it is reprinted with the new cover with Prairie Rose Publications.
Available at Amazon for $0.00 Kindle Unlimited
 To escape an arranged marriage, beautiful, proper Cynthia Harrington from East Texas impulsively marries Ricardo Romero, a striking, sensual Spaniard who ranches on the far western edge of the Texas frontier. She naïvely steps into a hotbed of anger, rivalry, and strong wills. She struggles to gain a foothold in the hostile household and foreign ranch community, determined to make a place for herself—but will she also find a way to make her husband love her?

By marrying an “outsider”, Ricardo brings down the wrath of his mother, Felicitas, on his unsuspecting bride. Cynthia must also contend with beautiful Starr Hidalgo, a wealthy, jealous young neighbor, who has always believed she and Ricardo would be married.

When the Texas Rangers arrive looking for a killer, Cynthia daringly manages to save Ricardo’s mother in a confrontation with the wanted man. Ricardo’s bride has more grit and spunk than he ever imagined—but has she been pushed too far to stay on at the ranch with him? Can he convince her that they both want—and need—the same thing? Cynthia is in search of nothing more than what she’s told Ricardo from the very beginning—a loving home and husband. But is it already too late for them? With a rough beginning to their married lives, can their love survive—and give them all their hopes and dreams?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Buffy and the Modern Heroine

One of these days I would like to write about a medieval slayer, a petite, attractive, but not overly sexualized woman who saves the day from the forces of darkness. Obviously, Buffy would fit like a gooseskin glove into the medieval world of demons and angels.

To me, the first such character was Princess Leia in Star Wars, but the archetype really took root in popular culture with the Vampire Slayer in the 1990s. Many other authors have taken a Buffyesque character into their worlds. You can see the “Buffy effect” on heroines such as Katniss from The Hunger Games or even Kim Possible from Disney.

Like most women, they are passionate, smart, broken in places but stronger for it. What sets them apart is their ability to take care of themselves in places where girls are told not to go, i.e. dark alleys and fraternity houses.

And as an author I want to write characters in this mold. When I started writing Beyond All Else (my short story in One Winter Knight, the new holiday anthology from Prairie Rose Publications) I thought I was writing a kick-ass heroine, a Buffy for the Middle Ages. After all, when we meet Alais of Roundtree she’s about to steal the hero’s sword.

Except she isn’t kick-ass.

In one afternoon, Alais lost everything: Her family, her home, and her trust in the social precepts that had defined her world.  Chivalry is dead. Honor is meaningless. Greed and cruelty rule.  To my disappointment as I wrote the scene, she had no intention of using the sword to right the wrongs done to her. She planned to sell it for money to buy food, clothing, and shelter. 

She’s practical, resourceful, and determined—but no super heroine.

She’s well aware that her size and upbringing as a noblewoman puts her at a disadvantage in this new world she inhabits. She can embroider, read, and run a household, but she can’t fight, fish, or grow food. Yet—and I love this about her—when she gets an unexpected chance for revenge, she’s all in for the fight of her life.

So what are you thoughts about kick-ass heroines?

Here's an excerpt from the story. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a free copy of the anthology.

For the first time in weeks, her heartbeat steadied. The more she thought through the plan, the slower her blood pulsed. Just having a plan made her feel better, more in control. If she planned for it, she could control it. “The sword, too.” 
“That sword is almost as tall as you. You will not be able to swing it.” 
“I do not want to swing it. I shall sell it.” She blew curls out of her eyes. Gold trim meant gems; gems prised free meant money; money meant security.  
Silence held for a few steps, then Jo asked, “You do not think the sheriff will give up the hunt, do you?” 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hunewill Ranch & Bridgeport Holiday Brides

My first three novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series are set in the gold mining town of Lundy. The fourth, Haunted by Love, takes place in Bridgeport and along Robinson Creek. But, many of the scenes plus the big event in the fifth book, Bridgeport Holiday Brides, takes place at the Caldwell Ranch in Big Meadows area by Bridgeport.

I did not need to search long and hard before I found a ranch to serve as my model for the Caldwell Ranch.  Mr. Napoleon Bonaparte Hunewill, along with being a successful owner of two sawmills along Buckeye Creek supplying wood for both Bodie and Bridgeport starting in the 1860’s, used the site of the current Hunewill Ranch to graze the oxen he worked in his logging operation. For more information on the Hunewill sawmills, please CLICK HERE.

Hunewill soon found himself raising cattle and helping to supply beef to the miners in Bodie, Aurora and Bridgeport.  He and his wife, Esther, built a beautiful ranch house in 1880 and where they eventually switched their focus to running a successful cattle ranch. They also raised horses and sheep. There they lived with their son Frank who married Alice in 1883.

The Hunewill Ranch home was beautiful example of Victorian-era architecture. Built with the Sawtooths of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west, the setting is spectacular.

Economic conditions in the early 1900’s prompted the family to turn the Hunewill Ranch into a guest ranch. This guest ranch is still in operation today and is run by descendants of Napoleon and Esther Hunewill, despite efforts to pressure landowners to subdivide the land for development. For more photographs of the countryside on and around the Hunewill Ranch, please CLICK HERE.

Is it any wonder I chose this site for the Caldwell Ranch in Bridgeport Holiday Brides? Here is the book description:

With the arrival of Beth Dodd’s sister, Hazel, in California, Beth and her fiancé, Val Caldwell, are now able to make wedding plans.  Thanksgiving seems to be a good time to tie the knot and bring the Caldwell family together, as well, but when Val’s older half-brother, Edwin, and his family show up for the wedding, things fall apart. Edwin’s advice to Val to wrest control of Beth’s holdings and absorb them into the Caldwell Ranch leads to bad blood and fisticuffs between the brothers. Will Beth call the wedding off to protect what she’s worked so hard to gain?

As Beth’s younger sister, Hazel, realizes she’s falling in love with Val’s younger brother, Luther, she learns the feeling is mutual. Luther has bought a ring and plans to announce their engagement at Thanksgiving, as well. But Beth has a stormy relationship with her future brother-in-law, and believes her sister is too young to marry. Headstrong and determined to control their own destinies, will happiness also be possible for these BRIDGEPORT HOLIDAY BRIDES?


Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novelette, A Christmas Promise, and the five novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine, A Resurrected Heart, Her Independent Spirit, Haunted by Love  and Bridgeport Holiday Brides were published by Prairie Rose Publications.