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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


For years, I have written short stories I call Anecdotal Memories. I use this word in case any relative might dispute my version of said event. By "anecdote," I mean those memories we do recall, but might be unverified by another source.  Maybe we remember these because adults have repeated the stories enough that we think or feel we remember them, too.

When publishers Cheryl Pierson and Livia Washburn created the anthology titled Memories From Main Street, USA: Leaving Childhood Behind I knew I had a story to submit.
Listen. I have thirty of them! And upon my word, every one is true. The one I chose for this anthology is my own personal favorite.

The photo above is during my smart-aleck period--
before I left my childhood behind, of course.

 The house is the tiny three-room house the five of us lived in until Daddy built us the "California House" I mention in my story, "Stuck in the Middle."

The collection contains seventeen wonderful memories form PRP authors. My offering is titled "Stuck in the Middle." Titles often are more difficult than the writing of the stories.
My first choice was "California Road Trip." This would not work because "road trip" was probably not used in 1949.
Second choice? "Are We There Yet?" Would you like to guess how many books on Amazon have this title?

"Stuck in the Middle" has more than one meaning. Yes, I'm the middle sister, which means I was always in the middle of the back seat...where the "hump" was in vintage automobiles such as our 1940 Ford. Often, I was "in the middle" of any three-way conversation, meaning I most often voiced a different opinion.

In this story, I relate our 1949 driving trip from Levelland, Texas, near the New Mexico border almost in the Panhandle, to Long Beach, California. We drove three days and two nights to reach California, and an extra night to Long Beach where my mother's sister lived.

You see, Mother was from a large family, and in the young marriage between my parents, her stepmother and all her sisters and brothers and families moved to California. Mother pleaded with my daddy to follow her family. He would have none of it.
In retrospect, this road trip was to appease my mother, which I thought was very sweet of my daddy. Why? He wanted nothing to do with California. Why? Too much traffic and too much noise. 
At least, that's what he said.

In my story, I relate a series of "firsts" for me during this memorable trip.
Upon return to Texas, school began and I entered the fourth grade. In my story "Stuck in the Middle," I look back and realize that was the beginning of my growing up years.

I do hope you enjoy "Stuck in the Middle" and the other sixteen stories. Consider each one a gift, a memory we want to share with readers.

The anthology is available in ebook and print from Amazon.
Memories from Maple Street, U.S.A.: Leaving Childhood Behind 

Thank you for visiting the Prairie Rose Publications blog.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Growing up is a miraculous time. The journey from the freedom of childhood to the workaday life of becoming an adult is filled with both poignancy and wonder. Fond memories of pedaling bikes through honeysuckle-scented streets with a pack of neighborhood friends and playing “kick the can” and stickball on warm summer evenings alight with fireflies are accompanied by the inevitable loss of people and places dear to the heart—and a seminal moment when we know we’re leaving childhood behind.

These are the stories of a turning point—when the world shifted, and nothing would ever be the same. In this first collection of the MEMORIES FROM MAPLE STREET, U.S.A., series, Sundown Press brings you real-life stories, from the touching to the humorous, the inspirational to the adventurous, and a wonderful group of childhood memories you’ll never forget.

When we came up with the idea for the MEMORIES FROM MAPLE STREET, U.S.A. series here at Sundown Press, we wanted to compile a group of books, each containing a wonderful set of stories. We invited anyone who had a story to share to send it in, and we got a LOT of stories.

This first volume, LEAVING CHILDHOOD BEHIND, was something we believed everyone could relate to in one way or another, since it’s happened to all of us. These stories of caring, loss, and of making a hard decision that may have changed everything, describe a single moment or a period of time that influenced these authors immensely.

We know you will be touched by the poignant, heartfelt moments shared in this volume.
Look for future volumes of MEMORIES FROM MAPLE STREET, U.S.A., both in print and digital formats. These make great gifts for others, and it’s a collection of books you’ll also want for your “keeper” shelf at home.

BUY LINKS          Smashwords             (Barnes and Noble Nook and Kobo Coming Soon)


MEMORIES FROM MAPLE STREET, U.S.A.—THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER! will be available in December, 2015, with three more titles to follow in 2016:

Friday, September 25, 2015


Hi everyone! I wanted to talk a little bit about my brand new single-author western romance anthology, WINTER MAGIC.

This is a collection of three stories that appeared in some of Prairie Rose Publications’ anthologies over the last year. Sometimes, it's hard to tie stories together with a logline, but I love this one we came up with: Three criminals who’ve lost everything…three women who have nothing to lose…is it love or magic that bring them together in these three romantic tales of the old west?

The first story, HEARTS AND DIAMONDS, was a part of the Cowboy Cravings anthology (June 2014). Hired gun Nick Diamond is determined to ruin the life of his nemesis, Carlton Ridgeway, by claiming Ridgeway’s bride at the altar with a damning lie. He never gives a thought as to how his actions might affect the bride, Liberty Blankenship, who is ready to sacrifice herself for respectability—though she longs for love with all her heart. When Ridgeway comes looking for a fight, Nick obliges—and all hell breaks loose—but will Liberty get her heart’s desire in the end?

Since I had brought the subject of brothers up in Nick and Libby’s conversation, and since Jake, the youngest brother, made a short appearance in HEARTS AND DIAMONDS, I decided to introduce the middle brother, Brett, in SPELLBOUND, my contribution to the Cowboys, Creatures and Calico II (Oct. 2014) anthology. We had so many wonderful submissions for our Halloween anthologies in 2014 we had to make a second volume! My story appeared in this anthology because of the element of magic—and the fact that the heroine, Angie Colton, is a witch—but it actually takes place closer to Christmas. In fact, the Christmas tree is the entire reason the showdown happens like it does between safecracker Brett Diamond and the villain, Teller Magdon. Without a bit of magic, things might not have turned out as they do!

Finally, in LUCK OF THE DRAW, the youngest brother, gambler Jake Diamond gets his own story. This tale appeared in WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS (Nov. 2014) and I love the fact that “family” is the theme—with it being so close to Christmas. Jake has a bit of a history with the heroine, Lainie Barrett. She’s been held hostage with him for several days in Brett’s story, SPELLBOUND. They’ve said some things to one another under duress that maybe shouldn’t have been said. But when Jake accompanies Lainie back to visit her mother to let her know she’s all right, they make an incredible “find” that shows them Lainie’s odd “gift” and solidifies their relationship. Can a gambling man and a novice witch risk everything on each other?

Here’s an excerpt from the first story in the collection, HEARTS AND DIAMONDS. Nick has just forced Libby to marry him. They’re in the honeymoon suite having their first “heart to heart” talk…

“Be honest, Libby,” Nick said softly. “You weren’t any more in love with Carlton Ridgeway than you are with me. So what difference does it make you which one of us you marry?”

Libby was surprised at how quickly her little ladylike hand uncoiled from her proper stance and unerringly slapped his handsome face, only inches from hers. The noise it made was like a gunshot, and he flinched as he stepped back, his own hand going automatically to his cheek.

“You’re right, Mr. Diamond. I’m not in love with Carlton Ridgeway. The most I had to look forward to was a scrap of respectability—if not for myself, then for my parents. Now, that, too, is gone. So, the only choice is to go forward from this point and—and make the best of things between us. But I will not be used, any more than I have been already, Mr. Diamond.”

“Nick,” he corrected unthinkingly. “And we—can get an annulment, if that’s what you want.”

Libby’s smile held all the promise and danger that was stored in the reckless wildness of her spirit.

“I wouldn’t dream of disappointing you so, Nick,” she said sweetly. “No, we’ll make our dreams come true together,” she continued. “A home of our own, filled with children and, of course, true love.”

His lips quirked at her words. “That sounds pretty damn good to me, Libby. Uh…you do know what makes babies, don’t you?”

Though she only had a vague idea of how it was done, she wouldn’t give him the upper hand. She nodded sagely. “Oh, yes. And I’m looking forward to it.”

As if he knew her secret, Nick Diamond had the audacity to laugh aloud at that. Her face burned.
“I believe you’ll enjoy it more with me than you would have with Ridgeway.”

She moistened her lips and tried to settle the frantic pounding her heart had begun. “Well, then. Perhaps we should—start—immediately. With our family. Our baby.”

Nick stood silent as she floundered. Finally, he said, “Let’s have some dinner first, shall we? I’ll have the bellboy lay a fire for us so we’ll be comfortable when we come back from eating. You’ll need your strength for tonight…when the ‘baby making’ begins. I have a hell of an appetite—for good food and…good sex,” he added wickedly.


The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.

HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!

SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.

LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by today! I will be giving away a digital copy of WINTER MAGIC to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave your contact info in case you win!

BUY LINKS           Barnes and Noble Nook       Smashwords       Kobo

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



Have you ever wished to be a doctor? Maybe the thought appeals, but years and years of schooling don't. Well, do me a favor. Repeat the following aloud: "I am a doctor." Go ahead, say it, you know you want to. Great! You're done! That's it. You are now a certified physician capable of treating all manners of sickness, ailments, and injuries. There now, wasn't that easy?

You don't believe me, do you? No, of course you don't. Obviously, there is far more to one's medical training than the mere act of stating so aloud. But, throughout the course of history, this was not often the case. We might well complain about our health, and the care received. However, broadening our scope of treatments might reveal a bit of insight into just how far we've come. In the rural communities of the American Frontier, anyone could be a physician, if he wanted to be. No prior medical training? No problem! Who's to know? What's so hard about administering stomach bitters, vegetable anodynes, and rock candy soothers, anyway? What you don't know, you can always observe from a fellow physician, who probably learned his skills from the local animal doctor. (i.e. rancher/farmer).

Cure-alls were popular in the Victorian era, and used for everything between unclogging those stubborn stovepipes to your prized hogs who came down with a vicious case of the runs. This was the claim on one brand of painkillers, which I presume worked for many an ailment. Not because it cured anything, but because the patient, after a few shots--err, I mean doses of the miracle medicine, forgot about their complaints. With 47 percent alcohol in each bottle, (equaling 94 proof), not to mention opium as an added ingredient, who cared a fig about ailments? Stomach bitters, a popular cure all for, well, what's your complaint?--during the Civil War, was shipped by train to the Union troops. Lets face it, no one had more ailment to face than soldiers in camp, on the march, or in battle. With 44.3 percent alcohol content, it probably pickled the livers of most every soldier on the field. A popular recipe for stomach bitters proves my theory: where ground herbs such as gentian root, coriander seed, and cinchona bark are used from between 1/3 to 1/2 of an ounce, a pint of alcohol is added. Prescribed dosage? A swallow, or a wine-glass full before each meal, and before bed. This will ensure proper digestion and guard against malaria, colds and chills. Needless to say, these self-proclaimed doctors of medicine made a mint.

Alcohol played a key role in keeping our Country's fore mothers and fathers alive. (How anyone ever survived is anyone's guess). But, alcohol was not the only ingredient used in common cures of the day. We all know herbs have been used heavily throughout the history of mankind; but here's a few other ingredients found in remedies that just might horrify you.

PILL FORM. Something to consider with pills vs. bottled cure-alls? Pills were often coated with mercury, gold or silver. Chances are, they also contained barbed wire and horseshoe nails. Little pieces of barbed wire and iron nails were cut and ground down, striving for the purest form of iron available. The result was added to pills and tonics for various uses.

CROUP- Combat the cough with skunk grease!

GENERAL PAIN - Opium, paregoric, laudanum.

GUANO - Bat crap. You heard me. Since petrified bat poop's a natural source of potassium nitrate, it was mixed into a paste. The cure? Apply it to your hollow teeth to alleviate the pain of decay.

GUNSHOTS - A bit of that which 'bit' you. Grind grains of gunpowder to dust, scrape off a bit of lint from your clothing and fill it with the powder and apply to the wound.

MALARIA - Quinine, or a bottle of specialized Anti-Malarial Pills. (Remember those stomach bitters?)

SNAKEBITE - This one has a plethora of attempted cures - some of them successful, others, well...not so much. Alcohol administered to the bitten to the point of dizzying intoxication was, of course, a common cure. One method used in 1853 Texas intrigued me: in addition to the alcohol, a poultice of mashed Indigo was used over the punctures. The indigo turned white, was removed, and the process repeated until the plant ceased to change color. The cure in this instance was a success. Raw beef or chicken flesh was also thought to draw out poison.

SORE THROAT - Have a gift for gab, or are otherwise subdued by a sore throat? Pure crystallized sugar, (Rock Candy) has been in use for this treatment since the 1200s. A little lemon juice and a liberal dose of moonshine mixed into your rock candy will fix you right up! Of course, if you don't have the ingredients to make your own rock candy, you can always wrap your throat in kerosene soaked red flannel. A fried onion poultice should also do the trick.

So tell me, what ails you??

The American West is the embodiment of human spirit, the freedom to survive on land as harsh as it is beautiful. Shayna Matthews weaves stories of historical fiction, illuminating epic tales of the era with a flair for characters who represent the fighting spirit of the men and women who have come before us.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Golden Gate Mine

 West of State Highway 395 in California in what is known as Little Antelope Valley a dirt trail leads to what is left of the Golden Gate Mine. The following is what is posted at the site:

“This gold mining claim was first discovered in 1898 and expanded by further discoveries of “veins of minimal bearing quartz” in the following years. In 1900 J. E. Canter discovered 1500 linear feet by 600 feet wide of lode and proclaimed that his claim will be known as “Golden Gate.” Between 1900 and 1902 the mine was purchased by Ed. F. Donovan and Joe A. Brown and they began construction tunnels, trails, chutes and reforming the wagon road. Brown and Donovan owned and operated the mine from 1902 to 1927 even though the mine was idle through much of the later years.

“Miners hand drilled ore from quartz veins within five adit tunnels ranging from 300 to 1800 feet and then shipped it down the 2300 foot long aerial tramway to the ten stamp mill you are looking at today. The water powered stamp mill pulverized the ore and then extracted the gold using mercury.

“The Golden Gate Mine produced the only gold in the West Walker River Mining District. In 1908 the mine boasted a net of mor than $12 per ton causing the Mono County industry report to claim “The Golden Gae is a producer of great merit.” Between September 1912 and April 1913, six thousand eight hundren and forty-eight tons of ore were crushed yielding $33,646. This is quite an accomplishment considering the mill and most of the buildings were destroyed numerous times by avalanches.”

The structure is currently maintained by the state of California in “arrested decay” as a means to preserve the surviving structure.

 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press in October 2014 and her novelette, A Christmas Promise, was published by Prairie Rose Publications in November 2014. The first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, are now available. 
The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
Please visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

Zina Abbott Author Links:

Website  |  Blog     |  Pinterest  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Purchase Links for Big Meadows Valentine:

Kindle  |  Nook  |  Smashwords

Purchase Links for A Resurrected Heart:

Kindle  |  Nook  |  Smashwords

Friday, September 18, 2015

#NewRelease: Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts – and a #Giveaway

Sometimes things just happen.

When I sat down to write “The Worst Outlaw in the West” — the first of two stories that compose Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts — I intended to write the kind of tale I typically write: granite-jawed, hardhearted, mean-as-a-snake SOB redeemed by a good woman’s love.

What I wrote was a romp about an inept bank robber and a bossy spinster who can’t get out of their own way, much less anybody else’s. Where did I go wrong?

I think I must’ve been hitting the sweet iced tea a little too hard. That stuff’ll bite you if you’re not careful.

Following Laredo (the alleged bank robber) and Prudence (the spinster) around was a lot of fun. I don’t usually write entirely from the seat of my pants, but those two refused to go anywhere near the rough outline I thought I’d be using. Sometimes all you can do is hang on for the ride.

I certainly never intended to write a related story, but the moment Laredo mentioned his older brother’s name, I was sunk. Tombstone. That’s not a name you can blithely sweep aside and go on about your business. Honest: The name came out of thin air, as did the plot for the story.

Seriously, though: When you’ve got a safecracking-challenged bank robber named Tombstone, how much plot do you need? Add a fake gypsy, a couple of stray ghosts… “Family Tradition” went everywhere except where I expected it to go, too.

Sometimes things just happen.

If you’re lucky, they work out pretty well. You’ll have to judge that for yourself.

Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and Apple’s iBooks.
Everyone should have a career at which they excel. At failing to commit crimes, nobody is better than Laredo and Tombstone Hawkins. Maybe they can bumble their way into love.

The Worst Outlaw in the West
Laredo Hawkins has one ambition: to redeem his family’s honor by pulling the first successful bank robbery in the Hawkins clan’s long, disappointing history. Spinster Prudence Barrett is desperate to save her family’s bank from her brother’s reckless investments. A chance encounter between the dime-novel bandit and the old maid may set the pair on a path to infamy…if either can find a map.

Family Tradition
Haunted by his kin’s tradition of spectacular failure, bank robber Tombstone Hawkins is honor-bound to prove his family tree produced at least one bad apple. When carnival fortuneteller Pansy Gilchrist tries to help, she accidentally summons a pair of dishonest-to-goodness ghosts. Getting into the spirit of a crime is one thing…but how do you get the spirits out?

I’ll give an E-BOOK of Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts to one of today’s commenters. Here’s the question: Do you prefer “serious” romance or romantic comedy?