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Monday, March 30, 2015


Today we were in Wal-Mart, looking for a few things, but mostly it was a day to roam and wander. In the pharmacy department, I happened to see a sign that read FREE. Free what? It was a bright shiny new kiosk to take your own blood pressure. I thought Wal-Mart had gotten rid of that, but here was a new one.
In this one, it was like sitting in a little space capsule, almost hidden, almost private. I love machines that tell me something about myself.

So, I sat down.

On the bright screen was a message: START. I punched the button and learned right away I could learn more than my blood pressure from this very cool machine. It would also tell me my BMI (Body Mass Index, that is weight relative to my height.) It would also tell me my risk of having a serious disease, and my chance of a long healthy life.

Now, do you think I want to know all this? You bet I do.

So, I went about the process of measuring...MY SUCCESS.

First--Blood Pressure. By the time I finished this simple process I learned my blood pressure was--105/75. Really? REALLY? Isn't that very low? Wouldn't I feel lightheaded or something with such a low blood pressure? True, my BP is regularly rather low, but it's usually around 120/ 80. The machine might be a bit off.

Second--BMI. I was instructed by the pretty lady on the screen to place my feet on the bars under the edge of my seat--in other words, take my feet off the floor. I did so. Then I was asked my height. Five feet-Six, I punched. The results? Excellent. Good weight for my height.

Third--my diet. Do I eat 4-6 servings a day of fruits and vegetables? Yes, I live on those and carbohydrates, mostly in the form of pasta. After this test of several questions, I was ranked--Excellent.

Fourth--my chances of living a long life.

Do I exercise regularly every day for at least thirty minutes? No. I am quite lazy.

Do I smoke? No, never.

Do I binge on alcohol? No. Only drink moderately.

Do I have relatives with diabetes? No.

Do I have relatives with heart disease. Yes.

After this test, I was ranked Good--not Excellent--but Good. And it will stay that way because I probably won't exercise any more than I do now. Didn't I say I was lazy?

But these are physical tests.

If you are an author, you knew I would sooner or later get around to measuring our success by the number of sales we made recently or the rankings on our books. This is the time of year for reflection--the 1099s that arrive from our publishers that tell us how much money we made during 2014.

If you are a reader you will have some other way of measuring success.
For example, are you happy? Are you at least somewhat successful? Do you wonder what else you could have done?

All of the above, in my case. Yes, I'm reasonably happy, but not completely satisfied. I surely know I could have done more.

But do I feel successful? Yes, and I'll tell you why.

I began writing late in life, so whatever I accomplish now is only a plus, a big present wrapped up in shiny paper with a big red bow. To write stories and have wonderful publishers who like my work and puts them out in ebook and beautiful prints is one of the most thrilling things I've done. And I've accomplished other things later in life that surprised even me.

I never thought I'd  go to college at age 27 and get two degrees.
I never thought I'd be fortunate enough to teach in a wonderful private military boarding school until I retired.
I never thought I'd learn to play golf at age forty. I never thought I'd suddenly begin to write fiction when I'd never thought of it in my entire life.

How Do You Measure Success? It's all relative, don't you see? Think on the positives, and look forward to trying something new to boost your own success.

Every day is a new day to begin again.

Good luck to you all--and think...SUCCESS!

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
My Website
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

#NewRelease -- DIGGING HOLES IN PARADISE by Karen Mihaljevich -- Giveaway!

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ecopy of Digging Holes in Paradise by Karen Mihaljevich.


One lie leads to another in this playful historical romp until the characters have dug themselves in so deep, they may never be able to dig out!

In 1859 Missouri, Josette Stratton discovers that women have little more control over their lives than horses on the auction block.  A chance identity switch gives her an out from a marriage of convenience mandated by her father, and Josette heads for the untamed Nevada Territory to assume the position of a seamstress.

In Nevada City, a madam sells raffle tickets for one lucky man to spend the entire night with her new prostitute who is due in on the next stage.

Na├»ve Josette is horrified to discover on her first night in town, that “seamstress” is just another name for…Oh!

Her fellow traveler is dark, heavily armed, and doesn’t say much. And he doesn’t like Josette.  But Wolf needs her for THE PLAN—and he intends to have her.His intentions are honorable, of course—but can she trust him? He IS a man!

Nevada’s Comstock Lode bonanza adds color and excitement to this fast-paced adventure, where plans crumble, love sizzles, and everyone is DIGGING HOLES IN PARADISE!


    Nothing like lazy summer days. A Swallowtail butterfly floated drafts, landing on a white dogwood, then flitting to a small grove of soft-pink wild roses and up again to flirt with the breeze.
    Little Joe loved the feel of dirt paths on bare feet. Going fishing and swimming at Petre’s Pond would make this the perfect day. Maybe Papa’s old fishing pole could lure in enough catfish for supper.
    Polly, Joe’s best friend, would be there. When they were together, they could always cook up fun.
    A scream came from the direction of the pond.
    Polly? The buck brush was too thick to see through but Joe recognized the other voices that were slinging mean names and busting out in laughter.
    “Leave me alone!”
    It was Polly, all right.
    Joe threw down the fishing pole and charged through brush higher than a man’s head to reach the clearing near the pond in seconds.
    Lefty Turkenbaugher and two of his buddies circled Polly. Lefty’s rock hit its target, and all three boys laughed when Polly cried out.
    Polly curled in a ball, cringing on the ground. Her chocolate brown arms shielded her head and face. Polly’s faded dress was ripped at the sleeve and dirty on one side where she must have hit the ground.
    She spotted Joe from beneath her arms and sat up. Tears made a trail through the grime on her face and a drop of blood rolled down her forehead.
    “You’re gonna pay!” Joe headed for the three bullies.

BUY LINKS                   B&N Nook        Smashwords      Kobo

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


"Life on the Edge" - photograph by Shayna Matthews
Moccasins are slicker than a buttered sled perched on the lee side of a snowbank. Pair this fact with a grassy hill just after a rainstorm, and you have the makings of a irrationally lifelong fear. It was 1983, I was about four years old. Our camp sat atop a ridge overlooking nearly a mile of white canvas tents stretched out below. And as dusk settled across the fields, campfire smoke laid heavy in the air. Lanterns and flickering fires punched holes in the night. Have you ever seen the designs of a punched-tin lantern? Candlelight shines through various designs in the tin, illuminating your path with swinging fireflies of light. This is nightfall in camp. Long after I was tucked into my bed, I lay awake, merely pretending slumber, so I might listen to the harmony of the dulcimers, mandolins and banjos...and the raucous laughter of my reenactment family. These are my earliest of memories, and my sweetest.

That night, in 1983, it rained. I don't recall the rain storm, for camping in objectionable weather is nothing new to me. But I remember, quite clearly, the aftermath of that particular rainfall.

Eager to start the day, I bounded up and out of my snuggly cot, donned my prairie dress and wiggled my toes into a pair of moccasins. My mom most likely braided my hair in two long braids, and I set off at a clip to find my friends below. The only trouble was the argument with the steep hill and my feet, now soaked from wet leather. The hill won the argument, and I tumbled in a ball, literally head over heels, the whole way to the bottom. I don't know how far I fell, but it seemed the drop, at the time, was equivalant to Mount Everest, instead of a ridge somewhere in West Virginia.

The first person to reach me as I hit the bottom was a man who was, perhaps, in his early twenties at the time. He pulled me into his lap and held me until I quit shaking. He looked down at me, a quivering little girl with tear-stained cheeks and long strands of disheveled hair, and asked if I wanted a story. I did, very much. He began to speak, telling tales of wonder and soon I was lost to my fright, hanging on every word as I sat on his knee. Looking back, I thought of that man as my guardian angel, whoever he was. It seems I gained two imprints that morning…two imprints which follow me throughout my life. Fear, and Stories.

My debilitating fear of "edges" has left me standing yards back, far behind many a scenic overlook. I grow nauseated at the thought of flying, and I always travel to the inside of a bridge or overpass. To this day, I cannot bring myself to walk up to the edge of anything and look down. No, not me. If I get too close, my mind grows fuzzy and I can feel the sensation of the fall. Which is absurd, because I love a good adventure. My passion, as you may have guessed by now, is The West...the epitome of grand mountains, cliffs, and well, edges. When my husband and I were planning our trip west a few years ago, I told him I wanted to ride in a hot air balloon. "You know balloons go up, right? And you're in a basket? With fire over your head?" This of course, was after his laughter subsided. But I was determined to do all the things I feared most on that trip. I was researching for my WIP novel...researching the land, the history and the people who made it.

Sometimes, what drives a person to face their fear is not so much bravado, as it is spite. This is what fuels me. I'm tired of being afraid. Tired of missing out on adventures because I cannot face my fears. After all, how can I as a writer sit on the sidelines and weave tales of adventures I cannot face myself?

In last month's blog, I spoke of climbing a 50 foot wooden ladder to reach the top of ancient ruins. What I did not mention, was the almost paralyzing fear I faced when I saw it. Wooden rungs, 50 feet in the air, and a deep chasm at my back. My husband kept after me, and I faced that ladder with far more trepidation than a virgin bride. My knees were shaking, and if I had any saliva left to spit, I fear my heart might have tumbled right out of my mouth. The Ranger giving the tour then declared she was afraid of heights, and while she climbed the ladder, no one was to talk to her. She gives those tours daily, and she's terrified of that ladder.
Well hell, if she can do it…

Spite, to me, is nothing more than malice to fear...determination feeds upon spite, and that's what we use to scrape through a situation. At that moment, nothing frightened me more than climbing that ladder, so the only thing that made sense was to start climbing. As I clung to that first rung, I closed my eyes for the breath of a moment. As I did, several of my WIP novel characters came to me. One, a young cowboy named Ryder, seemed to urge me forward. If you can summon the courage to write a story like ours, darlin', what's one little ladder? Between my husband, who encouraged me as he followed me up, rung after rung, Ryder and my own grit, I made it up in one piece.

I didn't know at the time my husband was on the ground, taking photographs of my rump-roast as I climbed. (Discovering that little gem is another story all-together!) Reaching the top, I nearly fell into the wall of the cliff. My knees were beyond working order, but I was standing in the remote Southwestern corner of the home of the ancients. The view was particularly beautiful that day, my friends. At least, until I realized we had to get to the TOP of the cliff, and back to the parking lot. That little venture entailed crawling through a narrow tunnel cut through the cliff face on our hands and bellies, (my husband got a bit loose with his artistic photography here, as well) and traveling up a set of rock steps cut into the cliff itself. I won't repeat the garbled words I uttered when I finally collapsed to the flat ground far above.

What we faced AFTER the 50' ladder to reach the top...putting my "spite" to the test.

That same trip found us floating 2,000 feet over Arches National Park in a hot air balloon, horseback riding to the top of South Mountain in Arizona, off-roading in Moab, Utah and traipsing up and down over countless canyons and cliffs. Maybe I'll never be able to stand on the edge, but now I know I can summon my old friend, Spite, and sharpen my teeth on the bones of an old enemy.

You don't want to miss air balloon sunrise over Arches National Park. No Fear!

Fear is a frigid witch. It’s real tough sometimes, but if you saddle up, cinch those girths a little tighter and dig in your spurs, you just might enjoy the ride. Had I turned down mine just because I was scared? Man; to think of the sights, the experience and the exhilaration I would have missed out on! Thanks guys, thanks for the ride. I look forward to the next one.

Fears, everything from spiders to those first story submissions, force us to lean on our inner strengths, our spite-driven determination-to conquer.

Triumph! - and standing a little closer to the edge than I used to.
Tell me, what are you afraid of? Have you lassoed your own spite to quell those fears? I would love to hear your own stories of dealing with fear. One random commenter will win their choice of either a signed copy of Cowboys, Creatures & Calico, Vol. 1, or a pair of handwoven bookmarks, made by yours truly. Thank you for reading!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wild West Words: Ladies’ Night

By Kathleen Rice Adams

Women with Bicycles, 1890
The American West provided fertile ground for mangling the English language. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, when folks weren’t shooting it out, rounding up ornery cattle, protecting their scalps, or gambling, they had to fill the empty hours somehow.

Some Old West words and phrases represented modifications to the meaning of existing terms. Others arose from mispronunciation. Quite a few someone simply made up. Many remain in use today, though sometimes only in regional dialect.

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some of the more colorful Wild West words related to women. All entered the vernacular during the 19th Century.

Ann Elizabeth Clifton,
widowed rancher
California widow: a woman whose husband is away from her for an extended period. Americanism; arose c. 1849 during the California Gold Rush.

Call girl: prostitute who makes appointments by phone; arose c. 1900. To call someone, meaning to use a phone for conversation, arose in 1889 along with the telephone.

Catty: devious and spiteful. ca. 1886 from the previous “cattish.” The meaning “pertaining to cats” dates to 1902.

Cute: pretty, 1834 from American English student slang. Previously (1731), as a shorted form of acute, the word meant “clever.”

Mary Elizabeth Browser, Union
spy while servant to Confederate
President Jefferson Davis
Drag: women’s clothing worn by a man. 1870s theater slang from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor.

Fancy woman: high-dollar whore or a kept woman.

Fast trick: loose woman.

Feathered out: dressed up.

Filly: a young, unmarried woman (literally, a young mare).

Frump, frumpy: cross, unstylish person; sour-looking, unfashionable. The noun arose ca. 1817, possibly imitative of a derisive snort. The adverb followed ca. 1825. The slang etymology is a bit obscure, although earlier uses of the noun frump meant “bad temper” (1660s) and “cross-tempered” (1746), both of which may have derived from the verb frump, which in the 1550s meant “to mock or browbeat.” All senses may have descended from the late-14th-century verb frumple, “to wrinkle; crumple.”

Ann Eliza Young,
Brigham Young's 19th
wife, divorced him.
Grass widow: divorcee

Gyp: female dog; a more polite form of “bitch.”

High-strung: temperamental, excitable, nervous; ca. 1848. Evidently based on earlier (1748) musical term referring to stringed instruments.

Hot flashes: in the menopausal sense, attested from 1887.

Hysteria: mental disorder characterized primarily by volatile emotions and overdramatic or attention-seeking behavior. When the word arose in 1801 (based on the Latin medical term hysteric), it was applied solely to women and often resulted in their confinement in an asylum. In 1866, clitoridectomy was proposed as a cure.

Working girl of the
Old West, late 1800s
Lightskirt: woman of questionable virtue.

Soiled dove: prostitute; generally considered the kindest of such terms. Probably a conflation of the 13th Century definition of “soil” (to defile or pollute with sin) and the Christian use of “dove” to indicate gentleness or deliverance.

Sporting house: brothel.

Sporting ladies/sporting women: prostitutes.

Vaulting house: brothel. Conflation of “vault,” meaning a vigorous leap (mid-15th Century) and “house.”

What are some of your favorite Wild West words?




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Near-Death Experience by C. Marie Bowen

The Near-Death Experience

By C. Marie Bowen

The near-death experience—an occurrence that takes place after an individual’s heart stops beating, and before resuscitation—happens all the time. Not only are NDEs a frequent phenomena, they have been experienced by humans for, well...practically forever. NDEs have been documented in all parts of the world, and have been experienced by people of all religions.

There is even a research foundation, NDERF, that allows on-line readers to document their own experience. NDERF weblink. There is no shortage of information and opinions about this phenomenon.

I once spoke with a man who had been electrocuted and was without a heartbeat for several minutes before resuscitation. He told me he did not experience anything during the time his heart stopped beating. That non-experience is also not unusual.

Since my research for Passage began well before the advent of the internet, I have a number of book references in my notes cited by Dewey Decimal numbers. I have to laugh, because now, I have more information than ever regarding NDE’s. Despite easy access to a wealth of information, the experiences and opinions haven’t changed much in 30+ years.

Dr. Bill Lansing provides some general information regarding NDEs in an NDERF article link. NDE General Information. He states that (according to P.M.H. Atwater, in Beyond the light) there are four different types of Near-Death Experiences. Atwater’s research corresponds with my own.

1) A non-experience or Initial experience. This type of experience is either cut short by resuscitation, or precedes one of the other types. Atwater suggests that this type of experience is common with individuals who require the least amount of evidence, or proof of survival after death.

2) Unpleasant or Hell-type experience. This has been described as an encounter with a threatening void or a hellish purgatory. Atwater suggests that individuals with repressed guilt, fears or anger may experience this type of NDE – expecting punishment after death.

3) Pleasant or Heaven-type experience. These include loving scenarios with family and/or religious figures, and sometimes even “beings of light.” Atwater believes these are experienced by those who require reassurance and self-validation—individuals who need to know they were loved.

4) Transcendent Experience. This type of experience is often difficult to explain. Individuals are exposed to otherworldly dimensions and visions beyond their own frame of reference. Usually, there is no personal content relating to the individual. Atwater suggests this experience is for those ready to embrace the next challenge.

The near-death experience changes people, in both positive and negative ways, regardless of which type of experience they have. You might expect the Hell-type experience to lead to guilt, anger and depression, but that isn’t always the case. This type of experience is sometimes viewed as a “wake up call” to change the type of life you lead. Likewise, the after effects of a pleasant experience can lead to broken relationships and difficulty relating to the world “as it is”, just as often as it brings ecstatic joy and fills the individual with the wonder of life.

People who disbelieve in the NDE phenomenon have sited drug use, psychological trauma, and physiological injury such as high endorphins or hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) as the root cause of this experience.

I found one article through NPR that dealt with both the individual’s experience and the scientific study of the phenomena. NPR - Decoding the Mystery of NDEs

Information on this phenomenon hasn’t changed much in 30 years. What has changed is the ability to connect with others who have had an NDE, and for people to share their experience on-line.

In Passage, Courtney Veau experiences an NDE after a car accident. When her heart stops beating, she encounters an other-worldly hallway with darkened doorways and a compelling light at the end of the hall. As she moves toward the light and familiar voices, one doorway brightens and begins to pulse with the beat of a human heart. She is drawn through that doorway and falls into her previous life. When she reawakens in a present-day hospital, she is heartbroken. Courtney Veau would give anything to return to her soul-mate, Merril Shilo, and the life she lived as Nichole Harris, if she could only find the passage back to her previous life

Excerpt from Passage:
The long shadows faded into twilight. She'd found what she came for—proof this house existed. There was no longer a reason to stay; and yet, just the possibility she might hear his voice again kept her waiting one more day.
Outside the window, night took final possession of the day. A few porch lights came on down the block. Headlights swung around the corner as a car turned onto the street and illuminated the pavement. The headlights winked off and a car door slammed.
Behind her, the room took on a familiar chill. She turned from the window and pressed her back against the heavy drapes as the echo of boots pounded up the back stairs. She gasped when he raced into the room, vaguely luminescent in the darkness. He was dressed in denim trousers and cotton shirt, with a silk scarf tied loosely around his neck. Where's his hat? Had he lost it in the dash up the stairs? That wide-brimmed cowboy hat was such a part of him he seemed naked without it. His hair had come loose from its binding, and he shoved it out of his face with a familiar motion. She stood close enough to read the emotion play across his face, a mixture of fear and bewilderment. His breath was labored, and his anxiety tangible as he stopped and looked right at her. Her mouth fell open in surprise and her heart tightened in her chest. Does he see me?
He took a hesitant step toward her. “Nichole?” His voice filled with horror, he whispered her name from another life.
Yes! Merril, it's me.” Courtney stepped toward the specter.
His head turned. His attention called away from her open arms. “Oh, sweet Jesus.” Merril fell to his knees and reached for something no longer there. “Nicki, please don't go. Stay with me.”
Merril, I'm here.” Her heart ached for him and for herself, but her plea went unheard.
Sobs shook his wide shoulders.
Her heart clenched to witness his despair. She longed to comfort him, to assure him she was there, but could not. In defeat, she sank to her knees beside the grieving apparition.
Nicki, don't leave me. Look at me—” His hushed voice, choked and broken.
I'm right here, my love,” she whispered, but the room grew warm, and Merril Shilo faded back into the past. Courtney hung her head in the darkness and fought back tears. One question was answered, at least for now.


 Comment on the blog and leave your email address. If you like, tell me about an NDE you know of, or an “out of body” experience you have had. If you have never had an NDE, (and I never have), tell me what you believe you might find beyond the veil. Who would you speak with? The winner will receive a free e-book of Passage, Soul of the Witch – Book 1.

 Connie (C. Marie) Bowen is an award winning writer of paranormal adventures laced with suspense and romance. She grew up in Denver, Colorado and has a love of western history, science fiction, and fantasy. Her life travels have taken her from Denver to Wichita, KS and eventually settling in North Texas to raise her two boys. A LEED accredited professional, she worked as an Architectural Project Manager for retail construction prior to deciding an empty nest gave her the opportunity to follow her writing muse.

 She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Sub-chapter of RWA, North Texas RWA, and Savvy Authors.

Learn more about her books and works in progress at her website:

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Tibbits House in Columbia

Outside of Tibbits House corner of Main Street & Fulton Street, Columbia, CA

I have been to Columbia State Park in California many times in the past decades, but the first time I recall the Tibbet’s House being open to the public was during my trip last month. This house on the corner of Main Street and Fulton Street in Columbia is a neat, one story frame structure with an interesting history that reflects the growth of this gold rush city.

Mrs. Tibbits formal parlor so she could entertain her friends
 This house was named after the Lyman C. Tibbet (aka Tibbitt) family who lived in Columbia, California from 1887 to 1932. 

The back portion was formed from a cabin originally built in the 1850s on land north of Columbia in Gold Springs. It was originally owned by Lyman’s father, John P. Tibbets who died in 1866. In 1887 Lyman had the cabin moved to a vacant lot in Columbia.  Previously, the lot had been used for a general merchandise store, a meat market and possibly a saloon.

Mrs. Tibbet was dissatisfied living in the cabin because she did not have a formal parlor in which to entertain her friends. Her husband remedied that by buying a portion of another building in town and attaching it to the front of the original cabin.

That parlor is now restored to the 1870s era. Much of the decor is original and the rest is authentic to the time period.

Docent by door leading to modernized back cabin

The back part, which is the original cabin, has been modernized and is currently being lived in by a park employee.

From 1880 to 1911, Dr. Tibbetts ran a pharmacy across the street from the home in the current bank building. He later ran the pharmacy out of the parlor in his home. He also served as the town’s postmaster for several years.

Map of Columbia with arrow pointing to location of Tibbits House

Although Columbia was on the other side of the Sierria Nevada Mountains by way of the Sonora Pass from Lundy in Mono County, the time period in which the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series takes place is about the same time that "Doc" Tibbits worked as a pharmacist in Columbia.

Now Available
There is a reference in both of my novellas, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart (scheduled for release in April), of Doctor Guirado who also worked as a physician and ran a pharmacy in the gold mining town of Lundy, California. Big Meadows Valentine starts in the first week of January, 1884 and concludes on Valentine's Day.
Although no known photos exist of Dr. Guirado's home or business, we do know that his pharmacy was located on Main Street between First Street and Second Street, across the street and a half block down from the Arcade Saloon in which my character Beth Dodd works as a cook for the chop shop (steak house) in the back.
Scheduled for release April, 2015

I know of no known record that tells us what Dr. Guirado was doing on April 5th, 1884, a day in Lundy dubbed by the locals as "Resurrection Day." A Resurrected Heart is about the weekend surrounding this event. However, I'm sure with all the celebrating that took place in addition to the usual illnesses, in real life the good doctor was kept busy.

On Friday in A Resurrected Heart, Dr. Guirado is called on to patch up a miner injured in a confrontation. On Saturday, Beth is called on to assist with a birth because Dr. Guirado is busy escorting two very ill Lundyites to the county hospital in Bridgeport. It was an action-packed weekend for all filled by "A march, a birth, a burial -- and a resurrection of her heart."

     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, AChristmas Promise, was published by Prairie Rose Publications in November 2014. Big Meadows Valentine, the first novella in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, is now available for Kindle HERE and for B&N Nook HERE and A Resurrected Heart is scheduled for release in April 2015.

Please visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.