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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Gift of Christmas Hope by Kaye Spencer - December #blogabookscene #Christmasstory #westernromance #PrairieRosePubs


A Gift of Christmas Hope tells the story of a well-to-do lady gambler, Mara Wyndham, who is traveling from the East back home to Texas with a stagecoach full of treasure when she encounters a con man on the look-out for another wealthy woman he can spend the winter with while charming her out of her money.

The story unfolds with hints about the woman's mysterious true identity, what her treasure really is, and how the con man, Neal Behlen, turns out to be a crucial link in her life's chain of events.


A Texas Panhandle blizzard threatens to keep Mara from reaching her destination by Christmas Day, and this is totally unacceptable to her, as there children looking forward to her arrival.

Although I don't go into detail about where these children are living, I took the essence of a real children's home as the model.

The real facility is located in the Texas Panhandle, not far from Amarillo, is a facility with a history dating back to 1938. This facility is still in existence today. The facility, and what it came to stand for, was the life's work of a man with a vision who created a 'place' for homeless, wayward, and abandoned children—boys to begin with and later girls—to live and have the opportunity to turn their lives around.

It became a haven where children could get a decent education, have enough food to eat, sleep with a roof over their heads, learn a trade or skill, be involved in athletics, receive medical attention, and have their spiritual needs met. It was a home when there was no home for these children.

Cal Farley Ranch - aerial view
Photo from slideshow on this website: https://www.calfarley.org/boysranch/

This man with a vision was Cal Farley, and and the place he built for needy children is now called the Cal Farley Boys and Girls Ranch. Click HERE to read a history of the ranch.


Kaye Spencer's photo - Cal Farley Ranch from a distance

EXCERPT

Neal looked at her a long time. “When my pa died, he took everything I cared about with him. There wasn’t anything left to settle.”

Mara placed a gentle hand on his arm. “Your father made his choice. Regardless of his last words to you, I have to think he wanted you to lead a good life. Yes, he was despondent; he saw no reason for living, but why else would he have left you money and property? If life was really as terrible as he said, he’d have taken you with him when he killed himself to spare you from life’s pain and suffering. But he didn’t. He left you the one thing that refused to die with him. Hope.”

“Hope! It’s always hope with you.” Neal threw up his arms and left the bed in a bound. He crossed the small room in quick strides to stand at the fireplace, one arm resting on the mantle as he gazed into the flames.

Mara sat motionless, frowning at his outburst. “Yes. Hope is all we have.”

“My parents had hope, too, and look where it got them.” His voice was hard and cold. When he turned, a dark shadow of regret and anger clouded the usual sparkle in his eyes. “They put every penny they had into the hope of a better life, and it was stolen from them. In the end, they didn’t even get to say goodbye to each other. They each died alone and hopeless eighteen hundred miles apart. I’ve carried that with me all these years. Here and here.” He touched his head then his heart. “We’re born, we endure—and then we die.”

Mara left the bed in a whirling swirl of skirts, clutching both hands to her breast, her heart pounding, stomach churning. His cavalier sarcasm cut her to the bone. “You are not the only one who carries memories so painful that remembering them physically hurts.” Tears she’d kept bottled up for years came unbidden, streaming down her cheeks, fueled by the anguish she’d buried in the deepest part of her heart.

“I was orphaned before I was two years old. My mother was a young Mexican girl who died at the hands of a vicious patron.” She saw the recognition in his eyes. “Yes, she was a prostitute. I was too young to remember, but I’m told after she died, I was passed from one person to another because no one wanted me.” Her face contorted with the effort to stem the flow of tears.

“When I was six, an elderly minister and his wife took me in. For the first time in my life—” her voice caught on hiccupping sobs. “I had a home and people who cared for me—really cared. I had a bed to sleep in every night and food I could eat, even when I wasn’t hungry. My little world was finally safe and happy.”

She drew herself up to her full height, set her shoulders, and forced the next words out. “Then the Comanche attacked.”

Neal’s expression ran a gamut of emotions, and she each one, be-cause they still raged in her heart and brought her screaming out of nightmares in the middle of the night.

She forced herself to explain what she seldom spoke of. “You know what that means. You’ve seen the aftermath of a Comanche raid, and you’ll never be rid of the memories. Imagine the horror for a child who witnessed the carnage. A seven-year-old girl shouldn’t have to kill to survive.”









A Gift of Christmas Hope, as a novelette, is available on Amazon.com.
Kindle | KindleUnlimited

and

The story is also available in the anthology Wild Texas Christmas.
Kindle | KindleUnlimited | Print










 










Until next year,

Kaye Spencer

Writing through history one romance upon a time


 
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Prairie Rose Publications |YouTube

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Fourteen Rules Of Writing


 

By Kristy McCaffrey

Many an author has posted such a list, and there’s much good info out there if seeking guidance in the writing arena. I’ve been at this inscribing thing now for nearly twenty years (more like forty if you consider my childhood scribbles—yes, they do count), so it goes without saying that I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Here they are.

—Watch ‘Romancing the Stone’, a wonderful movie about romance author Joan Wilder. It’s incredibly accurate, right down to the sticky notes all over her kitchen reminding her she needs to do this and that. When writing, we writers forget everything.

—I’ve given up trying to write before I’ve checked email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I write in the afternoons and evenings, which pretty much ruins dinner every night.


—Get an iPod to block out the kids and husband. I make playlists for each story, offering me one more avenue to procrastinate on my writing. (Never mind that no one uses iPods anymore. I will never give mine up.)

—Buy bookshelves to hold research books but know that it won’t matter. You’ll still run out of room, so make peace with tomes strewn all over the floor.


—When I’m stuck on a scene, I’ve found the most effective method is to stop writing and wait for inspiration. Three days later when nothing hits, I return to the computer pissed off and write a scene in frustrated anger. But, hey, I’ve finally moved forward.

—I rewrite any sentence that contains ‘lie’ or ‘lay’ because I’m unable to remember the rule and too lazy to look it up.


—I always keep a thesaurus and dictionary handy. My trade is words, and my work is to make ’em count. (By the way, this doesn’t count for ‘lie’ or ‘lay’—a loathsome trickery in the English language.)

—Don’t name an animal after a color. If you decide to change the name later, a ‘search and replace’ in Word will make you realize how many times you used the word ‘white’ within your manuscript (because it will replace all the wrong ‘whites’). Now, it becomes apparent that the thesaurus has been neglected.

—I refuse to feel guilt when I use an adverb.

—I have a tendency to put spectacles on my heroines in every first draft, which I must later delete. It’s the oldest trick in the book to make my ladies appear ‘smart’. Did I mention that I wear glasses?

—I’ve learned to trust my muse. She’s a sneaky little devil, never making things clear until the end of a project. By then I’ve eaten too much ice cream and moped around believing I’ll NEVER make this story work.

—I’m a writer, not a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, and therefore there’s no sense dwelling on bad prose (mine or anyone else’s). Move on. I can always do better next time. (This is my pep talk after bouts of insecurity and lots of ice cream.)


—I obsess constantly about where to put commas, which has led to more than one restless night. I will edit year-old blog posts if I realize I missed a critical comma. And no, I'm not obsessive-compulsive, hyper-focused, or anal. (I will probably re-edit this post next year...)

—I keep writing until the heart of a story can be excavated. It always exists, and it’s my job to clear the dirt and debris so that it can shine. I’m simply a translator of myth and symbolism into something others can enjoy. It’s my gift, and my curse. I imagine brain surgeons feel the same way.

So, to recap. Writing is exhilarating, but also crappy. (I can't find ‘crappy’ in my thesaurus, so have no other word to use. Sorry.)


Since it’s December and the season of giving, I want to send one lucky commenter an autographed print copy of INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS, a standalone historical western romance with humor and paranormal elements. It’s also a little on the steamy side. If you would like to be entered, please include your email address in the comments so that I don’t have to crawl the web to find you. Unfortunately, the print copy is for U.S. addresses only. If you’re international, the prize will be digital. Winner chosen on December 14, 2018.


Connect with Kristy



Wishing you all a blessed and bright 2019!!



Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Traditions


A HAPPY WESTERN CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

All right, everyone who hasn't even started their Christmas shopping, raise your hands! That's me, waving a bit frantically. Granted, now that the nieces and nephews are a bit older, there isn't as much to do. Still, there are the five great-nephews and one soon-to-arrive great-niece that keep me looking at catalogs and scoping out toy sections.

Every Christmas is different--but every one is the same. For me, Christmas is memories of church services with a hundred voices singing Silent Night by candlelight; playing the flute with my mother at the organ; and champagne at home afterward, celebrating the joy of Christmas.

As I write stories like Her Christmas Wish, I think about how our ancestors celebrated Christmas. Alone on a patch of ground, with work that must be done, did Christmas become just another day? How did the mother of five add all the holiday baking and decorating and making gifts to her already too-busy schedule?

Pioneers and soldiers in remote forts decorated their homes with what was at hand: evergreens, pine cones, holly, nuts and berries, popcorn or paper strings, and homemade decorations like dolls made of straw or yarn; cookie dough ornaments and gingerbread men. Women would start their holiday baking weeks ahead of time. Gifts were homemade, things like sachets from the roses, carved wooden toys, embroidered handkerchiefs, and knitted hats, scarves and socks.

In Her Christmas Wish, my heroine, Katie, kept her family traditions alive by making the special foods of her childhood. Here's an excerpt:

Her Christmas Wish
Her only wish for Christmas was the man who left her behind.

   “Hang on a minute. Got a package for you. From Chicago.” 
   “From home?” 
   “Not sure. I only know it’s heavy.” 
   A smile curved her lips, making Will wish he had the right to steal another kiss and taste her joy. It had been too long since he’d felt any himself. “My sister, Brenna, often sends a few special ingredients at this time of year. She considers it a terrible sin for me to not be able to make our traditional foods for Christmas.” 
   Will’s mouth watered at the thought of the rich fruit breads and cakes that always graced the table on Christmas morning. “Treacle and almonds?”
   “More likely currants and whiskey,” she laughed. 



What about you? What traditions do you have that mean Christmas to you?


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Book review: A Christmas Visitor by Sarah J. McNeal

A Christmas Visitor by [McNeal, Sarah J. ]



Blurb:

Matilda Barton’s broken heart may never heal. The love of her life, Sterling Thoroughgood, has been gone three years with no word. Is he dead or alive? Why should it matter to her? She’s spent the past three years trying to save her father, her ranch, and her dignity—but her heart has taken the worst battering of all. Now that her father has died, the livestock has been sold off, and the ranch is in disrepair, her life is empty. When Sterling Thoroughgood rides up to her house on Christmas Eve, is it any wonder she greets him with a shotgun instead of a kiss?

Sterling Throughgood has worked hard to build a ranch in Hazard, Wyoming. Admittedly, it took longer than he thought, but he had to have a good start for Matilda, the woman he’s always loved. Arriving at her house on Christmas Eve, he discovers a lot has changed in three years. Her father, his mentor, has passed away—and Matilda has become bitter because of what she felt were empty promises Sterling made in the past. But Sterling is not a quitter, and he will pit his determination against Matilda’s iron-clad will any day of the week—even on Christmas Eve.

He hopes that the puzzle box he made for her with his special gift inside will prove to her his ever-constant love, but is it too late for that? Can Matilda understand his three-year absence amidst all the loss she’s gone through? Is their love lost forever, or does the peculiar puzzle box hold the key to happiness for both of them? Can Sterling be more than just A CHRISTMAS VISITOR…

My Review:

What a cute Christmas story! Matilda and Sterling were sweethearts, but Sterling decided before he could marry her, he needed to make something of himself. Sadly, miscommunication left Matilda behind feeling lost and abandoned while Sterling strove and struggled to become worthy of her. Years past before Sterling returned, finding things weren’t quite as he expected.

Matilda used her stubbornness and strength to survive everything life had thrown at her after Sterling left, and your heart hurts for the depth of her dashed hopes and dreams. You also find yourself cheering for her as she works through her pride and reaches out to grab hold of her happy. 

Good thing Sterling also had a stubborn streak to keep up with Matilda and kept proving to her over and over his love for her - and it’s a good thing his heart was in the right place! I loved how he refused to give up and gifted Matilda with something she desperately needed.

This second chance love story offers a sweet and short Christmas time heart-warming happily ever after.

Purchase Links:


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Book review: The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson by Cheryl Pierson

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Blurb:

A woman with no home…
Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…
The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?
In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

My review:
The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson is a sweet, adorable story of a rough and tumble rancher who finds his hea with a prim and proper southern belle. Devlin is struggling with moving on from the loss of his first wife and daughter, just keeping it barely together for his toddler son, when Miss Jackson and her (surprise!) niece arrive in answer to his search for a caretaker for his son. And thus begins a tale of falling in love, choosing and giving forgiveness, learning to trust, and finding the happily ever after that was meant to be. And let's just say, it wasn't uneventful despite the snow quickly piling up! Several twists and turns keep you on your toes as Devlin and Julie grow closer to each other and build a family.

This is a sweet and adorable little tale that provides a feel good easy read many readers seek out at Christmas time! Don't miss it!


Friday, December 7, 2018

New Release — Sir Conrad and the Christmas Treasure by Lindsay Townsend

Maggie’s younger brother, Michael, is kidnapped by outlaws, and it’s up to her to rescue him. Appealing to Sir Conrad, the grim steward of the northern English high lands, is the very last thing she wants to do. With the very real possibility that the outlaws know of Michael’s talent—the ability to open any lock, to reveal any treasure—Maggie races against time to find him before his usefulness to the outlaws is ended.

Sir Conrad desires Maggie from the minute he sees her—she makes him feel alive again—and that has not happened since the death of his wife. Though he hasn’t known Maggie before, a strange feeling of familiarity nags, and he agrees to aid the beautiful peasant girl in this quest of finding her brother. 

Joining forces, Maggie and Sir Conrad form a tenuous bond. When an assassin attacks Maggie, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit, and Conrad realizes that even Maggie doesn’t know the power she holds. But Conrad not only must keep Maggie safe, he must thwart the dangerous devices of his spiteful older brother, Richard, who has lately returned from crusade. 

As love blossoms, Maggie and Conrad must protect one another. Evil is all around them, and doubt is a cruel enemy. Will their faith in each other keep them united? In the world of dangerous courtly intrigue, who is saving whom? Love is all that matters…but can that be enough?

EXCERPT

     Sir Conrad, the steward of the forest high lands, glowered at the latest miscreant to be dragged before him in the great hall of the northern sheriff’s castle. A castle that has never felt like my own, for all I am reluctant steward here.  
     Despite his instructions, Sir David, his under-reeve, would bring the wretches up in chains, even the women. Conrad gripped his sword hilt to stop himself from punching David, and rose from his chair to approach the small, slight figure before him.
     “What, where, and who?” he snapped at his shorter, stockier, second-in-command. The woman—girl, really—did not flinch, which surprised him. 
     Conrad knew he was harsh, unsmiling in his manner. Since Joan had died three winters ago, leaving him a widower and bereft at the age of twenty-four, he had been unable to be anything but cold to anyone. He had no interest in brief affairs. I witnessed too much heartbreak from my father and brother and their parade of mistresses to do the same. Although this girl—
     Now he was looking at her properly, he recognized two things at once. The first was that he wanted her, wanted her badly, with a raw force he had not experienced since he was a squire. Is it the chains? I would chain her to my bed, if I could. She was delicate, with a fragile profile, sweetly upcurving lips, masses of glossy blonde hair and eyes as blue and big as a summer sky. She seemed both graceful and slender, and at the same time, determined—standing straight, poised as a dancer, facing life head on. 
     That was the second thing he realized. The girl was brave. Dressed in her mud-coloured gown, her dirt-spattered, travel-stained tunic and threadbare cloak, in rough leather boots that were splitting at the seams and looked too small for her, she watched him with the poise of a cat, all barely-hidden fire. 

     If she smiles at me I will be lost, and yes, I would certainly like to chain her to my bed. But why did she seem familiar? 


      

Thursday, December 6, 2018

New Release — A Christmas Visitor by Sarah J. McNeal


Matilda Barton’s broken heart may never heal. The love of her life, Sterling Thoroughgood, has been gone three years with no word. Is he dead or alive? Why should it matter to her? She’s spent the past three years trying to save her father, her ranch, and her dignity—but her heart has taken the worst battering of all. Now that her father has died, the livestock has been sold off, and the ranch is in disrepair, her life is empty. When Sterling Thoroughgood rides up to her house on Christmas Eve, is it any wonder she greets him with a shotgun instead of a kiss?

Sterling Throughgood has worked hard to build a ranch in Hazard, Wyoming. Admittedly, it took longer than he thought, but he had to have a good start for Matilda, the woman he’s always loved. Arriving at her house on Christmas Eve, he discovers a lot has changed in three years. Her father, his mentor, has passed away—and Matilda has become bitter because of what she felt were empty promises Sterling made in the past. But Sterling is not a quitter, and he will pit his determination against Matilda’s iron-clad will any day of the week—even on Christmas Eve.

He hopes that the puzzle box he made for her with his special gift inside will prove to her his ever-constant love, but is it too late for that? Can Matilda understand his three-year absence amidst all the loss she’s gone through? Is their love lost forever, or does the peculiar puzzle box hold the key to happiness for both of them? Can Sterling be more than just A CHRISTMAS VISITOR…

EXCERPT

     “Don’t you even think about stepping up on this porch, Sterling Alexander Thoroughgood, or I’ll shoot a hole in you big enough for a team of horses to jump through.” The woman wearing a faded blue calico dress aimed the shotgun straight at his heart…and sometimes his liver, since she wasn’t holding the shotgun all that steady.

     Sterling raised his hands in the air. His bare hands were practically numb from the cold. He glanced up at the slate gray sky. Snow’s comin’. Then, he grinned at the woman holding the shotgun. “Merry Christmas to you, too, Matilda.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New Release — The Homecoming by Kit Prate

Rory Saunders has experienced a crushing divorce. After sixteen years of marriage, her life is in disarray.

She knows she is running away when she leaves the city behind her; running to what she hopes will be a new beginning. Moving to a new house, a place in the country, she seeks to recapture the happiness of her childhood, and perhaps some of her childhood dreams.

The last thing she wants or expects is another broken heart. She is through with that part of her life; through with secrets, disappointment, and painful deception.

Then Devlin Culhane strolls into her life. He reminds her of the handsome loners who decorate the covers of the western romances she reads for pleasure; tall, tanned and blond, ever the hero.

But even a hero can have secrets…

EXCERPT

     Rory Saunders had made up her mind. She was going to do it. It didn’t matter if it was slightly less than a month until Christmas, or that everywhere she went some pillow-stuffed Santa was ho-ho-hoing on every street corner or at the entrance to every store. And if she heard even so much as one more pop version of Hark, the Herald Angels Sing… What was it about the idiot merchants out there that made them start the Christmas push just a week after Halloween? Or pop “artists” who thought they could improve traditional Christmas carols by performing them like they were punk rock compositions? It was depressing.
     It was also her first Christmas alone since the divorce.
     Rory Saunders was going to kill herself.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

New Release — Christmas Wishes by Diana Tobin (Men Of Maine Series Book 6)


Quiltmaker Claire Stone and her young daughter, Grace, are newcomers to the small town of Webster, Maine. Erasing the past is something Claire is determined to do, for divorcing her cruel ex-husband was the only solution to save herself and her daughter—and she’s never regretted it. But when she meets handsome Marc Baxter, the attraction is instant, and she begins to realize what she’s missed in life—someone to care for her…someone to care for.

Marc Baxter has come home to his roots, recovering from a nasty divorce and the discovery that his ex-wife had some shocking secrets of her own. Christmas is on the way, and he’s looking forward to opening a clinic with his niece and getting back to practicing medicine again.

When Grace is injured in an accident, Marc’s tender treatment leaves her with a severe case of hero worship—and wishing for a loving father. Claire is grateful to Marc, but her feelings go much deeper than that. Despite her fears of emotional ties, Marc is prepared to do whatever it takes to win Claire over.

But Claire’s controlling ex-husband was a doctor. Can she take a chance on another “professional” man who’s used to making the decisions in life? Marc says he loves her, but can he respect her and treat her as a life partner? Is there any hope for a Yuletide miracle that will see all their CHRISTMAS WISHES come true?


EXCERPT


     Claire sipped her pumpkin spiced coffee and licked a drop of whipped cream from her upper lip. She should be home, starting the mayor’s quilt, but couldn’t face an empty house. Instead, she came to Moose-ley Coffee and treated herself to an afternoon snack. Even though she sat alone at one of the small tables she didn’t feel alone with the few others in the cafe. The atmosphere was welcoming and friendly.
     Grace would enjoy a hot chocolate. Maybe she’d remain in the coffee shop until school let out, order a snack for her daughter, and they could go home together.
     “Mind if I join you for a moment?”
     She looked up to find a stranger beside her table, his hand on the chair opposite hers. His dark brown hair looked wind- tossed with a lock hanging down his brow. His blue eyes pierced her with an intensity filled with sadness. Scruff covered his square jaw and outlined his full lips.

     

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First Ladies of the Pikes Peak Region - Helen (Hunt) Jackson #history #writing

View of Pikes Peak covered in clouds
photo (c) by rhe author
The next lady in the series is one many people know: Helen (Hunt) Jackson. Since there is a great deal of information on this lady, this post will cover an 'interview' and information about the writing of the book "Ramona" near the end of her life.

For information on the early ladies in the series:
Elizabeth McAllister
Cara Bell

Grace Greenwood

Lucy Maggard


Image result for images of Helen Hunt jackson
Helen (Hunt) Jackson from Wikipedia
First an 'interview':


As you were traveling to the west you made some unique observations. Would you share some of those thoughts?

Prairie, unfenced, undivided, unmeasured, unmarked, save by the different tints of different growths of grass or grain; great droves of cattle grazing here and there; acres of willow saplings, pale yellowish green; and solitary trees, which look like hermits in a wilderness. These, and now and then a shapeless village, which looks even lonelier than the empty loneliness by which it is surrounded, - these are all for hours and hours. We think, “now we are getting out into the great spaces.” “This is what the word ‘West’ has sounded like.”

You seem to like the lower elevations as opposed to the high peaks. Why do you think that?

I think that true delight, true realization, of the gracious, tender, unutterable beauty of the earth and all created things are to be found in outlooks from lower points—vistas which shut more than they show, sweet and unexpected revealings in level places and valley, secrets of near woods, and glories of every-day paths.

You are quoted as saying there are nine places of worship in Colorado Springs. What are the?

There are nine “places of divine worship” in Colorado Springs, -- the Presbyterian, the Cumberland Presbyterian, the Methodist, the South Methodist, the Episcopal, the Congregationalist, the Baptist, the Unitarian, and Cheyenne Canyon.

Helen Hunt Falls -North Cheyenne Canyon
Photo (c) by author 
What do you do when the snow covers the ground?

... winter..... memory and fancy will have their way; and, as we sit cowering over fires, and the snow piles up outside our window sills, we shall gaze dreamily into the glowing coals, and, living the summer over again, shall recall it in a minuteness of joy, for summer days were too short and summer light too strong. Then, when joy becomes reverie, and reverie takes shape, a truer record can be written....

Ruth Odell wrote one of the early biographies of Helen. It was published in 1939. Her book talks about the writing of "Ramona" and the end of Helen's life. I share some of that with you here:

According to Odell, Helen wrote Ramona in New York between Dec, 1883 and April 1884.

1883-1884

Berkeley Hotel, New York

Wrote first words of Ramona on Dec. 1, 1883

Pg 210-211 of the book says:

"The novel which Helen hoped so ardently would “tell” in a manner in which A Century of Dishonor had not was written with lightening speed. She was frightened at the intensity of her own interest, which drove her to compose at the rate of from two to three thousand words in a day. It was as if she were haunted and obsessed. So loath was she to stop writing that her concentration resulted in two serious attacks of illness. …..From time to time she drove herself to write a short story, an article....but with the feeling always that she was suffering an actual deprivation in having to turn away from the thing she wished to be doing.....By late February she had finished twenty chapters."

Below is a timeline of the release of the book.

April 12 of 1884  the 'Critic' announced that Mrs. Helen Jackson would soon publish the first long novel under her own name.

May 1, 1884 'The Christian Union' noted that it would begin in a fortnight a serial presentation of the novel Ramona.

On a side note, "Ramona" has had at least 300 printings since that date.

Time line of Helen's last months

June 28, 1884 Helen broke her hip. The fall of 1884 she went to CA .

By Feb 1885 she became seriously ill of what she believed to be “malarial poisoning”.

From Page 212 of the Odell book:

When she could no longer postpone it, the doctor sent a telegram to her husband, who arrived Aug 2. Ten days later the end came. Subsequent dispatches gave the cause of her death as cancer. Fortunately she had not known.

Evergreen Cemetery Colorado Springs
Photo (c) by the author
Helen made her home in Colorado Springs from 1873 to her death in 1885. She supported the growth of the new town, wrote glowing articles and even supported reading and libraries. Her final resting place is in Evergreen Cemetery next to her second husband William S. Jackson.



Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Book review: Her Christmas Wish by Tracy Garrett

23004611

Blurb:

A Christmas story.

Even a woman capable of living on her own…

Kathryn McConnell is a widow celebrating a milestone birthday alone. Though she feels a woman should be able to mourn the passing of her thirtieth birthday any way she wants, she won’t turn away a cowboy in need of lodging—until she learns it’s the man she’d expected to marry thirteen years earlier.

…never forgets her first love.
Will O’Brien had challenged his father’s prejudice against the woman he loved only to discover he was unable to stand against his family’s wealth and connections. Without a way to support his bride, Will struck out for the west, determined to earn a living for them both. When he returned after two years with no word from Katie, he found she’d married another and moved away. Heartbroken, he returns to his work, but never stops hoping to find her.

When chance lands Will at the remote stagecoach station run by the widowed Kathryn, he grabs at the opportunity he’s been handed, hoping to win back the only woman he has ever loved.

My review:

Her Christmas Wish is the sweet 2nd chance love story for Will and his Katie.

Life throws challenge and heartbreak Katie's way over and over again until she finally finds herself digging deep in her inner strength to make it on her own. Then when she allows a past memory of a lost love to slip in, to her shock, wishes seem to come true.

Will has his own set of challenges and pain he's struggled with for years, and when he finds his Katie, he doesn't back down from claiming his woman and showing her he still loves her - and always did.

I loved watching these two work through things and find their way to their Christmas happily ever after, where wishes are granted, just not always on our time table. This is a sweet, easy read with lots of warm feel goods mixed in.

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