Sing on a Sleigh Ride

Have you ever ridden in a sleigh? Or a cutter? Or on a bobsled?

I remember the last — but it was far from a glamorous ride. I was small, perhaps five years old. My father was doing some of the work for my Great-Uncle (he was ill) and he took me along one afternoon. Cleaning the barn was included. My dad loaded the manure from the cows and horses onto a bobsled — actually a platform on four wide, wooden, shaped “runners”. Then he hitched up the team, had me stand next to him in a clear spot near the front of the platform, and we went off across the field. My dad pitched the manure onto the field, ordering the horses to go forward at the proper time. (The horses were old and not inclined to move without an order.)

A sleigh ride sounds more glamorous than the above. I think I’ll continue to create a picture consistent with the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Winter songs “The One Horse Open Sleigh” (Jingle Bells) and “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Want to sing along?

Wanted: One horse, trained for driving. Must not startle at bells.

The sweet romance, Starr Tree Farm, includes a January storm which leaves enough snow for sleigh-riding. However, the characters in this contemporary story drive trucks, cars, and snowmobiles instead. Check out the book here:


New “To Do” List

Thanksgiving Day and the weekend that follows is history. The turkey (or chicken, or ham, or roast beef) sandwiches have been eaten.

Now thoughts, and actions, turn to a new project.

What’s the deadline to send packages to???

Shipping rates have increased again????

Where did I put the cards that were extra last year???

Sometimes life just goes from one list of tasks to another. The end-of-year holidays are approaching with the steadiest of a drummer. Normal(?) life continues with family obligations, the necessity of work, and regular household chores.

But wait! Time to add the extras. Gifts to buy, wrap, and in many cases — send. Cards to address and mail. Meals to plan. Out-of-town guests arriving? Time to tidy up the guest room and find the clean sheets. Decorations to unpack, inspect, and set out. Music to play or concert to attend.

Don’t forget to squeeze in a little self-care. In my case, that includes taking a book and stealing off to a quiet corner. A sweet romance fits the mood of the season. For one with a step back to a different sort of hectic — try New Dreams.


Close Call

Tom gives thanks today for all the people who ate non-traditional foods on the United States Thanksgiving Day.

Did you dine on poultry? One year I roasted a duck for my children and I to feast upon.

Fish is always tasty. The holiday is an excellent day to try a new variety or a familiar type cooked in a new way.

Instead of looking at several days of sandwiches and casseroles featuring traditional turkey perhaps you have leg of lamb or ham or beef roast left from the feast.

Are you shopping today? Or, like this author, do you avoid stores on such a busy day. Yes, I have seasonal shopping to do — and I will go out and do much of it in person — but I think I’ll wait a day or three until the pace stabilizes.

On-line shopping means no long check-out line or overhearing arguments in the next aisle. All of my books – a nice quiet gift for yourself – are available at major on-line retailers. Click here for details on the most recent:


Thinking Time

These final weeks of a year can get hectic. Merchants clamor for your shopping dollar. Charities beg for an end-of-year gift. Schools and workplaces plan social events.

Sometimes a person wants to temporarily escape.

Unharried by the events of the larger world, this zoo resident contemplates her next move.

Beware of claws and teeth if you interrupt their thinking. On second thought, beware claws, teeth, and sharp words if you disturb an adult who has retreated behind a closed door to do a little thinking and thought gathering.

Residents in fictional Elm Ridge, Illinois, kept a cautious relationship with the forest animals. The primary animal mentioned in New Dreams, a sweet historical romance, is domestic, not wild. Check out the details here:


Holiday Gift?

According to the song — it’s the perfect gift for a young boy.

In my experience, and to stay within budget, this animal was limited to a puppet and a stuffed animal for young boys.

The real animal, while an interesting creature, requires a lot of upkeep. Swimming pool, generous vegetarian food supply, (I doubt a family garden could keep up), space to roam on land, and a waste disposal system. (Only so much can be accommodated on the garden.) And then you’ll need exotic animal permits. And a vet willing to make house/pool calls.

No hippos in the sweet, historical romance, New Dreams. If the residents of fictitious Elm Ridge, Illinois, knew of them at all — it would have been through books. So if you’re looking for a hippo-free zone – check here:


National Novel Writing Month

Every day, every week, and every month appears to celebrate one or more foods, activities, or occupations these days.

Some of these I celebrate more than others. There are the national holidays which are noted on a sliding scale of enthusiasm. Many I am unaware of unless a social media post catches my attention.

When I started writing seriously, and joined a writing group, (best thing a serious writer can do), I learned of NaNoWriMo. I needed an explanation.

It’s a writing challenge in the month of November. Write, ugly first draft encouraged, a complete novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. That works out to 1,667 words per day or 6.67 pages in standard format.

Novels are included in this bookcase at my house. I wonder if any of them started as a NaNoWriMo project?

Started as a project — then rewritten and polished to publication standards — New Dreams, a sweet, historical romance follows a pair of immigrants to their new life in 1850’s Illinois. Check it our here:


Scent Expert

What does a city smell like?

Well, let me think for a minute. It will vary by location. But I’ve had an excellent spot to sample the scents in St. Louis since 1934.

I smell the river — a touch of mud and fish. Gasoline and diesel fumes are a constant. For decades the sweet scent of candy, licorice to be precise, tickled my nose.

Peanuts and beer tempt me on days when baseball games are played downtown. Funnel cakes, BBQ, and sausages predominate on weekends with food festivals. Thinking about it makes me hungry.

Do you have fried ravioli to spare? A thin-crust pizza? Gooey butter cake? I’m hungry as a bear.

No bears in the sweet, historical romance, New Dreams. Lots of tempting smells from the bakery – bread, cinnamon buns, and Kuchens. Check it out here:


Authors like…

Coffee. Chocolate. Wine (many of us). Readers. And…reviewers.

Have you recently read a book you liked? The sort of book you tell your friend, or neighbor, or friendly neighbor about.

Consider telling a wider audience. Write a review.

Do you have a social media account? This is an excellent place to post the review. Did you purchase the book on-line? Post a review on the retailer’s site.

Did you know this author posts reviews? You can find them under the “book review” tab at the top of this page. One-click and you can find a sample of what I’ve been reading. And perhaps an example of a review to follow.

Here’s the cover of the most recent review — a cozy mystery set in Orange County, CA.


Keeping Separate Rhythm

The spinning earth, rotating moon, and central sun all keep their own steady rhythm. Days. Months. Years. The solar system maintains a complicated dance.

This is rumored to trickle down to plants, animals, and humans. Growth and activity cycles are often keyed to seasons, temperature, or length of daylight.

I think one of my houseplants failed to get the memo.

This is definitely NOT an Easter Cactus.

When I compare the leaf shape to a chart, it says Christmas. However, for five years, it has chosen to bloom closer to Halloween (or All Saints Day) than to either Canadian or American Thanksgiving — and certainly not at Christmas.

As a bonus (or symptom of further confusion) the plant has bloomed for a second time, with fewer blossoms, close to Valentine’s Day.

It’s a good thing I’m not fussy with my plants. I choose to enjoy the blooms, no matter the month on the calendar.

For a sweet romance that’s enjoyable at any time of year — check out the historical New Dreams. You’ll step back to 1851 Illinois among the German immigrants.


Last Call for Carvers!

Today’s your last chance. Grab your pumpkin and a good, strong knife.

This will be messy work. Try outside if the weather is fine. Lots of newspaper in your space if carving inside.

Study the fruit well. Consider what you want to carve — traditional face — or something different.

Ready? Plunge in the knife for the first cut to make a lid. Be sure your hand will fit. Oh…here we are at the messy part. Seeds and stringy fibers holding them. Handful after handful goes on the newspaper.

Last chance to pick an area. Got it? Here we go!

Tomorrow pumpkins will be for pie. But tonight they are for fun. Happy face? Sad face? Teeth? Eye shape?