November 2017 FREE BOOK Winner!!

Congratulations to Janeen Hunt Radtke who won our two free books for November 2017!! When asked if she thought she could survive in a wilderness situation, Janeen said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Great attitude!

Janeen, please message me your address, and I’ll send the books your way!

Happy Reading, Janeen!!

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November 2017 FREE BOOK!

Actually, I should say, free bookS! We have two this month, and they’ll both go to one lucky winner.

These books are classics written by writers who have earned the reputation of being classics themselves. James Alexander Thom’s FOLLOW THE RIVER is a true story based on the ordeal of Mary Ingles in Virginia in 1755. Louis L’Amour’s DOWN THE LONG HILLS is a novel about two children — ages 7 and 3 — left orphaned on the high plains in 1848. It’s one of my favorite Louis L’Amour books.

To have your name included in our Wednesday, November 8 drawing just answer this question:

Do you think you would’ve been a good pioneer?
Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or explain if you’d like!

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Corsets & Lace: Haute Couture – The Victorian Age

My current novel-in-progress is entitled GILT. It’s set during the 1870s in New York City. I’m definitely a country girl (actually a backwoods girl), but the first time I visited New York (I was seventeen.), I fell in love with that huge, gritty (grittier then than now), glorious, amazing metropolis. In subsequent visits, both on business and on vacation, I haven’t changed my mind. I LOVE NEW YORK!

As I continue to write and do research for GILT, I’m immersing myself in the New York of the 1800s, and I’m fascinated! My main character, China Deliverance Creed is a seamstress, or at least she was before she married into a very wealthy New York family. She is amazed and delighted with her new life, especially the elaborate clothing, hats, and shoes that are now hers simply for the asking. As I began to write those scenes, I was perplexed about how to imprint the very elegant, very complicated Victorian clothing on my brain. I want to write about it as if I’d worn it every day of my adult life.

Then the miracle! A small book catalog somehow found its way into my mailbox. Here’s what I found. Yep, a coloring book!

When I told my literary agent, Victoria Skurnick, about it, she commented, “Ah, the coloring book. The bane of my childhood – I have no artistic talent whatsoever and could not stay within the lines. But now I think of it as a historical tool, which makes me appreciate coloring books anew.” Like Victoria, I’ve never been a good colorer (if that’s a word), but when I color Victorian clothing, I imprint my brain. What a great way to learn!

The other treasure I found was this — a book filled to the brim with fabric swatches:

The tactile experience of touching these swatches makes Victorian fabric come alive for me. I am a weaver, so I have that advantage, but I don’t have experience with many of the natural fabrics worn in those days, especially the silk, which is much too delicate and way too expensive for me to use on my loom!

I love to wear silk and cotton. Not wool, which makes me break out in a rash. Recently I’ve fallen in love with bamboo socks! Do you have a favorite fabric to wear, or one you don’t like?

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Your Life & Mine: Chocolate!

I hope I don’t lose any friends over this post, but I don’t LOVE chocolate. It’s okay. I like it, but I don’t love it. Chocolate fudge is good, and I enjoy a slice of fudge, but I’d rather eat white chocolate, peanut butter, maple — just about any other flavor than plain chocolate. I don’t even LOVE chocolate cake. I’d rather have white or best of all, carrot. When it comes to chocolate ice cream. Forget it. I will admit, though, a good chewy brownie does a great deal to redeem chocolate from the ranks of the mediocre, at least for me.

A friend of mine made what I consider to be a very wise statement concerning chocolate, and her assertion may be the reason behind my reluctance to choose chocolate. After all, think about almost every American — and probably Canadian — kid’s introduction to chocolate. The quintessential Oreo cookie.

Here’s what my friend said. “Oreo cookies aren’t chocolate. They’re just brown.” Now don’t get me wrong. I can go through a package of Oreos with the best of them, but to do so, I need a tall glass of cold milk, and a plate. When I’m done, the milk is gone, the plate is full of Oreo sides, and I’ve eaten all the frosting. Double Stuff Oreos? Yummmmm.

My question for you? A Food Guru gives you a plate upon which are three piles of candy chips: one milk chocolate, one white, and one butterscotch. He says you can eat all you want, but of only one pile. Which do you choose?

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October 2017 FREE BOOK Winner!

Congratulations to Bev Majerus who won our October 2017 Free Book, THESE HEALING HILLS by Ann H. Gabhart!

Bev, message me your address and I’ll send you you’re copy ASAP!

Happy Reading!

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October 2017 FREE BOOK!

Our Give-Away book this month is a new release from one of my favorite authors and my friend, Ann H. Gabhart. If you love inspirational historical romances, you will love this book. Once I begin reading one of Ann’s books, I just don’t want to put it down!

From the back cover, “Francine Howard has her life all mapped out — until the man she loves announces his plans to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

“Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky….”

In writing about Kentucky, Ann Gabhart is one of the best, no surprise since she is a native Kentuckian!

To have your name included in our Wednesday, October 11 drawing, just answer this question: “Did you ever consider (even as a child) a career in a medical field?”

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Dirt & Bones: Haute Couture, circa 5000 B.C.

In my novel HORSES OF THE WEST SUN (yet to be released and also known as BONE FIRE) set circa 5700 B.C., I based most of my characters’ garments on the clothing and shoes of “the man in the ice” — Otzi. His body was found in 1991 trapped in a glacier in the Otztaler Alps (Austrian-Italian border). His corpse was in surprisingly good condition, as were many of his weapons, tools and some of his clothing.

The papers sticking out of the book are my notes. Not a sophisticated research technique but it works for me!

Circa 5,700 B.C. weaving had not yet made its appearance in most parts of Europe. Clothing was constructed from hides and pelts, sinew, and braided plant fibers. However, European women were — and had been — making a very specific type of garment using a rudimentary type of loom, now called the backstrap loom. The garments they made on these looms are often referred to as string skirts. Basically they consisted of a wide waistband that was tied around the belly. Fringes hung from that waistband down toward the knees.

A number of ancient clay images depict women wearing string skirts, including a figure from Gagarina, Russia, estimated to be more than 20,000 years old. In my novel, the string skirt is used as a sexual lure, a garment of spiritual protection, and to signify that a girl had attained sexual maturity. I’m obviously making an educated guess that, although fashion has changed over the eons, many of the motivations for our fashion statements remain the same.

Times have changed, of course. Consider the skirts women wore during the Victorian Age. I’m not old enough to remember Victorian fashions, but I do remember the advent of the circa 1960s mini-skirt. (And how uncomfortable it was.) We thought we were thoroughly modern and so very daring. Now I know that we had nothing at all on our many-greats grandmothers!

To be honest, I love skirts that hang to my ankles, jeans with a bit a stretch in the fabric, and soft knits that flow and cling. And on Caribbean cruises? Ah, sandals.

When you select your clothing for the day, what are your primary motivations? Fashion, comfort, reliability, peer pressure, protection within your environment, or something else? What is your favorite type of clothing?

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Your Life & Mine: The Rules of Ancestry Research

Left to Right: My father, his grandparents, my mother and her parents.

I’m currently reading a book by Christine Kenneally entitled, THE INVISIBLE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE. In the first chapter Ms Kenneally tells us about the Maori people of New Zealand and their tradition of whakapiri — the recitation of genealogies to establish genetic connections between any two people. She also informs us that among the Somalian people, children learn their extensive genealogies by heart when they are under ten years of age.

In my mother’s family, little information was passed down about their roots and ancestry. However, in my father’s family, I heard many stories of grandparents, great grandparents, and even personal anecdotes going back as far as 6 and 7 generations. All but one of these stories have turned out to be true. (No, we aren’t direct descendants of Daniel Boone. It’s more like he’s a many-greats-uncle-in-law!) We have a strong tradition of adoption in my father’s family, and the family also passed down the biological family stories of those very precious brothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins.

Researching ancestry and family genetics can be a fun and challenging hobby, but pride can crop up in hideous ways. Consider the Nazi myth of the master race, used to justify the slaughter of millions before and during World War II.

I abide by two rules as I research:

1. EVERYONE should be proud of their family’s genetic roots.

2. That pride does NOT justify feeling superior to those who differ from us.

When I was a child and boasting about my supposed many-greats grandfather, Daniel Boone, my father said, “It doesn’t matter what your ancestors did. All that matters is what you do.” Words to live by.

Tell us about your family. Were family histories and identities passed down or were those things unimportant in your family life? Are you interested in puzzling out your family heritage?

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September 2017 Free Book Winner!!

Congratulations to Rowan O’Dougherty who won our free book this month!! Rowan, please message me your address and I’ll send a signed copy your way, ASAP!!!

Happy Reading,

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September 2017 FREE BOOK!

I’m honored to offer as our September Free Book AND HERE 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing 1917-2017, released by Michigan State University Press and edited by Ronald Riekki. I’m also honored to have an excerpt from my novel Mother Earth Father Sky and a section introduction included in the book. I will sign both locations in our give-away trade paperback copy.

From the back cover, “Upper Peninsula literature has traditionally been suppressed or minimized in Michigan anthologies and Michigan literature as a whole. These people and this place are strongly made up of traditionally marginalized groups such as the working class, the rural poor, and Native Americans, which adds even more insult to the exclusion and forced oppressive silence. AND HERE . . . gives voice to Upper Peninsula writers, and in doing so forcefully insists on the geographic and literary inclusion of the U.P. — on both the map and the page.”

To have your name included in our Wednesday, September 13, 2017, drawing, just answer this question: Have you ever lived in or visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?

(Photo used with permission from Michigan State University Press)

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