Saturday, December 3, 2016

Curse of the Moon Won Book of the Month at LASR!


bom-lasr-yaYA contemporary fantasy romance Curse of the Moon (Book 2, The Secret Warrior Series) won book of the month at Long and Short Reviews.
Story Blurb: The bad news? Morgan Daniel’s wolf is out of control. The good news? There’s a treatment. She just has to get a potion from a lizard shifter witch–without looking into the witch’s eyes. Easy, right? But when the witch puts a spell on her younger brother, Morgan has to do the witch’s bidding to save him.
Fortunately Morgan isn’t alone. She has Jackson to lean on, a few witches coming into their powers, a secret warlock, and the always mysterious Chief Okema. What could possibly go wrong?
Review snippet: “The story weaves between modern day and myths and legends, providing an exciting and compelling read.” ~by Orchid for LASR
resized-curse-of-the-moon-jpg1
Curse of the Moon and the other stories in The Secret Warrior Series are available in kindle and print at Amazon and in eBook from all other online booksellers.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

YA Fantasy Romance Curse of the Moon Up For Book of the Month at LASR!

YA contemporary fantasy/paranormal romance Curse of the Moon (Book 2, The Secret Warrior Series) got a super review from Long and Short Reviews and is up for book of the month! Voting is easy and runs through Dec. 2nd at: http://www.longandshortreviewsya.com/book-reviews/november-book-of-the-month-poll/
Snippet from the review: “The story weaves between modern day and myths and legends, providing an exciting and compelling read.” ~by Orchid for LASR
YA Fantasy Romance-Book 2
YA Fantasy Romance-Book 2
Curse of the Moon and the other stories in The Secret Warrior Series are available in kindle and print at Amazon and in eBook from all other online booksellers.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Vintage Christmas Cards Found In An Old Family Trunk



Vintage Santa Christmas CardSeveral years ago, my mother came across an antiquated box of family Christmas cards reaching back into the early 20th century. For those of you who enjoyed the British television series, Downton Abbey, this would encompass the Edwardian era before WWI (Season One). Other cards were sent during the Great War and soon after its conclusion. Some cards may extend even further back in time. This window into the past makes me very nostalgic. Reading the messages included in these holiday greetings transport me back to an age forgotten by many, but shouldn’t be.
I’ve often heard about these ancestors, fine people, and even remember some of them from my childhood. Others lived far later into my life, but began theirs when America was quite a different place. Some cards from family friends are people not known to me, but glimpsed through their greetings. These gentle folk wouldn’t be trampling each other at Walmart on Black Friday. There is a graciousness in this era, despite the World Wars, that we are losing. Hearken back with me to earlier days.
Vintage American Christmas Card--excited boy peering through windowThese cards Mom scanned are among the most colorful. Because the cost of ink was high in that era, many only had small colored images or were in black and white. To receive a truly colorful greeting would have been a real treat. I’m grateful my family saved these images and messages from a simpler, more refined time. Many of these folks lived in Virginia. Our roots in the Old Dominion go back several hundred years.
Because of my fascination with these bygone days, I’ve written two Christmas romance novellas: A Warrior for Christmas (set in Colonial America) and Somewhere the Bells Ring (set in the old Virginia family homeplace in the 1960’s with flashbacks to 1918). Both eBooks are on sale at Amazon and Barnes & NobleA Warrior for Christmas is also out in audio.
“Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.”  ~W.J. Cameron
Old Christmas Card Family Scene
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
“This is the message of Christmas:  We are never alone.”  ~Taylor Caldwell
Vintage American Christmas Card with Carolers
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens
“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  ~Washington Irving
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  ~Alexander Smith
Early American Christmas Card--Romantic Couple
“A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away.” ~Eva Logue
***For those of you interested in old trunks. The one containing these cards and other family memorabilia is pictured below. We think it dates from about 1870, but are not certain. If you have a better guess let me know.
old family trunk


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Vintage Christmas Cards & A Colonial American Christmas Romance



Ever wonder about the history of Christmas Cards in America? Here’s what I found.
From Something Olde: Christmas Card History
“In the late 1700’s merchants sent their customers best wishes for the new year. The cards were created on lithographs and hand-colored. A lithograph is an etching on a stone that can be reproduced on paper. Sending Christmas cards first became popular in England over 150 years ago.  In the 1840’s John Calcott Horsely was a curator at the royal museum.  He was late sending his usual holiday letters to his friends and relatives for Christmas.  He asked the artist, Sir Henry Cole, to design and hand-color 1,000 cards.  He wanted the card to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.”
Holiday Cards
The first American to print and sell Christmas cards was Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who began publishing cards in 1875.
(In 1953) President Dwight D. Eisenhower is given credit for sending the first “official” Christmas card from the White House. An art print also became the standard Christmas gift for the president’s staff, a practice continued to this day.
Vintage Santa Christmas CardFrom Idea Finder: “A relatively recent phenomenon, the sending of commercially printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843. Previously, people had exchanged handwritten holiday greetings. First in person. Then via post. By 1822, homemade Christmas cards had become the bane of the U.S. postal system. That year, the Superintendent of Mails in Washington, D.C., complained of the need to hire sixteen extra mailmen. Fearful of future bottlenecks, he petitioned Congress to limit the exchange of cards by post, concluding, “I don’t know what we’ll do if it keeps on.”
Not only did it keep on, but with the marketing of attractive commercial cards the postal burden worsened. The first Christmas card designed for sale was by London artist John Calcott Horsley. A respected illustrator of the day, Horsley was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman, who wanted a card he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a “merry Christmas.”
Christmas sleigh rideFrom The History of Christmas Cards: At Christmastime, many people would send letters to friends and family far away, and children at boarding school would decorate paper and write letters to show off the writing skills they’d improved upon that term at school. However, the first official Christmas card was created in 1843 in Britain.
Sir Henry Cole, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, would write letters to family and acquaintances at Christmastime. He and others could buy decorative paper on which to pen greetings and good wishes, but he found it to be a cumbersome task. So Cole commissioned an artist friend, John Calcott Horsley to create a card with a simple message that could be duplicated and sent to all his acquaintances. Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this first commercial card. It was a three-panel card – the center panel showed a family celebrating and the two wing panels depicted people feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The card bore the simple greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You,” which would become the standard sentiment of the mass-produced Christmas cards.
old time SantaCHRISTMAS CARDS RISE IN POPULARITY
“Christmas cards were quite elaborate and though the lithograph printing process helped in producing cards, they first became popular among the upper-class in England. However, the development and improvement of the postal system, making sending cards more affordable, was a big part of the rise in the popularity of Christmas cards. Early cards were not necessarily religious Christmas cards but favored images such as beautiful flowers, birds, scenery and other pretty things.
In 1875 Louis Prang brought the commercial Christmas card to the United States. Prang, a German lithographer, had developed a new innovative way of printing that made the process of creating Christmas and other cards much simpler and more affordable. Like British Christmas cards, Prang’s cards included various images that were simply pretty and tasteful, not truly having much to do with Christmas or even necessarily winter. However, some cards did include holly, snow and some other wintry or Christmas images. His cards became extremely popular in the U.S.; his company printed almost five million cards a year by 1881.”
christmas-holly
Well, you get the idea. In my holiday release, A Warrior For Christmas, (also in audio) I journeyed farther back in early America to the colonial time period and the holiday celebration in a wealthy household. However, the hero, a former Shawnee captive, would rather return to his adopted people in the colonial frontier.
Blurb: Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity–until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.
Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian’s purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she’s ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~
***A Warrior for Christmas is available from all major online booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Christmas Bells“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens






Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankfulness

Autumn leaves on maple tree near green rye field on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley
On this fine Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my precious husband, family, and friends, including the furry ones. I'd add 'feathered' friends but the geese don't actually like me. I should get some ducks. I'm grateful to live on a farm in the beautiful, richly historic, Shenandoah Valley where my ancestors were among the earliest settlers. I'm surrounded by fields, meadows, wooded hills, mountains, and my slumbering gardens which will awake this spring and burst forth. Though I may need to toss more seed around and put in new plantings if the winter is too cold. Such is gardening. Still, I'm always delighted by what does survive--except for the weeds. For all its challenges, I love country life. (Image above taken by daughter Elise behind our farm)
farm-pond-and-wooded-hills-behind
(The farm pond with wooded hills behind taken by me earlier this fall)
Being a prolific author, I must include how grateful I am for a lively imagination, writing skills, an excellent editor, and publishing company. I am grateful for The Wild Rose Press. I recently finished a ghostly time travel romance entitled Somewhere My Lady, for my Somewhere in Time series, that will come out in the new year. As of yesterday, I am at work on a new paranormal/time travel for this series. With writing, and reading, you can travel all over the place and not leave your couch, chair, bed...Inspiration is all around me.
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." ~Meister Eckhart
What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? ~Erma Bombeck, "No One Diets on Thanksgiving," 26 November 1981
Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Came


Thursday, November 17, 2016

'Tis the Season for Rosemary

“There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~ Hamlet
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, mostly just because. I rarely cook with it, but I love its scent and the wealth of history behind it. The scent is said to stimulate memory so I sniff it frequently and carry little sprigs with me. I have a large potted plant growing in my sun space now that I've kept going for several years. In summer, it stays outdoors, but our Shenandoah Valley winters are too cold for the plants to survive. I brought it back in this week.

Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, rosemary appears in that immoral verse by Shakespeare. My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my ghostly murder mystery romance novel Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter. I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did. I just completed a paranormal time travel romance, Somewhere My Lady, with flavors of Somewhere My Love, but different. The new addition to my Somewhere in Time series will release in the new year.
A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve, a wonderful source of herbal lore as well as practical information on the medicinal uses and growing requirements for a myriad of plants, is an invaluable guide. I have volumes one and two of Ms. Grieve’s work and can easily lose myself in their pages. She refers to her herbal as modern, and in comparison to the ancient herbalists it is, but A Modern Herbal is charmingly quaint and published in the early 20th century.
Regarding Rosemary, she says,
The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year‘s gift…
In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress ‘Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.’
The Treasury of Botany says:
‘There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is “master”; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.’ (Meanie heads.)
Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.
“Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.”—HERRICK.
Rosemary Christmas TreeRosemary Christmas Trees
Although an herb, rosemary is often shaped into lovely miniature Christmas trees. The plant is well suited for this purpose as its essential oils produce a scent similar to pine trees and it has a natural evergreen shape and needle-like leaves.
If you purchase a rosemary plant whether as a Christmas tree or for your indoor herb garden, remember it needs good light and moderate watering. Allow the soil to dry before re-watering to avoid root rot. The most common cause of death for potted rosemary is over watering. In spring transfer your rosemary to a clay pot. The clay will help wick excess water out of the soil. Fertilize monthly to maintain health. To this advice I add that you can also kill them by allowing the plant to dry out, so don’t do that either.
Because rosemary is native to the hot, dry hills of the Mediterranean, growing it indoors can be a problem. You may find you get more dense vigorous growth if it is kept outside during most of the year. Trim the plant periodically to preserve the Christmas tree shape. (If it lives that long.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Armistice Day–Now Veterans Day–and My Grandfather

In the United States, November 11 was Armistice Day, observed in commemoration of the signing of the armistice ending World War I in 1918. Since 1954, it has been incorporated into the observances of Veterans Day. My grandfather was a WWI veteran who fought in some of the worst battles in France. He was Charles J Churchman (Senior), a Lieutenant and a Captain of the Marines in the “Fighting 6th Marines”. My brother, John Churchman, did some research into him for specifics. Our grandfather’s commendation for the French Croix de Guerre is framed and hangs on the wall, as does the image of him in uniform. He also received the Silver Star Citation and was wounded 3 times. At least once, severely. He fought in the battles of Verdun, Chateau Thierry, Belleau Wood, Aisne-Marne Offensive, St. Mihiel and the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge.
Apart from his war service, he was an amazingly talented and good man who died far too young. We will never know and can only guess why he collapsed in his early forties, leaving an adored wife and four small children behind. My father was only three at the time of his death. I have often wondered if an overlooked fragment of shrapnel eventually found its way to his heart. Others have different theories. Even though I never knew him, his loss has affected me deeply. Like ripples on a pond, his untimely death circled out to encompass my generation. He is loved and admired even now.
More of him my brother gleaned: “Second Lieutenant Charles J Churchman of Staunton Va former football and basketball star at the University of Virginia was cited for bravery shown while commanding a trench mortar platoon in the operations in the Bois de Belleau on June 6 and 8, 1918, The citation reads, Commanding the Trench Mortar Platoon in the operations in the Bois De Balleau on June 6 and 8, 1918, contributing in a large measure to the success of an attack *** and from the testimony of prisoners their fire had a demoralizing effect upon the enemy machine guns. He placed his guns in position on the night of June 6 upon an emergency order and remained with his guns without relief until June 15. The professional ability, the operation of the mortars within a stone’s throw of positions, the untiring efforts of this officer have been highly commendable at all times.”