Saturday, November 30, 2013


by Diane Burton

I was at the checkout at the grocery store on Wednesday. I only needed a few things--vegetables for a veggie tray. At the end, I’d put a bottle of nail polish. The lady behind me said “Do you really think you’ll have time to do your nails?” I just smiled and said my daughter was cooking this year. The clerk bemoaned the fact that her mother wouldn’t let her cook and she really wanted to make Thanksgiving dinner.

I remember the first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I was a young teen and my mom had the flu. My mother who was never sick stayed in bed all day. Since I was the oldest, she talked me through what to do to prepare the turkey and fix the rest of dinner. At the end of the allotted time, when the turkey should have been golden brown, it was still pasty white. I had to wake up Mom and ask what to do. Let it cook longer, she said. That turkey “cooked” for several more hours and still wasn’t done. The little kids were starving, Dad kept asking what I did wrong, and I had no idea. We found out later something was wrong with the oven. I think we had dinner around eight o’clock that night. Poor Mom. She just wanted to be left alone.

I like making Thanksgiving dinner. There's a set menu. I don't have to plan. But because of all the moves we’ve made over the years and the distance between us and our children, I gave up any possessiveness over Thanksgiving dinners long ago. Some years it’s been at our house, others at my daughter’s, and still others at my sister’s. Several times Hubs' aunt insisted on "cooking" dinner by taking us out to a restaurant. No matter where we have Thanksgiving, I’m just glad we’re able to celebrate with family. 

On the way home Thursday night, Hubs mentioned what a relaxing day it had been. I agreed. No hurry or rushing around. We only had a twenty-minute drive instead of two hours. We watched the Detroit parade in the morning then the Lions game in the afternoon. We visited with our niece and her new husband who joined us at our daughter’s, played with the grandkiddies, and had a delicious dinner.

We are truly blessed to have families to share with. We have homes undamaged by storms. We have our health. We’ve weathered bad times and come out stronger. It’s a shame we don’t take time to think about our blessings every day instead of just on Thanksgiving.

I hope you and your families have also been blessed.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Wrong Man The Right Woman

Today’s guest is Charlene Raddon, and she’s sharing her book, Taming Jena, with us.

Hi Roses and readers.  So glad to be here and share a peek into my book. I will give a free e-book from my backlist and a $5 gift card to a randomly chosen commenter.
Deserted by her father at the tender age of seven, Jenna Leigh-Whittington had taught herself to ride, shoot, brawl…and steer clear of the opposite sex. But now, in a lonely Utah canyon, the Pinkerton agent has drawn her gun on a rugged stranger—only to discover that, far from the dangerous outlaw she’d been tracking, he is Branch McCauley, hired gun…and the most irresistible rascal ever to tempt and torment a woman!

If there’s one thing McCauley trusts less than a female, it’s a female who packs a six-gun. But what a woman! Vowing to bring the sensuous hellcat to heel, McCauley has no inkling that their passionate battle of wills has just begun. Taming Jenna will be the most seductive—and satisfying—job he’s ever taken on.

Jenna scowled as she studied the man by the flickering glare of his campfire. He had the right build and appeared close to thirty, Mendoza's age. But something didn't fit.
The Denver police chief had described her quarry as a spoiled aristocrat, too busy wooing Lady Luck and every other female to be much of a train robber, let alone a killer. But the rogue in front of Jenna looked too lean and hard to be spoiled, too wary and aloof to be a ladies' man.
To Jenna he seemed the perfect gunslinger: cold, tough, and ready to spring. Like a big yellow cougar perched on a ledge. Or a rattler, tightly coiled. Either way, his bite would be deadly.
In spite of the cool night breeze, sweat oozed from her pores. She couldn't forget that lightning draw. Why had she come here? How had she expected to take an outlaw Pinkerton's other agents had failed to bring in? No, she refused to think that way. She was every bit as capable as any man to capture Mendoza. She had to believe that, the same way she had to do what she'd set out to do. Only one question remained: Was this Mendoza or not?
"Who are you, mister?"
"Who am I? Hell, who are you? "
Blast! Did no male exist in this empty wilderness who wasn't so taken with himself that he couldn't cooperate for a change?
She took a calming breath. A body could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, old Charley Long Bow used to say. Jenna figured flies might fancy the hairy creature facing her, so she decided to try being friendly. "Listen, I smelled your coffee and hoped you might spare a cup, is all. You can understand me being a mite leery of walking into a stranger's camp without knowing who I'm hooking up with."
Firelight glinted on the man's straight white teeth as his whiskers parted in a cold smile. "Don't recall inviting company, but I'll play your game. Name's Branch McCauley. Now it's your turn."
His smile unnerved her. It held no humor, only a lethal sort of grimness that cannoned her stomach into her throat and made her wish she'd wired William Pinkerton for instructions instead of going off half-cocked this way. "I'm Jim...Jim White," she lied.
"All right, Jim, how about some honesty? You come here looking for me?"
"I'm not looking for anyone named Branch McCauley. If that's who you are, you've nothing to worry about."
The wide, innocent eyes McCauley studied held honesty. He relaxed. "In that glad to pour you some coffee." He reached for the battered graniteware pot. His visitor's next words froze him in a half-stoop: "I'd feel more welcome if you'd set aside your gun first."
Cool as Montana sleet, McCauley straightened, hand poised above his holster. "Reckon you would. Wouldn't do much for my sense of well-being, though."
So much for trying to be friendly, Jenna thought. What now? She clenched her knees together to still their shaking and swallowed the fear knotted in her throat.
"Look." McCauley shifted his weight to one leg. "Why don't you put your gun away and have a sit? Could be I might know something about the hombre you're hunting.
Hombre. Sounded Spanish. Like Mendoza. It must be him. She had to get his gun away from him. Surprise seemed the best means. She squeezed the trigger of the .44 Starr. The bullet kicked dirt onto the man's scuffed boots. He jumped and let out a yelp as though she'd set his feet afire.
"Dammit, kid, going up against me won't get you anything but a six-foot hole in the ground."
"Shut up and toss over your gun or I'll turn them boots into sieves. 'Course, my sights might be a bit off." She raised the muzzle toward his groin.
"You made your point," he growled as he unbuckled his gun belt and tossed it over.
Instead of the fancy weapon she had expected a gunslinger to own, an ordinary, six-gun lay at her feet. No ivory handle or engraved barrel. Only an ordinary .44 Peacemaker, crafted and worn for one reason—to kill. The thought did funny things to her innards.
"All right," she said, getting back to business. "You aren't going to like this, mister, but I don't know any other way to be sure who you are. Drop them trousers to your ankles."
"Do what?"
About Charlene:
Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Those were mostly therapeutic exercises. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and five e-Books published by Tirgearr Publishing. 
Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.
Currently, Charlene is working on her next release.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The End of Innocence

By Betsy Ashton

Our entire family looked forward to Thanksgiving. All the aunts, uncles and cousins would gather in one house or another to enjoy a huge potluck afternoon dinner. The host offered the turkey; other family members brought everything else.

We were hosting that year. Our turkey was in the refrigerator defrosting slowly. 30-pound toms take a long time. My mother had all the stuffing ingredients ready to go: cornbread getting stale on the counter top, celery, apples and raisins in the refrigerator. Plenty of stock to be made from the giblets and neck. This was my first time cooking a turkey. Let's say I was scared to death.

What if it was dry? What if it was raw? What if it snowed and 40 relatives had to crowd into our tiny two-bedroom house? With one bathroom. What if the youngest trio turned from cute to brat in a single heartbeat. We pulled out the leaves for the big table, scattered card tables around the living room. We borrowed extra tables and chairs to be able to seat everyone.

Luck held. It was bright and sunny. Cold, to be sure, but decent weather to play outside if you wore a ski parka. Adults trailed in with a roast goose (now, THAT was a surprise), ham, three more kinds of stuffing, veggies to die for. And pies. Every time imaginable from cherry and apple to pumpkin and pecan. Even mincemeat, which none of the kids would eat because they were sure it had some icky kind of mystery meat in it.

We planned this for weeks. Then, the unthinkable happened.

Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1963. Our president was dead. Assassinated six days earlier in Dallas. The country plunged into mourning, all but the little ones who, fortunately, didn't understand why we were all so sad. We ate, but everyone was subdued. Not even plentiful amounts of beer could lift spirits. We were cried out, but we couldn't party either. We were all grateful for the plentiful feast, but we thought about the family that had just moved out of the White House.

We lost our innocence. Over the next decade, our country plunged into a war we should never have fought. Riots in the streets made most of us feel unsafe, as black Americans demanded simple freedoms. The freedom to sit on a bus. The freedom to eat where they wanted. The end to racial segregation. Women marched for equality, burned their bras and chanted for equal pay for equal work. The war, the marches, the riots ground our innocence to dust, to be blown away by the rising wind that swept along the plains that long ago Thanksgiving.

I wish we could get that innocence back.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's the little things that are really big

I found out this week that 2 friends have cancer. Both are parents, one with very small children (4 years old and a baby), and the other a single mom (kids are 14 and 10).

You know, getting a shock like that puts life in perspective. Another friend of mine recently lost both her parents within 7 days of each other. They each were diagnosed with cancer on the same day and they died 3 weeks later.

Talk about shock.

So take a minute, sit back, and count your blessings. I don't know what yours are but are (not in any particular order):

Relatively good health
A good job and a steady income
A nice home
Happy friends & family nearby

... and everything else is gravy, isn't it? I mean, if I have those, what else do I really need?

This really is a Thanks Giving for me this year. I'll be giving thanks for what I have and giving those friends all the support I can in the coming weeks.

Hug your loved ones and have a good holiday!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing Paranormal by guest JoAnne Myers

Join The Roses in welcoming our guest, JoAnne Myers today!

When it comes to fiction writing, almost anything goes. That is why I love writing paranormal and fantasy stories. The author can go completely over the edge and make something unbelievable seem believable. When it comes to ghost stories, I get a lot of my inspiration from real life experiences. Not necessarily my own either. I watch television programs that partake of the supernatural and paranormal flare. Programs from ordinary people who claim they experienced either an afterlife experience, or a haunting. 
Some of my stories from my upcoming release “Wicked Intentions” is based on actual hauntings. Some stories I read about in the newspaper, and others I watched on true life experience programs. So the next time you get “writer’s block” try switching on the television. You might find something to jolt your inspiration.

Buy links for Wicked Intentions:
Blurbs for Wicked Intentions-available now
BLOOD TIES- word count 15, 902
After the mysterious disappearance of twenty-six year old wife and mother Lisa Smalley, her twin, Attorney Audra Roper, begins having dark and disturbing visions of Lisa’s disappearance. Trying to survive while looking for Lisa, Audra’s life becomes a roller coaster of risks, heartbreak, and intrigue.
THE HAUNTING OF BARB MARIE- word count 9,845
Even as a child, Barb Marie saw dead people. This took an unhealthy toil on her throughout her childhood and young adulthood.
SUMMER WIND-word count 13,039
When twenty-nine year old Ginger discovers the old mansion Summer Wind, she is mysteriously drawn to it.  Immediately, the haunting’s have a negative and profound effect on the family.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIES-laying the Norfolk ghost to rest
Solving the brutal murder of American born Ruthie Geil becomes a gauntlet of attacks and more murders for Federal Police Inspector Ian Christian. Between the victims family, ex-lovers, and ghostly occurrences on Norfolk Island, the killer is closer than anyone realizes.
THE LEGEND OF LAKE MANOR-word count 8,297
For the young psychic Cassandra Lopez, coming to the infamous and haunted mansion Lake Manor, was more like a mission.
THE APARTMENT-word count 5,188
When young newlyweds Bill and Gayle move into their new apartment, their lives are plagued with sightings of evil ghosts that threaten their marriage and lives.
DARK VISIONS-word count 5,170
When Carrie Reynold’s starts having nightmares on her twenty-sixth birthday, she believes her “dark visions” can solve the twenty year disappearance of her father.
Also available:
“Murder Most Foul,” available here:
Here is the link to buy it directly from LULU:
BLURB: When two dismembered torsos wash up on the banks of the local river in the small industrial town of Pleasant Valley, residents are horrified. Between contradicting statements, police ineptitude, lust, lies, manipulation, incest, the motorcycle gang The Devil’s Disciples, crooked cops, and a botched crime scene, everyone becomes a suspect.
The young beautiful Jackie Reeves, a registered nurse, believes the killer is a man from her past. She contacts the dangerously handsome FBI Agent Walker Harmon. An arrest is made, but Harmon and Jackie believe an innocent man is being railroaded by local cops. Determined to find the truth, before anymore killings, Agent Harmon and Jackie are forced to run a gauntlet of deep trouble and turmoil, which marks them for death.
Other books soon available:
"LOVES', MYTHS' AND MONSTERS'," a fantasy anthology due out January 2014
“FLAGITIOUS,” a crime and paranormal novella collection due out 2014
"THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY," a biography true-crime available January 30, 2013
"TWISTED LOVE," a true-crime anthology due out 2014

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Not About Giving or Receiving by Brenda Whiteside

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday, in spite of what I've learned in recent years about the discovery of America. But I won't go there because the spirit of the holiday has always roped me in and still does. It's not about receiving and not really about giving either. It's about sharing.

As a child, the entire Ransdell clan (my dad's side of the family) gathered together twice a year: Easter and Thanksgiving. Easter meant getting all dressed up and hunting eggs. Honestly, I didn't get into that much. Thanksgiving evokes different memories of a long, warm, lazy day with plenty of food and all my cousins together in one place at Granny's. Eventually, once cousins started marrying, we splintered off into our own family unit dinners.

When I married a man in the Army, Thanksgiving changed. Truthfully, that's when the holiday became my favorite. The first three years of our marriage we were in Germany without family. I cooked the dinners and our house would fill with friends and single G.I.'s. From then on, even after we were back home, any dinner we put on included an assortment of people who might not have any family around.

The first year we were back in the states from Germany, we shared the day with strangers. Our Army paycheck had not caught up with us. We were broke, couldn't get home and didn't know anyone. We walked to the USO where they were serving a turkey dinner for other service people like ourselves. It was a memorable afternoon and evening. How lucky we were to have a place to go.

Last year, we hosted Thanksgiving for our first year on the farm. We had family up from Phoenix and a friend from our new town. This year, we'll go down to Phoenix and a different mix of family and friends will eat at my mom's. Every Thanksgiving, I feel lucky. The day is for enjoying family, friends and realizing how blessed we are.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Our First (And Only) Thanksgiving Alone by Margo Hoornstra

A recent post here at Roses of Prose by Alison Henderson got me thinking. You may remember Alison shared that this would be her very first Thanksgiving with her only daughter living too far away to make it home for dinner.

I could relate because, quite a few years ago, I was the daughter in a similar situation. Alison's daughter moved away from home to accept a new job. I had moved far from home, not so much by choice, but with my new husband who was Regular Army.

The Viet Nam conflict was in full swing. Those years were chaotic for many of us just starting out. Six weeks after our wedding, my husband was sent to Fort Knox for basic training. Obviously, no wives allowed. That was hard to accept. I returned to my old room at my parents house. Ron and I saw each other only a handful of times over the next three months. That was hard too. Then he graduated from basic and was assigned to missile school at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The good news, I could now go with him. The bad news, we'd be three days drive from where we lived in Michigan.

At the ripe old age of nineteen, I was away from home for the first time in my life. Sure my husband was with me, or more accurately, I was with him. We were so in love and thrilled to be together again. That didn't stop either one of us from being homesick. Especially as the holidays rolled around.

"You didn't miss much on Halloween." It was my father's attempt at humor. His way of softening the blow. His way of accepting the fact that both of his children - my brother was in the Navy at the time, stationed in California - wouldn't be home for Thanksgiving this year.

Determined to enjoy our own celebration, we went to the commissary and bought a turkey and, as they say, all the trimmings to cook in our new house. We invited some soldier friends over who would have otherwise spent the day in the barracks.

Forget the fact that I wasn't then, nor am I now the greatest cook. Having no clue what I was doing, I stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven as I'd seen my mother and my grandmothers do. We made mashed potatoes, probably a vegetable, though I don't remember what it was. We served gravy of some form or another. I don't remember the specifics of that either. What I do remember is, as we sat down to carve our bird, the first slice was tinged with green. Not a good sign. Upon further exploration, we discovered I'd neglected to remove the bag of giblets. But, hey, they were cooked too and the rest of the meat was fine. And we had a story to tell our children and grandchildren.

One of our guests, who happened to be a cook, baked a yellow cake with chocolate butter cream icing that was fantastic. The best we'd had, ever. Another story to share.

We talked, we joked, we laughed, we played cards after dinner. In short, we all had a good time. For a little while, none of us thought about being away from home, being away from our families, missing out on the traditions we'd known all our lives.

In the years since, we've been very lucky to be home when those holidays roll around. Celebrating with our parents and grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. As time went on, with our children and, more recently, our grandchildren.

There's something I've come to realize. That first, and only, Thanksgiving alone - we really weren't alone at all.

Have a terrific Thanksgiving everyone! Where ever you are on that day. Whomever you are with.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Plymouth, Schlymouth...Virginia had the first Thanksgiving! by Leah St. James

If you were taught the same history lessons I was, you learned that Thanksgiving is the commemoration of a shared meal between the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Mass., and their neighboring Native Americans (the Wampanoag) in 1621. As the quick version of the story goes, the settlers were low on food, the “Indians” came by with some of theirs, and they sat down to a shared meal and gave thanks.

I have fun memories of sitting down in a classroom to our pretend Thanksgiving meal, half of us dressed in Pilgrim garb and the other half in “Indian” garb, all somehow crafted from construction paper.  (Teachers are amazing, aren’t they?)

Mixed in was the romantic story of “Indian” Princess Pocahontas who pleaded with her father, Chief Powhatan, to save the life of the captured Englishman Cpt. John Smith.

As a kid, I never quite got it that that famous incident with Pocahontas and John Smith happened about a decade earlier, and hundreds of miles away. In fact, they had nothing to do with Thanksgiving, other than the fact that both took place in southeastern Virginia near the Jamestown settlement.

What’s that? Jamestown? Thanksgiving?

You read that right. If you have a chance to travel to southeastern Virginia, to the site of the Berkeley Plantation on the James River, you’ll find a slight variation to the story. In fact, you’ll find a plaque claiming bragging rights as the “first official Thanksgiving” in the New World.

So how did that happen? A group of 38 English settlers, led by Capt. John Woodlief, made ground about 20 miles upriver from the Jamestown settlement in a plot of land now known as Berkeley Plantation (home of two U.S. presidents, btw). The group’s charter called for an annual observation of thanks to mark their safe arrival. This from a Wikipedia article: "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

The date was December 4, 1619.

Take that, Plymouth!

Oh, okay…I cede the point to the Plymouth contingent that their later celebration is probably the root of our traditional meal. And I acknowledge that the Spanish explorers probably did the same as the Jamestown settlers about a century or so earlier, not to mention the custom of many Native American peoples to give thanks for a successful harvest (and more).

But as a Virginian from the Tidewater area (albeit one transplanted from New Jersey), I feel duty bound to uphold my region’s claim. (And if I could find that photo I took of the plaque, I'd post it here....)

In the meantime, here’s a link to Berkeley Plantation’s website where you’ll find the following illustration:

You can read more about the real “first” thanksgiving here and here.

You can read more about those other upstarts here:

Whatever side you fall on, if any, I wish you a joyous day of giving thanks with loved ones, full bellies, and, of course, that most American of pastimes—football.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sharing holiday cheer by Barbara Edwards

When I think about the Holidays, I think about all the family and friends who have shared Thanksgiving with me. I used that feeling in writing Journey of the Magi, my holiday romance, and am sharing an excerpt and the blurb.

Journey of the Magi:
Widow Noel Martin never breaks promises, and she promised her kids they’d have Christmas at her childhood home in Connecticut. But driving across country takes money. Noel is broke when a snowstorm blows them into a tiny Minnesota café owned by a man who can change her mind. She accepts his offer of a job. Despite her attraction to him, she makes it clear she is only temporary help.
Dan Longstreet isn’t adopting any more strays, but he needs a waitress. Dan works so hard to make his café a success, he doesn't have time for love. Though Noel’s slender blonde beauty stuns him and her two adorable children tug at his heart, he denies how they threaten to change his life.
When tragedy strikes, their new-found love is the first victim. Noel can't stay and Dan can't leave. Will their journey be the gift that reunites them?

Thanksgiving dawned with the bang and clatter of roasting pans. Noel followed the sound of Dan swearing downstairs. It was barely five and both children slept through the racket.
“I thought you were closed today,” she said. The dawn light glinted highlights off his dark hair. Her lips twitched as his heavy brows snapped together.
“We are. I’m cooking turkey for a few friends. It’s kind of a tradition.” She mouth dropped open when he lined up six turkeys on the counter and proceeded to fill each one with a different stuffing. Her teeth clicked when she closed her jaw.  
“You must have been up for hours,” she said. “That looks like enough for a crowd.”
Her heart swelled with admiration for his sharing. She wanted to grab him in a big hug. Her grandparents had invited friends over, too. It was a tradition she planned to continue.
“I’m not sure how many. It’s gotten bigger.” He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “People need friends. Everyone brings a dish, so it’s pot-luck.”
“What can I do to help?” She asked as she tied an apron decorated with dancing elves over her sweater and jeans.
“Not much, unless you can bake a pie?” His lifted brows and wide brown eyes reminded her of his hopeful stray standing over the empty dish.
“I do a killer crust,” she exclaimed, mimicking rolling out a pie crust. Dan wasn’t the only one who appreciated the chance to contribute.
“Got everything for apple, pumpkin or mince,” Dan said before he laughed and waved at the cooler. “Take your pick.”
“Hey. My Grandma taught me how to make those. We have time to do them all.” Available at:
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