Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Heartbreak Trail Chapters 1-2 excerpt

Oops! I accidentally posted this 2 days early. This is FRIDAY'S post.

In keeping with tradition, I have put together a PDF file of the first two chapters from the upcoming book 2, Heartbreak Trail, for your reading enjoyment. I was told that the book has ready gone to typesetting (ahead of schedule) so that means it will probably be released ahead of the July date (hurrah!). If you would like to read the opening chapters, click here:

Tales from the Circle C Ranch *new*

I got my copies of the new Andrea Carter adventures, Tales from the Circle C Ranch. They're very cute, and Ellie has already read most of it. It's available by going HERE for $7.99 plus shipping.

I sneaked up on Justan to take a picture when he flopped down on the sofa to read it. Who says boys don't like Andi's exciting and entertaining adventures?

Thanks, kids, for letting me take your pictures!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Contest Winners!

Drum roll for the 12 contest winners of the second annual Circle C Adventures/Beginnings/Goldtown story-writing contest! The stories were great. I ended up with 74 entries, which is a lot of stories for the judges to read! I mailed the cash prizes, the posters, and the books to the winners last week.

You can buy a copy of the book for only $6.29 on Amazon. Eventually, I'll put up the Kindle version, but the week is shaping up to be brutal, so it will be a while before I can do that. Here is the link to buy the book: Beneath the Western Sky.

It turned out very, very nice, with illustrations too.

And now . . . here are the winners! Congratulations, young authors!

AGES 6-9:
1st place: Adahmariyah Kelley, age 8: "Finding Pickles"
2nd place: Aaremey Cathey, age 8: "Andi's Birthday Crisis"
3rd place: Grace, age 9: "The Gift"
Honorable Mention: Sarah Sargent, age 7: "Cave Trouble"

AGES 10-13:
1st place: Grace Cary: "Truth or Tale?"
2nd place: Lauren Friesen, age 13: "Andi's Double Victory"
3rd place: Lauren Thomas, age 13: "Stolen"
Honorable mention: Kaitlyn, age 13: "They'll Know Us by Our Love"

AGES 14-17:
1st place: Roseanna Martin, age 14: "The Hidden Plot"
2nd place: Jesseca Wheaton, age 16: "Through Times Unclear"
3rd place: Elizaveta Korobleva, age 14: "Chad's Great War"
Honorable Mention: Heidi Brown, age 15: "No Greater Love"

Friday, February 27, 2015

Catch-up News

If you'd like to see fun pictures from the Milestones and Goldtown Adventures, head over to Mrs. M's Pinterest Page. She added a bunch of pictures the other day.

In other news, the Shout Box folks said they are creating the option to disable ALL private chats. Mrs. M told them she would like this option for the blog for safety reasons. 

"Andrea" (the fan) mentioned she saw some "beauty" ads appear on the blog the other day. I need to know if anyone else is seeing anything similar. Please leave a comment to let me know. She also said she changed her new blog's address:

Jessica (Andi cover girl) news: Jessica was married almost 2 years ago and last month or so I (Mrs. M) got a text, and Jessica told me she's going to have a baby in June! Hurrah for "Andi." This week Jessica texted me and announced that the ultrasound showed it is a boy.

When she has the baby, and she and her husband decide on a name, I'll let you know. I'm sure she'll send pictures. 

Coming Monday morning: The CONTEST winners and link to the book, Beneath the Western Sky.

Mrs. M is writing a short story for the blog (well, it gets longer every time I work on it), which so far remains nameless. I would start posting it, but I'm afraid I won't finish it before the next "chapter" is due to go up. So I'll wait a week or two before taking that chance.

Here is the convention schedule, if anyone is interested. Drop by and say howdy!

"Andi," Mrs. M, and a little fan in OKC 2014
 March 13-14: CFHE - Spokane, WA 
April 9-11: GHC - Cincinnati, OH
April 16-18: MACHE - St. Paul, MN
April 24-25: MPE - Kansas City, MO
June 5-6: CHOIS - Nampa, ID
June 12-13: WHO - Puyallup, WA
June 19-20: OCEAN - Portland, OR
July 9-11: AFHE - Phoenix, AZ


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Heartbreak Trail: Sneak Peek #1

It's the third or fourth day of the trail drive. The morning did not start well at all, especially after what happened the night before (sorry, you'll have to wait to read the fix I got myself into). Suffice to say, Mitch and Chad were not happy at my naivete. I end up collapsing from lack of sleep, but after Cook (the trail cook) fixes me up with one of his quick-acting herbal remedies, I feel much better:

      In less than five minutes, Andi started feeling better. She scraped the rest of her breakfast onto her fork and forced it down. Mitch watched her eat every bite. “I’m much better now,” she assured him and stood up.
      Mitch plucked her shirt sleeve. “Now that you can walk without keeling over, I want you to find where the creeks come together and form a little lake. It’s a couple hundred yards east in the forest. You can’t miss it. Wash up and get back here. You have twenty minutes.” He turned to Levi. “Go with her and bring back some wood.” He tossed him a rope to tie up a bundle of sticks.
      Mitch motioned to Kirby, one of the drag riders. “Give Cook a hand packing up this morning. I don’t want to fall behind any more than we already have.”
      “I’m fine,” Andi protested. “I don’t need a dunking. I can carry my own weight on this drive. You don’t have to ask anybody to do my work—”
      Mitch took Andi’s shoulders and pulled her close. “Listen to me, Cook’s helper,” he said in a low, soft voice. “When the trail boss gives you an order, you do it quick, and you do it right.” He pointed to the line of brush and trees on the eastern horizon, which marked the lowlands. “You get to it, or I’ll have my point man pick you up and throw you in.”
      Andi’s eyes grew wide. Mitch meant business, no doubt about it. She peeked around him and saw Wyatt, one of the point men. With Chad off scouting, Wyatt looked ready to step in and carry out Mitch’s orders. He grinned at her and waved.
      Obey the trail boss at all times.
      She gulped. “Sure thing, boss.”
      “That’s better. You now have fifteen minutes.” Mitch whirled toward the rest of the milling cowhands. “Show’s over. Back to work. Let’s move that beef out.”
      The men scattered. Cook and Kirby piled the dishes and cookware into the chuck wagon, barely scraping things clean. While Kirby packed up the rest of the wagon and put out the fires, Cook worked at hitching up the two horses.
      Andi didn’t give Mitch another chance to reprimand her. She darted around her brother and past Wyatt. Levi stuck close to her heels, his rope looped around one shoulder and a small hatchet in his hand.
      The ginger tea and breakfast had done their work. Andi felt her energy returning. She slowed to a leisurely dogtrot and found the water right where Mitch had said it would be. But it wasn’t anything Andi could call a lake. More like a small pond—a dark, still expanse in the early dawn.
      “Listen,” she told Levi. A few birds chirped. She heard honks and quacks from small waterfowl. Other than that, the water lay quiet, awaiting the new day.
      Andi pulled off her boots and socks. She took off her vest and shucked her hat, but that’s as far as she went. This was a quick dip, not a real bath. Besides, the thought of soaking her clothes for the coming hot day sounded deliciously cool. Barefoot, she stepped through the thick, dark mud and into the water. “Brrr! It’s cold. Are you coming in?”
      Levi shook his head. “The boss told you to wash up. Not me.” He grinned. “I’m gonna find some wood.” He disappeared into the brush.
      Andi looked down. Tiny minnows nibbled at her toes. She waded farther out, then ducked and let the cool water cover her completely. Instantly, her itchy mosquito bites were soothed. “This is more like it,” she said when she came up for air.
      Sun trickled through the treetops. No time to linger. Andi scrambled out of the pond and back through the squishy mud. Once on high ground, she sat down and scraped off the muck as best she could before pulling on her socks and boots. She stared at her muddy hands. “Wait a minute. Mud’s good for mosquito bites.”
      Before she could talk herself out of it or wonder if the others might laugh, Andi scooped up a handful of dark, slippery mud and smeared a thin layer all over her face—forehead, chin, and cheeks. For good measure, she dabbed a little mud over the half dozen itchy bumps on the back of her neck.
     Ah, sweet relief!
     Andi washed her hands clean in the shallows, shook them free of water drops, and picked up her hat. She felt one hundred percent better and ready for the day. She made her way through the dense thickets and found Levi whacking at a chunk of deadwood. A growing pile of sticks and large limbs lay at his feet. Andi set about tying them up to drag back.
      Levi quit chopping. “What happened to you?”
      “Never mind.” She twisted the rope and secured the knot. “This is probably enough. We’d better head back to the chuck wagon.”
      Levi didn’t answer. Instead, he raised his head and sniffed. “Do you smell that?”
      Andi paused. Sure enough, the scent of a campfire drifted in the air. She scanned the woods and saw a thin curl of smoke rising through the trees not far away. What in the world?
      Overcome by curiosity, Andi nudged Levi and motioned him to follow her. Together they crept closer to the source of the fire and hunkered down just out of sight. What looked like two trail-weary cowhands were scraping their plates and talking. One man had thick, black hair past his shoulders; the other wore a handlebar mustache. Their horses were picketed nearby.
      “Just a couple of drifters,” Levi whispered to Andi. “Let’s go.”
      “I wonder what they’re up to,” Andi whispered back.
      “Who cares?”
      “I think he cares.” Andi pointed. Across the clearing from the direction of the herd, Toledo McGuire on Sultan was making a beeline for the campsite at the edge of the woods. A chill went through her, and it didn’t come from her recent dip in the pond.
      Why isn’t Toledo with the herd? Why is he meeting up with these two strangers?


Monday, February 23, 2015

Prayer request from "Andrea"

Here is a prayer request from Andrea for her grandfather, who is not a Christian: Pray!

I have a prayer request: My grandpa who is 70 just had his 2nd heart attack and they say her might not make it since he multiple small heart attacks in a row, he is not a christian so please pray.  ~Andrea (not Andi)

Heartbreak Trail: the setting

This is an awfully long way in advance, because usually Mrs. M has her proof pages before she goes around leaking "sneak peeks." But I know some of you are waiting on pins and needles for something.This first sneak peek (in no particular order) is a photo sneak peek so you can "see" the setting for this next adventure. (Tune in tomorrow for the actual excerpt (sneak peek from the book).

When you think of California, especially the Central Valley where Andi lives, a lot of people think "drought" and "dry." That's true today. People and crops just suck up all that water. But in the 1800s, the Central Valley was quite wet in many places. The largest fresh-water lake west of the Great Lakes was Lake Tulare--not too far from Fresno, south and west. Lots of rivers and creeks ran down from the mountains, turning part of the valley into swampland. One of those places has been preserved to this day so people can see what the dry Valley was really like so long ago: The Kaweah Oaks Preserve.

So, step back in time and put this setting into your mind for the sneak peek that follows tomorrow. Only a few days into my adventure, I'm stuck with mosquitoes and swamps. When you read about it you can remember the photo journey you took today. 

The strip of forest we have to go around  . . . or through.
The cattle drive goes along the valley. Much of it is flat and open, but a few days into the trip, they cross the Keweah River and the woods are thick . . . and so are the mosquitoes.

There's plenty of water for the cattle . . . and did I mention mosquitoes? Oak trees covered with wild grape, willows, sycamores, blackberry, chokecherry, and more trees hide the wildlife: coyotes, bob cat, racoons, lizards, vultures, herons, and other birds, plus insects galore (plus mosquitoes).

One of the many rivers and creeks that dump into the area
The forest is a strip growing along the wetter portions of the valley. Mitch has to take the cattle around this marshy mess in order to push farther south. The valley does open up after this for quite some time. Enjoy the rest of the pictures and come back tomorrow for the sneak peek!

Can't you just SEE mosquitoes breeding here? :-(

A nice flat, clear area to set up camp. The cattle are on the other side.

Oak trees hanging over a creek
Here I'm looking straight up. The oak trees form a canopy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Case for the Carters and Coulters Part 3 . . . by Jesseca and Rishona

And now . . . the conclusion to "A Case for the Carters and Coulters" by tag-team writers Jesseca and Rishona.

Part 3, the conclusion:

Mitch tore into town. “Sheriff, where is the sheriff's office?” he yelled. 
Several people turned to stare at him. One man pointed to his left. “Sheriff's office is right here. What's it you be needin’?”
“Our stagecoach was robbed about five miles from here and my sister and another passenger were kidnapped.”
The sheriff, hearing the commotion, came outside. “What’s the problem?” he asked looking around.  
Mitch repeated what he had just said.  The sheriff went back into his office, grabbed a gun and recruited some other men. Then Mitch and the sheriff rode off hastily. When they neared the place where the robbery and kidnapping occurred, a gun sounded off in the distance. Mitch slowed his horse down
“That’s them!” he yelled  and then took off in the direction of the gunshot.
The riders slowed as they neared the trees.
“Let’s spread out,” the sheriff commanded. “Mitch, you come with me. We’ll go straight in. You others spread out and follow us slowly.” He turned back to Mitch, “Do you have a firearm?”
When Mitch shook his head, the sheriff un-holstered his pistol and tossed it to Mitch. Then he took his rifle out of the saddlebag and placed it on the saddle in front of him.
They rode in slowly.  When they were about fifty feet away, the sheriff motioned for Mitch to dismount from the horse. Mitch obeyed, then hurriedly tossed the reins around the branch of a tree.
On their hands and knees, they crept closer to the clearing. Suddenly, the sheriff stood and raised the rifle. “Everyone hands up and down on your knees!”
To Mitch’s confusion, he quickly lowered it and walked into the middle of the clearing. Mitch followed the sheriff and saw a weeping Ellie in Chad’s arms. Jem was talking with Andi while keeping a watch over the stagecoach robbers, who were tied to a tree. The sheriff went over and handcuffed the robbers and got ready to go back into town as the deputies came into the clearing.
“Thanks for your help sheriff,” said Jem.
“Not a problem, that’s what I’m for,” replied the good natured sheriff. “if you ever be needing me again, just give me a holler.”


Two hours later they arrived in San Francisco. Mitch hurried mother and Melinda off to Aunt Rebecca’s house while  Justin, Jem and Ellie hurried over to the courthouse, accompanied by Chad and Andi who had come along to watch. The courthouse was this big, but old and beautiful building at the edge of the town. Inside,  Justin went to the front of the room accompanied by Jem and Ellie, while Chad and Andi took seats near the door.
“Chad, do you think it would be alright  if I went and watched Justin for a while? Last time I was in a courthouse. . .well . ..”
Chad grinned. “What? It wasn’t under the best of circumstances?”
Andi looked down. “That would be an understatement.”
Chad nodded.  ”We got here pretty early, so it should be alright. Just be quick!”
Andi nodded and hurried down to the table where Justin was busily laying out the papers for the case.
After asking Justin a few questions, she went back up to sit with Chad.
About five minutes later the judge walked up on stage and called the courtroom to order. He then gave a background story of what the case was all about and then called for Mr. Barnes’ lawyer, William Finney, to come speak.
Mr. Finney walked up to the stand. “Honorable Judge Mason, I can give you proof that the land truly belongs to Mr. Barnes--”
The judge broke in. “So you’ve said, but so far I have seen no proof.”
Mr. Finney took a paper out of his stack, walked forward and placed it on the judge's desk.
“This map, you will see, clearly marks the boundary line between Mr. Barnes’ property and Mr. Coulters.”
The judge took the map and studied it. “It does, quite clearly, in fact.”
Jem gave Justin a startled look. No one had said anything about a map!
“Is this all you have to say, Mr. Finney?”
“Yes sir.”
“Thank you. Mr. Carter, would you like to cross examine Mr. Finney?”
“Yes sir I would, thank you.”
“Mr. Finney, I have never seen this map before, so how do I know it is for real?”
Judge Mason broke in, “Mr. Carter, you may come and look at the map.”
Justin walked over. The map indeed looked as real as could be. “This is very interesting, thank you. I have no further questions.” Justin sat back down at the table upon finishing his cross examination and collected his papers for his coming speech.
Judge Mason looked at Justin. “Mr. Carter, would you like to give your speech now?”
“Yes, your honor.” Justin went up and took the stand.
“I am in fact very startled by this map, I was never shown it until just now. I believe that because this map was not at the land office and because Mr. Coulter legally, and in his and the office’s best knowledge paid for this land, the land should remain in his possession. Judge, would you like to see a copy of the legal document that says clearly that Mr. Coulter paid for the land?”
“Yes, that would be helpful.”
Justin went and handed the copy of it to Judge Mason, who took it, then said.  “Would you like to continue speaking, Mr. Carter?”
“Yes, just a second longer if you will.”
“Certainly,” Judge Mason replied.
“I would like to close with the reason that the land should remain in Mr. Coulter’s possession. And that reason is that Mr. Coulter legally paid for this land, thank you.”
“Mr. Finney, would you like to cross examine Mr. Carter?” asked the Judge.
“No sir, thank you.” replied Mr. Finney.
Judge Mason arose. “I now call for a recess, court will rejoin in fifteen minutes.”
During the break Justin decided to go visit with his family, because he didn’t feel like sitting at the table worrying about something he couldn’t change. He whispered a quick prayer. “God, please let this case turn out in favor for Jem.”
Court was rejoined at the hour and everyone was in their places, with the exception of Ellie, who was tired and had remained home.
“I have come to a conclusion, “ stated the Judge. “the map that I was shown during this court session is liable. My decision, that I believe will be fair to both parties, is this. Mr. Coulter will have the one hundred and twenty five acres to the north of his already owned land. Mr. Barnes, on the other hand, will have his original one hundred twenty-five acres returned to him. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and will be sure that the land office is notified, since they are legally liable for this incident.”
Mr. Barnes walked over to Jem. “I’m really sorry for all the trouble, I just didn’t know how else I could get anyone to listen to an old man like me!”
“Oh, it’s alright. Personally, I would rather not have had to go to court, but that’s behind us now!”  he turned to the Carters. ‘Besides, this gave us the opportunity to re-unite with old friends. And,” he gave Chad a meaning look, “maybe find some new family!”


The stay in San Francisco was pleasant. One day, the morning before the Coulters were to leave, Chad turned to Ellie, “would you like to go on a walk?” At Jem's look he said, “Not far, just around the town.”
Ellie nodded. “That would be pleasant.”
While she went to get her shawl, Andi went to Chad. “What are you planning?”
Chad gave her an innocent look. “Me? Why nothing!”
Andi gave him a knowing grin and walked into the parlor as Ellie descended down the staircase.


“Well, Chad. We’ve had a nice walk. And I’ve really had a great time getting to know your family!”
“It’s been nice to get to know you a little bit better too.” Chad agreed. Suddenly, Chad pulled her to the side underneath the branches of a weeping willow tree. “Ellie Coulter, today I've realized just how much you mean to me. After almost losing you . .” Chad's voice broke. “It would have been too much to bear. So, since I can't stand to be parted from you, will you marry me?”
Ellie blushed as she replied. “Of course, Chad. Yes, I will marry you!”


They hurried home to tell the family the news. Everyone was overjoyed and happy for them. Just then the dinner bell rang and everyone hurried into the dining room. After the meal, Andi pulled Chad aside.
“You think you'll be able to handle Ellie?” She grinned, “She can be an awful lot like me!”
Chad smiled, “I think I'll be able to handle her. But it’s a mystery to me that, out of all the girls I've had around in my life, only my sister Melinda is the perfect lady!”