Friday, February 5, 2016

Photo Fridays: a photo tour of New York City 1884

Come along on a photo trip to New York City in 1884. You will be able to see what cousin Daniel Carter when he was living there.

First off, a map of Manhattan (Daniel and his family live by Central Park, which is in Manhattan).
You can see the Brooklyn Bridge at the right (called the East River Bridge in 1884). (Keep reading. There's more)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New York City

It's been a crazy week. I have sent out so many new copies of The Last Ride that I feel like a warehouse. And besides that, judges have been sending me their results. I have the winners of the ages 6-9 and the ages 14-17, but of course I must wait for the winners of the ages 10-13 before I can get official and announce it and get the ball rolling on producing the contest book.

In the meantime . . . Since a lot of you now know Andi's nemesis cousin, Daniel, I thought I'd share a little about where he's from, namely New York City. Hey, I have to blog about something and if I don't give you something, I'll get tied up with so many other things that I'll not blog at all, and that would be terrible! LOL (Someone has asked me to expand on the Circle C cowboys--ranch hands--and I will try to to that, but that takes some work to dig up pictures and bios. So, hang on.) Click the "read more" to read about Daniel's home town.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Photo Friday . . . cover kids grow up

I found "Rosa" so I wanted to do a combination post of all of the kids from the covers of the Circle C Adventures. Probably you've seen some of them before, but I think it would be fun to have them all together.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Cory Blake, age 14: Ryan Marlow (the baby is his niece, Kristi)

  Rosa Garduno, age 13: Joy Gonzales (and her baby, Roman)

 Andrea Carter, age 12: Jessica Waters (and her baby, Cole)

Levi Swanson: Evan Cathey

Lin Mei, age 7: Gracie Strawser


Friday, January 22, 2016

Photo Friday

I came up with another cover idea for this year's contest. I liked all of your ideas about using the new, brighter cover for another "trilogy" of contest stories maybe a couple of years from now. However, the reason I'd wavered in the first place is because this year's cover seemed so dark. So I came up with another idea. What do you think?

The one on the left is the new one I found--a bit brighter and cheerier. The one on the right is, again, the original from last fall. Your thoughts?

Also, scroll down to see a couple of fun pictures of Andi and Melinda when they were five years old and ten years old.

 Two sweet sisters all ready for Sunday services.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Last Ride . . . super early!

The Last Ride came yesterday! If you would like to get a copy for $9.99, I'm running a special of FREE SHIPPING until the end of this month (January 31).

You can go to the Circle C Milestones website to order your advanced copy, and I'll drop it at the post office on my way to church on Sunday.

I think this cover is my favorite so far. It looks so bright and cheery, even better than this cover graphic.

Tell all your friends! 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What do you think?

Yes, it's that time again. I need help! First of all, Mrs. M is happy to report she received plenty of stories to run the contest this year. In fact, all of the stories have been read (by me!) and formatted to look exactly alike for the judges (so they can concentrate on the story and not try to figure out all the fonts, line spaces, and--in the case of the younger kids--when a paragraph begins and ends. I took care of that on behalf of all the contestants.

Well, one of the judges put forth the idea that the original (this year's) cover looks way too much like last year's (okay, well, it does, I guess). She suggested a brighter, happier tone, so *clears throat* here is your chance to weigh in. Two covers. Two titles. Only one can "win." What's your pleasure? Simply vote in the comments section. I'm not going to get too formal with a poll. It's been a super, super busy last week and this week, as probably 75% of the stories came in over the course of three days, and I was out of town. So, forgive me for not posting. I do have a fun post for Photo Friday coming up. Stay tuned!

Anyway, which one do you like best for this (final) contest cover?
(Yes, I'm thinking of taking a year off from the contest after this one.)



Thursday, January 7, 2016

Early Memories

I'm excited. Bethany at A Great God and Good Cocoa tagged me to answer some questions about my early life. She had to go through a "time tunnel" to do it, however, since I live in 1he 1880s and Bethany lives in the far-flung future . . . 2016. So I've taken a deep breath and here we go!  ~ Andi

Go to Bethany's blog for more! 

(This is a real, historical event, by the way)
1. What is your earliest memory? My earliest memory is of when I was not quite four years old. A terrible shaking and rattling woke me up out of a deep sleep. It was March 26, 1872. The awful trembling woke me up in the middle of the night. At the time, I didn't have my own room. I slept with Melinda, thank goodness! It was dark, and I was asleep. Suddenly, a big trembling and shaking woke me up. The whole bed was rolling like I was in a boat. The glass lamps crashed to the floor. Everything on our shelves--books, toys, games--crashed to the floor.

I started screaming, so Melinda grabbed my hand and hauled me--screaming--to Mother and Father. Father caught me up and hugged me tight, then we all got out of there. I guess Father thought it was safer to be outside in the wide, open yard, where nothing could fall on us. The stairs were swaying and the hanging chandelier fell, just missing Mitch and breaking all over the floor.

By the time we got outside, the shaking had stopped. But my crying didn't. I wouldn't let Father put me down the rest of the night. And a good thing too! Because something called "aftershocks" kept happening. It was cold outside, but we all huddled together until the worst of it was over. Now, every time I feel even a little shaking, my mind goes right back to that scary day. My earliest memory. Not so fun.
2. What is your earliest memory of a birthday? The year I got Taffy, of course! I was six years old. Chad woke me up, and I was mad at first. But when he carried me out to the barn and I saw Taffy, I forgot to be mad anymore. She and I have the same birthday! I also remember my cake was white. And we made ice cream! Yum! I don't remember anything else I got for my birthday. My new filly overshadowed every other present.

3. What is your earliest memory of a food? Oh, my! That is easy! I always liked to hang around the cowhands and the cookhouse. I always begged to try whatever Cook was fixing. One day when I was about five, a couple of the Mexican hands offered me something from Cook. I took a bite and my whole mouth caught on fire. "Pica, pica, pica!" I screamed (it's hot). The hands roared their laughter. But when my tears gushed, they got scared and wondered what the big boss (Chad) would say. I sure surprised them when--even through my tears--I said, "Quiero mas!" (I want more). The salsa was so tasty, once the fire went out.

4. What is your earliest memory of a gathering? Christmas! And everybody singing around the piano. Every year it's the same. We all sing Christmas carols, since we live so far away from town and can't carol to our neighbors. I remember my first carol--"Away in a Manger." I was four years old.

5. What is your earliest memory of family? My father taking me all around the ranch on his big horse Caesar. I went everywhere with him.

6. What is your favorite memory? See #5

7. What is your earliest memory of a gift? My horse, Taffy!

8. What is your earliest memory of an embarrassment?  I was nine and found out my mother was going to be the substitute teacher for our classroom.

9. What is your earliest memory of when you were scared? See #1. :-) Another memory is when my friend Riley and I got lost one day and ran into Indians!

10. How young were you when you received Christ? I was almost six. My mother took me on her knee after Father died and told me he was in heaven. Right then I knew I wanted to go to heaven too. Mother explained how I needed to ask Jesus to take away my sins. She also explained what "sin" meant. I had no trouble realizing I'd committed any number of sins. My eyes grew wide when I made the connection between my screaming fits when I didn't get my own way, or when I didn't want to obey, or any number of things. I needed Jesus to make me clean on the inside. And then I didn't need to worry the next time I forgot and sinned anyway. I knew Jesus would forgive me anytime I asked. And I get to go to heaven too!

Hope you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fan Fiction Story: Move Over, Sister!

Since Lucy and Justin are married in the upcoming The Last Ride book, I thought it would be fun to dig out a contest story about Andi, Lucy, and Justin from the archives and share it. Andi's got a lot to learn--character-wise--in this short story. I'm so sorry I can't find the author. I had an entry number but no digital entry form to match it, so no name either. Enjoy! (And if it is your story, step forward so I can give credit to a great story!)

Click on the link to read the story:
Move Over, Sister!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Photo Fridays

A Christmas Photo Friday! A Victorian Christmas was celebrated by many, especially the well-to-do. 
If you want to read how Andi's family celebrated Christmas, go HERE. It is an old post from two years ago. You can see fun pictures too. 

If you never got a chance to read "Christmas Interrupted" from last year's Christmas post, go HERE.

Here are a few more pictures. Christmas on the Circle C ranch . . . 

When I was nine or ten, I begged to go up and help cut down the Christmas tree. I nearly froze to death. Note to self: Next time wear Mitch's old trousers and ratty jacket instead of my good, wool coat. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Good News and I Need Help

I apologize for being remiss about posting on Andi's behalf. But when you find out the reason, I'm sure you will forgive me. I've been scrambling like mad to finish Book 4 [Shadows from the Past, but that title might not stand]. It's kind of long.

Last week I received an email from my editor at Kregel. He wanted to know if I could turn in the manuscript early, so the book can come out early (instead of February 2017).

Of course I said "yes," so now Book 4 will come out late next FALL 2016 rather than Winter 2017 (three whole months early). Since Book 3 comes out in two months, it won't be such a wait for everyone.

I will turn in the finished manuscript January 4, and soon afterward, I'll be bombarded with a marketing questionnaire which asks, among other things, title suggestions. I gave them my title awhile ago to possibly put into the back of Book 3, but they used "Watch for Book 4" instead of my title. Yeah, that's a hint they might not go for it. So, I need other suggestions. Help!

Since it is impossible to think of a title to a book you know nothing about, I have put together a brief summary. I don't know if it will help or not, but I'm sure you wouldn't mind learning what Book 4 is about, right?

I would appreciate any and all title suggestions for the new book. I know the summary is not much to go on, but you are all very good at thinking up titles, like for the contest books! (I think somebody suggested "Circle C Steppingstones" for the new series. I plan on pitching that series title. If you are the "owner" of that suggestion, please speak up so I can thank you if Kregel uses it.)

Anyway, here is the 40-word summary and then the longer synopsis. Good luck and thanks for anything you can come up with!

1. 40-word "nutshell summary"

A series of unexplained attacks against the Circle C ranch forces Andi’s family into the realization that escaped prisoners have revenge on their minds and intend to make the Carter family pay for past wrongs.

2.  Synopsis
Nothing gives Andrea Carter greater joy than to know she’s pulling her own weight on the Circle C ranch. Unless it’s racing Shasta or learning to stunt ride with the help of her brother Chad’s new wrangler, Riley Prescott. After an afternoon of riding practice, complete with a humiliating spill, the two head home. They quickly stumble onto a mysterious cut in the fence surrounding brother Mitch’s special breed of calves.

And that’s only the beginning . . .

A cryptic warning follows, delivered via brick through the plate-glass window in town, where Chad’s engagement party is in full swing. Then cattle begin to sicken and die, and the horse barn catches fire. Who are these mischief makers, and why have they targeted Andi’s family?   

When evidence points to escaped prisoners whom big brother Justin prosecuted years ago for robbery and murder, none of the Carters feel safe. Andi offers to stay in town with Justin’s family while he’s away. Little does she realize they are being watched.

A few days later Andi, Justin’s wife, Lucy, and baby Samuel are kidnapped as part of the outlaws’ plans for revenge. As Andi and her family are carried far away from ​everything they know, her hopes are pinned on Riley—the last person to see them before they were taken. Can Riley find Andi before she disappears out of his reach?


Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Fridays

At the end of Heartbreak Trail, I finally got my quincenera party (15), which meant I wore a new, very fancy gown. It was fun--all that dancing and eating good food and seeing my friends and family have a swell time--but my dress nearly choked the life out of me (corsets, you know. Go HERE to learn all about those wretched fashion statements). I made the best of it until Cory and I collided. Yep, he spilled red punch all over my new gown. There is no hiding bright-red punch on a pale green dress. I was never so happy as when I could finally yank off my corset and crawl into bed at the close of the party.
My gown before it was ruined.

And speaking of gowns, here are some popular dresses of the "day."

Everybody knows that Riley Prescott comes back in The Last Ride, so it's no surprise, right? Mrs. M found this picture of Jessica ("Andi" our cover girl) and her hubby Brit, who doesn't make a half-bad-looking Riley. Mrs. M thought you'd like to see this fun picture! But look quick, as I do NOT like getting all slicked up for pictures.
Andi and Riley

And one more picture. Get a load of this hairstyle! Melinda and I were playing around and this is what she came up with. But I would never wear this crazy hair outside of my room. The boys would really laugh, Chad especially!
After Melinda played around with my hair

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sneak Peek #2

It's Sneak Peek time again! And I apologize for being away from the blog for so long. I've been homeschooling three kids for a week and just returned them home on Saturday, stayed and schooled some more, and now I'm finally back.

Here is The Last Ride Sneak Peek #2:
Go HERE for Sneak Peek #1

Accompanied by "dear" Aunt Rebecca, Cousin Daniel has come for an extended stay on the Circle C ranch. Andi wanted to have an open mind about his being here, but she was appalled by Daniel's attitude and talk on the way home from the train depot. While lugging Aunt Rebecca's carpet bag upstairs to her room, Andi is about to knock on the door when she overhears her mother and Rebecca talking . . . about her. We pick up this very special sneak peek about a third of the way through chapter 7. Enjoy!
Aunt Rebecca

       . . . Aunt Rebecca continued her tirade. “I insist you enroll her in Miss Whitaker’s for the entire year next fall. I will speak to Edith about not boarding Andrea. She will stay with me, where I can supervise her behavior more closely.”
       Andi’s stomach turned over in horror.
       After a few moments of silence, Mother spoke. “I’m sorry, Rebecca, but Edith Whitaker has the most outlandish notions of propriety I’ve ever heard. Given a full year, she would either break Andrea’s spirit or end up expelling her. Neither option is acceptable to me.”
       Andi grinned with delight.
       “Andrea would behave at the academy if you insisted.”
       “No, Rebecca,” Mother said. “I really don’t think she would. It would be too much of a hardship on us all to force her into the mold you are striving to create.”
       “James would have made her obey and act like a lady.”
       Andi caught her breath. How dare Aunt Rebecca bring Father into this!

Friday, November 20, 2015

This and That

I have gotten behind on Photo Fridays, so I post-dated this so it would show it actually did post on "Friday."

This time it's a Photo Caption Photo Friday, with just a tad bit of explanation.

 Here I am (Andi) at age 4. Dressed up for a company dinner, seated next to a little boy I didn't even know named Michael. He didn't clean his plate but he still got desert. Sneaky little boy! (spoiler: this really is Jessica, the CCA cover girl, at age 4). 

"I saw you hide those peas under your plate!"


Jack Goodwin and his father in the mercantile. He looks nervous. Chad scares him a little.

"Honest, Mr. Carter. I didn't push Andi into the horse trough. She just . . . fell in."



"This is the third tardy note I've written for you this week, young lady!"


"No, Levi! Don't do it! Don't give your grandmother a look like that!" 



"Sarsaparilla is my favorite drink EVER. Thanks, Uncle Mitch!" 



 The Millers hired Cory to help with their corn harvest. He was not excited, but he needed the money for a new bit and bridle for Flash. After two hours, he decided Flash could do without.

"If I sit still long enough, maybe they'll think I'm a scarecrow."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

People and Places List

As requested, here is the link to the rough draft of a bunch of characters from the Circle C Adventures. Please comment on that page if you see something missing or something you would like me to add: