Thursday, October 23, 2014


For those of you who receive email updates, I messed up on scheduling Lost Scenes #8. If you want to read the scenes in order than I suggest you ignore the email notification you just got! I returned the post to "draft" so you won't find it on the blog. *sigh* Sorry about that.

You will all get Lost Scenes #2 TOMORROW.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Long Ride Home "Lost" Scenes #1

"The Lost Stories" category, in case you aren't aware, is the place where Mrs. M unveils lost scenes, stories, and other tidbits that either did not end up in the books or were stories she began but never found a story "home" for them. It's a little like an "extended cut" version of a movie. Well, the other day, Mrs. M's 11-year-old grandson Kevan asked, "Why don't we ever get to see what's going on back at the ranch when Andi's with the Gardunos?" (He and his brother are reading the Circle C Adventures and doing the lapbooks and study guide for their literature this year in their homeschool).

Good question, Kevan! As a matter of fact, when Mrs. M originally wrote Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home, the story was much longer---43,000 words instead of the 36,000 words she sent in. That's 7,000 words of LOST SCENES you may enjoy. They are scenes Mrs. M cut out because they were what Kevan mentioned: "meanwhile, back at the ranch . . ." One publisher had turned down the story because of the shifting in scenes, so Mrs. M took them out. But . . . she kept them.

For Kevan's enjoyment (and maybe yours too), Mrs. M will bring a series of "lost scenes" to fill in the blanks for readers of Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home. She will try to do it in such a way that it's not too confusing. She hopes you find these "lost scenes" fun, and please excuse the point-of-views shifts between characters. Just pretend you're watching a TV episode. After all, these scenes never made it into the book, so why worry about head-hopping? 

Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene #1: After Andi nearly gets killed by going near Chad's wild stallion, she huffs off to the barn to bury her sorrows with Taffy. Mitch follows and tries to talk some sense into her, but Andi says a few things that were not in the published book. When that scene ends, Chapter 2 begins, which is a scene not included in the book. Enjoy!

Andi gathered up the reins and pushed past her brother.  "Just leave me alone, Mitch.  I've been yelled at all week, and I'm tired of it. You don't understand. And when Chad gets done telling Mother, she won't understand either.  Everybody else is always right and I'm always wrong."  She stopped at the barn door. "Chad can't make me clean out these stupid stalls.  I'm leaving, and . . ."  She paused.  "Maybe I won't come back." 
Mitch folded his arms across his chest. "Suit yourself."  He made his way around his sister and her horse, and rejoined Chad without another word.
Andi led Taffy out of the barn and into the bright morning sun.  She mounted her in one smooth motion by grasping the golden mane and sliding onto her bare back. Once she left the yard she allowed herself the luxury of another heart-felt crying spell and sobbed into the wind.  She forced Taffy into a full gallop, not caring where she went as long as she got there quickly.   
Andi cried louder.  She was relieved that not another soul could hear or see her now.  She slowed Taffy to a trot and turned her toward their favorite spot---a small, clear, bubbling stream up in the north pasture.  Nobody went there this time of year.  It would be the perfect place to sit and think . . . and to stay out of trouble.

Chapter 2 [new scene]

Chad paused from his fence repairs long enough to watch the small figure disappear over the range. He accepted a new piece of railing from Mitch then asked, "Did you have a nice chat with our sister?" He already knew the answer.
"Not exactly."
Chad grinned and regarded his brother thoughtfully. "You know what, Mitch? You oughta give up trying to smooth things over for Andi. You know it never works. For one thing, you keep forgetting that she's as stubborn as---"
"The rest of the Carters?" Mitch supplied. He lifted the end of the railing and held it level for his brother.
"For starters,” Chad agreed with a grin.
Silence fell, except for the pounding of the hammer. Mitch glanced over toward the source of his sister's latest trouble. The stallion pranced around the corral, snorting his unhappiness. "Did you have to yell at her quite so much?" he asked quietly. 
Chad’s cheerful grin vanished. "What did you expect me to do? Pat her on the head and suggest she pay more attention to my instructions?" He straightened and scowled at his brother. He had about a million things to do today, and here he was, picking up after Andi and arguing with Mitch. 
"No. Of course not, but---"
          "Then stay out of it." Chad whipped off his hat and wiped his forehead. It was proving to be a warm morning, in more ways than he liked.
Mitch lowered his hammer. "I can't stay out of it, Chad. She's my sister, too. And you came down on her mighty hard---in front of the men." He seemed forever caught in the unhappy position as mediator between his older brother and younger sister. They were too much alike to come to a peaceful agreement once they got started on something.
Mitch considered his next words carefully. "It wasn't right, Chad. And you know it.  Family business should be conducted privately, not in the middle of the yard."
Chad replaced his hat and leaned against the corral. He looked over at the stallion, then turned slowly back to Mitch. He shrugged. "So. Okay. You're probably right. But I was so scared. She was almost killed, and I guess I lost my temper."
"You got that right, big brother." Mitch chuckled.          
"Well,” Chad conceded after a moment's pause, "maybe when she gets back I'll have a little talk with her."
"Good idea,” Mitch agreed, relieved. He slapped his brother on the back, his cheerful outlook on life restored. "And Andi’ll return from her quiet spot all calmed down, too.  By supper we’ll have forgotten this ever happened."    

A new scene that directly follows this one comes next. Stay tuned! 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Character's Name

Thanks, everybody! I too like the name Lydia, so Andi's aunt will be Aunt Lydia.
It's so much fun to get your input. I never really liked Phoebe, but I had a touch of mind-freeze. You came up (and informally "voted" by saying, "I like Lydia too,")

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another new name needed

Daniel's mother needs a name.
I need some help, fans (Mrs. M writing here). You were all so helpful in changing Uncle David's name to Benjamin (too many "D" names in the present manuscript, since Daniel is Andi's cousin).

Well, Uncle David is married to Aunt Ellen. I'm not sure how it slipped by me, but "Ellen" is way too close to "Elizabeth." So, I need another name change. For now, I did a "find and replace" and called her "Phoebe." Pretty old-fashioned. What do you think? Should I stick with that or should I choose a different name? If you think she should be called something else, please keep in mind that I do not want any name suggestions that begin with the letters "A," "B," "C," (sadly, since I think Charlotte would have been a good one, but that's too close to "Chad.") "E," "J," "M," or "R." (or anything else that has already been claimed by another character). And it needs to be an old-fashioned, Victorian name.

Thanks in advance for your input!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sneak Peek #2 Thick as Thieves

I've wanted to share another sneak peek from my upcoming adventure, Thick as Thieves, for some time now, but she who writes for me (you know her as the author, Mrs. M) has had serious family obligations the past two weeks. A sick daughter, misdiagnosed and suffering because of it, and 8 children to care for and homeschool. She had no time to keep up my blog! But by God's grace she is home now and her first order of business is to let me share a new character via a short excerpt. You met this new character in the book trailer in a previous post---Macy (Marcella) Walker. She makes me shiver just thinking about being anywhere near her, and not just because she--so Virginia Foster informs me in a most abrupt manner--Macy might carry . . .  *gasp* lice.

This excerpt is from Chapter 6. It's a hot May afternoon and Andi is stuck at the chalkboard trying to figure out how to parse a difficult grammar sentence, while Cory is agonizing over a confusing math story problem. The two have just whispered a promise to help each other out, since Andi loves math and Cory loves words. He seals the promise with a wink, much to Andi's surprise and embarrassment. A loud noise startles her. 

       Andi dropped her chalk and spun around, Cory’s bold gesture forgotten. She heard scuffling, a loud clatter, more shrieking, and then a sharp slap. The next moment, a thin, straggly girl appeared at the top of the stairs. A rough hand propelled her farther into the classroom. She tripped and fell, then jumped up and clenched her fists. “I ain’t goin’, Ty!”
       A large, scruffy-looking man with a dark beard and a slouch hat clomped behind the girl and grabbed her arm. “You’re goin’.”
       The girl balked. She planted her bare feet against the wooden planks and tried to twist away from the man’s grip. Clumps of tangled, dirty hair flew about her shoulders as she struggled. Her oversized overalls had been cut off; the ragged edges swept the floor. She lashed out with one foot, but the man was quick. He landed a sharp smack to the girl’s cheek.
       Then he turned and faced Mr. Foster. “Howdy, Teacher. Macy needs schoolin’. Mebbe you can learn her somethin’ afore the term lets out.”      
       Macy jerked loose and folded her arms across her chest. “This here’s a hoity-toity school, and I
ain’t gonna be caught dead in it.” She spat on the floor.
       Ty, who Andi figured must be Macy’s older brother, shook her. “Shame on you! What a way to act your first day of school. What’ll these kids think of your upbringin’?”
      “That I ain’t got any.” Macy looked around the room defiantly. “Look at y’all. A bunch of toads with your mouths hangin’ open.”
       Andi, whose jaw had dropped at the spectacle, snapped her mouth shut. Next to her, Cory chuckled under his breath. “We’re in for a show,” he whispered. Andi agreed. This interruption was much better than dividing up a sentence into its parts of speech. To Cory’s left, Davy Cooper put down his chalk and grinned.
       Ty gave Macy another shake. “I’m gonna leave ya here, girl. If I find out you’ve run off, I’ll take a strap to ya. Hear me?”
       At this dire pronouncement, Macy lost her fight and become sullen. “I hear.” She glared at the spellbound pupils. “What’re y’all lookin’ at?”
       The entire class turned back to their work, except for the three students at the board. Andi watched with interest while Mr. Foster licked his lips and approached the strangers. “I am Mr. Foster, the schoolmaster. And you are . . .”
       “Ty Walker. This here’s my sister. We’re new ’round these parts. Macy’s wastin’ time hangin’ ’round the saloons and needs to—”
       “Ain’t true,” Macy cut in. “You just don’t—”
       Ty clapped a hand over his sister’s mouth and grimaced through his unkempt beard. “I’d best warn you. Macy’s not strong on mindin’ her manners. It comes from havin’ no ma, but only a pack of scruffy brothers to keep company with. We ain’t too good at raisin’ no girl-child.”
       Macy peeled Ty’s fingers away. “I ain’t no child!
       Ty scowled. “Just do what you’re told.” He turned on his heel and clattered down the steps.
       Macy’s shoulders slumped when the door at the bottom of the stairs slammed shut. “You can’t make me learn nothin’,” she challenged the teacher from under filthy, too-long bangs.
      “That remains to be seen,” Mr. Foster said.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thick as Thieves Book Trailer

A year ago, sweet Ira-Grace created a book trailer for Andrea Carter and the Price of Truth.
A couple of months ago, another fan asked if she could create a trailer for the new book, Thick as Thieves. I said "sure!" So, with thanks to Calamity Rene, I present the book trailer for Thick as Thieves. Enjoy! Thanks, fans. You are all the greatest!
p.s. if the words scroll too fast or you have trouble reading it, let me know. I'm sure Calamity would be willing to fine-tune things! (click this link to see it larger on YouTube:



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tales from the Circle C Ranch

I got permission to show off the cover for the new short-story collection, Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch. You can see the cover, the contents page, and a few fun illustrations from the upcoming book (coming April, 2015). A big thank you to those of you who wanted to see the former "Ranch Stories" compiled into a book you can keep (rather than plowing through dozens and dozens of blog posts to find a story to read.

Some of the story titles may sound familiar, but all of the stories have been updated and revised. And a few are brand-new. 

The Early Years
1. Britches Are Not for Little Girls (age 5)
2. The Best Gift of All (age 6)
3. Aunt Rebecca and the Hat (age 8)
4. White Christmas (age 10)
The In-Between Years
(all of these stories are spin-offs from events mentioned in the Circle C Adventures, so Andi is mostly 12 in these stories)
5. Prince Loco, Chad's Crazy Horse (the sequel to Andi's encounter with Chad's wild stallion in Long Ride Home)
6. Hurrah for the Fourth of July! (the story behind Andi winning the Fourth of July race mentioned in Dangerous Decision)
7. A Matter of Honor (for those who want a story when Andi's brothers were young, Think "the Freddy Stone story Justin told Andi in Dangerous Decision)
8. Snakes Alive! (when Cory gave Andi the snake in Dangerous Decision)
9. Virginia's Riding Lesson (when Andi follows through on her promise to Virginia)
10. Where the Trees Meet the Bay (sequel to Trouble with Treasure, when Andi visits Jenny Grant)
11. Adios, Jeffrey Sullivan (self-explanatory) :-)

Here are a few sample illustrations:
Prince Loco, Chad's Crazy Horse

Hurrah for the Fourth of July!

Virginia's Riding Lesson

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Trivia Quiz Winner and Answers

Congratulations to Anne Morud, the randomly drawn winner for this month's trivia contest (please send me your address). And here is an amazing thing. Usually, the 100% "right" answers get weeded down, but this month every entrant got 100%. I must have made the questions too easy. LOL  Thanks for playing. I've enjoyed our spring and summer once-a-month trivia contests and I hope you have too.

Here are the answers::

 1. Name the two bullies Andi confronts in the alley behind the mercantile. Johnny and Jack (or Johnny Wilson and Jack Goodwin)
2. How much money does Andi make working in the peach orchard? eight dollars ($8.00)
3. What tune does the music box play? Brahms' Lullaby
4. Who is the prosecuting attorney (the lawyer trying to prove Peter killed the man)? Matthew Powers
5. What is the name of the defense attorney (Peter's lawyer)? Maxwell Browning
6. How much money does Andi want to withdraw from her bank account? ten dollars ($10.00)
7. Where are Peter and Mitch planning to go on vacation? Yosemite
8. Who is Harvey Wellin? a newspaper reporter (from the San Francisco Chronicle can be included but is not necessary to get the answer right)
9. Name the two women Andi hears gossiping about her and her family. Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King
10. What does Johnny show Andi to convince her to go with him? a cream-colored hank of mane
11. How many coins does Chad drop into Andi's hand? four
12. What did Andi's brothers and sister buy their mother for her birthday? a painting (of a buffalo hunt can be included but is not necessary to get the answer right)
13. Who takes Andi back to the ranch after her all-night scare? Johnny (Wilson)
14. What does Andi do when she can't answer the question the lawyer asks her in court? She faints.
15. Who saves the day by bringing Taffy into town? Jack (Goodwin)


Monday, September 29, 2014

Sneak Peek #1

There are 5 long months before Circle C Milestones #1, Thick as Thieves, makes its debut. Somebody around here found out that the sire of Taffy's foal is Sebastian. Maybe I posted it someplace. I can't remember. You all seem to be able to keep track of things better than I can and keep me on my toes.
I think it would be fun to do a few "sneak peeks" of the new book now and again, sort of like movie previews of an upcoming feature film.

This month's sneak peek will let you know who the sire of Taffy's foal(s) is. 

I think he's what you call a liver chestnut, but I'm sure you'll all correct me if I'm wrong about that. He might not be dark enough to qualify, but he's a looker, don't you think?

Now for the "sneak peek," an excerpt from where we learn about Sebastian. It's not much, but perhaps you'll think it's fun to be tickled a little bit.

Excerpted from Chapter 4. WARNING: spoiler alert. Do not read this short excerpt if you want to be surprised about the foal(s). But most of you are already familiar with Taffy's foaling situation, having read the short story, "Midnight Surprise," a couple of years ago. That short story eventually morphed into this full-length (175 pages) novel. 

Andi has just finished giving her mother all of the logical reasons why she should stay home from school and get her foals off to a good start . . . 

       Mother frowned, which was not a good sign. “We’ve been over this before. I have no intention of allowing you to miss school and fall behind in your lessons.”
       “Why not? Half the class will disappear come spring, when the farm kids leave for planting time. Cory is graduating from the eighth grade this year. He doesn’t have to go back. Why can’t I graduate too? I don’t care about school—”
       “I do.”
       Andi slumped back on the straw. Graduating from the eighth grade was an important milestone for most of the scholars in the Fresno grammar school, but it meant very little to Andi. Mother was clear: each member of the Carter family would receive a full measure of education until they reached the “magic” age of sixteen. Two and a half more years until I can be finished with this whole, sorry school business.
       Andi laid a hand on Shasta’s white, fuzzy mane. It contrasted vividly with his chocolaty coat. He looked at her with dark, limpid eyes. How can I leave him? Andi looked at the nursing Sunny just across the stall. How could she leave either of them?
       Her brother’s words from nearly a year ago stabbed her memory. “You oughta wait a few more months before letting Sebastian visit Taffy,” Chad had advised. “You’ll have time on your hands come summer. Besides, who wants a winter foal?”
       Andi didn’t want to wait. The time had seemed right, and Chad didn’t insist. Sebastian was a champion stallion and the perfect match for Taffy. Chad had shrugged and given his consent.
       Now she was stuck with the results of her hurry-up attitude.
       “You can’t say Chad didn’t warn you.”
       Andi winced. Is Mother a mind reader?

Next month: Sneak Peek #2--Meet a new character 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chad and Sky

While creating slides for a book trailer for Thick as Thieves, I went to a lot of Photoshoping trouble to put a buckskin horse with Chad. I can't believe how well it worked! The original horse (in the "before" picture on the right) is not very pretty, and definitely NOT a buckskin!
This new one of Sky is better, and the background is in the CA San Joaquin Valley.
ORIGINAL picture with a not-so-pretty horse
CHAD and SKY, his buckskin gelding


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Price of Truth Trivia Quiz

This is it . . . the final trivia quiz for the  Circle C Adventures. September's quiz covers the sixth book, Andrea Carter and the Price of Truth.

As always, you can use any means to find your answers, but rereading the book is probably your best bet. Email your answers to me via the "Email Andi Your Questions and Stories" contact form on the right sidebar or by emailing me at susankmarlow [at] gmail [dot] com.  
NOTE: If you do not receive a "Got it!" reply from me, it means I didn't get it and you should try again.
Don't forget: Do NOT post your answers in the comments.
You have through 4 p.m. (Pacific Time) next Monday, September 29, to send me your answers. (Please number them so it is easier to score.) On Tuesday, September 30, I will post the correct answers and randomly draw ONE WINNER from the correct entries I received. If no one gets 100% right, I will draw from the closest winners. I will announce the winner on the blog. The winner will need to reply via the Contact Form with a mailing address so I can send the prize, which will be the next time I go to the post office.

For this last trivia contest, I found a very special "Patches." He is a Beanie Baby key chain. I discovered I had a few left over from the "Guess the Horses" contests I used to run at conventions. This Patches is brand-new and eager to find a new home. In addition, I am including a Circle C Adventures magnet.

What I need to do is go over to and create some new "fun" giveaways and then think of ways to give them away. 

Reminder: Every answer can be found by reading Andrea Carter and the Price of Truth. You may look them all up if you want to (the questions are NOT in order). Have fun!

1. Name the two bullies Andi confronts in the alley behind the mercantile.
2. How much money does Andi make working in the peach orchard?
3. What tune does the music box play?
4. Who is the prosecuting attorney (the lawyer trying to prove Peter killed the man)?
5. What is the name of the defense attorney (Peter's lawyer)?
6. How much money does Andi want to withdraw from her bank account?
7. Where are Peter and Mitch planning to go on vacation?
8. Who is Harvey Wellin?
9. Name the two women Andi hears gossiping about her and her family.
10. What does Johnny show Andi to convince her to go with him?
11. How many coins does Chad drop into Andi's hand?
12. What did Andi's brothers and sister buy their mother for her birthday?
13. Who takes Andi back to the ranch after her all-night scare?
14. What does Andi do when she can't answer the question the lawyer asks her in court?
15. Who saves the day by bringing Taffy into town?


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Votes Are In!

The votes are in: the name "Benjamin" won by a larger margin; "Richard" was second place, but not close enough to do another vote between the two. So "Uncle Benjamin" it is (or "Uncle Ben"). It has a nice ring to it and I like it. Thanks for your help! Now . . . I have to go change the Family Tree and eventually update that post.

Daniel, age 17
Here is a picture of my cousin Daniel, Uncle Benjamin and Ellen's son. He is a major character in my adventure in CCM Book 3, The Last Ride. You can read about him on the "My Family" page, but here's a short biography. I'll write more when I get to know him better.

DANIEL CARTER is the son of Uncle Benjamin, my father, James's twin brother. Daniel is the youngest of 4 children and the only one to have survived infancy. He looks enough like my brother Mitch to be his twin, but he is barely 2 years older than I. Their family lives in New York City, where Daniel pretty much does whatever he pleases. (I guess with the "baby" of the family being the only child to survive, Uncle Ben and Aunt Ellen have spoiled him way too much.) When trouble finally catches up with Daniel at age 17, his parents send him out West to our ranch (lucky us), where they hope he will learn the value of hard work.

Stay tuned to see what havoc Daniel can wreak on the Circle C ranch. And since this story is still in the makings, feel free to toss down any ideas that pop into your heads. I don't guarantee that I'll use them, but brainstorming is so much fun, and I've come to appreciate your input.