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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvnN4X52YXA&feature=youtu.be



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another Sneak Peek

I added a new page to the Circle C website, with a few story summaries, a couple more illustrations, and a short excerpt from one of the stories in Tales from the Circle C Ranch. Enjoy!


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 Zazzle.com 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. 


Friday, September 19, 2014

Front Piece for Thick as Thieves

Breaking news for my loyal blog readers: today I got the proof pages (the very last step before the book goes to the printer). I wasn't sure what the designer would do for the front piece, but now I can see it. And I like it a lot, even better than what I had suggested with the "poster-like" graphic I shared months ago. This looks perfect for an older audience, and it's clean and crisp. (But I'm not sure if the FRIENDSHIP is a bit too big.) Thoughts?

And below is the font they chose for Andi's journal entries. I'm so happy they picked an old-fashioned font instead of plain, old italics.But here's the thing. They took out the "Andi's Journal" label, thinking it was redundant (it is, I guess).

So you tell me . . . if you just see the journal entry, are y'all smart enough to figure out Andi is writing it down somewhere (especially since it's in cursive) without me needing to include "Andi's Journal" every single time? Or should there be a date, maybe? (Date = a lot of work for me to go back and find them.) Check it out below and tell me what you think about needing (or not needing) a label on each journal entry. You can see it up close by clicking on the new STORY EXCERPT, which I updated with the new fonts and things (since the JPG below is rather small and hard to see). Let me know before September 26!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Faith Needs Some Encouragement

Faith sent me an email with a request for prayers for her situation. Let's all join in giving her a little encouragement and prayer today!

Since my father (Faith's) officially resigned the last Sunday of August nothing has been just right. Seven people that I can quickly think of have questioned his decision. Some of them suggested he take a few weeks off to think it over, but he declined.

The first verse of the song posted by Bethany S. a few weeks back ("I'll pray again") well describes our situation. But the chorus doesn't, because my father isn't saying "I'll pray again; I'll continue the fight for Jesus even if it's hard." He is giving up, taking the easy way out, quitting.

I don't mean to sound judging but I keep thinking about the last time he resigned from a church. It was 7 years ago and yes, it was hard but it was NOTHING like this.

Please continue to pray for my family and my father's decision. I can feel your prays at work!

Thanks, my sisters in Christ! 
Faith Potts

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Now This Is Living!

Okay, the author has been taking over quite a bit these days, so it's time I (Andi) got "back in the saddle" and started recording a few interesting happenings.

First off, my second adventure in the Circle C Milestones is finished. I think it's going to be called Danger Trail, on account of the fact that I finally--after much pleading and suggesting to Mother that this is what I want to do for my 15th birthday--go along on a short, easygoing cattle drive. (I find out there is nothing easy about any kind of cattle drive.)

Kitty Wilkins, the horse queen of Idaho
How did I manage this feat? Well, I spent a long time gathering ammunition (i.e. news stories about other women and ladies who do things not normally associated with a "young lady.") I found a couple of "heroines," like Kitty Wilkins, the "Horse Queen of Idaho," and her horse is the same color as Taffy--a palomino!

Her picture was in the paper (I'm not sure why this picture doesn't show Kitty on her palomino, but oh, well, at least she's on a horse!). And she runs her own ranch and rounds up mustangs and sells them and . . . bosses the ranch hands too!

Sadie Austin
My other heroine is Sadie Austin. She's closer to my own age. That's her in the picture to the left. While Kitty rides sidesaddle in her riding habit (too much for me), Sadie wears a split-skirt (hurrah!) topped by a shorter skirt over the top. This young lady is noted for her accomplishments and fine ways, and she can play the piano (I cannot). 

I like her getup, except I think I'll have to pass on the rifle. Sadie is a great shot, while I--alas--am not. And it's not because Chad hasn't tried to teach me, either.

When I showed Mother I'd done my research and wasn't about to disgrace the family name by wanting to help on the cattle drive (since these ladies did those things too), Mother gave her permission.

It didn't take long until I wished she hadn't. But that, my friends, is another story . . . coming Fall 2015. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Choose a Name for Andi's Uncle

A young James Carter
James Carter just before his death in 1874
You have all given me some great ideas for names for Andi's uncle. So many good ones, in fact, that I've decided to put up another poll to determine which one will end up being his name for Book 3 of the CCMilestones, The Last Ride.

I picked out 6 names that 1) didn't start with a letter in the Carter family already or anyone else of significance in the books and 2) sound old-fashioned and not too modern. I put up 2 pictures of Andi's father, James Carter. This is, of course, what his twin brother, [insert new name], looks like too. That's so you can "see" him. So, vote! Does he look like a Timothy, a Benjamin, a Robert, a Nathaniel, a Richard, or a Paul?

Here is a short bio on [insert new name], to see if that helps you decide on his name:

While James Carter was busy out West striking it rich in the California Gold Rush in 1849 and 1850 (and marrying Elizabeth and starting his ranch with the gold), his older sister, Rebecca (yes, THAT Aunt Rebecca) and their brother [insert new name] stayed back east in New York City, where their parents resided. James' twin brother busily went about making his own fortune in the city and became an important architect, who actually ends up being involved in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1880s.When Andi's father died in 1874, his brother and his family made the trip out West for James' funeral. Andi was too young to remember much of that visit, and the New York Carters haven't been west since (until book 3 of the Milestones series). Aunt Rebecca moved permanently to San Francisco to be near James' family, but [insert new name] stayed on the East coast.

[Insert new name] and his wife, Ellen, had four children, but only the youngest, Daniel (key player in The Last Ride), survived infancy. Which might be the reason why his mother and father dote on Daniel and overlook his many character flaws, excusing his behavior rather than curbing it.

Which reminds me! I need a picture of Daniel! Feel free to email me at susankmarlow@gmail.com with any possibilities. The only thing the story states is that he looks enough like Mitch (tall, blond, handsome) to be his twin, but he's obviously not matured and filled out like Mitch. And I don't just want to use another picture of Mitch (which I've had a hard time finding anyway).

By the way, here is my latest picture of Mitch.