Monday, January 15, 2018

Lost Stories: Andrea Carter and Trouble at the Lineshack 2

Go HERE to begin this Lost Story.

Greetings, readers! Lost Scene #2 is set in town. It will feel very familiar, but with a twist. What's the twist in this scene that didn't get included in the final version of a published Circle C Adventures book? Hopefully this version is different enough that you will enjoy it! (I decided to post the lost scenes on Monday to take the place of Andi's Journal for now.)


Lost Scene #2

Andi never made it to the barn to see Taffy. The sound of a buggy brought her around.
It was Melinda. She was dressed in a light-weight summer gown. On her head was a pretty straw hat. Compared to Andi she looked fresh and cool.
Andi waved her to a stop. “Where are you going?”
“Into town. Mrs. Pigott said my new hat would be finished this afternoon, and want it for Sunday.”

“May I come along?” She hadn’t seen her friend Rachel for weeks. Perhaps they could sit out in the shade under the Pigott’s huge oak tree and drink iced lemonade. That would surely be such lady-like activity that Mother would agree at once.
Melinda sighed. “I suppose.”
Andi climbed into the buggy alongside her sister. Melinda didn’t move. “What’s the matter?”
“You know Mother will never let you off the ranch looking like that.”
Andi looked down at herself. Her sister was right, and for once she agreed. A lightweight cotton dress and summer slippers would be much cooler than these dusty overalls. “I’ll be back in just a few minutes.  Don’t leave without me.” She jumped from the buggy and took off for the house at a run.
“Don’t forget your hat,” Melinda yelled after her. “It’s a long ride into town in the open!”

Friday, January 12, 2018

Photo Friday: Covers and More

My publisher sent the final two covers for Stepping Stones books 5-6. They are below.

Also, scroll down to see the final engraving on the locket. I updated it. I have also changed Andi's birthday of getting the locket to her tenth birthday. The picture from the back of Andi Far from Home is the reason why. We needed some kind of necklace around Julie's (Andi's) neck when I took the pictures, and my daughter had a locket. "Great!" I said. Not realizing that would cause all kinds of problems in the canon (Circle C timeline) for the stories.

Luckily, I'm revising Family Secret and can fix all that. I guess this is what happens when an author has no idea she will end up writing so many different eras of Andi's life. Good thing I have you fans to help me keep everything straight!

 Official, final covers:

Unofficial BACK COVERS: (note locket around Andi's neck)

And the final LOCKET picture:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lost Stories: Andrea Carter and Trouble at the Lineshack 1

Guess what! I found an entire story that is different in many ways from what it ended up being in the real publishing world.

Here's the challenge. Each week I'll post a new "lost scene" from this story. I stole lots of things from this original story to create different books. Can you figure out where the different parts of these scenes ended up in other books?

Hint: Most of this first scene has never been seen before (I don't think so, anyway, so bear with me). Variations, however, have found their way into another book. Have fun! Leave your guesses in the comments. A new scene every Monday until I run out of story.

Lost Scene #1
A blast of hot summer air struck Andrea Carter directly in the face as she left the relative coolness of the house. She had been looking forward to a nice afternoon ride, but immediately the very thought of climbing onto a horse and galloping around under the fierce California sun made her reconsider.
“It’s too hot to ride,” she muttered to herself in disappointment. “I should’ve ridden early this morning before I got saddled with all those chores Mother found for me.” She pulled the strings of her hat forward, bringing the black felt riding hat onto her head. It afforded some protection from the glaring sun, but none from the heat.
The yard seemed deserted. A few ranch hands were lounging around, repairing their equipment, lazily brushing their horses, and in general trying to find a cool spot to rest. They gave her a half-hearted wave.
“Hot, ain’t it, Miss Andi?” one of the more energetic of the men remarked.
Andi smiled and returned the wave. She nodded, too drained to speak.
“Betcha it’s a hundred and ten in the shade,” came another comment. The young cowhand removed his hat and swiped a bandana across his sweaty brow.
Andi watched with interest as the man left his spot on the bunkhouse porch, made his way to the pump and trough, and plunged the bandana into the water. He squeezed out a generous portion of water, then tied the wet cloth around his neck.
“That’s a mite better.” He grinned. “That should last at least two minutes.” He returned to the porch.
“Why don’t you dunk your whole head in, Josh?” Andi wandered over to the trough and gazed into the now-still water. It was mighty tempting.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Photo Friday: Help! Andi's Locket from Family Secret

My publisher just sent me the file for Andrea Carter and the Family Secret. I have been asked by a couple of fans to please give more details about the locket Hannah grabs, Andi takes back, and then gives to Hannah to keep her from crying when Troy is taking the children away. (And I have been asked to explain how Andi gets the locket back so she can use it again in Courageous Love.) And I will TRY to squeeze in a rumor about Troy too, if I don't run over my 40,000 word limit. (I'm at 39,500 right now, so I have some wiggle room.)

I am in the process of doing that over the next several days. I will explain about the locket coming back to Andi in the last chapter, just before her sister Kate and the kids go to San Francisco.

In the meantime, I need your help on the details of the locket. I've woven in some short details into the story (costly, gold, etchings, etc.), and mentioned that even more precious are the two miniatures of her mother and father on the inside, but I also want to describe a short engraving that Justin wrote on the back of the locket (for her 12th birthday). Here's what I have so far: "Grow in grace and wisdom, sweet little sister. Love Justin."

But honestly, I'm terrible at thinking of sentimental things to write, and you are probably better. Here you go! Give me ideas of 12-14 words or less (more would never have fit. I looked it up on line, and 16 words is like the max!). Write your ideas in the comments. If I like one of yours better than the one I have right now, I'll put yours in so fast it will make your head spin! If you like what I have, vote for it, okay? But believe me, my feelings won't be hurt if you think of something better!

But hurry! I will be finishing the edits the middle of next week and sending the file back to my publisher. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Fan Fiction Award!

What a nice New Year's surprise. This morning I received an email from The Writer Awards, a group of volunteer writers who banded together to find the best fan fiction blogs and websites. Go figure. Most of the actual Fan Fiction stories surrounding the Circle C Adventures are a sub-blog at the Fan Fiction Blog. But maybe they like the whole "Andi's Adventures in the Old West," since the entire thing is a big fan venture, and they posted this URL as the winner. Whatever the reason, thanks to you, fans, for participating by being faithful to Andi's blog, since without readers the whole fan fiction idea would not fly.

And the award? This little graphic to post, and they plan to promote the top 9 sites, so maybe others will learn about Andi and her adventures in the Old West.

Here is what they wrote:

First off, a huge congratulations! We've selected Circle C Adventures as one of the top fanfiction websites and blogs of 2017! We were suggested over 200 fan fiction blogs and sites to review. It took awhile, but we went through them all and pulled together the final list of sites that we felt were the highest quality and most unique. 

A huge congratulations! Out of the hundreds of sites, you made the list! The top 9 we selected were all so high quality that it was very difficult to rank them; every blog selected is of extremely high quality.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Fifteen Days Left to Enter the Circle C Contest!

I thought I'd give you an update and a reminder. Only about a dozen stories have been submitted for the upcoming Circle C Short Story Contest. The deadline is January 15, so if you are even thinking of entering, I suggest you get that story polished and sent to ASAP.

In the past I have received up to eighty entries (!!), and I cannot run the contest with less than twelve entries per category. This would be a shame for all of you who have already sent in stories. I've got them ready, and I've read them all so far. *smile*

Just a New Year's reminder.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Photo Friday: Fun Stuff

It's a little late in the day, but at least it's still Friday. Here are some more new things that I will be putting up on the "Fun Stuff" section of my website soon. The new journals I showed you are on their way, so they will be ready soon.

And now . . . let me introduce the Circle C mugs! I created sliders for three different sets: Circle C Beginnings, Circle C Stepping Stones, and Circle C Adventures/Milestones. When somebody orders a mug, they will get the three interchangeable sliders that can slip into the clear-plastic mug. They would work great for crafts, candy, pencils, collections, and--if you are very careful--for drinks. But they are not sealed (or how else would you change the pictures around)? And they are definitely not dishwasher safe. I would suggest you take out the sliders before washing this little mug. So, with no further ado, here it is:

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Story Contest Winners

The entries were evenly divided between the pictures (and fun to read!), so I decided to give a prize to one winner for each picture. *wink*

An author friend who is familiar with the Circle C characters helped me judge this contest. Thank you, Colleen Reece! And congratulations, winners! I will send your prizes after Christmas.

Read THE CHRISTMAS TREE by Sabrina (Young Andi picture winner).
Read TRUE SISTERS AT HEART by Brooklyne (Older Andi picture winner).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Photo Friday: Official Anniversary Covers books 2 and 3

Mrs. M posted these covers before, a long time ago. However, now they are official!

Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision is out of stock at the publisher. This means there are no books left.

Mrs. M is scrambling to revise (some fans have given suggestions over the years) the manuscript and get it turned in so they can print the anniversary edition ASAP with this grand new cover. I even colored Taffy to look more like a golden palomino than she did on the original cover. Hope you like it!

If anyone has any suggestions, now is the time. Like . . . right now! A fan wanted Andi to drop a ribbon or some clue for the posse to follow her and Jed, and I thought that was a good idea, so I added it.

Andrea Carter and the Family Secret is very low in stock, so the new revision for the anniversary edition will be tackled soon, probably next month. Here is the official cover. This means all of the covers except San Francisco Smugglers have a new look!

If anyone has any suggestions for the revision of Family Secret, now is the time to post them in the comments. I make no promises to include them, but will consider each one carefully. For instance, one fan wants to know whose pictures are in Andi's locket that she gives to Hannah to hang on to so she doesn't cry. Good suggestion. I'll add it.

And you wonder why I have trouble squeezing in time to post on the blog! :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Circle C Milestones Christmas Story . . . Part 6

Here is the final part in the story.
To start at the beginning, go HERE.


By the time evening fell, Andi was out of the hills and heading for the Circle C ranch. The moment the trail widened out, she pushed the horses even faster. They were badly lathered. She knew Diego would have some harsh words for her treatment of Señor Riley’s horses.
No matter. It couldn’t be helped.
The horses would need a good rubdown after this abuse, but right now Andi had no energy left to worry about them. Only Riley mattered. A stab of uncertainty pierced her heart. Riley hadn’t muttered a peep during the whole long, agonizing journey.
Andi kept the horses going. Thank God that the rising moon was full. It lit the hills in stark, white light. Home, home! Mother will take care of Riley. Chad will race to town for the doctor. And I can rest . . .
Andi’s arms felt like two lead weights. Her fingers were numb from gripping the reins. The rest of her body was wracked with pain from jolting along. Not even the wide valley road felt smooth.
Poor Riley! He must be bouncing all over the place back there, even with the blanket padding. She dared not stop to check on him.
Andi knew the quickest way to her childhood home, and she took it. Half an hour later, the lighted windows beckoned a cheerful welcome when she pulled into the long driveway. She slowed the horses just long enough to cool them a smidgen and yanked them to a shuddering stop in front of the porch. Their sides heaved.
“Sorry, fellas,” Andi apologized then crawled down from the seat.
The instant her toes touched the ground, her legs collapsed. Oof! She sat, cold and weary beyond belief, in the chilly December air.
In the distance, Andi saw cowhands mingling in the yard, but she was too tired to call out. It didn’t matter. They couldn’t help but hear the jangling harnesses and pounding hooves tearing up the Circle C driveway. What’s more, above all the noise, Tucker was frantically barking.
Someone would surely come.
A shout filled the air. Then a babble of Spanish and English voices grew nearer. Sid McCoy led the group. When he saw Andi, he raised his lantern and lit into her like she was twelve years old.
“What in tarnation’s got into you, Miss Andi? Runnin’ those horses like their tails are on fire? You shoulda—”
Riley’s hurt!” She burst into exhausted tears.  
Sid’s eyes grew wide. He passed the lantern to one of the hands, ordered two others to help Miss Andi into the house, and leaped into the back of the wagon to see to his nephew.
“I’m fine,” Andi insisted when Jake and Diego gently lifted her to her feet. She tried to brush them off.
Jake snorted. “Sure you are.” He didn’t let go.
No es la verdad, señorita,” Diego muttered.
Andi gave in. Diego was right. It wasn’t the truth. She felt far from fine. A wave of nausea washed over her. She slumped and let the two cowhands carry her up the wide veranda steps.
Diego didn’t bother to knock. He burst through the doorway yelling in Spanish.
The last thing Andi heard was Sid’s astonished exclamation. “A cougar cub! What in tarnation . . .”
His voice faded, and Andi let sweet oblivion take her away . . .

* * *

“Riley!” Andi shot up from a terrifying nightmare. She had missed the shot. The cougar was mauling Riley! He was screaming . . . screaming . . . begging Andi to shoot the—
“Shhh, darling.” Firm but gentle hands caught Andi before she could leap out of bed. “It’s all right. Riley’s fine. Chad fetched the doctor hours ago.”
Andi threw her arms around Mother and took three long, deep breaths. “Really? Promise me he’s all right.”
Mother drew Andi’s arms away and looked into her face. She was smiling. “I promise. Dr. Weaver said he’s weak as a kitten from blood loss, but the cat did not tear into anything vital.”
Tears of relief dripped down Andi’s cheeks. “Thank you, God,” she whispered.
“Yes, indeed,” Mother agreed with a nod.
Andi threw aside the bedcovers. “I want to see him.”
“It’s the middle of the night.” Mother replaced the covers.  “He’s sleeping peacefully”—she paused—“which is more than I can say about you.” Her expression changed to one Andi knew well.
A scolding was in the making.
Mother sat back in the overstuffed bedside chair. “I would like to know, daughter, what Riley was thinking today—letting you go off into the middle of nowhere. I always thought he was a sensible young man, but . . .” She clucked her tongue, just like Aunt Rebecca used to do.
Uh-oh. Mother sounded angry at Riley. Very angry.
Andi reddened. “What do you mean?”
“Do not give me that innocent look, Andrea. You know exactly what I mean. I asked Dr. Weaver to look at you also.” She paused.
Andi felt her cheeks explode in heat.
“I was worried,” Mother said when Andi kept quiet. “You looked ghastly when Diego and Jake brought you inside. It’s not like you to react like that—fainting and ill—from an all-day adventure in the mountains. Even if you did have to shoot a cougar.”
“How did you know I shot the cat?” Andi asked in a tiny voice.
“Oh, it wasn’t hard for Chad to figure out. The used rifle, Riley’s condition, an orphan cub.” Her blue gaze bored into Andi. “Do not change the subject.”
Andi swallowed. Did mothers know everything? Apparently so. Or . . . they had ways of finding out the things they wanted to know.
Like Andi’s secret. She’s sneakier than Justin. And just as relentless.
Andi ducked her head and fingered the blanket binding. “Riley doesn’t know,” she whispered without looking up. “I wanted to surprise him on Christmas Day about the baby.”
“I see.” Mother paused. “Well, that’s the only good thing in all of this. My faith in Riley’s good sense is restored.” She shook her head and sighed. “But what were you thinking, daughter? You wanted a tree in the Circle C tradition. I understand that. But not at the expense of your little one.”  
“I felt fine,” Andi protested. “And I’m—”
She broke off. She wanted to snap at Mother, to say she was a married woman now and could make her own decisions.
Andi knew better. She’d felt fine, true, until the adventure had turned upside down and demanded all of her strength. What if I’d ended up reacting like Lucy did when she was carrying Gracie? Lucy could hardly function at times. What if I couldn’t take another step? What if I had keeled over halfway home? What if—
She shuddered.
Mother caught Andi up in a tight embrace. “It’s all right, sweetheart. All’s well that ends well. But please, let this be a lesson to you.”
Andi nodded.
Just then, Chad poked his head through the doorway. “Riley’s awake. He wants to know if Andi’s all right. I told him you were fine, but he’s a stubborn one, that boy.” He grinned. “Better haul yourself out of bed for a few moments, little sister, and assure him you’re none the worse for your adventure.”
This time Mother did not prevent Andi from flying out of bed. She drew on a housecoat and hurried to Riley’s side in the guest room three doors down.
Riley’s eyes lit up when he saw her. “You’re okay.”
“Yep.” Andi smiled and sat down beside him.  
Riley looked much better now. Almost as good as new, so long one only looked at his uninjured head and hand.  
Andi picked up his hand and squeezed it. Then she kissed his cheek. “I wanted to wait until Christmas, but I have something to tell you. I think it will help you heal faster.” She glanced toward the doorway. No one—not even Chad—was lurking around.
“Good news, I hope?”
“Oh, yes.” Even though nobody was spying, Andi couldn’t bring herself to shout her news out loud. She whispered in Riley’s ear.
The tight squeeze on Andi’s hand and his murmured “best Christmas gift ever” was music to Andi’s ears. If he was angry that she hadn’t told him before they left for their adventure, he was gentlemanly enough not to bring it up.
Andi sat holding Riley’s hand until she felt his grip loosen. She tucked his hand under the covers and brushed a final kiss across his forehead. He was sound asleep, a contented smile on his face.
Andi suddenly felt more than fine. She tiptoed out of the room and made her way downstairs for a midnight cup of chocolate. To her surprise, Chad and Ellie were already there, sipping tea and chatting.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Ellie confessed.
“Been waiting for you to wake up,” Chad said. “The men are in a quandary. They want to know what in blazes they’re supposed to do with that cougar cub you hauled home.”
Andi’s mouth dropped open. Oh, dear! What am I supposed to do with it?
Then a delightful idea tickled her thoughts. She knew the perfect recipient for that little Christmas cat. She smiled at her brother. “Merry Christmas, Chad!”

The End

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Circle C Milestones Story . . . Part 5

Go here to begin this story: PART 1


Andi caught her breath. What was that thing? A badger? A small bobcat? A—
The spotted animal let out a tiny, pitiful mew. Tucker yipped, clearly surprised, and sniffed it.  
Andi’s heart melted. A cougar cub!
No wonder the mountain lion had not run off, not even when gunshots had certainly scared it half to death. She was protecting her baby, and nothing would move her.
Tears sprang to Andi’s eyes. I killed its mother.
Too late to worry about that now. If I hadn’t shot the cat, it would have killed Riley for sure.
But still, Andi had always loved kittens, and the poor creature mewing around its mother’s dead carcass looked like a lost kitten—albeit a big one.  
Riley came first, however. Andi ignored the pitiful cries and hurried to Riley’s side. She unscrewed the top of her canteen and helped Riley drink draught after draught of the cool liquid. “You hungry?” she asked.
Riley made a face. “Not really. I just want to lie here quietly and thank the good Lord I’m alive.”
“Well, I’m starved.” Andi dug around in the basket and drew out a sandwich, which she gobbled up in five quick bites. Buried under the napkin-wrapped bundles, she found a battered coffee pot, a small jar of cream, and a packet of coffee. “Shall I kindle a fire and make you a hot cup of coffee before we start back? I even brought cream along, since I know how much you like it in your coffee.”
No answer. “Riley?” She turned and paused at the sight. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Circle C Milestones Christmas Story . . . Part 4

Go here to begin this story: PART 1


The horses had known all along. Tucker was also proclaiming it loud and clear.
A mountain lion prowled nearby. It had probably seen Riley. For sure it saw Tucker. But surely the cat wouldn’t stalk a man! Normally, the tawny-colored beasts were skittish and kept well away from humans.
Well, it’s here now!
Andi whirled. Her gaze flew to the rifle that lay on the bottom of the wagon bed. She leaped over the seat and landed in the back of the wagon a few inches from the weapon. Her shaking fingers curled around the warm iron barrel, where it had soaked up the sun.
Thank you, God, that Riley never goes anywhere without his rifle!
Clutching the rifle to her chest. Andi scrambled over the wagon side and dropped to the ground with a thunk. She groaned. Then she took a deep breath and staggered to her feet. “Riley!” She yelled, but her words came out as a choked cry.
She heard a low snarl. Tucker wouldn’t stop barking.   
Andi’s heart raced. “Riley!” This time it came out as a terrified shriek.
“Tucker, back!” Riley’s voice sounded far away. “Don’t come near!” Riley’s voice sounded far away.
Part of Andi’s numbed mind tried to figure out her husband’s command. Was he yelling at Tucker or her? The other part of her mind screamed, Riley has only a small dog and an ax. An ax against a cougar! I have the rifle!
Fear for Riley’s life made Andi’s feet fly through the woods. Then she stopped. You idiot!
There was no need to shoot the beast. Just firing the rifle would most likely scare it off. It had scared away that other cougar all those years ago when she’d shot a rifle through the window of a shack.
But that had been a dark night. Who knew what a mountain lion might do during the day? A possibly hungry mountain lion.
Crack! Crack! Andi fired two shots into the air. Crack! She fired one more for good measure. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Milestones Christmas Story . . . Part 3

Go here to begin this story: PART 1


It was barely noon when Riley pulled the wagon to a stop near a likely stand of trees. “What do you think about these, Andi?”
Andi jerked her head up. She’d been dozing off and on the last half hour. “Huh? What?”
“You all right?” Riley asked, squinting down at her.
“Oh, sure. It’s just that the last few miles of any trip wears a body down. I’m cramped and tired of sitting on this hard seat. What did you ask me?”
Riley waved his arm toward the trees. “Any of these strike your fancy?”
Andi studied the stand. White fir, with a sprinkling of Douglas fir, grew at varying heights. These trees looked all right, but a white-tipped red fir was more to her liking. However . . .
They would have to go much higher than this to find a solid stand of red fir. They grew above 5,000 feet, and already the horses looked winded from the climb. Andi shaded her eyes. And was that snow up there? Probably, she decided.
And I’m so tired!
“Yes, three of these should do just fine,” she decided at last. “So long as you can find at least one of them ten feet high for the ranch house. The parlor there has a higher ceiling than either Justin’s place or our sitting room.” She gave him a challenging look.
“Let’s go then.” Riley jumped down from the wagon seat. “You are going to pick out these trees, m’dear. I’ll cut them down.” He grinned and gave Andi a hand to the ground. “You’re the experienced Carter Christmas tree lady, after all.”
The two of them tramped through the forest, chatting and laughing. Tucker raced back and forth, tail wagging, clearly happy to be on an adventure with Riley and Andi.
Andi couldn’t decide which tree she liked best. One looked tall enough, but some of the branches near the top were dead and bare. Another showed deer damage smack in the center of the tree. Still another had a crooked trunk. Two more looked tall enough for her own home, but either one would look puny in Mother’s parlor.
“Hmmm,” Andi pondered. “It’s hard to decide.”
“They all look alike to me,” Riley said, leaning against the trunk of a giant Ponderosa pine. He whacked the grooved, orange-colored bark. “Sure you don’t want me to saw this one down?”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Milestones Christmas Story . . . Part 2

Go here to begin this story--PART 1


Hurry, hurry! Andi told herself the next morning. Before Riley changes his mind and goes off on his own.
It was one thing to have the softly setting sun move Riley to agree to let Andi go along on an all-day trek into the high country. It was an entirely different matter to look at it in the clean air of a new day.
If he knew my secret, he would  never in a thousand years let me go along, Andi thought. A twinge of guilt for keeping something from Riley tweaked her conscience, but she brushed it off.
After all, Andi had accompanied her brothers a number of times since she’d grown up. It certainly was not a dangerous journey. Just a long day. And a long hike on snowshoes when they were forced to abandon the wagon and horses not far above the snowline.
But not today! Riley was right. The snowline was so high this year that they could take the wagon all the way to where the best trees grew.
“Why!” Andi giggled as she packed a good supply of food and blankets. “We can probably back the wagon right up to the trees of our choice, cut them down, and let each one drop into the wagon bed.”
Her spirits rose high as a circling hawk. This would be the most fun ever! Just she and Riley, an ax and a saw, a picnic lunch, and a couple of horses. She twirled in a quick circle and suddenly felt dizzy. Her arms splayed out. She gasped and caught herself just in time on the edge of the table.
Settle down, girl, she warned herself silently. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Milestones Christmas Story . . . Part 1

You will forgive Mrs. M, I'm sure, when you see that she has been working on a Christmas story for Milestones fans, i.e. a story about Andi and Riley's first Christmas. It is six parts (so far), but Mrs. M is not quite finished, so it may end up longer. She post a new part every day this week, starting today.

It's not quite a slice-of-life journal post, but pretty close! Merry Christmas!

The Unforgettable Christmas

December 1886

Every year since eighteen-year-old Andrea Carter Prescott could remember, the Christmas holidays always began with her three big brothers going up into the Sierras to cut down the family tree. When she was very small, Andi waited all day long with much anticipation to see what kind of tree they would bring home.
In those days, Father went along, and he would come home all smiles and toss Andi up in the air. “Andrea, just see what your brothers and I brought home this year. A very tall tree, and thick enough for you to climb!”
But Father never let Andi climb it. Nor did he or Mother let her have anything to do with the candles, which shone bright and cheery from every other branch. “They are too dangerous,” Mother always warned. “Keep away from them. You don’t want to burn down the house, do you?”
Andi always obeyed that restriction.
Later, after Father died, the boys kept up the tradition. When Andi was nine years old, Justin, Chad, and Mitch let her go along. Melinda was away at school in San Francisco, and besides, her sister was never too eager to go along on any tree-cutting expeditions.
Andi found out why not soon enough.
After an unexpected blizzard sent Andi and her brothers  hiding out all night long under the wagon—with the icy wind and snow whipping around them—she decided it might be better to wait until she was much, much older to go with them again. It was more fun—and warmer—to meet the boys at the door and help decorate the white fir or Douglas fir or red fir than to freeze half to death. 
Andi  was telling Riley all about this Circle C holiday tradition one evening in early December. They sat out on the front porch and watched the sun go down in a blaze of color. Andi wore a light sweater, and Riley a flannel shirt. The hills had not yet seen the onset of rains and mud. Just sunny days and cool, crisp nights.
Perfect weather for working. But not perfect weather for getting into the Christmas spirit.
“I thought it might be fun to start the same kind of tradition in our own family,” Andi ventured. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Coming Your Way . . .

Watch for a brand-new, never-published Milestones story featuring Andi and Riley. Coming to a computer or mobile device near you starting Monday.

Sneak Peek: It's Andi and Riley's first Christmas on their new Memory Creek ranch. Trouble is, Andi is a bit homesick for her family's holiday traditions . . . especially the one about going up into the high country to cut down the perfect Christmas tree. Can Andi convince Riley to start their own tradition? And will he let Andi go along if he discovers her secret?