Monday, May 1, 2017

Thick as Thieves Trivia Contest Now Live!

Trivia contests back by popular demand . . .

Click on this link to enter the Thick as Thieves trivia contest on the Circle C Contests and Giveaways blog. (And to share your favorite scene from the book.)

Contest runs Saturday, April 22 through Sunday, April 30. Have fun!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Fan's Challenge

This post (and giveaway) comes courtesy of Libby. Get ready for the spiritual adventure of a lifetime! I'll keep it at the top of the blog until the challenge ends
In Libby's own words . . .

Friday, April 28, 2017

Photo Friday Cover Confusion

The (cover) plot thickens. Last Friday you all overwhelmingly chose cover #1 (Andi at the beach with the purple border).

Well, I found yet another cover that might work, so I really need some more opinions. Do you still like the beach cover best, or does Andi holding the cat in front of a SF cable car appeal to you more?

Sorry to keep asking, but I will have to send my ideas in to my publisher pretty soon and I simply cannot decide. With folks I've emailed, it's pretty much split down the middle--50/50. I had pretty much decided on the beach one until I found the cat pose. Help!

#1: Cat and Cable Car Cover Flat (beach picture on the back cover)

 #2: Beach Cover Flat (cat picture on the back cover)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 10

Begin reading this story HERE.

Note: Sorry to disappoint you, but last week's "two in one day" was a scheduling blooper. No, you didn't get two in one day. Instead, you get this chapter over again (for those of you who read it before I fixed my mistake. ~ Mrs. M
Chapter 10

“Mrs. Carter,” Mr. Foster remarked when the door to Andi’s room had clicked shut, “is there a problem between Andrea and you? Or with her brothers or sister? Her marks have dropped dramatically over the last few days. They are getting dangerously low in math and English.  Twice I’ve caught her asleep. I know she’s been asleep more often than that, but”—he smiled—“her loyal friend, Cory Blake, manages to tap her on the back and keep her awake most of the time.”
Elizabeth shook her head, stunned. “Andrea’s been falling asleep in class?”
“Most every day this week,” Mr. Foster replied.
“I wasn’t aware—” She broke off and glanced in the direction in which her daughter had run. What is going on?
“Has she been ill?” the teacher asked.
“No,” Elizabeth answered. “At least, I don’t think she has.” She shook her head. “No. She hasn’t. Thank you for coming all the way out to the ranch, Mr. Foster,” she said. “But if you’ll excuse me, I think I should check on Andrea.”
“Not at all, Mrs. Carter. In spite of our earlier differences, Andrea is one of my best pupils. I do not want to see her studies suffer from some emotional or physical problem.”
“Thank you for your concern.” Elizabeth showed Mr. Foster the door.
He replaced his hat, bowed politely, and left the house.
Elizabeth closed the front door then turned toward the staircase. She gazed up thoughtfully, drew a concerned breath, and started up for her daughter’s room.
“Andrea,” she called out softly as she opened the door.
There was no reply. Elizabeth turned the knob and entered the room. Andi was lying on her bed, fast asleep. “Andrea,” she whispered again.
Still no reply.
She’s truly asleep, Elizabeth realized with surprise. It frightened her. Andrea never spared a moment inside when she could be out with Taffy. And to sleep in the afternoon? Unheard of!
Elizabeth reached out and gave her daughter a gentle shake. “Andrea!”
She was unprepared for the response.


Monday, April 24, 2017

A Slice of Life - 7

Well, I never imagined in my wildest dreams who came calling today! I’m still in shock, and having a hard time accepting the fact that’s it’s true, even though she’s sleeping downstairs in the guest room at this very moment!.
Miss Felicity Livingstone.
I’d all but forgotten about her. It seems so long ago that I ran away with Taffy. And she was the last person I ever expected to see show up on my doorstep.
I had just finished cleaning up from supper when there was a knock at the door. Riley had headed out to the barn to check on some of the horses, and I wondered who in the world would be coming by this late in the evening.
Drying my hands on my apron, I made my way to the door. When I opened it, I didn’t recognize her at first. For one thing, her demeanor was completely different. Far from being the demanding young lady I remembered, her smile seemed a bit shy, and her manners were every bit as gentle and refined as Melinda’s.
She looked at me curiously for a moment, as if wondering why I didn’t recognize her. “Andi?” Her voice was hesitant.
“Yes, I’m Andi Prescott. May I help you?”
“I was told I could find you here.” Her eyes swept over me. “You haven’t changed much in all these years.”
By this point, I was beginning to feel uneasy. She noticed it, and a light chuckle escaped her lips. “I’m sorry. I haven’t introduced myself.? My name is Felicity. Felicity Livingstone.”
Had someone just told me that Justin had given up practicing law, I couldn't have been more surprised.
There was an awkward silence before I finally got a grip on my manners. “Oh, Felicity. It’s been a while. Won’t you come in?”
I stepped back and opened the door wider, all the while wondering if I was doing the right thing. Felicity sure seemed different from that ill-mannered, selfish girl I remembered, but I was still a bit wary. Can a leopard change its spots? I wondered.
She took a seat in the parlor. “Andi, you--ah, you must be wondering why I’m here.”
Yes, what mischief are you up to? I thought to myself. “The thought did cross my mind.”
Glancing down, Felicity fiddled with the small purse she held in her hands. “Well, you see, I’ve been attending college this past year, and I’ve met your brother.”
My eyebrows shot sky high. A woman attending college? It was almost unheard of in those days. It took a moment for the rest of her words to register. “My brother? You mean Mitch?”
She nodded. “Yes. Anyway, when he found out who I was, he of course remembered what happened a few years back.”
No one in my family would ever forget that horrid time.
During this point in the conversation, she looked up and met my gaze. “I’ve changed, Andi. I’ve been working hard to do something with my life, not waste it like the spoiled child that I was. Anyway, since the college is on break between terms, Mitch suggested I come and see you to  . . . uh . . . to try to make things right.”
I’d forgotten about the break. Mitch wasn’t coming home. He was too busy at Berkeley to come and go these days. But never in a million years had I imagined he would send Felicity in his stead.
“Well,” Felicity spoke again, interrupting my thoughts. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that . . . I’m terribly sorry for how I acted. You were only a child, and I acted appallingly. Would you . . . would you forgive me?”
It took a moment for her words to sink in. Felicity Livingstone, my tormentor from over six years ago, was apologizing.
My voice decided to cooperate, and I nodded. “You’re forgiven. To be honest, I forgave you a long time ago.” And I had. The lesson that bitterness never helps had been hard to learn, but it was one I never forgot.
I excused myself to the kitchen. It was warm, and we could both use cold drinks. On my way out of the kitchen, I grabbed a plate of freshly sliced oranges I’d had gathered a couple of days before. They make a nice after-supper snack.
We chatted for a while until RIley came in, and then introductions were made. I invited her to stay overnight, promising to go with her when she called on my mother at the main house tomorrow. Riley offered to put up her horse and the wagon she’d ridden up in.
I still can’t believe Felicity attends the same college Mitch does, and that she came all the way out here to apologize. Just goes to go that God still works miracles!
Till tomorrow,

Friday, April 21, 2017

Photo Friday: Cover Help Needed

On this Photo Friday, Mrs. M needs a little help. She showed you some covers the other day of the Circle C Stepping Stones books.

Well, book 6, Andi Far from Home, is giving me issues. I think I have the plot hammered out now (finally!), but it may mean she's not really doing the whole "cable car" thing that is shown on the original book 6 cover I showed off a few Fridays ago. Instead, she's going to end up at the Pacific Ocean (Seal Rocks to be exact), so I thought maybe a more beach-oriented cover would be better.

Well,now I'm stumped! I don't know WHICH ONE I LIKE BEST. I love the red dress, but it looks to fancy to go to the beach. I suppose I could keep the original cover because she's in San Francisco, and what yells "San Francisco!" more than a cable car, even if Andi never steps foot on one?

But I put the red dress on her on a beach scene. Does a fancy dress look dumb at the beach? Does it look overly photo-shopped? Or does it look realistic for Andi to get all dressed up (she is with Aunt Rebecca, after all) and they go eat dinner at the fancy Cliff House afterwards. A picture of Seal Rocks and the Cliff House in 1870 is at the bottom of this post.

Or should Andi be in more casual beach clothes, and is it more natural and appealing to have her wearing the hat and looking like she's actually having fun? LOL

Let me know, O wise readers. I know you aren't exactly the target age, but you are definitely closer to the target reading age than Mrs. M is. Show it to younger sibs, maybe, and get their opinions? Kregel will--in the end--create the covers, but I send them the concepts. Which idea should I suggest to them? (If the modern Daisy Kingdom dress on the hat picture looks like too modern print (cupcakes) that can be maybe changed to look more old-fashioned, so don't let that stand in your way if you like that cover better overall.)

Number 1, 2, or 3? I need your votes! (Those are the real Seal Rocks in the background, BTW)
The Cliff House and Seal Rocks 1870s

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 9

To start at the beginning, go HERE.

Chapter 9

All of Andi’s running availed her nothing. Between that awful man and Mrs. Evans, she found herself late to school for the first time all year. She entered the schoolroom with no excuse for her tardiness. She slipped quietly into her seat, hoping Mr. Foster wouldn’t notice. He was busy with the younger students.
“Andrea Carter, stand up.” The words fell like gunshots in the quiet room.
Andi stood.
“You are fifteen minutes late for class.” Mr. Foster frowned. “I do not tolerate tardiness. You know that, do you not?”
“Yes, sir,” Andi replied.

“Have you an explanation? I am prepared to hear it.” He folded his arms across his chest and regarded her thoughtfully.
Andi swallowed and considered her options. “No explanation, sir.”
This was a pretty safe statement. Tommy Jones used it at least once a week, received his licks, and his tardiness was not mentioned again—until the next time.  
Andi hoped the same thing happened to her.
“Come forward and receive your punishment.”
Andi went forward with a sigh of relief. She took her four smacks with the ruler against her palm and returned to her seat. I’m glad that’s over.  
But it wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.
“I will require a note from home.” Mr. Foster's demand caught Andi off guard.
She wrinkled her forehead. “A note?” Confusion muddied her mind.
“Yes. Explaining your tardiness.”
“You never make Tommy bring a note.”
“But I know why Thomas is always late,” he said. “Since you are unwilling to explain your tardiness, I will require a note of explanation. It will be placed on my desk when you come to school tomorrow. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Andi replied, horrified. Unfair! How would she convince Mother to write a note when Justin had arrived in town early this morning. She sighed and opened her book to her math lesson.
The day was off to an unpromising start . . .

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Slice of Life - 6

I had an unexpected visitor today! Just after finishing the dishes from the noon meal, I heard a rig pull up in front of the house. Curious as to who could be, I dried my hands on my apron and started toward the front door. I scarcely had time to open the door before I was engulfed in a hug. 
“Oh, Andi, it’s been ever so long since I’ve seen you!”
I stepped back, scarcely believing it! “Rosa!” 
I hadn’t seen her in forever! Ever since she married and moved away, and then I married, neither of us had had much time to devote to visiting. I looked behind her, expecting to see Davey, her dark-haired, dimple faced little boy. 
She saw my questioning look. “Oh, Davey is home with mama. She’s spoiling him!” Her eyes twinkled as she spoke.
I invited her in, and we both had a glass of lemonade while we caught up on lost time. 
It was funny . . . sitting there together, I realized how much things had changed as the time passed. Just a few, short years before, we were out riding and having fun together. Now we are both married, and she has a child. It makes me want to grab hold of the time that passes and take the time to treasure each and every moment. Because all too soon, it will be just a memory.
We chatted for the longest time, and then she offered to help me rustle up something for supper. I have to say, that was probably the best gift the should have ever given me! She is quite at home in the kitchen, while trying to navigate all the cupboards and labels still feels a bit foreign to me.
In no time at all, she had something delicious simmering on the stove. It only took me a second to realize what they were. Tamales! My mouth watered at the smell; it had been such a long time since I had tasted something as delicious as this.
 When Riley came in a little while later, we had the table set and the food ready. I could tell he was just as excited about the spicy Mexican food as I was.
Rosa said she could stay for supper, so she joined us. Laughter and conversation flowed around the room as we stayed at the table for much longer than Riley and I normally do. After a while, she and I cleared the table, and Riley gave us a hand with the dishes. Chores are so much easier when you have someone to do them with, and the lively talk made the time pass swiftly!
As the outside continued to grow darker, Riley told Rosa he’d be more than happy to see her safely home. She protested, but he insisted, and I’m glad he did. The road between our ranch and the main one is relatively safe, but one can never be too careful. Riley promised he’d get Chad or one of the ranch hands to see her the rest of the way to her house after she picked up Davey at the main ranch.
We said our goodbyes, and I stood in the doorway and watched them leave. The moon had risen in the sky, and the area around the house was bathed in its gentle night.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Missing Scene from Thick as Thieves

Olivia has written a great missing scene from Thick as Thieves from Chad's POV. It's a true "meanwhile, back at the ranch" scene when Andi and Macy are in the cabin with Macy's brothers in Rock Canyon. Enjoy! MISSING SCENE

Friday, April 14, 2017

Photo Friday: Circle C Hall of Shame Part 2

Welcome back to the Circle C Hall of Shame Part 2. Here is another line-up of some troublemakers (some of them quite dangerous) I've encountered during my adventures. It does appear I've had plenty of contact with some scary folks. Thank God for my family and my faith. Both have carried me through some scary times. To read Part 1 of this Photo Friday post , go HERE. You can comment as to your favorite "bad guys" or if their pictures match your vision of them from reading my adventures. Also, feel free to suggest another character to the Hall of Shame. If there are enough, I will do a Part 3 for another Photo Friday. But honestly, could there be so many bad guys in one girl's life?

10. Deputy Hugh Baker
I didn't like this shifty-eyed character from the moment he arrested my friends and me. His bad-guy status was confirmed when he turned out to be the third member of a bank robbery--the sneaky snake! He got his just reward (ouch!) from my friend Jenny and--I trust--a long stay in San Quentin penitentiary.

11. Johnny Wilson
This young man has been a pest since my school days at age six. Pea shooters, mean words, pulling my hair. Oooh! Johnny drives me crazy. And that stolen kiss! I still burn thinking about it even years later. He made my life a misery when I was only 13. He thought I was lying about seeing his brother kill somebody. Johnny finally reformed (a smidgen) and ended up being my brother-in-law, due to the fact that my sister Melinda married his older brother Peter. Talk about strange twists!

12. Mr. Wilson
I always thought Mr. Wilson was a nice person, fair, just, and rich (being the bank owner). My friends and I even brought back his stolen gold and money from the bank robbers. But I reckon blood is thicker than right and wrong (at least in Mr. Wilson's case). He was in the thick of things when push came to shove and tried to get me to change my story. Although it doesn't speak of it in the first version of my adventure (Price of Truth), his consequences for that will be addressed in the new, revised version of the story.

13. Maxwell Browning
Peter's lawyer was shrewd and tricky. I dreaded having to answer his questions on the witness stand. Justin told me Mr. Browning would badger me to change my story. As it turned out, I never had to sit under his questioning, but he has a place in this Hall of Shame anyway.

14. The Walker Brothers
While Macy Walker has no place in this Hall of Shame (since we ended up close friends), I have no trouble lining up her three nasty brothers--Ty, Jase, and Rudy--here. Every time I think of those three no-accounts, I shudder and wonder how Macy put up with them all of her short life. They planned to kill me. Even Jed would never have gone so far to even think of killing me. I hope the Walker brothers stay locked up for a long, long time.

15. Toledo
Not much to say about this cattle rustling cowhand except to say that I am not above being tricked by a handsome face and a fancy horse (mostly the horse). Toledo had it all--except good character. Makes me think of the verse "Man (or girl, like me) look on the outside, but God sees the heart." Toledo will have plenty of time to dwell on his bad choices as he sits in prison for cattle rustling and kidnapping (Levi and me).

16. Daniel Carter
I'm ashamed to say that a close family member (first cousin) landed in my Hall of Shame. I feel sorry to have to put him here, but he made the choices. Really bad ones. And he looks so much like Mitch too (whom I adore). Just makes me do a double-take whenever I see Daniel. He served his six months in jail for his thieving in town and is now safely back in New York--3,000 miles from me. But family is family. I wonder when we will pop up next?

17. Tomaso Procopio Rodendo
The most notorious bandit in California history, so of course Procopio gets a prominent place in my Circle C Hall of Shame. The nerve of this nephew of Joaquin Murrieta! To kidnap me and Lucy and Sammy so he could make my nephew his own son. Ooooh! He gets my ire up more than anyone else, I think. Mostly because he'd planned everything out to the last detail. A very scary fellow. And since he'd already escaped San Quentin once, I'm not sorry that the sheriff and his posse ended his life. A great relief, actually.

18. Mateo Vega
Procopio's right-hand man and compadre, Vega frightened me more than the Mexican bandit. Procopio wanted me alive. Vega would just as soon see me dead. And he almost did too. The very first person (and hopefully the last) I have ever shot. Riley and I left him behind in camp, still very much alive, but when the posse went up there to clean out that rat's nest, Vega was gone!

19. Benita
Last but not least, this Mexcian woman was Sammy's new mama. Every time I saw her kissing Sammy I wanted to scratch her eyes out. I restrained myself, of course. That reaction would have done me very little good. I'm sure I would have been beaten. I finally took Sammy away from her and barely made it out of her cabin alive. When the posse went up to the hideout, Benita was gone as well. Only a few people were left to round up. Vega shot. Benita shot. But both are still on the loose. *shudder*

Thanks for joining me for Part Two of the Circle C Hall of Shame!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 8

To begin this story go HERE.

Chapter 8

Andi lay awake for a good portion of the night. Every little noise jerked her awake. Wide-eyed, she scanned her room, expecting to see one of Henderson’s hired thugs peeking in through her balcony window or slipping into her room.
She shivered, then yawned when the noise faded. Finally, in spite of a stomachache from worry and a headache from thinking too much, she fell into a restless sleep . . .

There was no escaping their evil gazes, and Andi was close to panic. Their voices mocked her, threatened her, and terrified her. She ran as fast as she could, but they were closing in behind her. She tripped and fell, sprawling on the rough ground. One of her pursuers reached out and shouted her name, grabbing her by the shoulder—

No!” Andi sat up and found herself in her own bed. The horror of her recent nightmare faded in the light of day.
Melinda jumped back, a startled expression on her face. “I didn’t mean to frighten you,” she apologized. “But you’ve been called a couple of times now for breakfast, and Mother sent me up to see if you were ill.”
She looked around the sunny room. “Justin’s about ready to leave for town, and you’re not even up. Is everything all right?”
“Yes.” Andi tossed aside her bed coverings and stepped onto the floor. She gave Melinda a small smile. “Tell everybody I’ll be right down.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Short & Sweet: the colts' POVs

Jaylee has rewritten a few short scenes from Thick as Thieves from the colts' POV. Check it out.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Slice of Life - 5


After today, I’m not sure I ever want to see or smell another tomato ever again! It all started this afternoon. I had just finished hanging the laundry and was headed back inside when I heard galloping hooves nearing the house. I deposited the basket on the back porch and made my way through the house.
As I opened the front door to step out, I was immediately overwhelmed by a strong smell that every person around these parts knows well . . . skunk.
More than likely Tucker had gone and found himself one of the critters. It had happened before, and I was glad the pantry was stocked with canned tomatoes, most of them from Mother.
However, as I stepped out on the porch, Tucker was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Riley was walking up the steps, his hands held away from his sides and his hat in his hands.
A moment later, the horrid truth hit me. Tucker hadn’t been sprayed by a skunk. No, Riley had!
I couldn’t keep myself from laughing. He looked . . . well, he looked like something the cat had dragged in. His clothes were moist and limp, and perspiration streamed down his forehead. The late afternoon sun hadn’t decided to do us any favors, and that fact caused the smell from the skunk to be more acute. 
He looked up at me, his eyes rivaling anything I’ve ever seen in Tucker’s puppy-dog look. “Andi, help.”
I smothered my laughter. Riley was suffering, and here I was amusing myself at his expense. I told him to head to the washtub in the back. It was still filled with water from the washing, which was just as well. He could rinse off in it before I brought out the tomatoes.
I grabbed several jars of the quickly diminishing tomatoes and headed out to the back. As I did so, I caught sight of Tucker cowering under the porch. I smirked. The smell must have reminded him of all his encounters with the smelliest four-legged beast that ever lived.
Riley had removed his shirt and rinsed the best he could, but it didn't help one bit. The water had done nothing to help the smell. I popped the lid from one of the jars and made my way over to him, holding my breath. I quickly decided I’d have to snatch a clothespin from the line when I went back to fetch the second jar.
Shutting his eyes tight, Riley braced for the smooth, slippery goo. I quickly emptied it over his head and ran back to the porch. I grabbed a second and third jar, and then snatched a clothespin from the line.
After making sure my nose was tightly closed, I opened the second jar and dumped it over his shoulders.
I had just tossed the lid off the third jar when I realized something awful. A dark, red rash was appearing on Riley’s face and chest, right in the path of the tomato juice. A horrifying thought crossed my mind, and I spoke it aloud. “Riley… are you allergic to tomatoes?”
His gaze followed mine, and his eyes widened. Without answering, he quickly dove under the water. Once, twice, three times, till every speck of the canned vegetable was floating in my laundry water.
“I can’t say that I’ve ever had to have a tomato bath before, so I’ve never had a chance to find out.” He scanned the rash. It wasn’t leaving as quickly as it had come, and I made a mental note to be careful whenever I cooked with tomatoes.
Riley grabbed some clean clothes off the line and the bar of lye soap that I'd been washing with. Then he headed down to the creek to get as much of the smell off as he could.
After he left, I set about putting the place back in order. I had only lost three cans of tomatoes, meaning there was plenty left for whenever Tucker decided to get into a mishap again.
Riley came back smelling slightly better, though I have to admit, I can’t wait till it all wears completely off. He’s promised me he’ll do his best to stay away from the small, white-streaked animal . . . now if only the skunk would agree to stay away from him!