Saturday, October 22, 2016

Courageous Love Sneak Peek

You readers have been very patient with Mrs. M and her absence from Andi's blog recently.
As a thank-you, here is an almost 1,000-word sneak peek from chapter 15 of Courageous Love. The book is still on schedule for me to have copies sometime soon after the New Year. For now, enjoy the excerpt!
To read chapters 1 and 2, click here: CHAPTERS 1 AND 2 OF COURAGEOUS LOVE.
Setting: Andi is staying with Lucy and Sammy at Justin and Lucy's house in town. Riley stopped by to say howdy, and just as he is leaving a little boy comes by the house with a disturbing note.

      Andi let the hastily scribbled warning flutter from her fingers. Her heart pounded in her ears. They’re watching me. Watching Lucy. Watching the baby. Bile rose, choking her. Whoever was behind the Carter troubles knew Justin was out of town. “The cat’s away . . .”
      Before the paper touched the porch floor, Riley snatched it up. One moment he was scanning the words. The next instant he stuffed the note in his vest pocket. “I’ll be right back.” He took the steps in one bound and hit the walkway running.
      “Riley!” Andi’s voice cracked. What was he up to? No explanation. No by-your-leave. No nothing. “Getting the sheriff won’t help!”
      Riley vanished toward town.
      Hands shaking, Andi lifted Sammy from Tucker’s side. The dog sat on the edge of the porch, head cocked and ears pricked. His attention was fixed on the empty sidewalk, but he made no move to follow his master.
      Sammy howled. “Doggie-e-e!”
      “Hush.” Andi crushed him in a worried embrace and glanced around the yard. She had always liked Justin and Lucy’s house near the edge of town. The cottage sat on a shady lot well away from the noisy, dusty, uptown traffic. The shed in the big back yard housed Justin’s horse and buggy.
      Perfect house. Perfect setting.
      Until today.
      Now Andi felt isolated. Alone. The neighbors on either side seemed acres away, their places surrounded by ornamental shrubs and spreading valley oaks. Andi’s heart beat faster.
      Sammy ceased his howling. He went limp in Andi’s arms, clearly sensing something was not right. “Mama,” he whimpered.
      “Shhh. It’s all right. Let’s go find your mama and . . .” Andi paused. And what?     Smoldering annoyance gnawed at her gut. Why had Riley bolted like a runaway locomotive? Where was he? “Come on, Tucker,” she ordered. “Inside.”
      The dog whirled. Tail wagging, he brushed past Andi’s legs and slipped into the house ahead of her.
      “You can play with him inside.”
      She had no sooner put Sammy down and bolted the front door when an insistent rapping startled her. She peeked through the curtains. Riley! Throwing open the door, she lit into him. “Why did you—”
      “Not now.” He ducked inside, hauling a squirming little boy with him. Dirty tears streaked the urchin’s face. Riley dumped him at Andi’s feet. “You tell Miss Carter exactly what she wants to know, starting with that note. Do you hear me?”
      At Riley’s ferocity, the boy burst into fresh tears. “He g-gave me t-two bits to deliver it,” he blubbered, wiping his shirt sleeve across his runny nose.
      “Who?” Riley pressed him.
      The boy shrugged. “Dunno. I was lookin’ for pennies down past the railroad depot.” He sniffed. “A Mexican fella came by and grabbed my collar. Said he’d pay me t’ run an errand.” His eyes widened. “A whole quarter. Y’know how much licorice two bits can—”
      “What did he look like?” Andi cut in.
      “Kinda old, like my pa, but slicked up in fancy duds. Black moustache and beard, trimmed up real nice. Black hat.” He scrunched up his face in thought. “Another fella was with him, scribbling on a scrap of paper. The Mexican grabbed it and handed it to me.” The boy’s eyes filled with fresh tears. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean no harm.”
      Andi bent down and gripped the boy’s shoulders. She forced a smile. “I know you didn’t. It’s not your fault. Riley didn’t mean to scare you. You did a good job remembering what he looked like. What’s your name?”
      “Listen, Mark,” Andi said quietly. “If you see him again, come right on over and tell me where he is. I’ll give you a silver dollar.”
      Mark’s tears dried up. A wide smile showed two missing front teeth. “No foolin’? A silver dollar?”
      “No fooling,” Riley assured him with a friendly grin. “Do you know how much licorice a whole dollar can buy?” He ruffled the boy’s hair. “You can run along home now.”
      “Yes, sir! G’night, miss. I’ll find him. I’d do most anything for a silver dollar.” Mark slammed past the screen door. It banged shut behind him.
      Riley closed the front door and leaned against it, shaking his head. “I’m sorry I scared you, but I was afraid I’d lose that little fellow. He’s our only clue to—”
      “Never mind.” Andi waved Riley into silence. “What good is a Wanted poster if no one recognizes this bandit? Looks like he has free run of the town.” Her heart raced anew. So did her thoughts. We can’t stay here. Not now. Not after seeing that note and hearing the description of—
      She clenched her fists. “I’m taking Lucy and Sammy out to the ranch.”
      Andi nodded. “Not one minute longer will we stay in this house without Justin. Not even with Tucker.” She shuddered. Mother thought town was so safe. How wrong she was!
      The Circle C ranch shimmered in Andi’s mind—just out of reach—as the only safe place in the valley. Maybe even in the entire state. Chad was there. Mother was there. Two dozen ranch hands were keeping an eye out for trouble.
      Andi looked at Riley. Riley’s there too. He’d promised to yank her out of the next fix she found herself in. Well, this was one fine fix.

(Another sneak peek will come sometime in November. Stay tuned!)

Friday, October 7, 2016

From Fans to Friends

Mrs. M is up to her eyebrows in:
1. Revising the first book of the Stepping Stones (my publisher sent it to me yesterday)
2. Finish study guides and lapbooks for the Milestones' last booik
3. Editing for another publisher . . . a very long (300pp) manuscript
4. Signing up for conventions
5. Revamping other lapbooks and study guides. 
SORRY Andi and I have been absent. 

But I got this sweet email from Hannah M. and wanted to share it with you all. I do remember everything she is talking about, and it is so thrilling to have had a part in connecting new friends from opposite sides of the world!

Hi Mrs Marlow!

I just wanted to let you know about something really special that happened about a month ago. Do you remember, in early 2015, exchanging emails for me and a girl named Anne M? Well, we corresponded via email all last year, and ended up meeting each other in August of last year for an afternoon. (I believe you posted a photo on your blog)

Well, our friendship has continued! All of this year, we’ve messaged each other daily, and have been hoping and praying to get to meet again. Finally about a month ago, it happened! Because we live about 4000 miles apart, it’s not something we took lightly, and it was such an answer to prayer to spend 3 days with each other.

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know this, because it’s all because of the CCA blog that we met! God truly does work in mysterious ways, and he used your blog to orchestrate the start of this amazing friendship. Thank you for all your hard work in writing books and keeping the blog up! I hope you feel encouraged at how appreciated both things are!

Hannah M.
Anne M. and Hannah M.--- from FANS to FRIENDS

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Delightful Fan Fiction Story by Julia S.

Here is the sequel to The Tax Collector, a fan fiction story written by Julia S. last April. I had no idea she had planned a sequel. This story from young (fourteen-year-old) Tony's first person point of view is exceptionally well written. Tony's "voice" makes him feel like a real person. And she has kept all of the Circle C characters in character. Well done! (I wonder if Julia will be considering entering next fall's (2017) short-story contest?) One hint. She will have to keep her stories within the word count for her age group. This one is over 4,000 words.


Tony's story: What Happened When I Went to School 


Friday, September 23, 2016

Top Five Party!

Our blogging friend Rebekah is hosting a Top Five Party on Monday, September 16th. It sounds fun and we thought you all might like to know about it so you can join in over on her Read Another Page blog. The details are right here on this super-fancy postcard. Consider yourselves invited!

(Feel free to pass this invitation along on your blogs. Let's spread the fun!)


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Five Reasons Why You Should Read

Greetings, Andi fans! I'm happy to put up a link for an Andi fan, Audrey French. I've met her a couple of times at the Arizona homeschooling conventions. When she shared the good news that one of her articles had been published, I hastened to click over to it. It's great! Read it for yourselves! (She didn't ask me to post it. I just thought you'd all enjoy it.)

Five Reasons Why You Should Read posted on the RebelUtion Blog.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

New Younger Andi series covers

As usual, I have lost my notes. I believe the two fans who thought up the series title Circle C Stepping Stones are Jesseca Dawn and Karalyn Krispense. Please let me know somehow that I am on the right track. I want to make sure these ladies receive the first two books, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top, when they release next March. You may send me your mailing addresses to

Thank you so much for helping me find an appealing series title for these six books.
Here are the covers:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fan Stories

A couple of fan stories came in a while back, and I have been remiss. So I will post links to both of them here today so you can enjoy!

If a Fight Is What You Want . . . by Abigail G. 

God's Plan . . . by Abbi G. 


Friday, August 26, 2016

New Covers for the Circle C Adventures

Mrs. M is over the moon excited about the new covers her publisher has come up with for the anniversary editions of the Circle C Adventures. Shhhh . . . sneak peek . . . here are the first three:
Long Ride Home is the extended version (but alas, not with all the POV changes and scenes Mrs. M put in the Tenth Anniversary book. She had to stay under 40,000, and that Tenth Anniversary was . . . like . . . 50,000).

But Mrs. M wrote a new chapter (so 18 chapters instead of 17), fixed a TON of stuff (since she is a much better writer now), and just made it a fun read.

Mrs. M is especially excited that they are NUMBERING the books in the series this time. Hurrah! What do you all think? Remember .. . .  you saw it here first!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fires and Floods!

Wow, from Louisiana to California, the weather is crazy . . . and dangerous. Bethany R. from California has asked for prayer regarding her family's safety, as well as the safety of everyone in the path of the flames. Mrs. M understands completely, as our corner of the country was overrun with fires and evacuations this time last year. Please join in prayer with Bethany!

I have an urgent prayer request and I'd appreciate it if you could post it on the blog: Currently, California is on fire. Fires are springing up all over the state. They are rapidly growing and burning up significant areas. A week ago, a fire started in my area?The Chimney Fire. At first we didn't think it was going to reach us, but over the last 2 days it jumped the river that everyone was hoping to hold it at and is headed for us. Many structures are in danger, and we could really use all of your prayers. If we lose power, I may not be able to update you, but I will do my best. Please join me in asking God to spare my home, my region, and all of California. Thank you so much! Bethany R.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

And the Winner Is . . .

The winner of the Reader's Choice Award for the short-story contest this summer is . . .
Abigail G, for her story "Monumental."Abigail. I have sent you an email so you can tell me which book you would like. 
That is what you won . . . your choice of any book, autographed and personalized.

Congratulations, Abigail! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Urgent Prayer Request from Louisianna

Olivia sent this to me tonight. Let's join her in prayer for this situation, for peace and safety in the midst of a very scary circumstance.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You."  Isaiah 26:3

Hey Mrs. M,

I have a very urgent prayer request (if you could post it on the Circle C Blog, that would be great).

I'm sure a lot of people may have already heard, but Louisiana is flooding like never before! They're calling it 'The Great Flood of 2016'. SO many people are being evacuated and have water in their homes, and it's only expected to worsen. We are safe at the moment where we are, but they are saying that once the waters start to recede, it will start flooding back south, right near where we are located. Prayers for NO MORE flooding and peace and comfort for those whose homes have been flooded would be very much appreciated!

It's amazing to see the church of Christ coming together through this, though! We just helped cook, package, and deliver meals of jambalaya to some of the local police and fire stations with a bunch of others from our church. (They've been working so hard the past few days!) We'll be at the church again first thing tomorrow morning to deliver more.
There are also many people opening their homes to those who have no place to go.

Just please pray, pray, pray!
Thank you!!

Olivia J. (Livi Jane)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reader's Choice Award-pick YOUR winner

The summer is getting away from me! I posted the winner but did little else but send her prize. Now . . . drum roll . . . I have created a document (PDF file so it's easy to download and read) of the June contest entries. I have left off the names, so if you want to identify your story by number and give your name in the comments, that is up to you. Click on the link:


And now for my crazy idea!
I'm running a READER'S CHOICE AWARD. There were sixteen (16) stories--which is an incredible turnout for such short notice. I put up a voting widget on the sidebar and am offering a "book of your choice" for the winner of the READER'S CHOICE AWARD. (Note: Story #7, "A Long, Long Day" was the original winner, so you can't vote for it again. It is not listed on the widget.)

NOTE: a number of contest entries came in without story titles. I named these stories, so if you don't think your story is here, trust me, IT IS. Start reading and you will recognize your story. :-)

Judges read and like things that other judges may not enjoy so much. Let's see what young (and old) readers have to say. Have fun . . .Voting ends August 20, so tell your friends and pick your winner!

Monday, August 1, 2016

June (Summer) Contest Winner

Congratulations to Sadie Parker for winning the June (Summer) writing contest. She won the horse etching kit and the book of her choice (Courageous Love). Her story is titled "A Long, Long Day." And thank you to my judge, Colleen Reece, multi-published author, for reading all of the entries.

A Long, Long Day
by Sadie Parker

 Sixteen-year-old Mitch Carter flung a fishing line into the creek. Glancing over at his sister Andi’s face, he knew that fishing had been the perfect thing to do. The clear sky above them was the result of a dreadfully rainy day the day before. The bright sun hung high above them, bathing the sparkling, dewy grass with its gentle rays. (Read the entire story on the Circle C Contests and Giveaway Blog.)


Monday, July 25, 2016

California Fans

A couple of sixteen-year-old Andi fans from Andi's neck of the woods: Modesto, California, about 95 miles north of Fresno. Bethany R. (on the left) and Julaine (on the right). I learned that Julaine has been a faithful Andi blog "lurker" for some time. I hope she comes out of hiding and comments after this. :-)

Thanks for stopping by the booth, ladies! It was great chatting with you.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saddle Up Book Winner

Here is the Giveaway Tools random winner for the Saddle Up book giveaway. Congrats, Kaitlyn!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fan Fotos

It's always fun to meet fans. If I'm lucky enough to get pictures, I like to post them here.
Kaitlyn is wearing the T-shirt she won from this year's writing contest.
Audrey is holding the latest Circle C Milestones book, The Last Ride.
Speaking of writing contests, there is less than a week if you want to enter the mini-contest for this summer. Go HERE for details, prizes, and where to send your story.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Fan Story

Head over to the Fan Fiction page for a new fan story by Abbi G. titled "Why Me?"


Friday, July 8, 2016

Horse Book Giveaway!

It's not a Circle C book giveaway this time (I'll do one of those later on), but I believe you'll find this one fun. Please share this giveaway on your social media sites and everyplace else, especially if you have friends or siblings in the "middle grade" book range (ages 8-12). You can win a signed-by-the-author copy of Saddle Up! (from my author-friend Donna Patton). This new series is set on a horse camp in California called RAWHIDE RANCH. It's a real place! So, with no further ado, here is my review of Saddle Up! and below that is the Giveaway Tool to enter.

Saddle Up!
By Donna Alice Patton & Emily Chase Smith
Ages 8-12

Twelve-year-old Bridget Benedict’s whole world revolves around horses. They are her life. However, living in the large city of Cincinnati, opportunities for being around a real horse are close to zero. Then Bridget’s grandparents gift her with a week at horse camp in California. It is a dream come true for this imaginative cowgirl, especially when Bridget arrives at Rawhide Ranch and discovers it’s just like the Wild West TV reruns she and Grandpa used to spend watching on Saturday afternoons. Bridget can’t wait to meet her horse, mount up, and ride away into her imagination for a whole week.
And therein lies the trouble . . .

The first time Bridget sees her sorrel horse, Dusty, she realizes how big a horse really is. Worse, she is expected to ride this monstrous beast! All her horsey book-learning has not prepared Bridget for the real thing. It has, however, served to make her “look good” to the other campers, who expect Bridget to be a champion rider. After all, she knows everything about horses. She should have “come clean” about her worries right away. Instead, this tiny, tumbleweed problem slides into a shameful secret that Bridget needs to resolve before somebody really gets hurt.
Saddle Up! is book one in the Rawhide Ranch Adventures, set at a real-life camp in Southern California. The book is fast-paced, and full of excitement and true-to-life camping situations that made me want to be twelve years old again and save my money to attend Rawhide Ranch. Bridget is an endearing character, full of good intentions yet understandably insecure with the idea of getting up on Dusty. She struggles to confess about having never ridden a horse before, but she doesn’t want to be rejected by the other campers. Vivi, a troubled and pesky girl, adds to Bridget’s insecurities. One thing leads to another until Bridget is really stuck. The climax is fraught with danger, and Bridget’s character shines at the end.  

I look forward to other additions to the Rawhide Ranch Adventures. To learn more about Rawhide Ranch Camp, go to
Or visit their Facebook Page

Win a copy of Saddle Up! Enter the contest using the Giveaway Tool below. After entering, peek at the pictures of Rawhide Ranch camp!  

Pictures of Rawhide Ranch, the setting for Saddle Up! 



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

In honor of July 4, 2016, I am posting the story "Hurrah for the Fourth of July!" This is one of the stories in Tales from the Circle C Ranch. There are a lot of fun stories from Andi's point of view in the Tales book. Go HERE to learn about them.  

Hurrah for the Fourth of July!
July 4, 1880
This story takes place on the Fourth of July before the events in
Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision.

Chapter 1
     “Hurrah, hurrah for the Fourth of July!”
     I slid down the banister before anybody—namely Mother or Luisa, our housekeeper—could catch me. I was decked out in a white and navy-blue middy blouse and skirt. Melinda had just finished doing up my hair in loopy braids with red ribbons.
     It was seven o’clock on a bright, already-hot July morning.
     “Happy Fourth of July!” I greeted my family at breakfast.
     Justin looked up from his plate of hotcakes and whistled. “You look like a true niece of Uncle Sam today, honey,” he said. “All you need is a flag.”
     “I’ll get one in town later.” I flopped down in my seat. Melinda entered the dining room right behind me wearing a new, green-and-white summer dress.
     “You all slicked up for Jeffrey?” Chad teased.
     “Wouldn’t you like to know!” she shot back, laughing.
     Nobody seemed to care that we girls were late for breakfast. Everybody looked cheerful and ready for the big celebration. Chad had let the ranch hands off for the day; a few old-timers volunteered to stay behind and keep an eye on things.
     “I have a surprise for you, Mitch,” I said between gulps of milk.