Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Friday Deadline for the 2021 Contest Entries

Hey, Friends,

Friday is the deadline to get your entry form and story in to 

I have to say that I'm a little disappointed at the response this year. Due to Covid, I did not attend in-person conventions, and as a result, the entries have tanked. (So many parents and readers learn about the contest at homeschool conventions.) I am happy to report that there are enough entries in the AGES 10-13 and AGES 14-17 to run the contest, but the AGES 6-9 will not be considered. Only one person sent in two stories. 

I am redoing the Circle C Contest Blog and making it more geared toward seasonal and thematic writing contests. There will be prizes and fun and maybe over the next year I can compile the winners into another contest book to put up on Amazon. We'll see. 

But for now, I'll let you know when I'm having a writing contest. You can visit the "new look" of the Contest blog by going here: CONTEST BLOG >>

By the way, I need a little help. I'm moving all of the older short-story contests onto this blog under the "Seasonal Contests" tab. I've found graphics and the winners for all of my past contests (all the way back to 2016), but I can't find the winner or the link to the summer contest to finish the San Francisco Smugglers book (about what happens when Juan takes Andi riding on the beach as he promised in the book.) I found the graphic though. If anybody knows who won and where that story went to, please, please, please comment and let me know so I can include it. 

One Day Later News Update: Thanks, faithful readers! You came through for me and found the link. I added those winners to the "Seasonal Contests" tab. You fans are THE BEST!!

2020 Spring Writing Contest: Finish San Francisco Smugglers

Friday, January 8, 2021

Cover Concepts Memory Creek Books

 Yes, I heard already from some who like the covers as they are. I like them too, or I would not have created them like that. But if my publisher picks up the books, I'm afraid they will consider the covers rather unprofessional, so I'm finding new concepts (and one of them has ramifications for having to change one of the character's physical appearance . . . Jared.) But that's okay because he can easily have blue eyes and light hair--like his Aunt Melinda. And the advantage to having Jessica holding her own baby for a cover picture far outweighs the pieced together characters (especially when I've run out of good Jessica pictures). Anyway, here is a concept (with the Milestones font) for your examination. Pretty sure some of you will love the new "real-life" Jessica and her baby. Some will hold out for the old covers, and some will have their own ideas. That's the fun of the blog. The main thing I tried to do was keep the overall "Milestones" cover aura--with the LaFigura font and title at the bottom, and the people sort of blended into the background. Take a look! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Breaking News Regarding the Tales Books

Gather 'round, interested readers. Tales from Memory Creek Ranch and More Tales from Memory Creek Ranch have been overwhelming BEST SELLERS, especially in late November and December. This story is so crazy that I thought you'd like to hear the unfolding drama of these two books.  

In late November, I got an IM on Facebook from a bookstore back in Ohio--Faith View Books. The bookstore owner said they carried all of my books from Kregel (my publisher) but many customers were asking for the last two books, and the bookstore could not get them. (Since I publish these two books myself). I told the gal, "Sure, I'll sell you the books for your bookstore." 

Oh, such naivete! When she told me in the IM that she wanted "300 of each" (600 books!) I was positive she had accidentally included an extra 0. Nope. That's what she wanted, all right. So, I had Amazon KDP send her the books directly (plus, she wanted them fast so she paid an EXTRA $249 just for two-day shipping). 

What in the world would a bookstore DO with 300 of each of these books? Good question. I asked her, and she said they sell them in their store and through their catalog. Then she asked for an additional 150 of each later in the month (are you KIDDING ME??), and then just before Christmas she asked for yet ANOTHER 150 of each. So, the total is 1,200 of these two books. 


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Circle C Milestones Audios Available

Kate commented that she thinks I should offer the Milestones audio books separately, so here you go. Each title will be offered separately until all four titles are finished. Then they will be offered as a set of four. Its no work to throw the titles up there on a product page. So, if you are interested, here is the link: CIRCLE C MILESTONES AUDIO BOOKS >>

Monday, January 4, 2021

Character Quiz: How Well Do You Know Jed Hatton?

Hannah M. is the winner of the character quiz. Congrats! Scroll down to see the answers. 

How well do you know this fellow? Below is a 20-question character quiz for Jed. Also included are 5 bonus questions (for a total of 25 questions), but the bonus questions are not necessary for you to get right in order to win this character quiz. 

As always, send your answers to in this form:

1. A

2. B

3. C, etc. so it's easy for me to score. The contest runs Monday, December 28 - Sunday, January 3. Winner will be announced Monday, January 4. Happy New Year! 

The prize is the brand-new, hot off the press, audio book of Thick as Thieves. I can send it as a zip file to download, or I can mail the file on a USB drive. Your choice. Or, if you have the Audible app and have NEVER received a free audio book from someone before, I can even send your prize that way. So many options. Honestly, I absolutely LOVE what the narrator, Annette Romano, has done so far with the Circle C Milestones. They are even better than the Adventures. 

Have fun and good luck. I sure had fun creating the quiz. 

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Heartbreak Trail Audio Book

My narrator just finished Heartbreak Trail. So excited. She's doing a smashing job with these Milestones books. I wrote the stories and yet I couldn't wait to hear the next chapter when she was recording them. She even made the scoundrel Toledo sound silky smooth and carefree and thus covering up his "loose cannon" side until she was ready to reveal. Love it! Here is a sample track. 


Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Special Guest Post and a Writing Opportunity!

I am very happy to introduce Grace C. She won first place in the Ages 10-13 category in 2018 Circle C Short Story writing contest with her story  THE BATTLE OF THE BULL >>  If you haven't read it, I supplied the link. Anyway, she's a high-school senior now, and her writing has expanded in new directions. She has a very special offer that includes any young writers here on Andi's Blog. 


Hello everyone!

Thanks so much to Mrs. Marlow for letting me share a guest post about Radiate Literary Journal. First, I’ll introduce myself! I’m Grace, a senior in high school and a Circle C fan for years. My love for reading naturally fed a love for writing – I like to write short stories, long stories, and poems. I loved to participate in the  Circle C story contests as I’m sure many of you do.

The Circle C Story contests gave me a chance to connect with other young writers and publish some of my work, which was a growing opportunity in my writing journey. As 13- or 14-year old writer I also wrote stories about my own experiences, characters from my imagination, and personal values. I wanted to share these stories with other people, but they didn’t fit the criteria for the story contests. This brings me to the topic of today’s guest post.

About Radiate Literary Journal

I wanted to create a platform where young writers could share their original work with one another, and gain experience working with editors. This is where Radiate Literary Journal was born. A few years later, it is finally a reality.

Radiate Literary Journal (RLJ for short) is an online magazine run by young writers, for young writers. We accept stories, poems, and essays and our editors provide feedback personalized to your work and your writing goals.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Photo Friday: Merry Christmas!


This post is so old that I'm sure nobody has seen it for ages. I first posted it way back in 2013, seven years ago, before I did Photo Fridays, so it's been buried ever since. 

How did Andi and her family celebrate Christmas in the 1880s? First of all, not all families could afford or had access to a tree. Some children just hung their stockings from a drawer and hoped for the best--an orange or maybe a stick of candy. Other families (like Andi's family) made Christmas a big celebration, centered around the Christ Child.

Here is the Circle C Christmas celebration--in Andi's own words. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Photo Friday: Taffy

 Oh, Taffy! Can you get any dirtier? Please stop rolling in the mud! 

Monday, December 14, 2020

One More Week of Circle C Christmas Cheer

I did the best I could to reduce the price of the Tales books on Amazon (from $12.99 to $8.25). I wanted to list it for THIS WEEK ONLY as $6.99, but Amazon would not let me. They said my minimum was $8.13 so I rounded it off to $8.25. But that's still a good deal. That's for the print books. Keep reading for the .99 cent special on Kindle! December 14-18 on Amazon only. Feel free to share the links! Merry Christmas!! 



Here are the links to get the books for .99 cents EACH. Enjoy!



Sunday, December 13, 2020

And the Winners Are . . .

I used to generate the two winning comment entries. They are #5 and #13:

#5- Charis O.

#13- Eva

Charis and Eva, you have three days to respond to me with your mailing address. Email me at

If I have not contacted me by Tuesday at midnight, (December 15), I will choose new winners. It's amazing how many "winners" of contests never get around to claiming their prize! I know three days is not much time, but if you have enabled the follow comments/post feature, you can't help but get a notice. :-) I can't wait around for two weeks for responses. Thanks for understanding! 

For those who did not win and still want to read the stories, here is the link to the digital E-book. CIRCLE C COLLECTION >> There is also a second link on the web page to download a digital lapbook if you are so inclined. :-) 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Andi's Christmas Mystery Part 4

Don't forget to enter the Circle C Christmas Collection Giveaway that runs December 7-12. TWO WINNERS! ENTER GIVEAWAY >>

Part 4

Any other time, Andi would have been excited to be on her own with Melinda, riding the trolley car to Justin’s office. Today she was too anxious about Iris. Where had the police taken her? Was she frightened?

  Thankfully, when they got to Justin’s office, he wasn’t busy. “To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing two such lovely ladies this morning?” He asked with a welcoming smile.

  Andi was too nervous to tell him what they needed, so Melinda outlined the whole story. Justin sat in his big, leather chair, an attentive look in his blue eyes. He asked a few questions during the telling, wrote down notes on a pad of paper. When Melinda finished, he turned to Andi. “And you’re certain, Sis, this child couldn’t have taken the bracelet? We’ve always been blessed as a family to have enough, but others aren’t so fortunate. Perhaps the little girl was overly worried about her mother being sick and her sister. The temptation might have been too great.”

  “No,” Andi shook her head, feeling that queasy swimming of her stomach again. Justin had to believe her. “I won’t believe it. Iris wasn’t that kind of person.”

  To her relief, Justin smiled. “Just playing Devil’s advocate, honey. I know you’re a good judge of character. If you say this girl is innocent, then I believe you. However, that means someone else took the bracelet. Did you see anything or anyone suspicious last night?”

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Andi's Christmas Mystery Part 3

 Don't forget to enter the Circle C Christmas Collection Giveaway that runs December 7-12. TWO WINNERS! ENTER GIVEAWAY >>

Part 3

Andi woke the next morning in Aunt Rebecca’s guest room. The early morning sun slanted into the room and onto her sister’s blonde hair. Quietly, so not to wake Melinda, Andi got out of bed, and dressed in a plain cotton dress – no pink silk today! As she made her way down the grand staircase of the house, she heard voices coming from the dining room.

  “Good morning, dear,” Mother greeted her as Andi slipped into the room and onto a seat at the polished table.

  From her place at the head of the table, Aunt Rebecca also greeted Andi and rang a small bell for Mrs. Van Cleve, her housekeeper. “Andrea is ready for her breakfast,” she told the woman.

  Soon, Andi had a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and light as air biscuits. The biscuits were one of the few pleasures Andi liked about Aunt Rebecca’s house. No one could make biscuits like the housekeeper. Andi had been known to eat five at one serving. As she slathered on butter, she listened to the conversation she must have interrupted when she came into the room.

  “Yes, it is quite a shame,” Aunt Rebecca said. “To find a child involved in crime at such an early age. Her poor mother. I’ve met the woman before at the Governor’s house and she seemed a decent sort.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Andi's Christmas Mystery Part 2

Don't forget to enter the Circle C Christmas Collection Giveaway that runs December 7-12. TWO WINNERS! ENTER GIVEAWAY >>

Part 2

Two weeks later, Andi sat at a small, gilt chair in a corner of the huge ballroom, dressed in the hot, itchy, pink silk. She sighed – loudly – since no one could hear her over the sprightly orchestra playing on a stage near one side of the overheated room. Every time she moved, the silk dress and petticoats rustled.

          True to her word, Melinda had done something to Andi’s hair, so it was not only extra curled, but piled most becomingly on top of her head and twined with white ribbons. When she’d first seen herself in the looking glass at Aunt Rebecca’s, Andi hadn’t known herself. She looked different. Softer and prettier, almost like Melinda.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Andi's Christmas Mystery Part 1

Don't forget to enter the Circle C Christmas Collection Giveaway that runs December 7-12. TWO WINNERS! ENTER GIVEAWAY >>

One part every day this week. Written by Donna Patton, my author friend in Ohio. Enjoy!

Note: Here is my author friend's Facebook page. I would give the link to her website, but it's not up and running right now. FACEBOOK PAGE >>

Part 1

 "Christmas will be ruined! Ruined!” Andi Carter flopped onto the velvet settee in the parlor and glared at her sister Melinda. “Absolutely, totally ruined.”

At her writing desk in the corner of the room, Mother lifted an eyebrow but otherwise didn’t respond to her dramatic daughter.

“Oh, Andi, don’t be silly.” Melinda’s face glowed as she ignored her sister’s scowling face. “How can Christmas be ruined? It’s still Christ’s birthday, isn’t it? Going to the Governor’s ball will be the most stupendous part of this holiday. I’m thrilled Aunt Rebecca invited us.”

 Andi groaned. Trust Aunt Rebecca to mess everything up.

Before Andi could open her mouth to protest, Melinda’s face changed to a look of horror. “Mother, whatever shall we wear? I haven’t a thing that’s fit to be seen at the Governor’s Ball.”

Mother smiled. “I had the same thought, dear. Why don’t you, Andrea, and I pay a visit to Miss Mix tomorrow. I’m sure the town’s best dressmaker will be able to outfit us in something fine enough.” She turned to Andi. “Andrea, the last time we were there, I saw the most becoming dark-pink silk that would make a perfectly lovely holiday dress for you. Perhaps we’ll make a day of it tomorrow and see if Justin will take us out to lunch afterward.”

What? Andi jumped up, alarmed at the idea of pink silk and losing a whole free day. “Tomorrow? Cory and I are going riding. We’ve got the whole day planned out.”

“Riding?” Melinda crinkled her pert nose. “You are such a child. How can riding compare to a new dress? I think I’d like a blue velvet gown.”

Monday, December 7, 2020

And the Winner Is . . .

I recently put together a giveaway that included a print book and a lapbook, but since most of you couldn't care less about a lapbook, but you'd maybe like to have the Circle C Christmas Collection, I've decided to put on the giveaway just for my faithful blog readers. In other words, you don't have to compete for the prize with hundreds of others on either Facebook or my Ezine. (Also, I believe I told you about the Bundle of Freebies and you could get an E-version of the book). 

It's a 100-page paperback book that covers the years Andi is eight, nine, ten, and eleven years old at Christmas. Yes, a couple of these stories you've seen before, floating around the website or the blog. However, two of the stories are brand-new, never-before-seen stories. 

It's easy to enter the contest. It's right here on the this post. All you have to do is post a comment. However, here's the tricky part. Since I won't know who you are (no contact information), you will at least need to leave a name in the comment. Then I can post "So-and-so" won. You will have to check back on December 13 (contest runs from December 7-12) to see who I randomly chose as the winner.  If I get a ton of entries, I will consider picking two winners (but I have to go check and see how many of these books I have left, so no promises!) Keep reading to read fun summaries and have fun! 

UPDATE: I have decided to give books to TWO WINNERS because in just one day we've had a big response, and I found where I stashed them (whoosh!) so I have enough to do this. 

NOTE: Anonymous entries will not be posted (Anonymous is "okay" if you at least include your name in the comment itself, but no name anywhere does not let me know who you are in order to pick a winning name.) 

One more thing: I'm not sure why a couple of you are entering (commenting) more than once. You need to be patient. I will approve and post your entries ASAP I see them, but if you try to comment more than one time (more than one entry), I will simply delete and not approve the extra comments. If for some reason a whole day goes by and you don't see your entry in the comments, then contact me and I'll see what I can do. 

The four stories included in the collection:
1. Andi’s Christmas Good-bye- (1876) When Andi learns that her best friend, Riley, is leaving the ranch, she sets out to give him a special Christmas gift.
2. Andi’s White Christmas- (1877) Andi’s old enough to join her brothers in the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree. Sound easy? Not on your life! 
3. Andi’s Interrupted Christmas- (1878) Andi is chosen to portray Mary in the Christmas pageant. Then something happens to interrupt Christmas. 
4. Andi’s Christmas Ball- (1879) Instead of riding Taffy, Andi finds herself at the governor’s Christmas ball as a substitute partner for Governor Irwin’s 11-year-old son. What could be worse? 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Photo Friday: Andi and Taffy Out for a Ride

 It's short. It's sweet. But it's enough to let you know that we are alive and well in sunny California, Andi Country. Here's a video for Photo Friday. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Photo Friday: Tarantula Trouble STORY!!

Back in October, I posted this video about Andi's Tarantula Trouble. NOW, I finished the story. So here it is, all updated for PHOTO FRIDAY and the LOST STORIES categories, along with a little blurb about tarantulas. 

Last month (October), the annual tarantula parade began once again all over the Sierra Foothills. These gentle giants are soft and hairy and wouldn't hurt anybody. They are also very fragile and must be handled carefully so as not to hurt THEM! In this mini-book-trailer, Andi lets a couple of them crawl around on her hands. They are probably from 7 to 10 years old. They live underground most of their lives and come out when they are old enough to find a mate. Then they only live a few months more. The female ebony spider can live up to 25-30 years . . . underground. They come out at night to hunt bugs, lizards, baby rattlesnakes, and scorpions (my kind of useful spider).


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Vote for my author friend's new cover!!

 I'm pretty sure I've told you about my author friend, Katy Pistole, author of the popular Sonrise Farms series (The Palomino, Stolen Gold, Flying High, Morning Glory). She is updating and re-releasing these books with new covers and updated content. She needs YOUR HELP. Which cover for book 1, The Palomino, do you like best? (The green banner, which means each book would be a different colored banner) or the gold banner (and all the books would have the same one). 

Vote in the comments. GREEN or GOLD. Thanks! Please try to vote before the weekend is over. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What If Andi Had Married Cory Instead of Riley?

Lizzy came up with a fun "What If?" scenario and I invite you to give YOUR ideas of "What if?" 

Here are ten things that would be different if Andi had married Cory instead of Riley (from Lizzy). 

1. They would not have Memory Creek Ranch.

2. Jared's name would not be "Jared."

3. Andi would not have learned how to shoot.

4. Ellie would not have choked on rattlesnake bones.

5. Andi would probably have had her baby with a doctor in town.

6. Andi might not have had twins.

7. Felicity would not have had to travel all the way to the Circle C ranch to talk to Andi.

8. Andi would not have had to kill a rattlesnake that almost bit Jared.

9. Andi might never have found the secret spot that Riley found. 

10. She would not need to send her husband to town for a bit of baking powder. 

What about you? Add your "what ifs" of how things would be different if Andi were married to Cory!