Sunday, October 22, 2023

Enchanted Forest

The enchanted Forest:Origins of Halloween A short story By Ruthie L. Manier. Long ago, nestled within an ancient forest, a community of humble farmers known as the harvesters celebrated the bountiful autumn season. They toiled under the watchful eye of the harvest God, grateful for the gifts from the earth. Every year as the days grew shorter and the nights colder, they eagerly waited for the mystical event of the harvest celebration. Elyse was a strong-spirited, curious and adventurous young woman who had become widowed only after two years of marriage. She didn’t let that horrible day stop her though. She was a harvester through and through and wanted her crops to be the tastiest in all the land, in the name of her late husband Willard. She would make him proud if it was the last thing she did. Elyse prayed he would make an appearance on harvest night. Stories had been passed down for generations that on that enchanting night that the dead could mix with the living. One evening Elyse with her curious sprit had an overwhelming urge to take a walk into a part of the forest she had never journeyed into before. It was calling her name. Elyse. As she ventured deeper into the the vastly covered woods, she knew it was getting late and should turn back before she was bathed in darkness, but her feet seemed to have a mind of their own and kept trudging forward. As she moved down the small path, she noticed fireflies had gathered lighting her path. A while later the gentle fireflies moved ahead of her and encircled an ancient stone circle. As her heartbeat wildly she cautiously ventured toward the ancient stone. Her feet grew heavier with every step. Trembling she realized this ancient stone structure was what had beencalling to her. Elyse thought about fleeing, this place might be hollow grounds. Danger flashed through her mind. Yet, her heart told her she was supposed to be here. So, she took the final steps when out of nowhere a ghostly figure appeared on top of the stone. Scared for her life Elyse jumped backwards ready to turn and run as adrenaline pumped through her veins, but before she could the spirit woman spoke. “Elyse, I have been calling you for days. What took you so long? “The sweet familiar voice asked with haste. Startled Elyse realized this was the voice of her long-deceased grandmother. Her spine stiffened as she gazed into the spirit woman’s eyes. “Grandma Lilly?” She squeaked out of a suddenly dry mouth. “Yes, it is I. And I am pleased you have not forgotten me.” She answered with pride feeling her soul. “I could never forget you. I have missed you every day since you passed to the heavenly realm.” Elyse exclaimed with tear filled eyes. “I have missed you as well and have been watching over you every day since my demise. Child know you are never alone. I felt your heartbreak when Willard died, and it crushed me to see you in such pain. Willard watches over you as well. He asked me to tell you that he loves you and wants you to move on. He is sorry he had to leave you widowed at such a young age and will not be truly at rest until you are happy once again.” Lilly confided in her only granddaughter. Elyse sucked in a breath. She did not realize she was holding her beloved back. “Please tell him that I am moving forward as best as I can. It’s hard with the loneliness that keeps seeping back in. But now that I know I must move on for him to be happy it will be easier to deal with. Tell him I will always love him even if I should find a new husband in the future.” She said with tears of enlightenment singing in her eyes. “I will. Remember you can always talk to us. We are keeping an eye out on you and can hear you as well, my child. Your parents send their love too. Now, I don’t have much time left, so, I must tell you what I was sent forth to share.” “Okay grandmother, but before I forget, please tell my parents I love and miss them too.” “They already know; however, I shall give them your message.” “Thank you, grandmother.” “You are most welcome. In the heavenly realms, I have been bestowed a knew title as ‘Guardian of the Seasons’ and as you know the yearly harvest is almost here…there is much that needs to be done before it’s arrival.” “Yes, the crops need to be harvested.” “Yes, but there is much more.” “There is? What?” “A grand celebration to welcome your ancestors.” “What do you mean?” “It is the one night a year when the dead are able to mix with the spiritual world.” “I’ve been told that my entire life. Are you telling me the stories are really true? There not just an old fable to spook the children into helping with the harvest?” “I tell you it is the truth. On this enchanted night the veil between the spiritual realm and the living world thins, allowing the spirits to venture among the living. The harvesters with their deep connections to the earth were chosen to honor and appease these spirits. You must go forth and tell all the villagers to erect a grand celebration the likes they have never seen before. Their ancestors want to be welcomed properly with delicious food, heartwarming conversations, fun, and games.” “I didn’t realize, of course, I am proud to oblige.” “Good. I knew I could count on you. It was so nice to see you my dear, but my power is waning, and I must return home.” “It was such a surprise to see you, Grandma Lilly. I love you and now that I know you can hear me i promise to talk to you more often.” “I love you too, and we all wait for the day you will join us. Time moves quickly in heaven but for you that will be many years from now. You are young and still have a long life to enjoy. Now go with haste. The fireflies will light your way home.” Lilly said as she slowly vanished from sight. Elyse stood in her tracks, while watching the Guardian of the Seasons, her sweet grandma Lilly disappear. New hope filled her soul, as she thought about what had transpired between the two of them. Closure felt good. And the love of her life, Willard deserved to be happy. In the days to come she would be more optimistic about her future. Inspired Elyse returned to her village with newfound knowledge and a mission. She rallied her fellow harvesters to embrace the special night and celebrate the spirits’ visitation. Together they adorned their homes with flickering candle lights and carved intricate designs on gourds, creating lanterns to guide the spirits on their journey. As the night fell on the harvesters the air was filled with music and laughter. The children were adorned in whimsical costumes emulating spirits they hoped to encounter. The harvesters shared stories, food and drink, while giving thanks for the plentiful harvest they were sharing and honoring their ancestors who had passed before them. Elyse’s village became a beacon of light, love, and unity on Halloween night, a tradition that would be carried on for generations to come. The Harvesters learned that Halloween was not just a time of playful scares and sweet treats, but a profound connection to the spirit world and a celebration of life's cycles. "The Enchanted Harvest: Origins of Halloween" is a tale of discovery, community, and the enduring magic that exists within the changing seasons. It reminds us that Halloween is not simply a spooky holiday, but a cherished time to honor our past, embrace the present, and welcome the mysteries of the night. Long story short: Happy Halloween! Be safe, Give good treats, welcome the changing seasons, be grateful for the harvest and Celebrate your Dead! If you do not follow these simple rules...they might return and haunt you for the rest of you days! Boo!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Bass Reeves


Bass Reeves was an iconic figure in American history, renowned for his remarkable career as one of the first African American deputy U. S. marshals in the Wild West during the late 19th century. Born into slavery in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, Reeves gained his freedom during the American Civil War and went on to establish an enduring legacy as a lawman and frontier hero.

Reeves’ career as a lawman began in 1875 when he was appointed a deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas. Over the course of his illustrious career, he served for over thirty-two years, covering a vast territory that extended into the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). What set Bass Reeves apart was not just his exceptional marksmanship and tracking abilities but also his strict adherence to the law. He was known for his unwavering commitment to uphold justice, regardless of a person’s race or background. Reeves apprehended more than 3,000 criminals during his tenure, earning a reputation for his fearless pursuit of outlaws and his dedication to maintaining peace on the frontier. His exploits became the stuff of legend, inspiring stories and folklore that endure to this day. Bass Reeves’ contributions to law enforcement and his enduring symbol of justice and equality continue to be celebrated as an integral part of American history.

Thanks for stopping by,





Guest Author Maggie Carpenter


Hi All! I'm super excited to share with you my New Release, Tough Texan.

Ethan Lee has traced an evil psychopath to the small town of Birchwood.

Deedee Myers manages the local show grounds.

She has no idea the villain is in her life.

Texas rancher Ethan Lee has finally found the man who seduced his sister and left her penniless. He arrives in the small town determined to mete out old-fashioned cowboy justice.

A major storm hits!

With barns flooding and the weather growing worse, Deedee opens the show grounds to horse owners needing shelter. When an unfamiliar truck and trailer roll in, she finds a tough, no-nonsense cowboy behind the wheel. He’s demanding and irritating. But she’s captivated by his handsome face and muscled arms.

Though angry words are exchanged, sparks fly, and the attraction cannot be denied.

The unlikely couple soon join forces to outwit the depraved villain, but he’s much smarter than either of them realize.

Just how much danger are they facing?

Will Ethan be able to keep the fearless girl in check?

To find out, grab a copy here: 

 If you enjoy take-charge cowboys, steamy scenes, suspense and drama, you’ll love this book. Click the link and escape into this riveting romance today.


Book One: Bull Rider

Book Two: His Crazy Cowgirl

Book Three: Tough Texan

Please Note: While all the books are HEA/Standalone, some characters continue through the series. The reader’s experience will be enhanced if the stories are read in sequence.



Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Rip Ryder! by Rhonda Lee Carver

 Rip Ryder’s Second Chance is a novel of high school sweethearts who reunite to rekindle a rare passion and confront the past.

As teens, Noelle Evelyn and Rip Ryder fell deeply in love. Their passion seemed to defy the odds of disapproving parents, youth and unforeseen obstacles…until high school graduation rolled around. One drunken night changed the future.

Years later, Noelle returns to Second Chance after the death of a friend only to face the lingering ghosts of her past. The memory of Rip has haunted her every day since they broke up. Her life might have moved forward, she’s now a single mom of a toddler, but her heart stays frozen in a time when love was all that mattered.

Noelle has carried a secret to protect others that will unravel. Will the demons of the past draw them together, or rip them apart again? Will an endless love endure the pain? Rip was willing to do anything to protect the only love he’d ever known, but can he save her?

Rip Ryder's Second Chance is the last installment of the series. This book will have you cheering for Noelle and Rip as they face demons from their past, and a secret that has lingered too long.

Sneak Peek:

Time became a cage, imprisoning both in the awkward moment as they stared at each other through the screen.

For that moment he could still see her as a teenager, greeting him at the door with a smile that got him in the center of his bones.

Their gazes were locked.

Rip feasted his eyes on the only woman he’d ever loved. The only one he’d wanted to marry and have a kid with. She was even more beautiful than he remembered and he wished she wasn’t. Her hair that he thought looked the same didn’t at all. It was still dark brown but now had lighter streaks of caramel and a few faint strips of blonde. Not one line appeared on her face that proved fifteen years had passed. She had flawless skin. Her blue eyes—the color of the early morning sky—turned a shade darker.

She wore a white T-shirt and cutoff jean shorts, and she was barefoot. Her toenails were painted a bright purple. Her favorite color, at least as a teen. He couldn’t believe he remembered. He also remembered her smell. A mixture of cotton candy and vanilla that now floated through the mesh wire and warmed him from inside out. He practically salivated like the kid.

Her figure, once slender and athletic because she ran cross country, had blossomed into more curves than should be legal. Delicious, remarkable curves that made him practically moan. He felt a bit ridiculous considering she was a holding a child—her child.

And she’s probably married, he reminded himself.

“Rip? What in blue heavens are you doing here?” she asked as if no time had transpired between them. The gentle pitch of her sweet voice reminded him of summer days down at the lake where they’d explored each other.

Hurt rendered him silent.

He opened his mouth, searching for his voice that was lost.

He probably looked damn ridiculous standing on her front step staring.

His throat ached. His heart squeezed. She shifted the child onto the other hip, closest to the screen as if to place a wall between them.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call first. I have some news.” He finally managed to spit out.

The entire series:

 Buy here

Connect with Rhonda Lee Carver






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Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Country Girl at Heart

 Several times a year, I go camping. It works out to be at least monthly from March to November. I even went camping in February in the snow once. I haven’t done it since, but it was quite the adventure and I didn’t die, so there was that. 

In the Pacific Northwest, our weather changes so much that one year we can have a beautiful clear camp out in March, and the next it will be a torrential downpour. One camp out we camped on a horse ranch, and I was able to ask questions. This weekend we are headed out to another horse ranch far enough from the highway it’s like being in the middle of no where. These are the times I run ideas through my head for things I can use in my books. 

I love being out in the woods with no cell service. I do make sure my iPad is fully charged and whatever I’m working on it downloaded. It is so much a heaven on earth and do not get nearly enough.

Those who know me know that while I might live in the suburbs but if I had anything to say about it, and money wasn’t an option, I’d live on a multi-acre ranch with animals—not sure which ones but there would be horses, cows and chickens.

One of my favorite scenes that was inspired by one of my camp outs was from an upcoming book—Loving Bonnie.

“You going to tell me what happened last night?” She grabbed her clothes and pulled her bra back on even with me frowning.

I shivered all over again, just like when I got home from making the rounds after midnight. “I’m just saying I don’t think we need to be concerned about noises coming from our tent.”

She paused and stared. Her gaze darted back and forth as she considered who’s tents stood between us and where the horses were kept.

“No.” Her hand covered her mouth and her smile. “Haven’t they been married like forever?”

“You’ve seen them. I just can’t get it of my head.” I rubbed my temples.

Bonnie laughed and straddled my lap. “Yes, they are cute together.” She rubbed against my lap.

“Can we not think of Ryan and Heather?”

She buried her head in the crook of my shoulder, laughing. “You’re a dork.”

“As long as I’m your dork.” My lips captured hers for a moment before someone shook the side of our tent. Loving Bonnie—Coming 2024

Monday, October 16, 2023

Spiritualists and Spirit Photography


Spiritualism became quite a phenomenon in the mid 1800's. Of course, in the pervious centuries they would have been accused of being witches and horribly interrogated and killed.  After the Civil War there were 35,000 known practicing mediums in the United States.

 Hydesville, New York in March 1848 sister Maggie and Katie Fox (ages 14 and 11 at the time) were visited by spirits. The spirits would rap and knock to communicate with the sisters. They would ask the spirit a question and it would answer with a designated number of knocks. Word got out and the press and people flocked to the sister to talk to the dead. To get away from the chaos they were sent to live with their older sister, Leah, in Rochester, New York. 

The sisters once again gained the spotlight and held seances. During and after the Civil War people went to spiritualists to try to contact their dead loved ones. They paid handsomely for their experience. 
Many years later, the sisters had a falling out and Maggie confessed it was all a hoax (supposedly she was paid to claim it was fake). Their first spirit in Hydesville was a prank. Claiming to use an apple on a string to produce the spirit noises. In public demonstrations, they would pop their knuckles, toes, and joints under the table. A year later, Maggie recanted her confession. But the Fox sisters were a major impact on the Spiritualism moment. Because of them, many others took up the profession.

Seances were popular. Even a fun way to entertain your guests at a party. Though many were proved to be frauds, it didn't keep people from holding seances. After his death, Harry Houdini's wife held seances every year for ten years trying to contact him.

Even Mary Todd Lincoln held seances in the White House after her husband's death. She tried desperately to communicate with him.
Mrs. Lincoln reached out to William H. Mumler for a spirit photo of herself and her dead husband. Supposedly it's the last photo taken of her.

Mumler was a popular sprit photographer. An accidental profession when he used a double exposed glass plate. Casting a ghostly person in the background. Though several tried to catch him at his game, none could. 
Mumler was a spirit photographer for eight years before he was finally brought to court on charges of fraud. It never went beyond the preliminary hearing, but his popularity soared after that. 

Today we have Photoshop and Ouija Boards. But I can imagine that in the 1800's with the invention of photography and the acceptance of Spiritualism, it had to be fascinating. 

Though I do have a spirit in my house, I can't say I want to talk to him or have a picture of him. He scares me enough in the middle of the night by knocking on the covered up door in the wall a couple times a year.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Mud Mansions

In my current WIP (work in progress), the heroine recently settled a 640-acre land grant in Oregon Territory. Before her husband's death, he built a house that was part dugout, part soddy. It's been quite interesting, doing research on these houses made from grass and mud.

This image is of a dugout in Kansas, but it shows some of the same features as my heroine's. It was made by digging into the side of a hill, then adding walls, some built with pieces of sod, and others from wood. This might seem and odd choice for home construction, but when faced with scorching summers and frigid, windy winters, burrowing into the side of a hill was preferable to enduring the elements in a drafty covered wagon.

To build the walls, settlers would cut blocks of sod, using ox-driven plows. They would cut it from the place where they planned to put the house, as removing the grass protected the dwelling from prairie fires. But they only cut as much sod as they could lay in a day, because it dried out quickly. 

The sod 'bricks' were about 4 inches thick, but they were 2- to 3-feet square, so they made thick sturdy walls that provided great insulation. Typical wood construction was often used to add a door and window, and sometimes form a portion of the house if it extended beyond the hill. If a family had the means, they might lay planks over the dirt floor, but most didn't. 

Dugouts and soddies were cheap to build and provided protection, but they were dank and dirty caves. Bugs and snakes often invaded these homes, and any part of the roof that extended beyond the hill --the entire roof if it was merely a soddy-- leaked when it rained. I can't imagine what it must've been like to keep such a house clean. Of course, if you wanted to brighten up the place, all you had to do was toss some flower seeds on the roof.

Every single time I study early American settlers, I'm left in awe of what they went through just to make a home and make a life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Got You Under My Skin


Skin to Skin

A large part of being successful when writing fiction is the ability to slip into character. Ideally, we should become each viewpoint character. Sometimes writers make the mistake of being more like a camera looking at the characters. Or they pop into everyone's head and tell you things about every character (omniscient viewpoint). There are times when these tactics can work well.

However, 98 percent of the time, writers do their best work when they "become" the viewpoint character and stick with one character per scene. This means that they feel, see, taste, smell, think, and know only what that character feels, sees, tastes, smells, thinks, and knows. In this way, the reader is immersed completely in the story. Ping pong viewpoint -- switching from head to head -- can be jarring and keep the reader off balance. Sometimes the reader has to backtrack to figure out who's who and what's what. It can be that confusing.

Writing in first person helps writers stay in one viewpoint and not slip in and out of a character's head. It's a good device for that and it's a popular viewpoint for many romance novels (ala Fifty Shades of Grey). Third person viewpoint is trickier, but I like it because it seems more like a novel rather than a diary to me.

Whatever viewpoint is chosen, the objective should be to use it to make your readers live along with your characters. I like to think that I can pull them in so far that, should a doorbell chime or a phone ring or someone speaks to them, they startle. They're so deeply into that fictive world that they forget everything around them. I know that as a reader I love books that suck me right in so that I'm oblivious to time passing and what's going on around me.

The same thing happens when I'm writing. Once I get inside my character and surrounded by the scene transpiring, I have no idea of the time. Often, I come up for air, so to speak, and I'm shocked that two or three hours have gone by. That's when I know I've been on a roll.

When I was learning the profession of novel writing, viewpoint was the thing I tackled first and it wasn't without struggle. Slipping into someone's skin -- even someone you've created -- is no easy feat! But it's so worth it. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Smokey Hill River Trail to the Butterfield Overland Dispatch

Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Tandem Ox Yoke
 Photo (C) Doris McCraw

The Smokey Hill River Trail, one of the more treacherous routes to the Colorado Gold Fields, gave way to the Butterfield Overland Dispatch in 1865. This stage line only ran for about a year before its purchase by Ben Holliday, known as the "Stagecoach King". Holliday in turn sold to Wells Fargo who sold to the United States Express Company.

According to records, the cost for an individual ticket was $175.00 one way. There were a total of thirty-nine stage stops along the trail. It was here passengers could purchase a meal for an additional fifty cents to one dollar.

Map of the Smokey Hill Trail 
from Legends of America

Additionally, the Army built several forts along this route to protect travelers from attacks. The Smokey River was a favored hunting ground for the Plains Indians. Some of the Forts along the trail were: Fort Downer, Fort Hays, Fort Harker, Fort Monument, and Fort Wallace.

Despite the presence of the Army, the attacks cost the stage line but ultimately it was the railroad that resulted in the end of the travel on the trail but what stories you find when you start researching.

From the Smokey Hill River Trail exhibit at the Elbert County
Historical Society & Museum
Photo (C) Doris McCraw

As for the forts, some of the names probably sound familiar and many are now museums.

For those who might be interested here is a link to a PBS show talking about Four-Mile-House, the last stage stop before arriving in Denver. Four-Mile House

Until Next Time Stay Safe & Stay Well