Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tanya Writes About Merry Christmas

Ah, Christmas. And I mean CHRIST-mas. Oh, I believe in Santa and our kids believed in Santa. As a first-grader, our son wrote a little essay at school that Santa had brought him a glob for Christmas. Meaning of course, his globe of the world.
(And this was at a Christian day school. No one doubted our faith!)

And that jolly old elf with his belly shaking like jelly never impeded or took precedence over our worship of the Christ-child.

And his little son is just as adorable. The grandbaby held up a Magi figurine from the antique creche I inherited from my grandma--the one my grampa ordered from Germany for her at their first Christmas together in 1917. (It goes from mother to daughter, hence will end up in The Bride's house some year)...and said, Wise man.

So when we examined another nativity scene (I collect them), he promptly said, "Baby Jesus" as he pointed to the manger. When I picked up a Magi and asked who, he said, "Big Jesus." (He actually does look like the adult Lord.)

Yes, Jesus is king. He got me through the roughest periods of my life last year, when my hero battled (and beat) cancer. So I want to share with you something sent to us this Christmas by our dear friends Steve and Linda in Tennessee. My hero's known Steve since they were in elementary school; Linda has been close to me since high school. We've all been friends a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong time even with many miles separating us.

I thought this would be a great way to end the year...and with January 6 being the Feast of the Magi, Epiphany, I'm still in the Christmas frame of mind.

'Twas the month before Christmas, when all through our land
Not a Christian was praying, nor taking a stand.
You see, the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas--no one would say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say.
December 25th is just a "holiday."

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit,
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it.
CD's from Madonna, an X Box, an I-pod...
Something was changing, something quite odd.

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda.
As Targets hung their trees upside down,
At Lowe's the word Christmas was nowhere to be found.

At K Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears
It's the term Season Greetings that touches your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, D-iver-sity
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen,
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton.
At the top of the Senate there arose such a clatter...
To eliminate Jesus in all public matters.

And we spoke not a word as they took away our faith.
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded,
The reason for the season got stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate "winter break" under your "dream tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully. Choose what you say.
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

Other religions don't "offend" me nor shake my moods. I've always wondered by a little baby whose message was "peace to all" is so scary to some.

Anyway, blessings to all in 2009...and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tanya Writes About "His Christmas Angel"

I hope you enjoy my short story, His Christmas Angel, available now from The Wild Rose Press. It's a free online read of 2,500 words. (Make that 2,497. I actually got under the requirement!) The link here takes you right to it.


Hey, what could be better than something quick and FREE during these hectic, economically-challenged times?

When my wonderful editor asked me if I wanted to write a Christmas story, I couldn't possibly resist. Even though I'm behinder than usual this year, it truly is my favorite season. I can barely count up all the Hallmark Christmas movies I've already DVR'd and watched since Thanksgiving!

So...I eagerly agreed. And I decided to take a character from Marrying Minda, my June 2009 release, and give him a love story of his own! After all, school teacher Caldwell Hackett broke his heart when Minda chose hot cowboy Brixton Haynes over him. I figured he deserves some good lovin.'

In the story, he and Minda's sister, Mattie Carter, meet in Paradise, Nebraska, in 1879, on a cold winter's day that's sure to steam up. But of course, the course of love never runs smooth.

So I am spinning off their love story in what I hope is the second of three Paradise-set "Marrying..." books. Marrying Mattie will explore the couple's angst and heartbreak when a wedding guest interrupts their vows in protest just as the preacher asks the routine "If anyone knows any reason these two should not wed, let him speak now or forever after hold his peace...."

Here's a sneak preview:

He checked his pocket watch. Noon. The Saturday stage was set to arrive about now, and his package was due. He needed a new pulley badly since discovering the winch at the blacksmith was nothing but a hunk of rusted junk.

As he shrugged into his overcoat, he couldn't help noticing the angel wings balanced against the wall, and his mood lightened. At least his Christmas Eve pageant was proceeding well. Although, he groused, he ought to demote Charlie Tuttle from his exalted position as a Wise Man. The town's womenfolk had shaped wire into wings for their little daughters, covered the frames with muslin and painstakingly glued on goose feathers one by one.

All he needed now was the pulley....and a grown-up female brave enough to suspend over the altarpiece as a flying angel at the climax of the nativity tableau. So far everybody was too cautious to volunteer.

Cold air covered him as the stage pulled into town. Through the misty condensation on the coach's window, two passengers stared out at him. A man, and a woman so dreamlike, so angelic, she took Caldwell’s breath away despite that broken heart.

Before the driver could jump down, Caldwell impulsively opened the door and offered her his arm. Even through thick wool and chill air, the warmth of her fingertips heated him all the way to his skin. Then she stuck her hand back into a thick fur muff.

He felt its absence like a stab.

The floral scent of her rose on the wind, straight into his senses. His heart hammered. Likely the male passenger was her husband. But when the man stayed put on his seat, Caldwell’s hope mounted.

I'll be getting a trivia contest about the story on my website momentarily so check it out at www.tanyahanson.com

Best of all, merry Christmas to all of you and the angels in your lives.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tanya Writes About Swedish Woven Hearts

Oh, I'm not a bit Swedish, but I've long loved these woven paper heart baskets. For being so simple, they are so simply festive during the holidays. I can just picture them adding Christmas cheer on the prairie in Cactus Rose's favorite time period--the 19th century. A homespun craft made from materials close at hand.

Years ago, I helped a seventh grade class make them while I was a substitute teacher, so I know it can be done LOL. And one of my favorite places to visit, a little Danish enclave about an hour north of us called Solvang, honors all aspects of Scandinavian culture, and the heart baskets appear frequently about town--especially at Christmastime.

In my first novel, The Outlaw's Woman, the outlaw (who of course is A Good Guy) snowbounds himself at gunpoint with a beautiful widow in her cozy Nebraska farmhouse. He wiles away the time until it's safe for him to escape and shows her how to weave them.

After he's long gone and she pines for him, she makes them to decorate her house when Christmas comes. I even made a few for a book signing.

They aren't all that hard to make...but it does take a little bit of practice. Called jhartkorgar, they'll be hung on the Christmas tree in Sweden and filled with candy or little gifts. Mini jhartkorgar can be strung together to make garlands for the tree.

Hilltown Families, a grassroots network for families living in Weston MA has kindly let me use their directions for this project. And Hilltown welcomes writers and artists to share their work...so check them out and see if your creativity is a fit!

(The directions uploaded a tad small, so click here as needed, or open the picture in a new window.)


Another fine site, Craft Ideas, has a template for making the sides of each heart.


And of course, you can construct them in pink and white for Valentine's Day.

Now, how about making a few woven hearts and hanging one on each of your neighbor's doorknobs on Christmas Eve filled with a tasty treat?

Tanya Writes About the Most Romantic Proposal Ever

Yeah, he's a keeper. The guy our daughter has selected to marry LOL. First off, he properly asked my hero for her hand two months ago. Took him to a division playoff game of his favorite baseball team. Said he was re-designing his gramma's ring and wanted to propose during the holidays, so please keep it on the down-low.

My hero of course gave his permission yes but asked if it was okay to tell me.

Of course--said with an ear-to-ear smile.

And I, well, how could I keep something like that secret for two whole months or more? I've been planning her wedding since she was three minutes old...so I told Betty next door and two of my best high school friends at the reunion. Otherwise my lips were sealed.

I didn't even tell her brother!

And the holidays meant so many things! Thanksgiving (his mom and sister came to visit us for the first time; they're both wonderful and it was a fantastic day.) Our daughter's December birthday. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. New Years Eve...New years Day. Rose Bowl. And on and on.

So was I ever glad the big event happened already the day after Thanksgiving! My mind is already running rampant with Plans. (as well as schemes to pay for them LOL.)

Here's what my future son-in-law did. He planned a twosome bicycle ride along the same beautiful Santa Ynez roads my hero and our daughter rode in September to raise money for Livestrong. The fact that his tire popped eight miles into the 31 and the replacement tube didn't fit didn't daunt her at all.

But considering he'd planned surprise massages at a beautiful bed and breakfast at two p.m. caused a tad of consternation. Fortunately the innkeeper came and got them in a roomy SUV.

After great massages which our daughter reports were never long enough, he'd planned wine and cheese on the veranda. Oily hair and all.

And after wine..an on-your knee proposal even though the late afternoon was chilly and the grass was wet with dew.

Back inside to warm up at the fireplace and make phone calls.

White Star champagne and chocolate colored strawberries.

Red roses which she said she wishes could live forever.

And of course the plan to celebrate each anniversary here year after year!

Oh, and by the way, the ring is one I'd be scared I'd get mugged for LOL. A brilliant surrounded by a ring of tiny diamonds, white gold decorated with filigree he designed, and inside are their two teensie birthstones. Wow, it's gorgeous.

So far, lavender and sage are the chosen colors.

You can bet I'll keep you informed of every luscious detail!

And you guys out there. If you need any ideas, I'd stick with this scenario. Everybody is all smiles in our little corner of the world!

Up next: My soon-to-be-released Christmas story

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tanya Writes About The Pumpkin Patch, Thanksgiving, and well, giving thanks.

Ah, something there is about a child at a pumpkin patch. That goal to get the perfect golden orb. The search, as vital as a long-ago quest for the Holy Grail.

And all of this happening on a blue and gold fall day makes the best memory. --especially when Gramma and Grampa are along for the ride.

The ride this day was on an antique train that took us from Fillmore far out into the country. The grandbaby sat across from me in the red velvet seat cuddling with his grampa. (Their bond is so incredible; I get tears.)

"Choo choo move," he told me earnestly. At the sound of the clang at the crossing, his little mouth made a perfect O; his tiny fingers at his ears.

"Trees!" he shouted in glee as we travelled along. "Bridge" as we crossed a creek.

Once there, there was no stopping the little guy. Scarecrows, cornstalks higher than his tall handsome daddy. Merry-go-round and hoppity-hop balls. And pumpkins big as moons. Of course he ran to the largest one, threw his arms around it...and was steered to one more his size. (You could select any size but had to take it yourself on your lap back on the train. In this case, size did matter.)

The little fam posed atop one for a portrait that's making its way into my Christmas letter. Toddlers everywhere flew past, gabbing in their adorably peculiar wordless language.

For lunch, the grandbaby devoured a cob of corn, his tiny perfect teeth gnawing with gusto. His mommy laughed, the afternoon breeze blowing her blond hair across her pretty face. "I didn't know he'd like it so much. And now corn season is all but over."

But we did manage some corn for Thanksgiving dinner. A day of days to thank God for health, for salvation, for the strength He gave us to get through this past year. To thank Him for the presence and safe travels of our new in-laws-to-be.

Last January, when my hero's cancer diagnosis hit us like bricks in the chest, he held me and said, "I want to watch that little boy grow up. I want to walk my daughter down the aisle someday."

He's getting his wish. He's well. The grandbaby is growing like a weed...two years old next week. And our daughter got engaged last Friday in The Most Romantic Proposal Ever.

So much to be thankful for. So much to look forward to.

So much more life to live.

Up next: The Most Romantic Proposal Ever

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tanya Writes About Friends...and Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, I haven't blogged for a while. Sometimes it seems pointless, but we did take a little trip last week. And came home to some disquieting things.

Our elderly boy black Lab, Seau, seemed to be in a major decline. Maybe due to losing Marley a while back. Likelier, the hip displasia. Oh, he's so pretty, a perfect storybook dog...and it's the damnable generations of inbreeding that weakened his hip joints. I told my hero I just can't bear to say good-bye to him, not now. Not this year. He weakly joked that the year had sucked enough already so why not a slam dunk.

Then we just learned someone dearly special to us just got laid off. Along with millions of others in this hellhole of an economy, but it really hurts when it's someone you love.

Cancer reared is ever-ugly head. Richard awaits apprehensively for the results of tests. Stacey is holding Thanksgiving dinner next week--her FIL's cancer came back and he needs hasty surgery.

Baby Aiden (18 months) and Jackie (29) both face brain tumors.

Oh well. I could go on and on and on and on and on about awful things. And I likely would have stayed in this funk if my hero hadn't said this morning: things tend to work out.

And if the comic pages of the newspaper hadn't featured one of my all-time favorites: Waldo.

No. Not the Where's Waldo guy. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was called that by his clique of Transcendentalists.

It appeared in my favorite (and probably the only comic strip I read)--Mutts. The pup's running through a sunny field with this quote:

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

So I thought about those who have so enriched me, who gladden my spirits. Who got us through this dreadful year.

There's Andy whom I've never actually met in the flesh. He lives across the Pond in Ireland. But a TC loop brought us together earlier this year. He never fails to send me a funny joke or cheer me on as my hero's "heroine."

Terri and I met several years ago at "Maxine's Literary Cafe," a group of writers who gathered every few weeks for critique. Right now she's got a romantic suspense stalker-story in the works that is based on her own experiences! I do help her edit and wow, it's a stunner. But that's not the reason I include her today. We only met those few times, with weeks off in between, but she is a cancer survivor, too, and she kept track of my hero's BEP protocol. E-mailing me just when I needed an encouraging word the most. God bless you, Terri.

Maxine herself is one of Earth's most special people. My hero adores her...and not just for the cookies she always sends him or the picnic basket full of wine, food and flowers she left on the porch one day while he suffered at chemo. She's spunky, spirited, a true optimist. And she's a gifted poet.

Our next door neighbors, whom we've known for over two decades, make life so much better. Not just helping us with the chemo and cancer and dark times. Just every day things. Like coming over and watching TV with Seau while we were gone, making sure he was okay.

Karen, friend of almost four decades, has metastatic breast cancer and that nasty gunk just won't leave her liver alone. Yet she is ever cheerful, crowing about her newest grandbaby, another one who kept track of all the chemo, sending prayers and love.

And last but not least, my Roberta and Timmy. Sister and BIL of anybody's dreams. Every week during my hero's ordeal, they were here. Presents, food, love and hugs. Prayers that never stopped.

As for Seau, the vet had some new treatments to try, and our pup is hanging in. (The vet and we are in agreement: no heroics. Always compassion and dignity and quality of life. So far, so good!)

And Richard reminds me of something so important: One day at a time. Even if it's sometimes just one moment a time.

Thanks to everybody who enriches my life. Waldo isn't the only lucky one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tanya Writes About Hallmark Movies

Oh, it's impossible to stay totally mad at Hallmark.

A few years ago, I went into a giant snit when the programmers removed the wonderful Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman from their line-up. It's one occasion where I actually wrote a letter of compliant rather than carp endlessly to those around me. I got a reply...but nothing changed.

Then I realized how much love is found on this channel. Not just sweet movies with greeting card themes, but Western love. I dvr'd several in the Love Comes Softly series and have been enjoying those lovely flicks one by one, late at night, after my hero takes his beauty rest.

First off, they're filmed practically in my back yard. I just love Simi Valley, California...no one can drive down Highway 118 and not imagine cowboys and settlers and ranchers and women in long calico skirts inhabiting Rocky Peak. And last night, Willie and Missie Le Haye in Love's Long Journey had full-on adventures at Simi's "Big Sky Ranch" ranging from covered-wagoning, cattle driving, and holding off a trio of Very Bad Guys. All the while letting their love and faith show. Reading a significant verse from Scripture often setss the mood.

A few night ago, I'd watched Missie's ma and pa all caught up in troubles and triumphs all their own. And there's more to come. Michael Landon Jr. produces and writes this series, and it's impossible not to appreciate his dad's heritage. Supposedly M.L. Junior learned a lot from "Pa's" years on Little House on the Prairie.

The characters are handsome (including Katherine Heigl, and Logan "Willie" Bartholomew has romance novel cover potential), the plots believable, the scenery gorgeous...and the faith element is something to treasure. I interviewed with an agent at the RWA Convention in San Francisco who suggested I try inspirational romance. They love prairie stories, she said, and with your excellent reviews and your writing history, you're a perfect match.

And I can't say I haven't thought about it. My hero's journey with the cancer and the chemo put me in the right frame of mine, and my faith has strengthened beyond measure. But the thing is: I just love sex. Curtailing all things physical behind a closed door just isn't in me. Yet.

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the inspies I read and watch. I do indeed. Some of my favorite authors and good friends write them. So just maybe...

Right now, though, I try to imagine myself in those days of yore, and the romance of it all hits me. Then the reality does. I'm used to California scenery where the coldest it gets is 40 degrees. There isn't a blizzard in sight. I like washing machines and electric lights, antibiotics and indoor plumbing.

Truth is, I'm a big wuss. I don't think I have the stamina to live in the Old West.

But then you never know. I've already gotten through some things I just never imagined I could.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tanya Writes About Bumper Stickers

My hero and I are getting in shape. He's put on some of the pounds chemo took off, and me, well, I've pretty much bypassed my digestive system with the chocolate chip cookies and accumulated them directly on my rear.

So...we're in exercise mode. Hence, beautiful new bicycles from REI...comfy walking shoes. An exercycle in the writing room so I don't forget.

And as I ride my new bike around the streets in my little corner of the world, ruminating on important things like autumn breeze and kids walking home from junior high, I find my eyes zeroing in like tractor beams on the bumper stickers stuck to the bumpers of the cars parked along the curbs.

Hmmmm. I have concluded the following. My neighborhood must have the world's greatest concentration of magnificent school-age children. My Child is Student of the Month. My Son is Student of the Trimester. All Students Are Students of the Month at XYZ School. My Daughter Made the Honor Roll. Et al, infinitum.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a proud parent, too. They were both National Honor Society, got scholarships and one was cum laude. And I got bumper stickers too in those days. But ours were peel-off. They didn't affix for life.

So now that 47% of the voters get to scrape off McCain-Palin 08 stickers, I decided to see what other bumper adornments make the grade.

Here are a few I found in my research. (I'll pick and choose a few from farther along in the alphabet some other time.)

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

A fool and his money are soon partying.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

All men are animals, some just make better pets.

All men are idiots, and I married their King.

Always try to be modest, and be damn proud of it!

Always use tasteful words. You may have to eat them.

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

Born again pagan.

Born free...Taxed to death.

Constipated people don't give a crap.

Condoms are easier to change than diapers.

Fight Crime: Shoot Back!

Exxon Suxx.

God must love stupid people, he made so many.

Got brains?

Happiness is seeing your mother-in-law's face on the back of a milk carton.

Heart attacks... God's revenge for eating his animal friends.

He who dies with the most toys wins.

He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.

My personal fave?

Exxon Suxx.

Because it does.

How about you? What stick-on witticisms tickle your fancy or...decorate your car?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tanya Writes About Presidential Trivia and a Prize

My hero and I voted early on, thanks to mail-in ballots. Can't say I'm sorry it's all over. The tons of junk mail I tossed likely cost a forest of trees their life. And those dumb recorded campaign phone calls? Like anybody with a brain would even listen to the end of those babblings.

Last fall in New England, my hero and I first saw bumper stickers and yard signs naming Ron Paul. Then there was Hillary. Never could quite go there...seems her real claim to fame was being married to a president. Then came a young whippersnapper with an unusual name. An old guy with a war-hero past. And an Alaskan who kills animals. Yikes.

Well, whatever your opinion of Sarah Palin, she is a good sport. The Tina Fey spoofs are hilarious, and Palin did a great job displaying humor and self-deprecation.

And whatever your opinion of McCain, nobody doubts his patriotism, his amazing resilience and survival, his love of country.

Whatever you say about the prez-elect, he's no trust-fund baby using family wealth and connections to climb the executive ladder. He was raised by a humble, penny-pinching gramma (Although those very same facts likely propelled him into Columbia and Harvard anyway LOL.)

And whatever you think of Joe Biden, he's a heck of a success considering he wasn't yet thirty when a tragic accident killed his young wife and baby daughter, grievously injuring his two little sons. Takes courage, faith and character to survive something like that.

So now that I have pontificated...I am not normally political unless it comes to the killing of innocent animals (Grrrrrrrrrrrrr....), I thought I'd leave you today with some presidential trivia.

If you'd like to get your name in for a little prize, just e-mail me the answers to the questions below. Come on. It's an easy way to win a Starbux gift card! (More than one correct response gets put into a drawing. I prefer Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, but what the hay.)


1. Which U.S. college claims the most presidential alumni?

a. Yale
b. Harvard
c. Georgetown
d. Princeton

2. What is the most common religious affiliation of U.S. Presidents?

a. Presbyterian
b. Episcopalian
c. Lutheran
d. Roman Catholic

3. How many presidents served as Vice Presidents?

a. 7
b. 11
c. 12
d. 14

4. Who was President in the year Marrying Minda is set? ( This is easily found at my website,
www.tanyahanson.com )

a. Ulysses S. Grant
b. Rutherford B. Hayes
c. James Garfield
d. Chester A. Arthur

Let me hear from y'all. And God bless the U.S.A!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tanya Writes About the Orca Dying on Brennecke's Beach

One morning before breakfast, my hero took a long walk along Poipu's lovely beaches, leaving me to coffee and the newspaper. After a bit, my cell phone rang.

Amazingly, I wasn't freaked that it might be our kids or the neighbors back home reporting some emergency. I guess it's that laid-back aloha thing. I just picked up the phone to hear my hero say, "There's an orca beached at Brennecke's."

An orca? Oh, I've always loved them. So black and white, such perfect contrast. No shades of gray. When I really think about it, I hate that Shamu is tanked and confined at Sea World...but that's the only way I could have seen an orca up close and personal. In my mind flashed our son, those years ago, hugging his stuffed orca close to his heart after a San Diego vacation.

"Orca?" I replied, confused. "Aren't they cold water, Pacific north?"

"Yeah, but there's a small pod off Kauai."

Then I recalled, beaching isn't a good thing. "Is he going to die?" I could hear my hero nod; he knows my passion for animals. "Should I get dressed and come over?" I asked, hoping he'd say no. "Would I be sad?

He relieved me of my decision. "Yeah, you'd be sad. Stay there. I'll be back in a little while." But my cell rang again in a few minutes.

"I just wanted you to know," he said. "There is a kahuna here now, blessing the whale. It's kinda neat."

Well, I headed on over on a perfect Kauai morning, the kind you dream about when you get home. And I ended up in tears. Students from the university --a rescue squad-- were there along with all kinds of uniformed professionals who'd roped off the beach. Conch shells blew in the breezes, almost the sounds of whale song. A priest in native lava-lava and ti-leaves performed a ceremony.

I said a prayer for the orca, for I firmly believe animals have some sort of soul. After all, God made them and He is perfect. Even my hero sent out a sniffle.

We walked back to the resort, slow, awash in memories of how precious life is. How fleeting. How instantly things can change, how most times we take health for granted until you're knocked in the head with something like...cancer.

Not long after, vets euthanized the little guy...a sub-adult first thought to be a little girl. Sharks had already bit chunks out of his belly which had further been sliced by the lava rocks on shore. He was thin and sickly, but the loss of anything beautiful is a tragedy. And the resort then closed the beach after further shark sightings.


That afternoon, we drove north to the dear little town of Hanalei...of Puff the Magic Fame. And at one of the eating places, we saw a black and white kitty, the restaurant mascot. I petted her, a tuxedo cat soft and warm. Black and white.

No shades of gray.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tanya Writes About New England's Covered Bridges. Sigh.

Oh, some things are just too darn romantic. I don't mean foreplay-romantic like strawberries and champagne or a candlelit dinner with fine wine. I mean things that follow the true definition of romance: idealism. Just how you want things to be.

Like a perfect flickering fireplace with rain splashing against the windows. (Or if you live in a land of snow, with flakes landing noiselessly outside.) Sunset especially over any body of water. Half Dome in the dusk with lights from the Ahwanee Hotel behind you. A full moon any time. And--

Covered bridges.

Now, a few years ago there was a book and movie celebrating covered bridges and a love story. But I didn't like the plot. I'm just not into adultery, and the cuckolded husband was a good guy. (It might have been bearable if he'd been a jerk.) But the bridges. I did get that.

So when we had the chance in New England, we scoped out those beautiful structures. Yeah, I know. The reason for them isn't all that beautiful: To keep heavy snowfall from crushing a bridge into the river below.

To prevent cows/horses from getting spooked when they saw/heard rushing water below.

But to a California native, the covered bridges were better than...Disneyland.

And now with fall upon us again, I look back on those days with wonder. Waterville Valley in New Hampshire is full of them...Some lucky person lives next door to the
Blair Bridge. It's just an everyday thing to that family.

To me, it was, well, dare I use an overbloated word like surreal?

Wow, to quote the grandbaby.

I can just imagine how beautiful the leaves back there look today. Because I've been there. Done that.

And will be doing it again.

(P.s. My hero and I are off to the tropics for almost two weeks...so blogging will be next to nil. We intend to snorkel and read and relax and--ahem--do some romantic things as well.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tanya Writes About Concord Where She Lived and Died

Louisa May Alcott.

The Christmas I was eight years old, I received a life-changing book. No, not some Dummy how-to or Chicken Soup. Little Women.

Thank God there were two sequels so I didn't have to say good-bye. Little Men and Joy's Boys. And she penned other favorites like Jack and Jill, Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom.

When Ned died in Jack and Jill, I sobbed my brains out. Still tightens my chest when I recall that scene.

But it was meeting Jo that let me know I wanted to be a writer. Amy burning Jo's handwritten manuscript in a fit of rage was a true tragedy. Especially in those days with no hard drive, flash drive, e-mail storage or writable CD's.

(Okay, Tanya. It was just a story. But it was based on real events of Louisa's life.)

So visiting Orchard House in Concord and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and (wait for it) Walden Pond were so on our list of things to do a year ago. Louisa was a teen when Henry David spend his landmark 22 months at the pond. They all hung out with Emerson and Hawthorne. Gosh, I'd have loved to have been a fly on a wall of the old Manse.

Or better yet, a real life person hanging out with that group.

So Louisa inspired me, still does. Thoreau taught me not to get to the end of my life and not have lived. Emerson reminded me to be selfish when the muse hits. (Although my sweet hero doesn't get that LOL.) Hawthorne, dang, he was nothing but a 19th century X-File writer.

And it was memories of that perfect autumn day at Henry David's leftover homestead that brought me through that darkest hour during my hero's ordeal. When the chemo almost killed him and he lay in an ER bed, gray and drawn and I thought he had died.

Concord rocks for another grand reason. On the rude bridge that arched the flood...was fired the shot heard 'round the world. Thank you, Ralph Waldo.

I got to say my own good-bye to all of them at Authors Ridge.

I've got some books to re-read. (Yes, I did buy another copy if Little Women at the Orchard House bookstore...as well as a LMA pen and ruler! It was a gift set.)

What a time it was. A time blazed in my memory. My heart.

Hopefully, my words.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tanya Writes About Boston: A Dream Trip before the Nightmare

Ten months ago, we lost Mike. Our kids' uncle. My hero's closest friend since age 6. My twin brother. We shared the same birthday...found that out in high school, and we celebrated more than thirty of them together.

So when he got sick, with no hope at all, my hero and I took to heart Tim McGraw's song and lived like we were dying. Last October, we took that long-longed for trip to New England to peep at leaves turning. No holds barred. For the first time ever, we didn't care how much stuff cost.

Little did we know, a month after Mike died, my hero would be diagnosed. Those visions of Boston and beyond brightened us during the dark times.

We stayed at an elegant hotel in Copley Square (yes, Copley was named for John Singleton Copley!) that hooked to shopping centers by glass-covered walkways above the street below. Trinity Church was right there...and the Public Library. We we were so close to the Public Garden that I had no trouble making way for those ducklings.

Five days in that incredible city were NOT enough. But we managed to squeeze in a game at Fenway. Our own Angels played them in the ALDS...and our kids got us tix on e-bay. Our Angels lost (Manny crushed a three-run homer over the Monster in the bottom of the ninth, thanks to my un-hero Frankie Rodriquez) but oh, just being there hearing the roar. Sweet Caroline at the 9th inning...it all rocked.

Freedom Trail. Old North Church. U.S.S. Constitution. JFK Library. Duck Tour. Beacon Hill. State House. Cheers bar. Paul Revere's homestead...we wondered why Gramma Revere got that big ol' bedroom all to herself, with 16 kids running around.

Too much more to do. So we plan a trip there next fall.

Mike would want us to.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tanya Writes About the High School Reunion

Oh, yes. We were cheerleaders, photographers, majorettes, editors, athletes, bandmembers, choristers, friends. We gathered together last weekend at a beautiful harborside hotel after all these gentle decades. (I will not reveal how many decades; suffice it to say folks displayed photos of their grandkids this time, not their offspring LOL.)

Last Friday, I still felt so ill my hero said, Maybe you better stay home. I don't mind going by myself.

I giggled back. What? Do you can hook up with the Homecoming Queen again? Besides, I reminded him. We had a hotel room, and I could take a nap if I needed to.

But I didn't. I stayed on my feet and held my own. Maybe it was happy memories, fun people, great music. Wine. I still sneezed and coughed (the cough was the worst, it came upon me Friday...after I went to the doctor on Thursday of course!) but everybody was hoarse by Sunday brunch.

The best thing about it: Everybody is still recognizable. Although hair colors have changed...as well as the amounts on top LOL.

Another best thing: A bunch of the old herd reads my books! Yowza. In fact, my business cards were the ones making the rounds for everybody else's e-mail addys and phone numbers. So hopefully my rep will spread even more.

The room was beautifully chosen, French doors opening onto the marina and beautiful springtime breeze blowing through all the well-placed windows. No big-box impersonal ballroom for us. The co-chairman Phyllis set me to work on the centerpieces. So fitting. Seashell-trimmed straw chargers with glass hurricanes, candles set in sand, surrounded by more shells and orchids. Perfect.

A hospitality suite beforehand...and dinner rocked. Salmon. I hadn't eaten much for days but this went down so easy.

Two teachers came. Our music teacher directed those of us who'd been in the choirs in the Alma Mater. (The committee had wisely printed out the lyrics again.) I had to tell our popular poetry teacher about the Williams Carlos Williams poem we studied that has never left me. The one about the plums you were saving for breakfast. Wow.

Poignant: A little memorial to those of us who now live with God. Including my twin brother Mike who will be a blog all his own...he left me last Christmas and I can barely breathe sometimes.

We had alums there all the way from Manhattan, Chicago, Minnesota, Oregon. I hit up the Manhattanite right away. Amazingly, I know right where she lives...near the UN. (We'd strolled their one night during our trip last June, struck by the charming residential architecture.)

One buddy, the class shutterbug, couldn't attend, but he sent tons of snapshots he'd taken over the years. I took a few pix from the collage to frame. As my hero told our kids, Mom looks about nine.

The former mayor of L.A. emcee'd. We girls danced in swarms. (What is it about guys who won't dance with their ladies?) And a great time was had by all.

Oh, by the way. The Homecoming Queen wasn't able to make it back here from New Orleans...she'd just been out in June visiting her family.

We missed her.

But three of the four princesses made it!

And the grand conclusion was, we don't dare wait ten more years to get together again. There's already a committee afoot for a five-year.

January 10 has already been carved in stone for a mini-gathering. Golf for the guys, bike ride for the girls. Followed by wine and whatever.

Well, enough reminiscing. I better get something done.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tanya Writes About Mourning Marley

I came down with a viral respiratory infection on Monday and keep saying I'm sick as a dog.

But it isn't true. I'm not as sick as my Marl was. She had to die.

I'm approaching the second month without her. Often when I come downstairs in the morning, I say Hi Marl, like I did for ten years. I just expect her to be lying on her favorite rug.

Now, for most of those ten years, she and the boy black Lab Seau, and the yellow girl Tawny (RIP May 2004) slept in the room with my hero and me. When he was at the firehouse, she slept on the bed. But when his ordeal started, that harrowing chemo, the snorts and sneezes and panting and farting and running against the wall just got too much for him. So we put up a baby gate. And now because of the grandbaby, it's still in place. It was a good idea; neither dog needed to run up and down the stairs any longer.

...There's a long concrete breezeway between our house and the fence. Every time I came out to load the recycle bin, Marl would wait at the end. So I'd kneel down and call her, and she'd come running with kisses. It hurts so much now just to take out the trash!

Somebody might say, what are you on about? She's just a dog.

Well, she wasn't. She was my baby, my comfort in the empty nest after our babygirl went off to college. She had a cute way of cocking her face, like she really was listening to you. And she knew when it was dinnertime; she'd come to me with a little throaty whine.

But others might say, after what you and your hero went through already this year, losing a dog to cancer was just another blow you didn't deserve.

And I kinda think those people are right. For the last couple of years, Marl had to drink purified water due to an unrelated condition. These days, I can barely walk through the grocery store without crying. All those months of buying nausea food and constipation food and Popsicles for my hero...and now the bottled water aisle too...

I do have my sweet boy dog. He's the one with ultra health issues. We actually thought we'd lose him first. But he's the independent one; we adopted him when he was about five. Marl was the cuddle-muffin who always had another dog in her life. She wouldn't have lasted long without him.

So I guess this was a backward sort of blessing.

A couple weeks ago, the grandbaby saw a dog on a Natgeo show and called out, "Morley. Morley." Oh the pup looked so much like her, black with a white muzzle. Marl always had that whiteness around her mouth; she looked like a gramma dog since she was about two.

Last weekend in the local paper, the "Pet of the Week" was a black Lab mix, Nico, with Marl's same goofy ears. As soon as I looked up, my hero said, no. Seau is enough for now.

I asked him if he misses her, and he said of course, but he knows not quite the way I do.

After all, she was my baby.

I worked on my roses one of Marl's last days on earth; she and Seau laid under the tree, on the soft grass of a perfect sunny summer day.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tanya Writes About an Amber Alert

I got this alert from a friend at myspace and since I'm a mom, I thought I better pass it on. Help if you can.

(P.S. My hero took me to the doctor today. Feeling better...)


Staff Sergeant Rick Williams
Rolla Police Department
1007 N. Elm St.

Rolla , Mo.
(573) 364-1213
Fax (573) 364-6346

Please look at the picture, read what her mother says, then forward.
Thank you!

My 13 year old girl, Ashley Flores, is missing.

She has been missing for now two weeks.

Maybe if everyone passes this on, someone will see this child.

That is how the girl from Stevens Point was found by circulation
of her picture on TV. The Internet circulates even overseas, South America , and Canada etc...
Please pass this to everyone in your address book or friends list.

With GOD on her side, she will be found.

I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE.

It is still not too late. Please help us.

If anyone knows anything, please contact me at:

I am including a picture of her.

All prayers are appreciated! ! '
It only takes 2 s econds to forward this.

If she were your child, you would want all the help you could get!

Thank you,
Melissa Mikulski

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tanya Writes About Being Sick. (It sucks.)

Well, loser Blogger still considers me spam. I am sick anyway, of it and just plain sick.

So this will be short. I caught something from the grandbaby; his mommy and daddy are down with it, too. At least Grampa, my hero, is still on his feet in case anybody needs him.

But I will rant about something else. I get google-alerts when my name shows up on any Internet search. Okay, sounds reasonable. Except I get every crap alert for ANYBODY with a name remotely like Tanya.

Tania. Tonya. Tonia. And anything Hansen. I mean, come on. An O is NOT an E.

The names don't even have to be a pair. Anything Hansen or Hanson or Tanya or Tania or Tonya or Tonia gets sent to me with any kind of first or last name attached. Can't google spell?

To make it all more fun, I get all the references to Tanya Hansen, a big porno star. At first I didn't mind because I usually get traffic to my website because of her www.tanyahanson.com. But these days, enough already. Her "floatation devices" and her "Nurse F*@k" video references aren't one single bit funny.

Well, I'm done ranting. At least sitting at the computer for a bit lets me breathe. When I lay down, everything stops up.

Arrrrgh. There won't be any picture today. I'd scare you to death. And as for dear Miss Tanya HANSEN. I don't need to clutter my already-robot infected blog with porn.

It sucks being sick. But it's nothing like my hero suffering through chemo. So in a way, this is no biggie at all.

Good-bye for now. I'm not done with Sarah Palin yet but my brain's too tired and my fingers to weak...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tanya Writes About The Paniolo

Well, my hero and I are off to the Hawaiian islands in a couple of weeks, so I looked up some info on paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboy. I’ll be featuring an in-depth blog on the subject on October 18 at Petticoats and Pistols, but thought I’d practice with a condensed version now.

If you’re like most folks, you likely think the Old West stopped at America’s Pacific Coastline. Which it does if you travel three thousand miles farther. Yes indeed, Hawaii has a cowboy history all its own. It even involves vaqueros!

Those first cowboys, Mexican vaqueros, taught Texan buckaroos how to lasso, make lariats and herd cattle. But much earlier in the 1800’s, those guys traveled across the Pacific and roped longhorns in Hawaii.

What? Longhorns in Hawaii?

Captain George Vancouver brought Hawaii’s first longhorn cattle as a gift to King Kamehameha I in 1793. Vancouver believed he’d delivered a new resource to the islands, but His Majesty imposed a ten-year kapu (restriction), making them a protected species. The animals were allowed to roam wild and breed freely.

Consequently, the herds became a nuisance, harming native vegetation and forests. Upon descending the uplands, the cows knocked down fences, trampled village gardens, and destroyed taro fields.

So vaqueros from Mexico and Portugal were imported to control the cows and teach native ranchers how to oversee the herds. The islanders called these guys paniolo. Ranchers constructed stone walls and cactus barriers to stop the foraging beasts. Tourists today sometimes view old rock walls in Hawaii and assume they’re ancient heiau (temples) or home sites. But more often than not, these rock piles are just leftover cattle walls!

Like cowboys everywhere, a paniolo relied on his horse to round up the wild pipi (cattle) from the places they shouldn’t be in a particular method called Po'o Waiu, which is now a rodeo event.

In 1908, a paniolo and rodeo champ named Ikua Purdy set the rodeo world on fire with his roping and riding skills at the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. A year ago, Purdy was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. This year, the Paniolo Preservation Society sent a large Hawaiian delegation to Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, and an exhibit featuring the Hawaiian cowboy will be on display at the Old West Museum there throughout May 2010.

In turn, Wyoming sent a reciprocal delegation to The Waiomina Centennial Celebration in August. Waiomina means Wyoming in the Hawaiian language. It’s a year’s worth of rodeos, trail rides, concerts and festivities honoring Hawaii’s cowboy and ranching culture.

2008 is designated The Year of the Hawaiian Cowboy by Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Harry Kim, mayor of Hawaii (the Big Island) County.

Today about 75 percent of the state’s cattle roam the Big Island of Hawaii. Fifth and sixth generation Hawaiian cowboys continue to raise, herd, brand, and market cattle. Parker Ranch is among the largest ranches in the United States, spanning some 150,000 acres across the Big Island. Established nearly 160 years ago, it is also one of the country’s oldest ranches.

The ranch’s story begins in 1809 when nineteen-year-old John Parker jumped the ship that brought him to Hawaii. He quickly came to the attention of King Kamehmeha I for his new, state-of-the-art American musket. The gun got John the “privilege” of being the first man allowed to shoot some of the thousands of maverick cattle wandering the island’s remote plains and valleys. Due mostly to John’s efforts, salted beef replaced sandalwood as the island’s chief export.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of aloha yee-haw. Which of these United States produces your favorite brand of cowboy? And what’s your favorite drink of choice to imbibe while you consider this important question?
(Me, I’d like a Lava Floe.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tanya Writes About LARA

Well, whereas Blogger still considers me spam (arrrrrrgh), The Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) realize I am an honest-to-goodness real person who wrote a real book.

Today was awesome. Although I don't understand why the meetings are held on Sunday mornings, (I actually like to go to church LOL), I love attending them. So many friendly, supportive people. We had a great speaker today, one of our own who delivered a handout and some helpful advice for writing action scenes...I don't have a lot of action sequences yet for my cowboys, although my first hero (Thomas/Luke in The Outlaw's Woman) had been a fictional James relative and participant in the Northfield, Minnesota Raid.

I actually had researched the raid and written a jam-packed, fact-filled action scene to start the novel when my critique partner and marvelous friend, author Charlene Sands read it and said, Hmmmmm. Let's leave this for backstory, maybe. Or a nightmare he has. And get him and the heroine meeting instead. Sound advice. Charlene is very successful, award-winning and best-selling, so I have learned to listen and take her advice.

To make a long story short, I fixed what ailed it and the book finaled in a major contest and got pubbed pretty quick...

Brix and Minda herself both tangle with outlaws in Marrying Minda but a Jackie Chan-esque scenario, uh-uh. But who knows what the future will hold. Trish Albright gave a great talk.

The Big Deal about today at LARA for me was getting treats for having sold Marrying Minda. A lovely white rose...and a gorgeous silver bracelet with one link as a tiny pink book. Now, I'm only a two-month member. The wondrous gift totally touched my heart.

That's a phrase I sometimes can't help using in my stories, and it is way apt, I think.

After that, Charlene took me to lunch for my birthday. September features my big day and I've been partying for at least three of them now. Great fun, getting presents just for getting born.

Then there's SPEW. I can't quite remember that the acronym words are, but it transpires to setting a goal today and starting tomorrow, finish that goal within the week. So I set a goal of writing 50 pages. I have a sequel in mind.

I've got one of those minds that never sleeps.

Well, I'll save a discussion of my birthday for some other day. It'll be hard blog to write, that one. For my twin brother died last Christmastime. This is my first birthday without him.

And despite the gatherings and fun, gifts and special meals, it's a tough one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tanya Writes About SPAMIAM --NOT

Apparently BLOGGER considers me spam. I established this site in January and post almost every day...

Nonetheless their "algorithm" (a word I learned on NUMB3RS...and never will understand why they think the 3 reads like an E...) thinks I Am Spam.

I am not.

Oh, it's not just me. I had to join some help line and there's a ton of whining about this. I can still post. I just have to keep adding those dumb "visual verification" weird letters/numbers.

Oooops. I mean numb3rs.

The weird thing...it happened in about 12 hours. Things were normal...and now aren't. There doesn't appear to be any human to contact about it, either. Well, as anybody can see, I'm a real person with a real face and a real e-mail address and a real website that's been extant for about five years. My website even shows up first on the web!

Anyway, if this happened to you or is happening now, I'd simply adore hearing from you.

ARRRRRGH. (Now I get to do the word verification AGAIN.)

Tanya Writes About Joe Bing

As an author, I know first hand the high standard of grammar and style publishers and readers expect. I figured that plowing through vast wastelands of student essays during my years as an English teacher had "taught" me all I needed to know.
Yet my editors always show me tons of improvements. I listen and learn.

Because I am a rule-rollower.

And I’m a good speller, so messing with words gets to me. There are phonics. There are rules!

Driving down an L.A. freeway recently, I noticed a job-search billboard. Jobing.com. It was so eye-catching. And maddening. In trying for a cute little modern term all their own, the designers used "jobing" as a gerund. JOBING. You know, an ING-word like dancing. Sleeping. Eating. Only there are rules of phonics. The single B gives the O a long sound! Joe Bing. Period.


Around here, there's a local business named for the family. Todey. Now, in any English-speaking world, that's phonetically an easy one: TOE-dy. But the disclaimers abound on their license plate holders, their ads, their stationery. "We're not "TOADy We're Toddy." Well, news for ya. It is TOADY. That "e" after a vowel give “o” a long sound.


Then there's some athlete's name I noticed during my family's fantasy football season.. Tedy Bruschi. Now, that's an easy one, too. TEEdy BROOSHee.
Only in that alternate dimension, it's TEDDY BROOSKEE.

Then there’s the recent article in our local newspaper. Social Security rolls now record 46 different spellings of the female first name McKensie. MacKenzie. et al. Forty six! As a test, my hero and I sat down and tried to come up with some possibilities. Even between the two of us, we didn't come close, although we did conclude that the apostrophe has now become a letter of the alphabet.

The most mysterious version was: M'kezine.

Might as well have named her Time, because…isn’t that actually a misspelling of magazine?

Now, I get it when SpellCheck comes up with "Pepperoni" for Pepperdine University. (I used to be a college counselor too.) But come on. M’kezine?

Here’s a brain-teaser for ya. I just read about a bohemian artist and designer who runs a great boutique, Show Pony. Her name is Kime Buzzelli.
Curious, I e-mailed her as to the pronunciaton of her first name. Does it rhyme with, well rhyme? Like time? Is it KYE-me? Kim? Kimmie?

She wrote back, said I could blog about it.

How do you think she pronounces it?

Any modern-day tweaks of grammar or spelling that make you nuts?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tanya Writes About His Christmas Angel

Well, I just have to spread my happy news. My editor at the Cactus Rose line of The Wild Rose Press asked me to think about writing a Christmas story as promo for their online reads...

So of course I took the bait. The last few days, I've worked on a 2,500 word story with a Christmas theme, using a character from my upcoming book for the Cactus Rose line, Marrying Minda.

I figured the schoolteacher Caldwell Hackett deserved a story all his own. And when I decided the heroine should be Minda's own sister...well, sparks fly and snowflakes fall.

It's a sweet tale of two broken hearts knitting up just in time for the holidays.

I'll let you know more about the release date for His Christmas Angel. I like the fact that it will be a promo both for me as an author as well as a promo for the upcoming novel. Of course, in the story there's a hint or two about Minda and the man she married to beguile you into buying the book. Which I hope you do.

So today was Merry Christmas a bit early for me this year. Happy Holidays backatcha!