Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tanya Writes About Marrying Minda at Amazon already

Yee haw!

Although the official release date at The Wild Rose Press is June 5, Marrying Minda is already available at Amazon.com. Be still my heart.

Now comes the time of roiling emotions: terror and elation. Wish me luck.

Here's a sneak preview: Mail-order bride Minda Becker arrives in Paradise, Nebraska and eagerly marries the handsome man who meets her stagecoach. His wedding kiss melts her toes. Too bad he's the wrong bridegroom. Cowboy Brixton Haynes can't deny he'd like a wedding night with the eastern beauty, but the last thing he needs is to be saddled with a wife and the three children his brother left behind. First chance he gets, he'll be back point riding along the Goodnight. But leaving Minda proves to be much harder than he expected.

In my opinion, Brixton Haynes is a total hottie


Night fell soft and silent, and the snuffles of Norman Dale’s livestock comforted Brixton with memories of the trail. Lord, he couldn’t wait to get back.
Habit had him walk quiet as he could from the barn to the house. Even the tiniest noise sparked stampedes on the trail, so his footsteps were cautious wherever he went.

At the back porch, he set down Minda’s valises and paused to peek in the back window. Her lush curves swayed beneath the simple dress as she readied the children for bed, and he couldn’t fill his vision fast enough. The memory of her soft sweet cheek brushed his fingertips once more, and his heart raced and his groin throbbed. It was the heartbeat he didn’t like; a man desiring a beautiful woman was just what a man did. But a galloping heart might mean a man felt something deep inside.

Even worse, night after night alone on the trail, he’d keep seeing her shining hair sweep across Ned’s shoulders while she kissed the top of the lad’s head. So he pulled out his flask and drank deeper. It was too much like having a family of his own, something he swore he never needed. Suddenly he missed his brother more than he’d missed anything.

Until this minute, he had never felt shy about coming through this door without a knock. His wife’s current disposition gave him pause, but he had goods to deliver and damn, the kids just might like one of his good-night songs. His tongue clicked. Truth to tell, his bride would think him nothing but a rowdy bridegroom wanting a tumble between the sheets. Already she’d tried to disgrace him by letting a room at the boardinghouse just for herself.

Another long hard swig consoled his throat as it emptied his flask. Damn woman.

Don't forget to join me at Petticoats and Pistols (it's a fabulous place to visit every day but my next blog is June 3)...and visit my website. I'm getting some Minda contests ready to go with chances to win a copy.

Whew. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tanya Writes About Memorial Day...and our fallen heros

Some years ago, I happened to be in Europe on my post-college graduation "grand tour" when I saw it, a cemetery/battlefield dedicated to fallen American soldiers. White white crosses went on forever and ever. My heart ached and tugged with all those emotions we writers are supposed to include in our stuff. Because it was Memorial Day and the graves fluttered with endless little American flags.

Since then, I try to get to our local cemetery at this time every year. I don't know anybody asleep there, but a thousand full-size flags dedicated to local veterans
line the roads of the cemetery, and almost every grave is decorated. I try to find the tombstone of a veteran that isn't and lay some home-grown flowers on him. A top memory is getting to help raise those flags with my daughter's Girl Scout troop some years ago. It's quite a sight, seeing the flags blow in the ocean winds of our community.

But as a little girl, when Memorial Day was actually celebrated on May 30 no matter the day of the week, we mostly picnicked and had fun. Hordes of relatives gathered at the lake for a one-day barbecue. This year, even with the three-day-weekend now, we're staying close to home. That's good though, for I'll be able to make it to the cemetery and find another forgotten vet.

In 1868, a day of remembrance for those who lost their lives serving America was proclaimed by General John A. Logan to honor soldiers and sailors lost in the Civil War. On May 30, flowers were placed on their graves at Arlington Cemetery, and the custom spread on as "Decoration Day" every year.

Southern states apparently refused to recognize the day and honored their dead separately until after World War 1 when the holiday was changed to include all of America's fallen from any war.

(It is said a celebration in 1866 in Waterloo, NY, commemorating Northern troops fallen in the Civil War may have preceded the first "Decoration Day.")

Until 1971, Memorial Day was always observed on May 30...then Congress passed the National Holiday Act establishing three-day weekends for federal workers. Rather than remain a day to recognize and honor those "who gave all," the day has become the harbinger of summer, a three-day barrage of special retail sales and coupons. Camp outs and higher gas prices. A time of picnics and beer and beaches.

However you spend the day, let's not forget those men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. And for those still on the fields of war, let's pray God brings them safely home again.

All gave some...but some gave all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tanya Writes About The Elvis Presley Sweet Gum...and others

Howdy. I hope you made it to my blog on hangin' trees at Petticoats and Pistols yesterday. We all had great fun, and the pix are gorgeous. Too bad it's such a sucky subject.

With everybody responding on trees, I just found it adorably coincidental when the morning paper yesterday featured Pack 3663's Wolf Den 5 of Simi Valley, California. To fulfill the requirements to earn the World Conservation Award, the guys planted trees honoring famous people and events that are figureheads of American history and culture.

Andrew Jackson Southern Magnolia
Dwight D. Eisenhower Green Ash
Clara Barton Redbud
Gettysburg Address Honey Locust (top photo)
an Elvis Presley Sweetgum
(bottom photo)

It gladdened my heart. I'm kind of a tree-hugger anyway. When friends knocked down half a dozen mature trees to build a new house (had they placed the house differently, the trees could have lived), I felt grief. Dang, trees are our friends. Sentinels against bad weather. Homes for birds...they produce the air we breathe, give us shade and fruit.

My heart still beaks upon seeing old photographs of Lake Tahoe's gorgeous forests stripped bear to provide timber to support the Comstock mines, and giant Sequoias (couple thousand years old) cut down by 19th century lumberjacks just so a single slice could be displayed back east still breaks my heart.

What's with that? Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

And when my hero and I visited Walden Pond, we learned most of the trees had been cut down mid-19th century to provide fuel for the steam train whose tracks border the pond. Henry David must have wept.

Anyway, the Boy Scouts have it right. Go plant a tree!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tanya Writes About Hanging Trees

Oh, things pile up so in my little corner of the world. Last week saw us four days away from home with wedding plans for our daughter (the first fitting, sigh), an Angel baseball game, and family birthdays...all of which was great fun but put me behinder than ever.

I've got a cool blog going on Wednesday, May 20, at Petticoats and Pistols...on hangin' trees. Finaling in the Hearts Through the Ages Contest with Outlaw Bride, a wip about a horse thief heroine who saves herself from such a tree, inspired some research, and Professor Ken Gonzales-Day of Scripps College kindly lent me some pictures to post. Here's one of them.

To see more, and to find out about these famous, not-so-famous, and infamous trees, stop by Petticoats. It's a great place to hang out with other Western aficionados.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tanya Writes About The English Language

Well, I'm still pretty darn excited about finaling in that contest. What a way to finish up a difficult week. Follow that with Mom's Day with my family --my ultimate group of people, and life these days is pretty much perfect. Other than missing my pup, of course.

Since I spent quite a few years teaching high school English, I got a kick out of the following ten examples of the intricacies --and nuttiness-- of the English language. Just had to pass them along.

And thanks to the May 2009 issue of Friends of the Blanchard Library newsletter, Santa Paula, California.

We wonder why the English language is so difficult to learn:

1. We polish the Polish furniture.

2. The dove dove into the bushes.

3. The insurance for the invalid was invalid.

4. I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

5. The bandage was wound around the wound.

6. A farm can produce produce.

7. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

8. She could lead if she would get the lead out.

9. The soldier decided to desert in the desert. (Was this before or after he had dessert LOL?)

10. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

And here's one of my own. This word has floored me since I was little.

Can the garbage collecter refuse my refuse?

Enjoy! Oh, and I just stuck the Little Women cover in because it's far and away my favorite book and Louisa May Alcott just knows how to use the English language.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tanya Writes About the Romance Through The Ages Contest

Well, even in my grief, I got some happy news this past week. I finaled in the Historical Division of a prestigious romance fiction contest with a wip called Outlaw Bride.

The Romance Through the Ages Contest is sponsored by the Romance Writers of America special interest romance group, Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Sadly, I must miss the congratulatory breakfast during the national convention this summer in Washington DC.

In this story, horsethief Jessy Belle Perkins, little sister of the infamous Ahab Perkins mentioned in Marrying Minda, saves herself from her own hanging...and tries to hide out as a nun.

Although his heart has been seared by the slaughter of his Apache bride, Cleeland Redd --call him Redd-- finds himself drawn to the injured "sister"...until he uncovers her crimes. Yet wedding up with her is the only way to keep the convent safe. Much less Jessy Belle.

Anyway, two of the judges gave me perfect scores, and a third left some comments in case I want to polish things up for the ultimate judging later this month.

Wish me luck!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tanya Writes About, well, Dogs

In my heart, they left me too soon. In my head, they were both in their doggie seventies and had lived good, long lives. But it's lonely. Every evening at five-thirty, my inner alarm says it's time to feed the dogs. There's no Marl any more to lay at my feed. No Seau lying noble and elegant in the sunshine while I garden.

No more romps in the park. In fact, since Seau passed, I've walked to the park several times and sat on the bench, just feeling the breeze in the trees and remembering him loping across the grass free and easy, like the young pup he once was. But at the end, he was losing the function of his back legs. And Marl...that sudden cancer, inoperable, inexorable, that took her from us last August still seems surreal. A hundred times a day I hear their tails slapping happily on our wood floors.

My friend Helen told me about the prayer below. I couldn't help passing it along because I know my babies are sitting at God's feet about now, and His hand is petting their heads.

But how I miss them at my side, miss them at my feet, miss them in my heart.

A Dog’s Prayer
By Beth Norman Harris

Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps falls upon my waiting ear.

When it is cold and wet, please take me inside, for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements. And I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land, for you are my god and I am your devoted worshiper.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life should your life be in danger.

And, beloved master, should the great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest - and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tanya Writes About Her Canine Angel, Seau

My Seau became a canine angel Monday morning at eleven...my brave hero took him because I just couldn't. And at that same moment, I got this Facebook post from my friend Sherryl. She knows my Seau well; she'd been his groomer for years now. It wasn't just Fate that had me read this, just then. It was God, and love, and all that is good.

It was weird this morning, waking up and automatically going to the crock full of dog bones. But there was relief too, not hearing his gasps, not watching him try to get across the floor with his front legs. As my grandbaby said, last time he was here and saw Seau's tail wag: He's better now.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them..

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.. 'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.' The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveler asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveler gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' the traveler asked.

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveler said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tanya Writes About Her Darling Dog

Ditsy Tanya's Almanac #13

If your dog leaves you, he won't take half your stuff. --Cyberspace

But he will take most of my heart.

My beautiful boy Seau is dying, and he's the only one that doesn't know it. The hip displasia has taken a horrific toll, crippling his backside. The strain on his upper body has lately caused dreadful gasping and choking and upchucking and accidents in the house because he can't drag himself outside.

Last night was the worst, and my hero told me softly this morning before church, I think it's time now.

I don't want to believe it, think it, decide it! Because some days he's still so darn strong. Hardly ever though. And he's still so darn beautiful.

We adopted him when he was about five, the vet said. From the boarding school where I'd been on staff. With a new headmaster coming on board that fall, it was decided by all who loved the two campus black Labs that the pups would be better off at the homes of those they'd bonded with best...rather than left to the mercy of a man with a bad reputation who turned out to be even worse than imagined.

So Seau, always my own true dog, came home with me. He fit in like the outer edge of an Oreo cookie with our yellow Lab girl Tawny (RIP 2004, a sudden cancer) and black Lab girl, Marley.

Marley left us suddenly last August to another devastating cancer. There was no hope, no cure. And after those months of my hero's own battle with cancer, the surreality hung over us for along time after she passed. So this decision has been brutal because, as I said before, some days Seau's a bit stronger. His eyes are so bright. He's taken glocosamine his whole life with us, and lately we tried expensive shots and pills, but Nature and Time have taken their toll.

Last weekend the grandbaby was here, cuddling the big black dog he used to call "Sia" last summer when he really was still a baby. He looked right at me and announced with the authority of a 2 1/2 year old. "Seau's sick. But he's better now."

So we took another slew of pictures of them together, because any day it would be time.

Time. How my heart breaks. But he's a grand dog who deserves to preserve his dignity. Pooping in the house doesn't quite cut it.

And he does have his two "sisters" waiting for him at the Rainbow Bridge. Somehow, because God is good, I know I'll hear a faint bark from above sometimes, letting me know he loves me still.

And he'll peek down and see an empty dog bed because we'll be going petless for a while. The heart can only bear so much.

Good night, sweet prince.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tanya Writes About Preventing Swine Flu

A bit of levity today....our daughter's upcoming wedding date has started all the urgent details that must be done now. Inbetween, I'm finishing a book, getting my body and recently-repaired foot in shape, taking care of spring gardening, and spending as many hours as possible with the grandbaby. Oh, his mommy and daddy are so generous. I'll be getting the Thomas the Train excursion blogged on soon.

Well, back to swine flu. I'm not minimizing flu...although I prefer to call it H1N1 and I am fond of the piglet species. Two of our local schools have closed for TWO weeks. So to relax everybody, I just couldn't resist passing along this adorable pictorial hint I got from a friend.

Enjoy! And keep well.