Monday, December 18, 2017

The Chronicles of Luna City by Celia Hayes ends December 25th

Please welcome Celia Hayes to my blog. Celia is graciously giving away a copy of The Chronicles of Luna City. Leave a comment about Celia's post to be entered. Don't forget to leave your email addy and let me know if you are a FeedBurner follower for an extra entry.

The Fairy Star – Lotta Crabtree

Like many another performer who achieved super-star status by performing before audiences in California, Lotta Crabtree, the famed signing and dancing 19th century child star arrived from somewhere else – in her case, New York. Her parents had emigrated from the British Isles sometime in the 1840s; her father had a trade as a bookseller, by which one can surmise a degree of literacy and interest in the wider culture. John Ashworth and Mary Ann Livesey Crabtree named their baby daughter Charlotte Mignon, when they were blessed with a little shoot off the family tree in 1847. Four years later, John – seeking fortune and adventure – took ship to San Francisco, to join in the Gold Rush. Alas, by that time, most of the easily-made fortunes had already been made; late-comers to the gold mines either had to be insanely lucky or able to finance extensive and deep-rock or hydraulic mining ventures. John Crabtree had neither luck nor deep pockets. By the time his wife and daughter followed him in 1852, he had already given up on striking it rich. Legend has it that he was not on the San Francisco dock to meet them when they arrived. Undeterred, Mary Ann and the five-year old Charlotte found friends to stay with, while they awaited word from John. Eventually a message arrived; they should join him in the boom-town of Grass Valley, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Sensibly, he had given up on mining gold and resolved on a course of mining it from the gold miners by running a boarding house. In the
biographies of Charlotte ‘Lotta’ Crabtree that I can locate, this is last life-significant decision he may have made regarding his daughter. From then on, Mary Ann ruled Charlotte’s life and career choices – establishing herself as the first and possibly the most successful of California stage mothers to date. Mary Ann encouraged her red-haired, dark-eyed little daughter in learning songs and performing long sentimental ballads, playing the old-fashioned minstrel-show banjo and enlarging on a large repertoire of dance moves; Irish jigs, a little ballet, fandangos and soft-shoe, Highland flings and reels. The child was a born entertainer. For some years she was encouraged in her performing inclinations by a neighbor, the notorious adventuress and dancer Lola Montez – born Eliza Gilbert, fresh from a turn as the official mistress of the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, and eventually to travel on to Australia to perform in gold camps there. Mary Ann must have been terribly broadminded for a respectable married woman of that time to even consider the notorious Lola as suitable company, but women were still few and far between in the gold camps – and Mary Ann gives the impression of being a deeply practical woman.
One story has it that when Lola tired of Grass Valley, and decided to go tour the Australian gold fields as a performer, she wanted Lotta to come with her – but of course Lotta’s parents would not permit that. This offer confirmed that the kid had talent, though. Mary Ann – likely tiring of the sheer drudgery involved in keeping a boarding house – had no reservations about her child performing in public. The Crabtree family moved to another gold camp, Rabbit Creek, where a local tavern-keeper, one Mart Taylor, often hosted traveling dramatic groups, singers, and musicians in his business. Lotta Crabtree made her professional debut there at the age of six, dressed in in a green long-tailed coat, knee-britches, a tall green top-hat and brandishing a miniature shillelagh. She sang and danced an Irish jig … this brought down the house, and a rain of coin and gold nuggets. While there were a handful of other performing children touring the gold camps at this time, Lotta outshone the rest by far.
For two or three years, Lotta, her parents and two younger brothers, toured the gold camps; a kind of 19th century Shirley Temple and every bit as popular. Mary Ann turned out to be a hard-headed and scrupulously careful manager of her daughter’s fame and money. By the end of the decade, the family had moved back to San Francisco – a base from which Lotta continued touring and performing. Having conquered the West, the family returned East, where Lotta continued to perform to rapturous applause and tour with her own company. She performed in roles especially written for her; lively, petite, given to performing in male clothing and daring to smoke slender black cigars. By any standards she was attractive, and had many admirers and brief romances. Lotta spent the rest of her life in comfort and mild luxury, dabbling in painting, charitable work and foreign travel. Mary Ann had cannily invested the takings from Lotta’s theatrical performances in bonds and real estate – generating wealth sufficient to support the family when Lotta retired from performing at the age of 45. Her fortune was estimated at 4 million dollars when she died in 1924. She had never married, although after her death, a woman claimed that she was Lotta’s daughter, raised by foster parents, and had a right to a share of Lotta’s estate. The claimant insisted that Lotta had secretly married and given birth during a short residence in England, a claim rejected by the courts. Lotta’s fortune went where it was intended to go – to a charitable trust to benefit aging actors, animals, and veterans – and that was that.
A fabulously ornate cast-iron fountain still stands in San Francisco’s Market Street – a landmark funded entirely by Lotta Crabtree, and donated to the city in the 1870s. Thirty years later, it was a recognizable landmark in the aftermath of the great earthquake which reduced a large part of the city to rubble, and served as a place for survivors to gather, seeking word of other survivors. Lotta’s Fountain remains the oldest surviving monument in the city where she came as a child, and left as a star.
(Note – Lotta and her mother are supporting characters in my novel of the Gold Rush – The Golden Road, wherein the teenaged hero serves as a stage hand and body-guard for Lotta and her mother, as they tour the gold camps. I thought that Mary Ann was at least as interesting a character as Lotta; practical, level-headed and competent.)

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment about Celia's post to be entered to win The Chronicles of Luna City.

About Celia:
Celia Hayes spent twenty years as a military broadcaster in the Air Force, before retiring in San Antonio, Texas. She contributes to a variety of on-line magazines and websites and in 2012 became the owner of a small boutique publishing firm, Watercress Press. She is the author of thirteen novels set on the 19th century American frontier, and co-author with her daughter, Jeanne Hayden, of the Luna City Chronicles, a series of contemporary comic novels about life in a small South Texas town. She currently lives in San Antonio with her daughter and an assortment of dogs and cats, and her literary website is at and at

My latest releases are two rather different books: the fifth in the Luna City series, which is modern-day rural comedy –
The other book is a classic western adventure aimed at tween and teen boys – Lone Star Glory,

Monday, December 11, 2017

3 books by Autographed books by Anne Greene ends December 18

Please Welcome Anne back to my blog. Anne is giving away 3 autographed books so be sure to read on down on how to enter. Don't forget to leave your email address and if you are a feedburner follower be sure to let me now for a second entry.  


Felicity advertised for a husband and received a great many responses. She and her late father’s friend, Jed, go to dinner together at the boardinghouse.

“Say, what about that feller who’s staying in the downstairs corner bedroom? I’ve been studyin’ him, and he seems like a good Christian man. I see him at church every Sunday.”

She frowned. “I don’t know. There’s something about him that irritates me every time I see him.” And why not? Ben had not so much as walked her to the new church after she’d dropped a wagonload of hints. Those sky-blue eyes barely acknowledged her when he breezed into the general store to buy provisions. Ben had only gotten excited when she dropped everything dear Mrs. Baxter ordered into a jumbled pile in front of the sweet lady, and rushed to wait on him.

But he’d gotten plenty animated choosing which gold-mining pan he wanted. He’d chosen one of each. She sighed. He hadn’t picked up on her hint of the picnic lunch, the carriage ride, or the pie auction. She’d spent all her spare time baking that pie. Ben had no interest in her.

“The feller’s tall. He’s so clean and brown, looks like he’s been scrubbed with saddle soap. But you ask him where he’s from and where he’s aheadin’, he turns as dangerous as being’ up a creek with a grizzly. But otherwise, he’s right smart to talk with.”

“Perhaps that’s why I don’t like him.” Or more likely because he ignored her smiles and attempts at revealing her interest.

“But jist take another look. He favors one of them men in a mail-order catalogue.”

“Oh, he’s handsome all right, with that dark, wavy hair and those brooding blue eyes. But he gives the impression he’s not interested in land in the Oregon Territory. He’s got Gold Rush Fever.

What a happy day for her if she could order a man out of the catalogue. A mail-order groom. That’s what she needed. One who fit all her criteria. She could check off all the things she wanted in a man…and mail him back if he didn’t suit her needs. She thinned her lips. But, darn if she wouldn’t order one who looked just like Benjamin.

She and Jed entered the dining room. Every chair at the double-trestle table held someone except for three empty seats at the far end. Jed seated her and hunkered down across from her, leaving the chair at the end for whoever came in late.

She glanced around the table. Of course, the missing boarder had to be the dar-haired cowboy. “Do you recall his name?” She’d already gone so far as to embroider his name on her pillow slips. Well, Papa always said, ‘Dreams never amount to much. Just get your hopes high until someone comes along and stomps them into the ground.’ Still, a blue-embroidered BEN on her pillow winked at her each night before she closed her eyes.

“Ben Bonneville. Cain’t think why I didn’t mention him to you as a possible. Seems to me he fits the bill, unless he’s on the doge from the law.” Jed glanced over his shoulder at the door. “Here he comes. Now don’t you go acting as prim as a preacher’s wife at a prayer meetin’. I’m thinkin’ this Benjamin might be jist the man we’re alookin’ fer.”

Felicity’s cheeks heated. Too bad Ben didn’t think so.

How about you?
Felicity Daniels was on her way to homestead the free land in the Oregon Territory when her

father died less than half way there. Would you have had the courage to pursue your dream,

though it meant advertising for a husband?

Scores of were eager to sign on as a husband to receive an all-expenses-paid journey to a new land, plus 240 acres.

If you had been there, how would you have decided on what special man to choose for a husband?

Anne is giving away an autographed copy of Avoiding The Mistletoe, and an autographed copy of A
Texas Christmas, and an autographed copy of A Christmas Belle. Answer one of the questions above to be entered in the giveaway!

About Anne:
My home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. My dear husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. My little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares my writing space, curled at my feet. I have four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep me running. ANNE GREENE BIO

I’ve traveled in every location of each book I’ve written, and each book is a book of my heart. Besides my first love, writing, I enjoy travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” Whether writing contemporary or historical, my books celebrate the abundant life Jesus gives.

I’ve written several other novellas. AVOIDING THE MISTLETOE, is included in the Mistletoe, Jingle Bells, and Second Chances Collection. My novella KEARA’S ESCAPE is included in the Orphan Train/Spinster Collection. DAREDEVILS is included in the North Carolina, 50 States Collection. SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE is included in the Wyoming, 50 States Collection. A CHRISTMAS BELLE, is included in the Christmas Mail Order Angels anthology. THE MARRIAGE BROKER AND THE MORTICIAN is included in The California Gold Rush Romance Collection. My novellas, A FOOL FOR LOVE, A GROOM FOR CHRISTMAS, and A TEXAS CHRISTMAS MYSTERY are stand-alone novellas.

Moody Press published my first book, TRAIL OF TEARS. I love writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. My Women of Courage series spotlights heroic women of World War II. You might want to begin with the first book ANGEL WITH STEEL WINGS. Read my private investigating series, Handcuffed In Texas. The first book is RED IS FOR ROOKIE. Enjoy my award-winning Scottish historical romances, MASQUERADE MARRIAGE and MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT. I hope my stories transport you to awesome new worlds and touch your heart to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Buy my books on Anne Greene.


Monday, December 4, 2017

USA Word Finds by Vickie Mcdonough ends 12/11

Please welcome my good friend, Vickie McDonough, to my blog this week. Leave a comment to be entered to win USA Word Finds!

Writers tend to be creative people, in more ways than just one. When I’m not writing, I like doing artistic-type things, even though I can’t draw a box. For years, I’ve done cross-stitch projects. I dabbled in graphic design and also stained glass, making several pieces. I also repurpose small furniture pieces to sell in my booth at an antique mall.

Early last year, I turned in my last contracted book to my publisher after writing several stories in a short time period. I can’t say that I was burnt out, but I was tired and ready to do something different while still being creative. I watched some webinars on creating puzzle books and decided to try my hand at that.

I’ve always liked word search puzzles so I started with one of those. I decided on a USA theme then set about making over 75 word lists, all centered around United States topics, places or people. Once I had the words lists done, I put each list into a word search generator to make the puzzle. Then I had to compile them all in a book. It turned out to be more work than I’d thought, and the two-month project turned into an eight-month one. In my defense, I did have surgery in the midst of it, so that set me back a bit. I learned a lot through the process, so next time I create a word search, it shouldn’t take nearly as long. Here’s the cover of my “baby.”

Insert USA Word Find cover here

Next, I wanted to try my hand at a coloring book, but there was that little issue of not being able to draw. I settled on making a coloring book about mandalas, which are geometric repetitive shapes. The ones I used had thick, dark lines, which gave me the idea of incorporating the stained glass theme. Once one of the pictures is colored, it will resemble a stained glass image. I also incorporated vignettes of stained glass history, techniques and tools on every other page to make it educational as well as relaxing.

This book was much easier to create, since I’d already learned how to put a book together on the first project. Also, my skills in Photoshop are improving at a snail’s pace, so that made creating the cover slightly easier. Here’s the cover of my Stained Glass Mandalas book.

Insert Stained Glass Mandalas cover here

There was quite a big learning process in these two projects, but I’m glad I stuck to it and didn’t quit. I enjoyed doing something different and being creative in a different way. For those of you wondering if I’ll have more fiction books out, the answer is yes. Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers release in March. I can’t tell you what’s coming next though, because I’ve started packing for a move, but I predict I’ll find something creative to do before long.

Insert Seven Brides cover here

About Vickie: Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is a best-selling author of more than 45 published books and novellas, with over 1.5 million copies sold. Her novels include End of the Trail, winner of the OWFI 2013 Booksellers Best Fiction Novel Award. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Gabriel’s Atonement, book 1 in the Land Rush Dreams series, placed second in the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award. Vickie has recently stepped into independent publishing.

Vickie has been married for forty-two years to Robert. They have four grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and a precocious granddaughter. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, doing stained glass, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:

Buy link for USA Word Find:
Buy link for Stained Glass Mandalas:
Buy link for Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers: