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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

X Factor -- Attitude ISN'T Everything

Obviously. Not after last week's judges decision to put a pouting, fit-throwing Astro through ahead of Stacy. Sure, Astro is super talented, (although he never SINGS anything, LOL!), but to say he didn't want to sing again because America didn't think enough of him to keep him out of the bottom two? Good grief, that's ridiculous. EVERYONE will end up getting the kicked off at some point other than the winner. So apparently he expected to win and can't take anything less?

Yes, I'm willing to cut him a little slack because, after all, he's only 14. I remember our kids at that age, when they didn't excel at something, or thought they were getting slighted--pouting happens. But not on national TV, when you're very existence is riding on your attitude as well as your talent. I'm guessing the only thing that saved him was the host whispering in his ear--no doubt telling him to get a grip fast if he didn't want Simon to give him the boot.

It's kind of sad, since so many kids look up to artists who sing this type of music. I was hoping "Astro" would be a good role model, but it's not looking real hopeful.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do Some Good this Christmas Season

Imagine you're a mom of four, living with MS, still readjusting to life in the states after years spent abroad, and finally seeing a dream come true. The book you've researched for years and poured your soul into is finally, today, being released into the world. After all the struggles of moving, of helping children acclimate, of learning a new city, of juggling motherhood and family and writing, you get to celebrate the realization of a dream.

And on that same day, your doctor tells you to come in right away--you you have stage 4 T-cell lymphoma, possibly caused by the medication you've been taking for MS.

This is what happened to Sandi Rog on November 1, 2010. For the last year, Sandi has endured chemo, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant, with the hope of destroying this aggressive cancer. And then, just a few weeks before the release of her second book, new tumors were discovered near her spine that show the cancer has not succumbed the way we had all hoped.

So now, in the face of the holiday season, the Rog family finds themselves settling in for another year of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual battle as Sandi faces more treatments--one of which holds much promise but is not covered by insurance. As you can imagine, the financial cost of fighting cancer can be overwhelming, and that's why we're hosting this fundraiser.

Right now, we're in the process of soliciting and accepting donations of items we can use to create some of the most spectacular "gift baskets" ever. (The quotes are because there will likely not be any baskets used, but that phrase gives you an idea of what we're aiming for.) As items are received, we'll post here so you can see what kinds of goodies will be available for you to win starting November 25th. To purchase a raffle "ticket", donate $5 at And here's the link to the blog that has all the great items that are going to be raffled! There's literally pages of items so far, so be sure and check them all out.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving in Early America

by Elaine Marie Cooper

When we sit down at our Thanksgiving meal this month, we’ll be recreating a celebration that is as old as our country: sharing food with loved ones while thanking the God Who has provided the abundance.

While we understand that the First Thanksgiving was celebrated here by the Mayflower survivors along with the Indians that had helped them, the first official proclamation that was decreed to celebrate such a holiday was in 1777. It was a recommendation to the thirteen states by the Continental Congress to set aside December 18th that year as a “solemn thanksgiving” to celebrate the first major victory for the Continental troops in the American Revolution: the Battle of Saratoga.

The Battle of Saratoga has significant interest for my own family since one of my ancestors was a soldier there. But he was not on the American side—he was a British Redcoat. After surrendering to the Americans, he escaped the line of prisoners and somehow made his way to Massachusetts and into the life and heart of my fourth great-grandmother. *SIGH* L’amour!

This family story was the inspiration for my Deer Run Saga that begins in 1777 with The Road to Deer Run. There is an elaborate Thanksgiving meal scene in this novel as well as in the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run.

Some may wonder why such detail was afforded this holiday in my novels set in Massachusetts, while Christmas is barely mentioned. The reason is simple: Thanksgiving was the major holiday in the northern colonies, with Christmas considered nothing more special than a workday. According to Jack Larkin in his book, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, “The Puritan founders of New England and the Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania had deliberately abolished (holidays) as unscriptural.”

But Thanksgiving was begun as a way to give thanks to God for His provision. It usually began with attending church services in the morning, followed by an elaborate feast in the afternoon. The food for this meal was prepared for weeks in advance.

Since the individual state governors chose their own date to celebrate the holiday, it was theoretically possible for some family members—if they lived in close proximity—to celebrate multiple Thanksgiving meals with family and friends across state borders. The dates chosen could be anywhere from October to December, according to Dennis Picard, Director of the Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Chicken was most commonly served, said Picard, as it was readily available in the barnyard. And the oldest woman in the home had the honor of slicing the fowl for dinner.

Pies were made well in advance of the holiday and stored and became frozen in dresser drawers in unheated rooms.

“I like the idea of pulling out a dresser drawer for, say, a clean pair of socks, and finding mince pies,” said Picard, tongue in cheek.


Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fantastic Gift Basket Drawing--Celebrating a New Release

Elaine Marie Cooper, Author of "The Promise of Deer Run"
Elaine is giving away a fantastic gift basket to celebrate the release of her new book, The Promise of Deer Run (available in paperback, hardcover or ebook). 

Here are the rules: Leave a comment about the giveaway and let me know what your favorite item in the basket is to receive one entry. Subscribe to my blog or let me know you're already a subscriber, and you'll get TWO additional entries. You must tell me you're a subscriber to get the extra entries.

I'll draw my winner on Nov 18th, and give it to the blog hostess heading up the blog tour. A grand prize winner will then be drawn from the winners from each blog taking part and will be posted/notified on Nov 21. Be SURE you leave a way for us to contact you. Write your email out like this: miralee at yahoo dot com, etc.

Grand Prize (Retail Value: $297.38) Contains:
  • Basket
  • $25 Starbucks gift card  
  • Spode Christmas teapot  
  • Spode Christmas mugs   
  • Yankee candle
  • Hardbound copy The Road to Deer Run
  • Hardbound copy The Promise of Deer Run
  • Bath and Body Paris Amour scent                                                                                                                                                          
  • An Absolutely Charming Tale!
    Once again, Elaine Marie Cooper pens an absolutely charming tale of eighteenth century Americana. War, no matter the era, takes its toll on both soldiers and families. The Promise of Deer Run is a precious next story following Mary and Daniel’s story in The Road to Deer Run, picking up with Mary’s sister, Sarah a few years down the line. Be sure to read the first book too! As a historian and author, I am grateful to Elaine for her dedication to authenticity.  —Lisa Lickel,  author of A Summer in Oakville

    About The Promise of Deer Run:
    America’s war for freedom from England has been over for seven years, but the wounds of that conflict still haunt the minds and hearts of the residents of Deer Run. Young American veteran Nathaniel Stearns has withdrawn to a life of isolation as he awaits his father who never returned from the war.

    A near-tragedy in the woods brings Nathaniel face-to-face with nineteen-year-old Sarah Thomsen, someone he had long admired but he assumed had eyes for another. This chance encounter opens a crack into the door of his heart as mutual affection quickly blooms.

    But slander and lies soon mar the budding romance, rendering both Sarah and Nathaniel wounded and untrusting as their faith in both their God and each other is shattered. Set in 1790, this book continues the story of the Thomsen and Lowe families as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the war that birthed the United States.
  • The Road to Deer Run won the following honors:
    • Finalist: 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
    • Honorable Mention: 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival
    1. Best Romantic Moment:, February 2011
I was given a complimentary copy of the book to read for a future review, but the publisher or author did not pay me to take part in this tour.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Always Remember--An Article from Romania

We rarely get a chance to see another country's editorial about the USA

Read this excerpt from a Romanian Newspaper ....  The article was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title 'C'ntarea Americii, meaning 'Ode To America ') in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei 'The Daily Event' or 'News of the Day'.

An Ode to  America ~
Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color!  They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.

On 9/ll, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart.   Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers.  Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts.   Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to just gape about.

Instead the Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.

After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag.  They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing.  On every occasion, they started singing: 'God Bless
   America !'

I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being?

Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes.  And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put into collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.  What on earth unites the Americans in such a way?  Their land?  Their history?  Their economic Power?  Money?   I tried for hours  to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace, I thought things over, I reached but only one conclusion... Only freedom can work such miracles.
Cornel Nistorescu

(This deserves to be passed around the Internet forever). It took a person on the outside - looking in - to see what we take for granted !


Friday, November 4, 2011

Are You Ready for Winter?

Can you believe Thanksgiving is approaching and daylight savings time ends tomorrow night? Where has the summer gone? And did we really even have a fall? Our summer hers in the Pacific NW didn't kick in until July 15th...two months later than normal, and it ended toward the latter part of Sept. I'm hearing rumblings of heavy snows and even hints that we could see some white stuff drifting down over the next few nights. 

I'll admit...I'm NOT a winter lover. Give me 12 months of spring, summer and fall...let's just avoid winter all together, shall we? 

At least I was able to find time this year to bed all my rose bushes with bark chips, something I didn't do last year, and I lost four plants as a result. We still need to dig up the rest of our potatoes, drain a pump in our pond, and a couple of other little things before icy cold hits.

How about you? Are you looking forward to winter? Running away to warmer weather instead? Staying home, snuggling down in front of a fire and don't care if it snows? Or are you a snow bunny heading for the ski slopes? What do you to to get you through the long, dreary days of winter?

I'd love to hear from you, and if you have any great ideas to cheer up a person who does NOT enjoy winter, send them my way!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Exciting News!!

I'm blessed beyond measure!! Last month I signed a three-book contract for a new historical romance series, with the David C. Cook Co. I'm extremely excited to be working with such a solid publishing house, and can't wait to get started. My first book currently titled Katherine's Hope is due to my editor on June 1st, and releases exactly a year later, in 2013. It's a long ways to wait for the first book, but after that, the next two release just 6 months apart. 

Katherine's Hope is set in the late 1870's in Baker City, Oregon, and is part womens' fiction, part romance. Here's the opening scene (as it stands now) to give you a tiny taste of what's coming. 

Baker City, Oregon
Late June, 1879

Katherine Galloway’s soft breath sent the dandelion fluff dancing on the warm current of air, but it didn’t bring the anticipated relief. Gripping the stem, she sat in the grassy field with her eyes closed and waited. Why didn’t it come? It had always appeared when she needed it before. How many years had it been? Ten? Fifteen?
She shook her head and a loosened curl scraped her cheek. More. Many more years. But always her mind returned to those times when the dandelion fluff had carried her away to a place where mothers were loving and kind, and little girls didn’t need to be afraid of cutting words.
            Had she ever known a time like that, other than in her dreams? She’d thought she had, but now she knew. It was all an illusion, just like the sunbeams glinting off the tiny bits of white settling to the ground. Seeds, that’s all they were. Seeds that brought unwanted weeds when they matured. Just like her life.
Unwanted. Unwelcome. Unsung.
At least by the one person who mattered the most while growing up. Her mother.
She pushed to her feet, letting the dandelion stem dangle from her fingers. There was no fantasy world where thirty-two-year-old women, or little girls for that matter, could ride the dandelion fluff and become someone they weren’t. No. It was time to put the past behind her. Mama was coming to stay at her house, and somehow Katherine had to survive.
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