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Archive for December, 2023

December into January (Contest)
Sunday, December 31st, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Diane Sallans!



  1. I continued to work on Malcolm (Book #10 of Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT).
  2. I completed 5 editing projects for other authors in December.
  3. I didn’t write a lot in December, between the craft fair and getting ready for the holiday/having kids underfoot, but I don’t care. It was a fun month!


  1. I have been concentrating on drinking more water, plus, I added drinking water mixed with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar twice a day to improve my liver health. It’s weird, but after the first couple of times of drinking it while wrinkling my nose, I actually like it.
  2. I’ve managed to keep my blood pressure down to 135-155, despite the holiday excesses.


  1. I finished some last items for the Christmas craft fair and participated in early December. It was so much fun!
  2. Here are some examples of things I completed before the fair. And yes, I painted tags for potholder sets. 🙂


Malcolm (Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT Book 10) What Happens in Bozeman

For work-related, I plan:

  1. To complete writing Malcolm, my next Montana Bounty Hunters book and publish it!
  2. To begin work on What Happens in Bozeman, my next We are Dead Horse, MT, book!
  3. To complete 4 editing projects in January!

For health related, I plan:

  1. To start back on my Weight Watchers diet, because it’s time to get serious!
  2. To continue to reduce salt, processed food, and incorporate foods good for blood pressure (spinach, broccoli, bananas) and my liver (apple cider vinegar, flax seeds, sunflower seeds).
  3. To pay attention to my daily steps, trips up and down the stairs, and to incorporate some chair exercises and more walking.
  4. To do more housework because my art room isn’t finished! Cleaning is exercise, too.

For happiness-related, I plan: 

  1. To participate in the Gel Print January challenge where I’ll be making painted pages for collaging—at least one every day!
  2. To assume the presidency of the local art guild, much as I don’t want to, but someone’s got to keep the organization going!


Comment on anything you’ve read in this post. Tell me what you’re doing to make yourself happier and healthier, or tell me what you plan to read in January…
Like I said, comment on anything for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Saturday Puzzle-Contest: Undersea Fantasy (Contest)
Saturday, December 30th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Pamela Reveal!

All of the family is heading to the movie theater today—after we walk all the dogs, feed and water the chickens, geese, guineas, goats and horse. It’s rare we all head out very far away because of the animals and everyone’s schedules, but we’re heading to see the new Aquaman movie! And yes, I could care less about the middling reviews. It’s Jason Momoa!

So, while we’re heading to eat a quick meal at a pizza buffet, followed by the movie, I’ll leave you with a puzzle! Something to share my excitement.

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, solve the puzzle, and then tell me what movie you’d love to see on the big screen!

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Unbowed by the Tyranny of a Single Story – Sarah J. Smith Thompson Garnet (Contest)
Friday, December 29th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…BN!

The firstborn of Sylvanus and Anne Smith’s eleven children, Sarah was born on July 31, 1831, in the now historic Black Brooklyn neighborhood of Weeksville. Her father was one of Weeksville’s founders and one of the few black men who could vote because he had $250 in property. Both Sarah and her sister Susan were firsts in African American history in New York. Sarah became the first African American female to serve as a principal of a public school. Her sister Susan was the first African American female in New York State to receive a medical degree.

When Sarah was fourteen, she began her career as a teaching assistant. In 1854, she taught at the African Free School of Williamsburg (Brooklyn). By the time she retired from teaching in 1900, she served for thirty-seven years as a principal. First at Colored School No. 7 in Manhattan in 1863 then as principal for both Colored School No. 4 and Public School No. 80 in 1866. She used her position to help other African American women in the teaching profession. She signed a letter of support to the Board of Education on behalf of a teacher, Ms. G.F. Putnam, for her appointment to the position of Head of Department in Public School No. 83.

In addition to teaching, Sarah was an active suffragist. She founded the Equal Suffrage League in Brooklyn, the first suffrage club for African American women. She also headed the suffrage department of the National Association of Colored Women. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont reached out to Sarah in 1910 to see if African American women might be interested in joining her suffrage club, The Political Equality Association. The answer was no, as many white women’s suffrage movements did not focus on civil rights issues important to all African Americans, like lynching. In 1911, Sarah’s activism took her to England with her sister Susan to the first Universal Races Congress, where Susan delivered a paper on African American women.

It comes as no surprise that Sarah also had an entrepreneurial spirit. She owned and ran her own seamstress shop from 1883 to 1911.

Sarah married twice. First to Episcopal minister Samuel Thompson (often mistakenly cited as Tompkins) who died in 1852. They had one daughter who lived to adulthood. In 1875, she wed Presbyterian minister and abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet who died in 1882.

Sarah died at home in Brooklyn in 1911. Noted African Americans W.E.B. DuBois and Addie Waites Hunton spoke at her memorial service.

Having grown up in Brooklyn, I knew more about her sister Susan Smith McKinney, but Sarah’s pioneering work in the New York City public school system has gained prominence thanks to the HBO series The Gilded Age.

Too often the ordeal of slavery is the only lens through which African American history is seen. Sarah Smith Thompkins Garnet’s story shows how free blacks in the North used their own advocacy and agency to build resilient African American communities.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card share your thoughts on Sarah’s life in the comments.

Better To Marry Than To Burn by Michal Scott

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt from Better to Marry than to Burn:

Of the men attending the meeting, thirty plunked down ten dollars for a chance at a wife. Twelve signed “I’m leaving” pledges. Caesar would do neither. His new beginning couldn’t be left up to chance, not now that staying took on a grander meaning.

Forty women arrived in June. Young, old, ex- slave and freeborn. Some widowed. Some with children. Some mere children themselves. Once introduced, each woman shared her hopes and wants. The lottery gave them three months to be courted and become brides or accept a return ticket back home. Moving as their stories were, Caesar knew he’d done right to go his own way. He’d advertised back East for a new wife. His ad, and to the point, stated his goal:

Freed man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black town of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.

Only desperate females who couldn’t string two words together had answered. Not that he was looking for conversation, but he’d had a prize in his Emma and nothing less than another prize would do. Finally, he received a missive that gave him hope he’d found his match.

He’d held her envelope beside the flickering glow of a kerosene lamp and studied the handwriting. The elegant strokes bespoke education. The grade of paper used signaled either someone of means or at least someone intent on making a good impression. Two marks in her favor.

His eyebrows raised, however, as his gaze lingered over the Q imprinted in the wax seal holding the envelope shut. Another sign of quality…maybe too much quality. Why would a woman of obvious education and means be willing to brave the hardships of life out West as an ex-slave’s mail order bride?

Buy link:

Word Search: Different New Year’s Resolutions (Contest)
Thursday, December 28th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Steph!

Every year, the top of my list of New Year’s Resolutions lists LOSE WEIGHT. I always start out like gangbusters but the allure of good food and convenience leads me into temptation. I think this year, I need new resolutions—fresh ones, reflecting more positivity, that I can embrace.

I thought it would be fun to share some of them in a word search. Maybe you can pluck a goal you’ll strive to achieve.

I decided that I miss writing letters, so that went on my list. Even if it’s just a postcard I paint and mail, I will scribble a letter to another human being.

I am overwhelmed with clutter, so I thought I might choose one surface a month to declutter—however small!

I am entering a No Spend January challenge, where I vow to not buy anything, online or in person, that isn’t a necessity. Not because I need to tighten my belt budget-wise, but to see if on-line shopping is an addiction, like my dd says it is. I love online shopping, but I’m curious to see how this challenge will work. Will I go into deep dark depression? Will I save tons of money? Will it spark creativity to make new stuff since I can’t buy new stuff?

My family is pretty adventurous with their food. We do seek out new recipes to try, but I want a more deliberate, try one new dish a month effort.

Those are just some of the things I want to try to make into a new habit or a worthwhile experiment.

Read through my list in the word search below. Solve the puzzle. Then add one thing you think others might want to add to their list of aspirational goals for the new year for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

My Favorite Book This Year! (Contest–3 Winners)
Wednesday, December 27th, 2023

UPDATE: The winners are…Misty Dawn, Jean White, and BN!

We authors have our favorites. It’s not like your love for your children where you have to love them equally (or should!). It has to do with the characters you wish you could meet in real life and the experience of writing the story. If a hero can make me laugh and swoon then I’m hooked.

Cold, Hard CashSo, here comes Knox Ramsey. Just the name stayed in my head for the longest time. His story was supposed to be the first in the We Are Dead Horse series, but he was still percolating, still being an A-hole in the back of my brain, so I skipped to Cash Whitaker who wants to run the town. Cold Hard Cash was certainly a blast to write. His sudden, logical desire for a wife sparked a challenge in his PA, Lila Hanson, and as soon as her sister Nah-Nahs dug in to help her, it was all over for poor Cash. Knox and Carleen played in the background of that story, with Carleen’s antics, trying to get Knox’s attention, providing a lot of humor.

But then it was finally time to give Knox the thing he didn’t know he needed. Oh yes, he wanted Carleen, but for many reasons he thought he could never have her. It was up to clever Carleen to show him how wrong he was—and Carleen doesn’t have a shy bone in her body. As it turns out, neither does Knox.

So, from the list of stories I wrote this year, here’s my favorite, Hard Knox.

Hard Knox

Hard Knox

After relentlessly pursuing the biggest badass around and failing, Dead Horse, Montana’s wild child offers him an irresistible proposition—one night of passion, one and done, and she’ll walk away forever…

Dead Horse, Montana’s wild child, Carleen Crossley, knows what she wants—or rather—who. She’s spent years chasing after Knox Ramsey, the biggest badass in Dead Horse, MT. However, she’s resigned herself to the fact that her methods of gaining his affection aren’t reaping any rewards. Yes, her antics keep the townsfolk amused, and Knox definitely knows she’s alive, but she has yet to break through his cold, hard heart to claim her man.

For Knox, Carleen is impossible to ignore. She’s everywhere he is. The sexy vixen has made him uncomfortably aware that she’s his for the taking, and Lord knows he’s tempted. However, he knows he’s not the man for her. He’s his father’s son with his father’s temper, and he won’t succumb to Carleen’s charms because she deserves better than him.

In one moment of frustration over his refusal to really see her and everything she’s offering, Carleen proposes a deal Knox finds impossible to resist. One night of passion—one and done—and she’ll never bother him again.

When she keeps her promise afterward, Knox’s pursuit begins because once was not enough.


For a chance to win your choice of one of my Dead Horse, MT, stories—hunters or townsfolk—let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of my Dead Horse stories and what you might like to see me write more of in the future.  I’ll choose 3 winners!

Getting Ready for 2024 (Contest)
Tuesday, December 26th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Beverly!

Today, in between working on my book and an editing job, I’m going to be working on my Mind Map for 2024.

What is a mind map? It’s a terrific brainstorming tool for all sorts of things—book plots, vacation plans, grocery lists… I know, I get obsessive about organizing tools! I actually used to teach an online class in mind mapping that was a leadup to the “Write 50 Books a Year” workshop my sister and I developed and taught online. The picture above is the result of my 2015 class.

It’s way too busy for me now. My chart will start with a central hub for 2024 Goals but won’t be writing-consumed this year. I’m adding things that make me happy—like family goals and artistic goals. Maybe by the end, it will be just as cluttered as this one was.

I already have my large piece of watercolor paper ready with a few hubs written in. When I finish, I’ll add colored pencil or paint pen embellishments so I can stand to look at it. But it will be something I go back to when I lay out my annual work plan and calendar.

I kind of miss teaching the class because it made me think farther ahead then the final week of the year to get my plans in order, but hey, I’m doing it now. It’s never too late!

I love facing a New Year. It’s a chance to start over again. Twelve months of accomplishment are on the horizon. It’s new territory. What will the year bring? Am I ready for it?

What about you? Do you physically write down your goals or resolutions? Does your planning consist of a simple list or an elaborate spreadsheet?

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon GC, tell me.

Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 25th, 2023