6 12, 2021

Celebrating Christmas Texas Style

By |2021-12-03T09:12:31-06:00December 6th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

Christmas on the Texas Gulf Coast is a little different. No snow, no cold, and a few other traditions unique to the Lone Star State.

There’s our version of the classic Night Before Christmas to read. The Night Before Christmas in Texas, That Is by Leon A. Harris,  This tale has a definite Texas spin with buckboards and bunks. It has entertained Texas audiences for more than forty years.

From the inside cover flap:

A Western Santa Claus-decked out in Levis, a ten-gallon Stetson, a cowboy vest, and with a bandana around his neck-makes his Christmas journey on a buckboard piled high with presents.  Swooping in over the prairie to the amazement of sleepy residents and jackrabbits alike, a plump, jovial Santa parks his buckboard outside a peaceful ranch house. From boot-stuffing gifts to the faithful “hosses” pulling his “sleigh,” this is a Christmas tale rich in Texas tradition.

A must-read every holiday if you live in my house.

Gene Autry recorded the poem for Columbia Records in the 1940s or 50s. My copy of the original 78 release is still around somewhere. Take a listen to a later release:

Other Lone Star Christmas traditions are not strictly Texan, but unique to customs of the southern states.

Hanging a pickle on the Christmas tree

Lining our sidewalk with Luminaries

Eating tamales on Christmas Eve

But it’s definitely not Christmas in Texas unless we sing “Merry TEXAS Christmas, You All.”

Gene Autry recorded the song on the flip side of “Night Before Christmas” Click on the link to hear him singing:  https://youtu.be/onGs1BaA7co

29 11, 2021

Memories Fuel Writers’ Stories

By |2021-11-28T07:56:58-06:00November 29th, 2021|Beyond and Behind the Story, Holidays|0 Comments

I’m always asked where I get my story ideas. The simple answer is my life. As writers, we call on our memories to plot stories and fuel characters’ emotions. Sometimes obviously. Sometimes subtly.

There’s personal memory embedded somewhere in a plot or a character or a scene in every book I’ve written. None more than When Love Endures, book three of the Fitzpatrick Family series. It’s based on one of my favorite holiday memories.

Growing up, holidays involved gathering around the piano and singing. It never mattered how you sounded or how old you were. You sang.

Or you played the piano.

Another thing we did was attend holiday programs either as an audience or participants. School programs, church programs, choir performances, band, and orchestra performances. Listening to the holiday songs always fueled our holiday spirit.

One memory—playing a Christmas duet with my daughter at her piano recital—provided the springboard for When Love Endures, my new holiday novella.

In the story, heroine Sarah’s high school sweetheart moves back to their small town and enrolls his daughter in her school music class. Old feelings return, but Sarah must win the daughter over. There are obstacles, but, like all Hallmark Christmas love stories, there is a happy ending that may or may not involve playing a Christmas duet.

When Love Endures

Sarah Fitzpatrick, pianist extraordinaire, gave up on true love when her high school boyfriend, Nick Stephens, ran off to marry his pregnant ex-girlfriend. When his daughter shows up in her music class eleven years later, Sarah must find a way to keep the little girl and her widowed father out of her heart. She can’t risk losing everything again.

Nicks Stephens has other plans. Sarah is and always has been the love of his life and he’s back in Burton, TX to prove it. But there are secrets Nick must keep, from Sarah and his daughter, that could destroy everything he hopes to build.

Use these links to get your copy.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Endures-Fitzpatrick-Family-ebook/dp/B08W9MP12F/

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-love-endures-judythe-morgan/1138790688

I hope a fond holiday memory comes to your mind when you read When Love Endures.

22 11, 2021

Reasons I’m Thankful to Be a Writer

By |2021-11-21T06:20:12-06:00November 22nd, 2021|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

Thanksgiving in the United States is just around the corner. Cornbread for dressing is baking in the oven. The big bird’s thawing in the frig.

It’s time to focus on thankfulness.

 

As a writer, I’m thankful for so many things.

  • A supportive spouse who is my walking research resource and also happens to be the best critique partner, plotting budding, and editor ever.
  • Writing friends who support, cheer, and listen to my rants.
  • Non-writing friends who ask how’s my writing is going and accept that deadlines can interfere with get-togethers.
  • Family members who let me talk about my characters as if they are real and always answer my wild questions.
  • The imaginary friends and their voices in my head. Without them, I couldn’t do what I do.

Then there are the uniquely writerly things

  1. I get to work in pajamas.
  2. I always have a blank page to start fresh.
  3. Life is filled with funny stories, daily struggles, and multitudes of blessings, so there’s always be something to write about.
  4. My first-try draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Think about it. Professionals like doctors and dentists can’t say that.
  5. Edits and revisions do, in fact, eventually end.
  6. My Google searches haven’t gotten me arrested…yet. (I’m probably on watchlists, but so far no one’s come after me.)
  7. I can escape into other worlds – ones I create, and the ones other authors have created for us to read.
  8. Reviews! Even one or two-star reviews mean a reader’s read the book.

So many blessings in my writer world. What’s in your world that makes you feel thankful this Thanksgiving?

19 11, 2021

Beekeeper Rachel

By |2021-11-18T17:30:20-06:00November 19th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


Our neighbor called a couple of weeks ago to tell me there were bees in their driveway and wondered if they could be ours.

I’m not quite sure how we could identify them, but we certainly would encourage them to come to our house.

Beekeeper Brian was out of town, so he started explaining to me what to do. He sent me the following picture with the message – “there is the queen.”

 

I had no idea what he meant so Rachel stepped in.

She knew exactly what to look for. Brian gave her directions and she put on a hat and gloves and “swept up the bees hoping to get the queen.”

I just stayed out of the way and took pictures.

Eventually we – that is Rachel – got the bees into a nuc (nucleus hive) and let them settle in.

I am very glad our neighbors do not mind having such interesting people living next door.

In fact, they were fascinated by the whole process and even covered the hive that night to keep the bees warm.

Rachel has earned her Beekeeper title. I’ll stick to documenting the excitement.

15 11, 2021

The Wandering Pickleball Paddle

By |2021-11-14T06:10:54-06:00November 15th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Hubby-dear is a Pickleball addict. He wears his hat all the time which leads to questions.  Because he loves the game, he’s always eager to share. He’s been responsible for growing the sport every place we’ve lived.

Hubby-dear also carries paddles, nets, and balls in his car for a quick demonstration. If someone wants to learn, he offers one of the extra paddles.

During our great Texas Ice Apocalypse remodel last February, Hubby-dear invited one of the workers to join him on our local city park Pickleball courts. The young man didn’t have a paddle, so Hubby-dear lent him my Ol’ Yellow paddle from his stash.

The young man played a couple of times. He loved the game so Hubby-dear let him keep the paddle until he could get his own. He even wrote his phone number on the paddle so the man could call with questions.

Fast forward to two days ago, Hubby-dear received a text from a car dealer in Mississippi. He’d found a yellow Pickleball paddle in a car he bought at a car auction in Texas. Was it Hubby-dear’s?

After an exchange of texts and calls mostly about Pickleball (the car dealer was a Pickleball addict too), Hubby-dear gave the car dealer our address.

The paddle arrived the next day via next-day delivery!

I think I was happier than Hubby-dear. I’d played many a game using Ol’ Yellow until health issues forced me to retire. These days I watch Hubby-dear win local championships with his partner.

I may not play, but Ol’ Yellow is back in Hubby-dear’s supply basket awaiting the next new Pickleball convert. Who knows where the paddle will end up next?

If you haven’t played Pickleball, stop by your neighborhood courts and watch. And, yes there will be a court somewhere close by.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in American.

12 11, 2021

Aha Moment

By |2021-11-11T06:04:09-06:00November 12th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


I grew up memorizing large numbers of Bible verses. This serves me well in troubled times.

One passage I still remember is out of the book of Ephesians chapter 6. There, Paul describes spiritual armor including an instruction to gird your loins with the belt of truth. I memorized most scripture in the King James translation and didn’t really understand what it meant to “gird your loins” until recently.

I like to wear long, full skirts. They are especially useful in teaching as they allow me to move around and sit on the floor without revealing any body parts best left covered.

This poses a problem in the chicken yard. The skirts drag on the dirt and gets caught in the chicken wire.

I started tucking the hem into my waistband.

Then I discovered how to “gird my loins.”

I take the back of my skirt and bring it through my legs and tuck it into my waistband.

It may look silly, but it keeps my skirts clean!

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