The jangle of spurs mingles with the jingle of sleigh bells in this celebration of Christmas, cowboy style….
A Cowboy Christmas Western Celebrations, Recipes, and Traditions By Shanna Hatfield (October 2019 • 304 pages • 978-1493042340 • Cloth •$26.95)
Through photos, interviews, 15 how-to’s, and 75 recipes, this book offers a guide to creating your own Cowboy Christmas and a celebration of the style, traditions, food, and family celebrations unique to the lifestyles of American cowboys. Featuring ranch families, rodeo cowboys, and communities with western-style Christmas celebrations, this book will highlight the things that make a Cowboy Christmas special. Each chapter will feature traditions, recipes, decorations, and stories from the interviewees.
USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, snapping photos, or trying new recipes, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, at their home near Walla Walla, Washington.
Two weekends ago, we (hubby and I) and another couple started out shortly after 7 am to check out Sunstones in Plush, Oregon and go on a road we’d never traveled before.
Not even an hour into our trip we saw 4 wolves alongside the highway to Frenchglen. They took off up the side of the rim when we drove by. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to get a photo of them.
Our first stop was Frenchglen Hotel for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 am. They have three long tables with benches where everyone sits. Whether it is guests staying at the hotel or people like ourselves who stop in for breakfast. We always visit with the people at our table. This time it happened to be a father and son who have a Christmas Tree Farm in the Willamette Valley. They were telling us how someone took Jackrabbits from our area to the valley and they now are so plentiful they have become a nuisance over there. The rabbits like to bite the tops off of small tender Christmas trees.
From there we headed to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. We saw a few antelope- my photos aren’t very good. While there we took a road we hadn’t been on before and discovered a nice, but primitive, camping area and a really nice hot spring. Hubby and I walked over to check out the hot spring and found 2 men in the water. One was in his birthday suit! He ducked under water when I came around the corner of the enclosure! LOL
On our way back to the main road, we spotted a fire starting on the top of Hart Mountain. There were people at the Hart Mountain Headquarters standing outside watching the fire. We continued on to Plush but could see the fire coming over the rim of the mountain and travelling along the ridge.
At the Sunstone site, we parked and each went our own way with either a shovel or pick. The wind was blowing like crazy giving us a good dirt shower. I managed to get one stone about the size of the end of my thumb but mostly just little pieces. We dug around there about 2 hours after having a picnic lunch.
After Plush we headed to Denio on a road that is the farthest south in the state. It was a nice drive. We saw some different scenery. I was the only one who wasn’t scared when we drove on an uphill grade that didn’t have a guardrail. In fact, I was looking down the side and relaying to them the pieces of cars I saw scattered downhill.
We reached Denio to find the restaurant Hubby had planned to eat at was closed. But just down the road the Diamond Inn Bar was open. It was an old, bar with the doors all open, locals sitting at the bar talking politics, and a big mutt named Texas sprawled on a small couch. We ordered food from their minimal menu and asked the owner questions about the area. The town had at one time been in Oregon but the residents petitioned and got it moved into Nevada. Because of less taxes. We asked the owner of the bar where he shopped. He said Boise, Idaho about 3 hours away.
From Denio we headed to Fields, Oregon where they still serve real ice cream milkshakes in many flavors. But by the time we arrived they were closed.
We made it back to our house about 8 pm. We were tired but had had a fun trip. I’m hoping our next adventure is to check out some hot springs we’ve heard of.
I have a penchant for color. I like vibrant colors. Bold purples, pinks, orange, yellow, blues, and reds make me smile. Whether they are on clothing, flowers, dishes, blankets, paintings. I love color!
I know there is a place for black, brown, gray, and tan. They make great backdrops for splashes of color. Somber tones are needed to evoke certain moods.
When there are dark gray or black clouds in the sky, they inevitably spark flashes of lightning to brighten the darkness and illicit tingles of excitement, and in some, fear.
I love flowers, but, alas, I do not have a green thumb. It is a feat when I can keep a plant alive long enough for it to produce flowers. This summer I had several that exceeded my expectations, coloring my summer with joy.
When I told a friend about how I have trouble keeping plants alive he gave me a cactus. It bloomed this spring. The color was gorgeous and I hope it will grace me with blooms again next year.
I planted sunflowers in the same bathtub as I’d planted a peony from my dad’s yard. the peony had only a couple of blooms this year. I hope it will be full next year, but the sunflowers bloomed brightening the last of summer with they yellow cheer.
I try to add color to my writing without dragging the description on and on. I’ve received several reviews that comment on how I give just enough description without overdoing it. That is something that makes my heart sing as much as vibrant colors!
I am slowly creeping back up to speed on the writing after the busy summer. I have the items gathered around me that I need to maneuver Hawke around the Hells Canyon area in Idaho. And as this story is progressing, the person(s) he’s following may just cross the river into Oregon.
The idea to have the murderer slip across the river and into the area where the woman Hawke is soft on, keeps knocking at my brain. I’m not ready to have him make any drastic changes in his lifestyle and I like keeping the readers guessing about the outcome of Hawke and Dani, but putting her in danger ups the need for Hawke to stop the person he’s tracking.
If you really want to know what goes on inside my head as I’m “stewing and brewing” a new project, leave a comment below saying you would like to know, and I’ll put some of my wandering thoughts up here on the next Shandra book as I start stewing and brewing it.
Right now I’m all in on Chattering Blue Jay the next Hawke book. I’m trying to find photos I took while jet boating the Snake to use for the cover. It has to be one that we can put a Blue Jay on and make it look natural. That could be a feat I hope my cover designer can tackle.
Up above I have a photo of some of the items I’m using to “map” out this book and Hawke’s trek through the Hells Canyon. I would be lost without good resources to “see” where my character is going and discovering obstacles in their way.
I love Google Earth for seeing areas up close. It helps a lot to decide which direction the characters are going to head and what they will encounter. I brought a lodge that is along the river into one scene. I didn’t know it was there until I used Google Earth and spotted it. Then I looked up and they had a website. This provided me with photos to see the area better and decide how to proceed with this discovery.
That’s the best part about writing. Not always having a blueprint and going with the things I come up against and figuring out how they can be used in the story and how the characters will react to them.
I’ve been so busy running around the state judging at county fairs, I forgot to update my own blog.
The county fairs I judged at were a lot of fun. Some I watched 4-H members knit, crochet and sew, others I judged their foods, clothing, knitting, photography, educational displays, and presentations. And there were were a couple where I judged the open class foods and clothing.
I have to say while judging open class is easier because I don’t have to interview or write down what is good and what needs work on an item, I do enjoy the interview process with the 4-H members the most. I love their enthusiasm about the item they made or baked. If the recipe or pattern came from a family member. What I found most about the clothing and knitting projects the patterns for many were found on Pinterest. How times change!
I’m looking forward to this coming weekend. Labor Day, not for the camping and family time but because it is my annual pilgrmage to Sumpter, Oregon to set up a booth with another author at the Flea Market. It has become one of the events during the year I look forward to.
It’s fun talking with Mary Vine, the other author, and watching all the people who wander among the booths. The best part, is when someone hurries over and say, “I was hoping you were going to be here, I need the next book in your series.” That’s why we go back every year. To provide winter reading for the people in NE Oregon. LOL
I’m way behind in my writing, but I do have a new release, the last western romance I’ll write for a while. Freedom: Silver Dollar Saloon.
Their dreams brought them together. But will violence
tear them apart?
Freedom longs to be out of the Silver Dollar Saloon, with a family of her own.
When a white man promises marriage and children, she takes the biggest risk of
her life, and follows him to the wilds of Montana Territory. Where he shows his
Water Runs Fast, a Crow off the reservation, comes upon a white man whipping a
brown-skinned woman. After stabbing the white man and riding off with the woman,
he realizes she is the woman from his visions. The one who pledged to help him
and his people survive in the white man’s world.
On the run from the tragedy, the two grow close. Together, they begin a life as
husband and wife. But will they have their chance at a life together, or will
they hang for murder?
If all goes well, I should have a book out this month and one next month. I’m behind in getting my latest books written and out. I’ve been doing too much playing this year, but I think it makes me a better writer to experience things before I write a story.
The first book to be released is Freedom, book 3 in the Silver Dollar Saloon series. The background for the cover was easy. We use the same background on all the books. We just add the character the book is titled after. In this case, Freedom, a young black woman.
I spent hours going through photo galleries online where you can purchase photos to use on covers. I wanted a fresh face, not one with makeup, and she needed to have her hair a certain way. When I’d found four possibilities, I started looking for a body with a dress from the 1800s. I found the perfect one on Pinterest. It was from an auction house. I contacted them, they responded if I could tell them the numbers on the photo (auction date) they could send me a good photo. After I sent the date to them, I never heard from them again.
Which sent me looking elsewhere,and I finally found a dress online and purchased it. Then I sent the women I’d found to my cover designer and she began playing with putting the heads on the dress. After several tries we were both finally happy with the way it looked.
I now have to find a photo for Toxic Trigger-point a murder that takes place on a massage bed in a spa. I’m trying to decide if I want a body on a massage bed or a spa as the cover image. What do you think would make the better, more eye-catching cover?
On my quest to learn all I can to portray my American Indian
characters as real and correct as I can, I attend any event that will help my
This past week I attended “Savages/Chiefs/Warriors: the Language
of Stereotypes” at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, Oregon. The speakers were Dr. Phillip Cash Cash and Charles
F. Sams III.
Dr. Cash Cash started the talk with a PowerPoint
presentation that had a photo the Declaration of Independence and the words, “the
merciless Indian Savages” circled in that very first American document. From
the beginning, when all the American Indian wanted to do was protect their way
of life, they were called names by those who didn’t understand them.
Included in the PowerPoint were photos of old westerns with
most of the Indian parts being played by White actors. Then a slide with brand
names that use or used unflattering Indian words or photos of Indian men in war
bonnets, or an Indian maiden. He showed how the derogatory words had been used
over the years without thinking about how it demoralized the First Nations
Another slide had four romance book covers with Savage in
the book titles and a male Indian embracing a White woman. Dr. Cash Cash said that not only was there stereotyping
but a trope being used as well. Tropes were another way the American Indian has
been “put down” over the years. Portrayals of drunken Indians, calling them
Nomads when they are hunter gatherers and travel with the seasons.
His portion of the talk dealt mainly with how long stereotyping
has been going on and how in the 70s & 80s when there was more of an awareness
of treating everyone equal that the derisive words and advertising started to
Charles Sams III talk the second half of the program. He
started off telling us how the Umatilla bands, specifically Cayuse came to this
earth and how from the story, which he couldn’t tell in full story mode because
stories can only be told in the winter, when there is snow on the mountain. But
he told of the coming of the People. And how they came from the earth and how archeologists
have discovered how long ago people lived on the earth by middens, the dumps or
refuse that humans leave behind. He said he doesn’t believe that American
Indians came from Asia. There has been no middens found along the path they
have been presumed to have taken. As an Indian, he believes the stories of
coming from the earth. As an educated person with a science background he knows
there has to be an explanation. 😉
He said the biggest influence in getting the American Indian
more respect was Richard Nixon pushing through The Indian Self-Determination and
Education Assistance Act of 1975. It gave the tribes a chance to better
their lives and the generations to come.
The American Indian believes they are a steward of the land. They don’t
want to own land, but will to make sure that the animals and land flourish.
The believe in the constitution because it is under the
constitution that all treaties were drawn up and signed. If the constitution goes
away, they could lose the lands that were given them by the United States government.
It is this reason that Charles grandmother made her seven boys join the
military during World War II. They didn’t understand why their mother would
send them all off to fight for a country that didn’t give them the same rights
as others. She told them because if the U.S. lost, they would lose their treaties
and the land the land they had now. He said all seven came home from the war
and went on to fight for the rights of the American Indian.
During the discussion at the end it was said, that Indians
laugh at themselves to cope with the frustration they feel every day.
Here is a list of stereotypes or wrong assumptions that were
And here is the Youtube video that was shown at the end of
I’ll have another post on what was said about hunting and gathering.