Merry Farmer’s Trail of Passion

Did you know that there’s an entire, beautiful blog and book store for the Pioneer Hearts reader’s group? It’s pretty awesome! I was asked to talk a bit about my latest release and future projects for today, so pop on over and read all about Trail of Passion and some other fun stuff I have coming up!

Pioneer Hearts

~ Talking with Merry Farmer

People frequently ask me, “What’s your favorite book that you’ve written?” The answer is always the same: “The one I’m working on now.” No, really! I’m not joking about that. There’s something about the book you’re working on now that’s magical. I feel that way about Trail of Passion at the moment. A lot of what makes me love it is how much fun I’ve been having with the characters and how they’re revealing themselves to me. So when Cissie asked me these questions, I knew just how to answer….

1) Where did the idea for Trail of Passion come from?

Okay, I’ll confess. I like nerdy guys. They’re just fantastic, as far as I’m concerned. A lot of romance heroes are the tough, strong, alpha male type (that I secretly don’t like very much). So I wanted to see how a smart, thoughtful, slightly…

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Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Longing

Time for another sneak peek of Trail of Longing, the third book in the Hot on the Trail series! This one is about Emma Sutton and Dr. Dean Meyers. Think they’ll be able to get together with all of the road blocks in their way? Let’s take a peek….

(Shh! Pretend you're not seeing this yet!)

(Shh! Pretend you’re not seeing this yet!)

“What’s the matter?” Kathleen’s sharp question forced Dean to drag his eyes away from the curiosity of Emma and her mother. “Don’t you like lemonade?”

Dean had completely forgotten he was holding the jug and tart. “Oh, yes, of course.” He took another long draught and another bite of the tart.

“Then why aren’t you eating more?” Helen asked.

Across from where Dean sat, Pete was shaking with laughter. “Now ladies, you can’t expect poor Dr. Meyers to devour a feast when so many lovely ladies are serving it up.”

Dean nearly choked on tart. At least he had the lemonade to keep him from coughing. “You’re too kind,” he croaked to Helen and Kathleen.

Across the wagons, Mrs. Sutton thrust a long spoon into Emma’s hand. Emma was still trying to argue, but Mrs. Sutton was having none of it. She turned and pointed directly to Dean… and the girls standing on either side of him. Then she gestured to the simmering pot.

Emma’s shoulders heaved in a sigh. She peeked at him. Their eyes met. Dean couldn’t help but smile, mouth full of raisins and pastry. Emma turned bright pink and snapped away.

“Kathleen, why are you bothering the doctor?” The voice of an older woman interrupted the already ludicrous scene. Dean twisted to see Kathleen’s mother striding toward his camp. “Can’t you see he’s busy with Mr. Evans?”

“Oh, don’t mind me, ma’am,” Pete chuckled. “I’m just enjoying the show.”

Dean sent him a short scowl. He was enjoying it a little too much.

“Oh mother. I couldn’t help myself. I saw Dr. Meyers sitting here looking so parched. I just had to bring him some of our lovely, sweet, homemade lemonade.” The way Kathleen delivered the line was practiced in every way.

So was her mother’s reply. “How kind of you, dear. But that’s my Kathleen for you. She is the soul of kindness, and so thoughtful too. Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Meyers?”

“I’m kind,” Helen growled. “And thoughtful, and I’m a good cook.”

“Yes, and I can sew and keep house.” Kathleen stepped behind Dean’s back to stand toe-to-toe with Helen.

“I can keep house and I make quilts,” Helen said.

Kathleen’s mother’s proud smile slipped at the unexpected contest. “Oh, well, girls, perhaps we really should leave Dr. Meyers to his lunch.”

“Yes, well you might quilt, but my strawberry jam won the Allegheny County blue ribbon every Fourth of July for the last three years!” Kathleen argued.

“Kathleen.” Her mother laughed and grabbed her daughter’s arm. “Maybe now isn’t such a good time to—”

“I believe you,” Helen cut her off, eyes narrowed at Kathleen. “I can tell by your figure that you enjoy a lot of that strawberry jam.”

Kathleen yelped. Her mother yanked her away. Pete roared outright with laughter.

Dean hardly heard a word of it. What did Emma think she was doing? She couldn’t possibly cook over an open flame in a skirt like that. Every time she attempted to lean closer to the steaming pot, the silk of her dress brushed too close to the embers. She caught it and held it back, but that left her standing at an awkward angle as she stirred whatever was in the pot. Steam curled up into her face, causing the tendrils of hair at her neck to go limp and slip out of their elaborate style almost before his eyes. He couldn’t let her go on like that.

“Excuse me, ladies.” He stood and handed the jug of lemonade to Helen—who had a fist raised and aimed at Kathleen—and the rest of the raisin tart to Kathleen as her mother yanked her away from Helen.

He left the turmoil behind him to stride down the line of wagons to where he was truly needed.

 

Uh oh. Trouble on the trail! Trail of Longing will be available wherever eBooks are sold on January 5th!
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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

An Illuminating History of Electric Christmas Lights

courtesy of Wikicommons

courtesy of Wikicommons

Here’s another quick, fascinating bit of Christmas history for you on a Monday morning. I’ll admit, I’m not actually the biggest fan of Christmas (it’s a long story), but I do love tastefully done lights. We all know that the tradition of lights on the Christmas tree began with candles, but did you know that that tradition comes from Germany in the 18th century? But what about electric Christmas lights?

I think a lot of people would assume that the tradition of electric Christmas lights on trees is a relatively new one. In fact, it’s over 100 years old. Well over 100 years old. You might have heard Christmas tree lights referred to as “fairy lights” before. Well, it’s because the concept of a string of tiny electric lightbulbs was first used not at Christmas, but in the first production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta Iolanthe on November 25th, 1882. (Yay G&S!) The women’s chorus in this operetta are fairies, and their costumes involved strings of electric lights. Well, the name stuck.

That same year (1882!) in America, the vice president of Edison Electric Light Company, Edward H. Johnson, was the first person to wire a Christmas tree with electric lights. A lot of papers reported the electrified tree as a publicity stunt, but—you guessed it—the idea caught on and electric Christmas lights began to steadily grow in popularity. By 1900, stores in big cities were decorating their shop windows with electric lights to draw customers.

Edward H. Johnson's electric Christmas tree lights

Edward H. Johnson’s electric Christmas tree lights

Mind you, the average household couldn’t even begin to afford Christmas lights for their trees. Not until the 1930s. The technology was there, though, and the wealthy and prominent businesses got in on the act from the beginning. That included the White House. The first president to have electric Christmas lights on his tree was Grover Cleveland in 1895. I bet that’s much earlier than you thought lights were around, huh?

As the price of electric lights came down from the 1930s on, they became more prominent in average households. Some of the more famous lights shows that we know today started fairly early too. Those Rockefeller Center lights in NYC? They were first lit in 1956.

Okay, but what about those ridiculous and outlandish displays of Christmas light overkill? You know. Everybody’s neighborhood seems to have someone who’s electric bill for December is double what it is for the rest of the year. You know when that tradition started? In the 1920s. That’s right, it started before indoor Christmas lights became the norm. That’s because in the 1920s General Electric would host contests for the best decorations, and everyone who could wanted to get in on that. (Sometimes I wish they hadn’t. ha!)

So there you go. A quick history of electric Christmas lights. They’re much, much older than most people would expect. So are you a big light decorator or do you like to keep it simple?
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Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Longing – First Look

I’m so excited today to bring you the first look at my next novel in the Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Longing! It’s coming on January 5th, so without further ado….

[No Cover Yet – Cover Reveal Coming Soon!]

Emma pulled her focus away from Dean to see that they’d come to walk alongside her family’s wagon. Her father led the oxen from the ground, walking beside them as though they were white stallions instead of plodding beasts. Alice had gone to the back of the wagon to join their mother, who whispered furiously. Her eyes never left Dean.

“I’ll leave you ladies to take shelter in your wagon,” Dean said, letting go of Emma’s arm. “I’d better check on the miners anyhow.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Meyers,” Mrs. Sutton skipped forward to make her goodbyes. “I haven’t met a truer gentleman in this entire wagon train. I do hope we’ll be seeing more of you.”

Emma’s heart caught in her throat at her mother’s audacity. Her embarrassment was only relieved a tad by Dean’s smile.

“I’m sure we’ll see much more of each other.” He nodded to Mrs. Sutton and Alice, then turned his smile to Emma. “Until next time, Miss Emma.”

“I….” Anything Emma could have said froze on her tongue. She pressed her lips into a tight smile and nodded.

As Dean turned to go, frustration poured in on her. When she was certain he was out of earshot, she huffed out a breath and hid her face in her hands. What was she thinking? How could it be so difficult to talk to such an agreeable man?

“Very well done,” her mother congratulated her. She scurried to Emma’s side as they walked on, raindrops beating down harder now. “You have him good and hooked.”

“Mother,” Emma sighed. “I don’t want to ‘hook’ anyone. Dean— I mean, Dr. Meyers, is a good, noble man.”

“Exactly.” Her mother smiled as if the sun had come out. “He’ll make a perfect husband for you.”

“Shh!” Emma would have slapped her hand over her mother’s mouth if she could. “Please!”

“Oh come now,” her mother scolded, waving Emma’s protests aside as if they were fluff. “You and I both know the importance of nabbing a good husband.”

“Husbands should not be ‘nabbed.’”

“All men need to be nabbed, dear,” her mother argued. “Otherwise they would wander the earth not knowing which way was up or what was good for them.”

Emma scoffed and crossed her arms to ward off the chill that the rain was bringing her.

Her mother turned serious, sliding closer to her. “I know you think I’m laying it on too thick, but we’ve both seen what happens when a girl makes an inappropriate match.”

They both glanced to the back of the wagon where Alice had hoisted herself into the bed and was busy rolling down the canvas coverings. Emma’s heart squeezed with sadness for her sister.

“Alice loved Harry,” she murmured to her mother so Alice wouldn’t hear.

“That is precisely the problem,” her mother replied.

Emma frowned, confused. “Harry was a good man.”

“He was a clerk and we never should have agreed to the match.” Before Emma could protest, her mother went on. “Dr. Meyers, on the other hand, is just the sort of man I have always wished to see you with. Now that he’s hooked, I know just how to reel him in.”

Dread filled Emma’s stomach. She knew what her mother was capable of. Her journey west had just taken a perilous turn.

 

Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t put this one up for pre-order. But never fear! If you visit my Amazon author page and click on “Add Favorite” right under my fabulous author pic, then I believe Amazon will email you as soon as any of my books come out. Wanna give it a try? Click right here.
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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Santa's_ArrivalWell, I have just a small little history snippet for you today. It came about because I wanted to base a little Cold Springs Christmas short story around the classic poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. But since this story takes place in 1904, I wanted to figure out if the poem would have been in common usage by that time.

Guess what? It’s a really old poem! There are a lot of interesting facts around it too. Starting with its origin. Did you know that the poem was first published anonymously in the New York Sentinel in 1823? It was actually written by Clement Clarke Moore, but Moore’s name didn’t appear in print as the author until 1837. The poem was originally sent to the Sentinel by a friend of Moore’s, and it was so well received that it was frequently reprinted after that.

Also, as the legend would have it, although the character of St. Nicholas had been in popular culture in many ways and in many countries for a long time, Moore was the first one to describe Santa with the physical features that we see in the poem. Better still, Moore modeled his St. Nick off of a local Dutch handyman. This all might seem insignificant and fun, but it was Moore’s poem that ended up codifying what Santa looked like from one tradition to another throughout America and later the world. Also, Moore made up the names of the reindeer.

There is also some controversy around who really wrote the poem. While Moore has been credited as the author, there is also a large contingent that claims it was really written by Henry Livingston, Jr.

Personally, I don’t care who actually wrote it, only that it’s such a wonderful part of Christmas and has so many evocative memories associated with it. I remember learning it to recite at a Christmas pageant one year in elementary school. I still remember about half of it verbatim today. I think most of us do, right?

So yes, it was perfectly historically correct to have Michael West read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas aloud to his children and all of the other children of the characters in my Montana Romance series. And if you’d like to read that short story (it’s really funny), pop on over to Facebook and join the Pioneer Hearts group today! If you comment on my post over there, you can also win a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the first book in my Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Kisses. So what are you waiting for?

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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!