Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 7! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

Climb in the wagon with me. We’re off to another stop on this short tour!

You may need a blanket for our next journey as we are heading up north to Michigan for a visit with Beem Weeks!

I first met Beem when I joined a book club way back in 2015. His was one of the first books I picked up and read as a part of that club. I have never forgotten Jazz Baby! It made me an instant fan of this talented writer!

Here is just a short excerpt from my review and it really does sum it up:

This novel is written in the style of Faulkner or Steinbeck, revealing torrid secrets that we all prefer to remain hidden. Touching on social issues that beg to remain in the shadows, Beem Weeks has done a great job weaving this tale. The southern dialect is written to perfection and I could see and hear the characters as they spoke. If you like a story that keeps you guessing and makes you gasp a few times, then you’ll like this coming-of-age story about Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten. How was this going to end for the poverty-stricken southern girl with a gift? Baby Teegarten can sing!

I have often referred to Beem Weeks as the master of “show don’t tell.” He has a way of drawing a strong visual with his words and unique writing style. He has written numerous short stories and has several releases newer than Jazz Baby, but it was that book that made me a forever fan.

BEEM WEEKS AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

If you are a fan of short stories, as I am, Beem has a diverse variety to offer, including some posted on his website.

For more from Beem Weeks, click HERE!

Grab a book from Beem, then head on over to his blog where we are talking about my newest release, Mountain Laurel Christmas!

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

Beem Weeks Blog Tour Stop

Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 6! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

Climb in the wagon with me. We’re off to another stop on this short tour!

Today we are taking this magical gypsy wagon on a short jaunt over to East Texas for a visit with Joan Hall!

Joan is a fellow Texas author and a Story Empire contributor. She is best known for writing mystery and romantic suspense, but one of my favorite things from Joan is her informative and entertaining monthly blog posts about the Moon. If that interests you, click HERE to catch up on all of them.

She introduced us to the Legend of Madeira Series this year and both the short story introduction and first novel are outstanding stories!

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I read the prequel to this first story, “House of Sorrow” in the Legends of Madeira Series, and couldn’t wait to read more of the story. I was not disappointed! Is it possible that a house can be cursed? Or is it the job that is cursed? When Tami and Jason move to New Mexico for Jason to start his new job as Police Chief of Madeira, they become embroiled in a deadly mystery that seemingly haunts the victorian mansion they purchased. Two unsolved murders a century apart seem oddly connected and Tami is determined to find the answers and break the curse that threatens to destroy their new life. The author went back and forth between the time periods, the two murders, and the present. At times I was confused about the people and places, but the author wrapped it all up in a satisfying ending with lots of plot twists and layering along the way. I was not able to guess the identity of the murderer among the list of suspects, so it came as a surprise when the identity was revealed along with the reasons behind the grisly acts. I love how the author brought the influence of the moon cycles into the story and how it played an integral part in the unfolding. This is a story filled with action, memorable characters, and small-town drama. If you love a good mystery, you will enjoy this story!

To see more of Joan’s work, visit HERE!

Grab a book or two from this talented author, then head on over to the blog tour.

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

Joan Hall’s Blog Tour Stop

Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 5! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

Climb in the wagon with me. We’re off to another stop on this short tour!

Our next stop is at Staci Troilo’s place in Pennsylvania, USA!

Staci is not only a prolific award-winning author, but also an award-winning recipe developer. And she is a fellow Story Empire contributor. She has a Master’s Degree in professional writing and I am in awe of her expertise. She has written everything from short stories to lengthy series, from sci-fi to romance, and each piece reflects her diversity.

Her most recent release is a short story romance that I absolutely adored! It is Book 1 in the Keystone Couples Series. I loved the humor and realism in this story. The characters are relatable as are the situations.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

In this short story, Piper has been fired from yet another job. And on top of being fired, she lost her good luck charm, a dried red chrysanthemum. Now she’s sure her luck is forever going to be bad. She returns to her father’s home early for the Christmas holidays and immediately bumps into an old crush from high school. And she struggles to form words, which is ironic considering she writes words for a living. But Tommy Burnett affects her that way. He’s handsome, a great catch, and everything she’s dreamed of. I won’t give any spoilers here, but Jack Rhodes, her best friend since grade school is her steady influence. When she needs help, he’s always there and never asks for anything in return. I love how Piper grew in the pages of this short read. Sometimes the obvious is right under our noses and we fail to see it. This is an entertaining holiday read that is short and sweet with a satisfying ending. The writing is flawless and I highly recommend it.

For more from Staci Troilo, click HERE!

Grab a book or two from this talented author, then head on over to the blog tour.

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

Staci Troilo’s Blog Tour Stop

Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 4! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

Climb in the wagon with me. We’re off to another stop on this short tour!

Today we are taking this magical gypsy wagon across the waters to the UK for a visit with Harmony Kent!

I have known Harmony for many years and have the deepest respect and admiration for her writing talent, diversity, and bravery. She is a fellow Story Empire member and is known for her wonderful support of other authors. If you visit her website, you’ll find this quote and I think it aptly describes her. “As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow indie authors, Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the indie publishing arena.  She is always on the lookout for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.”

Her most recent release is a compelling psychological journey that had me on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails. She depicts a parents’ worst nightmare in a visual and emotive way. I could not stop reading until I knew what happened to this boy, and the ending left me reeling. I highly recommend it!

PURCHASE LINK

To see Harmony’s diverse selection of books, visit HERE!

Grab a book or two from this talented author, then head on over to the blog tour.

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

Harmony Kent’s Blog Tour Stop

Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 3! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

Climb in the wagon with me. We’re off to another stop on this short tour!

The destination is D.L. Finn‘s beautiful blog site!

D.L. Finn is an eclectic author whose motto is “embrace your inner child.” I’ve enjoyed her work for many years. I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from her extensive catalog, so I’m going to tell you about her latest release and share my review.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from this author and this book is no exception. The author has a unique talent for making you stop and think, “What if?” In this book about the tree fairies and the ancient Redwood trees, we find an ordinary family with an extraordinary connection to nature on a camping trip. What happens to the children first, then to the adults is both heartwarming and magical. The family is given a mission to save the beautiful Redwood forest from destruction. The author takes us years ahead and we find the two children, Daniel and Colette grown, married, and with children of their own. The tree fairies visit again and the connection is forged between the human and fairy families. The two short stories following, are in two different fairies’ POV and are delightful as well. This book is classified as a Middle School level, but at almost seventy, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so it is a wonderful read for all ages! If you love magic, nature, and fantasy all combined into a lovely heartwarming story, you will love this book! I highly recommend it.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

So, pick up a book from this talented author, then head on over to the blog tour.

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

D.L. Finn’s Blog Tour Stop!

Mountain Laurel Christmas On Tour – Day 2! #ShortStory #Christmas #FamilyDrama #Music

I am thrilled to take Mountain Laurel Christmas on a short blog tour!

The gypsy wagon rolls on to Gwen Plano’s Blog today.

I first met Gwen Plano many years ago when we were both members of a book club. We co-hosted a radio show for a couple of years with another talented author and in that time I got to know her kind and gentle spirit and big heart. Her first book is a memoir that I highly recommend. It is well-written and pulls no punches as she addresses spousal abuse and life afterward.

PURCHASE LINK

You can find her fiction books HERE!

So, pick up a book from this talented author, then head on over to the blog tour.

Leave a comment, share, and enter to win my Blog Tour Giveaway!

Gwen Plano’s Blog Tour Post

Merry Christmas!

I am going off the grid for a few days to spend time with family but want to take this opportunity to wish each of my blog followers a safe, happy and loving Christmas!

I will be back on the tour bus Monday the 30th, stopping at Harmony Kent’s blog site! In the meantime…

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; the Spirit of Christmas which is peace, and the heart of Christmas which is LOVE!

Magic – A Holiday Story #4

Cabin_Snow

Little by little, Frank Pyburn has learned the child’s name is Jasper and that he has no parents. And, it seems the child is determined to keep with family tradition and bring a tree home on Christmas Eve. He needs the luck. And he’s invited Frank to Christmas dinner.

“Well, now that you mention it, I just might.” Frank finished the coffee and leaned forward. “It gets a mite lonely here from time to time. But, I’d have to ask Aunt Nellie first.”

“Oh, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. She’s nice.”

“That’s good to hear, Jasper. I’m glad she treats you well.” Frank pushed to his feet. “Let’s get you bundled up and we’ll go get the truck.”

He gruffly buttoned the top button on the kid’s worn coat and pulled the wool cap down over his small ears. A lump caught in his throat. He grabbed his coat and opened the door.

He choked back tears that threatened to fall. He’d make sure that Jasper Doolin and Aunt Nellie got their Christmas luck. He could use a big dose of it himself, and a good deed on Christmas never hurt anyone.

They traipsed across the yard to the 1921 GMC pickup parked under a shed.

Young Jasper let out a whistle. “This is a beauty, Mr. Frank.”

“It serves the purpose. My daughter insisted I get it after Emma died.”

Jasper scrunched up his nose. “I’m sorry you lost your Miss Emma.”

“Me too,” Frank growled. “Me too. Now, let’s get you a tree. I know exactly where to find the perfect one, and I’ve got an ax behind the seat.”

Frank cranked the engine. It protested before it finally sprang to life.

The headlights reflected off the snow as Frank eased down a country lane. After a few minutes, he stopped and pulled on the brake. He left the headlights on and they cast a warm glow that allowed Jasper to choose a small tree. Then, with the sharp ax, Frank cut it down and tossed it into the bed of the truck.

They hopped inside, and Frank turned back toward the house. Halfway home, he glanced over at the boy to see him sound asleep with his head laying on the door.

His heart melted. This boy reminded him of himself when he was his age. But, it was evident that life had tossed Jasper Doolin a hard road to walk.

Visions of Emma in the lavender dress he loved so much swam before his eyes. Oh, how he missed her bustling around their small house baking pies and stringing garland. Painful loneliness gnawed at his gut. Emma would want him to help Jasper.

When they reached the ranch house, he gently woke Jasper. “We’re back at my house, Jasper. But, we need to get you on home.”

Jasper sat up, yawned big, and rubbed his eyes. “Okay, Mister Frank. I sure do appreciate you helping me.”

“It’s nothing. But, I’ve got another idea. How about you run inside and get your stuff, and I’ll drive you back to Aunt Nellie’s. Then tomorrow, we can get Magic.”

“Okay.” Jasper opened the door, dashed inside and returned with his saddlebags.

Frank drove while Jasper told him what road Aunt Nellie lived on. He was surprised at how far Jasper had ridden on Magic. No wonder he fell asleep on the horse.

Thirty minutes later, he pulled up in front of a small wood-framed house. Candlelight flickered through the windows and Frank could only guess that Aunt Nellie was worried sick about young Jasper. He didn’t miss small eyes peeking around the edge of a curtain when they walked up to the door dragging the tree.

Jasper knocked. “Aunt Nellie, it’s me, Jasper. Unlock the door.”

A bolt slid across, and a scrawny woman flung the door wide. “Jasper!” She hugged the boy. “You had me worried sick.”

Frank removed his hat. “I found him over by my place. He’d fallen off Magic and hit his head.”

“But, I’m okay now, Aunt Nellie. And look, Mister Frank helped me get us a tree. We can have good luck now and maybe you won’t have to cry so much.”

The woman eyed Frank. “Well, the both of you come on in out of the cold.” She shooed the children back and stepped aside.

Frank lifted the tree over the threshold and followed Jasper. Once inside, he faced the woman and stuck out his hand. “I’m Frank Pyburn, ma’am. I live over on the other side of the creek.”

She shook his hand. “I can’t thank you enough for helping Jasper. He didn’t tell me where he was going, and I just knew something had happened to him.”

Jasper stood beside her and three smaller children huddled close, never taking their eyes off the tree resting against the wall. “I told you, Aunt Nellie, I had to get us a tree, so we would have good luck like Pa always said.”

Her eyes misted. “Can I offer you something hot to drink, Mr. Pyburn?”

“No. I’ve gotta be getting back. But, if it’s okay with you, tomorrow I’ll pick up Jasper and take him to get Magic and see them both home safely.”

“Of course, it’s okay. But, only on one condition. If you don’t have any other plans, I’d be pleased to have you join us for Christmas dinner. It’s the least I can do to repay you for looking out after Jasper.”

Frank’s gaze swept the simple dwelling. While the furnishings were sparse, the floors sparkled, clean, and there wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. He’d be back tomorrow. But, when he came, he’d have his arms full.

He couldn’t stop a grin that spread across his face. Just like Santa Claus.

The idea that he could bring Christmas cheer to this kind woman and children brought him great joy.

Already, he was thinking about the venison in his freezer and the canned vegetables that Emma had left behind. Maybe he could even scrounge up some gifts for the children.

He’d found a purpose for enjoying Christmas again.

With a light heart, he said his goodbyes and drove the faithful old truck back to his empty home. But, somehow, it didn’t seem nearly as lonely or empty as it had a few hours ago.

When he parked under the shed and headed inside, he could almost smell Emma’s wonderful cherry pies and hear her sweet laughter drifting across the snow-covered ground.

He looked up at the black velvet star-filled sky. “You’re one lucky man, Frank Pyburn,” he said.

A whinny from the barn confirmed Magic agreed with him and that was one smart horse. “Christmas Magic,” thought Frank. That should be the horse’s new name for that is what he’d brought…A boy and his pony on one starry Christmas Eve.

THE END

Old Pickup_Tree

 

 

Stories From the Road #14

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

THE CHRISTMAS SHIRT

by Rick Sikes

“This is one of those “too-human” stories that took place in Houston in the late sixties. We had played Christmas Eve at Dancetown USA the night before. And, we were playing in Victoria on Christmas night. So, we drug ourselves out of bed and finally found a scroungy looking cafe to grab breakfast. The plan was to eat breakfast around 10 am, get to Victoria and set up at Schroeder Hall. Then we’d get a bit of supper before the gig.

But, back to the story. Being Christmas morning, there were just not any restaurants open except this one little dump. We go in and sit down. Right behind us comes in a hillbilly guy with two backwoods gals. He was puttin’ on the dog for the ol’ gals, and they were giggling and carrying on.

One of the guys in the band said, “Hey, y’all check out the Christmas shirt.”

It was one of those embroidered wagon wheel Yankee cowboy shirts with the folds from being in the package still there. He had on a pair of short-topped Sears & Roebuck boots, a small brimmed Roy Rogers type hat and some kind of cheap blue jeans. He looked at us and asked, “Y’all like my shirt?”

Everyone nodded and someone said, “Yeah man, that’s a cool shirt. Did you get it for Christmas?”

“Yep, shore did, podnuh.” He leaned back in his chair and hooked his thumbs in his belt.

Well, one of the ol’ gals with him was terribly cross-eyed and she started flirting with us…blinking and winking as only a cross-eyed gal can do. It just all came to a head at once. We were all looking at each other, then at them all grinnin’ and carrying on. The ol’ boy told the girls some jokes or riddles or something. The cross-eyed girl got tickled at one of ’em and laughed until tears rolled down both cheeks.

Being the damned fool I am, I looked over there; the ol’ boy doing all sorts of “monkey-shines,” and the gals laughing so hard, and I busted into one of my “rare” moments when I get so tickled that I laughed until my sides hurt and tears streamed down. Often I’d get down on the floor because I laughed so hard. Well, this was one of those times of great mirth. I made an ass out of myself rolling around on the floor laughing. It was just too damned human.

A poor ol’ hillbilly boy dressed to the aces charming two lovely backwoods ladies, plus entertaining a band and the people who worked in the place was just “too human.” He saw his good looks, charm and being well- dressed and dashing for these ladies pay off. And, we got to see a first class show that would have done Tennessee Williams and Erskine Caldwell proud, and supposedly “cool” musicians becoming a fool.”

I hope this brought a chuckle, as that was all Rick intended by telling the story.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Rick_Rhythm_Rebels

Rhythm_Rebels1

I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

 

 

Magic – A Holiday Story #3

Cabin_Snow

Frank Pyburn now knows he has rescued a young boy. But, why would such a young child be out by himself in this weather on Christmas Eve? But even more puzzling, what was that smell? 

 

“What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?” Frank gasped at the sight of the boy trying to light a crooked pipe. He jerked the contraption from the child. “You are way too young to be smoking, kid, and besides that, I don’t allow it in my house.”

Jasper’s bottom lip quivered. “I’m almost eleven, and that was my granddaddy’s pipe, Mister Frank. I just figured since I am all grown up now I needed to start learning how to smoke it like he did.”

Frank chuckled. “There’s plenty of time for that if you are damned and determined to do it, but now is not that time.” He clapped a hand on the boys shoulder, then emptied the contents of the pipe into the fireplace. “You hungry?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll get you a nice bowl of stew, and then you’re going to tell me what you’re doing out on a night like this and where your family is.”

Jasper looked away. “Ain’t got no ma or pa anymore.”

Frank swallowed hard. “Just rest. I’ll be right back.”

Before he returned, Frank refilled his coffee cup and doused it good with bourbon. He set a tray on the floor beside the boy with stew, crackers, and milk, then plopped down in his easy chair.

Silence swirled around the old man and boy like gentle snowflakes. While curiosity nagged at him, Frank could be patient.

Finally, Jasper scooped up the last bite of stew and drank the milk. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and got to his feet. “You’ve been awful nice, Mr. Frank, but I have to get going. Maybe if you could just point me toward Hamilton Road, I won’t get lost again.”

Frank motioned for Jasper to sit. “You’re not going anywhere until you tell me everything.” He set his jaw. “And, I want every detail.”

Jasper sank onto the sofa. “Well, you see, Aunt Nellie tries her best, but she just can’t do it all. Me being the oldest, it seemed that I needed to be the one to make sure we got our Christmas luck.”

“Christmas luck?” Frank sipped his coffee.

“Sure.” Jasper ran a small hand through his red hair. “Don’t you know the story about the Christmas tree and good luck for the whole year?”

“Don’t reckon I do. Tell me.”

“Well, my pa always told me that for us to have good luck for the whole year, we had to cut down a sapling on Christmas Eve and bring it in the house. But, Ma and Pa are gone. They got killed last summer in an accident. I live with Aunt Nellie and her kids. And, we need a tree. So, I headed out after I finished my chores and got lost.”

Frank squinted. “I’m sorry about your ma and pa, Jasper. How did you fall off Magic?”

Jasper shrugged. “Don’t know exactly. I was so tired, and maybe I fell asleep. The next thing I know, I was here with you.”

“How did Magic get so smart?”

Jasper grinned. “My pa taught him to be a trick horse. You ought to see all the stuff he can do. He can shake hands and dance.”

“And,” Frank interrupted him, “Damned near talk.”

“That too. He’s a good horse. And, he’s the only thing I’ve got left.” His small voice trailed away.

“Where does Aunt Nellie live?” Frank asked.

“Over in Grover Valley.”

“I’m sure she’s worried to death about you. We need to let her know you’re okay.”

Frank reached for the black phone on a table.

“Won’t do no good to use that thing, Mr. Frank. We ain’t got one.” Jasper shuffled his feet on the rug. “I have to get our tree and get home. We need a whole lot of luck.”

Frank’s heart broke for the boy. Here was a child that should be warm and safe on Christmas eve, not out traipsing through the woods looking for a tree to bring much-needed good luck.

“Tell you what. Let me finish my coffee, and I’ll pull the old truck pulled around. We’ll get you a tree. But, then I’m taking you home.”

“Thank you, Mr. Frank.” Jasper’s eyes danced. “Thank you!”

“Want any more stew?”

“No, sir. I’m okay,” Jasper looked around the room. “Don’t you have any kids, Mr. Frank?”

“Yeah, sure. But, they’re all grown and living in the big city. I’ve got grandkids older than you. My wife, Emma, died three years ago, and now it’s just me.” He remembered how hard his daughters tried to convince him to leave the ranch and move to the city after Emma’s death. But, this was home and he wasn’t budging. They’d installed the phone for him and called now and then. But, they’re much too busy to mess with an old man. Most times, he only had the voices in his head to keep him company…that and the characters in Zane Grey’s books.

“You want to spend Christmas with us?” Jasper squinted one eye.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

boy and tree