Sunday, November 30, 2008

Charlene Sands is reading Her Montana Man

In her current newsletter, Charlene Sands had this to say about Her Montana Man:
"Cheryl writes with clarity and powerful emotion. A great read!"

Whoo hoo!

Christmas Tree Tour: Linda Broday & Tumbleweed Tree

My friend Linda Broday sent me this picture from Wichita Falls, Texas!

Linda says: "I went to our local history museum today because they have a frontier dugout on display. Here is a pix of the tumbleweed Christmas tree that was inside the dugout. I thought you might like something really unusual for your Christmas tree blog."

Thanks for sharing and thinking of the GREAT CHRISTMAS TREE TOUR 2009, Linda!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

eharlequin Annual Holiday Open House

eharlequin is gearing up for the Annual Holiday Open House. Roughly 100 of your favorite authors will be meeting with you, LIVE, December 11th, 2008 on the Chat Page. They'll also have Post Parties on our Message Boards that run through every time zone so that the overseas authors and members can meet on their own time zones! Then, in the evening, Eastern Daylight Time, there will be three full hours of live chat. There will be oodles of door prizes and wild fun!

This is a heads up - I'll remind you again as the time gets closer.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

It's of course the time of year when we reflect on our many blessings, and the things we are grateful for. I'd like to take a minute to thank each of you who visit my blog throughout the year as well as those who buy and read my books. A special thank you to everyone who writes to let me know how much you enjoy my stories. I'm thankful for your encouragement and your friendship. Writing is a solitary job, but with the support and fellowship of other writers and the friendship of readers and friends, it's a rewarding one.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holly Jacobs: Once Upon a Christmas

Are three people about to get their Christmas wish?
When her nephew announces he's going to find his father, Michelle Hamilton never dreams the man's actually going to show up at her door! Only a paternity test will determine whether Daniel McLean has a legitimate claim. But that doesn't stop the much-too-appealing potential dad from throwing Michelle's well-ordered world into upheaval.

Daniel is thrilled to discover he might have a son. Now the boy's aunt and legal guardian is making him want even more. And the longer he spends with Michelle, the more Daniel feels he's finally found a place to belong.

With the town gearing up for the annual Christmas fair, what better gift could three people give—and receive—than the chance to be a real family?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Amazing Story

Holly Jacobs: Once Upon a Thanksgiving

It's A Time For Giving And Receiving…Love
As if working and raising her family of five—four kids and one demanding cat—isn't enough, Samantha Williams has been volunteered to oversee a Thanksgiving pageant at her kids' school. So a relationship is the last thing on this stretched-too-thin single mother's mind.

Until she meets the new interim principal—sexy, single Harry Remington. Her childhood friend.

Harry is welcomed into Samantha's home as if he belonged. Being part of her sprawling family—even if it's only temporary—makes him realize how much he misses having a real home. Best of all, he and Samantha are starting to trust each other. How can he say goodbye to all that? How can he leave when he's just found the best reason of all to stay?


Blast from the past: Goober Grape

Kristin bought this for Elijah while we were grocery shopping. It reminds her of being a kid. She remembers me buying it for them when they were little.

Of course he thought it looked disgusting. Wouldn't even try it!

Doesn't it look good enough to eat with a spoon? Oh, well, I guess she and I will be eating it.

What's your favorite way to eat peanut butter? Elijah likes his on a waffle in the morning. His other favorite is butter and PB whipped together and spread on crackers. I like a PB and potato chip sandwich or an apple, cored and halved with peanut butter in the middle. (A few chocolate chips on top of that add to the yumminess.) Jay likes an open faced sandwich--no butter.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Traveling With Kids

My BFF Robyn is a MOPS mom and has a blog Coolest Mommy's Coolest Thoughts with all kinds of tips on child raising and money saving techniques. I was fortunate enough to have her bless me with this two-part article on traveling with kids. It's the perfect topic for Thanksgiving and Christmas trips, which are just around the corner.
Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is next month. This means many of you will be traveling with small children. Through the years, we've found a few tips and tricks to help us travel. Please note, we DO have a video player in the van, but we DO NOT use it constantly when driving. Sean & I believe that children need to learn to entertain themselves some and they need to learn to handle boredom because all of life will not entertain you. So using the "TV is a privilege, not a guarantee" attitude, here's a few tips.

Here is the first part of the article I wrote regarding travel. More coming next week:

Do the words “Family Vacation” strike terror into your heart? With the holidays approaching and many people traveling, I wanted to give you some simple ideas to help make traveling with children easier.

For car travel, get some inexpensive toys/games from garage sales or dollar stores that you use only during travel. If you put them away for non-travel times, these toys will become an exciting thing for your children.

Don’t forget the snacks. My kids know that Pringles and Twizzlers are always packed for our car trips. Not healthy, but a family memory and something to pass the time. Besides, how else can they learn about using Twizzlers as a straw in your 7Up? Yum, yum.

The best travel tip I’ve ever received is to stop a little early for lunch at a fast food with a playplace. Let the kids run around and play while you eat. The rule is, “When you want to stop and eat, we leave.” When the kids are done playing, the adults have eaten a quiet meal. One adult takes kids to the bathroom, one orders kid meals to go for them and we load up. The kids eat and play with their new toy for about a half hour. Then they are full and tired and will remain quiet or sleep for a while. We will never again try to force them to eat in the restaurant when they could be burning off all kinds of energy.

No playplace available? Grab food and find a park (or rest stop) and force them to run. Make the kids run races and do exercise competitions (jumping jacks, best high jump) while you eat. Then feed them when you get back on the road.

Some other fun things are window clings for them to put on the windows (carseats, backs of seats, etc.) and silly games like find the alphabet in signs you pass or sing silly songs. Get books on tape/CD from the library to entertain. We often check out the book as well so our reader can read along with the tape.

A few other random travel tips:
One of our former MOPS moms told us to get a jellyroll pan for each child. It looks like a cookie sheet but has the sides all around it. Since it’s metal, magnets stick to it. For boys who love cars or trains, you can attach contact paper that you ‘create’ into roads or tracks. Then they can drive their cars/trains on it and they won’t roll off because of the raised edges.

Take it a step farther and pick up those inexpensive sticker books with scenes that you attach the stickers onto. (Usually found at airports, Cracker Barrel restaurants, etc. for about $1-1.50 per book.) If you attach the stickers to any magnet—might I recommend the freebies you get all over town—and cut out around the sticker, you can have a baggie of each sticker/magnet book. The kids can place the scene on their tray and put the magnetic stickers on the page. Pick up and put away when done.

These trays are also great for coloring (even at home when not traveling). Colors don’t roll off and if you have an enthusiastic scribbler, the color will only be on the tray.

It’s not always possible to do, but if you can plan extra time into your travel, take a little break to stop along the way at those various green sign sightseeing places. While a Pony Express Station might not be the most fascinating thing you’ll ever see, it’s fun to talk about history while you’re standing in the place. Stopping helps break up the driving a little and does create a memory that lasts a lifetime. A thirty-minute stop can make the next several hours of driving go much smoother.

For driving to the same place all the time (such as Grandma’s house), create a special map for your child. For example, when we go to our Grandma’s house, our map (hand-drawn by me) has: our house, windmills, the water tower that looks like a balloon, Exotic Animal Farm, a certain funny city name (because the kids like the name of the town and say it over and over in a sing-song voice), ice cream cone (we stop for a treat), buffalo (we pass some buffalo signs), toll booth (we take the toll road on the way), a windmill we pass, Grandma’s house. If you prefer to go high-tech, you can take photos when you go and create a pictorial map for the next trip.

I encourage you to move away from using only DVD’s to entertain kids in cars. We have a movie player in our van, but our kids are well aware of the rules. We will watch one video and then the machine goes off and screen goes up for a minimum of one hour. My kids have been forced to learn goofy songs, play silly license plate games and they have learned that sometimes you have to be bored and happy at the same time. They have learned to read in a moving car. They have invented all kinds of their own games and ways to entertain themselves.

Turning off all screens, including gaming devices and cell phones, has also taught us to communicate with our children on a deeper level. When you’re trapped for 9+ hours together in a vehicle, you can turn that into some amazing teaching time and sharing time without the kids realizing it. We work Bible stories into the day or share scriptures with the kids. It's especially meaningful when we pass incredible scenery and teach them about all the beauty in God’s creation. We know where the Llama farm is and where every windmill can be found on our route.

Part two--air travel--coming next week.

Thank you, Robyn!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas Tree Tour: Mountain Dew Tree

*lizzie Starr sent me these photos. Last year I posted a Mountain Dew tree, but this set shows the creation of the tree made out of aluminum cans. Amazing that it is so pretty when it's finished.

If you want one this year, you'd better start drinking!

Thanks, *lizzie! These were a fun addition to the tour.


Valerie Hansen writes Love Inspired Historicals and has been a guest at Petticoats and Pistols more than once. She had this to say about the photo of the tree she sent:

"When we moved to the country we decided since we had 80 acres of trees, many cedars, we'd cut our own. This is the result. Note the creche at its base. I know many people love the big, lush trees but this one was really special and I remember it fondly."

What a lovely setting and a precious little tree! I would never call this a Charlie Brown tree. Thanks for sharing with us, Val!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amazon's Top 10 Best Romance Books of 2008

Congratulations to the authors whose books made's Top 10 Books list in the Romance category. The top 10 books (Editors' Picks) are:
Servant: The Acceptance by L.L. Foster
Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen
Where the Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens
Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz
Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens
Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen
Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

Monday, November 17, 2008

TREE TRIVIA: Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The term Charlie Brown Christmas tree is used in the United States and Canada to describe any sad-looking, malformed little tree. Some tree buyers intentionally adopt such trees, feeling sympathetic to their plights. The term comes from the appearance of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree in the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Bloggy Award

Petticoats and Pistols got a Bloggy Award!

Here's what the judges said:
Petticoats and Pistols is the joint venture of a group of western romance writers. They offer insights, info, and trivia on everything western.

Visual Aesthetics - 10
The visuals of Petticoats And Pistols is as Western as Western can get! From the brown color scheme to the photos and other graphics, you will certainly feel that Western ambiance. The posts themselves are scattered with relevant photos, giving you Western eye candy.

User Friendliness - 10
Petticoats And Pistols is very well-organized and neat. The template makes use of two columns, the left one containing all the relevant links. From archives to categories to more info on the authors, you can find them all here. They even have links to their guest bloggers, making it easier for readers to find specific posts.

Reading Enjoyment - 10
I am a big Western fan but although I am not really into Western romance novels, I found myself enjoying most of the posts, especially those which featured trivia such as Western terms. These bloggers are excellent writers and they know how to engage their readers.

Useful Info - 10
If you ever need to do research on writing Westerns, then this blog is the place to visit. You can also find information on their work, which is especially useful if you are into reading Western romance novels.

Overall Experience - 10
Petticoats And Pistols is an excellent resource in every respect. The authors not only use the power of words but combine visuals to provide the best experience to their readers. Highly recommended!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

CHRISTMAS TREE TOUR: Ceramic Teddy Bear Tree

My friend Patti sent us a special tree, and a photo of the lady who decorates it each year.

"Here's what Patti has to say: "This is my sister-in-law's tree. Her name is Maggie Jane Shuler, known to the family exclusively as Cooter. That name was given her by their dad when she was a baby. (A cooter is a baby turtle.) We always have Christmas dinner at her house.

"The tree features candy canes and ceramic teddy bears that she used to make and sell. Beautiful work. Her daughter comes up from New Orleans every year to help her decorate.

"I love Christmas trees, too."

Thank you, Patti! I enjoyed seeing Cooter's tree.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Today's gorgeous tree belong to Patricia. She's going to send us a photo of her Rudolph Village when she gets it all set up, too!

Patricia says: "We usually decorate the same every year. I kind of have a thing for blue. It is my absolute favorite color. Our tree is a unique mix of all of our faves. There are lots of Star Wars ornaments (the four of us are seriously hooked on anything and everything to do with Star Wars!), some Star Trek ones too, and my fave Christmas theme: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. We have ornaments from the kids’ fave movies and tv shows (Toy Story, Disney, etc…) as well as some handmade ones and antique ornaments handed down from my grandmother.

"We buy a new collectible ornament each year after Christmas and put it away until the next year without our two boys knowing about it and then when we are putting up the tree we unveil whatever new goodie we found and they get to put it on the tree. Decorating the tree is very much a family affair at our house with everyone putting on their own special ornaments and then digging in and hanging the rest with glee! Of course, Christmas music is playing while this is going on and we usually have some cider brewing on the stove to enjoy after we are done."

Sounds like a memorable family event, doesn't it? Thanks so much for sharing with us, Patricia! I noticed Woody on a limb there! We are Toy Story fans at my house, too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Starter Wife

Is anyone watching The Starter Wife on USA? The new episodes premiere on Friday nights, but you can catch them throughout the week, too. I loved it last year - this season the best parts are the fantasy sequences. You can watch all of them here:
The Starter Wife Fantasy Sequences

GREAT TOUR 2008: Merry's Christmas Trees

Today's Christmas trees -- yes -- TWO -- are from Merry, a bookseller at Annie's Book Stop in Sharon, MA. Thanks so much for getting into the Christmas Tree spirit with us, Merry!

Merry says: "I collect Star Trek ornaments, and my family's been claiming for years that they were taking over the entire family tree. So I went out and purchased a special tree, just for Trek... it sits in our bay window, while the 8' live tree commands the living room.

"The other tree sports my grandmother's star at the peak, and my mother-in-law's hand-quilted skirt. Most of the ornaments are family heirlooms."

Thanks, Merry!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Christmas Tree Tour '08: TARYN RAYE

Here's the first contributor this year, and what a beautiful tree it is!
Taryn says: "Each year we buy a new ornament for the kids and one for me and hubby. My favorite ornaments are the ones my kids have made either at school, or ones I've helped them with, especially the handprint snowmen we made in 2004. Those are extra special because I have the children's handprints from when they were 2 and 6."

Thank you for sending your tree for us to enjoy, Taryn! I love all the red bows and the lighted topper.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's time! I reminded you in July, but now it's really time. Last year's Great Christmas Tree Tour was such a success and so much fun that I can't wait to see all the trees this year.

I love Christmas trees. Can't get enough of them. Can't see enough of them, can't decorate enough of them, can't pack enough decorations on mine.

So remember as you're decorating this year...when you step back to enjoy your accomplishment, get your camera and take photos! Send them to me. Mention a special ornament, if this is the same way you decorate every year or if you switch it up. Let's make it fun and really share. Tuck your camera in your purse, and if you see a breathtaking tree at a friends' or outdoors or someplace local, take a picture! Send photos to me and I'll post all of them!

When will you be putting up your tree? The day or weekend after Thanksgiving?

Jaden Smith becomes Karate Kid

Will Smith's ten-year-old son will be waxing on and waxing off for a new generation in the upcoming 'Karate Kid' remake. Columbia Pictures is reportedly planning a new version of the 1984 film as a star vehicle for Jaden Smith. The original 'Karate Kid' starred Ralph Macchio, and the 1994 sequel launched the career of Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank.

Jaden Smith made his big-screen debut with his dad in 'The Pursuit of Happyness' and will be seen next in another remake, 'The Day the Earth Stood Still,' due out in December.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sherryl Woods Welcomes you to Serenity

You know that Kenny Chesney song, “Don’t Blink?” Well, he may be singing about how quickly children grow up, but that line could also apply to this time of year when the holidays can be upon us faster than the blink of an eye. In fact, in mall time, Christmas arrived before Halloween could slip out the back door. Blink, and you could well miss Thanksgiving in this commercial world we live in.

Except, of course, in Serenity, South Carolina, the setting for my Sweet Magnolias series, where every single holiday is not only observed, but celebrated—none more lavishly than Christmas. That holiday spirit inspired the idea for my new book, Welcome to Serenity, which goes on sale Tuesday, November 25.

Jeanette Brioche, honorary Sweet Magnolia, may be the only town resident approaching the season with a bah-humbug attitude. Asked to be The Corner Spa’s representative on the town Christmas festival committee, she flatly says no, much to the dismay of her boss and friends. That does, however, align her perfectly with the sexy new town manager, Tom McDonald, who’s been coerced into running the committee.

What these two—and most of the rest of us—need in such stressful times is a little serenity. How, though, to find it?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have Jeanette’s relaxation techniques, Mayor Howard Lewis’s zest for decorating and the cooking skills of Dana Sue Sullivan to see us through this season?

And so, with a lot of help from my friends, I've pulled together a website designed to provide a little serenity when you most need it. This site is packed with menus, recipes, even grocery shopping lists for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holiday meals. You’ll find decorating ideas, gift selections for friends, family and co-workers, great websites to shop and some tips for avoiding the holiday blues. You will find all of these amazing suggestions at or via a link on the main page of We’ve even found some inspirational quotations and gorgeous photography guaranteed to keep your thoughts serene and your mood bright.

And while you’re there, please feel free to share your own gift ideas and traditions!

I look forward to seeing you on the site, because everyone could use a little serenity . . . especially during the holidays!

May your season be blessed with family and friends and your new year filled with joy.


Monday, November 10, 2008

holiday shopping

I've read a couple of predictions for the big deals for sales the day after Thanksgiving this year. It's predicted that Walmart will have a $299 laptop and Office Depot a $300 laptop.

Sophia Loren

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

Logan waiting for Trick-or-Treaters

Here is my friend Andrea's little guy dressed up for Halloween. Is this just the cutest picture or what? It was my favorite. Logan is always smiling and happy in all of his pictures. What a joy to see happy loved babies.

I love babies.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Low-Fat Orange Dream Cheesecake

1 graham cracker, crushed (about 3 Tbsp.)
2/3 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Orange Flavor Sugar Free Low Calorie Gelatin
1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
1 tub (8 oz.) Fat Free Cream Cheese
2 cups thawed Cool Whip FREE Whipped Topping

SPRINKLE crumbs onto bottom of 8- or 9-inch springform pan or 9-inch pie plate sprayed with cooking spray.

STIR boiling water into gelatin in large bowl at least 2 min. until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool 5 min. Pour into blender container. Add cheeses; cover. Blend on medium speed until well blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down side of blender container; pour into large bowl.

ADD whipped topping; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pan; smooth top with spatula. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Remove side of pan just before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sing Along at Petticoats and Pistols Today

I'm giving away copies of HER MONTANA MAN at Petticoats and Pistols today! Stop by and leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

Naming Characters

I have to know my characters' names before I can get anywhere in creating a story for them. Just like I have to have a title before I can write pages. The names make sense, I don't know about the title.

The character's name has to fit them in my head. The name has to help me picture the story person. I have ten books of names, everything from baby names to character naming to Bible definitions to naming pets. You can also find popular names by years on the Internet. Once I've chosen, the first name usually never changes; often the last name will change as I bring in more people.

Secondary characters take almost as much work. I make a list of the alphabet and then tick off beginning letters I've used for names. You can't have two character names sound alike, like Charlotte and Charlene or Monique and Monica or even David and Dennis, because the reader will get them confused. Also endings have to differ, for example you wouldn't want Whitley and Rigby and Riley in the same scene.

Heritage/nationality is important as is era. As is connotation. I would never name a high-powered executive-type woman Tiffany or Trixie. Also there are names that just plain make you think of someone else: Fabian, Orlando, Sly, Madonna, Britney, Charleton to name a few.

Someone suggested it would be fun to see a list of all the names I've used in books. I guess it would. It just wouldn't be fun compiling the list after all this time!

David Cook

Any fans out there? Watch David Cook's new music video LIGHT ON.

Order his CD from amazon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Birthday Girl

Sunday was Alexis's birthday. Our oldest daughter and family were here for the weekend, so we had a crazy busy fun time. Happy Birthday, Alexis!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Her Montana Man

My December book HER MONTANA MAN is featured on eharlequin's opening page this month! Whoo hoo! Click over to and it's the first big splash ad you see.

Click through and it takes you to the order page

and an excerpt

This cover is a huge hit already...I think I'll have a drawing for a few copies...ready?