Archive | March 2017

“This is Us” and Me is Mad!

I don’t watch a lot of television. Having said that, I will admit I have had a run lately on good quality shows – Poldark, When Calls the Heart, Victoria, and Mercy Street. These are all, of course, on PBS with the exception of When Calls the Heart which is a Hallmark show.

So yea – you see the sort of stuff I watch. Not much different than the kind of stuff I read.

So it was a little odd when a friend hooked me on This Is Us. Me watching a major network show is like seeing a blizzard in June in southeast Texas. That I became a fan of said show is even odder. Honestly, I kept trying to find reasons NOT to watch it, but I kept coming back week after week.

I love the intergenerational approach. I love the writing. I LOVE the characters, who are flawed – flawed – flawed – and yet still quite likable. I love the character growth I have witnessed – especially in Kevin.

And I love the raw realness of it. I would cry and sniff – and then think – this is so true. This is how life happens.

 I can SO relate!

But –

The season finale was . . . unfair.

There. I said it.

To anyone who cares – THE SEASON FINALE WAS UNFAIR!


I said it.


To set us up all season with small clues as to what happened to Jack is one thing. But the two episodes before the last we were given major clues as to what we thought happened – from  Kate saying his death was her fault, to the empty beer bottles in the car, to the fight he and Rebecca had. .

And then, they never told us how he died.

Had they gone on with their little, drippy clues up to the last show I would not have cared. I would have thought – “oh well, they will let us know next season.”

But to set us up the two shows before the last, and then to NOT do as they sort of promised.


Authors make unwritten contracts with readers. Provide an entertaining story. Or a dramatic story. Or whatever the author’s “brand” entails. It matters not the genre.

The one part of the contract, however, that almost all authors and readers share is the “this book will have a satisfying ending.” The only exception, of course, are trilogies or series books. Even then, that can be a tricky . . . trick.

But for a television show to drop major clues the last two shows and not fulfill the contract was just . . . unforgiveable.

That’s right.



I’m into “un” words today.

Maybe I will “unwatch” next year.


Probably not.






That darn duck . . . er, goose!

A writer never knows when a character will pop onto the page and steal the scene.

One such character was Grayson Cayle in Keeping Secrets. One minute the world was Grayson free – the next he was there and an alternative love interest for Mary McKechnie.

Amon Cayle was not happy.

“Grayson,” John hailed. “’Tis nice to see thee has met our newest guest.”

“Yes, I have,” the deep voice drawled. “And I must say, she is lovelier than I remembered.”

Amon froze. Across the room Mary flushed red as a rose as his brawny deerskin clad frontiersman of a brother leaned over her hand and kissed it gently.


The man straightened his towering build upwards but did not relinquish her hand. Mary didn’t want to embarrass him by pulling it away, nor did she really want to let go. His hand felt warm and nice, and his attention was flattering. A neatly trimmed beard, offset by the unrestrained shoulder length black hair, provided the right combination of tame and wild to make him more than interesting.

Grayson is even the hero in an unfinished novel in my computer which hopefully, God willing, I will someday get to writing.

Another character to jump from the page was Blossom the Cow, also in Keeping Secrets. She had a personality all her own, especially with her determination to eat the sweet clover in Amon Cayle’s bog. Her death spirals the McKechnie family into turmoil, and Mary is forced to make choices she would not have otherwise.

However, none of my characters, thus far, have taken over stories in quite the same way with quite the same fanfare as Penelope the goose in Keeping Secrets.

Mary turned to see her mother, Huldah Langdon, step off the front porch and head towards her, Penelope close at her heels. The Pilgrim goose was more dog than bird, waddling and squawking at Amon and the children. Mary would have laughed at the fowl’s brave antics if she hadn’t been so upset over Amon’s visit.


originally pinned from

Penelope was patterned after a Pilgrim goose, or perhaps one of its forerunners. Pilgrim geese usually weigh between 13 and 14 pounds. They are quiet, calm birds and quite personable. The idea for Penelope to be sort of a watchdog was taken from a story I read of a man who had such a goose in colonial times.


I had one reader tell me she wished that goose would go away because it drove her crazy. She swears she would have seen to its demise if it were hers.

Others have told me how much they love Penelope – and the girl does provide some comic relief.

More than one reader cried in Breaking Promises when Penelope died in the wake of her mistresses’ death.

I admit to crying over and over while writing the scene.

And Penelope is still insisting on the spotlight. She has her own picture on my Pinterest Board for Keeping Secrets, and almost every day I get another notification or two that she has been pinned to another board. The only other picture that gets this much attention on my Pinterest boards is the gate to Boonesborough on my David Crews, Ancestors & Descendants board, a picture I took myself over thirty years ago.

Apparently, people cannot get enough of that duck . . . er, goose!



Safety Pin? I think not!

Historical authors must always be on the lookout for accuracy. And so it was, that while writing a scene in The Rood in which my female heroine takes off an apron, I began arguing with myself (we writers do that a lot) about the “safety pin.”

Now, I knew that colonial aprons were not tied on, but were “pinned” on, or at least in most instances they were. In fact, women’s bodices and dresses were “pinned” as well. And I am talking “loooonnnggggg” pins, not the stuff our mothers used that stuck out of pincushions to await holding together fabric and a paper pattern. For more on this pinning done by colonial women, as well as pictures of these pins and a colonial women’s bodice that is “pinned,” check out Two Nerdy History Girls November 20, 2009 post titled Pins & Pinning.

But, I digress. The point is that in my head I still had colonial aprons attached with – you got it – a good old-fashioned safety pin.

Except there was no such thing in 1756.

Or 1780. Or 1820.sewing-661992_960_720

The safety pin as we know it today was invented by American mechanic Walter Hunt in 1849. He made the invention to pay off a $15 debt to a friend. Hunt was issued a U.S. patent on 10 April 1849, and he then sold the patent to W. R. Grace and Company for $400 (in 2008 this would have equaled $10,000).

Hunt paid the friend his $15, and he promptly kept the other $385 for himself. Of course, like I stated above, that woud be like keeping several tens of thousands of dollars today.

However, W. R. Grace and Company got the better end of the deal, for they would make millions of dollars from the safety pin.

I, for one, am grateful. The idea of large pins pinned to my breast front is not a comforting thought to say the least.

Oh, and the scene with the “pinned” apron.

It’s gone.

Such is the life of a writer.


For HATE of the Peel!

This coming Saturday, March 11th, is Johnny Appleseed Day. appleorchard

Johnny Appleseed, of course, is one of the more popular American myths and legends. The tale goes that he went around the country planting apple seeds. The truth, of course, is a little bit broader than that. In fact, apples had been in use and their cultivation widespread long before his birth. The fruit was a favorite among colonials long before the American Revolution because of the diverse types and the fruit’s versatility, so Appleseed was not necessarily responsible for its popularity.

Appleseed was born John Chapman on 26 September 1774 in Leominster, Massachusettes, to John and Elizabeth (Simonds) Chapman. He was actually an orchardist, planting nurseries in the states of Pennyslvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He would leave these nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold the trees to shares, and then Appleseed would return every year or two to tend the nursery. While he traveled and worked, he served as a missionary for The New Church (Swedenborgian). He never married, and he died at 70 years of age on 18 March 1845, having planted acres and acres of orchards in the mid-west.

Now, I love apples. I love the red, shiny gloss of the peel. I was fascinated, as a child, by the green of the Granny Smith Apples. And, of course, there are the varieties – Macintosh, Lady Pink, Red Delicious, Fuji, and on and on. Wikipedia reports there are over 7,500 cultivars worldwide, making the apple one of the most versatile fruits around.They are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking – apple pie, applesauce, apple cobbler, apple pie tansy, etc., eating raw, and for the making of cider.

And evapplegrannysmithery one of those, before being made into a recipe, needs must be peeled.

Well, almost.

And I hate to peel.

I get too much of the apple with the peel. I never get close enough to the core. There always seems to be a large quantity needed even for a simple apple pie. And heaven forbid, if I don’t get the apple chunks into the batter fast enough and they begin to brown. Where are lemons when I need them?

That’s why the following Apple Cake Recipe is a favorite of mine. You do NOT have to peel the apples.

That’s right folks! You can cut up that apple around that core and dump those chunks into the batter.

And so, in honor of Johnny Appleseed Day, and the fact that I can have my apple fix without the pain of peels, I now share this recipe with you.

Enjoy – and Happy Johnny Appleseed Day in two days!

Delicious Apple Cake

Beat 2 cups sugar, 1 cup oil, and 2 eggs together well. 

Add 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp soda, and 1 tsp nutmeg. 

Add 2 cups chopped Delicious apples, finely chopped, but NOT peeled. Beat well. 

Stir in 2 cups enriched all-purpose flour and 1 cup chopped black walnuts. 

Mix well. Pour into a greased and floured tube or Bundt pan or a loaf pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes.


I did find two dates for Johnny Appleseed Day. The first was his birthday on 26 September. Another is this coming Saturday, March 11th.


Wikipedia, Apple,

Wikipedia, Johnny Appleseed,