Friday, December 31, 2010


Happy New Year! Here's an Irish blessing from my 2011 calendar:

Irish Shamrocks
May your Past be a pleasant memory,
Your Future filled with delights and mystery,
Your Now a glorious moment
That fills your life with deep contentment.

Ah, those Irish certainly have a way with words, don't they? Must come from living in the same country as the Blarney Stone.

Congratulations to Debbie! She is the winner of Sybil Baker's TALISMANS. Debbie, I'll get in touch with you and get your address so Sybil's publisher can send your copy of TALISMANS. Happy reading!

Did you make a list
of resolutions?
Are you one who makes resolutions at this time of year? I don’t write down a list of resolutions, but I mentally set a few goals for the future. Perhaps that amounts to the same thing. Whatever your choice, I wish you the best year ever in 2011. Did you choose to make several New Year's resolutions? Let me know what they are if you can share them. But here's what I hope you will do:

Rid your heart of hate, grudges, and bad memories. Ill will toward others seldom hurts them, but it festers inside us and can actually cause us to become ill. Pettiness dimishes the one displaying it. Let generosity and love fill your heart and soul.

Embrace your good qualities. Don't focus on bad hair, a few extra pounds, or whatever you dislike about yourself--and we all have things we'd like to change. If your weight is affecting your health, then that's not what I mean. Each of us has the responsibility to take care of his/herself physically and mentally. But think about your good qualities and accentuate them--caring, nurturing others, creating, smiling. Like the old song says, "You got accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and get rid of Mr. Inbetween."

Be positive I have an amazing friend who's 102-years-old. Her advice: WALK ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF LIFE! Don't give in; keep pushing forward. None of the "I can't because I have..." Obviously each of us has limitations, but don't use them as a crutch to excuse poor performance. Yes, the finger is pointing back at me. All too often, I'm ready to toss in the towel. No, not to quit writing, but quit expecting to sell to a major publisher, no longer hope for awards. Never let negativity kill your dreams! 

Here's to a great 2011 for each of us! Remember, walk on the sunny side of the year!

And if you are looking for a good book to curl up with in the chilly weather, please consider one of mine at  or on Amazon and other online book stores. 

On the sidebar, you'll see a place to subscribe to my Mostly Monthly Newsletter. Each issue contains an EXCLUSIVE FREE short story, recipe, news, miscellaneous stuff and an occasional prize. Please sign up!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Sybil Baker
Sybil Baker has graciously offered a free print copy of TALISMANS to one lucky peson who comments today. Readers love getting to know authors. Sybil, before I launch into the interview and book review, please share your life growing up and now. What prompted you to write short stories for TALISMANS instead of a conventional novel?

Sybil: TALISMANS started from a few stories that I wrote years apart. I realized that the stories were about the same person, and I was interested in learning more about her, so I continued to write more stories about her.

While the collection does have a narrative arc that one often finds in a novel, I found that Elise’s life, which in many ways is fragmented for her, was best told through individual stories from different periods of time.

Caroline: Do these stories reflect your personal life journey?

Sybil: The stories don’t reflect my own life journey in terms of my relationship to my parents. My father died a few years ago and my mother is still alive. My parents had a long enduring marriage as well.

I did draw on my experience of living and traveling abroad for twelve years and growing up in suburban Virginia. I used some of my own impressions of place as a starting point for Elise’s journey.

Caroline: You did a lot of travel for research. What was your favorite place you visited? Least favorite? Why for each.

Sybil: It’s hard to have favorite and least favorite places. The place that has haunted me the most is Cambodia, probably because I could feel the legacy of the Khmer Rouge in such vivid and raw ways. I loved all the countries, but because I lived in Korea for twelve years, I feel that is the country I have the most intimate relationship with.

Caroline: Did you travel alone and did you encounter any danger in your travels?

Sybil: Unlike Elise I did not travel alone. I was married at the time, so my experiences in that sense were different than hers. I did meet and know a fair amount of women who were traveling on their own, and seemed to do okay.

The biggest “danger” I encountered was in Cambodia. We had to pay a person to drive up with us in a jeep to one of the ruins. He had an AK47 in his lap—ambushes happened infrequently, and one tourist had been killed for her watch. Nothing happened on our trip though.

Caroline: This is not your first publication. Tell us about your previous work(s).

The Life Plan
Sybil: I’ve published essays and short stories in various literary journals. My novel, THE LIFE PLAN was published in 2009. Like TALISMANS, the protagonist is from the DC area and goes to Asia; however THE LIFE PLAN is more of a comic novel, while TALISMANS has a darker tone.

Caroline: What is your current WIP? Is it contracted?

Syblil: I’m currently finishing up a polished draft of a novel about two sisters, one an adopted Korean, who go to Korea to uncover some family secrets. I won’t think about agents or publishers until the book is in its final form, which I hope to be soon.

Caroline: Do you have a day job or write full time?

Sybil: I’m an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I teach primarily creative writing along with some literature and humanities courses. I love teaching and my job, but it does unfortunately take away from writing time during the semesters.

Caroline: But what a great job, inspiting creativity and love of literature in students! Do you write each day? Do you set goals?

Sybil: I don’t write each day although I’d like to. Some parts of the semester are just too busy for me to write, although I try to make up for it on the semester breaks. A few years ago my husband and I went to Jamaica for the winter holidays, and I spent most of the days holed up in our room revising THE LIFE PLAN! This year we’ll be in Florida, and I’ve already warned him I’ll be at the computer for much of the day revising the latest novel.

Because I can’t write every day, I do set goals. For example this winter holiday I plan to have that draft of the new novel finished so that I can send it to a few readers for feedback.

Caroline: Are you in a critique group or do you have a beta reader?

Sybil: My first beta reader is my husband. He gives me constructive first draft advice. When I think a book is as revised as I can get it, then I send it to a few readers—usually my sister-in-law and some writer friends for feedback.

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you? Links?

Sybil: I’m on Facebook and Goodreads. I like to go to book groups and other clubs and talk about my experiences traveling and writing. My brother is an engineering professor in Turkey, my husband is South African. Although I grew up in the DC area and lived in Korea for twelve years, my roots are Southern—both sides of my family go back to pre-Revolutionary War. You can learn more about me at or check out my blog on traveling and writing at

Thanks for having me!

Caroline: Thanks for being a guest.
Readers. one person who leaves a comment will receive a copy of Sybil’s book, TALISMANS. When you comment, be certain to leave your email so I can contact you in case you are the lucky winner!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Baby, it's cold outside!
Brrrr! Winter is here! No snow, but cold wind to rosy your cheeks and chase you indoors. What do you do on cold winter days?

By Jodi Thomas
My favorite thing to do on a cold day is curl up with a good book. In fact, that's what I did yesterday. A luxurious, self-indulgent day sitting in my favorite chair, covered with my favorite throw, and reading a favorite author's new book. What could be better on a cold day?  I read Jodi Thomas’ SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, which I received as a stocking gift from Santa. This book continues the Harmony series on which I am so hooked. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series. 

By Cindy Sample
On my Kindle, I had just finished DYING FOR A DATE by Cindy Sample (recommended by my friend Bobbye Terry). This is a well-written cozy mystery with plenty of humor and a good puzzle. I didn't know who the killer was until way near the end. Fooling other writers is hard because we know the rules, but Cindy Sample pulled it off and offered an entertaining read as well.

This brings me to my Monday Musings topic. WILL E-BOOKS REPLACE BOOKS IN PRINT? In my opinion, it will not occur in our lifetime. Maybe. Probably. Certainly I hope not!

I love my new Kindle, but . . .
 E-books are ecologically sound, and an e-reader can hold dozens, even hundreds, of books on one small device. Electronic books are less expensive to produce, and are much faster through the editing and publishing process. The drawback to them is that they are so easy to publish, some that are not up to publishing quality reach the market. These badly written books create a poor reputation for all electronic publishing. My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, has wonderful editors who take their jobs seriously. I’ve started books from other sources, though, that I simply could not finish. They aren’t true wall bangers, since I’m not throwing my Kindle against the wall, but they are quickly deleted from my files.

Curl up with a good book
For those of us old enough to have grown up reading a print book, nothing replaces the feel of a book in our hands. I love thumbing through a research book. This usually leads to locating interesting material for a book down the line. In fact, I simply love books. Our home is filled with bookshelves filled with fiction and non-fiction books. Are these print books going the same way as the dinosaur? Will our heirs sell them as rare collections or will they go to a land fill?

Thing of the past?
 I hate to think of future libraries as a building filled with only computers! One exclusive private school in Dallas has replaced the library with 48 computers. The only books are in a tiny room labeled Antique Library. Shudder!  What a sad commentary on the future of libraries.

I limit my Kindle reading to those books I plan to read only once. Yes, I do reread many of my favorite books. Those authors whose books I plan to save, I buy in print. Makes sense to me, and I hope it does for other readers as well.  Perhaps both print and e-books will continue to be companion media for the future.

Pick your form of reading material, but please keep reading! Authors need more than royalties. We need to know that readers are enjoying our books. While I would write if no one but my family read my books, my goal is to bring escapism, hope, and pleasure to many, many readers through my writing.

Please return on Wednesday for an interview with Sybil Baker.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Special Christmas blessings to each of you!

On this lovely holiday, I want to share with you some of the Irish blessings offered by Seamus O’Neill in my book THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. Seamus is a lovable man who would be a millionaire if he were paid for talking. He has a toast or blessing for each occasion. These blessings are heartfelt from me to you!

May your guardian angel
always be near!
Those things I warmly wish for you-
Someone to love,
Some work to do,
A bit o' sun,
A bit o' cheer,
and a guardian angel always near

May you have warm words
on a cold evening.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night
and the road downhill
all the way to your door.

May the good saints protect you
May the good saints protect you,
and bless you each day,
and may trouble ignore you,
each step of the way.

And let me add my blessing to you:

May the peace that passes all understanding
     dwell in your heart,
May God’s grace surround and comfort you, and
May His love guide you through the coming year.

          Merry Christmas!

This looks like our cat Bailey Erin, but I
doubt she'd befriend a mouse.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Memories by Theresa Stillwagon

Christmas Memories
Christmas is just around the corner, so I've decided to share some of my memories of Christmas. The season was always a joyful thing in my family, with lots of good food and cheer.

My fondest memory is eating. We had to place two tables together in our long, narrow living room for Christmas dinner. We needed both tables because I came (come) from a large, Catholic family--eleven total. Dad and Mom, Charlie, Paul, me, Mary, Ann, David, Rose, Bernadette, and Ruth in order of age. We were a pretty close family, even though we did have normal everyday fights. My mom would start cooking the turkey the night before and it'd be finished by one or two pm when we'd eat. And we always went to Christmas Mass, either at Midnight or in the morning. My dad would have to go to two different Masses every Sunday because all of us wouldn't fit into one car.

A decorated tree
If I remember correctly, Dad and my brothers would go out to the woods and chop down a Christmas tree after Thanksgiving. All of us would decorate it while listening to my dad play the guitar and my sister, Ann, the piano. She was good on it. On Christmas morning, we'd be up and ready early to open all those presents. The living room was a colorful mess by the time we tore all the wrapping away. I don't think my parents placed them under the tree until a few days before Christmas. We always got some nice presents.

A little help with gift wrapping
Mom would wrap them at night in her bedroom downstairs. She'd keep the door closed and chase us away if got too curious. She would also wrap them in the living room, late at night. I remember we used to sneak down the stairs and go down the hallway toward her room. She always knew we were there somehow, and chased us back to bed.

Now things are not that way anymore. My parents are both with the Lord and my brothers and sisters are spread all around the globe. The large old home were grew up with isn't a home anymore -- it's a dry cleaners. And the area isn't rural anymore. Two blocks away there's a grade school.

Thank the Lord, I still have my memories.

Hope everyone has a joyful and wonderful Christmas.

And a merry New Year.


Theresa Stillwagon engrossed in her work
Theresa Stillwagon has been writing most of her life. Since one of her teachers praised a poem she wrote for a class assignment, she’s been putting words together in the hopes of seeing them in print. Not caring if anyone other than herself ever read them. Her dream came to reality in 2008 when she signed her first writing contract. She’s now just signed her fourth one and isn’t looking back.

From Whispers Press
A former resident of the state of Ohio, Theresa now lives in her RV in the sunny city of Savannah, Georgia with her husband of twenty-seven years, Mike, and her two cats, Fred and Barney. She’s currently searching for a job while still hard at work on her next romance.

Readers can find her at

Buy link for THE GIFT is


Another book, A BETRAYAL OF FRIENDSHIP, is available from Whispers Publishing at

From The Wild Rose Press
 Theresa is also an author for The Wild Rose Press. The buy link for ONE AND THE SAME is

Theresa has sold to a third publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing, for what she hopes will be the first of a trilogy.
Congratulations, Theresa, and thanks for being a guest here today.

Unabashed plug for my own books is that they are available from

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Welcome to Victoria Gray, who wrote her first story with a freshly sharpened pencil soon after she started elementary school. When she was in the third grade, her mother bought her a Smith Corona manual typewriter. She was officially a writer! Victoria lives in Virginia with her own hero, her husband Greg. The mother of two sons who are used to their mother burning food to a crisp when she runs back to her computer to write just a little bit more, she enjoys cycling, hiking and long walks on the beach when she’s not writing, reading or burning dinner.

Oh Christmas Tree – My Favorite Holiday Tradition

By Victoria Gray

Thanks for having me today, Caroline. One of my favorite holiday traditions is trimming the Christmas tree. It’s a pleasant ritual that has been a high point of the holiday season since I was a child.

Lighted Tree
Some people insist on a real tree. My husband used to feel that a Christmas tree had to be freshly cut to merit the time it takes to decorate it. No doubt, there’s a wonderful quality to the smell of a real Christmas tree. But to me, that’s not the most important thing – the quality that makes a Christmas tree so special to me is the way a tree showcases decades’ worth of memories.

This year, we bought an artificial tree, pre-lit no less. In some ways, I feel like this is a confession, but with my hectic life and my husband’s busy schedule, it seemed a good choice. It’s lovely even without ornaments. But….it won’t be my tree until it’s decorated with my hodgepodge of ornaments, some delicate, some beautiful, some rather homely but filled with warm sentiment.

No one would ever think Martha Stewart had stopped over to decorate my tree. There’s no sense of color coordination, no theme. But there are ornaments crafted by my children, ornaments I made for my mother, Santas given as gifts by long-missed family, even photos of my son in daycare that were turned into ornaments by the daycare staff. My son cringes when I ooh and ahh over his ornaments. But I predict that many years from now, he will look at these ornaments with the appreciation I have gained for their sentimental value over the years.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? What special event marks the highlight of the Christmas season for you? I’d love to hear about your favorite Christmas traditions. Share your favorites, and you’ll be entered in the “end of tour” blog contest for a chance to win a free pdf of ANGEL IN MY ARMS.


Available Now!
Amanda Emerson must break her cousin, a notorious double agent, out of a Confederate prison before his imminent execution. She’s a skilled Union operative, but for this mission, she needs a man. Even a man who looks and acts like a Viking warrior.

Caught with Rebel battle plans and set for a hanging, Union spy Steve Dunham isn’t about to refuse the assistance of the sable-haired beauty who shows up at the jail and slips him the keys to his cell. Of course, she’s there for a reason besides saving his neck - he’s the key to her plan.

He may be trading one noose for another, but he won’t forsake her. The spoils of his victory will be her surrender. And the terms of surrender will be sweet.

Buy Links:

ANGEL IN MY ARMS is available from The Wild Rose Press (print - and e-book -, and other retailers including:

Digibooks Café (,

All Romance E-Books (, (Kindle - and print -

Here an excerpt of ANGEL IN MY ARMS:

Amanda sank into a chair and gazed into the crackling flames. Her heart ached. And there was only one cure for it.

A cure that would not come tonight. She’d outgrown childish Christmas wishes many years ago. She knew better than to hope for a miracle that would not come.

Kate padded across the floor, her footsteps soundless against the braided rug. “Joshua will be here to take me home shortly. I’ll return in the morning.”

“You belong with your family,” Amanda said. “Betsy and I will be fine. We’ve—”

A rap against the door cut through her words.

“Don’t tell me Captain Reed has returned,” Betsy muttered, eyeing Kate with a critical glare as she marched to the door with impatient strides.

She mumbled a few words to the unseen visitor and closed the door almost as quickly as she’d opened it.

“It seems I was wrong.” Betsy placed a wrapped package in Amanda’s hand. “You have an admirer.”


“I don’t know,” Betsy said with a reluctant smile. “The messenger didn’t say who’d sent him. Only that this was for Mandy.”


Amanda was sure her heart skipped a beat.

She unwrapped the package with slow, careful motions, intending to savor this moment, the pleasure of discovery.

Her lower lip quivered as she removed her gift. Ivory hair combs, exquisitely carved. Amanda examined her treasure with the wonder of a child on Christmas morning. She slid the combs into her hair.

A folded slip of paper lay within the box.

Amanda read the boldly scrawled message. She’d been so very wrong.

Her wish had been granted.

Someday I’ll hold you again.


Steve shoved his hands in his coat pockets and braced himself against the cold. The warmth of his room at Lily’s Place beckoned him, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. Not just yet.

The boy he’d paid to deliver Amanda’s gift ran to him, reported the deed had been done, and rushed home, a silver coin clutched in his grimy hand.

Home. How many years had it been since he’d even had a home? Ten…no, eleven. He’d never been in one place long enough to put down roots, not since he left Boston.

With his collar turned up and his hat slung low to obscure his face, Steve skulked through the streets of a city where he didn’t belong. The truth broadsided him with the merciless force of a cannon ball. One week past his twenty-ninth birthday, he had no wife, no child, and a rented room in a brothel in which to lay his head.

A few weeks ago, he wouldn’t have given a damn. He’d never needed anything beyond a warm bed and a willing woman.

But nothing had been the same since he’d first laid eyes on Amanda.

Even in her prim and proper gray dress, she’d robbed him of breath. She hadn’t known that. Until he kissed her.

Longing speared his heart. He was in love with a woman he had no right to want. His partner’s sister. A beauty who could have her choice of who would give her every comfort she deserved. Amanda deserved so much more than he could ever give.

But that didn’t change a damned thing.

He couldn’t stop himself from loving her.

Thanks for that wonderful excerpt and post of your holiday tradition, Victoria. I can hardly wait to read ANGEL IN MY ARMS. Readers, learn more about Victoria at:

Don't forget to comment about your favorite holiday traditon to be entered the drawing for a copy of ANGEL IN MY ARMS! Today is the last day of our Roses Christmas Blog Tour. Everyone who commented on the blogs today and the past three Wednesdays will be entered into the drawing for the prizes listed at . My giveaway is a $15 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press. We plan to announce the winners on Saturday, so comment today and come back on Saturday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


No snow for us--just cold!
Here in North Central Texas, we’re prepared for what the weather forecaster says is an “arctic blast.” Brrr! Folks around here call it, “Nothing between us and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence.” Strong north winds chill as if coming off the frozen North Pole. How do people in Siberia stand living there? Ah, well, that’s a problem for another day. Today's weather makes Christmas seem nearer. Heavens, it’s careening toward us like the fictional train, the Polar Express. How will I get everything done in time? I’ll either be late with some things for this year—or maybe I’ll be very early for next year. LOL

Because I love this time of year, I thought I’d give you a review of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SANTA CLAUS, by (as told to) Jeff Guinn. This is not a new book, but came out in 2003. In fact, Jeff Guinn now has three follow-up books available. I read the first of the series several years ago. Don’t worry, this review does not contain spoilers.

I was relieved to learn the Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas tradition was not merely a marketing ploy concocted by Madison Avenue, or whatever its predecessor was. There really was a Saint Nicholas in the fourth century, and he really did go about giving gifts! He was a Bishop of the church in Myra and traveled around his area of Lycia in Asia Minor. His feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is December 6th, and he is also acknowledged by other churches. Okay, he didn’t crawl down chimneys. Back then, homes didn’t have actual chimneys as we know them. Many just had a hole in the roof. They also didn't have glass on the windows. Not too cozy in bad weather.

Saint Nicholas’ first known gifts were to the daughters of a very poor man. The girls couldn’t marry without a dowry, but their father had none to offer. Taking pity on the girls, Saint Nicholas either (1) tossed bags of gold through the window or (2) each sister had only one pair of stockings, so she washed them each night and hung them near the fire. Saint Nicholas put the coins in the stockings the girls left drying by the fire. Thus, the girls were able to marry (and, hopefully, each got a second pair of stockings).

I prefer the second version because it explains why we hang stockings by the fire for Santa to fill. When I was a child, my brother and I used our dad's heavy winter socks to hang. Since we didn't have a fireplace, we hung them on a nail in the window frame. Not idyllic, but it worked. It never occurred to us that on very cold days our dad had to wear socks with a hole in them. Oops, I digressed again.

Modern Santa Claus
The point of Jeff Guinn's book is that Saint Nicholas was an actual person, a Bishop of the church, who went around giving to the poor and helping all those he could. In other words, he did not only what is expected of any priest, but what we’re all supposed to do every day. As was the custom of the time and place, he was married. There was a Mrs. Claus.

Remarkable that Saint Nicholas showed such compassion in a time when the poor were looked down upon or ignored. Remarkable that doing good created so much notoriety and controversy and gave him a permanent place in history. Remarkable that we continue his legacy by giving to those we love and, hopefully, to those in need. Whether you call him Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, thanks for continuing his legacy.

I do believe in Santa Claus. I do!

Buy link for my books is

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The REAL Texas Rangers! by Tracy Garrett

Tracy Garrett at a booksigning
For as long as she can remember, Tracy Garrett has loved to disappear into the worlds created within the pages of a book. An accomplished musician, Tracy merged her need for creativity, her love of history, and her passion for reading when she began writing historical romance. An active member of Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors, Tracy lives in Missouri with her husband of twenty-six years. Her western historicals, TOUCH OF TEXAS and TOUCHED BY LOVE, are available from bookstores everywhere.


Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger,
accompanied by his horse, Silver
Ever since the masked man in the white hat rode across the silver screen upholding the law and saving damsels in distress, I’ve been a fan of the Texas Rangers. From a few carefully chosen men protecting the Texas frontier to the elite of modern law enforcement, the history of the Texas Rangers is as colorful as the land and people they protect.

Hollywood has been enamored with this badge-wearing hero since 1910, when the first movie featuring a Ranger was released. But who are the real Texas Rangers?

In 1823 the Empresario of Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, created two companies of men to act as “rangers for the common defense.” These men had to be strong leaders and fighters, and needed some specialized skills:

>marksmanship with rifle and pistol;
>mastery of the outdoor life; and
>knowledge of the foe.

They also had to have their own horse and weapons, since the government provided only powder, lead, and a few provisions. After that, they had to fend for themselves.

The Texas Rangers have been formed and disbanded many times in their history. In 1835, the provisional Texas government authorized recruiting 25 Rangers. That number grew to 3 companies of 56 men each, who all mustered out in 1846 and joined the Army as scouts and guerilla fighters, and became sensations in the eastern newspapers. That’s where the legend of the Texas Rangers began.

1874 brought the creation of six companies of 75 “young men, in good physical condition, without families, who owned good horses.” The state was to furnish arms and ammunition at cost, the amount to be deducted from the first pay of each soldier. Because the state only provided .45 caliber ammunition, the Rangers began using what is arguably the best-known weapon of the West:

The New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol, aka


1877 Salt War in El Paso
1877 Outlaw John Wesley Hardin shot in Pensacola, Florida
1878 Notorious outlaw Sam Bass captured near Round Rock, Texas
1880 Company “C” sent to the Panhandle to explore, making expanded settlement possible
1883 Free Range War - sent to stop fence cutting and enforce peace
1900 Galveston Hurricane - maintain the peace and uphold the law
1901 Law enforcement around the oil boom
1915 Pancho Villa & the border raids
1920s Enforced Prohibition laws

Captain Frank Hamer
 In 1939, Captain Frank Hamer and 49 retired Texas Rangers offered their services to the King of England to defend their shores against Nazi invasion. That sent rumors flying through Hitler’s Reich that the Texas Rangers planned to infiltrate Nazi Germany. The rumors were based on tales of U.S. Army Ranger commandos, but by then the Texas Rangers were so famous that the Gestapo and Ministry of Propaganda assumed they would be facing the Texas Rangers.

By the way, Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Manny Gilbert were the law enforcement officers responsible for stopping Bonnie and Clyde.

The Texas Rangers didn’t become a permanent force until 1987. Today, the Rangers are made up of 116 officers, organized in Six Companies – the same six companies that were first put together in 1874.

Current Texas Ranger Badge
When we think of a Texas Ranger, we don’t usually picture a woman, but women have been a part of the Rangers since the 1920s. Women Rangers were “commissioned as Special Rangers in the 1920s – 1940s, with one even commissioned to serve as a Mansion Guard at the governor’s mansion, a task often performed by Regular Rangers at that time.” Currently, we have two female officers serving in the active Ranger force, in Company “D” in San Antonio and Company “F” in Waco. Today’s Texas Rangers are considered to be one of the most effective investigative law enforcement agencies in the world.

And Hollywood still loves them. To date, Texas Rangers have appeared as characters in more than 230 films, television shows and made-for-tv movies.

If you have never visited the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, Texas, put it on your must-see list. It is a fascinating glimpse of the men and women who make up this amazing law enforcement agency--and an excellent research tool.


Tracy, thanks for that well-written history of the Texas Rangers! An ancestor was a Texas Ranger for a brief time, a field appointment which lasted only a few months when he lived near Denison, Texas. Even though he served only a short time, I am proud of that association with these deserving men. Today, promotion to a Texas Ranger is a very coveted and prestigious position. People in our area were pleased when one of our local State Troopers was promoted a few years ago. "One fight, one ranger" is still a familiar phrase in Texas.

And, Tracy, we really miss you in Texas. Please come back!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Author Lisbeth Eng takes us to World War II Italy

Lisbeth Eng, Author
 Please Welcome author Lisbeth Eng to the blog today. Lisbeth is a genuine native New Yorker whose love of literature, history and romance led her on the rewarding path to romance writing. An English major in college, Lisbeth has also studied Italian, German and French. Besides writing, world travel is her passion, and trips to Italy and Germany have lent authenticity to her European-set World War II romance novel. Lisbeth currently lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a stone’s throw from Central Park and Lincoln Center, and loves the fascinating pace of life in the Big Apple.

Caroline: It sounds as if you lead the ideal life, Lisbeth. Please tell us about growing up. Siblings? Were you the shy kid or the tomboy?

Lisbeth: I have lived all of my life in New York City in four of the five boroughs. Born in Queens, I moved to Brooklyn around the age of two, then to Staten Island when I was nine. I lived in Staten Island most of my life, until about five years ago when I moved to Manhattan after my husband died. I love living here on the Upper West Side near Central Park. I have a half-sister Stephanie who is 18 years my senior. She’s from my father’s first marriage and although we didn’t grow up together we are close. She now lives in Virginia. My brother Jonathan is closer to me in age (he’s two years older) and despite the inevitable sibling rivalry of growing up together, we have much in common. He now lives in Ohio. I’m the only one left in New York, except for members of my late husband’s family. I was on the shy side growing up, not particularly popular with my peers and a bit of a “teacher’s pet.” My parents instilled the importance of education and I didn’t dare come home with poor grades!

Caroline: Sounds familiar. I don’t know what I thought would happen, but I also didn’t dare come home with poor grades. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Lisbeth: I read everything from romance to non-fiction to memoirs. Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite fiction authors. I love his dry wit and use of irony. I enjoy the books of romance/women’s fiction authors Deanna Raybourn, Hope Tarr and Leanna Renee Hieber, among others. When I choose a romance novel to read, it’s usually historical, though I’ve read some good contemporaries, too.

Caroline: How many books do you read a month? What are you reading now?

From The Wild Rose Press
Lisbeth: That’s a very tough question because the past couple of years, I’ve been so busy revising, submitting, editing and now promoting my debut novel, IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY, that I hardly have the time or energy to read someone else’s book! But I keep buying them and they are piling up in my apartment. A few years ago, when I took a break from writing, I probably read about two or three books per month. I’m a slow reader and tend to savor ever word. The last book I was able to squeeze into my very busy schedule was Hope Tarr’s MY LORD JACK, a romance set in 18th century Scotland. Next on my to-be-read list is something totally different, BLACK EDELWEISS – A MEMOIR OF COMBAT AND CONSCIENCE BY A SOLDIER OF THE WAFFEN SS by Johann Voss. I will be giving a talk at Deutsches Haus at NYU in February on how the World War II German soldier is portrayed in romance novels. Reading this book is part of my preparation. But the main thing that keeps me extremely busy (and unable to read as much as I would like) is my full-time job in the finance industry.

Caroline: A paycheck is important, isn’t it? And I loved MY LORD JACK. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Lisbeth: Gee…I used to have hobbies! :) Besides writing, I like doing crafts, but haven’t had the time in ages. I repainted and stenciled a couple of old pieces of furniture a few years ago and they came out beautifully (if I may say so myself). I can also draw a little but haven’t in many years. I love to walk and am fortunate to live close to Central Park. On a nice day, a long walk in the park can be both invigorating and relaxing. I also love taking a long, hot bubble bath to relax.

Caroline: Ooooh, I love long baths, but usually settle for a quick shower to save time. Describe yourself in three or four words.

Lisbeth: Honest, loyal, detail-oriented (we’ll count that as one word) and generous.

Caroline: Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?

Lisbeth: I can’t think of any pleasures I feel guilty about. I’m very conscious of eating healthfully but will occasionally indulge in chocolate, ice cream, pizza or the like. But I don’t do it often enough to feel guilty about, and I don’t think it has anything to do with my muse!

Caroline: I refuse to admit chocolate doesn’t help my muse! LOL How long have you been writing?

Lisbeth: My first attempts at creative writing were in high school but I didn’t get serious about writing until about nine years ago. Though I was an English major in college, my entire career has been in the finance industry. IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY started out as a fluke, you might say. I was fooling around at the computer one day and the words just started coming out, unplanned.

Caroline: Don’t you love when that happens? Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Lisbeth: I write at my full-sized desk at home on a full-size Mac with a full-sized keyboard. I even bought a special keyboard for my Mac because the one that came with the computer was too “flat.” I need to feel the keys beneath my fingers. I also have a pull-out drawer for the keyboard so I can type in a proper typing position, with my elbows at my sides. Otherwise, my shoulders hurt. I can’t imagine typing an entire novel on a laptop. And I prefer complete silence when I write. If I play music, I find that my mind drifts and I become unfocused.

Caroline: I also prefer writing at my desk although I listen to classical music while I write. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Lisbeth: I am definitely a panzer. I write whatever scene pops into my head and figure out how it will fit into the book, if at all, later. With IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY, I knew how it would begin and end but it took months to figure out the middle, as I was writing it. I’ve written scenes that were never used, though I may recycle them for another book. :)

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Lisbeth: IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY deals with the Italian Resistance to German occupation of northern Italy from 1943 to 1945. I was inspired by one of my Italian professors in college (I minored in Italian Studies and spent the summer between my sophomore and junior years in Italy). Professor Azzi told us stories of the Resistance (he was in Italy during the war) and it planted a seed, which grew into my Italian-set World War II romance novel twenty years later.

Caroline: He sounds fascinating. Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

Lisbeth: With IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY, I did research along the way. As I said, I didn’t start out with a plan to write a novel, I was just fooling around at the computer. But as it began to take shape, I realized that if I were going to seriously pursue this as a complete work, I would need to learn a lot about World War II. So the fiction writing and research (which involved reading books about the war, as well as watching WWII movies and TV documentaries – I became a fan of the History Channel – and surfing the internet) went hand in hand. If my next novel involves a different historic period (I’ve ideas for a few) I think I will approach it the same way, though I may do more research at the “front end.”

Caroline: Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Lisbeth: Since I work full time (actually, I sometimes work up to 12 hours a day at my regular job) I write mostly on weekends and some evenings, if I’m not too burned out from my day job. No, I don’t set writing goals. Now that my debut novel is out, I will write the next one at my own pace and not set any time limits. My day job comes first, but I also need balance in my life, which means time for socializing and relaxing, and I even do some volunteer work. A full night’s sleep is also essential for physical and mental health. So right now, writing has to be less of a priority.

Caroline: I don’t know how you’ve found time to complete your book. Obviously you are excellent at time management! Tell us about your day job.

Lisbeth: I am a registered representative for a brokerage firm. I have my broker’s license but have never had my own clients. I work primarily as a sales assistant to four portfolio managers, which involves both client relations and entering trades. A few months ago, I was asked to help out in another department, which was short of staff. So I’m really doing a job and a half, which is why it’s more than an eight-hour workday, much of the time. I’ve been with the same firm my entire career. I am grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me and dedicated to doing the best job I can. The past couple of years have been difficult in our industry (and in the economy in general) and I work very hard to keep the job I have. It pays the rent and everything else – until I win the lottery or sell the movie rights to my book!

Caroline: Wouldn’t either winning the lottery or selling movie rights be terrific? Of course, I never remember to buy a lottery ticket, so there's no chance I'll win. Actually, I think with my luck there's about as much chance as if I bought a ticket. LOL What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Lisbeth: In my European-set World War II romance novel, I portray people on both sides of the battle lines as human beings. There are no “good guys” or “bad guys.” I intentionally avoid the stereotypes one sometimes finds in fiction. Most World War II romances I’ve read depict Germans in a two-dimensional way. I’d like my readers to see that people of all nationalities can have a mix of positive and negative qualities, just like real folks. I want to break through preconceived notions and bias. And of course, I want my readers to enjoy the book and care about the hero and heroine (though you may not identify who the hero is right away).

Caroline: Portraying a human Nazi without embracing his cause must have been extremely difficult. You chose a really tough period to write! What advice would you give to authors waiting for publication?

Lisbeth: There are many things I could say but perhaps the most important is to believe in your work and to have perseverance. It took me years to find a publisher who would offer me a contract. I also advise attention to detail and care with grammar and usage. I’ve been in several critique groups and notice that many aspiring authors have less than a satisfactory grasp of grammar and punctuation.

Caroline: The cover for IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY is very well done. Tell us about your latest release.

Lisbeth: Here’s a blurb for IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY:

Isabella Ricci has pledged her life for the cause – to free Italy from Nazi oppression. Her mission for the Resistance, to seduce a German officer into revealing military secrets, could be deadly. Can she complete her assignment before losing her heart…or her life?

Massimo Baricelli, commander in the Resistance, and Isabella’s ambitious lover, charges her to uncover intelligence that the Allies need to vanquish the Nazis. But can he hold onto his woman while sending her into the arms of another man?

Günter Schumann is handsome, chivalrous, romantic…and a captain in the Army of the Third Reich. When he meets Isabella, he falls for her instantly, never imagining that she is a spy and he her unwitting target. What will he do when forced to choose between love and duty?

How much must be sacrificed for the cause of freedom? Will love survive the cruelest betrayal?

Caroline: All right, Lisbeth, you’ve hooked me. Please give readers an excerpt.

Lisbeth: Although my book is sensual, here’s a PG excerpt:

Before she could make sense of what was happening, the men were there inside the room. She wanted to scream, to flee, but she knew the slightest movement could be her undoing. She shook and her eyes filled with tears. But she discovered that if she concentrated on each breath, her lips tightly sealed, no sounds would escape. Crouched beneath the desk, she pressed her hands and feet against the floor to keep them from knocking against anything.
 The two men spoke casually to each other, almost lightheartedly, in contrast to the deadly terror she felt. Though she struggled to comprehend what they were saying, she couldn’t decipher all the words. She thought about reaching for the dictionary that lay by her side, but that was too risky.

Every second was agony, as if death might come at any moment. But she admitted to herself that a swift demise would be easy compared to her fate if discovered. She would face humiliation, torture, and then finally, mercifully, death. The thought made her throat constrict painfully, as if a noose were being tightened around it. Was this what Marco felt when he died? Fear evolved into despondency. Just breathe...slowly, deeply...focus only on that—don’t think about anything else. Concentrate only on breathing.

Caroline: Wow! That excerpt was intense! IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY sounds like a real page-turner with great characterization. I want to read more. Where can readers find your books?

Lisbeth: They can buy my book as a paperback or as an e-book at The Wild Rose Press and also at, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers. It is not in “brick and mortar” bookstores.

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Lisbeth: They can visit my website at and contact me from there if they wish. I love to hear from readers!

Caroline: Thank you so much for joining us today, Lisbeth. Best of luck with book sales for IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY—and in selling to the movies and winning the lottery. LOL

Me posing for my newsletter
Sure, that's how I really
look, why do you ask?
Readers, if you haven't already done so, please sign up for my Mostly Monthly Newsletter in the space on the sidebar. Time is near for the next issue with an exclusive FREE short story, recipes, news, and more. Don't miss out on this issue.

Come back on the 12th to hear from my friend, Tracy Garrett.

In the meantime, don't forget books make great gifts! Mine are at