Tuesday, November 03, 2020

November is Native American Heritage Month by Sarah J. McNeal

 

Native American Heritage Month

 

I did not know until this morning that November is Native America Heritage month. I feel deeply about the treatment of our Indigenous People which has mostly been ignored. They experienced the worst genocide in the history of the world. They deserve better. Please support and respect them.

November is dedicated to celebrating rich and diverse cultures and traditions as well as acknowledging the important contributions of Native people.

 


At Running Strong for American Indian Youth® we support cultural programs that are preserving traditions throughout Indian Country, and we look forward to sharing more about these with you in the coming days. 

 


We'll also be sharing fun facts like the ones below with you to enhance your understanding of Native history and why it matters today! 

National Native American Heritage Month provides the opportunity for us to educate the general public about tribal life, life as a Native American today, and to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people and Native communities have faced both historically and in the present.

 


We hope you will support us in our mission to uplift Native tribal citizens, children, and families as we work together to address and conquer these challenges by giving what you can today.

 


Link to Support Our Culture Programs

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Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

About THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW By Sarah McNeal

 


Because my parents allowed us to read comic books to interest us in learning to read, in fact encouraged it when we were children, my sister and I were free to read comic books all we wanted. Pop preferred us to read classic stories in comics, but, well, we were kids after all. I had a fascination for ghosts, “Casper the Friendly Ghost”, was my favorite comic. I had quite a collection of them. I did, however, have one classic comic which I favored above all others: “THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW” by Washington Irving written in 1820. This Halloween favorite takes place in Sleepy Hollow, New York—a real town in Westchester County. Some think Irving was influenced by a poem written by Sir Walter Scott in 1796 titled “The Chase” in which A Heisman soldier lost his head from a cannon ball in the American Revolution.

 


Disney's Less Scary Animated Movie of Sleepy Hollow

Disney produced an animated movie about Ichabod Crane the tall, lanky school master who met up with the famous headless horseman. This movie was scary enough to satisfy children without terrifying them.


Tim Burton's Movie of Sleepy Hollow With Johnny Depp

Most recently, the movie version of Sleepy Hollow came out starring Johnny Depp as a somewhat eccentric detective. It’s playing on Netflix for any of you who might be interested in some Halloween movies without the horror of some movies these days.


Sleepy Hollow the TV Series

I don’t know if this TV series still exists, but I enjoyed Sleepy Hollow with Tom Mison until I gave up cable TV. I quite liked the series. In this series Ichabod, an American soldier in the Revolution is brought back to life into the present with the mission of finding and eliminating the Hessian soldier who still haunts Sleepy Hollow.

 

This is the actual town of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County, New York.

What is your favorite Halloween movie? Why is it your favorite? Did you read comic books as a kid? Which ones did you like best? Did you trade comic books with your friends?     

Monday, October 19, 2020

PETS ARE ANTIDEPRESSANTS By Sarah McNeal, #TheWildingsSeries

 



With so many people isolating at home and maintaining social distancing, they have turned to pets for companionship and comfort. I don’t know many people who don’t have a pet; they are a rarity in my circles. A pet will not allow you to be lonely. They are like little circus acts filled with joy that nurture our spirits and make us laugh. They are our furry buddies we can hang out with all day who rarely complain. (Cats might be an exception since it must be in their job description to display distain, but even their persnickety and grumpy opinions amuse us.)

 

We already know that some dogs have been specially trained to help people with physical or emotions issues. But even untrained dogs can bring us the comfort and love we all need. Children who may not have friends ordinarily have taken their pet as a friend, confidant, and companion. I imagine it is particularly difficult for kids in this pandemic who don’t even have the friendships from their classmates. Having been raised in a family where pets were always welcome, I know how important it is for a kid to have a dog or a cat. I’m certain there are those who prefer fish, or birds, or gerbils (or whatever) as their tiny companions, but the result is the same—unconditional love.

 


Shelter animals are finding homes in unprecedented numbers these days. That’s a really good thing in my book. Every shelter pet deserves a loving home and this is a time when they are most needed. My greatest hope is that, when the pandemic is over, that these pets will remain in those homes. They’ve done an outstanding job of keeping us happy and somewhat sane; it would be a betrayal to return them to a shelter. My wish is for people to discover the joy of having a pet and what a difference it makes to have a fur buddy who will stay at our side through thick and thin. Pets are our heroes and better antidepressants than any pill could ever provide.  



Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Review for WHEN LOVE COMES KNOCKING #TheWildingsSeries

My morning brightened when I saw a wonderful review by Michelle R. for my Christmas short story, When Love Comes Knocking. The review has certainly brightened my day.


Book review for: When Love Comes Knocking by Sarah J. McNeal

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Blurb:

Penelope Witherspoon was charmed into marriage by Evan Thoroughgood only to learn she loved a philanderer, who gambled away his inheritance and drank too heavily. It came as no surprise that four months after their marriage, Evan was shot dead for cheating at cards. Since his death, Penelope has come to depend on his older brother, Gil. In fact, she has come to love and respect him. No two men could be further apart in character. But, if Gil learns of her secret indiscretion, he will want nothing further to do with her. What is Penelope to do?

My review:

When Love Comes Knocking is a short and sweet story that delivers quite a bit of feels, and I'm not talking the winter's chill on a hot August afternoon.

Emotions are high and rolling as Penelope and Gil finally decide it's time to own up to their desires - even as fear and jealousy grip tight. I just felt bad that it took as long as it did for both of them to find their bravery... all that time lost! However, with thoughts like this from Gil: He would love her until the starts burned out, the wait was obviously well worth it. I was smiling as things finally got sorted out.

One other fun nugget: The way to love a woman can be a mysterious undertaking. Isn't that the truth! lol
 

Purchase link:



WHEN LOVE COMES KNOCKING

Excerpt:

Once he took a sip or two of the coffee she poured for him, Banjo studied her for a moment. “You’ve got dark circles under your eyes like you haven’t slept and you’re running around like a maniac. What’s troubling you? Wait. Let me guess. You thinking about Gil Thoroughgood by some chance?”

“Are you mocking me?”

 

“Certainly not. The two of you are about to make me crazy. Gil came to see me the other night after he left your place—the night we put up the clothesline and the Christmas tree. He wanted to know my intentions.” Banjo grinned. “Maybe I ought to marry you, but he’d kill me for sure then.”

 

“Stop kidding around, Banjo. He suspects something is between you and me and he probably hates me.” She buried her face in her hands. “I don’t know what to do. I haven’t seen him since that night.”

 

“Penelope, darlin’, it’s not like you to sit back and do nothing. Where’s the woman I know you to be? What do you want from Gil? What does he mean to you? What do you really want?”

 

Excerpt:

 

After the bags were placed inside the door, Banjo glanced around the room. “I see you’ve got a Christmas tree this year, Penelope.” He stepped over to the tree and examined it, touching some of the wooden ornaments. “Gil, these are nice. I know you made them. I can tell your work. You’re the best carpenter in town, maybe anywhere in the state. You ought to make these to sell.” He peered at Gil with those dark eyes framed in wire-rimmed spectacles. “The townsfolk talk about your rocking chairs and tables, but I bet they never saw anything like these beauties. Oh. Before I forget, Belle wants to talk to you about ordering new chairs for the Iron Slipper. Seems some rowdy cowpokes got into a scuffle over a card game last week and some chairs met their end.” Banjo grinned.

 

Gil wanted to dislike Banjo, but he just couldn’t. For all that he was orphaned as a baby and left to be raised by whores, he was one of the kindest young men he knew. “I’ll drop by her place on the way home and see what she wants.”

Just for a fleeting moment, Gil saw the shadow cross Penelope’s face. Probably just the mention of the Iron Slipper or Belle probably still brought the memory of Evan’s death to her and the pain that went with it.




Sarah J. McNeal

Diverse stories filled with heart

 

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Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Too Wet or Too Dry by Sarah J. McNeal

 


Here in North Carolina it has rained almost every day this summer—even in August which is usually a rather dry month.

 


Meanwhile, out on the west coast forest fires are once again taking a toll. I wish I could send some of this rain across the country to the places that need it the most. An equal distribution of rain would be a good thing, God…just a suggestion.

Y'all stay safe wherever you are.



Excerpt:

Kyle kicked open the door of his mother’s former dress shop despite the sign that read, No Men Allowed. The raging fire upstairs in the private quarters made this an emergency, certainly enough to ignore that sign. Smoke began to fill the shop as he raced up the stairs calling out the name of the new shop owner. “Miss Beckett! Miss Mia Beckett, where are you?”

As he reached the landing of the second floor, he heard someone cough nearby. With the wet blanket wrapped around him he rushed toward the direction of the cough until he found the woman lying on the floor almost unconscious from smoke inhalation. As soon as he removed the wet blanket he wore and wrapped her in its protective layer, he scooped her up in his arms to carry her away from the flames and smoke. The scarf she wore fell away from her neck and her head lolled back against his chest to reveal a thin, straight scar that ran all the way across her throat from her left ear to her right. It wasn’t an old scar, most likely no more than two or three months in the past. She attempted to raise a hand as if to cover her throat and replace the silk scarf. He’d always seen her wear a scarf of some description or another around her neck since her arrival in town. Now he knew all those scarves were not her unique sense of fashion, but her desire to hide the scar. She was a woman attempting to keep a secret.

For more of my Wildings books click onto the “Wildings” in my signature.

Sarah J. McNeal

Diverse stories filled with heart

 

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Heroes We Love by Sarah J. McNeal #PrairieRosePub #TheWildingsSeries

 

One of my favorite heroes is Robin Pierpont in the story, FLY AWAY HEART. He loves airplanes, his friends, family, animals, and the beautiful red haired girl he’s known since childhood, Lilith Wilding. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for those he loves…even something not quite legal.

Robin was born in England. At age ten he lost his father when he and his parents took the doomed Titanic to find a better life in America. His mother worked in a factory in New York City, but lost her job when the factory burned. Banjo sent Robin and Jane to Hazard, Wyoming to give them an opportunity to improve their lives. In Hazard, Jane fell in love with the Lakota Shaman, gas station owner, and uncle to Banjo Wilding, Teekonka Red Sky. (Their story is in my Christmas story, A HUSBAND FOR CHRISTMAS). 


It was in the town of Hazard Robin first met the adventurous, willful, and charming Lilith Wilding. His childhood affection for Lilith grew into a deep abiding love over the years. But there are obstacles standing between Robin and his happiness with Lilith…and one of those obstacles may prove fatal.

Who are some of your favorite story heroes from the books you’ve read? Have you ever fallen in love with a character you created in one of your own stories?  What did you like best about your favorite hero?



FLY AWAY HEART

By Sarah J. McNeal

Prairie Rose Publications/ Imprint: Painted Pony Press

Buy Links:

Amazon Trade Paperback Link

Amazon Kindle

 

Excerpt:

Lilith pushed back from Robin enough to see his eyes.  “I know you’re dying to ask Juliet for a dance.  You could go over and break in, if you like.  She doesn’t care much for Paul Witherspoon any way.”

His eyes grew wide and his mouth pulled to one side.  “Are you trying to get rid of me, Lilith?”  He quirked a crooked smile at her.  “Do I have grease under my fingernails or something?  I swear I took a bath before I came.”

Lilith laughed as he dipped her low over his thigh then bent over her as if he would kiss her.  “Don’t you dare drop me.  I’ll scream bloody murder.”  Underneath her words, her heart thumped against her ribs and her breath quickened.

Robin laughed, deep and unconfined.  Pulling her up, he brought her close to his chest and peered at her with a sparkle of mischief in his eyes.  “Now I want to drop you just to see if you’ll hold good on that threat.”

Her heart thudded in her chest like a mad thing.  She couldn’t breathe with his mouth so close to hers.  If she could have a wish at that moment, it would be for Robin to dip his head just a little more and touch his lips to hers.  A tide of heat ran up her neck into her face just thinking about Robin kissing her with his hands on her bare back.

He lifted a brow and chuckled.  “Are you thinking something naughty, Miss Wilding?  I swear you’re blushing.”

 

Excerpt:

 

The dog drew his attention when it whined pitifully. Its brown eyes seemed to plead with him. Somehow, he just couldn’t bring himself to walk away from the suffering creature. If he couldn’t get to Lilith, at least he could get this dog to safety. He knew, if he left the poor thing here, it would die a slow death for certain.

He made his way to the shaking pile of bones that resembled a dog and removed the clamp on the heavy chain. The dog could barely walk, and it made Rob sick to see the bones protruding from the animal’s ribs and hips. What kind of human beings were these two men? Did they eat babies for breakfast? He hoisted the dog into his arms, walked back to the car, opened the back door and placed the dog on his jacket on the back seat. Something in its brown eyes looked like gratitude, mixed with fear. Rob felt his heart crack.

“Don’t you worry, little girl, I’m going to see to you now. You don’t need to be scared or hungry anymore.” Thoughts of Lilith drummed through his mind. Please, please God, look after my Lilith and don’t let them hurt her.

 

Excerpt:

There was no choice left. The roaring river was her only hope. To escape these vile men she would have to take her chances and plunge into the deadly current of the white water. With a deep breath to gather her courage, she dived into the rapids. The icy water took her breath. She never imagined it that cold. Helpless to navigate, the current took her down its dangerous path. The weight of her dress drug on her as she attempted to nudge her body toward the rocky island in the middle of the river. Lilith gulped water and fought against the pull of the current. If she could just get to the rocks, she could keep from going over the falls. Certain death would take her if she went over, but there was no turning back now.

Shots rang out and a bullet whizzed past her ear. As she bobbed for an instant above the water, she saw that Edgar had a pistol in his hand aimed at her. He mouthed something at her, but the noise of the rushing water drown out his words. Just as well. She couldn’t get back to the shore if she tried. The current swept her in its cold embrace. Sometimes it rolled her under. She took on water. Her lungs hurt for want of air and the water burned them. Please God, don’t let me die this way.

The river dragged her along, pushed her under, and turned her over and over in a mad rush for the falls and she couldn’t stop it. A picture of Robin came to her. His voice seemed to command her. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.

 

For Readers and Authors:

Who are some of your favorite story heroes from the books you’ve read? Have you ever fallen in love with a character you created in one of your own stories?  What did you like best about your favorite hero?

Y’all stay  safe and happy!

 

Sarah J. McNeal

Diverse stories filled with heart

 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Summer Heat by Sarah J. McNeal #WildingsWesternSeries




It's been hot and humid for days on end now. The thought of going outside for more than a few minutes to check on the wildlife that has taken over the backyard (glad to share with the rabbits and birds) doesn't sound very pleasant. Thunderstorms and rain also create a humidity that's hard to bear and the low pressure is hard on those with respiratory ailments.
I'm keeping my thermostat on 75-76 to conserve what I can and, of course, the ceiling fans are on to move the air around so I'm comfy in the house at least.



We did not have air conditioning when I was growing up, but we lived in an old house with high ceilings, shaded by plenty of big oaks and Mulberry trees, and we had a screened-in porch to escape to on the worst days. There was also a breezeway that Pop thought was a waste of space, but as it turns out when he used it to build a pantry on the kitchen end and a linen closet on the end where the bathroom was, that the breezeway was a major factor in keeping the house cool. Just saying…



Thunderstorms are just par for the course when the heat of summer takes over the south. Sometimes it helps to drive the temperatures down, but other times it just makes the humidity soar. The worst thing about thunderstorms is it can knock out the power and bring the air conditioning to a standstill—and no fans to create a breeze either. BTW, there is a thunderstorm rolling through right now.



Is it hot where you live? What do you do when it gets unbearable? What’s your backup plan if the power goes out? What about tornadoes and hurricanes?

Well, maybe you'd like to cool off with some historical western Christmas romances from my Wildings series.





WHEN LOVE COMES KNOCKING
Prairie Rose Publications

A lonely widow…an indiscretion…a gift for redemption

Blurb:

Penelope Witherspoon was charmed into marriage by Evan Thoroughgood only to learn she loved a philanderer, who gambled away his inheritance and drank too heavily. It came as no surprise that four months after their marriage, Evan was shot dead for cheating at cards. Since his death, Penelope has come to depend on his older brother, Gil. In fact, she has come to love and respect him. No two men could be further apart in character. But, if Gil learns of her secret indiscretion, he will want nothing further to do with her. What is Penelope to do?
Buy Link: Amazon
Excerpt:
Once he took a sip or two of the coffee she poured for him, Banjo studied her for a moment. “You’ve got dark circles under your eyes like you haven’t slept and you’re running around like a maniac. What’s troubling you? Wait. Let me guess. You thinking about Gil Thoroughgood by some chance?”
“Are you mocking me?”

“Certainly not. The two of you are about to make me crazy. Gil came to see me the other night after he left your place—the night we put up the clothesline and the Christmas tree. He wanted to know my intentions.” Banjo grinned. “Maybe I ought to marry you, but he’d kill me for sure then.”

“Stop kidding around, Banjo. He suspects something is between you and me and he probably hates me.” She buried her face in her hands. “I don’t know what to do. I haven’t seen him since that night.”

“Penelope, darlin’, it’s not like you to sit back and do nothing. Where’s the woman I know you to be? What do you want from Gil? What does he mean to you? What do you really want?”



A CHRISTMAS VISITOR
Prairie Rose Publications
He left her…Now he’s back…But not for long…
Blurb:
Sterling Thoroughgood was Matilda Barton’s first and only love, but he left her three years ago to seek his fortune in Wyoming. And now he’s come back with a puzzle box as a gift with a secret inside. But as far as Matilda’s concerned, it’s three years too late.
Is love lost forever or does the mysterious puzzle box hold the key to happiness?
Buy Link:  A Christmas Visitor
Excerpt:
“Don’t you even think about stepping up on this porch, Sterling Alexander Thoroughgood, or I’ll shoot a hole in you big enough for a team of horses to jump through.” The woman wearing a faded blue calico dress aimed the shotgun straight at his heart…and sometimes his liver since she wasn’t holding the shotgun all that steady.
Sterling raised his hands in the air. His bare hands were practically numb from the cold. He glanced up at the slate gray sky. Snow’s comin’. Then he grinned at the woman holding the shotgun. “Merry Christmas to you, too, Matilda.”
She dipped the shotgun for just a moment, but raised it again as if on a second thought. “What do you want here after being gone for three years? Did you break some hearts up in Wyoming? Maybe you have some fathers and brothers gunning for you and you thought you’d come running back here to hide.”
Well, there it was. He’d hurt her when he left and she wasn’t about to let him forget it.



A HUSBAND FOR CHRISTMAS
A night of horror… a wish for a new life...and a secret love

Blurb:
Jane Pierpont and her son, Robin, survived the Titanic, but her husband went down with the ship and the emotional scars of that night have kept her and her son locked into that frightening event. Robin is terrified of deep water and Jane has nightmares and survivor’s guilt. She yearns for a family, a loving husband and maybe another child, but she feels disloyal to Michael’s memory whenever Teekonka Red Sky comes near her.

Teekonka Red Sky loves Jane and her son, but all his efforts to help them past their painful memories of the night Michael Pierpont died have been unsuccessful. Unwilling to give up, can his Lakota beliefs help him bring peace to Robin and free Jane to love again?

Buy Link: AMAZON

Excerpt:
He laughed, the sound rich and deep, interrupting her. “I know your name…Jane.” He spoke her name softly, reverently as if it were a treasure.  He chuckled a little. “My first name’s about as long as my last.”
“Does Teekonka mean something in Lakota, like brave or warrior, or some such thing?”
“It means ‘talks too much.’ Figures, doesn’t it?” He did laugh then, and Jane couldn’t help laughing along with him.
He touched her face at the corner of her mouth with his finger. “Your face brightens when you laugh.”
Jane backed away. “You’re just flirting with me now.”
He flashed her a wide grin. “Yes ma’am, I am, but I also mean it. You are very pretty.”
She stood speechless unable to respond to him. She couldn’t remember the last time a man complimented her, let alone blatantly flirted with her. It felt good, like a warm hug on a cold day. He bent his head and kissed her. His lips, warm and supple, took hers in a tender way, so sensual, yet asking nothing more. Jane’s heart beat against her ribs, and heat flooded her core. All too soon, Teekonka pulled away and grinned. 


Diverse stories filled with heart