9/17/2021

Jacqui’s Friday Flowers in September

The vibrant purple-blue Hydrangea is the one that always catches my eye. It caught my eye so much that one summer I took a chance and bought a potted one to put on my balcony. Unfortunately, it only lasted for that summer. I guess it must have been an annual type. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Luckily, many years ago my mom gave me a perennial Hydrangea from her garden and it still lives. 

I'm also lucky that so many people in Victoria have Hydrangeas in their gardens. Gardens I can walk by and photograph. Here are some of those photos -- from my previous balcony and beyond. 

Jacqui ❤️ 💐

Hydrangeas
The Hydrangea that brightened my balcony garden for one summer

Hydrangeas
The eye-catching purple-blue shade that always...catches my eye :) 

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas by Victoria's Empress Hotel
Hydrangeas by Victoria's Empress Hotel

Hydrangeas

A very uniquely colored and shaped Hydrangea
A uniquely colored and shaped Hydrangea

Click here to see my August blog post and a lot of Sweet Pea, Sunflower, and Coneflower pics 🎉🌻 

To see more of my flower pictures (during the February to October flower season in Victoria, Canada), visit my Facebook and Instagram pages. 


~ * ~ 


Jacqui Nelson - Author Picture
Fall in love with a new Old West where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. I love writing stories about women who are Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, trick-riding superstars, and more. 

Read an excerpt from all of my books at JacquiNelson.com/my-books

Join my newsletter & read Rescuing Raven (my Deadwood 1876 gold-rush story) for FREE at JacquiNelson.com/download-my-free-read  

9/11/2021

THROUGH MY LENS

 We Will Never Forget 9/11/2001

We hope you'll take a moment to 
NEVER FORGET

If you've visited the 9/11 Memorial, then you may have noticed a white rose amidst the names. 


They are birthday roses set out for each hero. 

Here's more about that story from the Memorial site.

And here are some pictures from my visits.


I shared my short story on the tenth anniversary. Here it is again.


























































Where were you? 

I shared my short story on the tenth anniversary.

9/03/2021

STORIES OF THE HEART

We wanted to share some feel-good moments from our life. Stories from our Hearts was originally conceived by Amanda McIntyre. If you get a chance read more by clicking the link in the right sidebar. I know the authors at GLIAS are all grateful to the healthcare professionals this past year. I am super proud of my daughter for not only following her heart but for also receiving her registered nurse diploma. That would be hard enough. And yet, she did it during a pandemic. She didn't shy away from helping those in need. I admire all the healthcare profession especially those who have gone above and beyond with sacrifices of time and separations from their families. Another shout out to my cousin who is also a nurse in Oklahoma City, working the front lines of the Co-Vid 19 floor. Prayers to you all.


My life has been so blessed with "heart" stories, I barely know how to pick one. I have an incredible mama who is 92 and still very active. I also have an amazing supportive husband and two grown children and their perfect spouses along with three grandchildren who make my life complete. But my true heart story belongs to my dad. It will be four years this October since we lost him to dementia. I'm pretty sure everyone reading this has dealt with this terrible disease in some way, so my story isn't about how awful it is--mine is about how wonderful the memories of helping care for a loved one who is slowly changing. 

In 2009, after returning from living away from my parents for three years, I started taking my dad on monthly dates. He was already showing signs of his losses to come--having trouble finding words, forgetting a few things. But we did all kinds of cool activities--visiting museums, our state's Governor's mansion at Christmas, going to movies, to local landmarks, miniature golf. And we always went somewhere fun for lunch. Over the next five years he grew less and less able to do physically demanding things like walking far--but we still managed to enjoy our dates. Finally, when he was no longer able to speak or walk well, we limited our time together to lunches out. He loved Indian food and IHOP, so we frequented two of our local pancake and curry establishments a lot the year before he had to move to a nursing facility. He spilled on his clothes, he sometimes couldn't find his mouth. But I helped him as he'd allow and, as long as he could make it into the restaurant, took him no matter what anyone might have thought . 

When he was no longer at home, my amazing mother drove every single day to see him, rain or shine. I went usually once a week, sometimes twice. And because he was lucky enough to know two of his great-grandchildren, I brought them to visit regularly as well. No matter where he was in his mind, he always seemed to know Mom and the babies. He held them tenderly, hated for them to be taken away, and they brightened his day. Also, whenever I was with him at mealtime, it was an honor to help feed him -- a continuation of our wonderful years of lunch dates. 

I was not special. My whole family treated Daddy this way. I'm proud of how we tried to help maintain his dignity to the end. When he passed away, we were glad he no longer had to be trapped in his silent body, but I feared that maybe the last years would be painful to remember. It turned out they absolutely are not. They are some of my greatest heart treasures. I learned to be patient, to be somewhat accepting of what I couldn't change, and how to honor someone wherever they are at. So--I thank my dad for the lessons of love he taught me, even when he had no idea how much I was learning!

For as long as I can remember, I've had poor eyesight. It’s made me extremely appreciative of any day I've been able to see. I'm very nearsighted and have astigmatism. I've worn glasses since I was around 7. When I was 22, I had a detached retina (that didn't get fixed in time to save all of the sight in that eye) and doctors have told me I'm legally blind in that eye. 

The other week I went to a specialist eye doctor to have an assortment of extra eye exams. The good news is there’s nothing new happening with my eyes. They are just their usual bad, which isn’t great but at least nothing hugely new and hugely concerning is happening. 

So far I don't have glaucoma, but the pressure on my eyes is on the edge of acceptable, so that's something to still have monitored regularly. 

I was told I have a cataract in the eye that had the detached retina. The doctor said it has been there for some time (but this was the first time I was hearing about it) and it may have resulted from the detached retina. He said he wouldn't recommend doing anything with the cataract unless a cataract developed in my other eye. Apparently, cataract surgery should happen on both eyes to...something about keeping them in sync. But he also said cataract surgery would put me at more risk of another retinal detachment, so I'm definitely putting off any cataract surgery for as long as possible. 

This specialist eye doctor also told me that he’d lived in the city (778 miles away from where we were now) where I had my detached retina surgery. He talked like a detective in a mystery novel trying to figure out if he (or one of his colleagues) had done my retina surgery 30 years ago. It's a small world. And I'm very appreciative that he is my doctor now and he (or one of his colleagues) was my doctor back then as well. Thank the heavens for good doctors! 


The year 2020 was a tough one for all of us, but our family also experienced one of the most joyful moments in our lives--the birth of our grandson. Henry has been such a blessing in so many ways. 

He's now 18-months-old, and is the smartest, sweetest little guy. And he LOVES books...just like his mommy and his Nana! Here's a picture from his first day in his new "big boy" classroom. He's found a book and is engrossed. 

I never imagined myself as one of those doting grandmas, but, boy, am I ever! I'm so glad we live within driving distance so I can get my "Henry fix" at least once a week. Yet another blessing, living close to my kids. More than ever, I am thankful for family and for the gift of life.



They say that hindsight is 20/20…perhaps that’s true. When something so traumatic occurs in your life that you haven’t a moment to process the news, you pray while you hold your tears inside, keep your head down, focus on the situation, and do your utmost to do whatever is required to carry on for the good of all. 

There have been many times in the last 45 years when the traumatic has occurred, but the keeper of my heart and I had our faith to carry us through as we did what was needed until we’d made it through to the other side of the trauma, whole as a family, whole as a couple, saying grateful prayers of thanks.

When my darling was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer on January 21, 2020--four days after his 65th birthday, we prayed and never gave up hope that he would pull through. His surgeon was confident, and after 8 hours of a successful surgery, he was effusive in telling us he’d removed all of the cancer—no further treatment would be necessary.

A few months later we received the call from his oncologist; the results from Sloan Kettering had been delayed because of the pandemic, but their second opinion was clear--chemo would be necessary. DJ took it in stride as he planned to fight this disease. He went through two rounds of chemo before the side affects had him on his knees in pain unable to walk. Still he soldiered on, confident that he would arise the victor. We never stopped praying, never gave up hope.

While there is far more to DJ’s heroic battle, and the on-going struggle to accept the hole in our lives where he once stood, our family is slowly mending nine months after we said goodbye to the rock that we depended upon. Each of us in turn has said that we were carrying on because we knew that is what “Dad” (in our children’s case) or “DJ” (in my case,) would have wanted and expected us to do. Remembered conversations and favorite sayings are part of our everyday lives now, slowly filling a bit of that hole with the essence of the man who once stood beside us, loving us, cheering us on—or telling us to accept what is and keep moving forward. I see bits and pieces of DJ in our sons, our daughter, our son-in-law, and our grandsons—and everywhere in our home and gardens…where we worked side-by-side to make it truly ours.

Life is a precious gift that I give thanks for every day. In my daily prayers, I thank God for the gifts in my life: life, another day, family, hearth, home, love, health, hope, and words. Whatever higher power you believe in, and I truly believe there are far more things in Heaven and on earth that we have yet to understand, do take a moment to say thank you for the gift of life and please do not ever take it for granted. 

I need to remember a story from my heart. Something that inspired me. So I'm not going to chat about the current world or things that I've been battling this year. Travel with me to a time in my life where I was single with two kids. Back to the time I held eleven jobs in one year (many simultaneously). Back when asking for help just wasn't in my vocabulary. Back to when my current life philosophy of paying it forward was created...

My car broke down all the time. Sometimes when my dad was out of town (he drove a big rig), in order to get to my second job (cleaning a small office building at night), I pulled my two small children in a wagon over two miles three nights a week. We ate a lot of spaghetti and green beans back then. Please don't misunderstand my story. I never went hungry. My parents were present and I could eat at their house anytime I wanted (or needed). It was my pride that prevented asking more often. This went on for a while. And then one evening, several bags of groceries were waiting at my apartment door. I had friends from church, from college, and from old jobs and no one ever admitted to the generous gift. I never found out who.

And during the same year, I received three different envelopes through the mail with cash. Totally anonymously again. And the person or persons never said anything. You might assume, like I did that the donation was from my parents--believe me when I say that wasn't in their wheelhouse. They paid for the kids' shoes, bicycles, and constantly found reasons to send them home with new clothes. So I knew the person giving to me so generously was for real. They didn't embarrass me by handing it to me face-to-face. The experience changed my life...along with meeting my mentor and friend a few months later.

I had taken a job which required me commuting to Dallas. A friend mentioned a job at the university and I didn't really give it a thought. But that week, my car was hit in traffic three times. I took that as a sign and interviewed. Meeting Raedean changed me forever. Me took me under her wing (she took all her employees) and had a different supervising attitude that I wish I could have duplicated. One thing I'll never forget is going on break with her once a week. Sure we covered office improvements, but she always, always asked if there was anything she could help with--professionally or personally. Shoot, you could do that in the 80s. Those little caring conversations changed how I spoke to people. Those weekly fifteen-minute breaks showed me how important it is to remember just to ask people how they're doing and really listen to their answer. 

After I married Tim. I stayed home with the kids and volunteered. I hope I helped a little a long the way by picking kids up for a practice, or reading in a classroom, or finding softball gloves so girls could be on a team, or chatting with high school kids about their lives. Tiny things that I hope made life easier on parents or let kids know they mattered. I never forgot the anonymous donations and how they made me feel. I try to Pay It Forward as often as I can. Just last year, I was writing a note to a missionary family that due to the Co-Vid shutdowns I wouldn't be able to send my yearly donation. I didn't have to send it, Tim's job came back full-time.

God showed me how to love. My mom showed me how to be kind. Raedean taught me how to listen. And an anonymous donator taught me to share my blessings.

Gratitude is always the center of any heart story. I’m trying to be more mindful of being grateful, seeing my blessings around me, and because I’m blessed, being a blessing to others. Here is my prayer of gratitude—my hope that more people would appreciate the teachers that everyday face uncertainty in their classrooms during these tumultuous times. I implore you to support them however possible, work as a team for the betterment of your child and ALL the children in the schools.

 Be mindful of the incredible pressures these teachers are getting from all sides and how they are doing their best to simply be good teachers and help their students to view themselves as productive, special people. Teachers--the good ones, and there are many-- are doing their best incredible odds-much of which they have no control over directly. While it’s a stressful time for us all during this pandemic, let us stop and be grateful that we have public schools and many, many good teachers out there who wanted to teach because they’d been taught by good teachers. Thank you, Sam, Kate, Andrea, Shannon, Dave, Melissa, and so many more, past & present, that honor the profession of teaching with their integrity, determination, and kindness. We could ALL learn a lesson from them!


Hope you'll share your heart stories with us.

8/20/2021

Jacqui’s Friday Flowers in August

Victoria's flower season starts early compared to other parts of the world, so sometimes it feels like the explosion of flowers is over by August. But August is still a great time for a lot of wonderful flowers like Sweet Peas, Sunflowers, and pink or yellow Echinacea/Coneflowers. 

Sweat Peas are hard to find in Victoria, so I was very lucky and very glad to find a patch on a trellis in Government House Gardens in 2020 and on a chain-link fence behind Christ Church Cathedral way back in 2017. 

Jacqui ❤️ 💐

Sweat Peas in Government House Gardens
Sweat Peas in Government House Gardens

Sweat Peas in Government House Gardens
Sweat Peas in Government House Gardens

Sweat Peas behind Christ Church Cathedral
Sweat Peas behind Christ Church Cathedral

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Echinacea/Coneflowers

Echinacea/Coneflowers

Click here to see my July blog post with Red Hot Pokers, Daisies, and Victoria's iconic hanging flower baskets 💐🌈

To see more of my flower pictures (during the February to October flower season in Victoria, Canada), visit my Facebook and Instagram pages. 

~ * ~ 


Jacqui Nelson - Author Picture
Fall in love with a new Old West where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. I love writing stories about women who are Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, trick-riding superstars, and more. 

Read an excerpt from all of my books at JacquiNelson.com/my-books

Join my newsletter & read Rescuing Raven (my Deadwood 1876 gold-rush story) for FREE at JacquiNelson.com/download-my-free-read  

8/16/2021

E.E. Burke's Featured Deal

Featured Deal for 99 cents

The most dangerous man may be the one she just hired.


In 1870, a land war between a railroad and Kansas settlers explodes into violence. Amy Langford, a strong woman who steps into her father's shoes to promote the railroad, becomes the target of attacks. When a ruggedly handsome drifter comes to her rescue, she trusts her instincts and hires him as her bodyguard. Her life is protected, but her heart is not.

Buck O’Connor is a wanted man with a dark past, which he hides from Amy, as well as his purpose for returning to Kansas. A purpose that puts him at odds with his new employer’s ambitions and makes the life she begins to imagine between them impossible. When his deceptions unravel, it threatens to destroy not only Amy’s future, but also her love—the only power on earth that could redeem him.

It's not easy being a strong woman in a man's world...

In Her Bodyguard, the heroine, Amy Langford, steps into her late father's role with a railroad that's racing to construct track to the Kansas border ahead of its rival. 
If mysterious threats on her life and rioting settlers aren't bad enough, she has to go toe-to-toe with powerful men who stand in her way. Three of these men also left their mark on history. Read on to find out who they were and what they did.

The Railroad Magnate

James Frederick Joy was the president of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroads (which included the MFS&G line through Kansas that Amy is promoting). 

Earlier in his legal career, Joy hired and worked alongside a young Illinois attorney by the name of Abraham Lincoln. They became lifelong friends.

Mr. Joy developed a talent for financial and executive enterprises and became one of the great railroad builders of his century. In Kansas, however, he met his Waterloo in the form of a settlers' revolt against the railroad's purchase of land they were currently homesteading.

In my novel, the fictionalized Mr. Joy hires Amy, but he becomes skeptical of her unconventional approach to the problems they face. However, his solutions only served to further anger the settlers.

The brilliant engineer

In 1869, the first bridge across the Missouri River opened a flood of westward expansion by rail. Octave Chanute, a self-taught engineer with no formal training, supervised construction on a task that daunted the greatest minds of the time. He forged his own tools, brought in pile drivers, built dredges and derricks in a makeshift machine shop. No wonder Joy put him in charge of the MFS&G.

It was hard enough to construct a line being vandalized regularly, but Chanute insisted on building a track that would last, even if it took longer and cost more. It's a decision Amy questions and warns him about in my novel. Ironically, Chanute’s commitment to quality contributed to the railroad's ultimate defeat. 

Later in life, Chanute became obsessed with flight. In the 1890s he gathered and published research, designed gliders and gave valuable advice to the Wright brothers. Octave Chanute became an engineering icon and left an indelible mark on history with his achievements. Unfortunately, the success of the MFS&G railroad was not one of them. 

The fiery newspaper editor

Amos Sanford, a Kansas politician and newspaper editor, becomes a huge thorn in Amy’s side. In real life, he was a fiery figure on the Kansas prairie who published a newspaper that railed against the railroad’s land policies. 

Sanford and his followers were so successful at stirring up unrest that the federal government had to send in troops to keep the peace. Shown here is a letter from the Kansas governor denying a Cherokee Country sheriff's request to have federal soldiers removed.

In Her Bodyguard, Amy runs into problems when a rally she plans creates an opportunity for her enemies to make trouble. One of those opposing her is the rabble-rousing newspaper editor.

BookBub Featured Deal for 99 cents

Passion and intrigue fuel this Western romance as it races through historic events with twists and turns that raise the stakes all the way to the end. Grab this first book in the Steam! series while it's on sale for 99 cents.


8/06/2021

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

How long ago were the Good Old Days anyway? My days  meant I could walk home from school. or to a friend's house without an adult. All my mom had to do was call my name from the kitchen door and I knew I needed to get home. Yes, it was before cell phones and  social media, but a man had walked on the moon. Gasoline costs around .30 cents per gallon (yeah...not a type-o). I watched Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated on live black & white television. The first time I heard the Jackson 5 the Osmonds or the Archies it was on a cereal box record. I didn't have my toys other than Barbies, a sand box, a doll with a giant teardrop on her face (Lil' Miss No Name--had to look that one up). But I had my bike, the library and a huge imagination. Who needed more? When were the 'good old days' for you? Let us know in the comments to be eligible for the drawing.

ANGI

One thing I did was ride my bicycle EVERYwhere. As long as I was home for lunch and dinner...I was golden. I lived in the middle of the block and our yard literally had a white fence in front. My mom and dad worked hard to keep the St. Augustine grass very lush under a huge huge shade tree. And that's why when we played space ship we played it at my house. We'd turn our bicycles upside down and set them end-to-end in a circle. Then we'd spin the peddles for energy and take off. Someone would always use their front tire like a steering wheel. Man...those were fun days.

AMANDA

My grandmother’s house was a wonderland of treasures. When I was young, its old three-story splendor, its lush green yard surrounded entirely by a five-foot hedge seemed like a fortress to my young imagination. Its Victorian beauty sprawled from front to back, top to bottom with many rooms, closets, as well as THE special drawer in the kitchen that housed the devil’s food cookies grandma stocked when we came to visit. It is here, on the grand woven tapestry rug in the living room that I first was introduced to the game of Chinese Checkers by my aunt. The board itself was handmade my grandfather and the marbles had been collected over time. While I love the game of checkers (yes, I’ll challenge any old man sitting in front of a checkerboard—that’s another story all together!) But something about the strategy of Chinese Checkers resonated—perhaps a cherished memory of my grandmother’s home-and ever since, it has been a focal point in our home. I have been known to buy Chinese Checker Boards as wedding gifts. (I’ve read a friendly board or card game with your spouse can be healthy!)

It’s one of the first games I taught each of my children and I’ve made sure that each of their homes also has a Chinese Checker board and there is never a family gathering that goes by without the gauntlet being dropped to play a round or two. Most recently, my oldest grandson (3.5 years) sat astutely watching his mother and I play the game with its shiny marbles I keep in a blue mason jar. I got him a checkerboard this year for Christmas, which means that not too far down the road, I’ll have another generation to teach and perhaps beat this savvy Gigi!


E.E. Burke

Dominoes. I love to play a very simple game of Mexican Train Dominoes. We didn't start out doing this when I was a child, although I wish we had. I LOVE playing this game because anyone can play--even when you're tired, have to do wash in between, want to drink some wine without bombing the game, etc. It's a blast. We play it with the grandkids and the grandparents. Anyone up for a game?


JACQUI

Memories of childhood puppets have a special place in my heart. I can remember being very young and very brave and putting on a puppet play for a Christmas community event. I'm not one who even slightly enjoys being on stage, so this memory is quite remarkable for me!

These days I have one Little Red Riding Hood puppet that I like to put on the bookshelf that holds my how-to-write books or sometimes (as in the picture below) I arrange her with my other treasures for a photoshoot. I bought Little Red during a trip to the Czech Republic over 15 years ago. I'm continually happy that I chose to bring her home because she's a classic who never fails to make me smile. 



WHEN WERE THE 'GOOD OLD DAYS' FOR YOU? Leave a comment to be eligible for (it's a secret!)


7/22/2021

Steam! Special Edition: Fugitive Hearts from bestselling author E.E. Burke

Book 4, Steam! Romance and Rails

A lawman is determined to discover the simple truth. Justice--and love--are far more complicated.

Everyone in Parsons, Kansas, considers hotel owner Claire Daines a respectable, decent woman. Until she shocks the entire town when she rushes into a saloon in her nightclothes to confess to an inebriated lawman. “Sheriff, I shot my husband.” 

Is it an accident, as she claims? Or murder? 

As Sheriff Frank Garrity unravels the evasive widow’s subterfuge, the truth will challenge his notions about justice. The tough, uncompromising sheriff must choose between his desire to protect Claire and his duty to uphold the law.

This evocative Western romance takes readers back to Kansas in the 1870s on a wild chase for two fugitives, who inspire one man's hope for a second chance.

Buy Fugitive Hearts

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical fiction and romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers' Best, National Readers' Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA's prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream--writing stories readers can get lost in.

Your stories are part of a series titled “Steam!” Does that mean they are “steamy” with lots of sex?

Let me start by saying that I write sex scenes if they fit with the storyline. I don’t do it just to titillate or fit some formula. I knew from the start that the books in this series would have sex scenes because the relationships that develop between the main characters are visceral and physical, as well as emotional. But I try to write it so that the scene is passionate not just sexual. The scene in Fugitive Hearts between Claire, who has been neglected and abused and has never experienced true physical passion, and Frank, who has withheld physical gratification from himself for so long as a kind of penance, is one of the best sex scenes I’ve ever written because it delves into the needs and vulnerabilities of these characters, as well as their strong attraction to each other. These two lonely souls, who carry around a lot of guilt over past failures, find themselves in opposition to each other, and at the same time, find solace with one another. Their struggle to heal and find peace with each other and with themselves is, I believe, one of tenderest stories I’ve written.

What is the historical setting for this book?

Fugitive Hearts takes place in 1873, during a period of transition, when the country fell into an economic depression and the Katy Railroad experienced numerous business failures, mostly due to the greedy, unethical people in charge. This book shifts its focus to the Henry’s sister Claire and the sheriff in Parsons, both of whom appeared in A Dangerous Passion. Another character who played a small role in that book, an outlaw named Jasper Byrnes, becomes more important in this book for reasons I can’t tell you without spoilers. Historically, this is the period when train robberies started in earnest—spurred on by a combination of the toxic effects of post-war violence and economic pressures. But’s it’s not only the outlaws who are crooked! 

After this, will you write more books in the series?

I’m currently working on book five, Lawless Hearts. It basically picks up where Fugitive Hearts leaves off. Right now, I envision six books in this series altogether. If readers want more, I’ll probably write more!

Steam! Romance and Rails New Edition. More adventure. More suspense. More romance. In a series you don’t want to miss. www.eeburke.com


A theme running through Fugitive Hearts is second chances. For the main characters, Claire and Frank, the orphan Billy, even the outlaw Jasper. Can you think of any books or movies you’ve seen lately that address this theme well? Do you enjoy "second chance" stories? Why?  

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of the books in the series! Leave a comment and don’t forget to add your email.


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