Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The importance of good spelling....and one day left to enter the book draw for Burning Sky.

If you add an E to my middle name, and Google "images" this is what you get.

Arrested On: 10/10/2012
Booking ID: 1552563
  • C/S-SCH second degree- P/W/first degree/S/D COCAINE




 41DOB: 01/10/1971
Address: SOUTHERN PINES NC 28387
Sex: F
Race: white
Height: 6'00"
Weight: 210

PLEASE spell my name properly!!

And today is the last day you can leave a comment to be eligible to win an ARC copy of Lori Benton's Burning Sky.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A visit with author Lori Benton. And what? A drawing for a copy of 'Burning Sky', too???

Have you ever picked up a book, read the first line, and gasped because that first LINE told a story?

"The woman who had been Burning Sky had kept off the warrior path 
that came down from the north through mountains, along the 
courses of rivers and creeks."

Ummmm. What? Had been? What do you mean *had been*?

After subtle, polite hints such as "oh pleeeease!" and the ever delicate "PLEASE!!!", I was privileged to receive an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Burning Sky in June. 

Then, basically as many members of the Royal Family do, I "quietly withdrew from public life."

Which is a nice way of saying "Don't bug me!! Lori's book arrived!!! Feed yourselves!"

I curled up in my favourite reading chair, brewed a vat of Earl Grey and wandered into the life and struggles of dear, sweet Willa Obenchain.

But before I introduce you to Willa, I want you to meet an amazing woman.

Lori Benton

You can visit her at :

She'll tell you about life, survival and being a writer coping with chemo-fog. 

But if your mouse is tired, here's a wee blurb from her blog...
Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace.
When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband – often scouring the brush for huckleberries, which overflow the freezer and find their way into her signature huckleberry lemon pound cake.

As I got to know Lori via Facebook and email, I found her to be sweet, gracious witty and warm. There was not one iota of "I am a Published Author, feel free to kiss the ring". More like "So, what's up? How are you?"
I've learned quite a bit from Lori, and I'm sure you will too. Here are a few questions and answers about the book, the Mohawk, American history and some of the complex issues post-Revolutionary War.

1)      What was the catalyst for Willa's story? Did you have an "ah-ha" moment or did she grow on you?

A little of both.
There were two images that intruded upon me which I suppose were the first catalysts for Willa’s story. The first was of an old woman living in a ramshackle cabin in a clearing bounded by ridges, alone and quite isolated. She had a garden, and grew herbs to sell, but she had no one. I wondered who she was and why she was so alone and sad. I knew her name was Willa.
The second image I had was of a young woman, tall and strong, striding across a mountain with a heavy basket on her back and a heavier weight of grief, coming home. I knew it was the same woman and that the first image would be her fate… unless someone intervened.
From that the story grew as I brainstormed, story-dreamed, and did my research into the time and place.

2) Were there many European settlers in what is now New York State, or were most settlers from England?

The 18th century New York frontier was a melting pot of European and Native nations. The predominant nationality that first settled in the western reaches of the Mohawk Valley was German. There was also a large contingent of Scottish Highlanders. There were Dutch, Irish, Ulster Scot, English, African, Mohawk, Oneida, Tuscarora, Delaware, Onondaga and more, and many who claimed more than one of these races and nationalities in their ancestry.  I enjoy peopling my stories with characters from diverse backgrounds. The New York frontier, indeed the whole of the 18th century frontier, is a perfect setting for it.

3)Did you do a lot of research on the Mohawk and Iroquois Confederacy? Where did you look for your research?

I’ve spent years researching the Iroquois Confederacy and their interactions with European settlers, and the consequences of that. As I mention in the author’s note at the end of Burning Sky, there were many historians who made it possible for me to tell this story. It would make for a long list to name them all, but foremost among them are: Barbara Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution; Timothy J. Shannon, Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier; Isabel Thompson Kelsay, Joseph Brant, Man of Two Worlds; Alan Taylor, The Divided Ground; Richard Berleth, Bloody Mohawk: the French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York’s Frontier; E. Wilder Spaulding, New York in the Critical Period, 1783-1789. I’ve also benefitted from countless online sources, both websites and people I encountered with the knowledge and willingness to answer my endless questions.

4) What is the feedback you've gotten on poor Tames-His-Horse? Are people divided over his situation?

Since the book is yet to release (as I write this) I’ve yet to receive reader feedback on any character save Willa and Neil, and that only general, so I’m not yet able to answer that question. But I certainly look forward to reader responses about Joseph Tames-His-Horse. He is one of my favorite characters, though he demanded more from me in the writing than any other.

5) If it wasn't the Mohawk, which nation would you have written about?

Definitely the Oneida, the second easternmost nation in the Great Longhouse of the Iroquois that once stretched from the Hudson to the Great Lakes. In fact I’m working on a series (not under contract at present) that will follow the Oneidas through their experiences just before and during the Revolutionary War. While it wasn’t a unanimous decision, they were the nation that mostly sided with the Patriots during that conflict, while most of the rest of the Confederacy fought for the British. The heartbreak and impossible choices that faced the Iroquois during this time have captured my imagination, and I hope to tell their story through the eyes of a cast of characters I’ve already come to care deeply about.

6) Can you explain the unique relationships between captives and those who stole them? Was it always combative?

Great question! That relationship was as individual as the persons involved. In Willa’s case, she was taken during what was called a “mourning raid,” where the women of a clan would request their men go out and bring them captives to replace loved ones lost by war or other death. It was part of their grieving process, part of their healing. The new person, no matter their sex or age, would take the place of the lost one, to be loved and cared for as if they were born to the clan—if they were agreeable to the women in question. If not, that captive could be made a slave, or killed.
From the captives’ point of view, how they coped often depended on their age. Young children, according to accounts of the time, adapted quickly and grew up happily as part of the clan that adopted them. Young women, when given the choice to return to their former homes, often chose to remain. One reason being, women among the Iroquois were accorded more freedom and influence than their European counterparts of the time.
Men taken captive in battle were often tortured or killed in retribution for losses the clans had suffered previously, whether those particular captives had anything to do with those losses. Some men found favor with their captors, however, through a show of courage and endurance, or for some other reason, and were adopted as sons and brothers. Some were content to remain so. Others tried to escape.
Captivity was a complex and (to Europeans minds) arbitrary occurrence, with many possible outcomes. It’s easy to imagine the terror of those taken into this unpredictable situation, the sense of loss and displacement, or the heartbreak when, once resigned to or embracing of their new lives, they were forced by treaty agreements or other circumstances to be given back, and were torn from yet another life and family to find themselves so changed they no longer fit comfortably in the place where they were born.

7) How open were Native Americans to having peace with the settlers?

At times very open—to the point of bending over backward to accommodate demands. At other times, especially after too many treaties and promises were broken, too much land stolen, too many crimes against them gone unpunished, they set their hearts on war. Yet in my research of the New York frontier I encountered stories of men and women, some of mixed ancestry but not all, who crossed the Middle Ground between their cultures and lived productive lives among Europeans and Natives alike, who were known by each people, accepted and valued. These are the people who intrigue me, who compel me to spin my own stories around their historical examples.

Can we hope to hear more about Willa, Neil and Tames-His-Horse?

With all my heart I hope so, down the line. There’s more of their story to tell. I hope to have the chance to do so.

My thoughts on Burning Sky...

Perhaps overcoming so much in her life has made Lori able to write characters who face such heart wrenching obstacles that the only ways to overcome are up, or through. Because retreat and surrender are not options, not for her, and not for the characters so real, you weep.

Willa, Neil and Joseph-Tames His Horse; oh how I loved that my heart ACHED for these friends, these dear souls who had been ripped apart by circumstance and determinedly moved forward through life, because life itself was all they had left. 
Hope was a vapour untouchable, security was only in that the sun would rise and love was beyond the next breath, if only they could stay alive to breathe it.

Burning Sky will always be on my 'must read again' list, I loved it. It wore me out, I am still pondering the effect it has had on me. 
If you're thinking to read this at the beach? Think again. Why? Crying at the beach is a downer for everyone else. 

Thank you, so much, Lori for visiting us at Tales From The Redhead!

Now about that

If you would like to win a copy of 'Burning Sky', leave a comment, your name and your email in a non-spam-able format like this: (bettysue(at)bigserver(dot)com.
If you DON'T want to be in the draw, please say that in your comment. 

You have until midnight, July 31st.  I will do a draw August 1st, then I'll post the name of the winner on the blog that day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why we own a BMW....A WHAT?!?!?!?!

My husband, John, is a meticulous planner. When he sets out to do something, he's already thought of every angle, every probability, each cost and benefit and rarely does anything without thinking it through.
He likes things done right.

Poor guy, he's married to moi.

 #1 Son has worked all summer as a tree planter. This is a brutally difficult job. He is up at 3am and home anywhere between 2pm and 5pm. He is SPENT.
He estimates he has planted 102,000 seedlings this summer. 


He has earned enough for tuition, books, expenses and now? 
Enough for a car.
His *first* car.
So he started looking over the weekend. Sunday, John and I took Zach to camp, and on the way, went to see a 1998 BMW 323.
Good little car, lots of mileage, a spotless engine and it handled well.
On the way home, we decided that Dad and Son would go test drive it after supper.
So they did.

But let's stop for a moment, and take some time to remember that John is a PLANNER.
He does his research.


Until he gets behind the wheel of a Beemer and guns it to 50mph.

Oh, wait...#1 Son had closed the hood after they inspected the engine. wasn't *QUITE* closed. 


When John hit the gas??

The hood hit the windshield.
At 50 miles an hour.



See the dents?!?!?!

Nice crack, eh?? It keeps going ALL across the windshield.

But hey, #1 Son got his car, I got hurt from laughing so hard and we get to play "fix the Beemer" all summer.

At least it runs.

And MAYBE #1 Son will let his father drive it, IF he behaves.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Entirely important, super high priority blogpost about a new dress.

I got this little number for 34$ on Ebay.

Not bad...since it has the tags on it that says 129$ !!


 I haven't bought a posh dress in ...I have no idea!!

It reminds of those swanky 60's party dresses you'd see on that TV show 'Mad Men'.

Since I'm not too bad at making my own jewelry, I'm going to have fun cranking up the sparkle factor.

And yes, I have the shoes for it.
Now to work on the arms!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Santorini!! Oh my WORD!!!!!

I knew someone years ago who went to Santorini, then two friends went last year. Always, when I'd see photos or video of the place...I WANTED TO GO.

Santorini, an island in the Cyclades group, in Greece, has been #2 on my "Things I Want to See Before I'm Too Old To Move" list, otherwise known as "the Bucket List". 

So when my travel partner and I, and yes, we're basically superheroes with carry-on luggage, were mulling over where to go, I pretty much fainted when we nailed the itinerary and I knew I'd be going to one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Here is a view of the wee tug boat from up in Fira.

The old harbour.

These two are not my photos, but show the iconic architecture of Oia, one of the most photographed towns in the world. And yes, the place IS that steep. Do not even dream of coming here if you're on crutches or in a wheel chair.  

One of the most famous views in the world.

The view from the Greek Orthodox church in Fira. They had, umm, a Wifi router inside the church. I asked a man if it would seem slightly disrespectful if I flipped open my tablet and madly checked my email.

I was culturally sensitive.
 (and my travel partner would have beaned me)

Pink oleander in front of a home.

An ancient walkway toward a home.

The elementary school in Fira.

Front gates of a home.

White oleander.

The Akotiri Excavations. Not a single human bone was found here, archeologists think the town escaped when Vesuvius erupted and sailed away, en masse,in boats to another island in the Cyclades.

Everyone say hello to "Irini". She was SMART. Tour guides in Greece do three years of school to become qualified.  When she used the phrase "the morphology of the soil..." a whole lot more of the tour group started paying attention!

Boarding the tender to return to the biggest ship I'd seen the entire two weeks we were at sea. And YES! It was our ship!
Am I bragging?


When you see a paint sample and it says "Aegean blue" ? THIS is Aegean blue. Such a beautiful colour!

We sailed at 6:30pm, and the following photos are the sunset over Santorini and a few other smaller islands.

You're welcome.

There are three ways to get from Fira to the harbour. All three are in one video.


Next stop??

Ephesus, Turkey.

Yes, THAT Ephesus.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day Four...Amalfi and Pompeii...and a day at sea!

Day Four had us docking in Napoli (Naples) and then a bus ride to...a town...and then a boat cruise Positano.

Notice the truly awesome hairdo I'm sporting. I call it "Please, strange lady, wait til my hair looks like monkeys did it and THEN snap the photo."

We were in Tour Group Number 10.  
Some tour guides should have carried ropes and harnesses for the more, umm, annoying persons incapable of listening to a single, solitary instruction. 

Stunning scenery. But the Canadian in me kept thinking "How do they plow those roads in winter?"

Beautiful architecture!!

Well...all right then...why don't we just take your word for it?

Ahhhh, Pompeii. A very sad and interesting place to visit. Our tour guide pronounced the volcano as
 "Mont Vah-SOOOOOO-vee-uuuus".
 Yup, with her lips out to the car.

Pompeii was built on the side of a hill, we hiked alot! These were single family homes, just basically townhouses, there were lots of them.

Home of a wealthy family in Pompeii

All the streets are the width of one chariot.

The volcano...the cone is missing off the top of mountain and there's a huge crater. What, you don't see the crater?

THAT is the crater. 

 Use your fingers to trace where the peak should have been. Scary, eh?

 Nobody had a chance.

Pompeii today, a lovely port city with some pretty great gelato!

Sailing away from Napoli, heading toward Greece.

Our next day was a sea day, so we did fun stuff on the ship, like go to an art auction and what does my travel partner do?? Wins a limited edition!!  

But it was also formal night, so we went to the dining room for dinner. And what arrives at my place at the table??? Yes, it's as big as it looks, and as good!! 

But me and auction patron #179 didn't have time to stay, as we had to go to the gallery and choose the mattes and the frame. So the cake was delivered to our stateroom.

Next stop? 
Number #2 on my bucket list, the island of Santorini.

The view from where we arrived in the morning.

Just wait til you see the views from Fira, the Akotiri excavations and the cable car ride!!!