Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Perfectly Charming!

At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I have a confession to make. I think charm strings are simply . . . well, charming!

What’s a charm string? Ah, settle back and get ready to hear the story of these delightful antiques.

Creating charm strings was a fad in the late 1800s and early 1900s. That’s when young girls collected buttons and put them on long strings. There were rules to the game:

1. No two buttons should be the same

2. The buttons should come as gifts from friends or be traded with other stringers, they should never be bought

3. The more brilliant and beautiful each button, the better

4. Buttons with shanks are best because they nest together well

A young girl would begin her string with what was called a “touch button,” one button that was usually a little bigger than the rest. From there, she would collect for years, always in pursuit of one more button, until the charm string reached 1000 buttons. Then, legend took over. Some stories said that 1000th button would be presented by the man who would become the girl’s husband. Another story said that after she strung that last button, a girl would meet her Prince Charming. In a total turn-around from those legends, some stories said that if a girl collected all 1000 buttons, she’d end up being a spinster.
Charm strings are also called memory strings, and it’s no wonder why. Each button came with a story, and families would gather with the charm string and trade memories. “This is a button from the coat I was wearing when I met your father,” a mother might say. “And here’s one from Grandpa’s Army uniform.” In the days before the distractions of TV, internet and cell phones, charm strings sparked conversation and help pass along family traditions and tales. In fact, an unfinished charm string was always left out in full view so visitors could contribute buttons (and stories) to it. It was also common to find non-button items on charm strings, things like religious amulets, coins and charms.

Charm strings of any size are nearly impossible to find these days. Most have been scooped up by collectors or broken apart by family members who each wanted a keepsake of the memories. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t revive the tradition. Stringing buttons is a great way to encourage fine motor skills in young children, and sorting the buttons, too, helps them learn analytical skills. As for adults, there is endless delight in old buttons, and I’ve seen charm strings (of less than 1000 buttons, of course) used as one-of-a-kind bracelets and necklaces.

So get started. All it takes it a little string...and a few buttons!

Casey Daniels is also Kylie Logan, the author of the Button Box mystery series. Book #3 in the series, “Panic Button,” is on store shelves now. It features Josie Giancola who owns the Button Box, an antique and vintage button shop, and a charm string brought to her by a customer who insists that the buttons on it are cursed. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Immortally Embraced release contest - woot!

Immortally Embraced is out today. In this book, our favorite paranormal doctor has to face off against a startling new enemy, a blast from her past and plenty of baby mamma drama from a pregnant Medusa.

Even during a truce, Dr. Petra Robichaud has her hands full as the M*A*S*H surgeon to an army of warring gods—especially when Medusa herself turns up pregnant. Petra has no idea what to expect when a gorgon’s expecting, but she won’t let it turn her to stone. As the healer-hero of an ancient prophesy, it’s Petra’s job to keep the peace. But as the lover to a warrior demi-god, she knows how impossible some jobs can be…
Commander Galen is sexy, strong, and sworn to lead his team to hell and back. But when he announces to Petra that he can no longer risk her life for his love, the doctor is on her own…Until a mysterious new entity—in the form of a hot-blooded male—enters the picture. Can he be trusted? Can he be resisted? Meanwhile, an oracle delivers another prophesy that places Petra back on the frontlines with the man she may be bound to for eternity—in love, or in war…

To celebrate, the new book - as well as Medusa's coming bundle of mayhem - I'm sponsoring the What to Expect When A Gorgon's Expecting contest on my author blog. Give our favorite gorgon a bit of advice and you're entered to win naming rights to a character in Immortally Ever After, which comes out this summer. Plus, ten runner's up each win a signed copy of the first book in the series, Immortally Yours.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Back is Having an Affair with My Bed

My back has always been feisty when it comes to beds. Since high school, if I sleep too long, my back hurts, but I live with it. It wasn't so bad that it interfered with my life, so I just sort of ignored it and went along with life.

Then in October 2011 (yes, count the months, that was a LONG time ago), I slept funny and woke up with my back killing me. A year later, I was still in pain 24/7. I had tried all sorts of stretches and strengthening exercises. I tried massages. I tried anti-inflammatories. I tried heat. I tried ice. Nothing worked. I couldn't twist. I couldn't wash my daughter's hair without being knocked out for the rest of the day. I was a hurtin' unit.

What time was it worst? During the night and in the morning. I would wake up at 1am with my back killing me, and the rest of the night was spent trying to get into a position that didn't hurt.  My favorite position was to sleep on my back, and that would cause massive pain within five minutes.

Then one day, when I was especially miserable with pain, I was at my daughter's soccer game. One of the dads at the game mentioned that he used to be in so much pain in the mornings with his back that he had to lie down on the floor and stretch as soon as he rolled out of bed. Then he got a new mattress, and the pain vanished.

Well, that was it. I couldn't take it any more. So, I trotted right out to the mattress store, discovered that I needed the softest mattress they had because my hips and shoulders weren't heavy enough to compress a firmer mattress. I bought it, got it home, and started sleeping on it.

Over the next couple months, my back pain completely disappeared. COMPLETELY. YAY! Back pain that had been brutal for a year, but which had been a part of my life since I was a teenager. GONE. Was it the mattress? It had to be, right? No other option.

Well, last night, I slept on another mattress while out of town. It was a hard mattress, and by morning, I was basically crippled. My hips hurt, my back hurt, my shoulder hurt, my neck hurt. I have been gimping around all day, my back in so much pain, exactly how it was for that year when I was sleeping on my old mattress.

One night. One hard mattress. All the pain in my back has returned.

You think it's a fluke? I don't either. My new, soft mattress saved my back.

Mattress, I love you. Be my Valentine.

~Stephanie, who is SO excited to be back on her soft bed tonight...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Men Don't Understand Chocolate

This afternoon while on a family vacation, my daughter and I made a pan of chewy fudge brownies with chocolate frosting. I undercooked them ever so slightly so they were extra gooey. Let me just say, they are G-O-O-D.

The brownies were finished baking about five hours ago. My daughter had one brownie and decided she didn't like the fact there was frosting on it. That left me, and my brother to eat them, and he decided not to partake until after dinner.

This is what the pan looks like now:

Yes, that's right, more than half of it is gone. Granted, my brother did have some after dinner, but most of that is me. So, after my second large brownie in five minutes, I said, "Pete, you have two choices. Take that pan upstairs with you to your room, or I am going to throw them away."

He said, "What are you talking about? Leave them on the kitchen counter."

Me: "If I leave them there, I will eat them all by morning."

Him: "What? Why?"

Me: "Because they are there, and I know they are there. Therefore, I will eat them."

Him: "That's silly. Just don't eat them."

Me: "I can't not eat them. They are good. They are chocolate. I'm going to eat them."

My mom (who has been observing the exchange): "I will hide them from you, Stephanie."

Him: "Hide them? Don't hide them. Just leave them on the counter and don't eat them."


Him (looking at me like I'm a complete idiot): "Just don't eat them."

Me: "You just don't understand women and chocolate. You are a jerk."

Finale: I take a knife, cut another brownie, and stomp off while eating it.

Conclusion: Men have a different chocolate gene than women do, and it is NOT FAIR.

Morale of the story: Don't make gooey fudge chocolate brownies unless you are the only one in the house so you can throw them down the disposal when you realize what you've done.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Hearts Abound Winners

Happy President's Day! Or for those of us with children here in the US, happy day at home with the kids. Umm, yay! Heh heh. I got up ridiculously early to do boot camp--since the kids have no school--and now I'm up for a while. Might as well announce some lucky winners! Woot!

Kayla S. Won the prize pack from Alexandra Ivy!
Samantha B. Won the prize pack from Jaime Quaid!
Jennilinh D. Won the prize pack from Shawntelle Madison!

Congrats to the winners! Everyone have a wonderful week!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hearts Abound Booksigning

This weekend I had a blast. My middle child turned nine last week and we had a fun birthday party for him and I also participated in the Hearts Abound Book signing at Rose's BookHouse in O'Fallon, Missouri. I got a chance to hang out with Jaime Quaid and Alexandra Ivy. They both have amazing books and I thought I'd share pictures, prizes, and such from the booksigning!

I sold out of my copies of COVETED whoot!

Look at all those pretties!

Shawntelle Madison, Jaime Quaid, and Alexandra Ivy

The prizes! A copy of KEPT too!

Lots of swag in the photo above from Alexandra Ivy! It's been a while since I've had a contest so I'll pick three winners. International entries are welcomed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 6, 2013



Thanks to Hollywood and any number of swashbuckling novels, the word conjures up instant visions in our heads: rolling ocean waves, tropical islands, palm trees swaying in Caribbean breezes and of course, buried treasure.

But did you know there were pirates on the Great Lakes? And not all that long ago.
These pirates roamed the waters on America’s Great Lakes in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and did things like poach lumber from federal forests so they could transport it via the lakes to cities that were itching for wood for buildings. They filled their boats with Canadian liquor and traded American firearms for it. One of their most interesting tricks was called “moon cussing.” This devious activity involved setting up false lights on the waters to trick other ships into thinking they were reaching safe harbor. Instead, the lights drew the ships to rocky waters and once they ran aground, the pirates would board those ships and steal everything in sight.

The most famous of the Great Lakes pirates–and the only man in America who was ever formally tried for piracy–was Roaring Dan Seavey, who plied the waters of Lake Michigan in the early 1900s. Seavey’s crimes on the high seas (er...lakes) include everything from running a floating brothel to stealing sailing vessels. He was eventually brought before the court, and the charges were dropped on a technicality. In his later years, Seavey worked as a US Marshal. His speciality–tracking down lake pirates and bringing them to justice.

What writer could ignore fascinating historical tid-bits like this! As soon as I heard Roaring Dan’s story, I knew I had to use it in one of my Button Box mysteries.

I got that opportunity in “Panic Button,” Button Box mystery #3. In the book Josie Giancola, one of this country’s leading experts in antique and vintage buttons, has a customer who brings her a charm string (a string of 1000 vintage buttons) to be appraised and insists that the charm string is cursed. Josie, ever practical, isn’t about to believe that...until the customer is found dead behind the Button Box shop, strangled with the charm string.

Yes, it all involves a Great Lakes pirate, one I’ve named Thundering Ben Moran, and those 1000 buttons, one of which is far more valuable than anyone would have imagined.

“Panic Button” is on store (and cyber) shelves now. Enjoy!