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What’s more “autumnal” than apple picking?

Although I missed out on the actual picking, my granddaughters had a blast visiting my late sister-in-law’s orchard, and my daughter shared the fruits of their labor (pun fully intended) with me.

(Did my nephew, Brad’s, T-shirt bring a smile? It says: I gotta see the candy first. Then I get in the van. I’m not stupid.)

My late mother would have used these Granny Smiths to make the BEST apple pie I’ve ever tasted. Sadly, I’m not a pastry chef. So, my work-around is called: Caramel Apple Gingersnap Crisp. (Warning: it’s rich, but super satisfying with vanilla ice cream.)

Caramel Apple Gingersnap Crisp

¾ C packed brown sugar
3 T flour
2 ¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
6 peeled, thinly sliced tart apples
6 caramels
1/3 C water, orange juice, OR rum

¾ C crushed gingersnap cookies (12-15)
¾ C packed brown sugar
½ C flour
½ C cold butter, cubed

Optional: vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven: 375-degrees
Mix dry ingredients and toss with apples.
Melt caramels in chosen liquid and pour over apples.
Mix well, then transfer to a 6X9” greased baking dish.

Prepare topping by mixing dry ingredients, then cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples.

Bake until apples are tender: approximately 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or heavy cream, as desired.


Are you ready for your SECOND snippet from our upcoming

I’m not sharing these in the order they appear in the anthology because that would be too predictable. 😉 So, drawn at random, here’s VALENTINE’S RESCUE from my pal, Barbara McMahon.

Barbara and I both live on the western slope of the Sierra foothills, although she’s located further north. We’ve been friends for years and shared the same publisher back in the day. Here’s a pre-Covid shot from a conference we both attended in San Francisco.

Barbara McMahon - USA Today Bestselling and award winning author Barbara McMahon has written more than 90 novels which have sold more than 16.5 million copies world wide. Known for her heartwarming, emotional stories, she excels in capturing those special feelings when first falling in love. She lives in a rural, gold rush county of Northern California with her husband and two velcro dogs. You can learn more about Barbara and her books at www.barbaramcmahon.com

Barbara’s contribution to the anthology is: VALENTINE’S RESCUE.

Snowbound on Valentine’s Day. Two strangers. A twice-burned cowboy and a nurse with nightmares too horrific to share. A storm brought them together, but a fearless dog seems intent on teaching them that sometimes friendship can evolve into love.


Valentine's Rescue © Barbara McMahon

Chapter One

       Jenny stopped the jeep a few feet from the cabin. The three wooden steps leading up to the porch were already covered in several inches of snow, as was everything else in sight.
      “We made it,” she said to the large German Shepherd sitting attentively beside her.
       Val whined to get out. He’d patiently sat through the trying drive from town without a whimper, but now that they were home, he was excited to get out and play in the snow.
       “Okay, hold on. I’ll let you out in a second.”
       She smiled at her companion and opened her door, quickly sliding out. He followed a half second later. She’d learned early on when she got him that he always wanted out of a car and if she didn’t move fast enough, he’d sail right over her once the door was open.
       Val bounded around in the snow and barked in delight.
       She laughed. She loved that dog. He brought her so much joy. More than what she expected when they were first paired up.
       Taking a deep breath of the frigid air, she raised her gaze to the treetops, some branches already bending slightly with the weight of the snow. The cold, crisp air felt good. So different from the hot, dusty air of Afghanistan. Gazing around, she relished the tall evergreens, the clearing in which her small cabin sat. The silence seemed even more muted with the snow. Except for the dog running around, she could almost hear the snowflakes landing.
       She loved being home. She’d been lucky to rent the cabin when she returned to Wild Cat Creek. It suited her perfectly and felt like home from the first day.
       “I wish you could help me unload,” she called to Val as she pulled out four bags of groceries from the back seat.
       The weather forecast had predicted a record snowfall when this blizzard moved in and she’d stocked up for several weeks. The snow was falling so thick she could hardly see more than a few dozen yards in front of her.
       Jenny trudged carefully up the steps to the porch, sheltered from the snow by the overhang Putting down a couple of bags, she opened the door. The cabin was toasty warm. Quickly carrying the bags to the kitchen, she turned to bring in another load.
       The large stack of firewood, protected on the porch, would last for days. The major stack of wood for the winter was close enough to the house she could shovel a path if the snow became too deep when the logs on the porch became depleted.
       She had a generator for when the power went out as it often did this far from town when heavy snow or fallen trees pulled down the lines.
       Two more trips and the jeep was empty. Val ran around in the snow, sticking his nose into the white stuff then tossing his head up, causing a small arc of snow that drifted in the wind. Jenny laughed again.
       “Shall I throw you some snowballs?” she asked. Taking a handful of snow, she packed it into a ball and then threw it. The dog ran after it, then stopped–puzzled. He sniffed around, sticking his nose into the snow, looking for the ball.
       Laughing again, Jenny played the game with him for several minutes. She tossed some gently and he’d jump up to catch them mid-air, only to bite down on them and send snow cascading from his mouth. It was several minutes before she called a halt.
       “Come on, let’s go inside. The snow’s getting deeper and it’s cold and I still have to put the groceries away.”
       Val trotted over and once on the porch, shook off the accumulation of snow, transforming himself from white to black.
       “Glad we have this porch, or you’d be making a bigger mess inside,” she said, opening to door to let the dog in.
       By the time Jenny finished putting the groceries away, she was ready for lunch. At one point that morning she’d debated staying in town to get lunch from the café, but when the snow began falling heavily, she knew she’d better get home before the roads became impassable.
       A loud crack came from outside, then two muffled thumps.
       Jenny froze for a split second, then dropped to all fours and scurried beneath the dining room table, her mind taking her back to the ambush in Afghanistan. She couldn’t move, she could scarcely breathe. Visions of that attack flooded her mind. Adrenaline surged, her heart pounded, and her vision was obscured as she heard the echo of the mortar rounds. Felt the incessant heat. Heard the cries of the wounded, the rounds of gunfire. She drew herself into a ball, trying to hide where there was no hiding.
       Val leaned against her, sticking his face in front of hers, licking her cheek. He whimpered, pushing against her and licking her face.
       Slowly the images and sounds faded. She reached for her service dog and buried her face in his thick fur, hugging him tight. Taking a deep breath, she willed her mind to come back to the present, wishing her racing heart would slow down.
       The dog remained in position, leaning against her slightly, not moving until she did. Slowly her breathing returned to normal. Slowly, she opened her eyes and saw the furnishings in the cabin she rented.
       She wasn’t in Afghanistan. She was in Wyoming.
       She wasn’t in the Army anymore. She was home.
       Safe at home.
       “Stupid, huh,” she said into his fur, still clinging to her dog as the adrenaline slowly dissipated. “A tree limb probably broke dumping snow.”
       She hated this. The psychiatrist at the VA hospital had told her the attacks would most likely fade over time–lots of time. Sudden loud noises seemed to trigger events. Or sensory overload if she was in a crowded noisy place. Or stress. Or nothing at all.
       Jenny reviewed what she was doing to manage the PTSD and minimize triggers.
       She lived alone in a quiet home tucked away in a section of a peaceful forest. Neighbors weren’t too far away, but she couldn’t hear them when she was outside.
       Her trips to town were manageable. Wild Cat Creek was a small ranching community–nothing like big cities with constant noise and activity.
       Her job as a private duty nurse suited her situation. Fortunately, the residents of Wild Cat Creek and nearby towns where she might be called to work knew her situation and her service dog was as welcomed as she was.
       She sat back on the floor and continued to hold on to Val. He climbed into her lap, his face still studying hers.
       “You aren’t exactly a lap dog,” she said as she petted him.
       Taking deep breaths, she tried to orient herself. In a moment, she’d get up, fix her lunch, and be fine the rest of the day.
       Or she would be when the adrenaline subsided.
She hoped.
       “If I only had a second’s warning, I could prepare,” she murmured to Val.
       He thumped his tail, still pinning her legs to the floor, and leaned against her slightly, giving the support she needed.
       “Okay, I’m good.”
       He rose and she scooted out from beneath the table. Jenny got to her feet and hugged her dog again. “Thanks for being here for me.”
       She ate lunch at the round oak table to one side of the great room, gazing out the front window. The storm was fast becoming the predicted blizzard. The snow was so thick she could scarcely see the jeep.
       “I know you love playing in the snow, but a quiet afternoon inside is in store for us. If it stops snowing tomorrow, we’ll play outside,” she said to Val, who was curled in front of the fireplace, his gaze on her. He wagged his tail.
       Suddenly he rose, ran to the window and looked out, ears up, tail out, his full attention on something outside.
       “What is it? A deer? Some old cow that broke through the fence?”
       Wildlife wasn’t uncommon. Even cows sometimes wandered around due to the fact the cabin was actually on one of the large ranches in the area. Apart from this area of trees that continued upward for several miles, most of the land around Wild Cat Creek was pasture for the cattle that built the economy in the area.
       Val was on alert. He didn’t move–ears forward, eyes gazing as if seeing a long distance. Then he whined, running to the door. Barking, he looked back at her.
       “We’re not going outside. It’s cold, the snow’s getting too deep to walk in, and I told you we’d play tomorrow.”
       He nosed the door and barked again. Looking back at her, he barked once more.
       “What is it?” she asked, becoming concerned. He’d never acted this way before.
       He woofed again, several times, almost as if he was chastising her.
       “Okay, okay.” Jenny pulled on her heavy winter coat and flipped the hood over her head.”
       We’ll see what’s got you all worked up. But if it’s a squirrel or something, I’m not going to be happy.”
       She opened the door and he shot outside like a bullet, running past the jeep and down the driveway.
       “Val, come!” she called, hurrying after him. Where was the fool dog going?
       The snow was already a foot deep. She hurried after him, slipping now and then.
       It took several minutes to catch up with him. He continued to bark and when she rounded a curve in the driveway, she saw him on the road. Not that the road was easy to see; the snow blended everywhere. She’d be lucky to find her way back home.
       As Jenny approached the road, she saw that a white pick-up truck had gone into the ditch on the other side of the road. Val stood near the driver’s door barking furiously.
       Jenny hurried to join him. The truck already had a thick coating of snow and due to the angle of incline in the ditch, the side window was coated as well.
       She scraped the driver’s window clear and peered inside.
       A man sat behind the wheel, his head resting on the back of the seat, a trickle of blood running down the side of his head.
       She pounded on the window. For a moment, nothing happened. Then he opened his eyes, blinked once and turned to stare at her.
       Jenny tugged on the door handle and pulled the door open.


What an exciting start! I can’t wait to read the whole thing. Remember, your preorder price is only 99¢.

Pre-order CUPID TO THE RESCUE here!

Last week's Q&A was: Pumpkin Spice? Yes or No?

To my surprise, the No answers beat the Yes answers two-to-one. Given the level of advertising and new pumpkin-spice products that seem to crop up daily, I would have thought everyone in the country but me was a fan.

I have decided to try buying a Pumpkin Spice candle because I do think the scent will be a warm and welcome contrast to our constant smoke smell, and maybe it will help me get into the Autumn Mood.

My two randomly selected winners this week are:

Philip Ojalvo
Jodi W.

(Philip and Jodi congrats. Please email me your pick of either a $5 Starbucks or a $5 Amazon gift card.)


This week’s Q&ADo you like to bake? Yes or No.

(Two winners will be chosen by random drawing to receive either a $5 Starbucks gift card or a $5 Amazon gift card. Please reply the usual ways:
email or on my DebraSalonenAuthor Facebook page.)

Autumn has begun to tiptoe my way…at long last. Yesterday, I spotted these geese on the move.

No rain, yet, but cooler temps, which I hope is a Godsend for the firefighters on the front line.

Take care and stay well,


Next week: Snippet #3 from Cupid to the Rescue.

Debra Salonen's Book List

Montana Blueprint for Love
Meet Me in Montana
All the Stars in Montana

Her Forever Cowboy
Never Say Never
Caleb's Christmas Wish
A Baby After All
Love, After All
That Cowboy's Forever Family
Forever and Ever, by George

Prince Charming Undercover
The Daddy Gamble
Risky Baby Business
A Match Made in Vegas

Montana Secret Santa
Sweet Summer's Kiss

Black Hills Baby
Black Hills Billionaire
Black Hills Bad Boy
Black Hills Bachelor
Black Hills Native Son
Black Hills Outcast
Black Hills White Knight
Black Hills Rancher
Black Hills Stranger
Black Hills Legacy

Montana Cowgirl
Montana Cowboy
Montana Darling
Montana Maverick
Montana Gift
Montana Miracle

Her Hero to Love
Her Rogue to Tame
Her Rebel to Kiss



Copyright © 2020 Debra Salonen