Tag Archives: Beth Trissel

Christmas Memory from the Shenandoah Valley by Beth Trissel


Chapel Hill at Christmas

When I was new and the world was young, at that wonderful age of six,  my younger brother, John, and I celebrated our first Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at the Churchman family home place where my Dad was born and raised.  Called Chapel Hill (all these old Southern homes have names) the gracious Georgian style house has been in the family since 1816.  In those early days, John and I had only just grasped the concept of Santa Claus because our family had spent the previous three years in Taiwan where my parents taught English and only returned to the states that previous summer.

Everything about an American Christmas was new and wondrous to us, especially the amazingly generous fat guy in the red suit who was just waiting to give us presents.  But it seemed that he required snow, the cold white stuff we had not yet witnessed, for sleigh travel with his flying deer.  A bit eccentric perhaps, but I was an imaginative child and willing to indulge him.  It wasn’t lost on us, though, that this weather phenomenon didn’t fall from a clear blue sky.

Beth and JohnOur parents hadn’t made much of Christmas in Taiwan.  We were tiny tots and toys  scarce, the few there were being some that other missionary families shared with us from those their children had outgrown.  There were no toy stores in Taiwan then like there were here.  Chewing gum was a major treat.  We caught our breath at the delights we saw in the American shops.

Barbie dolls had just been introduced and I longed for one with hair to comb, an endless perfect wardrobe, and furniture of her own. John had his eye on a racing car set.  We’d seen picture books with Santa in them and there was always snow.  What to do, what to do?  Nothing but wait and hope.

The journey to Virginia began in the mountains of Tennessee, jolting along in our old Ford on Route 11 to Augusta County in the Shenandoah Valley.  Our grandmother, whom we all called Mommom, Aunt Moggie, Uncle RW and our five cousins awaited us on the family farm.

Dad spent what seemed like days in preparation for the trip, packing and repacking the car.  Finally we got underway.  I’m amazed as an adult to find that the trip normally takes about six hours, or less, because I have vivid memories of this ride going on all day and far into the night, playing ‘I Spy with My little Eye,’ and singing carols until we were hoarse and my parents must’ve been nearly half mad.

horse and sleigh

Mom taught us a song on the way about Santa, ‘You’d Better Watch Out,’ a worrisome ditty.  I wasn’t an exceptionally naughty child, but knew there were the occasionally times when I had been what, in some person’s minds, might be construed as bad. What if Santa, this wonderful provider, had seen me at less than my best?  What if I got switches?

My father told us about his Uncle Gus who’d received switches.  Horrors of horrors.  Deep down I felt it was no more than I deserved if my every move had been carefully noted. I hoped Santa was a forbearing fellow, but doubts lurked, a new worry on top of the snow thing.

Eventually we arrived in the Valley and the paved highway turned into bumpy dirt roads as we wound deeper into the country with its unique smells.  My father pointed out the lights of Chapel Hill glowing in the distance, then unbelievably we were driving up the long lane and the yard filled with family to warmly welcome the weary travelers.

The first night we went straight to bed.  I slept upstairs in the yellow room––every room has a name––with my two cousins, Margaret and Elizabeth Page.  In the morning, John and I got our wish.  We awoke to heavily falling snow, a magical world.  We went sledding down the lane, made a giant snow bunny with my father and had the time of our lives, clambering back into the kitchen ravenous and soaking wet.  We peeled off layers of pants––no snow pants back then––and took our wet clothes and mittens to hang them by the stove in Mommom’s room, before downing bowls of homemade soup.

Dog UNDER CHRISTMAS TREEThe day before Christmas finally came and the old brick house filled with tantalizing smells.  The kitchen door opened periodically, the sleigh bells on it announcing the arrival of yet more friends bringing yet more gifts.  Friends, neighbors and family all exchanged gifts, even if it was only a plate of cookies exchanged for yours.

Presents were stashed in every corner of the front room, covering the old piano and stacked beneath, wrapped in paper and ribbons which I found almost too beautiful to bear. I knew there were some for me among them, that I was not in total reliance on Santa.  Even so, I longed to be kindly remembered by him.

As any child can attest, Christmas Eve is the longest day of the year and one in which we made extreme nuisances of ourselves, asking endless questions and climbing over and under the furniture to see which gifts were ours.  At last we gathered together in the front room in the presence of the magnificent pine decorated shortly before our arrival.  My uncle cut it from a nearby woods and I loved its fresh smell, also new to me.  A stern glance from him quieted us down and my grandmother read the Christmas story from The Book of Matthew.

Vintage American Christmas Card--excited boy peering through windowThe ancient story evoked a new-found sense of awe at the holiness of this night as I gazed at the little wooden crèche and the figures carved by my father.  I felt the love in the room and understood that it had something to do with this sacred child whose birth we were celebrating.

All right, Jesus loved me, so did God, but what about Santa? After all, he was the one to fill the stocking I’d hung carefully in between my cousin’s on the mantle under the portrait of our great-great grandmother.  All of our stockings had been knitted for us by an elderly relative and had a scene of Santa on one side and a reindeer on the other with little bells that jingled when I lifted it.  A reminder of his imminent arrival.

After the stockings were hung and The Night before Christmas read, we heard sleigh bells ringing far off in the meadow.  Good heavens, Santa was that close.  We tumbled over each other in our haste to get to bed lest the old guy should discover us still up and promptly leave.  Touchy fellow, peculiar ways, but ours was not to question why.  We scampered under the covers and did not dare to peep until dawn.

Vintage Santa Christmas CardAfter that, it was every child for him or herself.  We launched out of bed, vying to be the first one to wish each other “Christmas Gift!” then paced about in acute impatience while the adults had a leisurely breakfast.  Who could eat at a time like this?  And dressed with slow, careful deliberation.  I was wearing the same clothes I’d donned two days ago.  As for bathing, only under duress.

We practically gave up all hope of ever seeing inside the front room and paced outside the closed double doors where no child could enter until everyone had gathered.  Mommom, her blue eyes twinkling, reported that Santa had come and relieved our troubled minds.  Uncle RW told us he’d seen reindeer hoof prints in the snow on the roof of the house.  Imagine that.  We never once questioned what he’d been doing on the roof.  Not that this would make the slightest difference if we eked out our days waiting in the hall.

Then, glory hallelujah, the family assembled and lined up according to age, as required by the law of our clan.  The all-important doors opened.  Great was our wonder.  There was the tree lit, the stash of presents sorted into individual piles, and the stockings filled.  Mine bulged with promise.  Praise be!  The old fellow was extremely tolerant.  I’d truly feared to see those switches.

It’s ages later now and Mommom has gone on before us.  Lining up outside those omnipotent doors with my brother, cousins, parents, aunt, uncle and her at the end is a distant cherished memory.  Christmas is a place I return to in my thoughts whenever I need the sense of joy and reassurance it brings.  And I remember that time so long ago when my brother and I despaired of snow.

A Very Virginia ChristmasThis account is included in A Very Virginia Christmas collection by Wilford Kale

*Pics of Chapel Hill, the old Virginia Family homeplace in the Shenandoah Valley

*The dog under the tree is Mia, a friend who has passed on, taken by daughter Elise. Images of vintage family Christmas cards by our mom, Pat Churchman.

*Pic of Beth Trissel and younger brother John Churchman from our Taiwan days taken by our mother.

Image of Old Order Mennonite horse and sleigh passing our farm in the valley taken by my husband, Dennis, last winter

May Workshop: Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs!


dill and poppiesFor the month of May, join in the journey as we venture back to the days when herbs entered into every aspect of life. From the ancients to the British Isles, colonial America, Native Americans, and the Granny Women, this workshop spans centuries. Plus, everyone who participates will receive the illustrated eBook of my new herbal, (recently revised to include yet more herbs and images) Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles (soon to be available in print as well as eBook).

While sponsored by Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, this May workshop is also open to the public. For more information and to register visit:

http://www.celtichearts.org/events/herbal-lore-and-the-historic-medicinal-uses-of-herbs/

medieval herb garden smaller sizePlants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles 

Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises. ***In Kindle and Nookbook.

(Image of dill and heirloom poppies in our garden by Elise. Book cover also by Elise.)

Gardening and Country Life in Glorious Color!


cover-for-swcI’ve labored away adding lovely images to Shenandoah Watercolors, my nonfiction book about life on our small family farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Given my love of gardening, this includes a strong focus on my gardens and love of nature. The book is already out in print with images, but now that kindle and nook E-Readers support colored photographs, I’ve added heaps more. Shenandoah Watercolors in available in  eBook and print format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I will also get it up on Kobo soon. If someone is dying for me to have it somewhere else, let me know.

Book description: Author/farm wife Beth Trissel shares the joys and challenges of rural life on her family’s small farm in the scenic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Journey with her through the seasons on the farm, owned by the family since the 1930’s, and savor the richness of her cherished gardens and beloved valley. This journal, with images of her farm and valley, is a poignant, often humorous, sometimes sad glimpse into country life. Recommended for anyone who loves the country, and even those who don’t. ***Shenandoah Watercolors is a 2012 EPPIC eBOOK FINALIST.


The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in springExcerpt:
  The heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven. Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.I’ve been thinking about my favorite places.

Dark hollow falls on Skyline drive, Shenandoah national parkThe pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal. I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

***Images of the Shenandoah Valley in early spring and Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge.

A Fragrant Connection to the Past and Upcoming Herbal Lore Workshop


Formal Garden, Flower Bed, Old Ruin, Gothic Style, Monastery, Abbey,  Church, herbs

Being passionate about the past, I relish a connection to those who’ve gone before us. I’m fascinated with history and love old homes, historic sites, all that ties us to the richness of bygone ages. Intrigued with herbal lore, I often use it in my writing. Herbs impacted every facet of life before modern times, (I can’t emphasize that enough) and the plants have changed little over the centuries. When I hold an aromatic sprig of rosemary in my hand, I’m touching the same herb beloved by the ancients. Some heirloom roses hail from the glory days of Rome. 

(Image of medieval monastic ruins and herb garden)

To further that sense of oneness, and for their many uses, I grow a variety of herbs. I suppose they’re most well known for their flavorful addition to many foods and herbal teas…Parsley, basil, sage, chives, sweet marjoram, oregano, thyme, and dill are several in my kitchen garden. Lavender and scented geraniums, to name a few, are wonderful for their scent alone.

Ladies once wafted the delicate perfume of toilet water. Porcelain bowls filled with colorful potpourri scented musty parlors. Medicinal herbs comprised the bulk of ones health needs, and still do for some individuals. I take olive leaf and Oregamax extract in capsule form and drink freshly brewed green tea (two quarts a day) to build my immunity, and have had amazing success with these allies in battling chronic leukemia.

(Image by daughter Elise of lavender, dill, and cosmos in our garden)

Then there’s the mostly forgotten language of flowers. Herbs were tucked into nosegays not only for their beauty and fragrance but their significance…such as rosemary, the herb of remembrance. A sprig of thyme symbolized courage. Violas, also called ‘heartsease,’ were used in love potions. And so on.

violasBefore plunging into novel writing, I had a cottage industry styled herb business. I also gave talks on herbal lore to local groups, much as Julia Maury does in my ghostly. murder mystery romance novel Somewhere My LoveHerbs play a big role in that story in other ways, too. Plus, I was active in the local garden club, but found it too much on top of all my writing groups. And I was one of the only members in that club who actually did her own landscaping, such as it is, and got down and dirty. Still do. Others hired landscape designers. Daughter is Elise is a huge help to me now and has been by my side in the garden since infancy. The grandbabies are coming along to ‘help.’

(Image of violas in our garden)

oreganowreath8.25.06Speaking of family support, with the assistance of my long-suffering mother, I used to grow herbs and flowers for making dried wreaths and potpourri to be sold in the fall. Herbal and heirloom flower seedlings were raised in the small greenhouse my hubby built me and sold in the spring. However, any profits were swiftly overrun by subsequent visits to the allergist whom I’ve seen regularly for years now and still get four shots at a crack. Seems I developed every allergy latent within me by exposure to all these pollens. (Herbal wreath very like the ones we made)

Note, If you’re allergic to ragweed, avoid an herb called Sweet Annie and the Artemisia family. But I’m considered in the top ten percent of allergy sufferers in the nation. What are the odds? After being run indoors and my gardening severely curtailed, I took up writing and have used my love of plants in my novels. I’m still an avid gardener, though with shots, meds, and limits.

I’ve also fallen into giving herbal lore workshops after an author discovered all the posts on my blog and invited me to conduct my first class for her online group. If you’re interested in learning more about herbs, their lore and historic medicinal uses, I’m giving a November workshop for From the Heart Romance Writers. Registration runs through Oct. 28th, unless they make exceptions for latecomers, and is open to the public. For info  visit: http://fthrw.com/online-workshops

**For those of you who have taken my recent British herbal lore workshop, this upcoming one in November will be broader and include American herbs.

(Image of me in one of my many gardens with two furry assistants, Lance and Luca. The herbs in the foreground are rosemary and thyme. Behind them are heirloom zinnias. And yes, I live on a farm.)

Nine Ways to Fall in Love Box Set Launch!


And there’s a lot of hoopla going on, so pop into Facebook–party central!

Nine Ways to Fall in Love image

Prizes! From September 1st through September 30th, we’re giving away prizes large and small, but always swell. Day one is the Kindle!  Other prizes include a second Kindle, a Coach backpack purse filled with books, a silver good luck necklace, cubic zirconium ear studs, signed print books, a survival tin and necklace, a silver Celtic necklace and earrings, e-books, Gift Cards from $10 to $50, chocolate truffles….

To enter, leave a comment on the Facebook party page, or go to the newsletter site at www.southerncomfortromance.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you’re eager to snag your copy of Nine Ways to Fall in Love at the low price of .99, it’s out now at Amazon. But zip on over! As of October first the price rise to 8.99! Still a great bargain for nine novels, but a lot more.

Early review are great! And now, the authors and their books:

Caroline Clemmons, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father arranged the marriage trap for Dallas McClintock but she’d do anything to protect her family. Wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, rancher Dallas learns his wife has a silly superstition for everything. But passion-filled nights with her make up for her annoying habits and family.
Carra Copelin, CODE OF HONOR. Graeme McAlister returned home to discover why his foster-brother supposedly overdosed on morphine and crashed a company jet. When Graeme McAlister comes back to McTiernan, TX and stirs up widow Maggie Benning’s old memories and feelings, can she overcome past pain to accept the a new love in her life? Can Graeme and Maggie fight the evil threatening their family?
Geri Foster, OUT OF THE SHADOWS. Falcon Securities Agent Brody Hawke sees the world from a tilted angle. A.J., who saved Brody’s life, is captured and diplomats are getting nowhere in his rescue. Brody takes over even though he knows his impetuous actions will ruin his career. CIA agent Kate Stone’s life is torn apart when Brody kidnaps her. When she and Brody reach A.J., they learn the situation is more serious and far-reaching than they’d imagined. Brody, Kate and Falcon Securities must rescue A.J. and stop the assassination of the President of the USA. Will Brody and Kate discover love along the way?
red rose
Kathy Ivan, LOSING CASSIE. Welcome to Destiny’s Desire Lodge, where The Fates manipulate and the Fate-Keeper battles to unite predestined souls. The arrival of a mysterious letter draws Jake Stone to Destiny’s Desire. Cassie Daniels has been running for seven long years. To find happiness she must face past evil. When Fate and Destiny collide . . . can Love survive?
Paty Jager, SECRETS OF A MAYAN MOON. Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her university job. Her mentor’s request for her assistance on a Guatemalan dig is the opportunity she’s been seeking. DEA agent Tino Kosta, is deep undercover as a tracker and jungle guide. Isabella’s appearance heats his Latin blood, taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.
Anna Jeffrey, SWEET RETURN. When Dalton Parker is summoned home to handle a family crisis, the last thing he expects is a prime pasture of his family’s ranch taken over by stinking chickens. The explanation is Joanna Walsh, his mother’s best friend. He can’t keep from admiring Joanna’s caring nature and common sense, not to mention her great body. The dumbest thing he could do is try to lure her into his bed, but he’s never been smart when it comes to women.
red rose
DeLaine Roberts, TWO SIDES OF A HEARTBEAT. After a beautiful proposal, Dr. Grayson Brooks pleads with his fiancé, Alexandra Morrison, not to get on the plane. Once the plane is in the air, events turn their lives upside down. Secrets and the past once again haunt both families. Alexandra is so close to having it all: a baby, a gorgeous husband, and a family united. But is she strong enough to fight for what she wants?
Jacquie Rogers, SLEIGHT OF HEART. Starched-up Lexie Campbell, more comfortable with neat and tidy numbers than messy emotions, must find the man who ruined her little sister and make him marry her. When his lookalike brother Burke appears, she greets him with a gun and forces him to help her. Smooth-dealing Burke O’Shaughnessy, riverboat gambler and prestidigitator, must find his brother Patrick to claim the family fortune. But when Lexie shows an astounding talent for counting cards and calculating odds, he figures she might be useful after all. Can he resist the queen of hearts?
(Me!) Beth Trissel, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE. Two hundred years ago Captain Cole Wentworth was murdered in his chamber where his portrait still hangs. Presently the estate is a family owned museum run by Will Wentworth. As spirit-sensitive tour guide Julia Morrow begins to remember the events of Cole’s death, she must convince Will that history is repeating, and he has the starring role in the tragedy. The blade is about to fall.
beautiful red rose on black

Historical Romance Into the Lion’s Heart On Super S*A*L*E–Beth Trissel


IntotheLionsHeartI’m best known for my Native American themed historicals and time travels, but am even more versatile than that. My often overlooked historical romance Into the Lion’s Heart is set in Georgian England (1789) at the explosion of the French Revolution.

This  novella took as much research as a full novel and I labored long and hard over it. The story kicked off the historical romance line by The Wild Rose Press called Love Letters. The idea behind the line is that a letter is responsible for bringing the hero and heroine together. Amazing how many ways this can happen. And, of course, I’m rather taken with my particular twist.

The connection I feel to the past and those who’ve gone before me, especially after doing a lot of research into family genealogy, are the ongoing inspiration behind my work. I come from a lot of well documented English, Scots, and Scots-Irish people, with a smidgen of French in the meld–a Norman knight who sailed with William the Conqueror on the Rowland side. One line of the family goes directly back to Geoffrey Chaucer, all fascinating and compelling to me. In my first English historical, I more deeply explored my British ancestry.

Captain Dalton EvansStory Blurb:
Will the English captain save a woman the French Revolution would devour when he knows the truth?
As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.

Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.

2012 Reader’s Favorite Finalist
“This is a brilliant historical romance by Beth Trissel. You can feel her passion in the story, very well written and characters that you can feel. Into the Lion’s Heart will take you through a journey of love, and enough surprises to keep you hanging on. If you love a beautiful historical romance you will enjoy this story!” Rating: 5 out of 5 stars  Reviewer: Wanda for Romance Writers Reviews

“Into The Lions Heart is a historical romance novelette that is sure to delight the fancy of those who read this genre… If you have never read any of Beth Trissel’s books, this will be a great start and make you want to read more. I have always liked her style of writing and hope she does not change.” Rating: 5 out of 5 stars Reviewed by Lynn F. for Readers Favorite
clipper ship“I simply adored INTO THE LION’S HEART by Beth Trissel. I’m not an avid reader of historical romances or even the simply sweet romances, but this tale kissed a delicate smile on my face and I have to admit, my heart melted. Not only was the writing superb and in context with the time and place, but the plot itself was very well done.” Five out of five stars and a Top Pick from The Romance Reviews, Reviewed by Erinne 
rosevine-1
***For a limited time, Into the Lion’s Heart is reduced to .99 in Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook, The Wild Rose Press, and other online booksellers.

Super Review and Recommended Read for A Warrior for Christmas–Beth Trissel


AWarriorforChristmas_7288_300“A Warrior for Christmas took me by complete surprise. I expected the usual tale of a former Indian captive transcending his past to live the life of a gentleman, but Beth Trissel’s exquisite writing skill made me love this story. In just 53 pages, she created a warm and exiting backdrop and brought to the lovely scenery characters that made the story come alive. Ms. Trissel will make the reader truly wonder if everything is going to work out well between Dimity and Corwin because she created internal and external conflict that could persuade Corwin to return to the wilderness he loves. I really liked the way Ms. Trissel handled the problem of a deaf character communicating with other characters in the story in convincing ways. No reader of historical romance will want to miss A Warrior for Christmas, even if it isn’t Christmas.”~

Recommended Read

For the Full Review Visit: Two Lips Reviews