Sunday, July 28, 2013

CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS! MINE'S TODAY! BY CHERYL PIERSON


My birthday is July 28th. I share my special day with Jackie O., and only one other person I’ve actually met in my lifetime—my daughter’s best childhood friend, Hailey.

I always loved that my birthday came in July. The Oklahoma weather was traditionally hot. In those early years, we dressed in our best party dresses, wore white anklets and Mary Janes, and always, there were beautifully wrapped gifts (no gift bags in those days!) and a marvelous homemade cake.

My sixth birthday is one I remember vividly. We were in the process of moving, and our furniture hadn’t arrived. Mom never bought cakes, but this was an exception. She bought the only chocolate cake the store had—a German chocolate cake—forgetting that I was “the one” who didn’t like coconut. We pulled out the kitchen drawers, turned them on end and used them for makeshift chairs around our “table”—a large wardrobe box turned on its side. The same day we were moving in, another family was doing the same thing, just down the street. The best birthday gift of all? They had a little girl my age! Jane became my best friend. (This is a picture of Jane--who also had a July birthday and was a year older than I was--playing in my sandbox when we were around 8 and 9 years old.)

Slumber parties were popular in later years. Parents endured a houseful of giggling, rambunctious elementary school-aged girls for the longest night of their lives…until the next year rolled around.

Costume parties were another fad. The pictures that my parents took of a costume party I had for my tenth birthday are unforgettable. I remember how much fun we all had, figuring out “who” or “what” we were going to be. Amidst a hippie, a leprechaun, and Indian princess, and a gypsy, I was a hula dancer. My oldest sister had just returned from a year of college studies in Hawaii, and I had a brand new grass skirt that needed to be broken in. My good friend DaNel, who’d moved just across the street, wore my kimono—another present from my sister. This was before Pizza Hut—we ate hot dogs for dinner.

And what about skating parties? Do any of you remember those? We had a skating rink with a wooden floor (yes, this definitely shows you how old I am!) and we never tired of skating around and around, couples skating, all boys, all girls, backward skate—the changeups were endless, as were the games.

This month I’ll celebrate a milestone birthday—number 56. I don’t mind getting older at all—hey, I can get my discount at IHOP now!

In my book, FIRE EYES, Frank Hayes, the youngest of the deputy marshals, has made an embarrassing and potentially deadly mistake. Though Kaed Turner, the main character, survives, Frank has made the decision to give up law enforcement. Kaed seeks him out, along with Travis Morgan, another marshal, to have a talk with him about it. He shows Frank that no matter what, he’s part of a different kind of family now. Birthday reminiscing is how the difficult conversation begins.

EXCERPT FROM FIRE EYES:

“Well, Frank, I expect you’ll remember to tell someone next time, won’t you?” Kaed said quietly.

“Won’t be a next time, Mr. Turner. I don’t b’lieve I’m cut out for this.”

Travis started forward, but Kaed put a staying hand on his arm. Travis met his eyes and Kaed shook his head. He came toward Frank slowly. When he got within arm’s length, he stopped.

“How old are you, Frank?”

“Twenty. Or close enough. My birthday’s next month. My ma, she always made a cake.” He glanced around at Kaed, a flush staining his neck, making its way into his face. “Chocolate,” he mumbled, “if she could get it.”

Kaed gave him a half-smile and closed the last bit of distance between them. “You’re awful lucky, Frank. I lost my mother when I was just shy of nine. I’m not sure I even remember exactly when my birthday is. But, that’s not really important, anymore.”

Frank nodded, but didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes fixed on the gently swirling water of the creek.

Kaed went on. “When you became a marshal, you got another family. We all share the same life, the same dangers, the same loneliness of bein’ out on the trail.”

Frank shuddered, his lips compressing tightly. “I know you’re right, Mr. Turner.”

When he didn’t continue, Kaed said, “I’m not mad at you, Frank. Anybody can make a mistake. Travis, here, he was a couple of years older than you when he made his big one.”

Travis drew his breath in, and Kaed turned to give him a quelling glance. “Right, Trav?”

Travis nodded.

Kaed turned back to Frank. “You’ll have to get Trav to tell you about it.” He spoke easily, as one friend would to another, as if he thought Travis and Frank were on amicable terms.

Frank gave a short, brittle laugh. “I don’t think Travis Morgan is gonna talk to me about any mistake he ever made.”

“Trav, come on up here,” Kaed said.

Travis slowly stepped forward to join Frank and Kaed, swallowing tightly. “Frank, I guess I need to say—”

“You better do more than guess what you need to say, Travis,” Kaed said, his tone cool.

Travis glanced at Kaed and flushed. He nodded. When he turned back to Frank, his green eyes were apologetic. “I gave you a hell of a rough time, Frank. I’m sorry for that.” He extended his hand. “Will you accept my apology?”

Kaed looked at Frank expectantly. He felt like an older brother overseeing two younger, quarreling siblings, forcing them back to brotherhood once more. But Kaed knew he was the only one who could end this discord between them.

Hesitantly, Frank reached for Travis’s hand and shook. “Sure. Forget it.”

“All right. Now let’s hear no more of this business of you givin’ up marshaling, Frank,” Kaed said. “You trained with Lem Polk, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. I think that might be my problem.”

Kaed nodded, sure that it was. “You ride with Travis for the next few months, see if he can’t teach you what you need to know.”

Both Travis and Frank started to speak, but Kaed held up a hand, giving them both a hard, cutting look. “Make your peace, boys. Travis, I expect you to teach him everything I taught you.”


I’ll be giving away a copy of FIRE EYES today to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment about one of your own birthday celebrations to be entered in the drawing. Thanks so much for coming by today!

I also have a free short story at Amazon through today, July 28! It's called THE WISHING TREE--a contemporary Christmas romance for Christmas in July with my publisher.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Wishing-Tree-ebook/dp/B00E364RPG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1375028136&sr=1-1&keywords=The+wishing+tree+by+cheryl+pierson
All my works are available at Amazon here:
https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

24 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday! I'm a July baby too - July 10.

    From about Kindergarten to Grade 4, I hated having a summer birthday because I envied the kids who got made a fuss of at school. I didn't have a lot of friends that I saw in the summer holidays.

    I had one particular friend who lived across the street. She was two years older than me and I felt very cool hanging out with her. At my tenth birthday, she hinted I was getting my own TV. It turned out I was given a portable sterio phonograph. Very cool at the time, but not a TV.

    I learned two things from that birthday: not to trust that friend and NEVER to try to discover my presents ahead of time. My biggest challenge, in that area, has been to keep my son from spilling the beans.

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  2. Well, a happy birthday to you, Cheryl. My older daughter was also born on July 28th. It's a very good day.

    It is fun to celebrate birthdays. We always make a big deal and I used to make all kinds of Disney character cakes. My hubby just had his birthday on the 25th. We had two Leos in the family.

    Hugs and best wishes.

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  3. Cheryl - First off, Happy Birthday!! Your memories brought back many for me, too. The first store-bought birthday I got was for my 7th birthday. This bakery made cakes with a Barbie doll inside and the cake was a big hoop skirt with pink frosting that looked like ruffles. Every time we went shopping and passed that bakery I would just stare. So, she truly surprised me that year. But nothing beats a mom's homemade cakes. She always made a layer cake and used a small saucepan to make a tiny top layer that went to the birthday child. There were 6 kids in my family (I was a middle child) so to have your own little cake was a thrill. I LOVED your excerpt, too. You are so good at writing men. :)))

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  4. I snatched your giveaway, Cheryl. I used to have wonderful birthdays. Now, I have gift-giving occasions. My younger brother calls them my "annual celebration of my 39th birthday."

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  5. Alison,
    I truly loved having a summer birthday. For one thing, there were so many more things you could do than if your bd was in the dead of winter. We have a lot of ice here in OK. LOL Anyhow, in the summer, there were so many of us who all lived within a few blocks of one another it was wonderful, because we always had a friend to play with and the birthday parties were something to do in the summer. People didn't travel as much back then, so there were few few cases when my friends couldn't come for whatever reason. My kids' birthdays are both in early September. They always wanted a pool party, but by the first of September, the nights are cooling off some and the water isn't as warm, so we always let them have their party a couple of weeks early.
    Cheryl

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  6. Hi Paisley!
    Both of my kids are Virgos, and I'm not sure how we survived all these years. LOL Happy birthday to your daughter and your husband! I've always loved having a July birthday. Both of my sisters had winter birthdays, and though they were older than I was I remember thinking that I was glad my bd was in the summer. So much to do. Of course, those were the simpler days when we played party games and wore our party dresses, etc. I need to find a picture I've got where Mom had us all lined up on the couch in our party finery. LOL
    Cheryl

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  7. Ashley,
    I think the only storebought cake I had growing up was the one I had for my 6th birthday when we moved and our moving van hadn't arrived before we did. We sat on pulled-out drawers turned on their ends for chairs, and Mom served the cake on a cardboard box we'd had in the car with us. LOL That Barbie cake sounds like a dream. But you're right; the homemade cakes were the best. Mom used to make that jelly-roll cake, rolled up with chocolate home-made frosting on the inside of it and on the outside. It was the best cake EVER. I wouldn't even attempt to make that. Sounds like your mom was very thoughtful with the personal little cake for the birthday girl!

    Glad you enjoyed the excerpt--it's not exactly a "happy birthday" excerpt, but I really do love getting into the guys' heads. Thanks for the kind words!
    Cheryl

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  8. Ha! I love that, Caroline! I might start calling it that myself. There's another giveaway at Smashwords, too, for my story The Gunfighter's Girl--which is a re-do of Scarlet Ribbons. The free coupon code for anyone who wants it is TT96Z.
    Cheryl

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  9. Oh, Alison, I forgot to say I was the world's WORST about wanting to find out what my presents were. I could not stand the secrecy. I was usually pretty good at it until it became a "thing" when people would congratulate each other if I was surprised. LOL
    C

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  10. A Great Big Happy Birthday to you, Cheryl. I had it marked on my calendar.
    I loved reading about your birthday memories. Your mother made them so special.
    Our birthdays were mostly with family, a favorite meal and a homemade cake. Since my birthday was on my Dad's birthday, Pop and I shared a cake (you'll hate this; it was white cake with coconut in the icing) and we always had shrimp because my dad loved it. I raised such a fuss about having to share my birthday Mom actually made 2 cakes for a few years. The first birthday without my dad when I turned 34, was the worst birthday of my life.
    A birthday in July has got to be wonderful. I'm thinking a pool part would be just the ticket.
    I hope you have a wonderful day and for all the days that follow.

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  11. Thank you, Sarah! Mom did make our birthdays special. Of course, by the time I was 6, my oldest sister was going off to college, and 2 years later, my middle sister followed. So I don't remember much about THEIR parties, but I always had a good one. And they were sure simple by today's standards, but wonderful. Yep, coconut is not my favorite. LOL I'm sure that 1st bd without your dad had to be the hardest thing ever. I used to beg my mom for a pool party out at the municipal pool, but she didn't want to be responsible for all those kids--she never learned to swim and always feared it. We did some fun things though. And at least my kids always had a pool party, if they wanted it. LOL Yes, it's been a wonderful day today, in that I slept in and have laid around all day long. Going to dinner tonight--probably take Casey with us as Jessica has something to do for work. I haven't decided for sure what I want, but I'm definitely leaning toward Mexican...LOL
    Cheryl

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  12. Happy Birthday, Cheryl. My daughter's birthday was on the 26th. She'll be coming to visit tomorrow and we'll take her out.

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  13. Happy Birthday, Cheryl. I loved skating at the old wooden rinks. That music would make me think I was flying across the floor.

    I'm not a fan of coconut either, though I have eaten some of a piece of German chocolate cake and tongued out the coconut pieces. Weird, I know.

    Please don't enter me in the drawing for your book, as I already have a copy. I also downloaded The Wishing Tree a few minutes ago - thanks!

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  14. Happy Birthday, Cheryl. I wouldn't have missed this for the world. I love the photo of you and your friend one year older on your birthday.

    From a Virgo...hahah..to a Leo, I think we understand each so well because we're very close.
    I didn't know both your kids were Virgos. We have some very good traits, but some maddening ones, too. Do you know those I mean? Do you see those in your children?
    Have a blast, do anything you want....and Happy Birthday, again.!

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  15. Happy Birthday, Cheryl! I loved reading about your childhood birthdays, as well as others here. My folks didn't have much, so I never had big birthday parties, but my mom always baked a cake for me and decorated it as best she could. She was a great pie maker, and her cakes were pretty tasty too.

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  16. Mona, tell your daughter Happy Birthday from one Leo to another! Hope you all have a great visit, and celebrate in the best style ever!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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  17. Maggie,

    Those old wooden rinks were just the best, weren't they? I remember being so hot from skating, but you had to keep moving to keep the breeze blowing in your face. LOL You know the weird thing about coconut is, I really like it fresh--when you buy and break the outer shell and get the "meat" out of it, I really like that. But in candy and cakes, etc. I just don't like it at all. My mom used to buy Almond Joy and Mounds so she could eat her own candy bar sometimes! LOL

    I hope you enjoy the reads! Thanks so much for coming by--I know you are really busy right now.
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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  18. Hi Celia!
    Jane and I reconnected on FB a few months ago, and I sent her copies of this pic and another one I found of us. We truly just loved each other like sisters, and the day they moved away I was just heartbroken.

    Yes, the Virgo/Leo thing is so true. We have a lot of the same traits, or close to them. My kids are very much alike but in different ways. Like this--Casey loved Legos, but Jessica didn't; she loved jigsaw puzzles. See? Both puzzles but in different ways. Lots of things like that that could drive a mother crazy...LOL especially with one being a boy and one a girl. Don't know if I ever told you or not but Casey was due on Jessica's BD, Sept. 16! We did it a week early since I was having a C section--I didn't want them to have the same birthday. I did have a great day--I went and ate Mexican food and they brought me out a piece of cheesecake! I had to bring it home in a box, though. LOL
    Cheryl

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  19. Lyn, I miss those homemade cakes and pies and such that my mom made. She was an excellent cook, having grown up during the Great Depression and learning to make everything from scratch. I think the cake is the most important thing for most kids, anyhow. My husband came from a large family and they never had birthday parties or presents and only "sometimes" got a cake. I can still taste those jelly roll cakes Mom used to make.
    Cheryl

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  20. Cheryl, you are still a baby at 56! :-) I'm reaching the big, bad 70 this coming Fall. Sigh. Such is life. My faith and reading romances keeps my spirits high though! Birthdays have always been important in our family. We always decorated a big chair for the birthday boy or girl with crepe paper and balloons--and they were queen or king for a day. As our children are all grown and on their own now, we don't see many birthdays anymore...they all live too far away. But my hubby and I celebrate by going out to eat and seeing a movie or going on a one-night overnighter somewhere within a day's drive. Hope your celebration is a Whoopee one! jdh2690@gmail.com

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  21. Cheryl, Hope your day was fantabulous! My 13th was special for me. My dad took me(mom and brother, too) to a nice restaurant in Fort Worth that overlooked the skyline and I danced with him with the city lights as a backdrop. Good memory. Thanks for helping me to remember!

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  22. Janice, I will always be "the baby" in my family. LOL My sister (who is 10 years older) still laughs about how my dad would come in and ask if anyone had run "the baby's" bathwater yet, and I was seven years old at the time. LOLLOL I love that idea about decorating the big chair and making the birthday child the center of being king or queen for the day! I think next weekend we are going to be able to get everyone together and drive down near Ft. Sill to a place that has some of the best hamburgers on earth-- and THE best cobbler on earth. LOL I can put off the big celebration for a week for that!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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  23. Carra, it was good--very laid back. What a wonderful memory you shared! I love that! Sounds like your dad was very thoughtful.
    Cheryl

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  24. Janice, you are my winner for FIRE EYES !!!

    Thanks for being patient with me--we've had storms off and on all day long and I am just now able to get on here and post my winner.

    Congratulations!

    And thanks to everyone for coming by and sharing birthday memories!
    Cheryl

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