Susan, send me an email at the following address and I’ll send you a book. firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan, send me an email at the following address and I’ll send you a book. email@example.com
Thanks to everyone who came out to talk crossword puzzles with me today – it was such fun to learn about so many fellow enthusiasts!
I tossed everyone’s names in the cyber hat and the name I pulled out was
Congratulations Susan! You’ve won your choice of any book from my backlist. You can find a complete list on the Books page of my website. Once you’ve made your choice, yo can contact me via my website with the title and your mailing info and I’ll get the book right on out to you.
First, I wish everyone a blessed and happy 2018.
Last month I wrote about how doing less could make for a better holiday. I truly believe that, but this year I pushed the cutting back on the holiday production to the limits.
It was one of those years when my dear hubby and I couldn’t get our act together. It started with our tree, but continued all the way through New Year’s Day. Normally, we decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but this year everyone had other activities. Hubby and I kept saying we’d get it done, but three days before Christmas, there we were, still without a tree. While we did put one up and had lights, we never did put on the ornaments. But you know what? To paraphrase Dr. Seuss and my husband, “Christmas was just fine.”
I’ve spent years working to overcome my perfectionist nature. In the past I became upset when little things went wrong or didn’t get done because I felt everything had to be perfect. I missed opportunities to be present in the moment because I believed I had to be perfect.
This year I realized I do write what I know. My characters, especially my heroines, often struggle with trying to please everyone. They wrestle with the idea that their self-worth is tied to their accomplishments and others’ approval. They’re trying to be perfect. Those characters learn the journey can be as important as the destination.
Over the years while I’ve learned that lesson, I do backslide. (I felt guilty about cutting so many holiday corners, but not too guilty.) So, I’ve decided this year I’m making changes regarding New Year’s resolutions. My BFF Lori quotes a blog written by Jen Hatmaker on January 5, 2015 entitled “The Thing About Being More Awesome.” (If you want to read the blog go to http://www.Jenhatmaker.com.) She claims many resolutions set us up for failure and revolve around trying to be “more awesome.” We think we need to be the best author, mother, friend, spouse, and the list goes on. She insists, “The finish line to this particular rat race is THE GRAVE.” Lori and I joke about making a sign with the resolution Try To Be Less Awesome. Translation—quit trying to be perfect. So that’s what I’m going to do in 2018.
The best I can do is good enough, and I’m going to celebrate it. I’m giving myself permission to say yes to what gives me joy, no to what doesn’t, and to feel less guilty about both. Life is too short to live it any other way.
When my perfectionist starts nagging me, I plan to tell myself to quit trying to be more awesome. Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about what helps you when you find yourself trying to do too much, and be entered for a chance to win the ornament and a Leather and Lace scented candle from my favorite shop Rustic Ranch!
I’m from Iowa, and there it’s easy to tell fall has arrived. The trees change to lovely shades of yellow, orange and crimson. A crispness lingers in the air all day. It feels like fall. I love that time of year. Wearing jackets, snuggling under a blanket with a good romance on Saturday. Walking on crunching leaves.
Now I live in Texas, and fall is different from what I knew growing up. In Texas, it’s hard to tell autumn has arrived. Halloween has come and gone, and Thanksgiving is around the corner. Despite what the calendar says, this week’s forecast is for record high temperatures. We’re talking hitting ninety degrees. When the leaves change, they turn a shade of brown and fall off the tress. Not exactly the ooh-ahh fall colors I spotted in the Midwest.
Saying It’s been an adjustment for me is like saying Texas and Texas A&M have a little rivalry. Over the years I’ve learned fall is heralded in different ways in Texas. First and foremost, we know it’s fall because of the arrival of football season. Yes, it’s true. Football is almost a religion here in Texas. From high schools on Friday night to TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas and Texas A&M on Saturday. There’s even have a “Red River Showdown” between Texas and OU at the Texas State Fair.
Which brings me to another huge sign of fall in Texas, the state fair. When people start talking about corny dogs, turkey legs, and fried any and everything, I know autumn has arrived. I hear Big Tex’s voice and see pictures of him everywhere. In 2012 when Big Tex caught on fire, it was huge news. We got updates on the progress to rebuild him, including details on changes in his iconic outfit.
But I’ve learned to adjust. I decorate the yard and house for fall, Halloween, and then Thanksgiving. I admit a couple times I had a fire and then turned on the air conditioner because the house got so warm. I bake items that remind me of fall. One of my family’s favorite is pumpkin bread.
3 1/3 C flour
3 C sugar
2/3 C water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 can pumpkin
½ black walnut flavoring
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a “well” in the center. Add eggs, water, oil and black walnut flavoring in well. Mix. Add canned pumpkin. Mix. Place in greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Now tell me about your favorite fall tradition and be entered in the drawing to win the pumpkin and Home On The Ranch: Colorado.
Hee Haw! We have a winner!
Cheryl, send Margaret an email with your mailing address:firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arm will be released on October 3rd. Don’t you just love that title? I’m so excited to be part of the collection, which also includes stories by Leigh Greenwood and our very own Linda Broday!
My story is titled A Texas Ranger for Christmas and I’m giving away a copy (giveaway guidelines apply). So be sure to leave a comment. Here’s a sneak peek:
Sadie had just put Adam down for his afternoon nap that second week in December when a hammering sound drew her to the kitchen window.
Now here he was at it again, overdoing it.
She pulled a woolen shawl from a peg by the back door and stepped outside. The wind was cold and angry clouds crowded in from the north like a bunch of wooly sheep.
Upon reaching the barn, she yelled up to him. “If you fall and break your neck, don’t come runnin’ to me!”
He peered over the edge of the roof. His nose was red from the cold and his hair tossed about like sails in the wind, but he sure was a sight for sore eyes. “I guess I’d just have to wait ‘till your friend Scooter comes.”
She balled her hands at her side. “I’d think you’d have a little consideration for my reputation.”
His eyebrows quirked upward. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“How do you think it looks for a woman to entertain a man that’s not her husband?”
She’d not yet told anyone of Richard’s death. She didn’t want friends and neighbors coming to her door to express condolences until after the ranger was long gone.
He shrugged. “Isn’t it a little late to worry about that? Some of your neighbors already know I’m here.”
“I told them my husband sent you here to recover from your bullet wound.”
“Your husband sent me? That might be hard to explain when the truth comes out that he’s dead.”
“That’s my problem.” She tossed her head. “I mean, it Captain.” She grabbed hold of the ladder and gave it a good shaking. “If you don’t come down, I’ll see that you’re stuck up there for good!”
“Why, Mrs. Carnes, is that a threat?”
She glared up at him. “You’ve already had one relapse and I’m not about to take care of you for another. So what’s it gonna be?”
“Okay, okay, I’ll come down, but only on one condition.”
She straightened, hands at her waist. “What?”
“You stop calling me captain. My name is Cole.”
“Not gonna happen,” she said. Calling him by his given name would only strengthen the bond between them, and she couldn’t let that happen. It was hard enough trying not to like the man more than was absolutely necessary.
“Why not?” he asked.
“I never name an animal I plan on eating, and I sure don’t aim on naming a man who’ll soon be gone.”
“All right, Mrs. Carnes. Have it your way. But could you at least tell me what your Christian name is? I promise not to use it unless you say it’s okay.”
She chewed on a bottom lip. “Sadie,” she said. “And I don’t want you calling me that, you hear?”
“Nice name,” he said. “It suits you.”
She didn’t know what he meant by that and she wasn’t about to ask. “So what’s it gonna be, Captain?” She grabbed hold of the ladder and rattled it. “You coming down or ain’t you?”
“Oh, I’ll come down, Mrs. Carnes. But only because I don’t want you complaining about me to your dead husband.”
Short stories and novellas are popular around the holidays. I don’t mind writing short, but I prefer reading full-length novels. Which do you prefer? Also, has a short story ever inspired you to check out the author’s novels?
In my new release THE TEXAN’S ONE-NIGHT STANDOFF, my heroine Ruby Lopez is an expert horse wrangler and trainer. As a result I had to do some extensive research on the subject of training horses. I found some inspiration in the Australian television series Downunder Horseman, a tutorial on how to train horses. Believe it or not, horses aren’t exactly docile and they have many fears that they need to overcome, such as approaching a body of water, or going into the water. It is not necessarily an inherent trait. Ruby is a gentle soul when it comes to animals, but she’s a spitfire and an independent woman, who isn’t opposed to flipping a man over her shoulders when he deserves it. She was so much fun to write, seeing how the man she nicknamed Galahad, because he rushed to her defense one night, softens her rough edges.
How many of these fun horse facts did you know? I was amazed at some of them!
Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
Horses can run shortly after birth.
Domestic horses have a lifespan of around 25 years.
A 19th century horse named ‘Old Billy’ is said to have lived 62 years.
Horses have around 205 bones in their skeleton
Horses have been domesticated for over 5000 years
A horse’s teeth take up more space in the head than a horse’s brain.
Horses drink at least 25 gallons of water a day, more in hotter climates.
Horses are herbivores (plant eaters).
Because horse’s eyes are on the side of their head they are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees at one time.
Horses gallop at around 27 mph.
The fastest recorded sprinting speed of a horse was 55 mph.
Estimates suggest that there are around 60 million horses in the world.
Scientists believe that horses have evolved over the past 50 million years from much smaller creatures.
When horses look like they’re laughing, they’re actually engaging in a special nose-enhancing technique known as “flehmen” to determine if the smell is bad or good.
Horses have bigger eyes than any other mammal that lives on land. (That’s amazing!)
I’ve been running this fun prize package on Facebook, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Prize includes DVD, Bracelet Bling, two Charlene Sands’ books and Santa Kisses! Please stop by and enter to win my Twelve Days of Desire Giveaway!
And Happy Holidays from me to you!
AVAILABLE NOW ACROSS ALL BOARDS AND IN STORES!
Left at the Altar is the first book in my new series and I’m excited about it. The second book A Match Made in Texas will release in the summer of 2017 and the third book How The West was Wed will follow soon after.
The idea for Left at the Altar came to me in a rather unexpected way. We inherited several antique clocks and they all needed servicing. My husband called a clock repairman to the house and the horologist was a writer’s dream. He was full of fascinating stories about clock collectors. But the story that really made an impression was the one about a client who owned so many clocks, the quarter-hour racket was deafening. The horologist’s job was to turn the clocks off before each holiday so that guests didn’t have to compete with the cacophony of bongs and chimes during dinner.
Ah, sweet inspiration. Before I knew it, the town of Two-Time, Texas was born and the story of two feuding jewelers fell quickly into place.
The book takes place in 1880 before standard time. Prior to 1883, the town jeweler usually determined the time. Trouble arose when a town had more than one jeweler and no one could agree on the time. One town in Kansas reportedly had seven jewelers and therefore seven time zones. Talk about confusion!
Just think, a person traveling from the East coast to the West would have contended with more than a hundred time zones. That wasn’t a problem when traveling by covered wagon, but it became a huge problem when traveling by train. I was surprised to learn that some battles were lost during the American Civil War due to time confusion. When an order was issued to attack at a certain time, no one really knew what it meant. Was that Washington time or local time? And if it was local time, which one?
Ah, yes, time. It affects us in ways we might not even be aware of. It certainly affected the two feuding families in my story. A marriage was supposed to unite the families and turn Two-Time into a one-time town, but of course nothing ever goes as planned as this little excerpt shows:
The grandfather clock in the corner groaned and the wall clocks sighed. Seconds later the cacophony of alarms struck the hour of eight a.m. Only today, it wasn’t bongs, gongs, cuckoos and chimes that bombarded Meg’s ears. It was mocking laughter. Jilted bride, jilted bride, jilted bride…
Hope you enjoy the story as much I enjoyed writing it.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a message and you might win a copy of Left at the Altar. Giveaway guidelines apply.
How does time affect your life? Are you always running late, early or on time? Are you looking forward to the November 6th time change? If you could change one thing about time, what would it be?
Time for a little holiday cheer
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Just a week after the big RWA conf in San Diego, I flew with my two older sons to Denver while my husband flew in from Hawaii with our little guy to meet up for a huge family reunion at a dude ranch near Grant, Colorado. Grant—originally called Grantville after President Ulysses S. Grant—was founded in 1870 and within twenty years had a population of 200. It’s a lot smaller than that today.
I write ranch stories.
I love cowboys.
But I confess: I got on that plane nervous about playing cowgirl for a week…especially with four different generations, and not because I don’t love everyone, but I’m a hard core introvert and the very idea of scheduled activities, much less 8 hours of scheduled activities for seven days filled me with a fair amount of trepidation.
Happily, reaching the ranch, I breathe in the clear clean mountain air and began to relax. Tumbling River is located at a 9,000 foot elevation so the scenery is spectacular, and the ranch itself has a fascinating history. Our hosts shared that some of the buildings date back a hundred plus years, and is always favorite with ranch guests. We didn’t have one of the old cabins, or the original homestead cabin, which had been built in the late 1800s, but our cabin was very comfortable and pretty and perfect.
My boys had as many activities as I did…and each of the boys had activities for his ‘age group’. Mac was thrilled with all of his, especially because he could be with Luke, his cousin who is just 20 days older and full of fun. Mac and Luke’s mornings started with a horse back ride and then either a hike or fun games, followed by lunch with everyone and then family fun that we could all do together: fishing, swimming, rodeo practice, hay rides.
While Mac did ‘kid stuff’, my two older boys were able to go rock climbing, fly-fishing, white-water rafting, and do longer trail rides, including a visit to a ghost town in the mountains.
Midweek when I was craving some alone time with my guy, Ty and I packed up Mac and headed to Georgetown, forty-five minutes away. Georgetown is a historic mining town, and today a historic landmark, preserving the town’s past when its silver boom turned it into the third largest city in Colorado. Only a thousand people live in Georgetown today but it has lots of interesting buildings and fun places to shop, eat, and explore.
But the dude ranch wasn’t just blue skies and fresh air, sparkling rivers and massive mountains, it was really good food. The kind of food you’d want on a dude ranch after a long trail ride: ribs and chicken, tri-tip and smoked pork tenderloin. And for those who went on the overnight ride and visited the ghost town, they had coffee and flapjacks and bacon in the morning, eating outside next to the campfire. I didn’t do the overnight as I stayed at the ranch with Mac, and I was envious of those who had their overnight adventure but I do think I slept better in the big luxurious bed!
Back home, I’m still doing laundry and now trying to get my middle son ready for his senior year of high school (which starts Monday!!) but I’ve a lot of new ideas for future western stories so I owe my family a huge thanks for dragging me out of my comfort zone and into a dude ranch vacation!
Have you ever or would you one day like to visit a dude ranch? If you’ve already been, what did you love most about your experience? And if you haven’t, what’s the one thing you’d really want to do there? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a fun prize! Contest ends August 10th. 🙂
I met Carol Jansen Koch in 2005 when I was on my Frog Prince book tour and hosted a tea in Plano, TX for Pi Phi Alums. We didn’t really get to know each other until I was back 2006 on my Flirting with Forty book tour. After that event we spent a couple of hours talking and by the end of the evening Carol was a true blue friend.
On every visit to Texas, I try to see Carol, and when I returned in 2010 for my She’s Gone Country book tour, a 10 day trip that would take me across Texas, I had Ty and 18 month old Mac along. We kicked off our trip in Dallas/Ft Worth and who better to launch us on our Texas adventure than Carol and her new husband, Garner Koch, a true Texas cowboy.
Ft. Worth is Garner’s old stomping grounds so he took us to get real boots–at Leddy’s–and then showed us the Texas he knows and loves.
Garner and Carol are the friends we meet every year in Las Vegas for the NFR. While the guys go off and do guy stuff, Carol and I and her cool Texas crew go shopping at Cowboy Christmas. This last year Carol made a list as one of the most fashionable people at the 2015 NFR and so I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of Carol’s western fashion sense with you, as well as some great places to pick up your western fashion wear.
1) Carol, I met you in Texas at a Pi Beta Phi alum event. So have you always been a cowgirl?
I’m a Midwest farmer’s daughter. Born and raised in Iowa. Self proclaimed big boned Iowa girl. Got to Texas as soon as I could. Texas completes me.
2) When we first met you were single. How did you meet Garner? Tell me about your first date.
I cannot tell a lie. We met at a Honky Tonk. (I hope my Mother isn’t reading this… she thinks we met at church) It was the day after Christmas and I was very germy and so didn’t want to go out. Garner was the tallest most handsome cowboy in the place and he came up to the table where I was sitting with my 5 girlfriends and asked ME to dance. I so thought he was coming to ask one of my other of my pals. Ha! We danced the night away. We exchanged numbers and I so thought I’d never hear from this cowboy again….to my surprise, he called me while my friends and I were driving home! Yes. my friends were very impressed!
3) How did you develop your western style?
My style is forever evolving. I love to invest in some fabulous pieces and then throw in a few inexpensive pieces to make the look my own.
4) Where do you shop?
Orisons in McKinney, Texas and also Ya Ya Gurlz in Abilene, Texas are both my favorites and thankfully not next door to me – otherwise I might get into lots of trouble….it’s a treat and ordeal when I go to shop. I go with my list of parties/events and they help dress me. It’s like stepping into your best friend’s closet.
5) What is the one thing you MUST wear when going out with Garner?
Boot and turquoise.
6) How much did Garner influence your fashion sense?
Garner is very traditional. He has great shirts from 10+ years ago in his closet that with “extra heavy starch” – wears today and looks timeless. Our dry cleaners know us well. Unless Garner’s britches (jeans…) can stand up in the corner by themselves, we take them back to the cleaners….
My favorite line early on was oh I need something new to wear to our next party/function as….”it’s hard being Mrs. Garner Koch…” this only worked a few years. He’s onto me now. I can admit I’m addicted to the entire perfect “costume” hunt and presentation. It’s my obsession. 🙂
Garner Koch’s Fav Shops for Boots & Traditional Wear:
Leddy Boots – 2 locations in Ft. Worth, TX http://www.leddys.com
Maverick Western Wear – Ft. Worth, TX http://www.maverickwesternwear.com
J Hilburn Custom Shirts – https://jhilburn.com/catalog/custom_shirts
A couple of Jane’s Favorite Shops: (I discovered these shops and designers from attending NFR’s Cowboy Christmas (of course, I was introduced to them by Carol!)
Patricia Wolf – Patricia’s vests and belts are amazing. I have one of each! http://patriciawolf.com/product-category/women/vests/
Ann’s Turquoise – Craving some turquoise jewelry? Here you go! http://www.annsturquoise.com/8hsyiqjs4vnrk6i1p8barp3bnp9t3w
Plus a few more fun stores if you’re in Texas or enjoy shopping online:
Pinto Ranch – You can shop online or visit their locations in Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas http://www.pintoranch.com
Gypsy Wagon – Fun mix of western and boho fashion–plus jewelry & more. Online or locations in Dallas, Austin, and Crested Butte, CO http://www.the-gypsy-wagon.com
Wild Bill’s Western Store – Hats, boots galore & lots more http://wildbillswestern.com
A big thank you to Carol for letting me poke around her closet and talk fashion. Carol, you inspire me to take fun risks and make fashion fun!
Do you enjoy western wear? Where do you shop? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a giveaway! The prize is the winner’s choice of a signed print copy of She’s Gone Country, set in Mineral Wells, TX, or an ebook version of the book, plus reader swag!