Category: Cowboys – General

A Bad Case of Spring Fever

Without fail, it happens every year.

I can’t predict when it will strike. I can’t pinpoint any one single cause.

But I always come down with a bad case of spring fever.

Although it isn’t contagious, it seems like many people suffer from the malady this time of year.

It generally hits our house about the time the crocuses bloom and lasts until the tulips start to bud.

What is spring fever, exactly?

The best way I can describe it is a wishing and wanting and yearning for…. something. Something that exists just beyond your ability to grasp it, even if you can’t define it.  There is a wildness, a willingness, to recapture something you are unable to even recognize let alone verbalize.

I think Mark Twain wrote a perfect summation of Spring Fever:

 

Based on personal experiences of suffering from spring fever, I thought it would be fun (and funny) to include spring fever striking the hero in one of my books.

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance (Grass Valley Cowboys, Book 2)

One lonesome cowboy needs a few lessons in romance…

Trent Thompson doesn’t have many secrets, except for the torch he’s carried for the new schoolteacher since she moved to Grass Valley more than three years ago. Instead of asking her out, he’s dated every single female in a thirty-mile radius, giving her the impression he holds no interest in knowing her.

Lindsay Pierce moved to Grass Valley to teach and quickly fell in love with the small community as well as the delightful people who live there. Everyone welcomes her warmly except for one obnoxious cowboy who goes out of his way to ignore her.

Will Trent be able to maintain the pretense when he has to babysit his niece, who happens to be in Lindsay’s class?

Romance is in the air as spring fever hits the Triple T Ranch!

Here’s a little excerpt:

“Mr. Thompson, I’m sure you are aware of the fact, but let me reiterate it for you – school starts at 8:15 a.m. Not 8:20 and not 8:25, but 8:15 a.m. sharp. Can you and your brother please make it a priority to get Cass here on time until Trey and Cady return?”

Lindsay hoped that by taking him to task and keeping herself in a professional frame of mind, she could ignore the tempting way his lips curled up at the corners when he smiled.

“Certainly, Miss Pierce,” Trent said, appearing thoroughly chastised. “Travis and I will make sure she isn’t late again. We had a little accident this morning. She had to change her clothes and that’s why her outfit is a little… um… creative today.”

Lindsay couldn’t keep herself from smiling. She didn’t know why, but watching Trent try his best at caring for Cass made her heart soften toward the tall rancher. While Trey and Travis were shorter and stockier, Trent was one long, tall handsome cowboy. Even she had to look up to see his face when she talked to him.

Drawn into the warmth of his blue eyes, she took a step back and noticed his coat looked like a blindfolded drunk had snapped it.

“You must have been in a hurry this morning. You don’t even have your coat fastened properly,” she said with a shake of her head. Before Lindsay thought about what she was doing, she took a step forward and unsnapped his coat, just like she would for one of her students. Only the warm, virile male in front of her was no five-year-old in need of her assistance. She couldn’t keep from sucking in her breath as she stared at Trent’s very bare, very muscled chest.

“Oh,” she whispered, blushing from the top of her head to where her neck disappeared into the collar of her blouse. “I’m sorry… I  didn’t…”

What about you?

Do you suffer from the malady of spring fever? 

Post your response for a chance to win a digital copy of The Cowboy’s Spring Romance!

Bested by a Buzz Wagon

I’ve spent many hours the last few weeks combing through digital editions of old newspapers from Pendleton, Oregon.

As I was browsing through the news on one front page, a headline caught my eye.

Buzz Wagon Proves Too Much for Ted

The first thought that popped into my head was “what’s a buzz wagon?” The second was “who’s Ted?”

If, like me, you haven’t been exposed to the early 20th century slang term, a buzz wagon is what some people used to refer to an automobile. (Presumably from the noise emitted from those early vehicles.)

On a lovely June day in 1912, a cowboy named Ted and another cowpuncher brought 300 head of horses to Pendleton to sell.

According to the newspaper, Ted could ride anything that had two ears and a tail, but the “golderned buzz wagon” was too much for the buckaroo to handle.

While they waited around town the evening before they were to set to sell the horses, Ted and his fellow cowpuncher wandered down to the Pendleton Round-Up grounds to see what amusements they might find.

What they found was an automobile left sitting in the arena, unattended, while members of the Elks club tried out teams for an upcoming chariot race (wouldn’t that be fun to see?).

The two cowboys thought the seats of the auto looked inviting, so they slid in to watch the proceedings. After a while, Ted landed on the brilliant idea of taking the auto for a spin. Although he’d never been in an automobile before, let alone drove one, he asked his friend to get out and give the car a crank to start it.

The car started but ol’ cowboy Ted found he couldn’t control the “red devil” as it traveled across the track of the arena. He whipped the wheel one way then the other, touched every button and pulled every lever to no avail. The auto stopped when he bashed into a pole at full speed.

When the owner of the car arrived on the scene, Ted offered to buy the man a new automobile. The owner thought he could have the auto repaired and they settled on $25 payment.

Ted declared he was through with man’s inventions, much preferring a bucking horse than the unpredictability of a “buzz wagon.”

To find out more about the happenings in Pendleton during 1912, be sure to attend the Petticoat Ball on April 12 on Facebook! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) and runs until 2 p.m. Guest authors, games, giveaways, and details about my latest Pendleton Petticoats book, Quinn, will be shared!

 

Spring in My Step! (But Watch Where You’re Walking!)

A wheel changes everything….

First, I am in love with historic farming and ranching stuff…

And spinning wheels.

And mills….

I love seeing the ingenuity that went into these early machines before the Industrial Revolution went BERSERK and changed the face of the world as we know it with manufacturing, mass production, electricity, light bulbs and trains… Oh mylanta, that was a busy century!!! And the next one? The one we just packed away?

Pretty busy, too!!!

My upcoming contemporary Western series for Love Inspired is set in Idaho… because I love Northern cowboys and the world has so many of them thar Texas cowboys… So I like to give my northern folk a shout-out… a chance to show what it’s like to deal with animals and births and deaths all four seasons because the rigors of a ranch winter are pretty rugged.  The first book comes out mid-July:  “Her Cowboy Reunion”. This series is all about what happens when three Steel Magnolias inherit 75% of a mega ranch in Western Idaho… while the oldest sister’s first love owns the other 25%. It’s a perfect set up for a poignant reunion romance…. one that I love!

And then we follow this up with a surprise Christmas novella with my friend Linda Goodnight… and who wouldn’t want to work with Goodnight? She’s totally adorable which does not stop me from making fun of her… That Western  novella (also part of the Shepherd’s Crossing series) hits the shelves in mid-late November…. and then the second sister’s story is being released in February 2019… And that gets us off and running with “Shepherd’s Crossing”!

I’ve probably mentioned this before, the  “Last American Cowboy” series, a look inside three Montana ranches… I’ve used this video presentation for some background research (and I use Mary Connealy and her cowboy husband for research, too, because life in Nebraska with cows is pretty close to what I’m playing with… sans a mountain or two!)

 

No matter what the season, Cowboy church and Western faith have always drawn me…

But now we’ve got the hope of spring. Around here the hope of spring means one thing. Mud.

A lot of mud.

And mud with big animals becomes, well… mud and cow manure. Or mud and horse manure. And if fields get too wet, animals can ingest nasty little bugs or worms that make them sick…. but while you might get a mention of this in a book, you won’t get too much of the details because there is little romance in smelly mud!

Writers sometimes have to gloss over the down-and-dirty parts of farm and ranch life because they’re not reader-friendly, and that’s okay… but then we have to make sure that we keep the rest of life “real” with asides to the problems of weather and seasonal change, and we can do that with calves getting caught up in mud and needing a rescue.

Cue the hero or heroine!

Or kids tripping and falling into mud and needing a complete hosing… before the bath. 🙂

Authors love dogs!!!

Dogs are great at demonstrating the changing conditions of weather and ground conditions… a wet dog that shakes and soaks people nearby… The smell of wet dog…. a snow-covered dog, or a dog (like mine!) that gets little snowballs along the feathery hairs on her legs… a hot dog, slumped in the shade and unmoving in the heat of summer could be the same muddy dog that won’t be allowed in the house before he gets the hose… Not too many ranch dogs are carted to the dog wash in the suburbs.  Making the elements and setting fit the story… and the genre… is part of my job. And you know I love my job!

I’ve got a shameless plug coming below for my current Love Inspired, but right now we’re talking the essence of seasons and how that gets woven through your stories without just stating the season…

The dog barometer and the cattle and horse barometers are really good at this.  Kids, too… kids in shorts with dirt-smeared sweaty faces… whiny kids…. cooped up kids…. So many ways you can show the perils of the season via activity… or slop.

But I don’t like to linger too long in the “slop” unless it’s something causing grave harm to the farm or ranch and in that case…

The mud sometimes takes center stage.

Right now I’ve got this absolutely beautiful Love Inspired story in stores and online. It’s a great story of a mother’s sacrificial love and God’s perfect timing…. And while I’m chompin’ at the bit for that next Western,. I gotta confess… I am over-the-moon in love with this sweet story set in the hills and lakes of Western New York… 🙂 

So how do you battle or slog through the muddy times of life? Do you bear up? Or want to lash out irrationally? And aren’t we so blessed to have washers and dryers???? Tell us about your taxing season… and it can be emotional, physical or just a pain in the part that sits the saddle… What do you do to make it work?

 “Her Secret Daughter Link to Amazon”

Her Secret Daughter, a story ripped from the headlines before there were headlines.

 

Josie Gallagher has plenty of reasons to be wary of Jacob Weatherly—considering he’s working for the hotel chain that’s forcing her restaurant to close. But when he shows up there with a little girl by his side—her little girl—she’s dismayed. How has this bachelor wound up with custody of the baby Josie placed with a married couple six years ago? The handsome hotel executive has no idea that Addie is Josie’s biological child, and Josie can’t afford to tell him. As he helps save her business, Josie and Jacob unexpectedly grow closer. But will her secret stand in the way of their happily-ever-after?

 

How am I? Same trailer, different park.

If you’ve read my books, you know I love pairing a cowboy with a city girl. My characters usually wonder how they can be attracted to someone who fails to hit even one item on their this-is-what-I’m-looking-for-in-a-potential-date list, and this creates great conflict. But another reason I love throwing cowboys and city women together is it creates great dialogue and can even increase sexual tension.

Here are some sayings that have great dialogue potential. I’ve tweaked some a little the way I would if I used them in dialogue. ?
• Woman, you’re as friendly as a fire ant.
• Darlin’, I’m so country I think a seven-course meal is a possum and a six pack. (I can see my hero saying this one with a wry grin.)
• If a trip around the world cost a dollar, I couldn’t get to the Oklahoma state line.
• You look like you were sent for and couldn’t go. (Can’t you see the sparks flying if my cowboy hero said this to a heroine?!)
• You’re so skinny you have to stand twice to make a shadow. (More sparks flying, I think as my heroine wonders if this is a compliment or a diss.)
• You look like the cheese fell off your cracker.
• Honey, you make a hornet look cuddly.
• Woman, you talk any faster and you’ll catch up to yesterday.
• You look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. Or, it’s twin, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on. (This one has potential for a tender moment, as the hero asks her what on earth happened. When she asks why he thinks something is wrong, he uses a soft husky voice and says, “Sweetheart, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on.” Of course, what he says shatters her control. She confides in him. He understands and consoles her. Bond forms, and there you go, sexual tension.)
• Woman, you could talk the legs off a chair.
• Are you two sandwiches short of a picnic?
• Don’t dig up more snakes than you can kill. (Can’t you imagine a city girl trying to understand what the hero means by this one and him trying to explain it?)
• Don’t write a check your ass can’t cash.
• He’s all hat, no cattle.
• You can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.
• Same trailer, different park. (In response to being asked how you’re doing.)
• Dang, if you aren’t double-backboned (I can see my hero saying this to a heroine when he’s impressed with her strength of will or character. Of course, she won’t quite get the compliment, and when he explains it, she’ll just melt all over his boots.)
• Woman, you’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water.

Not only can a western saying add color and realism to a story, it can add humor, reveal character or even create sexual tension. But best of all, it’s fun as all get out to write.

Now mosey on over to leave a comment about one of the sayings above or your own personal favorite and be entered for a chance to win the snack set and a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy featuring AJ, a Texas Aggie cowboy and New York City girl Grace Henry.

Updated: January 30, 2018 — 8:42 pm

Carolyn Brown and the Luckiest Cowboy of All

Hello to everyone at Petticoats and Pistols! Thank you so much for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, Luckiest Cowboy of All, coming out next Tuesday.

 

This book has gotten rave reviews at both Publisher’s Weekly and RT Reviews and from my amazing readers on Goodreads. To say I’m excited about it would be an understatement.

The Luckiest Cowboy of All is the third and final book in the Happy, Texas trilogy, following Toughest Cowboy in Texas and Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas.  Although it’s part of a series, it’s a stand alone book that can be read without reading the first two.

AND—I love that word because it means there’s more to come—this is a two-for-one book. After you read Luckiest Cowboy of All, you are only half finished with the book. My good friend, Sara Richardson’s book Hometown Cowboy, is included. It’s Jessa Mae and Lance Cortez’s story. She’s a small town veterinarian and he’s a big-time rodeo star.

 

Voices in my head….

Jace Dawson has waited patiently for his turn to tell me his story, and I loved having him sitting behind me in the recliner telling me all about his life while I wrote it. I have a plaque on the wall of my office that reads: I know the voices in my head are not real but they have really great ideas.

That saying became very real during the time I was privileged to spend with Jace. He’d fallen in love with Carlene back when they were in high school and had even entertained notions that someday they might be together forever. But after graduation her father got transferred and she went with him. She’d promised to keep in touch but she hadn’t and her old aunt, who still lived in Happy, wouldn’t give him a bit of information.

Now it’s almost a decade later and Carlene has taken a teaching job back in Happy at the elementary school. One look at her daughter and Jace knows immediately that the child is his and he’s pretty angry that Carlene didn’t even tell him that she was pregnant.

 

Secret Baby/Second Chance 

The secret baby/second chance trope has been done so often that I knew when I started writing this story; it had to touch my readers emotions to keep their attention. I hope I’ve done that and that they travel with Jace through his battle with giving up his bachelorhood and doing what his heart is telling him. And that they experience Carlene’s reluctance in listening to her heart—when she fears that Jace is only doing “the right thing” in wanting a relationship with her. How could he love her after she deceived him?

 

                    Secondary Story Threads

There’s a secondary story thread that began in Toughest Cowboy in Texas and continued through Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas. It’s about the Dawsons’ grandmother, Hope, and a past love from her youth. It wraps up in Jace and Carlene’s story as this trilogy comes to an end.

I hope that when you finish Sara and my stories that you sigh and wish for more! If so, don’t put your reading glasses away and keep your cowboy boots close by because there are more cowboys on the way. Cowboy Bold debuts the first book in the Longhorn Canyon series in May. Cowboy Honor, the second book, will arrive in September and then Cowboy Brave will finish the series in January of 2019.

 

GIVEAWAY!

I’ll give away a signed copy of Luckiest Cowboy in Texas to one person who comments on today’s post. Tell me, what makes you go from merely taking a look at a book to putting it in your cart to take home? Cover? Back blurb? Those first few sentences on page one?

 

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist. The author of more than eighty published books, she’s also the three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a Bookseller’s Best Award, and a Montlake Diamond Award. Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to sit in her gorgeous backyard with her two tomcats, Chester Fat Boy and Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, and watch them protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at http://www.carolynbrownbooks.com.

 

Christmas Confections by Shanna Hatfield

Christmas has always been such a beautiful, blessed, wonderful season to me.

A tradition that my mom taught me, one I still carry on, is to bake goodies, infused with love, and share with family and friends.

One year, I spent hours and hours making elaborately frosted sugar cookies. In particular, I recall a little rocking horse that I’d painstakingly decorated with tiny little reins and a saddle accented with mini holly and berries made of icing.

Then my dad and brothers came in for supper and made short work of my creations!

I still make sugar cookies (a recipe I spent years experimenting with until I got it just right), although I don’t spend hours decorating them like I used to.

Sugar Cookies

I also love to make cinnamon rolls and share them with our neighbors when the rolls are warm from the oven and icing is melting into sweet pools all around them.

Cinnamon Rolls

I have an overflowing recipe box with all the traditional sweets I typically make during the holidays.

But while I was researching details for my latest release, I found so many more recipes I’d love to try.

The heroine in the story is a Swedish baker. My goodness! I think I gained five pounds (or ten) just writing about all the delightful pastries and goodies she created in her bakery.

Confection long

The Christmas Confection is book 6 in the Hardman Holidays series, set in the old western town of Hardman, Oregon.

2017 Christmas Confection

Will a sweet baker soften a hardened man’s heart?

 Born to an outlaw father and a shrewish mother, Fred Decker feels obligated to atone for the past without much hope for his future. If he possessed a lick of sense, he’d pack up and leave the town where he was born and raised, but something… someone… unknowingly holds him there. Captivated by Hardman’s beautiful baker, Fred fights the undeniable attraction. He buries himself in his work, refusing to let his heart dream.

Elsa Lindstrom adores the life she’s carved out for herself in a small Eastern Oregon town. She and her twin brother, Ethan, run their own bakery where she delights in creating delicious treats. Then Ethan comes home unexpectedly married, the drunks in town mistakenly identify her as a missing harlot, and a mishap in the bakery leaves her at the mercy of the most gossiped-about man in Hardman.

Mix in the arrival of three fairy-like aunts, blend with a criminal bent on dastardly schemes, and sprinkle in a hidden cache of gold for a sweet Victorian romance brimming with laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer.

Excerpt:

“Well…” Fred gave her an odd look as he stood in the doorway with autumn sunshine spilling all around him.  “There are two other things I’d like.”

“Two?” Elsa asked, wiping her hands on her apron and facing him. “What might those two things be?” She anticipated him asking for a batch of rolls or perhaps a chocolate cake.

“My first request is simple. Please call me Fred. I’d like to think, after all this, we’re friends and all my friends call me Fred.”

Elsa nodded in agreement. “We are friends, Mr. Deck… er, I mean Fred. If you want me to call you Fred then you best refer to me as Elsa.”

The pleased grin on his face broadened. “Very well, Elsa.”

Her knees wobbled at the sound of his deep voice saying her name, but she resisted the urge to grip the counter for support. “You said there were two things you wanted, in addition to cookies. What is the second?”

“It’s a tiny little thing really,” Fred said, tightly gripping his hat in both hands.

“A tiny little thing? Then I shall take great honor in bestowing whatever it is.” Her gaze roved over the kitchen, trying to imagine what in the world Fred could want. She kept a jar full of assorted candy. Sometimes, she used the sweets to decorate cakes and cookies. Perhaps he wanted one. “A piece of candy?” she asked.

Fred shook his head. “No, Elsa. It’s sweeter than candy and far, far better.”

Intrigued, she took a step closer to him. “What is it?”

He waggled his index finger back and forth, indicating she should step closer. When she stood so her skirts brushed against the toes of his boots, he tapped his cheek with the same finger. “A little sugar right here would be even better than ten batches of cookies.”

~ Giveaway ~

red bowed packages on white background

Make sure you enter this drawing for a chance to win a mystery box of Christmas goodies!

button enter now

Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, holiday season!

What’s one thing do you always look forward to baking or eating each Christmas?

Add One Hot Cowboy and Stir

We’re delighted to have Dee Burks with us today. She’s filling in for Phyliss Miranda who’s out of town. Dee is immensely talented and infuses her stories with humor that will make you laugh out loud. This Christmas-themed book is sure to please. She’s also giving away three copies (winner’s choice of format!) So, help us welcome Dee!

It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I write contemporary westerns and I think I have the best job in the world.

I’ll be happy to spur you outta the chute, Cowboy!

How many times have you wanted to shout that at a smoking hot guy in Wrangler’s? Actually I think I did once, or maybe twice! Cowboys you run across these days are just as exciting and interesting as they were back in the old west and I love writing about them. There is truly nothing more enticing than a smart, sexy, wickedly funny cowboy romance set in the mountains. When I decided on the setting for this series, I chose the beautiful Moreno Valley in far Northern New Mexico. It is one of my favorite places – full of ranchers, cowboys and beautiful scenery.

Beyond an awesome setting, I knew I wanted more than your average ranch cowboy to be the hero of this first book. I wanted something different. Something that would interest readers and give the book an added dimension.  One day, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, a guy I knew in high school (ahem…like over 30 years ago) posted some photos of a set of custom spurs he was making. I thought, “What an awesome occupation for a former rodeo star!” And the idea for Custom Made Cowboy was born.

I sent Quint Finney, spur maker extraordinaire, a message and asked him for an interview which he graciously granted. He also sent me a pair of custom-made spurs that I could examine and take pictures of. I feel that sort of authenticity is something you can’t replace as a writer. To hear the excitement in the voice of someone who actually does this work, allows me to add nuances I couldn’t get any other way. I feel it is that real, down to earth voice that makes my hero, Trampas Woodburn, leap off the page and into the hearts of readers.

A former bull rider (yes I interviewed one of these too!) Trampas is trying to start a new life away from the spotlight but still stay connected to his rodeo roots. A leather and spur making business is what he dreams of, he just needs a quiet place to relax and get things off the ground. While he is starting a new life, my heroine, Angie Martin is desperately trying to keep her life together.

Angie is a painter and owns a little art studio in Eagle Nest, NM. I now live in Northern New Mexico, and can tell you firsthand that art is everywhere and so are great artists. I’ve had the opportunity to sit and listen to artists talk about what it feels like to create great works and the struggles that go along with making a living from that art. Giving my heroine a teetering art business to try and salvage while dealing with an unexpected, hot cowboy adds layers of humor and tension to this book in every area.

I chose two very strong willed, determined people who aren’t looking for romance at all to show how unexpected and powerful love can be. Their connection to one another is palpable, to the point readers may feel as if the pages will burst into flames on occasion!

Being a writer is a great excuse to talk to gorgeous, knowledgeable cowboys and I do a lot of it – which I, of course, will use in a book at some point (wink, wink).

I hope you all enjoy this book and to get you started I’m giving away 3 copies of Custom Made Cowboy (winner’s choice of format.) To enter the drawing, leave a profession in the comments that you think would suit a cowboy – beside chasing cows!

* * * * * *

About Dee:

She’s a bestselling author who brings to life today’s true west with feisty heroines and heart melting cowboys. A multi-generational Texan, she now lives in the gorgeous mountains of Northern New Mexico infusing all her settings with authenticity of the southwest while crafting love stories spicier than the hottest green chili!

Her favorite pastime is writing as the snow falls over the Sangre De Cristos, hot cup of coffee on the desk and sweet pup Charley at her feet.  When not writing, she travels the west collecting ideas and indulging her passion for fly fishing.

Read a Book, Help a Cowboy

What do a cowboy, a snowstorm, and a delayed flight have in common? 

Pour yourself a cup of tea, take a moment to relax, and I’ll share a little story with you…

Picture a bitterly cold December wind blowing snow so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone far enough to get in a vehicle and drive somewhere.

This was the scene my husband (better known as Captain Cavedweller) and I encountered one December day as we prepared to leave on a much-needed vacation. We’d been planning to drive across the state to our destination, but with the blizzard-like conditions, we couldn’t see any wisdom in traveling in the horrible weather.

Rather than stay home, though, I convinced CC to go to Las Vegas to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We’d always wanted to go and had just never got around to it. Since flying somewhere was the only way we were leaving town, it made perfect sense to switch our plans and take the impromptu trip.

As we arrived at the airport the next day, we noticed more cowboy hats in the crowd than just CC’s. And when we landed in Las Vegas, there were cowboy hats (and cowboys) everywhere! Each December, the city of Las Vegas takes on a country vibe as the rodeo comes to town, bringing with it hundreds of vendors, thousands of spectators, and a whole lot of fun.

On the return trip home, we arrived at the airport and discovered our flight was delayed.  Gradually, we made our way through a sea of cowboy hats to our gate. While CC read the newspaper and impatiently jiggled his boot-covered foot , I observed those milling around. As I watched cowboys pass by, some in a rush, others walking with a distinctive swagger, my ever-active imagination began to take over.

Since so many of the cowboys who compete professionally spend a good deal of time traveling, I began to wonder how many of them flew from one rodeo to the next. If they were flying, it seemed like a strong possibility that they might meet a girl at an airport who turned their head.

I began jotting down notes for a story idea and by the time we reached home, The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance, Book 1) was born.

The fifth book in the Rodeo Romance series, Chasing Christmas, released last week. Each book in this series features characters tied to the rodeo (a saddle bronc rider, a steer wrestler, a rodeo photographer, a stock contractor, a barrelman, and now a bullrider). All of them are sweet romances full of laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer (and cowboys, did I mention cowboys?).

But more than the fun stories and hunky cowboys, this series set me down the path of helping the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

While I was writing , I included a scene where the hero is hurt at a rodeo. I began to wonder exactly how much medical attention a cowboy could receive at a rodeo and how bad injuries would have to be before he was taken to the hospital.

I reached out to an amazing organization — the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. In 1980, two gentlemen developed the concept of a mobile sports medicine system that would provide medical support services to professional rodeo athletes. Today, the Justin Mobile Sportsmedicine Centers can be seen at arenas across the country. Rodeo athletes who are injured while competing are assured of receiving immediate and expert care through these centers.

The program director kindly (and patiently, so patiently) answered my many questions. Through him, I learned about a program called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. 

Rodeo athletes say it isn’t a matter of if they get hurt, but when. So when the inevitable happens and they sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent them from competing for an extended time (leaving them without a paycheck), the JCCF steps in and provides much-needed assistance.

After learning about the organization and impressed by how helpful and kind those I’d spoke with had been, I decided to donate to the cause.

This is the fourth year for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. Now through December 24, I donate ten percent of my book sale proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

So if you’re thinking about holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think about giving a book! You can find my releases in digital, paperback, and audio formats, including .

~ GIVEAWAY! ~

For a chance to win a digital copy of The Christmas Cowboy and Chasing Christmas, answer this question:

What’s one thing that made you smile today?

Weaving with Words, Riding with Spurs…

Weaving creates an image, doesn’t it? No matter how you apply the word, we envision yarn or threads being moved in lock-stitch by hand or machine. We see the flash of success as the weft threads pass through the warp threads, and a foot treadle bounces the threads up and down in clockwork precision.

That’s kind of what it’s like when we write a story.

Umm… NOT THE PRECISION PART!!!!

I’m a pantser, a writer who begins with the idea of how I see the story and characters and then I create… and I add and subtract as I go. Not all writers work like this, some like notes, charts, timelines, etc… I do better by avoiding all that as completely as I can.  But what all authors have in common is the weaving of the word… and when I’m writing a Western (like my upcoming Shepherd’s Crossing series with Love Inspired or my Double S Ranch series with Waterbrook) I weave with a different set of threads. Some are coarser. Some are thicker. Some are rugged because carving a living off the land requires not only skill but fortitude. And I love folks with fortitude! (I just listened to the full recording of Peace in the Valley this weekend… Barbara McCullch did a great job with this Western and the character voices!)

I want my Westerns to sound authentic. Not contrived. Not over-done. If a rancher is educated, I want them to sound that way with a distinct twang as needed. 🙂 There’s nothing like an Ivy League educated cowboy (Colt Stafford “Back in the Saddle”) that comes across when he faces the heroine and does nothing more that touch the tip of his index finger to the brim of his hat.

No words needed.

🙂

He said it all with one gesture, a gesture he wouldn’t have used in Lower Manhattan but one that is quite effective in Central Washington. Colt’s a coming home character, a man returning to his roots out of necessity, a man surprised to find he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be… at last.

Mary Connealy taught me years ago that cowboys aren’t generally the talkative type. She’s right.

Like so many hard-working men, they grunt a lot, and then they’re surprised when those around them are at a loss to read their feelings. And then you go and read a Paul Harvey poem “So God Made a Farmer” and you realize you need to go beyond words, to actions.

There’s a book that talks about love languages, and it’s so stinkin’ true in many ways… not all people speak in poetic license.

A lot of men have to choke out “I’m sorry” or “I love you”… the dolts! 🙂

But sometimes those same men will go the distance to make sure the wagon seat is smooth enough to not snag a pretty dress…

Or extra warm potatoes to keep a historical heroine’s feet from taking a chill…

Or run to school to pick up a sick child of a single mother so she doesn’t lose her job at the diner…

Or dig the grave for his daddy’s old Golden Lab, gone home to heaven. I love that scene in “Saint Maybe” and used a similar scene in one of my first books “Waiting Out the Storm”… because acts of sacrifice transcend genre and touch a reader’s heart and soul.

There are so many ways to show emotion as we write. Some require few words. Some require a pause in the action. A long moment. Unshed tears. Or gut-wrenching sobs…

While others show the frontier or pure country joy… a single flower, tucked in a Mason jar on the heroine’s table. A pair of pumpkins, set on a porch with a tuft of corn by their side. A walk with a calf, or a foal, or to bottle feed lambs…

Love on the ranch or the farm or in the country isn’t always shown the same way as on the coasts. Fancy meals and pricey nights out are usually not the norm. And while those are good in their place, there’s something more soul stirring about a pot of stew and fresh bread. A homemade pie. A pretty scarf that the hero buys because it matches the heroine’s eyes…

When I’m writing Westerns, I make sure my mindset is on animals and kids first, because honestly, when dealing with a farm or ranch and animals, they have to come first. They can’t fend for themselves… That simple admission leads the reader into the heart of the rancher, the devotion of the hero and/or heroine. The words I choose to set the scene or ride the wave of emotions have to ring true to the reader, no matter where he or she lives… or what they do for a living.

Word weaving… it’s what makes an authors voice distinctive, and what makes a story memorable or forgettable. Those words create and follow the rise and fall of emotion and that roller coaster ride should be as real as we can make it… so the reader gets the full price of their ticket!

Do you have favorite book scenes that have stuck with you over years? I’d love to hear about them… comment today because I have a beautiful copy of my newest Love Inspired book “The Lawman’s Yuletide Baby” as a giveaway… and I think you’ll love this beautiful story of healing and hope and sacrificial love.

Of course the fact that it’s my 20th LOVE INSPIRED STORY is a wonderful milestone!!! 🙂 I brought coffee and hot chocolate because things are cooling down here in Western New York… and some homemade double chocolate chip cookies, because while Pumpkin Spice everything is fun… nothing beats double chocolate chip. And it don’t pay to argue with me, because I’m armed… and dangerous, my friends!

Cookies for everyone!

 

 

Updated: October 29, 2017 — 7:52 pm

Fall Into Romance by Shanna Hatfield

Like many of you, I love the autumn season. In our little corner of the world, we have four very distinct seasons and in the last few weeks it has definitely transitioned into fall.

The leaves have set aside their verdant shades of green and seemingly overnight slipped on the jeweled hues of crimson, gold, amber, and tangerine.

The air smells spicy and rich, laced with a hint of wood smoke from the neighbor’s fireplace. It’s cool enough to dig out my sweaters and scarves, to unearth my warm lap blanket I like to curl up under in the evenings when the early dusk brings nose-nipping temperatures.

Then there are the glorious, wondrous flavors of fall… pumpkin and caramel and apple. Yum. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

In an effort to capture some of the sweetest, most wonderful aspects of fall, a group of sweet romance authors got together and wrote ten brand-new novellas all centered around a Fall Festival that raises funds for an animal shelter while finding homes for pets. The stories are bundled together in a boxed set.

The stories all take place in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon. If it really existed, visitors would find it about an hour south of Portland, where autumn is particularly beautiful and the sights, sounds, and scents of fall weave around the romance lingering in the air.

My contribution to the boxed set is Blown Into Romance, the story of a free-spirited artist and a feet-firmly-on-the-ground rancher.  And piglets! Five of them, to be exact, all named after characters from a favorite children’s book. Winnie, the mama pig, and her four babies (Roo, Tigger, Eeyore, and Robin) need a home and Brooke needs a little company in her newly-opened blown glass shop.

(See the disaster coming… five pigs in a blown glass shop?)

I wanted Brooke to adopt something other than a dog or a cat. How much crazier could she get than five pigs?

Luckily for her, Blayne Grundy knows about pigs as well as cattle and horses. He offers her a hand when she needs it most and soon realizes she’s stolen his heart.

Blurb —

Artist Brooke Roberts spent her life without roots, wandering from town to town. When she seeks refuge from a freak storm in the town of Romance, she decides to stay and open a blown glass studio. Determined to immerse herself in the community, she adopts a family of pigs. Brooke is unprepared for the chaos and comfort they bring to her world, or the dashing cowboy who rescues her heart.

Solid, dependable Blayne Grundy runs a busy ranch, volunteers on various committees, and takes in stray animals too large to stay at the local animal rescue. Then a chance encounter with a beautiful, beguiling woman leaves him so befuddled, he can barely remember his own name. His predictable organized life is about to be blown away by free-spirited Brooke.

A sweet, lighthearted novella, Blown Into Romance highlights the mighty power of love and letting go.

 

Excerpt —

She arched an eyebrow. “Did you adopt a new pet, too?”

“I’m actually more of a temporary home before a permanent place can be found. Brent had a donkey and a bunch of chickens that needed a place to go. Grams handled the chickens, but I’m in charge of the donkey.”

“A donkey, huh?” Brooke grinned again. “That might be incentive to visit your ranch.”

“Kong would like to think it is.”

A laugh spilled out of her. “You named the donkey Kong? Are you kidding me?”

“Nope. That was his name before Brent took him in. I’m not sure if Donkey Kong or King Kong would have been worse.”

“Okay, you win. I have to meet this donkey. I have a project I need to finish and it has to be shipped Thursday morning. If it works with your schedule, I could come out that evening.” Brooke walked Blayne over to his pickup.

“That will work great. In case you think about changing your mind, I could probably come up with a more compelling reason for you to come.” He looked at her with an intense light glowing in his eyes.

Rather than back away from him, as he feared, she stood her ground. “What reason might that be cowboy?”

“Just this one.” Blayne stepped close to her, holding her gaze. He wrapped one hand around her waist and slid the other into her messy hair. Before she could protest or pull away, his lips skimmed across hers in a light, tentative kiss. When she moved closer to him, he kissed her again. The long, lingering kiss erupted an explosion of fireworks behind his eyes while her body turned limp in his arms.

When he lifted his head, he kissed her cheek and slowly released his hold on her, making sure she was steady on her feet before backing away. “I’ll let you consider if that’s a compelling reason. If not, let me know. I can come back later and do a better job.”

Giveaway —

If you could adopt ANY pet, what would it be? Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Fall Into Romance. Three lucky winners will be chosen!

Fall Into Romance is available for a limited time for just 99 cents at these online retailers:

Kobo

A ma zon

iBooks

Google Play

B&N

 

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015