Category: Cowboys – General

The Friendly Beasts of Faraday

It all started with a camel. 

And a living nativity in our little community.

A handful of years ago, Captain Cavedweller and I attended an outdoor living nativity performance. It was held in the parking light next to a drive-in burger place. The temps were below freezing. But there, among the people dressed in bathrobes and fake beards to create a wise man costume, along with a few bleating sheep and a cow who seemed more than ready to go home, stood a camel. 

Not just any camel, mind you, but one who was clearly there to steal the show. He loved the attention tossed his direction and eagerly accepted the affection of his new fans. 

As I stood there and watched CC pet the camel, the idea for a story began percolating in my imagination. Then, just as suddenly, the words to a Christmas carol began floating through my thoughts and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wouldn’t write just one story, but a series inspired by the Christmas carol.

If you’ve never heard The Friendly Beasts, it’s a lovely, old carol about the animals that gathered around the manager when Jesus was born. The verses include a camel, a donkey, a cow (all red and white, of course), a sheep with a curly horn, and a dove in the rafters high. 

How fun would it be to write a sweet romance series including all these animals… but have them be the matchmakers?  

Super fun! It was super fun to write this series. 

The only thing was that it took me a while to be able to sit down and write an entire series all at once. In fact, when Christmas came and went last year without a moment to work these stories in, I decreed I wouldn’t write anything else in 2018 until I finished these stories. Which is what I did. I created a fictional mountain town named Faraday. If it actually existed, it would be  near Mount Hood in Oregon.

The first draft to the books were completed by February. The four stories include a camel, a donkey (with a puppy named Bacon as his sidekick), a cow and her baby, sheep and a dove.  

I reached out to the illustrator who did such a wonderful job on my children’s book, Steve the Mule. He brought my goofy, wacky, lovable Friendly Beasts to life. 

Aren’t they so cute!  Jasper the dove is sitting on Ivy, there’s Lolly the camel, Bacon, Shep the sheep, and Pete the donkey. 

The books will release every Friday beginning this week, November 16!

Here’s a little more about the series:

Scent of Cedar

She needed a change of pace. . .

No one said anything about a friendly camel or a hunky mechanic

Cedar Haynes has a choice: change her high-pressure lifestyle, or end up dead by the time she’s thirty. Not one to do things by half measures, she quits her demanding corporate job, swaps her sports car for an SUV, and moves to the peaceful mountain community of Faraday. She envisions a quiet, peaceful Christmas, surrounding by silence and sparkling snow. When a camel takes up residence on her porch, she realizes small-town life may be more quirky and complicated than she imagined. Thankfully, the local mechanic seems to have all the answers – plus good looks, bad-boy charm, and a mysterious aura that leaves her wanting to know more.

Rhett Riggs left big city life behind the moment his small-town uncle needed his help. To make ends meet, he takes over Faraday’s one and only garage and gas station. He gets more than he bargained for, though, when Uncle Will passes away, leaving Rhett a run-down farmhouse, a wacky camel named Lolly, and a deep-rooted love for the community he considers his home. With the holidays approaching, he watches with interest as a new neighbor moves in next door. He waits for Lolly to send the woman running, like she has the last handful of residents. Only this time, if his beautiful neighbor leaves, she’ll take his heart with her.

Between spilled secrets, mistaken identities, and a camel determined to spread a little love, it will take more than mistletoe and holiday magic to help Rhett and Cedar find their happy ending.

(On sale for just 99 cents on pre-orders!) 

Tidings of Joy

Will a donkey, an adorable puppy, and a big-hearted man

prove tidings of Joy last beyond the holiday season?

Quiet and unassuming, Drew Miller is more than just a mail carrier in the small town of Faraday. A typical day on his route includes fetching cats out of trees, changing flat tires, and good-naturedly enduring the pranks of the octogenarian crowd. Unexpectedly, he rescues a lovely young woman in distress. Drew’s convinced she’d never make the tiny community her permanent home, but he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.

Among the brightest, happiest memories from Joy Cooke’s childhood are the days she spent with her grandparents in Faraday. When she inherits their home with a stipulation requiring her to live there for six months, she eagerly moves to the mountain town. Then a freak snow storm leaves her at the mercy of the mail carrier, a handsome man she’s spent weeks watching out her office window. Through his steadfast care, she learns the true meaning of giving and selfless love.

 

Boughs of Holly

He’d never met a more annoying woman. . .

She’d never met a more intriguing man

Seth Stafford loves every square inch of the ranch where his grandfather raised him. He’s built a good life there, even if it does get lonely. But he doesn’t have time for such nonsense as dating. If the crazy redheaded woman who terrorizes him when he drives into Portland for supplies is any indication of the available females, he’ll stick with tending his cattle. When his grandfather sustains an injury and requires extended care, Seth is forced to open his home to the woman. He just has to decide if he despises or loves her.

Nurse Holly Jones has never had a real home or stayed in one place for more than a year. She never wanted to, until she took a job in Portland working with the elderly. Surprisingly, she finds herself living on a remote ranch outside the small town of Faraday. There, among the cattle, horses, and cowboys, she considers all she’s been missing with her nomadic lifestyle. What would happen if she gave up her wandering ways and allowed her soul to set down roots or her heart to fall in love?

Can a cow named Ivy and a meddling grandfather nudge a reluctant couple together?

 

Wings of An Angel

The last thing she needs is a romance . . .

The first thing he intends to do is make her fall in love

Veterinarian Angela Carol escaped her past and started a brand new life in the friendly community of Faraday. Her charming little boy, Nick, a thriving practice, and a comfortable home are all she needs to be happy. At least that’s what she continually tells herself. But her traitorous heart longs for Nick’s teacher, a man who’s become her best friend. With no intention of falling in love again, she struggles to keep her thoughts and heart in line where Drake is concerned. 

Drake Miller had plans to be the next NBA star, but when an injury left him sidelined in college, he decided to teach and return to his hometown of Faraday. There’s nothing he enjoys quite as much as shaping the minds of the first grade students in his classroom, unless it’s making Angela Carol smile. The first time he saw her, he knew he was a goner, but the widow has made it clear she has no interest in getting involved in a relationship. How can he prove to her that it’s worth taking a chance on love?

The unlikely team of Nick, along with his pet sheep, Shep, and a dove named Jasper, work to spread a little romance along with holiday cheer. Will their efforts be enough to unite Drake and Angela in time for a Christmas miracle?

Find THE FRIENDLY BEASTS OF FARADAY on Amazon!

What Christmas carol do you think should inspire a story or series? Share your answer in the comments! 

 

Romance and Banter are Brewing

Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.

We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.

This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!

CIR meme with covers

The stories begin releasing November 1.

Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.

 Sleigh Bells Ring Meme

 Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It  releases Nov. 1.

You’re never too old to fall in love . . .

Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?

Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.

Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.

When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?

As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess  while he recuperates from knee surgery. 

She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her,  but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…

 

“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.

Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”

Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”

“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”

He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”

Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”

“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.

“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”

“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”

“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”

“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”

Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”

 Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”

A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”

“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”

“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”

Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”

 

Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!

A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love. 

Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.

A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?

A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.

Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.

pre-order SBR

 

If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?

 

Cowboy Fever and Rodeo Fun

This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.

I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.

Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.

Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.

Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).

Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.

For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).

One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!

As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.

I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.

I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.

How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?

Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!

 Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.

 Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.

Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.

To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLMXSGT/?tag=pettpist-20

Kari Lynn Dell: The Inadvertent Jogger!

It seems to be the nature of women to take any wonderous occurrence and turn it into a cause for stress and self-deprecation. So it is with my novel, Tougher in Texas, being named as a finalist in the Long Contemporary category of the 2018 RITA® awards by the Romance Writers of America®, awarded at their national conference during a glitzy ceremony. I had barely absorbed the news when I got a congratulatory call from my awesome writer friend Laura Drake, which immediately devolved into the inevitable panic.

“Oh my God, what am I going to wear?

Private online discussion groups were set up for all the finalists, and by noon on day one there was one thread about dresses, and immediately on its heels another about losing enough weight to fit into the dresses, and immediately after that a Facebook support group for everyone trying to lose weight.

Somehow, I don’t think this happens leading up to the Self-Important White Man Book Awards ceremonies, of which there are several.

But I am no better or worse than my sisters, so now that the snow has cleared I am endeavoring to carve off a few of the pounds acquired while telling myself I needed the extra calories to stay warm during the long, bitter winter. And of course this has to involve some form of exercise.

Runners often rhapsodize about something called an ‘endorphin high’, which apparently occurs when you punish your body until it begins to crank out its own painkillers in self defense. As thrilling as that sounds, I usually pass. My lungs are not meant to bleed, so I keep it to a nice stroll that doesn’t make my shins feel like they’ve been stuck with daggers. Given all that, you can see why I was amazed to find myself jogging the other night.

Obviously, I hadn’t planned to jog. If such a plan had crossed my mind, I would have had the sense to stay on my couch until it went on its merry way, as most of my thoughts are prone to do. On this particular evening, though, my husband asked me to bring his tool pick-up out to the far north hayfield, so he’d have something to drive home when he finished up for the night. It was a lovely evening, so I decided rather than having someone follow me over on the four-wheeler and bring me home, I’d just hike back.

I had to cross a pasture to get to the hayfield, but our small band of Longhorns were clear out in the farthest corner, so I left the gate open on my way out. I should know better. Longhorns can smell the breeze blowing through an open gate from a mile away.

I parked the pick-up and set off for home. Halfway across the flat, I realized the Longhorns had stopped pretending to graze and were marching directly toward the gate, with a big black spotted cow taking the lead. I could practically hear her calling out cadence to be sure everyone stepped along smartly. The bull, I noticed, seemed a little testy, rumbling and growling and shaking his horns.

Yikes.

I broke into a slow trot, blundering down the rock-strewn trail on one side of a large draw, hopscotching across the bog at the bottom and chugging up through the buck brush. When I staggered, rubber-legged and huffing like a steam engine, up the other side, the Longhorns were dead even with me. Worse, I was in the center of the pasture and the bull was glaring at me with evil intent. The lead cow, recognizing my dilemma, made a swift command decision. Forget the gate. She led them south instead, cutting off my direct line to the corrals.

Luckily, a smaller draw intersects the main draw and I was on one side of it with the Longhorns on the other, moving parallel. Ignoring the complaints of my oxygen-deprived body, I kicked into a brisk jog. The lead cow also picked up her pace. I stumbled over mounds of bunch grass and into gopher holes, my vision beginning to blur, but didn’t dare slow down. The side draw ends a quarter of a mile short of the fence and we were on course to collide at its head.

I drove my shrieking legs and hemorrhaging lungs onward, assisted by a healthy dose of adrenaline. The bull was twenty yards behind when I dove through the fence and sprawled on the other side, gasping for air. The Longhorns gathered to sneer at me, elbowing each other and snickering, then wandered off in search of other entertainment.

I shoved my aching body into an upright position, plucked wild rose thorns from my knee caps and examined a row of small puncture wounds from the barbed wire. My chest felt like I’d snorted cayenne pepper, my calves were starting to cramp, and I reflected once again that if this is what joggers call a natural high, I’d hate to see what they consider a low.

As for me—if this is what it takes to trim down, I’ll just go ahead and order that dress in a larger size. 

For more visit KariLynnDell.com or find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/karilynndellbooks.

 

Note from Ruthy! Kari has generously offered one paperback copy of “Tougher in Texas” and one e-copy of “The Long Ride Home” to two happy readers! Leave a comment to be entered!

Star-crossed Cowboy Romance: #mustlovecowboys

I have a brand new series starting with Love Inspired on July 17th, 2018.

I LOVE THIS SERIES.

It’s sweet. It’s poignant. It’s fun. It’s diverse. But more than anything else, it’s based on great stories from a solid premise that’s got some wide-open doors for twists:

MAJOR PUBLISHER INDICTED, BILKS FORTUNE FROM COMPANY, BANKRUPTS FAMILY. PRESTIGIOUS KENTUCKY HORSE FARM LIQUIDATED!

Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald grew up with horses, but their illustrious Kentucky farm was geared for big stakes racing and gilded dressage. When their father sank the three generation publishing ship that made the Fitzgeralds crazy rich, the three women were left with nothing but one car each and college loans. Big college loans.  Their Uncle Sean realizes what his good-for-nothing brother has done about the same time his final cancer treatment fails. He wills a 25% share of his sprawling Idaho ranch to each of the girls… and the final 25% to Heath Caufield, a man who came on board when he was thrown off the Kentucky horse farm a dozen years before. Why? Because he had the audacity to fall in love with Lizzie Fitzgerald.

Lizzie and Heath share a past. There’s no way in this world they can share a future, but when those old feelings come to fore, can they look beyond their history to embrace the future God’s laid out for them?

The fun of this story is that it bridges the techno gap of a decade. Ten years ago, it was tough to get cell reception in a lot of out-of-the way places. Now we’re spoiled (or RUINED, but that’s another blog post, right???) because it’s rare that we can’t get coverage in most places.

But that’s a recent change and when big money wants someone G-O-N-E, they generally manage to get it done.

Lizzie comes to the ranch, unaware that Heath is the ranch manager following her uncle’s death… and a co-owner. Her uncle laid out a caveat: The women had to give it a year on the ranch.

For Lizzie this is a no-brainer. She’s got a head for business, a love and skill for horses, and heading up the equine breeding side of Pine Ridge Ranch is an amazing opportunity… right up until she sees Heath Caufield coming her way.

And so it begins….

A story filled with love, with ego, with anger, with emotion and attraction… and a motherless bi-racial little boy named Zeke who can’t help but win hearts wherever he goes.

Sheep ranching has a great history in the hills and mountains of Idaho, so setting this ranch… and others… here fit the storyline and the Western flair.

And bringing three Southern magnolias who are true Steel Magnolias to Idaho was just too much fun. Each girl has her own history, tainted by the loss of their mother as small children, the selfishness of a spoiled, rich father, and the love of a black surrogate mother, a woman who raised these delicate blossoms to be the strong women they are today, a woman who has stayed with them long after the money ran out because raising children isn’t about making money… sometimes it’s just absolutely about love. Corrie Satterly loves these girls like they were her own. And for nearly thirty years, they have been.

But money doesn’t buy happiness and each woman comes west as an individual with her own past, hopes and dreams and goals. All are determined that they’ll earn their inheritance, then sell it back to Heath Caufield, wish him well with his sheep and hay and straw and lambs and dogs and horses… and make their way in the world.

When the good Lord has other plans…. and offers other options…. are they gutsy enough to claim a future in the still somewhat wild West? Or will old-fashioned stubbornness trip them up?

Book one releases in six weeks… and then I was invited to do a novella combo with the amazing and wonderful Linda Goodnight… and so readers will get the second bonus story in December, a beautiful story of a widowed Native American woman with her endearing daughter and a rancher whose sad past colors his present and his future… “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” in the duo called “A Cowboy Christmas”! (And I love, love, love Linda Goodnight!)

And then in February the third book releases

Today we’re celebrating this upcoming release with TWO COPIES to give away!

Leave a comment below and tell me what grabs you about reunion romance? Those star-crossed lovers that are pulled apart…. and what bridges the gap to bring them back together?

Not like Romeo and Juliet because they were kind of too dumb for words, weren’t they?

(Sorry, I should not give out negative personal opinions on a world-famous blog… except I did kind of wanna slap ’em both. And their families…)

Clearly this is why I love writing inspirational romance and women’s fiction.

I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS!

Life comes with its own set of sad moments, and while I’m okay with sadness in a book… I long for the couple’s happy ending!

Looking forward to chatting with you all today!

 

 

 

Updated: May 31, 2018 — 3:37 am

Cowboy In The Making Reissued

I’m excited to announce that Harlequin is reissuing my book Cowboy in the Making, along with USA Today bestselling author Angi Morgan’s The Renegade Rancher. If you’re like me and occasionally enjoy having a traditional book to hold, here’s your chance to get two great books in one! Look for Home on the Ranch: Family Ties this July.

In Cowboy in the Making, I wove together two of my favorite themes—tackling career struggles/obstacles and exploring the definition of family. After high school Emma Donovan headed for Nashville, her head filled with dreams of a country music career, but life didn’t go as planned. She returned to Colorado both older  and wiser. A freak accident sends Jamie Westland to his grandfather’s Colorado ranch to clear his head and sort out his life. But Jamie’s grandfather has a plan of his own—to play matchmaker between Jamie and his best friend’s granddaughter Emma by throwing them together any chance he can.

Both these characters have been touched by adoption, but from opposite sides of the issue. They both wonder where they belong, and wonder what it means to be family. What matters more nature or nuture? What makes us who we are and what are the ties that bind us together?

Here’s an excerpt:

Emma decided she was done fighting what she felt for him. She was tired of being strong, focused and directed all the time. More important, she was tired of being alone.

Not that she thought she’d found her soul mate or anything crazy like that. She believed the soul mate thing was as real as Big Foot—but Jamie made her laugh, something she hadn’t done enough of since her mother got sick, and for right now, that was enough. No harm. No foul. That became her motto.

From that night on, she and Jamie went out to eat after rehearsals and talked about whatever came to mind. Music, their childhoods. She learned he’d secretly listened to country music in high school. Sometimes they worked on music and had even started writing some songs together. A couple of times they went hiking or horseback riding. Nothing special, and yet their time together fed her soul.

Now today Emma stood in the parking lot at Stanley Park unloading tables and chairs from the shelter van for the Pet Walk when Jamie pulled up. He’d been such a rock for her when she found out about Andrew. It would have been so easy to fall apart, and she probably would have if it hadn’t been for Jamie.

He got out of Mick’s battered Chevy truck, looking way too good for this early in the morning, wearing one of the shirts he’d bought when they went shopping. As it happened her favorite, the tan-and-brown plaid that matched his coffee-colored eyes.

Before when he was dressed in khakis and a polo shirt, he’d looked… She searched for the right word. Restrained. Reserved. Almost as if he was apart from everyone and everything around him. Now a relaxed air surrounded him. He appeared at ease. Almost as if she was seeing the inner man for the first time. He looked as though he’d been here his entire life. As though he belonged.

She nodded toward his feet. “Good-looking boots.”

“Do I pass muster?”

“You’ll do.”

 

Thanks for stopping by today. Leave a comment and be entered to win the plastic, light-up wineglass from my favorite winery Firelight and a copy of Home on the Ranch:  FamilyTies, perfect for an afternoon on the patio or by the pool.

 

 

 

Updated: May 30, 2018 — 8:14 am

A Source of Inspiration

As much as I’d like to regularly get to travel in the West, I only get to visit every few years. So as a writer of contemporary western romance, I look for inspiration in other ways — movies, TV shows, reading other authors’ books. Another way is by reading magazines that focus on various aspects of the West. For instance, in my book Home on the Ranch, the heroine, Ella Garcia, was inspired by Amie and Jolie Sikes, the sister duo behind the junking and repurposed decor empire known as Junk Gypsy. As I watched their TV show, Ella started to form in my head. I sent Amie and Jolie copies of the book dedicated to them when it came out. They were sweet to write me back and send me a Junk Gypsy mug which I drink out of all the time. So when I saw this copy of Cowgirl magazine with them on the cover, I had to pick it up.

Inside was more inspiration for characters’ style choices, whether it be western clothing or jewelry, furniture for their homes, or the homes themselves, as well as articles about western life. There’s even an article in this issue about a cattle drive in Florida, the Great Florida Cattle Drive.

The same can be said of magazines such as Cowboys & Indians. Plus, who can resist Sam Elliott on the cover, right? In this particular issue from a couple of years ago, Elliott talks about his Netflix show The Ranch. There are also articles about camping across the West, Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho, and Muscogee/Creek artist Joy Harjo. Even the ads have beautiful imagery of expansive Western vistas, gorgeous Western-style homes and decor, Wrangler jeans (known to be worn by cowboys far and wide), and useful information such as the list prices for ranches that are for sale.

Sometimes all it takes is one image to set a writer’s mind down a path that ends up with a completed novel. I’m a visual person, so I’m continually inspired by the things I see — whether in person on on the glossy pages of a magazine.

Do you all enjoy Western-themed magazines? What are some of your favorites?

Updated: May 27, 2018 — 10:57 pm

Linda Ford: John Ware, Gentle Giant & Book Giveaway

Thank you to Petticoats and Pistols for inviting me for a visit. Today I want to share a memory with you.

When I was a child, my father took us to what is now known as Dinosaur Provincial Park which consists of badlands along the Red Deer River south of our home. There he showed us a rough log cabin and said it had been the home of John Ware—a famous Black cowboy. He told us about the cowboy and it sounded so brave and wonderful. Since that day, I have had an interest in this unusual man.

John Ware was born a slave on a South Carolina plantation in 1845. He was freed at the end of the civil war in 1865 and set out to join a Texas cattle drive. John Ware was a big man and strong…by all accounts, a gentle giant. When he was freed he had a debt to settle with the plantation owner. He caught the man and led him to the whipping tree where John and many of his friends and family had endured the wrath of this man. But he set his ex-master free. John preferred peace to violence.

By 1882, he was an experienced cowboy and was hired by the owners of the newly-formed North-West Cattle Company at the Bar U Ranch to drive cattle into Canada. Once the cattle reached the ranch, John was asked to stay on. It seems he ate as much as two men and needed sandwiches as big as Bibles for lunch.

Breaking horses was one of John’s favorite jobs and he was good at it.

One time some cowboys were having trouble with an unruly horse and asked John to help. He got on it and stayed on it as the horse raced toward Oldman River. The horse launched itself over the bank into deep water. Afraid of what had become of John, the cowboys waited until the horse emerged downstream with John still on its back.

Many stories of his feats abound. Like the time the cattle were caught in a snow storm. The cowboys tried to turn them but failed and all returned to the ranch except John. The storm raged for three days before the cowboys could go in search of John and the cows. They found him two days later still with the herd. He had not been dressed for the weather and joked he was afraid to flex his fingers in case they broke of like icicles.

Sometimes John performed feats of strength like straightening a curved hay hook with his bare hands, or lifting a barrel full of water into cart.

John had a dream—to own his own ranch. In 1890 he had built a house on the shores of Sheep Creek. But he wanted a family. He wanted to marry a Black woman and there were few such in Alberta. However, a family moved into the area. He courted Mildred and married her. He was 26 years older than her. They soon had four children.

The land around John and his family was settling up and John didn’t care for that so in 1900 he moved his family to near the Red Deer River. Mildred must have been shocked to see the treeless countryside with its stunted grass and the nearby badlands.

Their sixth child was born there but he was never strong. Mildred never regained her health after the child was born. John rode the train to Calgary to get medicine. Where he returned to Brooks (the nearest station) he had 40 Km to ride to reach home. A storm made it impossible for the horse to make its way so John walked the distance. But sadly, the child, Daniel, died before his 3rd birthday. Later that year Mildred died of pneumonia.

That same year, John and his 11 year old son were cutting out some cattle when John’s favorite horse caught her foot in a badger hold and fell, pinning John beneath. John was killed in that accident.

At his funeral, the pastor described John as “a gentleman with a beautiful skin.” John had not faced much prejudice on the open range though he experienced it in the towns and cities. He was believed to have said that “A good man or a good horse is never a bad color.”

I hope you enjoyed learning about this gentle giant.  Feel free to post comments or ask questions, though I don’t promise to have all the answers.J

I am offering a free digital copy of Temporary Bride to one on those who comments. It is the first in my Dakota Brides series, featuring strong, independent young women who ventured west to Dakota Territory and found not only freedom and independence, but love. Their love, however, came to them in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources.

Wait, there’s more!

Click Here To Sign-Up For Linda’s Newsletter! (and she’ll send you a copy of her book, Cowboy To the Rescue!)

 

Updated: March 26, 2018 — 4:31 pm

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!

 

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