Category: Family

How I Spent My Summer

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Happy Labor Day!

Since I’ve already done a post on Labor Day history and trivia in a previous post (you can read it HERE ), I thought I’d do something a little different this year – take a look back on my summer.

As you may or may not remember, I had foot surgery back in mid-February. It was a long healing process – 12 weeks where I couldn’t let my foot touch the floor and another 2 weeks where I could walk, but only if I wore a medical boot.  This was me at the end of those 14 weeks.

That took me to the end of May. So as summer began I was ready to make up for lost time.  I made a trip to my hairdresser – such a relief to get rid of 4 months worth of shagginess!  Then we made a trip down to my Mom’s – so good to be able to visit with her and some of my siblings again.

It was also in June that my future daughter-in-law invited me to accompany her and her bridesmaids (which included my daughters) to shop for their dresses. The wedding gown she picked is breath taking and the bridesmaids dresses are lovely and I was very happy I got to tag along and be part of the day.

Another thing I was once more able to do was have all my kids and their families over to my house, which is just what we did to celebrate my husband with a Father’s Day family lunch.

The month of June ended with me dogsitting for my daughter’s sweet and frisky Dean while she and her husband went on vacation. Dean made sure that I got my exercise, no matter how hot it was outside!

July was all about the Romance Writers of America national conference – something I look forward to every year. Preparations included getting my notes together for the workshop I was scheduled to present, making sure I was prepared for the board meeting (I’m currently a member of the RWA board), doing a little shopping and getting my hair and nails done.

But I also began to feel that something was still not quite right with my foot. A visit to my doctor three days before my scheduled departure for Denver confirmed my fears. He told me to resume wearing my medical boot and he scheduled a CT scan for the week after I returned.

Determined to find the silver lining, I posted this picture, saying that it had definitely lightened my suitcase to only have to pack left shoes!

Despite having to wear the boot, I had a great time at the conference in Denver.  My agent, the fabulous Michelle Grajkowski, along with her associate Cori Deyoe, invited all their clients who were at the conference to tour the fabulous Molly Brown House Museum with them. The place was a fabulous step back in time and I learned a lot of things I hadn’t previously known about this remarkable woman.

The rest of the conference went equally well. While there were some things I couldn’t do – no dance party for me – I focused on the things I could do.  The workshop Renee Ryan and I presented was well attended and well received. I had opportunities to visit with several editors I’d targeted, my agent and I had a productive career planning session and I was able to meet all of my volunteer obligations. But one of my favorite parts of the conference is getting to spend time with friends, some of whom I only get to see this one time a year. Here are pics of just a few of those friends I reconnected with this year.

Three days after I got home from the conference I was back in the doctor’s office listening to the results of the CT scan. It seems one of the metal screws they inserted in February had shifted and was causing problems that only another surgery could correct. A week later it was done and I was back in a post-op cast with strict instructions not to let my right foot so much as touch the floor. This time I was a little more prepared for the process, but cabin fever is what it is. The only time I get out of the house these days is to visit the doctor. On the bright side, I’m enjoying being able to being able to do a lot more reading guilt free 🙂

Since my surgery I’ve gone through two more casts.  The doctor lets me pick my cast color so I tend to pick colors that make me happy.  I think my next one will be a bright blue 🙂

 

However, there was a wedding shower scheduled for my son and his fiancee down at my Mom’s (a 5 hour drive from me) that I was determined not to miss. So my three daughters agreed to drive me down in my van and get me there.  It meant packing up my wheelchair, knee scooter and assorted other paraphenalia, and setting up the van so I could sit with my foot propped off the floor for the entire trip.  Here’s what the back of my van looked like for an overnight trip.

But it was well worth it!  The shower was lovely, the guests were all family so it was great having a chance to visit. Here’s a picture of the happy couple along with the cake my very talented sister made for them.

So that was what my summer was like.

How about you? Did you take a fun vacation or stay-cation? Have any memorable moments? 

Leave a comment and I’ll pick one person to win their chice of any book in my backlist.

Updated: September 2, 2018 — 6:32 pm

Good Gravy By Crystal L Barnes

Howdy y’all! Thanks for having me back on Petticoats and Pistols. It’s always a treat. And speaking of treats…when was the last time you treated yourself to some good old-fashioned home cooking? I’m talking Texas-style comfort food, y’all. Steak and taters. Sausage gravy and homemade biscuits. Black-eyed peas and cornbread. Mmmmm…I think I’m getting hungry. 🙂

If you haven’t figured it out, I love to cook and bake (just not clean—praise God for dishwashers!). Like many of the characters you’ll find in my historical western romances or other old-time westerns, I was reared, for the most part, on what my family grew, raised, or hunted. Pretty much still am. In my kitchen you’ll find anything from venison to home-grown chicken to home-canned veggies and fruit preserves. Through the years my table and taste buds have enjoyed rabbit, squirrel, wild hog, and even steers from our pasture, to name a few.

                                  

I love to intermingle these types of tidbits into my stories, and I thought some of you authors and history lovers, who don’t delve into these delicacies 😉 often, would enjoy a few fun facts about this type of down-home cooking.

For example, did you know…?

  • A squirrel is all dark meat and tastes a lot like chicken. They are very lean, but go great with dumplings.
  • A rabbit is all white meat. 🙂 Just don’t eat one in a month without an R in the name. (I can tell you why from my dad’s personal experience, but I don’t want to test those with weak stomachs.)
    • In my family, we joke when we eat rabbit and say we’re having “furry chicken.” My favorite is BBQ rabbit. Only don’t smoke them on the pit too long or they’ll be like eating cotton-candy bunny—it practically dissolves in your mouth.
  • When cleaned properly—if no one punctures a scent gland—deer meat actually does not taste gamey. If a scent gland does get hit/cut, you can soak the meat in salt water to remove the gamey smell and taste. Venison is leaner than beef and higher in iron too. (It’s my favorite! 🙂 )

Now that I’ve shared a few tidbits, why don’t you take a turn? What unique or country-style dishes have you eaten? What is your favorite comfort food? Were any of these tidbits news to you? Leave a comment and let me know.

I’ll be giving away a FREE copy (ebook or paperback) of one of my stories to one of this post’s commenters, and I’ll give a second FREE copy (ebook or paperback) to the first person that correctly answers the following question.

What is the most integral ingredient in any country-cooking kitchen?
(I rarely cook a meal without it.)

Winners may select one of the following titles:
(Paperback for contiguous US winners only.)

 

 

An award-winning author, bona fide country girl, and former gymnast,  Crystal L Barnes tells stories of fun, faith, and friction that allow her to share her love of Texas, old-fashioned things, and the Lord—not necessarily in that order. When she’s not writing, reading, or singing, Crystal enjoys exploring on road-trips, spending time with family, and watching old movies/sitcoms. I Love Lucy and Little House on the Prairie are two of her favorites. You can find out more and connect with Crystal at http://www.crystal-barnes.com

Find her also on her blog, the Stitches Thru Time group blog, her Amazon Author Page, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, or her Facebook Author page.

Want to be notified of her latest releases and other fun tidbits? Subscribe to her newsletter.

 

 

 

Updated: August 17, 2018 — 8:26 am

When Good People Make Bad Mistakes by Laura Drake

 

‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.

– Al Franken

I’m fascinated by what makes good people make horrible decisions. I mean, we’re all doing the best we can, given what we know at the time, right? I explore this theme in a lot of my books, but never more than in my December release, The Last True Cowboy.

Carly Beauchamp has loved cowboy Austin Davis since first grade. Ask anyone in their dusty, backwater New Mexico town of Unforgiven, and they’ll say, “Carly and Austin” the way some say, “big trucks and country boys.” But after years of waiting for a wedding ring, Carly’s done with being a rodeo widow. She dumps Austin (again), but after a month she’s a pressure cooker, ready to blow. She heads to Albuquerque, where she’s not half of the C&A franchise. No heartbroken, “poor Carly.” Just an anonymous chick in a generic country bar. There she meets a man with ice blue eyes in biker leathers. They have nothing in common—except heartbreak. They pour out their pain while pouring the booze.

Horror hits when Carly wakes alone, but vaguely remembers she didn’t go to sleep that way. She calls around, to find that her mystery man never existed. He lied. About his name, his job . . . everything. She takes a morning after pill and goes home, determined to put this huge mistake in the rear view mirror. And she manages—more or less—until the doctor confirms her pregnancy.

Austin never meant to put his career on the circuit before Carly. She’s always been his future, his one and only. But now that she’s moved on, he’s beginning to see where he went wrong, and he’ll do anything to win her back. The only thing is, Carly’s suddenly acting differently, and she’s definitely hiding a secret—one that will test the depth of their love and open up a whole new world of possibilities.

So what do you think, P&P readers? Have you ever made a mistake that seemed like a good idea at the time?

Laura is away print copies of Nothing Sweeter and Sweet on You to one lucky winner picked at random from those who leave a comment.

Buy Laura Drake’s books here. 

Heart and soul. Cowboys and rodeos. Laura Drake has the amazing ability to give you all of it and leave you wanting more at the end.” Carolyn Brown, NY Times bestselling author

“Brilliant writing, just brilliant”–NYT bestselling author, Lori Wilde

 

 

Updated: July 31, 2018 — 10:26 am

Ballet, ballet, ballet

Good Morning!

Thought I’d take a little liberty and post a few pictures of family and our beautiful ballerina.  End of school, summer vacation sometimes brings on recitals, and so I thought I’d share these with you today.

I’ll start with some photos from last Christmas.

 

I love both of these pictures so very much.

Now we had quite a few snowstorms this year — and a not inconsiderable amount of snow fallen.  Inches and inches.

The next photo was taken during one of those snowstorms — you can see the accumulation, can’t you?  I think by the time it was finished, it was about 15 inches.

My husband and our dog are out there shoveling that snow. 

Off to the right here is the ballerina and her half-sister, my step-granddaughter.  So beautiful.

The next photo — off to the left — is my daughter and the ballerina, coming out to receive all the flowers and say hello to us all.

Next picture is from left to right: Grandma, my daughter and of course the ballerina.

Wonderful.

And the next photo off to the right,, and below, are the girls and one boy.

 

This last photo is from Memorial Day.  Hubby and I went out to hike and see some waterfalls and enjoy the day where we all celebrate and give honor to those who gave all they had to give for their country and for all of us Americans.

What did you do for Memorial Day?

Although I’m going to be giving away a free e-book to some lucky blogger, I must tell you that the recently passed regulations in the UK makes me hesitate — at least until I learn a little bit more about it.  Let me reiterate here that off to the left are the Give-Away Guidelines — if you haven’t already read them, please do so at your earliest convenience.  Let me state a couple of them that are important:  the give-away applies to those living in the USA only; also, one must be 18 years or older to be a winner.  Another that sometimes gets overlooked is that we do depend on your coming to the blog within a couple of days to see if you have won.  Often we authors work more than one job, and so this consideration helps us a lot.

Also, on my own website, I have a new privacy disclosure in order to comply as best we can with the new regulations from the UK.  Here is the link:

http://novels-by-karenkay.com/privacy-policy

The new book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, is almost ready for release.  It is currently in its third round of edits — so soon…(knock on wood).

Do come on in and leave a message — I read them all and I answer them all as best I can — sometimes I can’t read them until the next day, but I do read them all.  Join me again on Tuesday in two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: June 4, 2018 — 1:49 pm

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

The Birth of Kasota Springs

Hurrah, hallelujah, excited, hyped, and every synonym that describes my feelings about this being my release date for my newest Kasota Springs Romance Out of a Texas Night. Although Kensington labeled this book as a romance series based on my original proposal, it’s more than a romance. It’s packed full with some suspense and two mystery threads.  You can’t do a story between two deputies with the Bonita County Sheriff’s Department out of Kasota Springs, without there being bad guys involved. I had initially planned on one mystery with a red herring, but the more I wrote the more legal ease entered into my story. It’s partly because I worked in the legal field, plus took a fantastic week-long class on law enforcement at the Jodi Thomas West Texas A&M’s writers academy.  So, thanks to Matt Sherly for his hard work and insight that made my characters do a lot of switcheroos, without my knowing it!  And for a non-writer, I bet you’re scratching your head wondering how characters who are roaming around in my brain can do stuff without me knowing it. But, it’s true. I was as surprised towards the end, as hopefully, my readers will be.

Here’s a little background on Kasota Springs, in the Texas Panhandle.

In one of our anthologies, we needed the name of a fictional town for all four of our stories.  I was coming back from a trip and within a few miles of Amarillo right before my eyes the Kasota railroad crossing sign jumped out at me. That was the choice all four of us agreed upon for our 1890 Fourth of July anthology, Give Me a Cowboy.

I used the town in A Texas Christmas, which hit New York Times and USA Today. In Give Me A Cowboy fellow Filly Linda Broday and I used a mother and daughter team as our heroines. Tempest LeDoux and Alaine LeDoux are a handful. I introduced Aunt Edwinna Dewey in my Christmas story.

By now, you might be wondering how does all of this go with a contemporary romance story.  When I began writing contemporary western romances, Linda was kind enough to let me use her character, Tempest LeDoux, for the lineage of one of my characters Sylvie LeDoux. Just an FYI, Sylvie LeDoux, who owns the antique store, is my heroine in my next book, and falls victim to a scam.

As my characters developed in my first contemporary The Tycoon and the Texan ends up in Kasota Springs, I thought there’d be a lineage back to the town’s founding fathers, just like it is in most older towns.  Sure enough they began coming out.  Today’s release, Out of a Texas Night, has a lineage of three to five generation from the Humphrey’s, Teg Tegler, to Granny Johnson and Lola Ruth Hicks. I couldn’t get rid of them because they are the glue that keeps the Jacks Bluff running; plus, Granny Johnson is named for my own Granny and Lola Ruth comes from my mother and mother-in-law. Plus, in each contemporary story I always have the recipe that Lola Ruth makes.

In my opinion, the blub on the cover written by Kensington should be enough to draw anybody into Out of a Texas Night. “Everything’s bigger in Texas…including love!  …  but one kiss from Brody VanZant is enough to make … Avery Humphrey …  trade soothing to sizzling…”

And, if that’s not enough, here’s the opening to Out of a Texas Night.

Chapter 1

Kasota Springs, Texas

Spring Festival 2015

Avery Danielle Humphrey shaded her eyes from the stark white sunlight with her lace trimmed, large brimmed bonnet. She watched thirty or so Texas longhorns, with horns as wide as the length of her bed, strut down North Main Street flanked by cowboys from the surrounding ranches.

     She took a step to the side. Forgetting to pick up her big hoop skirt, she nearly tripped. She couldn’t help but wonder how in the world Southern belles wore such garbs without falling head over teakettle. No wonder they walked slow, didn’t look down and had such a measured, Southern drawl from holding their breath.  They were praying they didn’t fall.

I hope I gave you all a nugget or two, making you want to buy either the eBook or trade size book from your favorite retailer.  I hope you’ll leave a review after you read it.

I have two questions. First, do you like stories where there are recurring characters with new ones added?  Second, do you typically leave a review on a purchase site, if you like the book?

Since today is a special day for me, to ten lucky readers who leaves a comment, I’m giving an several gifts, including two autographed trade size books, six eBooks, and two Bath and Body Works Gift Cards.

 

Updated: May 28, 2018 — 8:24 pm

Christmas Came Just the Same–Imperfections and All!

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!

Updated: January 3, 2018 — 9:00 am

Life is Tough. Read Romance.

Why do I write romance? I haven’t been asked that question as much as I expected, but there’s a simple answer. Life is tough.

I’m sitting at Starbucks staring out the window at the gray, misty world around me, and realize the weather matches my mood. As usual, life and my procrastination means I’m writing this closer to my deadline than I’d hoped, and recent events are weighing heavy on my mind and my heart.

Yup, life is darn tough. Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, et al have wreaked havoc with people’s lives. While those natural disasters are devastating, what truly tears at my heart is what destruction we inflict on each other. When did we get to the point where so many people believe the answer to their problems is violence against their fellow man? Someone cuts you off on my highway? Pull out a gun and shoot ‘em. Gone is a girl about to be a college freshman, along with all the good she could have done in the world. Something not right in your life? Take an arsenal with you to a Las Vegas hotel room and kill fifty-nine people who’ve done absolutely nothing to you. My heart breaks for the lives lost and those irreversibly changed because of the violence we perpetrate on each other.

Which brings me back to why I write romance. When I read, I don’t want to come away depressed. Life has a way of doing that on its own. The lyrics to Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” have run through my head since his death on the heels of the Vegas tragedy. “No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around. And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.” I write romance for the same reason I read it—to keep the world from draggin’ me down.

In my books my characters have been knocked around by life. In To Love A Texas Cowboy, when Cassie’s sister and brother-in-law are killed in a plane crash, she moves from New York to Texas because she become guardian to her niece. In Roping the Rancher, Colt, a single father to a teenage girl who’s left the military, struggles to find purpose and meaning in his life.

I write about characters discovering a strength they never knew they possessed and receiving help when they least expect it, but need it the most. Themes of finding an untraditional family when theirs has failed them time and time again run through my stories. Good always triumphs. The bad guys always get what they deserve in true Western fashion. My characters face life’s difficulties, but receive the reward for facing them and getting through the dark tunnel. At the end they find love, strength and happiness.

So that’s why I write romance—because life is tough. I hope when people read my books they escaped for a little while, and maybe they are filled with hope that they too, can find their happy ending.

Comment and let me know why you read romance to be entered in the drawing to win a Texas Starbucks mug, a gift card and either Roping the Rancher or To Love a Texas Cowboy.

 

Updated: October 3, 2017 — 7:58 pm

My Favorite Small Town Getaway

Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!

I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.

The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.

The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.

Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.

I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.

I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.

 

 

Ranches, Horses and Cowboys, Oh My!

Lately I’ve wondered how an Iowa city girl ended up writing romances with cowboy heroes. Or, I’ve wondered about the reasons other than the obvious—that cowboys are incredibly sexy. For my first official blog as a filly at Petticoats and Pistols, I’m sharing what fascinates me about cowboys.

For me, a cowboy isn’t as much about the occupation as the state of mind and attitude. Sure when I think of a cowboy, I see a man in form fitting Levi’s or Wranglers. I see dusty, worn cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but it’s more than that, too. There’s something about the way he moves in a slow, yet deliberate way, that says he’ll take his time with what matters in life. If you’ve seen Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride, you know what I mean. If not, watch it now. I’ll wait.

Now that we’re done drooling over Scott, back to the topic at hand. Cowboys have a connection to the land that goes deeper than most people’s. That taps into my love of my grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa. I spent hours wandering over that land spinning stories and imaging my life living on a similar place. Writing about my heroes and heroines strolling over their land or walking along Wishing’s streets fill me with the same warm affection. That intense bond with the ZSAER%^land was a big inspiration behind my Wishing, Texas series. For those heroes, their link Ty Barnett’s ranch, The Bar 7 and each other anchor their lives.

As to a cowboy’s attitude and mind-set—people see him as a loner, and he is, but I also see his strong tie to family. Family, however he defines it, is allowed past his guard. When I wrote my first novel for Harlequin, I wanted my hero so desperate for money he’d model in New York. But I wanted something different. What does a cowboy love more than his ranch and horse? His mama. That one detail told me everything I needed to know about my hero.

A cowboy has a sense of honor that factors into every decision. In my first Wishing, Texas book, To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s world is turned upside down because of a promise to a friend. One he’ll keep even if it means dealing with Cassie Reynolds. This unwavering honor paired with a good dose of Alpha male, makes writing stories with cowboy heroes fun when I turn the tables on them. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, AJ Quinn’s sick of hearing “let’s just be friends” from women. Poor cowboy. I had a blast torturing AJ giving him what he asked, but not what he bargained for, in New Yorker Grace Henry.

For me, these characteristics make cowboys fascinating, and oh so hero-worthy. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what it about cowboys makes you swoon or say that’s a hero?

I’m giving away a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a wine glass. Post a comment to enter.

 

Updated: August 1, 2017 — 8:54 am
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