Category: Guest Author

Welcome Guest – Karen Kirst

CHRISTMAS AND ROMANCE GO HAND IN HAND

There’s something magical about falling in love at Christmas. When I write Christmas romances, I strive to inject special touches that bring the holiday spirit alive for the reader. A Lawman for Christmas is my fifteenth book for Love Inspired Historical and the final installment of my long-running Smoky Mountain Matches series. While secrets abound, as well as a mystery that isn’t solved until the end, I tried to weave in elements that celebrated the season. My hero and heroine—the town flirt and an avowed spinster—join other young people for a ride through Gatlinburg’s mountains on a crisp December night, serenading local farmers in exchange for hot spiced cider. What could be more romantic than cozying up to a handsome deputy in a hay-strewn wagon bed, singing Christmas carols together beneath a canopy of stars?

Once a lost little boy is introduced into the story, there are many opportunities for traditional holiday past times. Baking cookies, sipping on cinnamon-laced hot cocoa, riding into the mountains in search of evergreen boughs. I enjoyed describing the characters making pomanders, which are oranges and apples decorated with cloves, cinnamon and other spices. I could almost smell the fragrant fruit.

One particular winter scene consisted of snow before Christmas—not common in this area of East Tennessee, but hey, it’s my story—and an injured little boy longing to go outside and play. Like a true hero, Deputy Ben fills a copper basin with snow and brings it inside. He and Eli make miniature snowmen together, a kind act that thaws Isabel’s heart.

There are gifts exchanged and of course, mistletoe. A holiday story time for the children, followed by sweet treats to delight young and old. A Christmas Eve pageant that celebrates the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the true reason for the season. I hope that I succeeded in imbuing the story with the joy, goodwill and hope that characterizes the holidays.

The Gift of Family 

Committed to her spinsterhood, Isabel Flores isn’t about to trust a man with her hard-won independence or her heart—especially not lawman Ben MacGregor. But when a little boy is abandoned on her property, the so-called “Debonair Deputy” of their small Tennessee town helps her care for the child. And Isabel begins to hope he might be more than just a handsome flirt.

Ben is well aware of Isabel’s aversion to love and has his own secret reasons for avoiding relationships. But as he and Isabel do their best to make the holiday special for their young ward, Ben wonders if he could be a family man after all. Will this Christmas be the first of many for Isabel and Ben’s little instant family?

*****

Karen is giving away one copy of A Lawman for Christmas. For a chance to win, leave a comment about what you like best about Christmas romances.

Oh, there are so many things . . .

Welcome Guest – Erica Vetsch!!!

Are you anticipating Christmas yet? Only about six weeks to go. (I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but…Christmas!!)

This month, my newest novel, A Child’s Christmas Wish released. This story is set in the pioneer town of Berne, Minnesota, and the characters are immigrants from Switzerland. And if anyone knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s the Swiss. Even in the harsh realities of frontier living, they found a way to celebrate the joys of the season.

One of the Swiss Christmas traditions I found most interesting was the widespread use of Advent Calendars. Swiss parents use Advent Calendars to teach their children patience and anticipation in equal measure. They want their children to learn that anticipating an event can heighten the joy of its arrival.

Swiss Advent calendars can take many forms from opening a little window to reveal the day to lighting a new candle each night to building a Christmas train, adding a car each day.

In fact, in some Swiss villages, the whole town becomes an Advent Calendar. Each evening beginning on the first of December, a different citizen hosts the day’s Advent party by decorating and opening one of the ground-floor windows of their home. Hot drinks and treats are served through the window to their friends and neighbors, carols are sung, and much fun is had by all. The next night, it is someone else’s turn to host.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to bring a neighborhood together?

I love that so many of these traditions were brought to this country by immigrants brave enough to strike out for the New World, bringing the best of the Old World with them as they traveled.

Questions for you:

  1. Do you have any Christmas Traditions based upon your family’s origins?
  2. Do you have a special Christmas recipe that you only bring out during the holidays?
  3. Do you use an Advent Calendar?

Answer any or all of these questions in the comments to be entered to win a copy of A Child’s Christmas Wish.

About the book:

A Baby for Christmas The only Christmas gift Oscar Rabb’s four-year-old daughter prays for is one the widower can’t provide: a baby sibling. And when his neighbor’s house burns down, he’s willing to open his home to pregnant and widowed Kate Amaker and her in-laws—but not his heart. Even if his little girl’s convinced Kate’s unborn child is the answer to her wish.

Kate quickly sees the generous but aloof Oscar has little interest in growing closer to his houseguests. Still, she intends to make the coming Christmas a season to remember for his daughter. And as Oscar starts to open up to her, Kate can’t help picturing just how wonderful the holidays—and a future together—might be.

About the author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

Welcome Guest – Keli Gwyn

 

When—and Where—Leland Stanford Hit the Mother Lode

You might be familiar with the name Leland Stanford, founder of Leland Stanford Junior University. Perhaps you know that Stanford, Sr. was one of the “Big Four” who founded the Central Pacific Railroad, part of the transcontinental railroad that linked east and west. As a native Californian, I also know that Stanford was one of the Golden State’s early governors.

Leland Stanford as a young man

What I didn’t know is where Stanford got the money that funded his many ventures. Well, I didn’t, that is, until I wrote my final Love Inspired Historical, Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which releases this month. My research provided the answer.

Stanford passed his bar exam in 1848 and left his native New York for Wisconsin, where he practiced law for three years. In 1852, he headed west to California, where his brothers had opened a shop for miners in Cold Springs, just down the road from where I worship today at Cold Springs Community Church. Although that shop didn’t do well, the Stanford brothers did end up making a good deal of money selling supplies to miners.

Leland Stanford later in life

In 1859, Leland Stanford took the Union Mine in the town of Sutter Creek as payment for a customer’s debt, renaming it the Lincoln Mine. He was ready to write the mine off as a loss, but Robert Downs, the mine foreman, persuaded Stanford to give the mine one last chance.

Listening to Downs was one of the wisest moves Stanford made. Within a year, a major vein of ore was tapped, and the Lincoln Mine began to produce. Between 1860 and 1873, over $2.2 million in gold was taken out. Stanford eventually sold his interests for $400,000.

Sutter Creek 1853

Stanford used his proceeds from his Sutter Creek mining endeavor to help fund the Central Pacific Railroad, which contributed even more to his growing wealth. He went on to become the first Republican governor of California and serve as a U.S. Senator. As mentioned earlier, he and his wife founded Leland Stanford Junior University, where my retired teacher husband earned his Master’s in Education.

Discovering Stanford’s ties to the small Gold Rush town of Sutter Creek was a wonderful surprise. I enjoyed working this historic figure into Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which is set there.

Sutter Creek Main St west

This story will be my last because I’m retiring from writing so I can spend more time with my great guy. The first big adventure my husband and I embarked on after I turned in my final edits was to take a road trip to Colorado. We saw some great places on the way there and back. I foresee more trips in my future.

I have two copies of the book to offer as a prize. To enter the giveaway, which runs through November 4, answer one of the following questions in a comment.

  • If you retired, what would be one of your first adventures?
  • If you’re already retired, what was your first major undertaking?

.

A Christmas Match 

The best Christmas possible—that’s what Lavinia Crowne intends to provide before taking her orphaned nieces and nephew home to Philadelphia. But carrying out her plan may be harder than she expects, with their handsome, stubborn uncle, Henry Hawthorn, insisting on raising the children in rough-and-tumble Sutter Creek, California. Lavinia can’t bear to lose her late sister’s children, though, or go against her father’s demand to bring them home.

Henry believes his nieces and nephew need affection and security more than a lavish lifestyle. But as the children conspire to bring their aunt and uncle together, a new vision fills his head—of future Christmases spent with sweet, determined Lavinia and their growing family. Can three little matchmakers, and the spirit of the season, bring the gift of a very happy beginning?

Welcome Lena Nelson Dooley

It’s with a great deal of pleasure that we welcome back to the Junction, our week-end guest blogger. Lena Nelson Dooley, who will share with you the story behind the story and her research for A Heart’s Gift!

Love the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My first trip to Colorado was in October of 2004, and that’s when I fell in love. I taught a retreat at Silverthorne in Summit County, not far from the Continental Divide. I was mesmerized by the beautiful mountains. The weather turned really cold, and a light snowfall dusted the higher slopes that I could see from the windows of the house where the retreat was held.

If the person I was talking to was between me and the wall of windows, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on that person. The mountains kept pulling my attention away. Breathtaking isn’t a strong enough word for what I saw when my eyes wandered. I decided that I wanted to set a book in Summit County. While I was in Summit County the first time, I bought a book about the history of the area.

A Heart’s Gift came out in December of 2016. When I write, I work hard to make the book authentic to the time period, which was 1893. Silverthorne wasn’t even a town at that time, but lots of both silver and gold mines were located in Summit County. Some small and owned by individual miners. Some had been bought by mining companies and were large enterprises. In addition to the book I bought when I was there, I also looked on Amazon for any historical books. There are at least two series of books that contain not only information, but also actual photographs taken in different time periods.

A treasure trove of details is available online and in books. I used a lot of them to recreate the area in 1893. I bought the Images of America book of photos in Summit County. These included photos of Breckenridge, which was a thriving town with mines and cattle ranches close by. I learned a lot about the area, and I was able to actually visualize the town and surrounding area.

Of course, the characters in my novel and the ranch are completely fictitious. Here are a few of the things that are authentic:

  • Capital Bank of Denver
  • Details about a cattle drive
  • Shipping cattle by rail to Swift slaughter house in Chicago
  • The baby furniture, the high chair and the cradle (I found these in a historical Sears catalogue I already had)
  • The Ladies’ Book Club in Breckenridge
  • The Arlington Hotel (but I fictionalized the owner and the special suite for mine owners)
  • The Breckenridge Bakery on Lincoln Street that actually did make cream puffs at that time
  • Vaudeville show – The Face on the Barroom Floor
  • Stamp mills, throbbing beat
  • Ladies spent a lot of money on hats

As a reader, I love when there are authentic details in books. I think most other readers do, too. That’s why I do so much research. I want readers like you to get a real picture of the history of the time when my books take place. I’ve written a lot of western historical novels.

I’d love for us to chat some, so I’m going to ask you some questions to get us started.

Do you as a reader like to know that the historical details are authentic? 

What time period do you prefer reading about? 

Who is your favorite western author?

A Heart’s Gift received the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Award for long historicals. I will be giving away one Kindle copy of the book. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a Free copy of Kindle for Apple (computers), Kindle for PC, Kindle for tablets, or Kindle for Android phones where you can read the book.

 

Buy links:

Print – http://ow.ly/X7HK30fC0IV

Kindle – http://ow.ly/Qyth30fC0Ym

 

Shelley Shepard Gray: The Story Behind The Book

We’re very happy to welcome Shelley Shepard Gray to the corral for a visit. She’s going to give us an interesting overview and the background of her newest book Love Held Captive

 

Every so often, I come across something while doing research that surprises me. Discovering that there was a Confederate Officer POW camp on Johnson Island, in the middle of Lake Erie, was one of those things!

Months before that discovery, I had been making dinner with my husband and told him about my idea for a series. I wanted to focus on a band of brothers who made a vow to be there for each other after the War Between the States. One idea led to another, and by the time we sat down to eat, I had the outline for a three book series.  The leader of this group was Captain Devin Monroe. I knew he was going to be the heart and the soul of this group of men. So well respected, he was almost larger than life. All of that was good. I just couldn’t figure out how the men had formed their bond. I came up with several scenarios, covering everything from being neighbors to meeting during basic training, to forming a bond during specific battles.

Then I discovered the POW camp on Johnson’s Island. During my research, I read one thing that stuck with me-that the best of the Confederacy was being guarded by the worst the Union had. I learned that these officers were carted up to Sandusky, Ohio by train and marched across the ice to Johnson’s Island. Then, these generals and captains and first lieutenants were essentially left to govern themselves. They made gardens, they whittled, and they cared for each other. One group of men even wrote a play. I knew right then and there that I had my men’s bonding experience!

Of course, no matter how much it differed from other encampments, it was still a POW camp. Dozens of men died while being incarcerated and the officers buried them on the island. When the war ended, groups from several southern states raised funds so the men would have tombstones. The cemetery is still there.

Right before I began writing the first book in the series, my husband and I drove up to Sandusky and visited a Veterans Home. A kind gentlemen took us up to the third floor of the museum there and showed us the many artifacts that remained from the camp. Then, after a few wrong turns and more than a couple dead ends, we finally found the Confederate cemetery. The site of it took my breath away.

People ask all the time how much research I feel I need to do for my historicals. For me, the story and the characters always come first…but the experience of actually being where my characters might have walked? Well, for me, it was priceless.

Love Held Captive is the last book in my Lone Star Hero’s Love Story series. It features both Captain Devin Monroe’s and Major Ethan Kelly’s stories. It takes place in San Antonio at the Menger Hotel and on Johnson’s Island. At its heart, it’s a romance about two men and two women who truly deserve their happiness. But it’s also about perseverance and grit. And about surviving, forging friendships, and clinging to hope in even the darkest of circumstances.  I hope you will enjoy the book.

Here’s the link to the website, so you can get a copy in your favorite format.

http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com/love-held-captive/

We are very pleased that Shelley is giving one reader, who leaves a comment,

a boxed set of her series.

A Christmas Affair

We’re happy to welcome back fan favorite Jodi Thomas today, here to talk about a bit of Christmas romance.

I know we’re only starting fall. I haven’t even gotten my Halloween decorations out, BUT in the book world it’s time to start collecting all those wonderful Christmas stories we all love to read.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t curl up with a few stories. In all the rush of planning, decorating and cooking, I love also taking time to read.

So last winter, just after I put away the decorations, I stepped into fiction. While I’d been writing Indigo Lake, I wanted Maria to have her story.

Sometimes characters come alive and for me. Maria came into my study, sat down and said she wanted to have a wild affair. She’d been too busy when she was in her early twenties and building a business; then after the accident that left her blind, she withdrew from the world. Now, she decides she wants the shy store owner who stocks her famous jams and jellies.

Only problem is Wes Whitman doesn’t want an affair. He’s watched over her for years. He wants forever.

I hope my story, A Christmas Affair, will make you smile this Christmas.

An early story folks around the Panhandle of Texas remember always makes me smile so I thought I’d share a bit of history.

Family stories

In the late 1800s on the flat land of the Panhandle a rancher let his four daughters talk him into having a Christmas party. The women baked for days and decorated not only the house, but the barn as well. The rancher hired a fiddler and invited families who lived nearby, and any cowboy who wanted to ride in was welcome.

Legend is they came from as far away a Lubbock and Liberal. The rancher put them all up in the barn.

Christmas Eve it started to snow so most spent the night, but the next morning the weather was worse. The company stayed almost a week, eating the rancher out of his stores of food for the rest of the winter. The fiddler played until he passed out, then folks took turns singing so the dancing in the parlor never stopped.

The rancher didn’t mind the company. All four of his daughters were engaged before the New Year came and the snow melted enough for all the company to go home.

Updated: September 26, 2017 — 1:27 pm

The History of the Harvey Girls

Today’s special guest is Rhonda Gibson, here to talk to us about her latest interesting book research about the Harvey Girls and her newest book releases. Welcome, Rhonda!

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger here at Petticoats and Pistols! I love coming here and sharing my latest research efforts. Right now I am devouring all information on the Harvey Girls.

I’ve been a fan of the Harvey Girls for many years. Come next year, I will have a Harvey Girl novella released by Winged Publications. As you can imagine, I have been reading up a storm about these outstanding women who helped shape the West.

From the late 1800s to the mid-1950s Harvey House restaurants and dining rooms upheld their tradition of quality food, high standards of service, and reasonable prices. The Harvey Girls served weary travelers gourmet meals in thirty minutes. Some served in restaurants, others in lunchrooms. All donned the standard uniform of black or white starched skirt, high-collared blouse, with a bib and apron. They served their patrons with practiced precision and polished etiquette.

Each patron would tell their waitress whether they preferred coffee, hot tea, iced tea or milk. The cup code enabled their choice to be served quickly. If the waitress left the cup right side up in its saucer, that meant coffee. Upside down meant hot tea. Upside down, but tilted against the saucer meant iced tea. Upside down, away from the saucer meant milk. Patrons who changed the positions of their cups risked getting the wrong drink.

The advertisement for “young women 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent” as waitresses in Harvey Eating Houses on the Santa Fe Railroad in the West is legendary. Their contribution to the growth of the American West is preserved in poetry, song, and film. The humorist, Will Rogers, observed that the Harvey Houses kept the West in food and wives.

From a variety of backgrounds, many of them supported parents and siblings back home on $17.50 in wages plus tips, while they carved out a future for themselves. They also received free room, board, clean uniforms, and a train pass to their training facility. Your family tree may have a Harvey Girl among its branches.

Right now, the Harvey Girls novella is in research mode but I do have two new books out this month, Pony Express Special Delivery and The Cowboy’s Way. I am giving away a copy of Pony Express Special Delivery, so leave a comment either about the Harvey Girls or the Pony Express for a chance to win.

Updated: September 21, 2017 — 2:33 pm

Return to Oregon’s Past with Tracie Peterson

We Fillies are thrilled to have author Tracie Peterson with us today to talk about another of her wonderful books and a fascinating slice of Oregon history. Welcome, Tracie!

The last book in my Heart of the Frontier series, Cherished Mercy, debuts this month, and I found myself revisiting research that I did for this series and in particular for this final installment. Cherished Mercy takes place in the Oregon Territory, as did the other books in the series.

However, most of the area where Cherished Mercy takes place is in the Rogue River and coastal area of Southern Oregon. To research the area, I took a trip to the Rogue River, enjoyed a wonderful river tour and took lots of notes and pictures. I read various books about the Rogue River Indians and the conflicts that took place there during the 1850s. After starting the series with the Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington, I thought it interesting to contrast the end of the series with the attacks of the whites on many of the various Native American tribes in the Rogue River area.

The Rogue River is a fertile, lush area that provided not only fishing for the native peoples, but also revealed a bit of gold which caused the white settlers to pursue the area in hopes of finding riches. As is often the case, this didn’t prove as bountiful as the miners had hoped. However, it turned up the heat on the already tense relationship between the native tribes and the whites.

There were multiple tribes who called the Rogue River home, but people tended to lump them together as the “Rogue River Indians.” I chose to deal with the Takelma who lived on the Rogue River near Agness.

You can see from this map, however, that there were many tribes that lived along the Rogue River.

The Takelma were an interesting people, not so unlike many of their neighboring tribes. They lived in houses that were dug about halfway into the ground and made of split sugar-pine wood.  Here’s an illustration showing how the natives in this area lived. Often, we think of Native Americans and teepees come to mind, but there were so many different varieties of housing.

Acorns were of immense importance to the Takelma. They used these as a staple in their eating and made flour from them. Camass root and fish were also staples of their diet, but manzanita berries were an all-time favorite.  I did my best to weave in elements of their life and culture in Cherished Mercy.

Sadly, the Rogue River Indian Wars saw our government make big pushes toward the forced reservation system for the American Indian tribes. The Rogue River tribes were moved from a lush forested area along the river where they had fertile soil and plenty of game and fish to live on to an arid, open area of Oregon that was nothing like what they had known. It was called “The Second Trail of Tears.” Thousands would later die of disease, exposure and malnutrition.  It’s a sad time in our history.

I hope my readers will enjoy the conclusion of the series. I’ve loved this little corner of history and I’ll share a secret. I’m already thinking about a second related series dealing with the next generation from these families. I think it’s important that we learn from our history, but also that we cherish and honor it. Every element is important to who we are today and through stories like this, I hope to keep that history alive.

Tracie is offering a great prize to one of today’s commenters. The gift basket contains not only all three books in her Heart of the Frontier series but also some awesome Montana goodies.

Updated: September 12, 2017 — 3:36 pm

WHAT IS IT ABOUT A HERO? by TRACY GARRETT

Dear Readers,

 

What is it about the heroes we write that keeps you coming back for more? Cowboys, ranchers, Texas Rangers, Sheriffs, Marshals…

Today we remember many, many real-life heroes who sacrificed so much to save so many lives. Sixteen years ago, I was enjoying my first cup of coffee when my phone rang with the news that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. I didn’t believe it, at first. Remembering the events of that day still feel a bit surreal.

 

 

And the stories that came out in the days that followed of a friend who was running late for his meeting at the top of the Twin Towers and was climbing out of a cab as the first plane hit; of a friend’s daughter who missed her usual train because the baby was fussy and emerged into the aftermath; of another one’s son who, though he didn’t drink coffee, was so groggy that he decided to go to the commissary for a cup just before the plane plowed into his desk at the Pentagon.

 

The police & firefighters that rushed into the buildings, the passengers on American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93–those were heroes. Dona eis requiem sempiternam!

 

 

Though I write fiction, when I create a leading man for my stories, I try to embody him with some of those traits that make him heroic. The willingness to do whatever it takes, the iron will, the honor to stick by what is right no matter the cost to himself. And the humanity to learn to love that one special person.

 

 

 

Cain “Wolf” Richards of WILD TEXAS HEARTS is my latest HERO. He first showed up in my debut novel, TEXAS GOLD (aka Touch of Texas), riding with a notorious gang of outlaws. He had good reason to be on the wrong side of the law and he tried to minimize the damage the outlaws inflicted. But, when given the opportunity, he came down on the side of right, saved Ranger Jake McCain–and himself.

 

 

 

A broken man…

Revenge has driven Wolf Richards since the brutal murders of his wife and young daughter. Returning home with his son, Cal, he faces memories and loss at every turn. Raising Cal alone seems to be more of a challenge than he can handle. He can never replace his perfect Emily—until a rough-edged female falls into his arms—and living becomes a new adventure.

An unlikely woman…

Lizzie Sutter is as rough as a cowboy and as compelling as a stormy sky. Dressing as a man allows her to hire on with a cattle drive, only to be discovered and set adrift near Civil, Texas. When she stumbles onto an abandoned cabin, she makes herself at home. Then the owner of her newfound home shows up and Lizzie discovers just what’s missing from her life—and her heart.

Two wild hearts tamed…

Lizzie hasn’t a feminine thing about her, yet she calls to something deep inside Wolf, something he can’t deny.  Being a woman has always left her feeling lacking, until he shows her their WILD TEXAS HEARTS belong together…

 

Readers, what is it about a hero that draws you in, that makes you fall in love? Leave a comment and I’ll choose one of you to win an e copy of WILD TEXAS HEARTS! Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite for more! 

 

WILD TEXAS HEARTS

The sun was setting when they rounded the last bend. The little house looked the same, almost eerily so. The yard was swept of leaves and debris, the porch looked freshly swept, and…

“Pa?” Calvin guided his little horse closer to his father’s side, fear and confusion in his voice. “There’s smoke comin’ from the chimney.”

Wolf had seen the wispy white trail more than an hour ago, but had convinced himself it was lack of sleep that had him imagining things. But if Cal could see it, it must be real.

Squatters. Some low life had moved into their home. “Whoever it is, they won’t stay long once we get there. Get behind me, son.”

He checked the load in both revolvers and his shotgun before bumping his horse in the ribs. As they neared the house, he spotted the lazy freeloader, on the roof of the barn. What the hell was he doing up there? When Wolf saw fresh patches, he realized the squatter was fixing the holes.

That made no sense. All the squatters Wolf had encountered moved into an empty structure and made use of what was there until they were forced out again. He should know. He’d made use of his share of empty houses while he searched for his children.

But the evidence was before him. “This should be interesting,” he muttered. Motioning Cal out of sight, he slid a revolver free and rode up to the barn, stopping just out of the shelter of the eaves.

“What the hell are you doing to my barn?”

The intruder spun around, forgetting his precarious perch. Wolf spotted the flash of sun on a barrel, but before he could react, the man lost his footing, let out a squeal, and started sliding off the roof.

Wolf was moving almost before the realization hit. The curve of hip, the narrow waist. He snagged the falling body just short of the ground.

“Damn it. You’re a woman.”

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Tracy

 

http://www.TracyGarrett.com

Facebook: TracyGarrett.author

Twitter: @TGarrett_author

Goodreads: Tracy Garrett

 

 

 

Memoirs of a Wannabe Cowgirl

We’re happy to have another wonderful guest with us today. Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they recently moved overseas.

Welcome, Myra!

I wasn’t always a city girl. The first four years of my life were spent on my parents’ farm outside Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. My two brothers, already adults when I came along (surprise!!), lived on the property and had their own horses, Red and Rusty.

I still remember my first “cowgirl” initiation. My mother set me on Rusty’s bare back, ostensibly for a lazy ride around the corral. But I had other ideas. I gripped Rusty’s mane, gleefully leaned toward his ears, and commanded, “Go, Rusty, go!”

He did. Except Mommy still had hold of my ankle, which pulled me off Rusty’s back and headfirst into, um, something very, very soft and squishy.

Next stop: the bathtub.

So began my lifelong love of horses—with one significant problem. Shortly before I turned four, my dad passed away, and soon afterward Mom moved us into town. From that point forward, my future as a city girl was fixed.

It wasn’t long before both my brothers left the Valley and settled in the Texas Hill Country. The younger brother, married with three children, had a small ranch with horses and cattle, so whenever my mother and I visited, I got to be a country girl again, even if only for a few days.

The years passed, and when I was a young teen, circumstances brought my mother and me back to the farm that was my first home. Still, my mother wouldn’t agree to having a horse—too much responsibility, she insisted.

Then one day a stray horse wandered up our driveway. My mom placed a lost-and-found ad, but for days no one responded. The horse looked gentle enough, and I was itching to try riding him. Finally I talked my mom into helping me, so with an old rag rug for a saddle and makeshift rope reins, I carefully climbed onto his back.

For the next few days, we enjoyed leisurely strolls down the lane, and I was the happiest girl in the West—er, South—until a woman and her and two ecstatic children arrived to claim their missing horse. I cried to watch him go.

More years passed. I grew up, got married, and had kids of my own. Horse adventures were limited to the occasional trail ride while on vacation . . .

. . . until the year I signed up to volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding center. Working directly with the horses was a dream fulfilled, even more so when another volunteer encouraged me to take dressage lessons (not exactly cowgirl-type horsemanship, but nearing 50 by then, I was okay with a tamer kind of riding).

My volunteer friend eventually introduced me to a horsewoman who owned a sweet old gelding that needed extra attention. When she offered to let me ride him for lessons and practice, it was the best of both worlds—a “free” horse I could ride whenever I wanted, without the responsibility of feeding, mucking stalls, vet care, etc.

Those years of dressage lessons and volunteering at the therapeutic riding center also brought knowledge, skills, and priceless firsthand experiences. Besides the basics of horse care and tack, I learned ground driving and lunge-lining, and I exulted in the thrill of “joining up” with horses in the round pen. I could even harness a horse to a small carriage for a ride down the lane!

After seven wonderful (and wonder-filled) years of such experiences, my husband and I moved far away from Texas and my “horsey” friends, and for the past eleven years I have been utterly horseless [cue the violins]. My only recourse has been to write books with horses in them, and there have been several, including my “Horseman” trilogy, set in North Carolina and featuring three handsome horsemen and the women they love.

My recent Love Inspired contemporary romance, Her Hill Country Cowboy, returns to Texas and is set on a small guest ranch in the fictional town of Juniper Bluff, about an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio. I’m delighted to give away two copies today (U.S. postal addresses only, please). You can read more about the story below.

So let’s chat. Do you harbor a cherished lifelong dream? Has it come true? If so, in what ways? If not, what can you do or have you done to fill that empty place in your heart?

About the book: Single father Seth Austin will do anything for his children. So when he discovers the new housekeeper his grandmother hired for their guest ranch is a former social worker, he plans to keep his family far away from Christina Hunter. Seth once almost lost custody of his beloved kids because of an overzealous social worker. Problem is his children adore Christina and her sweet service dog—and he’s starting to fall for her, too. Recuperating from an accident, Christina is determined to slowly ease back into her old life. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realizes that her future might be with the cowboy and his family.

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Updated: September 6, 2017 — 9:52 pm
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