Category: Guest Author

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.

Connect with Myra:

Website

Facebook

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

Sign up to receive Myra’s quarterly e-news updates here!

 

 

Updated: September 6, 2017 — 9:52 pm

COWBOYS, HISTORY, AND ROOTS BY KAY P. DAWSON

 

Kay P. Dawson has tied up her pony in the corral and is here to sit a spell and tell us a bit about herself and her writing journey. She’s also offering a few of her books and items to one lucky individual who comments.
Please give her a warm filly welcome! 

Kay Dawson roots
I grew up on a farm, and spent a great deal of my early life hanging around my grandparent’s farms. (We come from a long line of farmers, and my younger brothers are carrying on the tradition).
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In the fall, we even used to have an old-fashioned “thrashing” day when my great-uncle would fire up the old steam engine and all of us kids would follow along in the fields throwing the hay up onto the horse-drawn wagon.
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So, hearing the stories of when my grandparents were young, and when their parents were young always fascinated me.  I used to imagine being back in the times they were talking about, scenes that I would play out in my mind as I pretended to be a pioneer.  Of course, right around this time, Little House on the Prairie was a massive hit on our one channel TV, and I was drawn to the stories playing on the screen.  (I always pretended to be Laura, and my sister was Mary.  Sometimes I’d drag my brothers and my cousin in to play too, although I don’t think they were as excited about it as me.)
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                                              Cowboys, History and Roots     Cowboys, History, and Roots
Writing historical western romance was natural for me.  I began reading the old western love stories when I was a teenager, at the same time everyone was reading the Sweet Valley High books.  Something about the past intrigued me, and when my grandparents would tell a story about how they’d lived, I couldn’t get enough.
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 The part I love the most about being able to write western romance is the time I get to spend researching.  Sometimes, I can lose a whole day of writing because I’ve found something else fascinating that takes me off the path I was originally looking up.
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I’ve recently started writing some contemporary stories too, but all of my books have a “western” or small-town, rural feel to them.  That’s all I really know, so that’s what I like to write about.
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Cowboys, History and Roots by Kay P. DawsonWhen I was a little girl, I had a great uncle Rob who was the truest cowboy you could ever meet.  He used to let me and my friend hang out in the stables with his horses for hours on end, and never once lost his patience with us.  He had a smile for every one he met, and he had a soft, quiet voice you’d have to strain to hear.  I always remember him with a cowboy hat on his head, and his dusty blue jeans.
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So much of what goes into my books is taken from the people I’ve known and where I’ve grown up. Even though I’ve had stories take place in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Kansas, Texas…and now British Columbia and Yukon in the early 1900’s – I’ve never been to these places.  I’ve had to research and learn, and spend some time getting a “feel” for the places I’m writing about.
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But they all have a common element, and that’s family, small town, rural roots.  Those are the virtues that have defined me as I grew up, and that’s what I know best.  Something about the call of home and family, where neighbors look out for each other and life moves at a slower pace.

  *  *  *  *  *  *  

 What about you?  Have you noticed how much of your own upbringing and the people and places you spent time around as you grew up has defined what you do today?

I’d love to hear your comments below!

For those who comment, Felicia Filly plans to draw one of your names
for this sweet giveaway offer from Kay P. Dawson!

Kay Dawson

Thank you to everyone – all of the authors of the Petticoats & Pistols blog and the readers – for letting me hang out with you all today!
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I have a variety of books out at the moment – Mail Order Brides, Oregon Trail, and even a cattle drive romance!  I also have some contemporary stories that take place in rural, small towns and a couple western time travel stories.  (These I really enjoyed because it was so fun to imagine being able to actually travel back to the times I write about!)
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Kay P. DawsonYou can find all of my books listed on my website or Amazon author page:
Kay P. Dawson Author Page:  amazon.com/author/kaypdawson
If you’d like to join my fan group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaypdawsonfans/
You can also sign up for my newsletter at http://kaypdawson.com/newsletter/
**I have a book releasing today in the popular Mail Order Mounties series…you can see all of the newest releases as soon as they are available by joining the readers group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MailOrderMounties/

THE GILDED AGE by JENNIFER UHLARIK

 

Hello, Petticoats & Pistols readers! I’m so excited to be back with you today. I’m sharing a bit about an era in American history called The Gilded Age.

Many of you may already know what the Gilded Age is, but in case you don’t, it was the time period here in America occurring between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century (1865 until 1900). The term, “The Gilded Age,” came from Mark Twain’s novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Twain’s work satirized the many social problems of the era, which society had seemed to gloss over, as if with a thin layer of gold. While Twain’s book was published in 1873, the term didn’t come into use for this time period until the 1920s.

 

 

So what were some of the common issues that marked the Gilded Age?

  • Rapid economic, technological, political, and social transformation
  • Huge disparity between the rich and the poor across the country
  • Building and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad
  • Westward Expansion
  • Native Assimilation—forcing the Native American people to either assimilate into white culture or live on government-run reservations
  • An increase in European immigration
  • The formation of labor unions, which fought for worker’s rights, child labor laws, and eight-hour work days, among other things
  • An increase in popularity of some Christian denominations
  • An uptick in Christian missionary work
  • Social reforms, such as temperance movements or the Women’s Suffrage movement
  • An increase in women in the workforce
  • An increase in leisure activities like sports

And the list could go on.

I was excited to have the opportunity to write a novella for Barbour’s recently-released Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. The theme of the collection is all about the Gilded Age. Each of the nine stories focus on the haves and the have-nots of society, although the stories aren’t all about romances between a rich person falling in love with a poor person. Sometimes the stories feature two working-class people falling in love, or two rich people finding romance together. But the theme of wealth—or the lack thereof—is prevalent in each story. And in most cases, the stories also delve into at least one, if not several, other themes of this period. Because the era was so broad—board in years, broad in location, broad in the changes that came about during this time—the stories are vastly different, offering quite the range of reading in one volume. The authors in this collection are: Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jaime Jo Wright, Erica Vetsch, Kathleen Y’Barbo—and me, Jennifer Uhlarik.

My story, Union Pacific Princess, focuses on the themes of Westward Expansion, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and Native Assimilation. After her mother’s untimely death, my heroine, Dara Forsythe, leaves Boston to join her estranged father, a bigwig with the Union Pacific Railroad. But she experiences quite the culture shock when she steps off the train into a hell-on wheels railroad camp. All around her are tents, mud, and squalor. The one bright spot in the entire tent city is the poor, but charming hero—Gage Wells.

Gage is a Georgia farmer-turned-highly-skilled Confederate sharpshooter. At the Civil War’s end, he moved west to escape the memories of the conflict, but as the railroad plows across the territory he now calls home, he sees another conflict brewing—this time between the railroad, the white settlers, and his new friends, the Cheyenne. Gage’s plans to stop the railroad—and prevent a war—become far more complicated when he meets the intriguing rich girl, Dara Forsythe, and realizes she’s the daughter of his nemesis.

 

So there’s a snapshot of the Gilded Age—and the Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. I hope you’ll check our stories out.

It’s your turn! Have you ever heard of The Gilded Age? Which of the various parts of the age that I listed above do you think you’d have been a part of, if you’d lived during that time—and Why? I would love to give one lucky reader an autographed print copy of Of Rags And Riches, so leave me your thoughts!

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won and finaled in numerous writing competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. She currently writes historical novellas of the American West for Barbour Publishing and works as a Content Editor for Firefly Southern Fiction. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

 

Copyright Info for steam engine photo:

© Leigh Warner

ID 10208093 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

Copyright info for train tracks:

© Jennifer Uhlarik

 

Copyright info for Author headshot:

© Emilie Anne Hendryx

 

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1683222636/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&tag=pettpist-20

 

HOME IS WHERE OUR STORY BEGINS & Book Giveaway

Please welcome Lynnette Austin.  Lynnette is filling in for Margaret Brownley, who is attending the Romance  Writers of America conference. Lynnette is giving away a copy of Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.  The winner will be announced on Sunday and can choose either print or eBook.  (Contest guidelines apply). The book is available now both in stores and digitally.

Thanks for having me on Petticoats and Pistols today! I’m thrilled to be here and am celebrating the release of Can’t Stop Lovin’ You, the third in my Maverick Junction series. (BTW, while it’s fun to read the whole series, each book can stand alone.) Entering the drawing is as simple as leaving a comment. So pour yourself a tall, ice-cold glass of sweet tea and let’s chat.

Who doesn’t want to go home? Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, even Luath, Bodger, and Tao, the three lovable fur-friends in The Incredible Journey fought against heavy odds to make that trip. It’s no different with Brawley O’Dell in Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.

When I started the first book of the Maverick Junction series, Annelise Montjoy, in Somebody Like You, was a sheltered heiress living in Boston. Where did her money come from? Texas oil wells! In a last-ditch effort to save her grandfather’s life, Annelise was forced to return to her Texas roots. She needed to return to the home of her ancestors. Once she did? She fell madly in love with those fields of Texas bluebonnets, the cowboy boots and the men who wore them—especially one very special cowboy.

The characters in our books all have back stories, things that have happened to them and shaped who they are long before we meet them on page one. The same goes for our settings. As I developed the town of Maverick Junction, Texas, I dug deeper into the roots of the oil finds there. Oil and Texas. Inexorably tied together. Yet until January 10, 1901, when the Lucas No. 1 well at Spindletop came in near Beaumont, Texas, the state of Pennsylvania was at the heart of the oil industry. Throughout the second half of the 1800s, it held the title as the leading oil producing state.

Having grown up in the Keystone state and later lived in Wyoming, I’m very familiar with the oil industry. In fact, in the mid-1800s Edwin Drake, the inventor of the process used to extract oil from deep in the ground, hit the first Pennsylvania gusher in Titusville, not far from my small hometown of Kane. This photo shows the early oil wells that sprang up in the fields around Kane in the 1800s. I can’t believe how many there were—and they’re taller than the trees. A veritable oil rig forest.

Even before the Beaumont find really kick-started Texas’ oil industry, it was no secret there was plenty of the black gold there. Native Americans in the area sometimes drank it for medicinal purposes, mainly to cure digestive problems. I wonder how that worked for them! The Spaniards, while they didn’t drink it, put it to good use both as waterproofing for their boots and caulking for their ships in the 1500s.

Until Spindletop, the oil finds in Texas were small and low-producing. With the coming of the big oil fields and refineries, cities like Houston grew from small commercial centers to some of the USA’s largest cities. Oil barrons, Annelise’s great-grandfather among them, became some of the wealthiest and most politically influential men in the country.

When the early settlers made the arduous trip out West, they often could never go home again. They literally gave up everything—and everyone—to go West, even as late as the early 1900s when men travelled there to work the oil fields. In my new release, Can’t Stop Lovin’ You, Brawley Odell moved away from small town Maverick Junction to live in Dallas, the big city. In doing so, he gave up the girl he loved. Now? He wants it all back—the small town, the life, and, most importantly, the girl. But has he stayed away too long?

When you think of Texas, what makes you keep

coming back for more stories set there?

Thanks so much for stopping by today! Hope to see you in Maverick Junction. I think you’ll like it there!

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Maggie Sullivan can’t wait to get out of Texas. Luckily, she just got the break she needed to make her big-city dreams a reality. But then Brawley Odell swaggers back into Maverick Junction, looking hotter than ever in his dusty cowboy boots and well-worn jeans. He’s the guy she still dreams of at night. The guy who broke her heart when he left her behind.

Fed up with city life, Brawley jumps at the chance to return home and take over the local vet’s practice—and get back to the smart, sassy woman he’s never been able forget. He couldn’t be prouder of Maggie’s new wedding-dress business . . . until he realizes it may mean losing her all over again. Determined to win her back, Brawley must find a way to convince Maggie that their one true home is with each other.

Excerpt:

Brawley Odell figured his life wouldn’t be worth one plug-nickel the second he stepped foot inside Maggie’s shop. Too damn bad. He hadn’t driven the thirty miles from Maverick Junction to back out now. He was goin’ in.

After all this time, he’d come home…and she was leaving.

He grasped the brass knob and shoulder-butted the oak door. It flew open, the bell overhead jangling. Maggie Sullivan, all that gorgeous red hair scooped into a jumbled mass, stood dead-center in the room. Dressed in a skirt and top the color of a forest at twilight, she held a fuzzy sweater up in front of her like a shield. Those amazing green eyes widened as he stormed in.

“We need to talk.” He ignored the woman at the back of the store who flipped through a rack of tops.

“What the—?”

He held up a hand. “Don’t speak. Not yet.”

Her mouth opened, then closed.

Anger boiled in him, but he needed to find some modicum of control. Taking a deep breath, he held it for the count of ten, then slowly released it. “Did you plan on telling me?”

Her eyes narrowed, but she said nothing.

“You’re invited to New York City for a showing of your new line, and you don’t share that with me? I have to learn about it secondhand?”

“Last I heard this wasn’t about you, Brawley. In fact, my life, my business has absolutely nothing to do with you.”

His jaw clenched. “Anything that affects you is my business, Mags.”

She snorted. “Get real, Odell. You gave up any and all rights years ago.” Her head tilted. “Why are you even interested? You want to attend so you can show off your latest Dallas Cowboy cheerleader? Maybe order her trousseau?”

He shot her a deadly look, one that had made grown men back away.

Not Maggie. She actually took a couple steps toward him. The woman had no survival instincts. Another reason she had no business heading off to New York alone.

She tapped a scarlet-tipped finger on her chin. “Oh, that’s right. There’d be no trousseau for your honey, would there? Maybe a weekend-fling outfit for your date du jour? A one-night-stand set of lacy lingerie.”

“Shut up, Maggie.”

“Make me.” Her eyes flashed.

This time the look in his eyes must have warned her she’d treaded too close to the edge. She stepped back.

“You challenging me, Maggie?”

When she wet her lips, his gaze dropped to her mouth, followed the tip of her pink tongue as it darted out.

“Only one way I could ever get you quiet,” he said.

Her hand shot up. “Don’t even think about it.”

“No thought required. Been wanting to do this a long time now.” He closed the distance between them and dropped his mouth to hers. Fire. Smoke. Hell, a full-out volcanic eruption.

To purchase: Amazon

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LYNNETTE AUSTIN, a recovering middle school teacher, loves long rides with the top down and the music cranked up, the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing, chocolate frozen custard, anything by Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Thomas Rhett, and sitting in her local coffee shop reading and enjoying an iced coffee. She and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse. Writing for Grand Central and Sourcebooks, she’s published twelve novels and is at work on a new series.

 

 

 

 

Updated: July 18, 2017 — 6:13 pm

HOW DEEP DO YOUR ROOTS GO? by JODI THOMAS

How deep do your roots go?

I’m from dry land farmers and people who ran small ranches that never made much money.  I know the movies have the stories about powerful ranchers who own more land than they can ride across in a day, but that’s not the people I’m from.


My grandparents met at a barn raising in Texas, just over the Red River from Oklahoma.  They spent the day together, wrote letters for a year, then he rode back across the Red to pick her up.  She had the wagon packed with her hope chest and all they’d need.  They were married that day.  She was fifteen and he was eighteen. They crossed back over the Red into Oklahoma Territory and started farming.

My dad was their youngest son and he said they looked old when he was born. If he was alive, my father would be a 100 this year.

All this said, sometimes I feel close to the past.  Like it’s just around the corner out of reach.  I might have an iPhone and an Apple computer, but their blood still flows in me.  I’m from farm folks….

Or, so I thought….the blood must be thinning.

My son, who has a master’s in Criminal Justice and works in loss prevention for a national chain, was told he could work from home last month.  Three weeks later he bought a farm in the middle of nowhere.  My GPS told me I was 31 miles out.  Two hours later I’m still circling every County Road looking for him.  Who knew two ruts in the tall grass was a road?

I couldn’t wait to see his land, his farm.  We traveled across Texas, 10 hours, with three ducks riding in a tub in the back of our van.  Once, when Tom stopped fast one of the ducks flew out and landed just behind my sister.  She didn’t seem to like the duck eating her hair.

 

So all tired we pulled into a beautiful, green farm.

My son, whose time outside city lights can be counted in weeks, greets us with a warning that he shot a coral snake this morning.

Coral snake.  I start trying to remember that ‘black touch red or black touch yellow’ but have no idea which is a friendly fellow.

I jump out.  I have to walk the land!  Get back to my roots! They’ve got chickens and ducks.  A stream.  Not exactly The Red, but too big for me to cross.

The fire ants were not welcoming—enough said.

We let the ducks out and they loved their bath.

Tom thought he’d pet a chicken.  By accident, I’m sure, the chicken put a deep scratch along Tom’s arm.  This chicken was not a cuddler.

But, we were in Heaven.  We were on the land.  I had no idea how noisy it is at night.  Or how early the sun comes up without heavy drapes.

Then about dawn the first day, I picked up my Apple, curled up in the porch swing and found Heaven.

I’m from the land, you know.  I was home.

I hope you’ll feel just that way when you read my new book, INDIGO LAKE.  Come along with me on this journey and when you finish maybe you’ll say “I’m from the land.”

When I began writing the Ransom Canyon series, a very dear friend gave me a Ransom Canyon T-shirt to inspire me. It sat by my desk and was never worn. I would like to give that shirt to one of my special readers who might know—How do you get rid of fire ants without killing the chickens?”

Love you all,  Jodi Thomas

MAY I PLEASE BORROW YOUR COWGIRL LIFE? by MOLLY NOBLE BULL

People, especially western romance authors, have actually told me that they would like to borrow my life. Why? Because my maternal grandfather as well as my father were ranch foremen—real Texas cowboys, and I spent part of my growing up years on a sixty-thousand-acre cattle ranch in South Texas.

Some of the biggest ranches in the county, if not the world, are located in South Texas where I live—the King and the Kenedy ranches to name two. When I describe ranch scenes in my western romances, I am often describing something I have actually seen. And the history part? No problem.

I’m not telling my age here, but not getting any younger either. I’ve lived through a lot of changes and historic events, and the Lord has given me a good long-term memory, making it possible for me to recall these events and write about them.

My cowboy grandfather was a man named Seth. He’s the cowboy on the horse, and I’ve always liked his name. In fact, I named the hero in one of my westerns, Seth.

 

In South Texas, we call a row of cowboys on horses, the line up. Here is my grandfather again in the line up, waiting to go and work cattle horseback.

Probably the best western I’ve written so far is When the Cowboy Rides Away. It won the 2016 Texas Association of Authors contest in the Christian Western category and was a finalist in the Will Rogers Awards in the inspirational category that same year. God willing, I will continue to write novels and novellas until He takes me home.

Barbour Publishing published The Secret Admirer Romance Collection in May 2017, nine novellas by nine different authors. My novella was a historical western set in the Texas hill country titled “Too Many Secrets.”

Cinderella Texas takes place on a South Texas ranch in the same location as the setting for When the Cowboy Rides Away but in modern times. My agent published Cinderella Texas in June 2017.

Now, let’s talk about my cowgirl life. First of all, my family didn’t own the ranches I lived on. My father and grandfather worked there. But it didn’t really matter since I could ride out horseback whenever I liked, listen to the coyotes yapping a night after all the lights were out, go swimming in a water tank in the middle of a cow pasture, or pick wildflowers to my heart’s content.

But for me, dating was a problem before I met my future husband. A boy had to really like me to drive twenty or thirty miles on country roads just to go out with me when there were plenty of town girls to pick from. Once one of my dates finally arrived at the ranch where I lived, he had to—open, drive through, and then close four to seven gates just to reach our house. I remember sitting on the front porch at night waiting to see the first blink of car-lights in the distance. I knew that when I saw that first blink, my date would arrive in about twenty minutes. That’s what is meant by “living in the sticks.”

And if you would like the opportunity to borrow my cowgirl life, buy and read one of my Christian western romance novels. Better yet, read them all.

After having lived in isolated areas for much of my life, I love to talk to folks. So, stop by, chat and leave a comment.

Molly Noble Bull is a Christian author with a Texas cattle ranch background, and she has published with Zondervan, Love Inspired, Elk Lake Publishing, and Barbour Publishing. Several of her novels won contests for published authors. She has lived most of her life in South Texas or the Texas hill country, but most don’t know that she also lived in Germany for a year when her husband was in the United States military.

 

 

 

 

 

Molly is giving away a free paperback copy of either The Secret Admirer Romance Collection or When the Cowboy Rides Away to a contest winner with a address in the United States. She is also giving away a Kindle copy of Cinderella Texas.

To learn more about my books and ranch life through my eyes, please visit my website at http://www.mollynoblebull.com or my page at Amazon, http://bit.ly/mollynoblebull

GRACE AND THE RANCHER by MARY ALFORD

Hi everyone, my name is Mary Alford and I’m thrilled to be with you today. Along with Romantic Suspense, I write sweet Contemporary Westerns set in the mountains of Colorado and Montana.

I fell in love with the mountains the first time I visited them many years ago. Before that time, I was a beach girl at heart until my husband and I made a trip to the historic town of Silverton, Colorado and that was it. I loved everything about the mountains and Silverton, including its history.

Silverton is a historic silver and gold mining town nestled in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Animas River that runs around the town is where the old time miners first discovered traces of gold and silver in 1860. In 1874 the town of Silverton was laid out and it soon became the center of numerous mining camps.

Yet, through the years, the mining slowly dried up, but Silverton still remains a popular tourist attraction, being linked to Durango, Colorado by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a National Historic Landmark. And believe it or not, there’s still gold and silver to be found there if you are so inclined to look.

When I set out to write, Grace And The Rancher, my White Rose Publishing release set in the fictional mountain town of Delaney Mountain, it was with Silverton in mind as an example for Delaney Mountain. Although Delaney Mountain is better known for its rich ranch land instead of mining, living in the mountains and forging out a living there as a rancher, has a whole new set of problems.

As hard as the winters in Colorado can be today, with the snowfall piling up, and the isolation that comes with living in the mountains, still, I can’t imagine how difficult ranching in the mountains of Colorado must have been in the old days.

Travel was difficult, the roads crude, supplies were not easily accessible, and the winters brutal on the cattle as well as those who worked them. Just moving cattle from one piece of property to another in search of better grazing consumed time.

While my hero, Kyle Delaney, might not have had to face the difficulties those early cattle ranchers did, he still has his own set of challenges. Kyle is coming back to Delaney Mountain after his father’s death to try and resurrect Delaney Ranch from its ashes. And in the process, he finds something he never expected to find again. Love.

About Grace And The Rancher:

Grace Bradford is living a lie. To the world she has the perfect life: A promising country music career and a husband who adores her. But her husband isn’t the man everyone believes him to be. When a car accident widows her and ends her career, Grace escapes to Delaney Mountain. But moving to the remote town doesn’t wipe away the ugly secret of her marriage. Kyle Delaney never intended to return to Delaney Mountain, but he promises his dying father that he’ll turn their land into a working cattle ranch. He uproots his life in Austin, sells his flourishing business as a music agent, and returns to the Colorado town of his childhood. Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain?

Amazon Link

 

I will be giving away two ebook copies of Grace And The Rancher to commenters today.

A little about Mary:

I was inspired to become a writer after reading romantic suspense greats Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. Soon creating characters and throwing them into dramatic situations that test their faith came naturally for me. In 2012, I entered the Speed Dating contest hosted by Love Inspired and later received “the call”. Writing is truly a dream come true for me.

Thanks so much for allowing me to stop by and talk to you today.

All the best…Mary Alford

 

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