Category: Guest Author

Janalyn Voigt: Ghost Town in the Rearview Mirror

 

We welcome our guest blogger, Janalyn Voigt!

Virginia City, Nevada is one of the West’s famous ghost towns, but Virginia City in Montana is less known. That’s a shame because this Montana town played an important part in the history of Montana Territory.

The year was 1863 when a group of miners led by William (Bill) Fairweather passed through Alder Gulch. Following a scrape with Crow Indians, the men were on their way home to Bannack City, a boomtown where miners flocked after the discovery of gold in nearby Grasshopper Creek. Fairweather’s group paused in Alder Gulch near the headwaters of the waterway known as the Stinkingwater (now Alder Creek). The men aimed to mine enough gold to pay for tobacco. They found that many times over. The men had chanced upon the richest placer gold strike in the Rocky Mountains.

The men tried to keep their discovery to themselves, but flashing money around Bannack revealed their secret. When they set out again for Alder Gulch, they set off a ‘stampede’ of hopeful miners. Virginia City went up within weeks. Men arrived daily to seek their fortune.

Bannack was winding down as a source of easy gold. With most of the population living in Alder Gulch. Virginia City replaced Bannack as the capital of Montana Territory in 1864. The town served in that capacity until 1875, when the territorial seat was moved to Helena.

I discovered Virginia City while on a summer road trip through Montana with my family. After a long drive through the Beartooth Mountains, we’d passed only one roadhouse. I enjoy wilderness areas, but it was a relief when Virginia City unfolded before us in the late afternoon sun. We stopped at the gas station, where I picked up a brochure that told of outlaws, stagecoaches, and vigilante justice.

Robbers Roost particularly awed me. The brochure informed me that this notorious roadhouse several miles from town was where outlaws rode out to rob gold-laden stagecoaches bound for Virginia City. I felt the weight of history and an unction to tell the story of this place.

Several years later, I returned to Virginia City on a research trip for a western historical romance series that would do just that. It was autumn, so late in the season that snow was falling. The town’s sparse bed and breakfasts were closed until spring, but my husband and I managed to wangle a bed for the night in a renovated cabin. The next day dawned bright and clear. We climbed boot hill to the outlaw gravesite located outside the main cemetery where law-abiding citizens were buried.

A stroll through the cemetery took me past the grave of Thomas J. Dimsdale, the mild-mannered author of The Vigilantes of Montana, an eyewitness account of the vigilante activities in the area. Released in 1866, it was the first book published in Montana.

After reading his account, I felt acquainted with the man. It seemed strange to find him lying in a grave. The brevity of life struck me anew, and I was glad to come down from boot hill.

As Virginia City dwindled in the rear-view mirror, we drove through a landscape marred by tailings, large piles of rocks deposited by the mining operations all along Alder Gulch. There was little left of the settlement dubbed ‘Fourteen-Mile City.’

How about you? Have you been to a ghost town?

To one lucky person who leaves a comment,
Janalyn is giving away a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card.

 

Bio: Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. When Janalyn grew older, she put herself to sleep with her own made-up tales. Her sixth-grade teacher noticed her love of storytelling and encouraged her to become a writer. Today Janalyn is a multi-genre author. Janalyn writes the kind of novels she likes to read – epic adventures brimming with romance, mystery, history, and whimsy. She is praised for her unpredictable plots and the lyrical, descriptive prose that transports readers into breathtaking storyworlds. Janalyn Voigt is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn and her books at http://janalynvoigt.com.

Click here to purchase Forever Sky .

 

 

Updated: November 27, 2019 — 12:40 pm

Welcome Guest – Jodi Thomas!


The Luck of the Irish.

As a writer I spend a great deal of time thinking of why people develop the way they do. Why they are sad or unhappy.  Why they chose one road in life and not another. 

Over the years I’ve figured out my mother gave me a great gift.  Not an inheritance or a keepsake, but in the way she thought about life.

My mom was Scotch-Irish with a touch of the English mixed in.  She graduated as Valedictorian but had no chance to go to college.  She had to help support her mother during WWII after her father died.

She married my father, who tended to drink, and in no time they had four kids.  My father went blind by the time I was in high school and mom worked two jobs.

But all her life my mom thought she was lucky.  Irish luck she called it.  She might step in a mud hole but she’d smile and say, ‘At least I didn’t have my good shoes on.’

She passed that luck on to her children.  When my brother was shot in Viet Nam the doctor told him he was lucky because the bullet missed his heart by an inch.

He agreed and said he had his mother’s Irish luck.

Someone else might say he would have been luckier if he hadn’t been shot, but Phil just thought he was lucky.

In my latest book, CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY, I played on the theme that thinking you’re lucky may take you halfway to your goal.

I started with the youngest of three brothers who believes in love but has no luck with women and a ranch hand who thinks he’s wasted all his luck.

This summer I truly learned how lucky I am.  When I lost my Tommy after 49 years, I felt the love of friends all across the country.  That caring carried me through the dark days.  Then, I realized how lucky I was to have a great man for all those years.

Jodi and Tommy

As the weeks passed I found a world to retreat to in my writing.  I’m lucky to live in two worlds.  A lady whose daughter was going through chemo was sitting beside me told me that each week they’d read my books during the treatment so they’d have something to talk about on their way home.  For the first time I understood.

To all my readers, I would love for you to stop by and tell me about a time in your life when you felt unlucky but it really turned out to be one of your luckiest times.  I will give the lucky winner a Christmas package of 3 books: MISTLETOE MIRACLES and CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY from my Ransom Canyon series and A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS, my latest anthology.

I wish you Irish Luck and I wish you peace and laughter when you step into fiction as a reader or as a writer.

Much love,
Jodi

Updated: October 9, 2019 — 10:35 am

Why We Need Heroes by Patricia PacJac Carroll

I’d heard about the TV show, Yellowstone, and thought I’d give it a try.

Well, I didn’t last the entire show. It’s just not my style or idea of a western.

I like the old kind of stories that I grew up with.

The ones that had a hero.

Where good was good and bad was bad, and the good triumphed over the evil.

And that’s what I write. I believe today we need heroes and heroines. Not that stories have to be Pollyannaish, but I do like stories that end well. Happily-ever-after stories. Our world confronts us with darkness every day, and I, for one, could use a break.

Come away to the 1880s, or to a tale of a knight from the round table, or on another planet. Temporarily escape the pressures of this world and step into the worlds we create to entertain, teach, and encourage.

That’s why I write. My goal is to make readers happy and leave them feeling better than when they started my books.

My alternative to Yellowstone is my series – Montana Brides of Solomon’s Valley. It is set in Montana in the 1880s and begins with Judge Solomon Taggart in The Judge’s Bride. The judge has amassed an empire with the valley’s biggest ranch, some gold, and Shirleyville, a town he named after his late daughter.

In all his wealth, he realized he had no one to share it with or pass it on to. Women are scarce in Montana and the West, so he sends off for a mail-order bride. Add a couple of feuding families and the judge has his hands full.

The Judge’s Bride  Book 1  Love Happens … Even when you have 10 kids. 

Zebulon’s Bride Book 2 He wants to leave home, and then his mother orders him a bride.

The Sheriff’s Bride Book 3  Levi came to town to settle a score but was too late.

Bridgette Book 4. Bridgette is not just a pretty face.

Sarah  Book 5  Her heart is broken, and then the new doctor and preacher come to town.

Cassidy  Book 6 The wildest of the Howards may have met her match.

Ronan’s Bride Book 7 Ronan gets caught up in trouble he can’t get out of, and love might just be the trap that puts him behind bars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 So there you have my answer to Yellowstone. Seven books full of interesting characters, some likable, some who need a little work to get there, but all of the books will leave you feeling good.

My favorite character is Bridgette. She’s smart and has great ideas to help those in need. Of course, she has ambitions to be Queen of Montana. She keeps the town, her husband, and the judge busy with her schemes.

 

What about you? Do you believe we need heroes and heroines?

Post your answer for a chance to win an ebook of your choice from my Montana Brides of Solomon’s Valley series!

 

 

I write Christian historical western romance with a little faith, fun, and always a happily-ever-after.

I am a writer, Christian first, and blessed beyond my imagination. I live in the Dallas-Ft Worth area of Texas with my wonderful treasure of a husband, my spoiled dog, Jacs, and my awesome son, Josh. Did I say I was blessed? The PacJac is from my initials and my husbands. I wouldn’t be able to write if it weren’t for him. I love adventure and the open road. The stories of the western era have always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy writing, and my goal is to write stories readers will enjoy.

Connect with me online:

Website:  http://patriciapacjaccarroll.blogspot.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PacJac    
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/patriciapacjaccarroll
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/pacjaccarroll/

Have a blessed day,

Patricia PacJac Carroll

I Invited a Friend to the Corral–Ann Roth!

This month Harlequin has re-released my novel The Rancher and the Vet and Ann Roth’s Montana Vet in a two in one book entitled A Cure for the Vet available in Wal-Mart and on Amazon. In honor of that, I’m doing something special. Today, you’re getting two blogs in one because Ann Roth has joined me to chat about her book.

From Ann:

My novel, Montana Vet, is actually book 3 of my Prosperity, Montana, miniseries. Books 1 and 2 will be out in January, in another 2 in 1 release. No worries—I wrote the books as stand-alone stories featuring siblings. They don’t have to be read in order.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of Montana Vet.

Veterinarian Seth Pettit has been AWOL from Prosperity for some time. Now he’s come home… with a fourteen-year-old girl in tow.

I have a soft spot in my heart for foster kids. I feel the same tenderness and concern for abandoned and abused dogs, which is one reason I felt compelled to create heroine Emily Miles, who shares my sentiments and has founded a shelter for these animals. The other reason, of course, is that she’s the perfect match for Seth Pettit—even though neither of them is looking for romance.

How Seth and Emily get together and fall in love is a story you don’t want to miss!

A little about me:

My genre is contemporary romance. I love happy endings, don’t you? Especially when two characters are so right for each other, but don’t know it.

To date, I have published over 35 novels, and several short stories and novellas, both through New York publishers and as an indie author.

For a list of my novels and to sign up for my newsletter, click here to visit my website. I love to hear from readers! Email me at ann@annroth.net and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

From Julie:

Like Ann’s story, The Rancher and the Vet, features a veterinarian, but mine is the heroine, Avery McAlister. The hero is her first love, Reed Montgomery who returns to Estes Park to become a surrogate parent to his teenage niece.

I love writing old flame stories because there’s instant conflict, chemistry and sexual tension when they step on the page. But that wasn’t the only reason I enjoyed this story. Another was because I could have animals cause trouble throughout the book. Thor, Reed’s niece’s pet chihuahua, does his best to give Reed a proper welcome, complete with leaving him “presents.”

Tito available for adoption with Cody’s Friends Rescue

But I had the most fun with scenes between Reed and his niece. Making a bachelor caring for a teenage girl was more fun than should be legal. Talk about torturing a hero! One of my favorite scenes is when Reed takes Jess shopping for a school dance. Now that’s a man’s worst nightmare come to life. Thankfully for Reed when he’s in over his head, Avery comes to his rescue. At one point, I couldn’t get Avery and Reed alone without them sacrificing their pride. I groused that I wished I could lock them in a closet together. Thankfully Reed’s niece was happy to comply…

Thanks again to Ann Roth for joining me in the corral today. Since Ann’s book is set in Montana and mine is in Colorado, we want to know your favorite ranch location. Two randomly chosen commentators receive a copy of A Cure for the Vet. One signed by Ann and one by me. So, let’s hear what you think. If you could have a ranch anywhere, where would it be?

.

 

Updated: August 28, 2019 — 12:38 pm

Mistaken Marshal: Lady & the Lawman Collection By Crystal L Barnes

“He caught one of them?”
“One of who?” Beau glanced at the dark-haired kid in his hold, a kid who wore a bandanna covering all but his wide blue eyes. A bandanna? What on earth had that spawn-of-Satan horse gotten him into?
“See if you can find the others,” Shorty ordered.
The troublemaker turned his head, causing the bandanna to slip, revealing smooth cheeks without a hint of stubble.
“Right.” With a nod, Lanky hurried toward the water.
Without warning, the kid sank his teeth into Beau’s arm and broke from his hold.
“Ouch! Why, you little brat!” Beau snagged the boy’s leg, knocking him to the ground, and pinned him in the wet sand. “I ought to turn you over my knee.”
“We’re going to do worse than that.”
At the new voice, fear flickered in the kid’s eyes.
Keeping his hands on the young man’s shoulders, Beau looked up to find a well dressed, if winded, older gentleman standing next to Shorty, gun drawn.
“Nice work, mister. You just caught yourself an outlaw.”
An outlaw? Beau glanced down at the youngster whose voice hadn’t even changed. He couldn’t be more than thirteen or fourteen. How could someone so young already be an outlaw?
Troublemaker, yes, but outlaw?
“Where are the other three?” the gentleman questioned.
Shorty cocked his head toward the water. “Lawson went to see if he could find their trail.”
“Mr. Grimes, perhaps you should lend Mr. Lawson a hand.”
With a nod, Shorty took off as another man approached, horses in tow.
“Mr. Hewitt, toss this fella a rope and help them, please, sir.” The dapper gentleman took the horses’ reins from the balding man Beau had met at the livery earlier that day and turned to Beau. “I believe Mr. . . .”
“Bones,” Beau offered as he accepted the rope from Hewitt and set to binding the outlaw’s hands.
“I believe Mr. Bones and I can manage this one on our own.” The leader paused, drawing Beau’s gaze upward. The bearded man looked from Beau to Satan’s Spawn—or Buster as the horse was more commonly known, a name which now made much more sense considering his aching backside—and back again. “Bones? Are you any kin to our late marshal?”
Beau finished securing the knot, one perfected by what his brothers used to use on him through the years, and hauled the youngster to his feet. “Yes, sir. He was my uncle.”
“Well, looks like you two were cut from the same cloth.”
Beau wished that were true. His namesake had been brave, fierce, afraid of nothing and no one. He was the only one who’d ever believed Beau could amount to something, could do more than struggle in his brothers’ shadows. He’d hoped by coming to Small Tree, Texas, he could prove his uncle right. Prove everyone else wrong. Prove that he could be his own man.
But on his first day in town, he couldn’t even ride his uncle’s horse.
“I’m Mayor Arthur Jones.” After shaking Beau’s hand, the graying gentleman led the way through the trees, the prisoner between them. “I assume you’re here to settle your uncle’s estate, Mr. Bones. Are you going to be in town long?”
“Well, I, uh. . .I’d thought to stay on awhile, but—”
“Wonderful. We could sure use a man like you around Small Tree. As you can see, trouble has already found us in the short time since your uncle’s passing. My condolences, by the way.”
“Thank you.”
“What would it take to talk you into staying on and being our new town marshal?”
Beau couldn’t help laughing at the outlandish thought. “Not much, bu—”
“Stupendous! You’re hired.”
“Hired? Wait. What?”
“The job comes with a monthly stipend, plus room and board.” The mayor kept talking,
but Beau’s brain couldn’t take in any more.
Hired? Him? A marshal? He didn’t know anything about being a lawman, only the wild tales his uncle used to spin when he’d come to visit. Tales a little boy with seven older brothers could only imagine experiencing. He couldn’t fill his uncle’s boots, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand. The mayor was highly mistaken if he thought Beau could handle such an important job. Sure, he’d always dreamed of such a chance, but he couldn’t. . .
He wouldn’t. . .
It wasn’t right to let the mayor, the town, think him capable—
The outlaw stumbled, breaking Beau’s inner argument and his grip on the kid’s arm.
The boy pivoted toward the trees.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Beau had tried that move with his brothers too many times to count. Snagging the youngster’s waist, he tossed him over his shoulder.
The mayor angled him a grin. “See, I knew you were the right man for the job the minute I laid eyes on you. This way, Marshal. I’ll show you where you can lock up this prisoner. Then we’ll send for the judge.”
At the praise, Beau couldn’t help standing a little straighter. Maybe he could do this job. Maybe this was the exact opportunity he’d prayed for almost all his life. Maybe, just maybe, if he tried real hard, he could prove the mayor hadn’t just made the biggest mistake of his life by making Beau Bones the newest marshal of Small Tree, Texas.

—Mistaken Marshal by Crystal L Barnes from the Lady and the Lawman Collection, Barbour Publishing.
Howdy y’all! Crystal Barnes here and I hope you enjoyed that sneak peek into my novella in the Lady and the Lawman collection. I got my story idea by kinda blending the Shakiest Gun in the West starring Don Knotts with Marshall Dillon from Gunsmoke. I loved hearing my husband’s laughter as he read this scene about Beau Bones getting roped into a job he never saw coming, so I thought I’d share the fun.
How about you? Have you ever been roped into a job you never expected to have? How did it turn out?
You’ll have to read the rest of Mistaken Marshal to find out how Beau fares. I know I’ve been momunteered many times in my life. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it’s when your mother volunteers you for something. A situation that normally turns out pretty well because we end up doing the task together.
I’ll be giving away a FREE autographed paperback copy of the Lady and the Lawman to one of this
post’s commenters, so be sure to tell me some of your stories. (Paperback for contiguous US winners only. Sorry.)

Before I go let me add a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all y’all at Petticoats & Pistols!

Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the celebration today!

A best-selling author, bona fide country girl, and former competitive 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 spending time with family, exploring on road-trips, 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, her Amazon Author page, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, or on her Facebook author page.

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

Eureka! It’s the Gold Diggers by Caryl McAdoo

Eureka! It’s the GOLD DIGGERS come to Pistols & Petticoats, and Jewel Jones—of JEWEL’S GOLD—is from a long line of gold diggers! Her daddy (Joshua Jones) and his daddy before him (Moses Jones, first met in book four SINS OF THE MOTHER of my Texas Romance Family Saga) mined gold in California all the way back to the 1850s during the Gold Rush of 1849. God blessed them, and the family is set financially for generations.

But Jewel’s father wanted to make it on his own, find the mother lode for himself on the claims he’d purchased on Troublesome Creek in Alaska. He just hadn’t found enough gold to warrant opening a mine before he perished. He had faith the mother lode was there though. Jewel loved traveling north with him, helping him in the wilderness in her teen years.

It’s 1895, and now Jewel is a grown, intelligent, headstrong Daddy’s girl bent on proving he was right about the Alaskan mine. Her mother’s dead set against the whole dreadful idea of going there again, but had made the bargain…

Why, you ask, did I decide to organize a collection for Gold Diggers?


So, back in December, my husband Ron and I took off on a research journey to ride the Oregon / California Trail for a covered wagon story. It was indeed a fabulous trip I highly recommend for western history lovers! But towards its end, we made a surprise stop at Sutter’s Mill on the American River. It was an unplanned treasure trove of fun and information.


It’s a park and museum with old buildings and replicas. Seeing the place where the California Gold Rush started in Coloma was awesome! When I talked Ron into going, on the map it only looked like twenty to twenty-five minutes.  But the road winding around the mountain down to the beautiful river was an experience in itself!

The place was originally John Sutter’s lumber camp back in 1847. His foreman building the sawmill for him, John Marshall, discovered less than an ounce of shiny metal in January 1848. Some of the other workers started finding gold in their off hours. Rumors were first confirmed in the San Francisco newspaper that March, and by December that year, President James Polk made it official in an address to Congress that gold had been discovered in California, and the Gold Rush of 1849 was on!

 


The S.S. California was one of the steamships that made the voyage. She left New York in early January 1849 on her maiden mail run, scrambling to fill their vacant rooms with passengers. By the time the steamship got around Cape Horn and to Panama City on the Pacific, there were seven hundred people waiting to board to get to California.


In 1849, 40,000 miners took about ten million dollars in gold; the next year, forty-one million worth was mined. And the following year, that amount doubled to EIGHTY-ONE MILLION taken by a hundred thousand miners! After that year, mining levels declined until by 1865, mining brought in less than eighteen million. Isn’t that amazing?


Jewel’s father Joshua (born in book four SINS OF THE MOTHER of theTexas Romance Family Saga) had mining in his blood and passed it on to his daughter. I fell in love with Jewel. When writing, one needs to remember “unity of opposites” which is a nice way of saying the villain needs to be almost invincible, stronger, and more cunning than the heroine. This man we found in the character of Boaz Branson, the son of a con man set to salt Jewel’s mine to increase its value as his father had won a percentage of it in a poker game, but will he turn into a hero? And if he does, then who’s really the bad guy? It is a story that includes adventure, gumption, high stakes, murder, and mystery . . . oh, yes, and romance of course!

JEWEL’S GOLD is Book Four in a wonderful multi-author collection, including Amy Lillard, Chautona Having, Jennifer Beckstrand and myself! If you love the history of the wild west, you’re sure to enjoy the Gold Diggers Collection, launched this past month!
JEWEL’S GOLD  is book four in the 2019 Gold Diggers Collection .


Caryl’s offering a free e-book copy of JEWEL’S GOLD to one of the commenters who answer this question:

Would you have followed your husband or want to go yourself to prospect for gold?

~*~

Best-selling author Caryl McAdoo is all about loving God and giving Him glory! Though western historical Christian romance is her favorite genre—especially family sagas—she also writes contemporary Red River Romances, Biblical fiction, and young adults and mid-grade readers. The prolific hybrid author loves singing the new songs the Lord gives her, too. (Take a listen at YouTube) Caryl counts four children and sixteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings. She and high school sweetheart-husband Ron (fifty-plus years) live in the woods of Red River County about five miles south of Clarksville in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State, waiting for God to open the next door.

Website: http://www.CarylMcAdoo.com

Newsletter: http://carylmcadoo.com/sign-up-to-the-caryler/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CarylMcAdoo.author

GoodReads: http://tinyurl.com/GoodReadsCaryl

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CarylMcAdoo

How I fell in Love with New Mexico and the Diné People by Laura Drake

My husband and I have crisscrossed New Mexico on a motorcycle several times, and I fell in love with its harsh beauty. But it wasn’t until we did a bicycle tour across the state that I felt New Mexico. A bicycle is much slower, so you have hours and hours alone on the road to notice: the huge expressive sky that can change moods in minutes; the crumbling walls of rock with striations of color from off-white to ochre; the lonely wind, ruffling the grasses. The land spoke to me in ways no other has; it left marks on my soul.

 Along the way, we learned of the rich history of The People—The Navajo. We rode our bicycles 75 to 100 miles a day, visiting ruins, missions and pueblos.

I even got to pet a wolf! 

 

At night, we met the local tribe. Several shared a meal with us, danced and imparted some of their rich culture and history.

 

I came away with a deep respect for their wisdom, how they live, and how they view the world.

I wanted to honor them in some small way, and my July release, Home at Chestnut Creek, is my attempt at that.

It features a Navaho hero, Joseph ‘Fishing Eagle’ King, a man driven by his past to preserve his culture—who falls in love with a damaged white woman.

Our ‘Tour of the Nations’ bicycle ride is a memory now, but the land and people? They’re in my heart.

 

Home at Chestnut Creek is the second in the Chestnut Creek series, set in the fictional town of Unforgiven, New Mexico.

Find Home at Chestnut Creek here: https://books2read.com/u/49Djad

To enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Home at Chestnut Creek (US only, please), just post a comment answering this question:

Would you take a bike tour? Where would you go? 

Author Bio:

Laura has always been a storyteller.  It began on her front porch, telling ghost stories to the neighborhood kids.  They ran screaming, but kept coming back for more. If she wasn’t telling a story, she had her nose in one, bumping into students in the halls on her way to classes.

Her settings are Western, but Laura grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit.  Always tomboy, she’s always loved the outdoors and adventure. In 1980 she and her sister packed everything they owned into their Pintos and moved to California, sight unseen. There Laura met her husband, a motorcycling, bleed-maroon Texas Aggie, and her love affair with the West began. Discover more about Laura’s books on her website:https://www.lauradrakebooks.com/

THE GILBERT GIRLS ARE HERE! by CAT CAHILL

Hi there! I’m Cat Cahill, author of the Gilbert Girls series. Thank you for letting me sit a while here with you today. I’m going to chat about one of my favorite things—inspiration!

 

I love that moment when a new book idea hits me. It can be quiet or loud, detailed or vague, and sometimes it’s an older idea that’s changed into something new and different. The inspiration behind my Gilbert Girls series was the latter.

 

Several years ago, I was on a long road trip out West and we’d stopped for a few days at the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been, you might remember how steeped in history the Canyon is. From the buildings on the South Rim to the stories of brave souls paddling down the Colorado River, history is everywhere you turn. But one display in a building on the South Rim caught my attention for longer than anything else. It was about the Harvey Girls, and for the life of me, I couldn’t even tell you what was in that display now!

 

         El Tovar, the former Harvey hotel at the Grand Canyon.

 

2 HORSE CARRIAGE TO RIGHT OF FRONT ENTRANCE, EL TOVAR HOTEL. FAMILY ON PORCH. CIRCA 1908

I won’t go much into the history of the Harvey Girls, since there are already several excellent posts on this blog about them. But I was fascinated! I picked up a book about them in the gift shop and devoured it when I returned home. And that was it . . . until a couple of years ago when I got the idea that I wanted to write western historical romance. The Harvey Girls immediately popped into my head. I dug out that book again, did some more research, and I was hooked. But after tons of research, I realized something critical—I couldn’t write about the actual Harvey Girls.

 

I wanted to write a historical western, but most of the existing information about the Harvey Girls dates to 1900 or later; very little is available about the earlier, nineteenth century years. With little to go on and a desire to set my books in the beautiful Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado, I invented my own version of the Harvey Girls — the Gilbert Girls. This gave me the freedom to use the Harvey Girls as inspiration but invent facts where none existed before. What I love most about historical fiction is that it’s a beautiful blend of real-life history and, well, fiction.

 

It allowed me to create a new hotel with invented rules and characters from my head. For example, the Gilbert Girls aren’t allowed to be courted while they’re under contract at the hotel—you can guess how well that goes in a sweet romance book! I can bring in characters of all sorts, like Monroe, the hotel’s builder in the first book, Building Forever, who tries to bury his guilt over losing his wife with his work. Or Penny, in Wild Forever, the most recent book, who is starting over far away from a past that gave her no options at home.

 

Inspiration is a wonderful thing, even if you’re not a writer. I hope you find inspiration in your life, whether it’s to create, to spend more time doing what you love or with the people you cherish, or to think more about the philosophies by which you live your life.

 

What inspires you? Comment below, and you’ll be entered to win one set of signed paperback copies of the first two Gilbert Girls books (if you live outside the US, you’ll receive ebooks through Amazon).

 

Cat’s Bio:

A sunset. Snow on the mountains. A roaring river in the spring. A man and a woman who can’t fight the love that pulls them together. The danger and uncertainty of life in the Old West. This is what inspires Cat to write. She hopes you find an escape in her books!?

Cat lives with her family, a hound dog, and a few cats in Kentucky. When she’s not writing, she’s losing herself in a good book, planning her next travel adventure, doing a puzzle, attempting to garden, or wrangling her kids.?

You can visit Cat at her website, or follow her on Facebook to get all the latest Gilbert Girls news. You can also follow her on Amazon. Or sign up for her newsletter, where she’ll send you Forbidden Forever, the series prequel novella.

 

 

THE LANGUAGE OF YELLOWSTONE by KAREN BARNETT

If I were to drop the words “dudes” and “sagebrush” into a conversation, you might picture cow-punchers out riding the range. Those words probably wouldn’t make you think about hotel maids at Yellowstone National Park, would they? But that’s exactly where my mind goes!

 

Elsie Brookes, the heroine of my new novel, Ever Faithful, works as a hotel housekeeper in 1933 Yellowstone in order to save money for her lifelong dream of attending college. These words are slang terms she and her friends would probably utter on a daily basis. While doing research for the story, I spent several days leafing through historic documents in Yellowstone’s Heritage and Research Center [https://www.yellowstone.org/heritage-and-research-center/] located in Gardiner, Montana. The archivist told me that the college kids who worked for the Yellowstone Park Company’s hotels, lodges, and campgrounds back in the 1930s were known as the “savages” and actually had a unique lingo all their own. Rather than calling themselves maids, dishwashers, and waitresses they were pillow punchers, pearl divers, and heavers. Porters were known as packrats, and the good-looking fellows hired to drive the yellow tour buses answered to “gear-jammer.”  

 

Even the visitors were labeled in fun ways. A tourist who booked a trip on the park’s stagecoaches or touring buses was called a “dude” or “dudette.” Those who stayed overnight in the auto campgrounds were “sagebrushers.”

 

I couldn’t wait to start peppering this slang into my characters’ dialogue. But one of the best finds was yet to come. When I discovered the term for romantic relationships in Yellowstone, I knew I’d struck story gold: rotten-logging. Doesn’t that make you picture an adorable couple sneaking away to smooch in the woods?

So when my novel’s hero, Nate Webber, takes Elsie for a romantic walk, the other “savages” would joke that he’s out “rotten-logging with a pillow-puncher.”

Tell me that doesn’t make you smile!

 

How about this song from the Yosemite Park Camping Company songbook? (Shared courtesy of the Yellowstone Heritage Center).

 

Rotten logging, rotten logging,
That’s what we do each night;
Strolling along under Yellowstone skies
Whispering secrets and making up lies.
They may all say, to hug and to kiss is a crime,
But as soon as it’s dark in Yellowstone Park
It’s rotten logging time.

The fun stories and songs made working in Yellowstone’s hotels sound a bit like going to summer camp, though I imagine the labor wasn’t easy. Last month I took my family to the park to celebrate Ever Faithful’s release, and I had a chance to talk with modern-day equivalents to my characters. Many things have changed since the 1930s. When I asked about the slang terms, they all agreed that no one used them anymore, though they could rattle them off without prompting.

As one of the housekeepers at the Old Faithful Inn fixed a problem in our room, I talked to her about what it was like to work in the hotel. She mostly had positive things to say, though I’m sure they’re warned about complaining to the “dudes.” When I asked about her future plans, she gave me a huge smile and told me she’s been working hard and saving her money. She dreams of going to college.

 

I guess some things don’t change.

 

 

To celebrate the release of this new novel, let’s give away a paperback copy of Ever Faithful! (Winner must be 18 years and older and have a US mailing address).

 

 

So, if you were going to sign up for a summer job in a national park, which one would you choose? Please tell me in the comments below!

 

 

 

Bio: KAREN BARNETT is the award-winning author of Where the Fire Falls and The Road to Paradise and five other novels. A former park ranger and outdoor enthusiast, she loves to share her passion for God’s creation in her books. Karen lives in Oregon with her husband, two teens, and three attention-starved dachshunds.

DAUGHTERS OF THE MAYFLOWER SERIES by KIMBERLEY WOODHOUSE

 

 

When Barbour asked me to anchor the Daughters of the Mayflower series and to write several books for the series, I was thrilled. And completely fascinated with the idea of following a family line through US history from the Mayflower all the way through WWII.

What I didn’t realize was what the research would do for me personally. I love history. Love the west. But what a thrill it was to learn so much more depth about our country’s great history.

 

 

 

For instance, in The Mayflower Bride, (1620) I had to use all the historical people who were actually on the ship and only fictionalized my hero, heroine, and her best friend. Research for this book, I must admit, was brutal. But oh, so worth it. One person in particular has caused hundreds of readers to write in: John Howland. His escapade of falling overboard that I used in the book, really did happen. How he managed to grab the topsail halyard is truly a miracle in and of itself. What’s the most interesting tidbit to me about his whole story is that he ended up having ten children, eighty-eight grandchildren and now? There’s almost two million descendants of his in the United States. Out of all the passengers aboard, he has the most descendants. By almost double. Imagine what would have happened if he had been lost to sea that day.

 

 

Then there was The Patriot Bride (1774-1776). Researching the American Revolution was extraordinary. But in my research, I became engrossed in biographies of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. So, of course, I had to use them in the story. You’ll have to read the book to find out about how I incorporated Ben’s quirkiness and use of “air baths” – and let’s not forget his love of swimming.

 

 

 

 

 

In The Golden Bride, I learned about all the ships buried beneath San Francisco’s streets, and how they expanded the city’s shoreline by building on the landfill. The gold rush of 1849 was not a time and place I would have enjoyed living in!

 

 

Which brings me to The Express Bride, my latest release in the series which takes place in 1860 during the impressive and short era of the Pony Express. For this book, the tagline is: The wilderness is a great place to hide…

 

 

 

 

And it was. The picture from Karen Rochon is a good idea of what the area looks like today – and back then. Hasn’t changed a whole lot. Except for electricity. ? She posted this picture in an avid readers group when she read my book. Can you imagine being that far from “civilization” back then? But the Pony Express stations had to be every 10-20 miles so that the riders had places to stop and eat/sleep, and so there were fresh horses since they rode at breakneck speeds. It cost a small fortune to send something via the Pony Express (approximately $145 equivalent today – to mail a letter!) and yet it was highly used.

 

IMG 3346 credit – Karen Rochon (this picture is about 50 miles east of the Carson Sink Station area from The Express Bride and is what the terrain looks like.)

 

A strong theme of forgiveness is woven through the story with the heroine finding out hidden secrets of her past. And there’s a bit of suspense and espionage too.

Through this series, it’s fun to explore significant events in US history and to find the love of family and friends standing the test of time. Make sure you check out all the other great authors in the series as well. The Express Bride released on July 1, 2019 and it is the 9th in the series.
Thanks for journeying with me today!

God Bless you!

Kimberley

 

 

Giveaway: Leave a comment about your favorite event in US history or your favorite historical character and you’ll be entered in the drawing. I’ll be giving away three signed copies of THE EXPRESS BRIDE along with other goodies.