Category: Guest Author

Welcome Guest – Sunny Marie Baker!!

Hello. I’m Sunny Marie Baker and I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger today at Petticoats and Pistols. From the time I was a child I loved the old west. Watching Roy Rogers and Gene Autry on T.V. I got lost in the stories. I became one of the characters continuing the adventure outside in my yard long after the T.V. show ended. Every Christmas my special gift from Santa was a new pair of cowboy boots. There’s a pair of red ones sitting in my closet right now. Yep, once a cowgirl, always a cowgirl.

Is it any wonder when I began my writing career that I would write western themed novels? It was a no brainer. I write both Western Historical and Contemporary Western Romance, sometimes with a supernatural twist.

I’m currently completing my Texas Strong Series. In this series each book tells the story of a woman who by dire circumstances is transplanted to rural Texas in the 1800’s. Each enters into a marriage of convenience and must become Texas Strong to survive the consequences of her choice.

 

Claree’s Plan, Book Two in the Texas Strong Series, released on August 24th 2018

 

 

 

Claree May Whitney needs a husband and she needs him now!

Claree’s father pledges her as collateral in a high stakes poker game with Angus MacGregor, a repulsive man with the girth of a bull, and Angus wins.

Claree is determined she’ll not marry a bald, drooling man three times her age. On the pretense of a shopping trip to purchase sleeping garments to please her soon-to-be husband, Claree, with the help of her friend, Marguerite, makes her escape. She buys a ticket aboard a rarely-used mail stage to the farthest place her money will take her — Bryce Canyon, Texas.

Rumor has it men are plentiful in Texas and many looking for a wife. She’ll have her pick. Marrying someone else will make null and void the marriage contract her father forced upon her. Yes, that’s what she’ll do, marry a man of her choosing, and Angus MacGregor be damned.

Claree puts her plan into action. What could go wrong?

 

Book One in the Texas Strong Series is Cora’s Promise. One lucky winner chosen by Petticoats and Pistols will win a signed print copy of this first book in the series.

Cora Sutton keeps her promises

She makes a treacherous journey to fulfill a vow to her dying friend, and delivers Berta’s most cherished possession to Ramsey Locke in Rabbit Glen, Texas. Now what? Cora doesn’t have a thought. Doesn’t have a plan. Doesn’t have anywhere to be.

Ramsey is caught by surprise. He never anticipated such a gift. The truth is, he spends hours in the saddle running his ranch and doesn’t have the time required to honor and preserve Berta’s Treasure. He strikes a deal with Cora. She’ll stay on to tend the household duties and make sure Berta’s last wish is upheld. He’ll sleep in the barn.

When the town biddies discern that Cora is pregnant, the church demands Ramsey take responsibility for her condition. “I’ve never so much as kissed the woman,” Ramsey protests. “I’m not the father of her baby.” However, the church folks get out their calendars, and it all adds up for them.

Ramsey gives Cora his name to save her reputation, but will he ever give her his heart?   

Book Three of the Texas Strong Series, Camille’s Purpose is scheduled for release in late 2019.

Thanks again for the opportunity to share these western themed stories of strong women here on Petticoats and Pistols.

(click on covers above to learn more about these books and/or to purchase)

Updated: September 26, 2018 — 1:41 pm

Welcome Guest – Jodi Thomas!!

Hello everyone, Jodi Thomas here.
In a few weeks MISTLETOE MIRACLES will be out as the 7th book in the Ransom Canyon series.  I’m very excited about this one. 

Hold on to your hats this is going to be a wild, funny ride.

I had a series of events, like every writer experiences sometimes, tumble down on me when facing the deadline on this book.  One roadblock after another happened.  Sometimes the real world interrupts my fantasy world. 😉 So, all of a sudden I had a book due, I was suffering from exhaustion, and the holiday season was nearing.

“Rest.” The doctor insisted.  Great.  No talks, no travel, no lectures. I stayed in my pj’s and wrote. The book took over my brain—in truth it wasn’t much of a fight.

All at once the characters were living in my mind, not just subleasing a few hours a day.

I got better and finished the book.  My editor loved it.  Christmas, three love stories, a horse ranch.  I turned it in right after Christmas, getting to live both in real life and in my mind for the holidays.

Then life rushed in.  Travel, talks, business, relatives. I’m behind again. This time on Number 8 that will be out in 2019.

No problem. Then came the head-on car crash. I’m back at home–with a broken leg. Not in fantasy this time. I wrote half the book in a month with my leg propped up.

I’m starting to see why BREAK A LEG means good luck.  Maybe whoever made it up was talking to me.

So, I googled it:

A phrase of encouragement typically said to one who is about to perform before an audience, especially an actor. It is thought to be used due to the superstition that wishing one “good luck” will result in the opposite, but the exact origin of the phrase is unknown.

I also researched jobs and found that being a cowboy ranks at the 4th more dangerous job in America.   All of us who’ve been tossed from a horse are yelling, “Amen” right now.

So ladies and gentlemen, enjoy my MISTLETOE MIRACLES this fall with my three cowboys on the Maverick Ranch because next spring while I’m writing book number 9, one of my heroes is going to break a leg for a change, and I plan to stay healthy.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Mistletoe Miracles to kick off your holiday reading.  I’d love to hear what your lucky saying is.

And don’t forget to sign up for a three-day stay at my hideout in Red River, New Mexico.  You pick the season, they’re all beautiful.  Just check the rules on my website:  jodithomas.com.    

Heather Blanton – The Ghosts of Horses Past Live On

Hello everyone. Please welcome Heather Blanton to the Junction. Heather is sponsoring a very generous 4 item giveaway today – three individuals will receive her e-book box set of the Romance in the Rockies trilogy and one will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. So join  in the discussion by leaving a comment to get your name tossed in the hat for your chance at one of these prizes. 
Now, let’s hear from Heather:


Legends, myths, ghost stories. Experts say they are all rooted in at least some fact. Recently, I had the honor to see some Spanish ponies—genetically-proven descendants of horses left in the West by Spanish explorer Coronado in 1519. Five hundred years ago.

Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to hear the stories the braves and the medicine men and chiefs told about seeing those amazing, beautiful animals for the first time.

The initial sightings did, indeed, spawn some amazing tales. I heard a few of them when I was in South Dakota this summer, and my favorite is the Legend of Swift Blue One.

One day a brave was out hunting, and he saw a horse draped in flowing, blue raiment with a man covered in shiny metal on its back. Afraid, but determined to show courage, the warrior shot an arrow at this amazing animal. It struck a crack in the man’s metal and he fell to the ground. The brave rushed up and was going to shoot again, but, the stallion, a mystical blue-gray color, pawed angrily at the ground, screamed, and bared his teeth when the brave approached.

The brave wanted very badly to possess this animal, but each time he came near, the blue horse chased him away. Through signs, the man on the ground said if the warrior would save his life, he would teach him to talk to the horse called Swift Blue One.

The warrior agreed, and he and the man rode the horse back to his tribe, amazing everyone in camp at this spectacle. But the horse was fierce, kicking and attempting to bite anyone who came too close. The man taught the young brave how to talk to blue horse, but soon died from his wound. The only other one who could ride the magnificent animal, the brave still did not remove the covers that draped around Swift Blue Horse. He believed they kept the stallion from harming anyone in camp.

The blue horse was the fastest creature the tribe had ever seen. They said he had lightning in his hoofs. When the brave died in battle, though, the elders turned the horse out for no one else could talk to him. For a long time they would see him racing about, kicking up his hoofs, calling for others to join him.

Soon, Swift Blue One had gathered many horses to himself and was chief of them all. His herd grew large and his offspring were many. His descendants still roam the great plains of the West today. Some say if you look hard enough, you will see the ghost of Swift Blue One running among his children, his blue raiment flickering in the sun.

I love that story. During a visit to the Black Hills Wild Horse Preserve I saw the Spanish ponies——and the Swift Blue Ones were there, too.

 

Click on cover to learn more

There is an old poem in my forthcoming release, Daughter of Defiance, that a reader gave me about a horse with four white socks. Supposedly, not a good thing.

I am giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and digital copies of my Defiance books—all of which were just optioned by a movie producer! To WIN, just comment with any story, old wives’ tale, or legend you know about a horse. I’d LOVE to hear them!

And if you’d like to learn more about wild horses and their stories, I hope you’ll check out the Black Hills Wild Horse Preserve.

 

 

 

Updated: September 5, 2018 — 11:54 am

Welcome Guest – Charlene Raddon!!!


Placer Mining

Gold is found in tough clay. To dissolve the clay the miner fills a pan made of sheet-iron or tinned iron, with a flat bottom about a foot in diameter, and sides six inches high, inclining outwards at an angle of thirty or forty degrees. At a river bank, he squats down, puts his pan under water, and shakes it horizontally. Once the mass is thoroughly soaked, he picks out the larger stones, mashes up the largest and toughest lumps of clay, and again shakes his pan. When all the dirt appears to be dissolved, allowing the heavier gold to move to the bottom, he tilts up the pan a little to let the thin mud and light sand run out, until he has washed out all except the metal, which remains in the pan.

The arrastra, a Mexican contrivance, rude, but effective, was used in the early days to pulverize the ore. Winnowing, or “drywashing” was also practiced by the Mexicans where the ore was found too far away from a sufficient supply of water to make any other practice possible. The wind bears away the dust and light particles of earth, and leaves the gold dust, which is heavier.

The rocker resembles a child’s cradle. On the upper end is a riddle, made with a bottom of sheet-iron punched with holes. This is filled with pay dirt and rocked with one hand, while, with a dipper, the miner pours water into the riddle with the other. Being agitated, the liquid dissolves the clay and carries it down with the gold into the floor of the rocker, where the metal is caught by traverse riffles, or cleats. The mud, water, and sand run off at the lower end of the rocker, which is left open. The riddle can be removed, allowing the miner to throw out the larger stones mixed with the clay.

The chief want of the placer miner was an abundant, convenient supply of water not always readily available. One resolution was an artificial channel about two miles long. After eight years, six thousand miles of mining canals supplied water to all the principal placer districts of Nevada and furnished the means for obtaining the greater portion of the gold yield.

Where the surface of the ground furnished the proper grade, a ditch was dug. Where it did not, flumes were built of wood, sustained in the air by framework that rose sometimes to a height of three hundred feet in crossing deep ravines, and extending for miles at an elevation of 100-200 feet. Aqueducts of wood, and pipes of iron, were suspended upon cables of wire, or sustained on bridges of wood; and inverted siphons carried water up the sides of one hill by the heavier pressure from the higher side of another.

In Nevada, a total length of 6,000 miles of canals and flumes were created. The largest mine, the Eureka, had 205 miles of ditches, constructed at a cost of $900,000. As placers were gradually exhausted, the demand for water and the profits of ditch companies decreased. Flumes, blown down by severe storms, carried away by floods, or destroyed by the decay of the wood, were not repaired.

The sluice was a broad trough from 100-1000 feet long, with transverse cleats at the lower end to catch the gold. With a descent of one foot in twenty, the water rushes through it like a torrent, bearing down large stones, and tearing the lumps of clay to pieces. The miners had little to do save throw in the dirt and take out the gold.

In Hydraulic mining a stream of water is directed under heavy pressure against a bank or hillside, tearing the earth down and carrying it into the sluice to be washed. The force of a stream of water rushing through a two-inch pipe, under a pressure of two hundred feet perpendicular caused hills to crumble as if piles of cloud blown away by a breath of wind. When dried by months of constant heat and drought, the clay becomes so hard, not even the hydraulic stream, with all its

momentum, could steadily dissolve it. Often the miner would cut a tunnel into the heart of his claim, and blast the clay loose with powder, so that it yielded more readily to the action of water.

The erection of a long sluice, the cutting of drains (often necessary to carry off the tailings), and the purchase of water from the ditch company, required capital; and the manner of clearing up rendered it impossible for workers to steal much of the gold. Thus, the custom of hiring miners for wages became common in placer diggings.

Even today, men continue to search for gold and some manage to find enough to keep them going. Others give up and return home. I found gold once, at Knotts Berry Farm in California. I was eight years old. I wish I still had that miniscule vial of gold flakes, but it was lost long ago.

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Priscilla is Book 1 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series. It is on preorder now and will be released on 9/15. There will be 17 books (or more) released the first and fifteenth of each month. Book 2, Blessing, by Caroline Clemmons is also up for preorder. There are ten authors: Charlene Raddon, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbot, Tracy Garrett, Christine Sterling, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Pam Crooks, Kit Morgan, Margaret Tanner, and Kristy McCaffrey. The series is about a Utah gold mining town in which the mine has been destroyed, killing off most of the men and leaving the women and children destitute and at the mercy of a greedy mine owner who also owns the town. To save their town they must remarry. Forty-six strong, determined women set out to save their town and find love at the same time.

After losing her father and husband in a mine disaster, Priscilla Heartsel faces poverty and eviction from her home by a heartless mine owner. Tricked into a bank robbery gone wrong, Braxton Gamble finds himself shot and unconscious in Priscilla’s bed. Can they survive long enough to find a love more precious than gold?

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Charlene will be giving away two e-books.
One will a be copy of her brand new release – Priscilla (delivered 9/15).
Another will be the winner’s choice of any of her backlist titles.
You can find all of her books listed on her website
here.
Leave a comment for a chance to win!

America Needs Westerns by Mike Torreano

My western mystery, The Reckoning, was recently released by The Wild Rose Press. It’s set in 1868 and follows Ike McAlister, a Union soldier who returns from the Civil War to his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas to find that his parents have been killed by Quantrill’s raiders. He sets out on a single-minded hunt to find the murderers; a search that takes him to the high plains of Colorado. My sequel, The Renewal, set in South Park, Colorado, 1872, was released in March 2108, also by The Wild Rose Press.

Let’s talk westerns for a minute. We’ve all heard that the traditional American western is dead—which prompts the question, ‘If that’s so, why write westerns?’ Well, it’s true the golden age of westerns was some time back. Since then, there’s been a bit of a dry spell until recently when several big box office westerns based on great new novels have been released.

Are they’re coming back? It sure seems like it. Why would they be mounting a return? Probably because westerns and the Old West embody timeless values—a place and time where right triumphs over wrong. Not always, certainly, but in our stories it does. The American West in the nineteenth century was a black and white society with clear-cut rules—there were things you were supposed to do as well as things you weren’t. And if you did wrong, there were consequences, oftentimes immediate.

Code of the West

There was a code of the West, even observed among the bad guys. Simple rules for simpler times. Unwritten, but adhered to nonetheless. The Code drew its strength from the underlying character of westerners, both men and women alike. Life back then was hard, but it was also simple. Things that needed to get done got done. Whining wasn’t tolerated. Complainers were ignored. You weren’t a victim. You played the hand you were dealt.

If you’re getting the idea I like that kind of culture, you’re right.

The world we live in today sometimes baffles me. Everything seems to be different shades of gray. Honor and fidelity seem to be out of fashion. People are entitled. The media are advocates, not observers.

While the Code of the West was unwritten and existed in various forms, there were certain common elements everyone—from the hard-working sodbuster, to the law-abiding citizen, to the hardened criminal—typically abided by. Granted, there were exceptions, but generally that held true.

In 2004, Jim Owens synthesized the Code into ten guiding principles in his book, Cowboy Ethics- What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West.

  1. Live each day with courage.
  2. Take pride in your work.
  3. Always finish what you start.
  4. Do what has to be done.
  5. Be tough, but fair.
  6. Keep your promises.
  7. Ride for the brand.
  8. Talk less and say more.
  9. Some things aren’t for sale.
  10. Know where to draw the line.

Let’s look at three of these.

How about number seven—Ride for the Brand. It means be loyal to the people in your life—from family and friends, to those you work for. Support the people you’re involved with.

Take a look at number four—Do what has to be done. Life is oftentimes messy. Our days are filled with ups and downs, and we make choices all the time. This is about choosing to get done what has to be done, then getting on with life.

Next, there’s number nine—Some things aren’t for sale. The Code gave westerners a guide to live by that they broke at their own peril. Are there still things today that aren’t for sale? What are they for you? They might be different for each of us, but at the end of the day I’d wager we all still have values that are non-negotiable. After all, values don’t really change—only times, circumstances, and people do.

The good news is the values the Code embodied haven’t vanished from today’s America, but more often than not it seems they have been marginalized. Popular culture tends to look down on old-time values, or should I say the timeless values of nineteenth century America. We’re an instant gratification society that focuses on the here and now, and disregards the lessons of the past. Imagine a world where you sat with your family for dinner at night, even going so far as to talk with each other. Imagine a world where a man’s word, and a woman’s, was their bond. Where handshakes took the place of fifty-page contracts and lawyers.

Arthur Chapman captured these principles in a poem he penned in 1917.

“Out Where The West Begins”

Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing,

Where there’s more of giving and less of buying,

And a man makes friends without half trying—

That’s where the West begins.

So, yes, occasionally I yearn for those simpler times amid the hustle and bustle of our world. We’re inundated today with various media from morning to night. Sometimes Ike’s and Lorraine’s world-my main characters-looks pretty appealing. Especially right now.

At the end of the day, westerns remind us of our solid roots and what we were and could become again. That’s why the American western will never die.

To buy a copy of Mike’s latest release The Renewal, click here

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Mike is giving away the winner’s choice of either a print or digital copy of his novel, The Renewal. To be entered in the drawing leave a comment about one of the ten Code of  West principles listed above.

Updated: August 27, 2018 — 4:17 pm

Good Gravy By Crystal L Barnes

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

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

                                  

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

For example, did you know…?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Updated: August 17, 2018 — 8:26 am

Why Pinkertons? By Debra E. Marvin

The Pinkerton Detective Agency is a fascinating part of our history.  Are you envisioning a clever, handsome man in a well-cut suit and matching black Stetson? (like James Garner in Maverick? Okay, so I’m showing my age!) A fascinating mix of cowboy and secret agent? Is it the idea that “they never sleep” until they’ve  “gotten their man”?

The Pinkerton Detective Agency came about when Scottish immigrant Allen Pinkerton, working in a

small business in a Chicago suburb, turned in some information on illegal activity he’d been watching in his neighborhood. In a matter of years he’d become a trusted private detective and gathered the notice of the government well before the time of the CIA or FBI.  Before Abraham Lincoln took office, Pinkertons were at work behind the scenes to ensure his safety, and went on to work for the Union Army. Post war, their offices expanded across the country due to high demand by business owners, politicians and law enforcement agencies.

Pinkertons were hired as detectives (public inquiry) or operatives (undercover) and sometimes on a temporary basis.  At one time, those employed by the agency numbered more than those enlisted in the armed services.

While we romanticize their lives, it was both dangerous and isolating. An undercover operative might live under a false identity for years just to infiltrate an organization.  And, as a ‘for-hire’ agency, Pinkertons often became enemies of the working class because of their association with big business and big government, including their reputation as union-busters.

Allen Pinkerton was an unusual self-made man driven by the idea that justice was above all part of a healthy democracy, even if justice meant living a lie… a means to an end.  We have to assume he enjoyed intrigue and danger, as did most of his agents and operatives. They weren’t paid well, and living conditions were often difficult. After all, to infiltrate the Molly McGuires, Operative James McParland worked in the coal mines and took part in what amounted to brutal gang warfare, just to keep his cover over a three-year period.

Women were also agents—the original and most famous was Kate Warne—often acting as spies during the Civil War. Oooh! I smell a story!

Needless to say, the Pinkertons, or at least their legend, continues to fuel fictional stories…like mine.

A DANGEROUS DECEPTION

Jerome, Arizona Territory, 1899
When Andromeda Barr left her colorful past behind in pursuit of a normal—albeit solo—life, she didn’t exactly settle for the mundane. Performing is in her blood, and right now she has to believe she’s lying for all the right reasons—justice for the excluded, the overlooked of society—a debt she owes to the two unusual people who raised her.

Pinkerton Agent Connell O’Brien is on the trail of a wanted murderer holed up in ‘the wickedest town in the west.’ Hiding his identity is part of the job, but when he meets the surprising Miss Barrington, he begins to wonder how many secrets are too many.

Two close calls with disaster seem to suggest it’s time they both stop running from the guilt of the past and let mercy catch up, but will these two solo acts join forces before the danger of discovery becomes a matter of life or death?

Buy Debra’s book here on Amazon

I’ll be giving away one digital ebook of A Dangerous Deception and one paperback to two random commenters.  (Please note if you are interested and if you can accept a kindle version!)

And, at this time, my newsletter promotion is still open. New Subscribers will be entered in a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. 

Readers, what Pinkerton story have you enjoyed, or what do you expect in a story when you hear there’s a Pinkerton character? What makes them compelling?    

 

 

 

Updated: July 30, 2018 — 2:49 pm

When Good People Make Bad Mistakes by Laura Drake

 

‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’

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

– Al Franken

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Laura Drake’s books here. 

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

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

 

 

Updated: July 31, 2018 — 10:26 am

WIVES WANTED by KIM VOGEL SAWYER

(Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Photo Archives.)

I can’t honestly explain why, but the concept of “mail-order brides” has always intrigued me. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, wanting every lonely heart to find its true love. Maybe it’s the adventurous side, seeking the challenge of conquering the unknown. Whatever the reason, the concept has crept into two of my historical novels (A Hopeful Heart in 2010; and Beneath a Prairie Moon earlier this year), and in both I had a rip-roarin’ good time writing the stories.

The thing is, God created man and woman and designed the two to complement each other. So it shouldn’t be surprising that men in the West who were all alone wanted wives. Nor should it make us shake our heads in wonder that unmarried women would be interested in securing a husband. There were several “matchmaker” businesses in operation during the mid-to-late 1800s, and there were also a number of private individuals who posted ads—either men requesting a wife or women offering themselves for marriage. Historians differ on how many of these unions were truly happy, but when one is writing fiction, of course we shoot for the “happily ever after.”

I actually wrote Beneath a Prairie Moon to satisfy readers’ requests for another mail-order bride story similar to A Hopeful Heart. In A Hopeful Heart, a woman rancher brings inept Eastern women to her ranch and teaches them how to be ranchers’ wives before matching them up with local single ranchers. I twisted that around in Beneath a Prairie Moon and instead made the group of men seeking brides the inept ones when it came to courtship, and Mrs. Helena Bingham, owner of Bingham’s Bevy of Brides, would not send her girls to louts! So she sent one of her girls—one who’d been rejected by several matches already due to her hoity-toity attitude—to teach these men to be tender, attentive husbands.

Oh, such fun to place this young woman who’d been cast from high society (through no fault of her own) into a rough and rugged Kansas town and watch her interact with these goodhearted but very lacking-in-social-niceties men. Throw in a no-nonsense bow-legged sheriff (think Festus from “Gunsmoke”), good ol’ unpredictable Kansas weather, a storekeeper determined to find his bride the old-fashioned way, and a desperate man who’ll steal a wife if he can’t buy one, and— Well, let’s just say I had a good time. I’m not exactly a humor writer, but humor developed naturally as Abigail tried so hard to tame these untamable fellows, and I laughed out loud more during the writing of this book than any other.

Yes, there’s something intriguing about placing two strangers together and watching them find a way to mesh their lives and maybe, just maybe, discover their one true love.

 

(Btw, if I were a wife seeking a husband and had to pick from the fellows in the photograph at the beginning of this post, I’d take the second from the left. Can you guess why? Answer that question and your name will go into a drawing to win a copy of either of my mail-order brides books—your choice!)

May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him!
Kim

 

BIO: In 1966, Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in libraries. That little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Since then, Kim has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings. With almost 50 titles on library shelves and more than a 1.5 million copies of her books in print worldwide, she enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, live in small-town Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s novels. When she isn’t writing, Kim stays active serving in her church’s women’s and music ministries, traveling with “The Hubs,” and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings. You can learn more about Kim’s writing or find purchasing links for all of her books at http://www.KimVogelSawyer.com.

A SALUTE TO THE SPAGHETTI WESTERN by TINA RADCLIFFE

Saloon, telegraph office and wooden water tower along the dirt road of an old American western town

Spaghetti Western, also known as Italian Western or Macaroni Western, is a broad subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone’s film-making style and international box-office success. –Wikipedia.

Are you familiar with Spaghetti Westerns? Over five hundred of these films were made in the sixties and they are now cult classics. Wildly popular in Europe, they were low budget and released first in Europe and then in the states.

Probably the most well-known of the Spaghetti Westerns are Clint Eastwood’s Dollar Trilogy, also known as The Man with No Name Trilogy and included, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Clint Eastwood became the first megastar of the Spaghetti Western with these films.

Where American Westerns featured the white hat hero with strong moral fiber, the heroes of the Spaghetti Western were cynical loners with a less than honorable past. These heroes are what is referred to as the Delta Hero. He’s dark and dangerous. Typically, a damaged hero who exiles himself from society and takes on loner/outlaw status. Will he do the right thing in the end? The only thing that’s certain is that he is unpredictable.

The cinematographic style of Spaghetti Westerns made the scenery another character in these movies. Desolate, dusty, dry towns and countryside evoked an imagery of death and doom. The films over-utilized long shots, suspense and the element of surprise.

The musical score too is far more memorable and intrinsic to these film than the American Western, often utilizing rock scores and the electric guitar heavily. The music built an increasing sense of tension and suspense. You most likely can remember the music to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Can you recall the thematic music to any American Western? I’m guessing not.

Fistful of Dollars
For a Few Dollars More
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

From the Spaghetti Western Database, I give you the top ten Spaghetti Westerns voted the essential classics of the genre.

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -1966 starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.

2. Once Upon a Time in the West -1966 starring Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robards.

3. For a Few Dollars More -196 starring Clint Eastwood, Klaus Kinski and Lee Van Cleef.

4. The Great Silence -1968 starring Klaus Kinski and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

5. A Fistful of Dollars -1964 starring Clint Eastwood.

6. Django -1966 starring Franco Nero.

7. The Big Gundown -1966 starring Lee Van Cleef.

8. The Mercenary -1968 starring Franco Nero and Jack Palance.

9. Companeros –1970 starring Franco Nero.

10. Death Rides a Horse -1967 starring Lee Van Cleef.

How about some favorite lines from Spaghetti Westerns?

When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk. – Eli Wallach, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig. -Clint Eastwood, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Alive or dead, it’s your choice. –Clint Eastwood, For a Few Dollars More.

The heart, Ramon. Don’t forget the heart. Aim for the heart, or you’ll never stop me. –Clint Eastwood, A Fistful of Dollars.

Are you a fan of the Spaghetti Western? Any favorites?

Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win a print or ecopy of Falling for the Cowgirl. Two winners! International readers welcome!

Falling for the Cowgirl (Big Heart Ranch Book 2)

She won the job…

Can he win her heart?

Hiring Amanda “AJ” McAlester as his assistant at the Big Heart Ranch isn’t foreman Travis Maxwell’s first choice—but his sisters insist she’s perfect for the job. And AJ’s determined to prove she’s just as qualified as any man. But with money on the line, AJ and her innovative ideas could put him at risk of losing everything…including his heart.

Order link   http://a.co/exgvsmo

 

 

 

A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe has sold over two dozen romances to Woman’s World. Tina is an RWA Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award winner. She is a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year and a 2018 Carol Award finalist. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance. Visit her on the web at http://www.tinaradcliffe.com/ 

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015