Category: Behind the Book

Making a List for the Perfect Wife…or Husband

 

Are you a list-maker?

Pen and InkA wonderful friend of mine, when she was young, made a list of qualities that she wanted in a husband. She wrote it on purple paper with purple ink (The color purple is kind of her thing. Her house is varying shades of lavender…along with her garden…her clothes…and her Christmas tree decorations.) She put the list away and forgot about it. It survived through many years and several of her moves.

A few years ago after she’d been happily married for more than fifteen years, she came across her list. Lo and behold, the man she married after meeting him on an internet dating site turned out to fulfill all the qualities she’d long ago written on her list. I thought that was pretty amazing. And I decided to use the same idea in my book that is coming out in late December.

As you may remember from some of my other posts on the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Society of Oak Grove has been busy sponsoring mail-order brides for the many lonely bachelors in the area.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, takes place in the spring of 1879 in Kansas and the good doctor is in need of a nurse. Nelson Graham figures that by marrying a smart, resourceful woman, he’ll get both—a nurse and a wife. It’s a win/win situation, or so he thinks. The first train-load of women have come and married men in the town and he sees that they are all quite happy. So, with the second train-load of women, he is set to make a play for the perfect woman for him.

Here is an excerpt ~                      

Left to himself, Nelson considered the notes he’d made earlier that day and withdrew the paper from his vest pocket. It was a “wish list” of sorts. Likely, no woman would meet all his expectations, but perhaps it would help him stay on course as he considered each of them.

  • Amiable.
  • Biddable.
  • Able to take constructive criticism.
  • Skilled in the domestic chores: cooking, laundry, cleaning, sewing and gardening.
  • Willing to work by his side as his nurse.
  • Quiet. He didn’t want a woman who disrupted his research or his daily habits.
  • Willing to put another’s needs ahead of her own.

He’d added the last as a cautionary point, remembering his fiancé. He’d thought they were compatible in all things, but then suddenly she had broken off the engagement, unable to accept the numerous times he’d been called away to help someone who was ailing.

He wouldn’t let that happen again. What he needed was a practical woman as his wife. She didn’t need to be a raging beauty, but like any man, he wouldn’t mind if she was pleasant to look upon.

He tucked the paper back into his pocket and headed to his office. Now, all he had to do was interview the ladies, one at a time, and see which one came closest to fulfilling his wish list.

I hope you enjoyed that short passage. As for list-making, I think there are those that are prone to making lists and those who keep everything in their head. I tend to be someone who has a list for everything – shopping, daily chores, books I want to read, goals for the day, the month, the year and on and on. Then of course there is the infamous “bucket list!” Even though I don’t always meet the goals I set, they are at least in front of me (making me feel guilty!)

What about you? Are you someone who makes lists and if so—what are the things on it?
What type of qualities would you list for the perfect mate? 

For those who comment, you will be entered into a giveaway drawing for a copy of
Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Welcome Lena Nelson Dooley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What time period do you prefer reading about? 

Who is your favorite western author?

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

 

Buy links:

Print – http://ow.ly/X7HK30fC0IV

Kindle – http://ow.ly/Qyth30fC0Ym

 

Where to you get your ideas…a fable

It’s a recurring question I get, Where do you get your ideas.

For a long time I just thought it was one of those impossible to answer questions.

Then I decided I’d better figure it out and I came up with a nice little explanation for where I got my ideas.

Where do you get your ideas????????????????

Now, lately I’ve decided I’m misunderstanding the question. People don’t really mean ‘where do you get your ideas.’ Instead I think they mean ‘how do you get it all together.’ Not how do you get the idea for the book, but how do you get all the details figured out, put in order, set up so the story whizzes along. Now THAT is a mysterious question. My mom says it this way, “I don’t know how you do it.”

And it is a little strange not just that ideas come to life in my head, or I read something and it sparks an idea for a whole book, that happens a lot. But all the pieces, all the DETAILS, that’s what I think people are really asking when they say, “Where do you get your ideas.”

Anyway, while I pondered this I got to thinking about all the strange elements that need to come together to create a full length book, with characters who are three dimensional and true to themselves,

Shipping from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all online booksellers, and in bookstores NOW!

who learn and grow. Characters who have trouble in their past that cause struggles and fears in their present. And I was thinking about the DETAILS of that and how the Cimarron Legacy series came to life and I remembered some of what sparked the idea for the book.

And this fable I read popped into my head. This fable is my own slightly fictionalized version of a TRUE fable I read. About a real mesa that had sheer sides and no trail to the top…with a city on top of it.

And the fable of how that city got up there and where the people went who build those buildings on a mesa with no way up.

So I am sharing today, a legend that was in NO WAY UP and included it in this post to give you an idea of one of the many, many steps I took to create a four book series.

Then once the mesa was explained, we had the adult and very TOUGH children of a rancher. This second generation is fighting to save the ranch while the father is healing and a LONG TIME GONE.

And included in my research of these New Mexico mesas, I found; Spanish Land Grants. a war that changed the borders of two nations, the Philmont Scout Ranch…and I found GOLD. Yes, I have a gold mine, an old one, dug deep, in fact some might say they dug TOO FAR DOWN!!!

All these elements wouldn’t even FIT in one book. So I’m glad I had four. Don’t forget the free novella prequel, which is coming out in print next year if you don’t read ebooks, but it’ll cost money then! 🙂

The Boden Birthright The story that began it all. Free in all ebook formats.

Too Far Down, book four of this series released this month. To celebrate I’m pondering the whole series and I remembered one of the original elements and this old fable, twisted by me, to make it fit my story.

The Myth of el Caletra Meseta

“It’s a very ancient legend, handed down by the old ones who lived atop that mesa and they had a hidden way into the heart of the mountain.”

“The men were hunters and the women tilled the soil. They would come down from on top of their impregnable fortress every day, do their work, then return to el Caletra Meseta to sleep. A single man, standing guard, could fight off an army. Our home here at Meseta Blanco is the same.”

“And then one day the Evil Below the Earth shook the world until it split apart. The hand of the Evil One reached up and dragged the stairs into the belly of the earth as if they’d never been. It came during the day so many were off the mesa top, but the villagers who were trapped on high faced death as their food and water dwindled. They called out to the Creator of All Things.

“Their cries were answer. The Creator came as a great wind, swept them up and carried them in cradling arms to safety. Though they had carved the stairs and could carve more, they believed the stairs collapsing was a warning and they feared He would not send the wind the next time, and they would be stranded forever. They found other homes and many of their stories vanished along with them. But this one remains.”

The story of el Caletra…a myth grounded in truth.

All civilizations have myths. Tell me one you know to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of Too Far Down.

And if you’d like to keep up with my book news, please sign up for my newsletter HERE

http://www.maryconnealy.com  

Updated: October 19, 2017 — 8:24 am

Shelley Shepard Gray: The Story Behind The Book

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a boxed set of her series.

Life is Tough. Read Romance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Updated: October 3, 2017 — 7:58 pm

WELCOMING FALL WITH A NEW RELEASE! by CHERYL PIERSON

Hi everyone! What better way to kick off our fall special events week here at PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS than with some good news about a new book? The end of the year is in sight and with it comes such a time crunch for most of us. In the publishing world, things begin to gear up toward the end of August and don’t grind to a slow-down until Christmas. Holiday stories must be gotten out in a timely manner for readers, and there are many contests that deadline at Dec. 31, as well.

 

In the midst of all that, I managed to finally get one of my own short novels out, and what a joy! THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON started out as a short story for our Prairie Rose Publications anthology, Sweet Texas Christmas. BUT, sometimes stories take on a life of their own, and this one did just that. It soon became obvious that it was not going to be eligible to include in the anthology when the word count topped 20K and I was only about halfway finished. These characters needed a longer story! Here’s the “short” version:

A woman with no home…

Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…

The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?

In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON is available now for pre-order for KINDLE, and will release on October 26 in both digital and paperback. It’s full of action, suspense, and of course, Christmas magic!

Here’s the link to pre-order your very own copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SJX8SL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506003195&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Miss+Julia+Jackson%3C%2Fstrong%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Fall is definitely here, and it’s time to settle down with a good book in a comfy chair with a favorite beverage (and maybe some chocolate!) and read, read, read!

 

The Spirit of the Wolf — The American Indian Scout

Howdy! And welcome to another Tuesday blog. Before I go into the most interesting part of the blog and tell you about the awesome abilities of the American Indian scouts of old, I wanted to mention that I’ll be giving away an ebook of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF. Just leave a comment and you are automatically entered into the drawing for the book — remember to look over the Giveaway Guidelines at the right side of this page.

One other important point:  I rely on you to come to the blog tomorrow (Wednesday — usually at night) or Thursday to see if you have won.  Unlike some other sites, we don’t necessarily contact you if you are the winner.  So please do check back.
apachescout4The reason why I’m giving away the ebook, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is because it is a book about a hero who is, among other things, a scout.  In researching this profession, I ran across some extremely interesting abilities that these men of old had.  Now, I find it interesting, indeed, that these men could tell from a mere trail the thoughts, health, etc. of the man/woman/animal who had left that trail.  This information, some of which I’ll quote, comes from the book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., a man, who as a young boy was taken under the wing of an old Apache scout, and who was trained by that man as a scout.
 Grandfather is what Mr. Brown called this old Apache scout.  So this passage is from this book.“(Grandfather) defined the tracking that we had done as typical or novice tracking, but the tracking of the scout was defined as master tracking.  Even at the onset, the difference became obvious.  Grandfather told us that the earth was like an open book, filled with stories.  These stories were written not only in the softest ground but also on every other type of soil even on rock…”arikarascoutMr. Brown goes on to say, “To this day, the greatest tracking thrill of my life was when Grandfather first showed me how to read track “compressions” in impossible soils and on solid rock…”And here is where one really begins to learn about the old American Indian Scouts (those scouts who worked for the United States army were not the scouts of old). Anyway, again, another quote from THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, “You must stop looking at the tracks as lifeless depressions in the ground. Instead, and you have noticed inside of the track is a tiny landscape.  There are hills, valleys, peaks, ridges, domes, pocks, and countless other little features.  These features the scouts developed into a science, that which they call the ‘pressure releases.’  It is through these pressure releases that the scout can know everything about the animal or man that he is tracking.  The scouts of my clan could identify and define over four thousand of these pressure releases, and I know of no peoples of the earth that have been able to do the same.

curlycrowscoutMr. Brown goes on to explain in his book how these pressure releases can be read and identified, and he goes on to say that because man or animals are stabilized by their feet on the ground, they are always in motion and always having to keep balance — even to the tiniest of moves.  It’s because of this constant need to keep balance and shift that produces the “pressure releases.”IndianScouts2Mr. Brown also says that he and his friend, Rick, who was learning about tracking also, would start to identify their own moods and look at the pressure releases and note the difference between that mood and some other emotion — and study their own tracks — he says that everyone became a source of study.

He even mentions that “Grandfather taught us to expand our awareness and tracking beyond even that level.  He would stand beside a tree, point to a missing limb and ask, “How long ago was this done?  What did it and how?  What direction did the cutter come from?  Was his axe or saw dull or sharp, was he right- or left-handed, what degree of strength did he have?  Grandfather told us that we should always hold one question in our minds at all times:  What is this telling me?”

Charles EastmanIndian&boyscoutsBy the way, the picture to the left is a picture of a young Charles Eastman, a Sioux Indian, who became a lawyer for his people.  I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) that it was Charles Eastman who had a hand in establishing the Boy Scouts long, long ago.  If he didn’t establish it, he certainly helped to create it.  Charles Eastman also wrote several books with the help of his wife, whom he met in collage.  She was white.  I believe some time ago, there was a television story concerning Charles Eastman and his wife, and I believe that Adam Beach played the part of Charles Eastman.  This was an interesting fact to learn for me, because I have never really known that the Boy Scouts came to us from the American Indian — I had never stopped to consider it until I read about it from either one of Charles Eastman’s books or another book.

adambeachascharleseastmanAt the left here is a picture of Adam Beach playing Charles Eastman.  : )

Well, that’s all for today.  Next blog I’d like to tell you a little about the water dance of the scout.  Did you know there was such a thing?  I can’t help but think sometimes that it is a shame that one culture coming in will often destroy the culture that is there already.  There is so much we could have learned from the American Indian of old.  I always look forward to these blogs so that I can tell you a little about what I’ve learned because I think it so vital to keep these things alive.

SpiritoftheWolf-The-R -- first draftAnd so today, I’m giving away a free e-book of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, one of my stories that delves deeply into the scout and how this influences the heroine of the story.

So come on in, leave a comment, and let me know what you think of this very vital role of the American Indian culture, the Scout.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075Q76CYJ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1505744070&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Spirit+of+the+Wolf+by+Karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: September 19, 2017 — 6:40 am

FAMILY HISTORY–DO YOU USE IT IN YOUR WRITING? by CHERYL PIERSON


My mother was the oldest of eleven children. In her younger days when I was growing up, and on into my early adulthood, she reminded me of Aunt Pittypat in Gone With the Wind—not in looks or mannerisms, but in the way that she knew the relationships between people–and not just in our family! Growing up in a small Oklahoma town, Mom knew the ins and outs of most every other family in that small community—but so did everyone else. That old saying about everyone knowing your business in a small town was so true…but what a legacy of stories she provided me with to write about!

 

A relative who hung his pocket watch up on the wall to “give it a rest” overnight. Another relative who, shunned by his prominent businessman father, (we don’t know why) rode a bicycle all over town selling condoms. What better way to embarrass him?

Then there were the sadder tales…the little boy who crawled under the porch and drank tree poison and died. All those many years later, my mother would get teary remembering how she and her 12-year-old best friend, Mary, attended the funeral.

The family who lost five of their six children—they’d gone out to pick berries and taken shelter under a big tree when a storm hit. Lightning struck the tree and killed many of them, but the oldest brother crawled to a farmhouse for help. In the end, he was the only survivor.

MY MOM, EL WANDA STALLINGS MOSS, AND MY DAD, FREDERIC MOSS (NEWLYWEDS–1944)

 

Another story that, in this time would be almost unbelievable is that of a little girl, six years old, who had appendicitis. The doctor would not operate unless the money was paid before the surgery. The girl’s father stood on the corner and begged for money – this would have been in the mid -1930’s, in Dustbowl Oklahoma…during the Depression. No one had any money to spare. I have a picture of that little girl with my aunt who was the same age—they were second cousins. It was the last picture made of her before she died.

 

So many stories my mom told about—with such description of the people, the places, the events…maybe that’s why I’m a writer now. But I know the happenings she told me about were a true-life depiction of actual events, and she had a great memory for detail most of her life.

 

Being the eldest of eleven siblings, she was all ears when the adults talked, of course. And she was old enough to remember many of the happenings herself. She told of watching them rush her grandfather into the house and put him on the kitchen table when he collapsed in the field—she and Mary were watching through a nearby window—they saw it all.

 

Going to Blue River was sometimes a Sunday social event in the summers—the men cooled off in the water while the women set out the food for a picnic. The children—none of whom could swim—were the older kids’ charges. Mom told of a time when one of her young cousins, Warren, went missing as they were all playing in the shallow water of a nearby clear creek running into the river. She felt something brush her leg and looked down—it was Warren, drifting by, his eyes open sightlessly as he stared up. She automatically reached down and grabbed him up out of the swift-moving current and yelled for help—and remembered nothing else about the rest of that day. Yes, he lived. But…why would so many parents think it was okay for their kids to play in water when none of them could swim?

 

It hit me after listening to her talk about her life and growing up in that small town that the older siblings seemed to have had no childhood of their own. Her earliest memory was of standing on a stool, washing dishes in a pan of water. She said she was about 3 or 4.  By then, there were two younger sisters and another on the way.


SOME DRAWINGS MY MOTHER DID WHEN SHE WAS 17 (1939)–SELF TAUGHT

 

I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it at the time, but Mom and Dad, having grown up together, knew all of the same people. They’d talk about who was related to whom, and who this one or that one had married, and what had become of them. I remember once in a great while, my dad would sit back and look at her with an odd look of appreciation on his face and a little half-smile and say, “Doris Lynn had an illegitimate baby? I never knew that!”  Or some other “morsel” he’d somehow never heard.

Mom knew all the stories of the past, too. The tales of the relatives who had gone before and what they’d done—her great grandfather who had been “stolen” from his Indian village and given to a white Presbyterian minister to raise as part of the “assimilation efforts”…and how that had forever affected our family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, JOSIE WALLS MCLAIN MARTIN. SHE IS THE DAUGHTER OF MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER WHO WAS STOLEN FROM HIS HOME. SHE MARRIED AT 13. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE WHEN SHE WAS ABOUT 25–SHE ALREADY WAS GETTING GRAY HAIR.

 

 

 

Even the stories of my dad’s family—of his grandmother and grandfather coming “up from Texas” and stopping under the shade of a tree by a creek in Indian Territory long enough for her to give birth, then moving on after one day’s time.
MY DAD’S MOTHER, MARY, ON THE LEFT, WITH OLDER SISTERS MAUDE, GRACE AND BYRD                        THIS WAS PROBABLY TAKEN AROUND 1905 OR SO.

 

Mom knew so much—untimely deaths of family members, “early” births, family dreams and goals that came to fruition, changed, or never happened at all. Games played, meals cooked, weddings held…so much that I would have given anything to have written down—but was too young to realize how much it meant, at the time.

 

But to whom? Those things are important to the families and friends of the principal players, but now…there are few left who would remember or care. The small-town cemetery is filled with those who lived together, worshipped together and worked together. Friends and family who lived, laughed, loved, and made their way through life—leaning on one another in a way that is rare in today’s world.

 

So…I use those memories in the best way I can. In my writing. There is a piece of my mom’s remembrances in my own stories—probably every single one of them, in some way or another.

 

Authors, do you use long-ago memories from relatives in your tales? Readers, do these books and short stories we weave jog your own memories of things you’ve heard in the past from older relatives?  What are some of the stories you recall?

 

Here’s an excerpt from an “oldie but goodie”, ONE MAGIC NIGHT. After learning the story of my gr gr grandfather and how he was kidnapped, I just had to give him a happy ending. In real life, his adoptive parents changed his name to David Walls. They sent him to medical school in Missouri–I don’t know if he ever finished or not, but he came back to Indian Territory to practice medicine. Of course, he never fit in, either in the white world or the Indian. But in my make believe world, he did find happiness…

EXCERPT: FROM ONE MAGIC NIGHT:
As Whitworth’s hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

“You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’?  Shay.”  He spat the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face.  “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”
Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

GET IT HERE:
https://www.amazon.com/One-Magic-Night-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00I1MINT4/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1501215944&sr=8-8&keywords=one+magic+night&tag=pettpist-20

An Idea Waiting For a Book by Guest Blogger Victoria Bylin

The opening lines for The Two of Us go like this:  “Mia Robinson couldn’t take her eyes off the man in a cowboy hat working a claw machine game, the kind where a child—or a boyfriend or father—put in a dollar and tried to grab a toy in thirty seconds or less.”

The picture of that cowboy has been in my head ever since my family and I drove cross-country from Los Angeles to Washington DC back in 1996.  It was late when we stopped at a motel in Oklahoma and decided to grab dinner at a local coffee shop. You know the kind of place—slightly rundown, orange vinyl booths, paneled walls, and a row of games and candy machines by the front door.

The cowboy who strode in was tall, dressed in a black duster, and sporting a mustache that would have done Sam Elliot proud. Swaggering in dusty boots, he went straight to the claw machine game, cleaned  out the toys, and passed out stuffed animals to all the kids in the restaurant.

I’ve tried to put this scene in a book several times, but it just  didn’t work until I started The Two Of Us, a contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Echo Falls, Colorado.

The story opens in a coffee shop in Las Vegas, where Mia Robinson is worried sick about her eighteen-year-old sister. Lucy is pregnant and about to marry Sam Waters, a decision Mia finds questionable at best and disastrous at worst.

Mia, a nurse practitioner,  is ten years older than Lucy and practically raised her.  Mia is the responsible sister. She gets things done, saves lives, and is the person you’d want in any crisis. Lucy is . . . well, Lucy.  She’s impulsive, fun loving, and generous to a fault.

Jake Tanner strides into that coffee shop just like my real life cowboy, except he’s a retired Denver cop who suffered a devastating loss. The bomb blast that left him hearing impaired also killed his female partner and left Jake to be a friend and big brother to her son, Sam. Sam is now 21, a college senior on an ROTC scholarship, and about to marry Lucy.

Jake supports the marriage. Mia? Well, not so much.  Of course they don’t know about their connection when they meet and Jake charms Mia with a stuffed mother hen.

And so the story begins . . . I’m so glad I could finally give that Oklahoma cowboy a place in one of my books. He’s lived in my imagination for a lot of years. Wherever he is, I hope he’s still cleaning out claw machine games and putting smiles on the faces of children, their parents, and maybe a special lady of his own.

To celebrate cowboys and romance, let’s give away three copies of The Two Of Us.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below.

Have you ever seen anyone actually pull a toy out of the claw machine game?
What games do you enjoy?
I admit to being addicted to Cookie Jam!

Let’s chat!

And last, a big thank you to the Fillies for inviting me hang out today.
It’s always a pleasure to visit one of the best western blogs online!

Victoria BylinVictoria Bylin is known for tackling tough subjects with great compassion. In 2016, Together With You won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary Romance.
Her other faith-based stories include historical westerns and
women’s fiction.
Learn more about Victoria and her books at http://www.victoriabylin.com

 

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
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