Category: Behind the Book

Researching the 1880’s Newspaper Office

 

Composing sticks, tympans, and friskets…Oh My! What do these all have in common? 

They are all parts that make up an Old West newspaper office. 

When I decided to write Abigail White’s story as the last addition to The Oak Grove Series, my research into the early newspaper office of the 1880’s took me back to my local “living history village” where I was able to glean information on American small-town newspapers from our local historian and docent. As you can see — it was a foggy, damp, day in early March.

For a town like Oak Grove, situated on the Kansas plains, paper was ordered and arrived on large rolls by wagon or by train. Once delivered, it was cut to the desired size.

                                                

Type was made of a composite of cast iron and steel. The most common were Wisconsin type and Hamilton type. Type was stored in type-cases – large drawers with many different sized compartments. The higher or upper case held capital letters. The lower case held… you got it…lower-case type.

The composer stick was the width of the column that would be used in the paper. The one at Midway Village was manufactured in Chicago by the H.B. Rouse Company which was a common national supplier of these devices in the U.S. The type would first be arranged in this and then transferred to a large frame. 

The compositor or typesetter (or in my story – Abigail or her brother, Teddy White) – removes a piece of type from one of the compartments of the type case and places it in the composing stick. Not so difficult until you realize this had to be done working from left to right and bottom to top, placing the letters upside-down! Can you tell what this type says? (Answer at bottom of post.)

Composing Stick ~ Photo by Wilhei [CC BY 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The composer stick was the width of the column that would be used in the paper. The one at Midway Village was manufactured in Chicago by the H.B. Rouse Company which was a common national supplier of these devices in the U.S. The type would first be arranged in this and then transferred to a large frame. 

For pictures, the newspaper office would purchase a few etchings from a factory, and then used them in numerous ways. For example – an etching of pine trees to be used at Christmastime or a fancy United States Flag etching to be used on National Holidays such as the Fourth of July. Local companies that used the newspaper for sale announcements would have their own etchings made and supply them to the newspapers to be used frequently over the years.

Printer’s ink was oil-based, thick and tarry. It won’t spill if turned upside down. On cold days, the ink didn’t flow well and would become so thick that it would create a blob on the letters and thus on the paper if used. A blade would be used to scoop it up and spread it on a flat plate. Here you can see the round, disk-like flat plate.

Oak Grove Gazette Printing Press

With the linotypes of the 1870s and 1880s, “printer’s disease” was a danger.  It was contracted by working with lead in the linotype. The workers would absorb the lead through their skin and get lead poisoning. These types of printers were in the larger cities and so I didn’t make mention of it in Christmas With the Outlaw. The plate would be pressed against the letters and then against a piece of paper. A rhythm would start up, and if not very careful, the plate could easily smash fingers. For newspapermen, it was the middle two fingers that most often were smashed or severed.

A “galley proof” or test copy was always made before any further papers were printed. This was to ensure that the type had been set accurately. A piece of type could accidentally be stored in the wrong case and as rapidly as the apprentice had to work, it could end up being placed back into a composing stick. The metal type, being comparably soft, could also become damaged or worn.

A cylinder printing press

Once the galley proof was checked and last-minute corrections were incorporated, the type would be fixed in the frame to ready it for printing.

A rope stretched across the length of the newspaper office so that once printed, pages could be placed over the rope for drying. Once the ink was dry on the “front,” the back side of the paper could then be printed upon.

It was a dirty job and as you’ve read…could be dangerous. The large paper cutters could easily cut off fingers that got in the way! Newspaper men had ink-stained fingers and they often worked overnight to get the paper out in the morning.

In Christmas With the Outlaw (in A Western Christmas Homecoming Anthology,) siblings Teddy and Abigail put out a weekly paper along with flyers for town events. They inherited their printing press from their parents and transported it by wagon to Oak Grove, looking for a fresh start in a growing new town. Abigail is also the town reporter and takes her job seriously.

Oh yes! And the answer to the above type in the composing stick is:  

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and feels
as if he were in the seventh heaven of typography. 

Leave a comment for your name to be entered into the drawing for an autographed copy of my just out ~

 A Western Christmas Homecoming!

Connect with Kathryn!

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How to start with a BANG!


 

The word cliffhanger came from somewhere you know

I’ve been known to have someone actually hang off a cliff in my books. Not lately though. I may do that again soon.

But in the meantime I like to catch a reader’s attention and HOLD IT!

And I like to do it from the jump. Start the book off with a bang. Hopefully write something that is RIVETING. Something that makes the reader pay attention and keep turning the pages.

So this time, in The Reluctant Warrior, I have my characters wake up choking to death as their cabin fills with smoke. They have been buried (the cabin) by a monster snowstorm…well, there’s more. There’s a killer. There’s fire. There’s freezing. There’s screaming and running and digging and climbing and exploding.

You know, the usual.

But to write a book a story needs to grab hold…and it needs to do it not GRATUITOUSLY but in a way that tells the story, begins it, advances it. You can’t just have a random action scene.

Well you can, and I have, but it was by way of revealing a character and introducing two main characters. But still…well, anyway, the book is in print and it was a good book so let’s just move on.

This book, The Reluctant Warrior does not open with gratuitous violence and action. It is completely relevant violence and action! I’m sure you’ll agree.

But I just mention it because as a writer………..and all of us at Petticoats and Pistols know this….it is tricky to start a book. Oddly enough, it’s not uncommon to start a book at the wrong place and have to go back and move the story farther in the future or back into the past. A weird but true fact about writing. Authors get used to that kind of editorial study of their work. Mulling over details to make the story pick up and go at the right pace at the right time and place.

It’s part of the fun of writing, and I can’t help but be glad my book starts right where it does, although I gloss over a couple of months of what must’ve been real trouble in that cabin before the smothering smoke billows into the room while my characters sleep.

Today, let’s talk about stories that start with a bang. Can you think of a book you’ve read (or maybe one you’ve written) that have a beginning you love. Not necessarily first lines, but more general, a beginning that grabbed you and held on and wouldn’t let you go.

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of The Reluctant Warrior.

THE RELUCTANT WARRIOR

Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.

When danger descends on the cabin where they’re huddled, Cam is hurt trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to help him win back their affection–and in the process he might just win her heart as well.

Updated: October 17, 2018 — 6:05 pm

Drawing Inspiration from History

When deciding on a setting for my stories, I alternate between real places and fictional ones. When I use real places, readers from that area will get excited about seeing a familiar place mentioned in a book they are reading. However, using a fictional place gives me the freedom to create the town and people exactly to my liking, so instead of fitting my story into an existing setting, I can shape the setting to fit my story. Both have their advantages and their challenges.

In my latest story,I decided to try to get the best of both worlds by creating a fictional setting that was based on an actual place. I stayed as true to the history of that town as possible while simply changing the names and a few key details.

Health seekers drinking from a fountain in Mineral Wells.

My fictional town of Hope Springs is based on the actual town of Mineral Wells, TX. I pass signs for Mineral Wells every time I drive down the highway, but I’ve never actually visited, even though it is only about 2 hours from where I live in Abilene. The history surrounding Mineral Wells, is fascinating, though, and I incorporated much of that history into the fictional resort town of Hope Springs.

In 1877, James Lynch and his family settled in the hills of Palo Pinto County. Water was scarce, so in 1880, they had a well drilled. The water tasted odd, but it didn’t seem to hurt the livestock, so the family started drinking it as well. James and his wife both suffered from rheumatism, and James suffered from complications of malaria. Soon after they started drinking the water, however, they began to feel better. News of the “healing waters” spread quickly and within a month, strangers started showing up asking about the water. Lynch’s well produced 100 gallons a day, but he soon struggled to meet demand. With the popularity of the site, however, the city of Mineral Wells was born, and developers arrived to drill more wells and establish hotels where bottled mineral water would be sold. By the turn of the century there were bathhouses, drinking pavilions, and spas throughout the city. The most famous brand was Crazy Water named because of the elderly lady who drank from the well twice a day and eventually overcame her dementia. The story could indeed be true, for the well water contains a significant amount of lithium, which is used to treat various mental health disorders today.

Click cover to order

My hero, Beauregard Azlin suffers nerve pain from an old injury, and when he hears about healing waters in Texas, he seeks out the cure. When the drinking and bathing treatments offer a measure of relief, he invests in the area and builds a resort to serve others who suffer similar afflictions. Due to his entrepreneurial spirit, he basically owns everything in town, and when a young widow arrives to take a position as a cook at one the local cafe’s and needs a loan to provide a roof over her daughter’s head, he is the only person she can turn to to seek a loan. And the only thing of value she can offer as collateral is a treasured heirloom brooch reputed to bring true love to whomever possesses it. Add in a matchmaking cat and a little Christmas magic, and romance is born.

Inspired by the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz with a touch of Beauty and the Beast thrown in for good measure, I hope you’ll enjoy Gift of the Heart, my contribution to The Christmas Heirloom anthology – a collection of novellas of love through the generations following an heirloom that is passed from mother to daughter.

  • Have you ever read a book set in a town you were familiar with? Did it help you enjoy the story more?
  • Do you prefer books set in real places or does it matter to you?

Guest Author Carolyn Brown!

Today, the Fillies are proud to host none other than author Carolyn Brown!
She’s here to talk about her newest book and also to give one as a gift for one lucky commenter.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Carolyn or her books, here’s a short introduction…

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

  • * * * * * * * * * * 
  • New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Brown was born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma. These days she and her husband make their home in Davis, Oklahoma, a small town of less than three thousand people where everyone knows everyone, knows what they are doing and with whom, and read the weekly newspaper to see who got caught.

A plaque hangs on her office wall that says “I know the voices are not real but they have such great ideas.” That is her motto and muse as she goes through the days with quirky characters in her head, telling their stories, one by one, and loving her job.

  • * * * * * * * * * *

Hello to all y’all!

Have you ever looked at a cowboy on the cover of a book and wondered what it would be like to ask him questions, and maybe even ask his opinion on things—maybe even before you open the book to read about him? Well, today that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Take a look at Levi Jackson on the cover of Cowboy Honor and let’s talk to him in person.

Carolyn: Levi, would you tell his a little about yourself?

Levi: Well, ma’am, I’m the foreman of a huge ranch down around Sunset, Texas. The two brothers who own the place, Cade and Justin Maguire, and I grew up together right here on the Longhorn Canyon Ranch. We’re more like kin folks than ranch owner and hired hand. We’ve all three run around together since we were in elementary school. When Justin and I graduated high school, we went on the full time payroll, but from the time we were little guys, we worked and got a paycheck.

Carolyn: What was your first opinion of Claire?

Levi: (Removes his cowboy hat and wipes his brow). My first thought was I hope she don’t pull the trigger on that pistol. But I’ll have to explain that a little. It might not have been considered a blizzard in some parts of the country but for north central Texas, it sure seemed like one. I’d been out making sure the cattle were brought in from the far corners of the ranch, when it became evident I didn’t have enough gas in the four-wheeler to get me back to the ranch house. That wasn’t a big problem because we have this old cabin at the back of the place, and I could hole up there until the snowstorm passed. Claire and her little niece, Zaylie, had slid off the road and taken refuge in the cabin earlier that day. So there we were—me, just wanting a warm place to wait out the storm, and her thinking I was there to do her harm so she had a pistol pointed right at my chest.

Carolyn: Oh, my goodness! I’m tempted to ask you what happened next, but I’m sure that’s covered in the story. I’m told that you have a way with animals and have rescued several that still live on the ranch. Tell us about them.

Levi: (with a big smile on his face) There’s Beau, the dog that I rescued. He’s named after a famous football player for the Longhorns. Then Gussie, the cat, who’s named after an old girlfriend. And Hard Times the turtle: Hopalong, the cotton tail bunny rabbit; and Little Bit, the crippled donkey. They’ve all become part of the ranch, and the inner city, underprivileged kids who come ever summer love them.

Carolyn: Although the kids aren’t there in this book, since it happens in the winter months, tell us about those kids.

Levi: They arrive in June and stay until after July 4th. Everyone on the ranch looks forward to having them around. Sometimes they come to us broken and untrusting, but by the time they leave, they’re sad to go—and we’re lonely without them.

Carolyn: If you could have any other job in the world, what would you be?

Levi: I’ve got my dream job right here on Longhorn Ranch. There’s no other place I’d rather be, or job that I’d rather be doing.

Carolyn: Thank you, Levi, for visiting with us today. And we both thank Petticoats and Pistols for letting us stop by today. I’m going to let Levi come up with a question to ask y’all for the drawing. We’ll be giving away a signed copy of Cowboy Honor and the winner will be chosen from the comments.

Levi: Let’s ask something about the heroine—

What kind of lady do you like to read about? Independent? Quiet? Or maybe a sassy one like my Claire?

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From the New York Times bestselling cowboy queen comes “a story that is sure to please fans” about a “slow-simmering romance” and the “simple pleasures of ranch life” (Publishers Weekly). Includes a bonus novella by Katie Lane!

Patience was never one of her virtues. After her SUV runs off the road in the middle of a Texas blizzard and her cell stops working, Claire Mason is about to snap. Getting back home to Oklahoma with her four-year-old niece is top priority. And lucky for her, help comes in the form of a true Texas cowboy…

Levi Jackson has always been a sucker for strays. So he can’t help getting involved when he comes across Claire and her little niece shivering in the cold. By offering them a place to stay until her car is fixed, he can make sure the two are taken care of – and get to know the sassy Claire better.

What starts as something awkward and temporary starts feeling cozier by the minute. And soon Levi is hoping he can convince Claire she has a permanent place in his heart.

Plus, bonus story “O Little Town of Bramble” by Katie Lane!
All Ethan Miller wants for Christmas is to celebrate in Bramble, Texas, with family and friends. But when his childhood neighbor comes home for the holiday, Ethan realizes that the girl-next-door could be the girl of his dreams.

                                                

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Apple Books  |  IndieBound  |  Amazon

Connect with Carolyn!

Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Website 

 

 

My Favorite Time of the Year

By Phyliss Miranda

Between the great autumn fever blogs our Fillies did last week and the weather turning cooler, making the leaves turn to beautiful hues of fall, I can’t help but think about some of the things I like to do in the autumn.

I don’t go out as much this time of the year, so I love to bake and read.  As I’ve said before, and those who have read any of my Kasota Springs contemporary western romances know, I also include a recipe in each book.  It’s always one of my family favorites; and, two of my characters, Lola Ruth and Granny Johnson, use it in the book.  Of interest, Lola Ruth got her name from my mother, Ruth, and my mother-in-law, Lola; while Granny Johnson got her name from well … my own beloved Granny Johnson.  My Granny Johnson’s Chocolate Cake receipt and the history behind it’s five generations is in The Troubled Texan, which is the first of the Kasota Springs books.

Sylvie’s story, which I’m writing now, has a twist and I’ll be using more recipes.  Just gotta wait to read the book to see what twist I give to recipes and characters. But, I’ll give you all a hint. They all come from readers and school teachers.

With cold nights and cool days, I love to read and drink something hot in the evening, so I thought I’d share with you a great recipe. It’ll definitely be in the book. You can prepare this Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix for yourself or it’d be a great holiday gift.  It’s easy and quick to fix.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix      

2 cups Confectioners Sugar

1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 cups Powdered Milk or to cut calories use Instant Nonfat Dry Milk

Instructions: In a large bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. Stir in the powdered milk and whisk well. 

You can add miniature marshmallows to the mixture if you’d like.  Drop in a few chocolate chips to make it even more rich. When ready to use, mix ½ cup hot water with ½ cup cocoa mix, stir and enjoy. 

If you have small kids or just want something special for yourself, make Red Velvet Hot Chocolate, by adding red gel food coloring; and dip the rim of your favorite cup in sprinkles. Use gel instead of regular food coloring, since it’ll give the drink a darker red look.  I can see this being a really fun treat during the Christmas season.

 

So what is your favorite drink during cold weather?

To one reader who leaves a comment today, I will give you an eBook copy of Out of a Texas Night.  

Updated: October 1, 2018 — 5:25 pm

Behind the Book ~ A look at Cattle

All of a sudden, I realized that Harlequin is releasing my Christmas novella TODAY!
I am not ready for Christmas. NOT. ONE. BIT. Autumn hasn’t even officially arrived here!

So…at the end of this post I will share a blurb about A Western Christmas Homecoming,
which is the last book in the Oak Grove Series that I have been writing with Lauri Robinson. 

Texas Longhorns

Recently, I had to research different types of cattle here in America for my story, Wedding at Rocking S Ranch that takes place on a ranch. Oak Grove was a railroad town that blossomed as a result of its location and the cattle drives from Texas. Sure, Longhorns came from Texas, but was that the kind of cattle that would be found on a ranch in Kansas? My grandfather and uncle raised Black Angus cattle here in the Midwest their entire lives and I have yet to see a Texas Longhorn this far north. So when, and where, did the switch occur? I also had to check the history of barbed wire.

1870 marked the start of the big cattle drives into Kansas. 300,00 arrived that year. The next year that amount doubled. Three-fifths of the cattle were “stock cattle” which means they were yearlings, heifers, cows and steers younger than four years old. Abilene, Kansas, Wichita and Dodge City became the towns (and later cities) that truly boomed with the transporting of cattle to market.

Many of the Longhorns didn’t immediately board the train and head to points farther east, but wintered in Kansas, existing on the buffalo-grass prairie. Although barbed wire had been invented and was in use, the sectioning off of large parcels of land hadn’t happened yet in Kansas in 1879 at the time my story takes place. Cattle still roamed free and had to be watched over by cowboys. At the Rocking S Ranch, the ranch-house and the crops had fences around them to keep the cattle out of the corn and alfalfa and off the porch. This was known as “fenced out.” Further east, a farmer would use wood and barbed wire to enclose a pasture, which was known as “fenced in.”

In my story, I have the owner of the ranch looking into crossbreeding his longhorns with another breed of cattle to make a healthier, more profitable herd. He has brought in Black Angus to give this a try. Black Angus first came to Kansas in 1873 when George Grant transported them from Scotland. Where the longhorns were hardy, they were a tougher meat and had a wild-streak and could be difficult to manage. Angus had a gentle nature but were more susceptible to extremes in weather. Their meat is more tender and has a better flavor that the longhorns. Angus weigh between 850 and 1000 pounds when mature.

When Grant took his four Angus bulls to the fair at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition that year, the local people didn’t know what to think of them. These cattle had no horns! (Called polled, which means naturally hornless.) But Grant had the last laugh when he successfully crossed his bulls with native Texas longhorns. The calves were hardier, hornless, and weighed more. They were also a bit more docile. Between 1878 and 1883, twelve hundred Angus cattle were imported to the Midwest. Cross-breeding has steadily improved the hardiness of the Angus here in America.

And there are Red Angus! Red Angus occur as the result of a recessive gene. They are the same as their black relatives except they are actually more tolerant of the hot weather. At one time, The Angus Association barred the registration of Red Angus in an attempt to promote a solid black breed. Likely that is one of the reasons they are fewer in number. Eventually, The Red Angus Association of America formed when breeders searched out and collected the Red Angus from the black herds.

Although I used a lot of this information in Wedding at Rocking S Ranch, it was sprinkled in with a light touch. After all, in historical romance it is the relationship between the two protagonists that carry the story!

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And now for my New Release!      

Three festive stories ~ Christmas in the Wild West!

A Western Christmas Homecoming

CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW by Kathryn Albright
SNOWBOUND IN BIG SPRINGS by Lauri Robinson
CHRISTMAS DAY WEDDING BELLS by Lynna Banning

In Christmas Day Wedding Bells by Lynna Banning, buttoned-up librarian Alice is swept away by US marshal Rand Logan on a new adventure.
Then, Welles is Snowbound in Big Springs in this novella by Lauri Robinson, where he must confront Sophie and their undeclared feelings…
Finally, rugged outlaw Russ rescues Abigail from spending the festive season alone in Christmas with the Outlaw by Kathryn Albright!

Available at HarlequinAmazonBarnes and Noble

Visit my website for excerpts and more information on all my books!

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!

Gifts Out of the Blue

People often ask where I get my story ideas. Once I’ve conceived the series concept, individual stories come from the characters, a lot of brainstorming, and research. My series ideas, however, often come out of the blue like my Wishing, Texas Series.

I was driving home and wondered if my oldest son was on his way to Athens, Texas, to meet his friends from the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University. I thought about how close he and his squadron buddies were, and I predicted they’d still be friends in ten years.

My Spidey sense tingled, telling me I had something special. What if I showed A&M squadron friends ten years after graduation? What if they still met at one friend’s east Texas ranch at least once every year? What if they were there for each other through life’s ups and downs?

When I got home, I jotted down notes. One would run the family ranch. Another would be in law enforcement. Because of A&M’s phenomenal vet med program, one would be a veterinarian. For some reason, I settled on a computer related field for my last hero.

The relationships between these men would provide the series backbone—the heart. Even now working on book three, my favorite scenes to write are when the heroes are together.

 

Here’s an excerpt from To Love A Texas Cowboy.

“Is there anything else you need, Ty?” The Horseshoe Grill’s waitress Tiffani, a woman he’d known since middle school, asked as she leaned forward showing off her recently enhanced cleavage.

“We’re good,” he said, staring at the pool table as he sorted out his shot.

“Let me know if you change your mind about anything,” Tiffani said before she sashayed away.

Cooper, Ty’s eight ball partner, elbowed him in the ribs and nodded toward

the departing waitress. “Are you going to take her up on the invitation?”

While easy on the eyes, with long, blonde hair a man would love to run his hands through, tall, curvy in all the right places, and good-natured enough, with her marital track record—oh for three—Ty doubted the good sense of any man who took Tiffani up on her offer.

“Anyone else notice she didn’t care if the rest of us needed anything?” AJ asked.

“Mind if I throw my hook into the water?” Zane asked his gaze locked on the waitress as she flitted around the restaurant. “She looks like she knows how to have a good time.”

“Come on. Give someone else a chance. Like maybe me.” Of all of them, AJ craved the connection and belonging that came with a serious relationship. After a six-year stint in the military and traveling around the world, he was more than ready to put down roots, but most of the women he met were leery of getting involved with an FBI agent. Poor schmuck.

“You’ve got more women on the line that you know what to do with.”

After sending the three ball into the side pocket, Zane turned to AJ. “Weren’t you thinking about going exclusive with Megan? Though why any sane man would do that is beyond me.”

Ty shook his head and smiled, feeling like the ring master of a three-ring circus. Despite that, he wouldn’t trade one of his friends for fifty-yard line tickets to an A&M /Alabama game in Kyle Field. Good friends like these could get a man through just about any rough patch.

“We broke up,” AJ said referring to Megan.

Before anyone could comment, “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown band rang out.

“Next round’s on you, Zane,” Ty said even before his cousin reached for his phone.

They’d instituted the cell phones on vibrate rule and the violations penalty two years ago when Zane’s girlfriend of the month drove them nuts with constant calls and texts. The man always had a woman desperate to claim, keep, or regain his attention. Hell, usually more than one. Zane was a master juggler, but that didn’t mean the rest of them wanted to be part of the act.

To read the first chapter of To Love A Texas Cowboy which includes the excerpt above, click here.

To be entered to win the horseshoe pictured, leave a comment on which hero– Ty, AJ, Cooper or Zane–you like best and why based on the short scene above. BTW, the excerpt occurred in Wishing’s favorite hot spot, The Horseshoe Grill. 🙂

 

 

Updated: August 28, 2018 — 7:18 pm

Cowboy Charm School & Giveaway!

When buying a horse don’t consult a pedestrian;

When courting a woman don’t ask advice of a bachelor.

                                               -Cowboy Charm School

I’m excited that my next book Cowboy Charm School will be published September 4th (but can be ordered now.) I played with the idea for four or five years before I actually got around to writing the book.  Book ideas generally come to me in scenes.  I’ll suddenly visualize someone atop a runaway stagecoach or scrambling over a roof and then have to figure out who, what, and why.

The scene that popped into my head for Cowboy Charm School was a wedding scene with a handsome stranger running down the church aisle yelling, “Stop the Wedding!” 

It took me awhile to figure out that the man was Texas Ranger Brett Tucker,  who thinks he’s saving the bride, Kate Denver, from marrying an outlaw. He’s mistaken, of course, but the groom jealously jumps to all the wrong conclusions and the couple breaks-up. 

Brett feels terrible for what’s he’s done and is determined to set things right. Since the hapless groom hasn’t a clue as to how to win Kate back, it’s up to Brett to give him a few pointers–and that’s when the real trouble begins. 

For a chance to win a copy of the book, tell us the best or worse advice anyone ever gave you.  (Contest guidelines apply.)

“This tale charms.” -Publishers Weekly

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Updated: August 19, 2018 — 7:38 am

The Oak Grove Series ~ A Look at the Making of a Series

When author, Lauri Robinson, surprised me by asking if I’d be interested in writing a book with her, I had just finished my San Diego Heroes Series and really hadn’t expected to write any more stories set in the Old West. However, her enthusiasm spurred me (please forgive the pun) to accept her request. The process of collaborating has been a learning experience and also a joy. With Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, we fell in love with the inhabitants of our fictional town and that first book propagated a series. Between Lauri and me there will be seven books by the time we are finished. You can view them all, along with a brief description, here: http://kathrynalbright.com/books/oak-grove-series

Throughout the series, I’ve gotten to know the town-folk with their secrets, idiosyncrasies, heart-aches, and joys from the moment Mary and Maggie, twin mail-order brides, stepped off the Kansas-Pacific train platform. As I type this, I just realized that the final book in the series ends with a scene on that same platform. Talk about ‘book-ends’!

I sketched out a town with buildings and stockyards, but, as I am no artist, I quickly gave up on that idea. Sketching did help me to visualize things better, but initially, I had to have a basic idea where buildings were situated so that both Lauri and I could mention them in their correct perspective without mistakes. (The smallest mistake can pull a reader out of the story.) Even shadows had to be falling the proper direction for the time of day. The Smoky Hill River had to run south of town and be within walking distance for a fishing scene (first book) and also because in the Spring (fourth book) it overflowed its banks, causing a horrific flood. (That is according to the real history of the river in 1879!) Here is the first map I made on my dining room table…

Original Map Cedar Grove

And here are some of my computer scribblings…

 

And then I stumbled across a picture of a real town’s Main Street that was so very close to what was in my head… it’s missing the school down by the church and Oak Grove doesn’t have a Fire Station yet. Instead, the Fire Station would actually be either the bath house or the Saloon. Still…it looks fairly close to my vision. Oak Grove…being a newly built town…would also be a bit spiffier.

Oak Grove town in real life picture

What’s next for the series?

CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW is coming out NOVEMEBER 1st! This story will be the last in the Oak Grove Series and I am already sad to leave this wonderful community. It’s funny how fictional worlds and characters can become so ‘real.’ I would enjoy going to this town and meeting everyone there! I hear that from many of my readers about the Oak Grove Series and about other story “worlds.” I think that must say something about humanity. Despite the outliers – those ‘lone wolf’ independents, despite introverts and extroverts, we are all made for connection and for community to varying degrees.

What about you?

If you could travel to any fictional book world or setting, where would you like to visit?
(Does not have to be a historical western setting necessarily!)

Answer for a chance in my giveaway and your name might be drawn to win a copy (print or ebook)
of my newest release ~ Wedding at Rocking S Ranch!
(See Giveaway Guidelines at the top of this page)

Wedding at Rocking S Ranch cover picture

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