Category: Behind the Book

Gunsmoke and Lace and a Giveaway!

Today is going to be a very busy day for me. I’m going to West Texas A&M University to film a segment for PBS. It’s for a show called 24 Frames. It’s exciting but very scary. I hope I don’t mess up too bad. The segment will air in September. I’ll have more on that later. I may not get to all the comments right away.

But today I want to tell you about my short story collection that I’ve self-published. Gunsmoke and Lace is my first attempt to put something out myself and I found nothing about the process easy. I was supposed to have the ebook and print releasing simultaneously but it didn’t work that way. After two weeks, only the ebook is up. The print should be along soon I’m told.

I have four stories in this collection: The Telegraph Tree, Moon Dog Night, The Gunslinger, and Hard Luck.

The inspiration for The Telegraph Tree came after I attended a lecture about women who came West and the challenges at West Texas A&M University. The speaker quoted statistics about the number of women who committed suicide, unable to handle the constant hardships and loneliness. The women spent most of their time alone in the empty, vast space with their children (if they had any) and not having anyone to talk to broke their spirits until there was nothing left.

Listening to that reminded me of a Sam Elliott movie called Conagher that he made with his wife Katherine Ross. To combat her loneliness, she wrote poems and tied them to tumbleweeds. Maybe you remember it.

That’s where The Telegraph Tree was born and when I finished, I entered it in several writing contests. It placed 3rd in Women Writing the West and also in Wyoming Writers, Inc.

I wrote The Gunslinger (formerly The Widow’s Heart) for an anthology for Cheryl Pierson at Prairie Rose and was real proud how it turned out. I made a few changes to it though.

Moon Dog Night is about two children who ride into a bounty hunter’s camp on a cold winter night. They’re trailing the man who took their mama and they’re determined to get her back. Of course, Bonner Raine can’t let them go alone. But will they arrive in time to save her?

Hard Luck has a lot of humor as two cowboys try to rob a bank. Absolutely nothing goes right and I’ve saved a surprise at the last.

All these stories sprang from a deep well inside me and I think it’s time to share them.

The fabulous Charlene Raddon designed this gorgeous cover and I love everything about it. She’s so creative. The fantastic Jerri Lynn Hill did the editing and she’s an amazing woman. Jeri Walker formatted it. I couldn’t have succeeded without these ladies.

Gunsmoke and Lace is available everywhere online. But here are a few links:

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  iBooks  |  KOBO

 

My question for you is if you lived back in the 1800s in a desolate place, what would you have done to keep your sanity? Or would you have given in to despair?

I’m giving away a copy of Gunsmoke and Lace to three people who comment. If you’re willing to wait a few days for print, I’ll offer both formats.

Later this month, I’ll have a giveaway for my upcoming To Catch a Texas Star (July 3rd release.)

So don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come!

More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in a new series. Each time I start a new project, there is an excitement that comes with getting to know a fresh group of characters, but there is also a pressure to make these characters unique. A challenge that gets increasingly difficult the more books I publish.

The premise behind my new Patchwork Family series is a group of orphans who bond to form their own family when their orphan train derails. These youngsters were overlooked, discarded, and unwanted by the families they met along their journey.  Zach, because he is a belligerent loner with a giant chip on his shoulder. Seth, because he is sickly, weakened by asthma. But how could I make my cheerful, tenderhearted Evangeline undesirable to adoptive families?

That’s when I thought of cats. No, I wasn’t going to give her claws. But what about mismatched eyes? Psychologists will tell you that at a subconscious level, humans crave symmetry. It’s why certain faces are universally more attractive than others. When that symmetry is out of balance, it creates cognitive dissonance in the human brain. In our effort to explain away this discomfort, we place blame on the cause, calling it unnatural or even something darker like witchcraft. The greater the dissonance, the greater the reaction. So, I didn’t simply give my heroine slightly different colored eyes, I made them drastically different. One dark brown and one vividly blue. These are the heterochromatic eyes that I patterned Evangeline’s after.

Evangeline grows up with constant rejection, yet she maintains her optimism and cheerful disposition. At least when she’s around her brothers. And when she meets Logan, a mysterious stranger with a hidden agenda, she finally finds a man who sees the woman behind the mismatched eyes.

Here’s a short excerpt from the initial meeting between Logan and Evangeline. Logan has just attempted to rescue Evie from what he believed to be a wild boar. In actuality, the hog is Evie’s pet.

“Since you’re new to the area, you might not be aware that you’re on Hamilton land.” Evangeline crossed her arms over her chest. Lifted her chin. Widened her stance. “My brothers won’t begrudge you snaring a rabbit or even taking down a deer if you’re in need of nourishment, but we don’t take kindly to squatters.”

His lips quirked again.

What was it about her trying to act mean that made men grin? It was quite annoying. Evangeline frowned at him.

His smile widened. “I’m aware of the boundaries. My camp is east of your property line.”

“But you’re not.” She unfolded her arms and poked him in the chest.

He stared at her finger then pointed his own and nudged it against her shoulder. “Because I was trying to save you from being gored by a wild boar.”

“One that wouldn’t actually hurt me.”

“That’s debatable.” The man folded his arms and looked down his nose at her. “Even without tusks, that thing could do serious damage if riled.”

“Then you best not rile him.” Evangeline gave a sassy wave of her head, as if she could order Hezzy to attack at any moment. The only damage her pet would likely render involved non-lethal pig slobber and a head butt that might manage to knock the fellow off-balance. But something told her this man wouldn’t be bowled over too easily. . .

“Thank you, by the way.” Evangeline met his gaze, smiling even broader when he blinked in confusion. “For your heroic rescue.” She dipped her chin. “Just because your actions were unnecessary doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated.”

He cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “You’re welcome.” His voice tapered up at the end, making the statement sound more like a question, but Evangeline chose to interpret it as a successful change of direction anyhow.

“You have a lovely horse.” She stepped to the side and twisted, letting her skirt twirl about her just a little. She’d never been good at standing still. The rhythmic twisting, even in small doses, calmed her growing nerves.

Now that the initial excitement of the discovery, chase, and tackle had subsided, she was becoming acutely aware of the fact that she was alone with a man.

A man who actually treated her like a woman. Not a sister. Not a freak of nature with unnatural eyes. But an ordinary, normal, woman.

“He’s very handsome,” she said. “Your horse.” The horse’s owner qualified for that descriptor, too. That wavy dark brown hair escaping from beneath his hat to curl over his collar. Gray eyes that had softened from steel to the color of fluffy storm clouds that projected the possibility of trouble but also offered shade. Tall. Strong. A little rough around the edges. “And friendly, too.”

The man before her mumbled something beneath his breath about horse sense not being what it used to be, but Evangeline chose to let that bit of cynicism go without comment.

…………………..Giveaway!!!

In honor of More Than Meets the Eye’s release, I’ll be giving away autographed copies (US addresses only) to three winners drawn from those who leave comments on this post. Winners will be announced on Thursday, June 7.

  • What is the most unusual pet you’ve ever owned?
  • Do you know anyone with heterchromia?
  • Who is your favorite pig from literature?

The Birth of Kasota Springs

Hurrah, hallelujah, excited, hyped, and every synonym that describes my feelings about this being my release date for my newest Kasota Springs Romance Out of a Texas Night. Although Kensington labeled this book as a romance series based on my original proposal, it’s more than a romance. It’s packed full with some suspense and two mystery threads.  You can’t do a story between two deputies with the Bonita County Sheriff’s Department out of Kasota Springs, without there being bad guys involved. I had initially planned on one mystery with a red herring, but the more I wrote the more legal ease entered into my story. It’s partly because I worked in the legal field, plus took a fantastic week-long class on law enforcement at the Jodi Thomas West Texas A&M’s writers academy.  So, thanks to Matt Sherly for his hard work and insight that made my characters do a lot of switcheroos, without my knowing it!  And for a non-writer, I bet you’re scratching your head wondering how characters who are roaming around in my brain can do stuff without me knowing it. But, it’s true. I was as surprised towards the end, as hopefully, my readers will be.

Here’s a little background on Kasota Springs, in the Texas Panhandle.

In one of our anthologies, we needed the name of a fictional town for all four of our stories.  I was coming back from a trip and within a few miles of Amarillo right before my eyes the Kasota railroad crossing sign jumped out at me. That was the choice all four of us agreed upon for our 1890 Fourth of July anthology, Give Me a Cowboy.

I used the town in A Texas Christmas, which hit New York Times and USA Today. In Give Me A Cowboy fellow Filly Linda Broday and I used a mother and daughter team as our heroines. Tempest LeDoux and Alaine LeDoux are a handful. I introduced Aunt Edwinna Dewey in my Christmas story.

By now, you might be wondering how does all of this go with a contemporary romance story.  When I began writing contemporary western romances, Linda was kind enough to let me use her character, Tempest LeDoux, for the lineage of one of my characters Sylvie LeDoux. Just an FYI, Sylvie LeDoux, who owns the antique store, is my heroine in my next book, and falls victim to a scam.

As my characters developed in my first contemporary The Tycoon and the Texan ends up in Kasota Springs, I thought there’d be a lineage back to the town’s founding fathers, just like it is in most older towns.  Sure enough they began coming out.  Today’s release, Out of a Texas Night, has a lineage of three to five generation from the Humphrey’s, Teg Tegler, to Granny Johnson and Lola Ruth Hicks. I couldn’t get rid of them because they are the glue that keeps the Jacks Bluff running; plus, Granny Johnson is named for my own Granny and Lola Ruth comes from my mother and mother-in-law. Plus, in each contemporary story I always have the recipe that Lola Ruth makes.

In my opinion, the blub on the cover written by Kensington should be enough to draw anybody into Out of a Texas Night. “Everything’s bigger in Texas…including love!  …  but one kiss from Brody VanZant is enough to make … Avery Humphrey …  trade soothing to sizzling…”

And, if that’s not enough, here’s the opening to Out of a Texas Night.

Chapter 1

Kasota Springs, Texas

Spring Festival 2015

Avery Danielle Humphrey shaded her eyes from the stark white sunlight with her lace trimmed, large brimmed bonnet. She watched thirty or so Texas longhorns, with horns as wide as the length of her bed, strut down North Main Street flanked by cowboys from the surrounding ranches.

     She took a step to the side. Forgetting to pick up her big hoop skirt, she nearly tripped. She couldn’t help but wonder how in the world Southern belles wore such garbs without falling head over teakettle. No wonder they walked slow, didn’t look down and had such a measured, Southern drawl from holding their breath.  They were praying they didn’t fall.

I hope I gave you all a nugget or two, making you want to buy either the eBook or trade size book from your favorite retailer.  I hope you’ll leave a review after you read it.

I have two questions. First, do you like stories where there are recurring characters with new ones added?  Second, do you typically leave a review on a purchase site, if you like the book?

Since today is a special day for me, to ten lucky readers who leaves a comment, I’m giving an several gifts, including two autographed trade size books, six eBooks, and two Bath and Body Works Gift Cards.

 

Updated: May 28, 2018 — 8:24 pm

Welcome Cindy Holby!

We’re thrilled to welcome guest author Cindy Holby to the Junction on this fine Friday. Cindy will give away a copy of her book, Colorado Heart, to one lucky poster. Thanks for joining us, Cindy!

A few years ago, I was asked by Kate Seaver, an editor at Berkley, to write a historical western series. At that time I was really struggling, career wise. I’d been orphaned by Dorchester Publishing, where I’d written the Wind Series, a sweeping saga about the Duncan family that took place in 1880’s Wyoming. I had several irons in the fire, having written paranormal, futuristic and young adult, but my first love of writing had come from my western historicals and years of watching every western show or movie that came along.

So, yes, I jumped right on that offer. My agent contacted me early Friday afternoon. I was kind of stunned, but said I’d get back to her. I had an errand to run and my mind was a bit preoccupied with the thought of creating a brand new series. I was also rather desperate for a contract.

And that’s when Cade Gentry walked into my life. An idea formed for the hero and Cade was the first name that came to mind. Perfect. But he needed a last name. I live in a small town, population of around 2000. There’s a hardware store that’s been here for over a hundred years. Gentry’s hardware. Cade Gentry. His entire story came to me in the five minutes it took for me to drive through our tiny downtown area.

You see Cade was desperate also. Desperate for a change in his life. He’s wounded and on the run from some terrible people because for once he did the right thing. Then he stumbles into a preacher’s campsite.  I won’t tell you the rest of the story, because, hey, I want you to read it for yourself. I will tell you that Cade’s story is a story of faith. It also walks a rather delicate line between inspirational and romance.

When recently editing Cade’s story for self publishing, I realized how much Cade’s quest for faith paralleled my own story, both when I wrote it, and now. Cade was stumbling about, making mistakes and thinking that God had forgotten about him. I felt the same way. I knew I had this gift for writing stories so why couldn’t I sell anything? I’d broken in with my Wind Series, fairly easily, selling off the slush pile with my first book and within a year of submission. Then after I was orphaned, I struggled. But just like Cade, God was telling me to wait, that my time would come and when it did, it would be perfect, because his timing always is. Although it’s very hard for us to realize it when we’re struggling.

I’ve been struggling again. The past four years I haven’t written a complete book, although I’ve started several. My sales on my backlist are way down and I’m trying to figure out a way to pay the bills. But then I read Cade’s story again and realized that I had to hold on to my faith and believe that it will all work out in the end. God’s perfect timing.

Cade’s story is titled Angel’s End. It’s about a funny little town tucked up in the mountains of Colorado. The town is built around a large statue of an angel with out-stretched arms and wings. No one knows how the statue got there, they just figured some fool tried to haul it to Oregon and realized they weren’t going to make it with such a heavy load and left it there, standing in a pleasant little valley with a windy creek and a gentle rise. The perfect place for a town and colorful characters like Leah Findley, the sheriff’s widow, her son, Banks, Jake Reece, a rancher, Dusty, who owns a café called the Devil’s Table, and Ward Phillips, the mysterious owner of Heaven’s Gate, the local saloon.

There’s also quite a menagerie of animals because I love them and work in rescue. So this is my story of how I came to create a town called Angel’s End. It’s a story of faith.

I will be giving away a print copy of Angel’s End and its sequel, Colorado Heart to one lucky reader. I hope the rest of you will pay a visit to my charming little town.

Award winning author Cindy Holby doesn’t let genre define her writing. She is published in historical, sci/fi, paranormal, dystopian, fantasy, and young adult. Her stories are character driven with action and adventure throughout. Reviewers note that her characters and plot blend flawlessly for well-rounded stories and hard-won happily ever afters. She takes us on an incredible journey of love, betrayal and the will to survive. Cindy Holby (writing as Colby Hodge) takes us on adventure at a breath-taking clip. She (writing as Kassy Tayler) writes with haunting precision and you’ll fall in love with her characters.

Before her writing career took off, Cindy Holby held many jobs that ranged from bartending at a local disco to teaching first graders how to read. She lives in the foothills of North Carolina with her husband Rob, three rescue cats and a rescue dog named Riley. She is the proud mother of two sons who live close by. When she isn’t writing, she creates beautiful quilts and works in animal rescue. Readers can find her at http://www.cindyholby.com and on all social media outlets.

Buy link to Angel’s End

 

Finding the Perfect Match

 

EHarmony… FarmersOnly … Zoosk… Match…  Today, there seems to be a niche for every type of person out there to find their perfect match through the internet.

In this modern day of internet meet-ups, I have several friends and acquaintances who have met online and then gone on to marry and live their happily-ever after. Often these online dating sights have the new participant answer a list of questions to pinpoint their own character and what type of person would make a suitable match.

It is this idea of an interview that I used for The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.

In the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Committee has been established to bring women to the town in order to “grow” the town. Doc Graham missed out on the first trainload of five women that arrived in 1879. Now the second arrival of women has him all set to make a match. He needs a wife — or — actually a nurse to help in his office.

Doc Graham, although smart in other matters, is quite clueless when it comes to matters of the heart. He has made a list of desirable qualities that he expects in a woman and is in the process of interviewing each new arrival, blind to the fact that he has already met his perfect match in a young woman who lives across the river.

A few months ago, I shared an excerpt of his date with Katie O’Rourke. Below is an excerpt of another woman — Penelope Pratt. (I had a lot of fun with these interviews!)

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Pratt didn’t say a word as they walked past a dog and a few children playing in the school yard. The silence between them grew awkward. He hadn’t expected this. Weren’t most women prone to talking?

“Please. I urge you to speak freely. The one month that the Betterment Committee allows you to decide on a husband and a man to decide on a bride makes it crucial that we find out if we are compatible. That cannot happen unless we talk.”

She came to a swift stop and pressed her lips together in a thin line. “That is a blunt way to put this highly uncomfortable situation.”

He hadn’t thought so. He’d simply been honest. “I tend to be direct.”

He took the moment to assess her appearance. Green eyes, just like his, his height, and a long, slightly curved nose. Egads! She could be his sister!

“Now what?” she asked, stiffening. “You look as though you swallowed your tobacco.”

“I don’t chew.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I find the habit disgusting. Then what did that look mean?”

“I was noticing our…similarities.”

“Oh, that.” She raised her chin. “I noticed them immediately.”

“Then should this move into a state of matrimony and should we have children—”

Her eyes widened.

“—their looks would be a foregone conclusion.” It was an interesting possibility.

She frowned. “Perhaps as you suggest, it is best to be frank and let you know my thoughts on the matter of propagating. Your education may even allow you to comprehend what I am about to say better than the other men I have encountered here.”

He wasn’t sure what to make of that.

“I want to marry. Truly I do. I have no close family. I want a companion with whom to share my life.” She took a deep breath and blew it out as if to steady herself. “However, I am not interested in the part of a marriage that happens behind the bedroom door.”

If he had been walking, he would have stumbled.

“You are shocked.”

“No…no…” Yes, yes he was!

“Come now. I can see it on your face.”

He swallowed—an attempt to absorb her statement politely and give himself time to gather his thoughts. “I have never heard a woman speak so plainly about such things.”

“I will remind you that you asked me to speak freely.”

He huffed out a breath. Could it be that he’d come across a woman who not only looked like him but who spoke and acted like him? “Perhaps I shall choose my words more carefully.”

She bestowed a slight smile.

“Are you ready to continue with our stroll? We’ve only walked through half the town.”

“As long as we understand each other.”

They continued on their way.

It was disconcerting that Miss Pratt could be as blunt as he. Would such a trait be smart to have as a nurse?

“You’ve said the same thing to other bachelors?” he asked. He didn’t want the entire town to be aware of any arrangements they might have that were of a private nature.

“No. The men I have met have all been much more forward than you. Each one found a way to take my arm or assist me in some way that required touching. When they did that I immediately checked them off my list. I’ve spoken to no one else about marriage except you.”

She kept a list? Another disconcerting thought. Their similarities were growing. “That is encouraging. But—am I so unlike them?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to be all that different from the others.

She arched her thin brow. “As I said—you are most direct. The others were still mentioning the weather while your conversation has already jumped beyond that to marriage. You are a gentleman. Your Eastern breeding is apparent in the way you speak and carry yourself. I would hope that means you keep this conversation we are having just between us.”

She hadn’t answered his question. Mayor Melbourne was a gentleman too, as well as Sheriff Baniff. And he could name several others who deserved that title. All were very different from each other, but he thought of them all as gentlemen.

“While we are on the subject, are there any other expectations you have of marriage?”

She shook her head. “No. I do find it interesting that you haven’t taken me back to the hotel.

You must still be considering me as a possibility, which is a pleasant surprise in light of what I just said.”

More likely, it was because he was still in shock. He’d taken it as a bygone conclusion that if he married, he would have children. He wanted several. That was one of the benefits of wedded bliss. That, and the fact that he had vowed to be a better father than his own.

The distance from the boardwalk down to the road in front of Miller’s Cabinetry Shop was particularly high. Considering what she had just said, he refrained from taking her elbow to assist her. He did offer his arm, but she didn’t take it. He nodded toward the livery and began walking in that direction.

“I had expected children at some point,” he admitted. “I will have to give your condition some consideration. I also desire a companion in marriage, but equal to that, or perhaps more so, I desire a nurse in my work.” He glanced sideways at her. His announcement hadn’t shaken her nearly as much as hers had him.

“Go on,” she said.

“I would like someone who will work beside me and help me run my office. This would entail having fresh bandages cut up, washed and rolled at all times. Watching over the patients that are in my office if I am called away on an emergency. Helping to make up medication, salves and tonics. All this would be in addition to cooking and cleaning and the general duties that wives do for their husbands.”

She drew her brows together. “And what would you be doing while I did all this?”

He thought that was obvious. “Seeing to my patients.”

“And in your free time?”

“I’ll use my free time to keep abreast of the changes in the medical field. Reading, writing articles and taking an annual trip to Denver to meet with my colleagues.”

“During which time, I would be required to remain here and keep the office in a state of tidiness?”

“I haven’t thought that far into it, but that is the general idea. I suppose some years my wife might accompany me to see the sights of the city.”

They walked silently past the livery to the railroad station where she stopped once more.

“You have given me a lot to think about.”

“As have you.” More than you know!

“I have no doubt that I could perform the duties you have mentioned.”

“In return, you would have a roof over your head and a respected standing in the community and a lifelong companion.” But he’d never considered that there wouldn’t be touching, caressing, or even a kiss now and then. His first words to her about what their children would look like sounded foolish now. Yet, perhaps, if he was honest with himself, it made sense. He certainly didn’t know how to be a father. His had never been around much. The only hugs he’d received from his mother had been stiff and awkward. He had never seen his parents so much as hold hands. The marriage that Miss Pratt and he had just described to each other sounded a lot like his own parents’ marriage.

The entire thing sounded like a business proposition. His initial excitement at the thought of abiding harmoniously had been squashed with pragmatism.

Well, isn’t that what he had originally intended? Josephine had made it clear he was not suitable marriage material. She’d called him cold. Nose in a book. Cared more for his patients than he did for her. He had hoped to move beyond that defining moment when she’d called off the courtship. He’d hoped for more warmth in a lifelong companion.

“I’ll walk you back,” he said, disheartened. “I think we both have a lot to consider.”

* * * * * * * * * *

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride
Copyright by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

I hope you enjoyed this look into “dating” in Oak Grove. Poor Doctor Graham. He has a lot to learn about love, but when he does open his eyes and experience it for the first time, it is a wondrous thing to behold.

What about you? If you had the opportunity, would you ever consider
meeting a possible future spouse via the internet?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of the Prairie Doctor’s Bride!
(See our Giveaway Guidelines above.)

the Prairie Doctor's Bride 2

Author Website | Newsletter

Jodie Wolfe: 125th Anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run

Today our special guest at the Junction is Jodie Wolfe. Jodie will be giving away a copy of her book To Claim Her Heart to one lucky commentor. We’re thrilled to have you here today, Jodie!

Thank you for inviting me here!

Almost twenty years ago my mother-in-law introduced me to the history of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. It was a topic especially dear to her since she had several relatives who participated in the race. In 1998, we made a trip from Kansas to Texas, stopping in Oklahoma to see the original permanent homestead. By then, it was crumbling, but I could already picture characters taking up residence on the property.

September 16th marks the 125th anniversary of the last great race for land in the United States. The run took place from nine different starting places in Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost 6.5 million acres were up for grab. It’s estimated that over 115,000 showed up to race.

My book, To Claim Her Heart gives a small glimpse to what life was like during this time. I had the pleasure of including some of the history from my husband’s family. Two fun items that are the most fascinating involve outlaws and quilts.

When potential land owners gathered for the race they came on foot, rail, bicycle, horseback, or all types of conveyances. Some came with nothing other than the shirt on their back while others came with wagons fully loaded with all their worldly possessions in tow. One of the things my husband’s relatives carried with them was a quilt that had been passed down to the oldest daughter in each family.

This Rose of Sharon quilt is believed to have been stitched anywhere from 1834-1854. I’ve learned that they were ‘signature’ quilts—one of the twelve different covers typically stitched for a bride of wealth. This one was quite unique. It was typically brought out on special occasions, like a wedding anniversary.

I’m blessed to own this priceless quilt originally stitched by my husband’s great, great, great, great grandmother, Magdalene Tomber, when she was a girl. With having no sons, my mother-in-law gave it to me. One day I’ll bestow it to one of my granddaughters.

One other fun fact in my story again involves my husband’s family, and the Dick Yeager Gang. I won’t spoil it by telling you about it here since the depiction in To Claim Her Heart is pretty close to what happened. Let’s just say… what would you do if an outlaw showed up at your door?

In celebration of the release of my book, I’ll be giving away one copy. Here’s the back cover blurb:

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

Thank you for having me here today!

TIME PLAINS DRIFTER–APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS (AND LOVE!) by Cheryl Pierson

Did someone say ‘paranormal time travel historical western’? That’s what my novel, Time Plains Drifter, is—a very different kind of romance novel than anything I’ve ever read. It’s an “oldie but goodie”–one of my favorite stories that I ever worked on.

The publication of Time Plains Drifter is a story unto itself—but it has its very own ‘happily ever after’ ending. Here’s what happened. After being released in December of 2009 with an unscrupulous publisher, I took my rights back after only three months and spent the next year searching for another home for it. In the spring of 2011, it was placed with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, an imprint of PUBLISHING BY REBECCA J. VICKERY.

But that’s not where it ends. When Livia and I opened Prairie Rose Publications, I made the decision to move Time Plains Drifter over from WTB to Prairie Rose. With a brand new cover and a few minor changes, this book can be offered not only in the Prairie Rose Publications line, but also in our New Adult (ages 18-24) category in the Painted Pony Books imprint.

 

That being said, let me tell you why Time Plains Drifter is so hard to pigeonhole and why that may be a bit scary in today’s market…this is also the very reason it’s a perfect fit for PRP.

I knew Time Plains Drifter was going to have to be classified as a time-travel romance; that’s how the H/h meet one another. She’s from the 21st century—he’s from 1879. That was the easy part. The part that was a bit harder to work around was that he was dead. I just couldn’t get past the premise that Rafe d’Angelico was going to be the “paranormal element” of the story. I didn’t want him to be a werewolf, vampire, or shapeshifter. So that left angels, demons, zombies and so forth. I chose for him to be an angel.

Working with Rafe—an angel who didn’t want to be an angel—was a challenge. I told him he had a pretty good deal going. He told me, “I want to be human again.” In the end, I realized he was right, and that was the only way to resolve the issue of time-travel-paranormal-angel-demon-human issues.

Jenni Dalton, the heroine, was completely unsuspecting in all this. She went out on a stargazing field trip with seven of her high school students one night and they never came home. Instead, they ended up in Indian Territory, 1895; one hundred-twenty years in the past.

Jenni’s got it rough, trying to deal with her seven charges, four of them the senior class troublemakers. It takes Rafe to bring them to heel and get them to toe the mark, until the gravity of their situation causes them to all make some surprising adjustments.

As Rafe and Jenni realize their growing attraction to one another is fated, they also understand there is no way anything can come of it on a permanent basis—Rafe is an angel, and Jenni is human—and they will eventually go back to their own times and places in the universe.

The twists and turns that finally bring the book around to the HEA were the most fun to come up with for me. But the story itself, being so unique, is tough to categorize. I think now, it has the best of both worlds. It’s in a place where it can appeal to two separate readerships.

Time Plains Drifter was the recipient of The Reviewer’s Top Pick Award by Karen M. Nutt, PNR reviews. It also received a 4.5 star review, the highest rating given, from Romantic Times Magazine. I was selected as the recipient of the Honorable Mention—Best New Paranormal Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards (March 2010), for Time Plains Drifter.

I’ve got a sequel in the works, Time Plains Guardian, which has been a delight to work on. There are different twists than what we saw in the first book, and some familiar characters will be the stars of the show this time around since the story is built around Rafe’s brother, Cris, and Jenni’s sister, Victoria.

 

Time Plains Drifter is now available in both print and Kindle. I’ve also written some short stories that have a paranormal twist to them: A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES, THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL, HOMECOMING, (these three are Christmas stories) ALWAYS AND FOREVER, (Halloween story) THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (western) and THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT (western). Take a look at my Amazon page to order. (See link below.)

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

   

 

 

 

I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below. I’d love to know what you think you might do if you found yourself in Jenni Dalton’s situation–tossed back in time over 100 years earlier with the responsibility of 7 high schoolers on your hands! ( I  know I would not handle it as well as she did!) Please leave a comment–I always love to hear from readers and other authors.

 

BLURB:

Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to the 21st century. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive?

 

EXCERPT from TIME PLAINS DRIFTER:

Jenni had been so preoccupied with staying in the saddle for the past four hours and worried about Joel that she hadn’t noticed the wind had quickened, the sky darkening as the thunderheads rolled in.

“We better stop here,” Rafe told her reluctantly, nodding toward a small ramshackle house in the distance. “Wait the storm out. Looks like it’s going to be a bad one.”

Jenni nodded, swallowing her protest as she glanced up, seeing the roiling black clouds for the first time. It was true, she reminded herself, some things never did change, no matter what year it was. It was April in Oklahoma—tornado season.

They had to find shelter immediately.

She followed Rafe toward the cottage, relieved to see a lean-to for the horses a few yards away.

As they rode into the overgrown yard, it was obvious the tenants had long since vacated. The runners of morning glory vines climbed along the front porch posts boasting new growth, the purple flowers adding a splash of color to the drab weathered wood.

Rafe swung down, calling a cursory greeting. He opened the front door at the answering silence, his gun drawn. As Jenni made a motion to dismount, he lifted a staying hand, not sparing a backward glance before he disappeared into the little cottage.

Jenni could hear him walking slowly through the house, his footfalls deliberate and hollow-sounding on the bare plank floors. She bit her lip anxiously, wondering what he was looking for. She didn’t like being separated from him, she realized. This was crazy. She thought of Kody and Anna, how quickly they’d come to care so deeply for each other.

Was she in love with Rafe d’Angelico? The idea was absurd. She barely knew him. Yet, when she’d ridden behind him, her arms encircling the lean grid of his waist, she’d felt—something. He’d noticed it too. “Can you feel it, Jen?” he’d asked.

Yes. She still did, stronger now than ever.

Rafe put his head outside the door, ducking through the narrow frame.

“Come on,” he said, reaching up to help her down. “I’ll get our gear, you go on inside out of this wind,” he yelled to make himself heard above the wail and rush of the storm.

Jenni nodded. “The horses—we can’t leave them out here!” she shouted.

He cast a glance back at the animals. “I’ll get ’em in the lean-to! Go on inside!”

Jenni slid off quickly and handed Rafe her reins, then hurried up onto the porch. She watched as Rafe quickly got the horses under the lean-to and looped the reins around the hitching post there, then ran back to her through the tall grass. Just then, the skies opened and rain pelted him.

Small pieces of hail fell. The horses whickered nervously as it hit the wooden structure over them. Rafe took Jenni’s hand, leading her back into the house. He was soaked, and Jenni hurried into the kitchen to see if there were any linens in the top of the pantry.

Whoever had lived here must have loved the place. The kitchen had been cleaned, and as Jenni opened a cabinet door, she noted the sparse pans lined up tidily against the wall. She opened another door to discover a beautiful china sugar bowl that was half full, and a can of beans on top of a can of condensed milk.

She found a clean but ragged towel and brought it to him, offering to dry his back as he shrugged out of his sodden shirt. But he took it from her, shaking his head. “I can do it,” he murmured, turning away from her quickly. “Thanks.” After a moment, he sat down on the chair, watching Jenni explore as he finished drying off.

She came toward him slowly, wrapping her arms around herself tightly. To have been so full of questions before, she certainly was at a loss for words now, she thought. A wry grin curved her mouth.

Rafe patted the side of the bed in invitation, and she sat down next to him. The hail was sporadic now, although rain was hitting the snug little cabin in sheets.

Water for the morning glories, if the hail doesn’t destroy them, Jenni thought, her gaze going out the front window to the thirsty flowers winding their way along the rough posts and roof of the porch. “It’ll wash out the trail,” she whispered to herself.

Rafe’s teeth glinted white against the stubbled growth of beard. His dark eyes were warm with a teasing light. “I think I can still find my way to Fort Sill. I’m pretty familiar with the lay of the land.” He gave her a wink. “This is my territory, Jenni. I don’t need to follow a trail to find them.” He shifted and began to pull off his boots.

“How long will it take us to get there?” Jenni turned to face him.

“At the rate we’re going—”

She grimaced at the teasing note in his voice. “I know I’m holding you up. If I wasn’t with you, you might have already caught them rather than having to go all the way to Fort Sill.”

“I don’t mind. It’s just—time’s not on our side.”

The wind cried around the corner of the cabin, and Jenni thought how much it sounded like the sorrowful wail of a woman. Then there was silence, stretching out between them, broken only by the noise of the storm.

“Who are you, Rafe? Really?”

~*~

GET IT HERE:

Again, I apologize this month–Wordpress is stripping my links for both my Amazon Author Page and for the Time Plains Drifter order page. You can locate both of these by  searching at Amazon.

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder at Rocky Ridge

 

Back in April, I attended a writing retreat in Branson, MO. It was a wonderful time of rest and fun and great writerly conversations. But thanks to a reader’s recommendation, one of my favorite parts of the trip was a little side journey to Mansfield, MO. When I discovered that the home where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and wrote the Little House books was only an hour away, I knew I couldn’t miss the chance to visit.

I grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie books and watching the television series. It is because of Laura’s books and others like them that I became so enamored with historical fiction. Getting to actually walk through the house that Almanzo built for Laura, to see the room where their daughter Rose slept as a girl, to see the small desk where Laura sat to write her novels . . . it gave me chills.

The tour guide took us through the house in the order that it was built. It started as two rooms and expanded over the years to contain three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, music room, small library, and front parlor. Laura and Almanzo both lived into their 90’s, and the caretakers have kept their house almost exactly as they left it upon their deaths. There were several lamps that Almanzo made by hand along with chairs and other furnishings. They wouldn’t let us take any pictures inside the house, but I bought a few postcards to help me remember.

This the back of the house where the tour began. There is a screened off porch leading to the kitchen, a narrow ladder staircase that led to Rose’s childhood bedroom upstairs, and the dining room just past the kitchen.

Front of the house. This is the section built on in later years . If you walk up the steps, you will enter the front parlor. The library will be in a little walled alcove behind the fireplace on the left and the music room will be down the hall to the right. There is also a doorway to the right before the music room that led to Laura’s writing desk, her and Almanzo’s bedroom, and a staircase to a guest room on the second floor where Rose would often invite her New York friends to stay when they needed a break from city life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Wilder Lane was a successful writer well before her mother decided to pen the stories of her life. Rose published several novels and wrote for many popular magazines. She traveled extensively in Europe and made quite a nice living for herself. So in 1928 before the stock market crash that would send the country into an economic crisis, Rose decided to build her parents a new house. She purchased it from the Sears & Roebuck catalog and hired an architect to make a few structural changes. They called it The Rock House because Rose had it fashioned like an English stone cottage. It was less than a mile from their farm at Rocky Ridge. Laura and Almanzo moved to the Rock House and stayed there for eight years. But in 1936 when Rose decided to move back to New York, the Wilders moved back to their beloved farm house. As much as they appreciate their daughter’s gift, the Rock House just wasn’t home.

Back at Rocky Ridge, we had the opportunity to visit a wonderful museum filled with artifacts from Laura’s life including her Pa’s fiddle and original manuscripts. There were notes in the margins where Rose had obviously given her mother editorial advice, and no doubt Rose’s connections with the publishing world in New York opened doors for her mother that Laura would never had been able to open for herself, but seeing those manuscripts in Laura’s own handwriting made it abundantly clear in my mind that those who claim Rose was the true author of the Little House stories are mistaken.

The final place we visited was the small community cemetery where the Wilders are laid to rest. Having seen their lives portrayed on television and in novels made them seem larger than life. Yet seeing their graves made it truly sink in that they were real people, living real lives. What an amazing adventure they shared.

So, if you ever happen to travel through Missouri, do yourself a favor and spend a couple hours in Mansfield with this amazing family.

  • Did you grow up reading the Little House books?
  • Did you watch the TV show?
  • Besides Laura, who was your favorite Little House character?

Gina Danna: Rags and Hope (plus Giveaway)

A Story of the West during The War of the Rebellion

The West – conjures up pictures of Cowboys and Indians, covered wagons, Wild Bill Hitchcock, saloons, gunslingers and Wyoming or Colorado, etc. But did you know that leading up to and including the Civil War, the ‘west’ was what we call today the Midwest – like Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Ohio. Huh? The original 13 colonies/states (New York to Maine, to Pennsylvania, Carolinas, etc) was considered the civilized society and anything past the Appalachian Mountains is the West.

When the Civil War is discussed even today, it is a story of the North and the South but what about the West? The Midwest was the food-producing states. Both sides counted it as theirs. Missouri, for instance, was the ‘west’, with no status as North or South until “Bloody Kansas” occurred. Newspapers in the North wrote their stories, painting the slave-holding Missouri as Southern. Missouri had a lot of ties to the north from an economic standard, being a bread-winning state and St. Louis was one of the nation’s highest importing towns, that you could by any import there, verses New York or New Orleans or Charleston (the other big ports).

Many businesses in St. Louis were tied to the North but this slanderous news stories propagated at this time during the crisis pushed Missouri in a corner, so to speak, and therefore, they did throw their hat in with the South. Many southerners did settle in the state and it was a slave state but that didn’t make them southerner. Even today, northerners referred to Missouri as southern and vice versa.

 When the war comes, it concentrates on the east and the prime objective by the north was ‘take Richmond!’ – the old concept of take the capital (yet at first, the capital for the Confederacy was in Alabama). The push was take the Army of Northern Virginia, led by the mastermind Robert E. Lee, out, take over Richmond and the North wins! But what of the west? The West does include more than the battles at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Franklin. The west was also the breadbasket of the South (& North) but the key to conquering the rebels was the Mississippi River. Take it and cut the Confederacy in half (plus cutting them from their main food source –Texas).

The western theater also became the dumping ground by both sides for officers that lost favor in the east. General Halleck (US), Rosecrans (US), Braxton Bragg (CS), Joseph E. Johnston (CS) are good examples, like Johnston and President Jefferson Davis didn’t get along, but the South needed men, so Johnston was kept, just reassigned to the west. Sounds pretty awful, right?

My latest release, Rags & Hope, deals with this issue.Here is the blurb:

There was one thing about the War of Rebellion they could both understand: At least on the battlefield, the enemy is clear.

Thanks to his father’s political machinations, grieving widower Colonel Pierce Duval wants nothing more than to leave his family home in New York and return to his Union command in Tennessee. A chance and harrowing encounter with a true-blue Southern belle stirs emotions in him he thought long buried. When her safety is at stake, how can he not help her? 

Cerisa Fontaine ran away from her wealthy Louisiana home, hoping to form a new life where no one would know her family’s awful secret. But her controversial marriage and southern drawl make her a pariah in New York. Her situation becomes downright perilous when her husband is killed in battle and Cerisa is left alone and penniless, forced to seek employment at the only establishment that will accept her: a brothel. When the handsome colonel offers her a way out, she’s compelled to accept despite his Yankee roots.

Each for self-serving reasons of their own, Pierce and Cerisa embark on a journey south to Tennessee, posing as a married couple. But even as their secrets stand between them, their passion wages its own war against their better judgment. All too soon, they must make a life altering choice: remain loyal to their cause, or give in to their heart’s desire.

To Order Click Here 

I’m giving away a digital copy of my book Rags and Hope. For a chance to win, please leave a comment. (Giveaway guidelines apply.)

Updated: April 9, 2018 — 4:51 pm

WRITING–AND READING– “SHORT” CAN SPARK YOUR IMAGINATION by CHERYL PIERSON

Hi everyone! It’s near the end of winter, thank goodness, and spring is right around the corner. I have never been a “winter” person, and it seems like the older I get the less I like to see the approach of those cold, dreary winter months. We had our yearly ice storm—we get a lot of that here in Oklahoma—but it’s over!

Growing up, I don’t remember having “cabin fever”—I was always able to entertain myself with indoor activities—coloring, paper dolls, board games, reading,  and yes, even writing. This winter I was asked to participate in a little fun exercise that was very different, and not my “norm” for my writing self.

The story was to be a western historical very short piece. Two sentences were given: The shot rang out. I heard her scream at the same time the bottle crashed to the floor.

These sentences had to be used in this exact form—without any modification. The only “change” that was useable was the fact that they could come anywhere in the story, as long as they came together as shown here. And the story must be 500 words long—no longer. Mine came in at 497—and let me tell you, that was not easy for me!


It’s been a long time since I was this excited over something different like this—just something fun to try. There are 51 other participants as well–all published western authors–using these same two sentences. I’m so curious to see where this leads! The book will be sold for Kindle, but none of us are anticipating getting rich from it—whatever royalties it garners will go into a scholarship fund for a young writer. For me, the rewards were huge.

Also, keep your eyes peeled, as there’ll be one of these coming out each quarter. I just got my copy today, and plan to settle in this evening and see what everyone else wrote with their 500 words. My imagination took off, and I know my co-authors’ did, too.

I had such fun with this! Here it is—see what you think!

Two men, waiting for something. One of them is in for a huge surprise. What about the other one? Will he make it out alive?

I CAN WAIT by CHERYL PIERSON

FROM: THE SHOT RANG OUT!

“Let’s see…‘The shot rang out. I heard her scream at the same time the bottle crashed to the floor.’ That’s your story, right, fast gun?” Marshal Ferris smirked as he moved closer to the chair where his prisoner, Johnny Kilgore, was tied.

“Yeah,” Johnny muttered through split lips, blood streaming from the busted nose Ferris had given him. “It’s my story because that’s how it happened, pendejo.”

Ferris shot him a wary glance, unsure if he’d been insulted.

Johnny looked toward the narrow, barred window just in time to see a small hand disappear. Seeing things? Hoping for a miracle… He shook his head to clear it in the stifling air.

Ferris leaned down close, blocking Johnny’s view of the window. “You killed that woman, and you’re gonna admit it, you son of a bitch. We got all night. I can wait.” Ferris cracked his knuckles. Another vicious uppercut rocked Johnny’s head back. “You’re gonna write your confession.”

Who was the kid outside the window? Damn…why even think of that? I’ll be dead before midnight. There’s no help coming. No miracle for me…not this time… Wrong place, wrong time, just once too often…

He’d killed—but he’d never murdered a woman—especially not this one. Maria Lopez had been little more than a girl herself—and her scream from her upstairs room had been one of pure terror. By the time Johnny’d gotten to her, she was already dead. She wasn’t going to tell who did it, but Johnny had a fair idea from the dogged way Ferris kept after him about a confession.

Ferris crossed his arms. “It’s gonna be a long night. I got a powerful hunger. You just sit tight—I’ll be back after dinner. Just in time for you to confess…before you try to escape, and get killed doing it. Think about that while I’m gone,” he chortled as he walked away toward the outer office, banging the door shut like a death knell.

Johnny slipped his hands through the loose knots of the rope Ferris had tied him with. He untied his ankles, then stood and stumbled to the window. He told himself he didn’t believe in miracles anymore, but a pistol had been placed on the sill inside the bars—if that wasn’t a miracle, he didn’t know what was. He broke it open to be sure it was loaded. Six bullets.

“Señor.” The husky whisper with a hint of tears came from the outside wall. “Marshal Ferris killed my sister. I beg you…”

“Lo siento, m’ijo,” Johnny answered quietly. “I’ll do what I can. Thank you for this.”

The small hand appeared again, laying a hatpin on the ledge. His “key” to the cell door. Johnny smiled, even though it hurt.

One last miracle was his tonight, and with a little luck, he’d be halfway to the border by sunrise. After he killed Ferris.

He settled in behind the door. It’s gonna be a long night. But I can wait…

PROCEEDS GO TO A SCHOLARSHIP FUND FOR A YOUNG WRITER SET UP BY SCOTT HARRIS. You can’t find a better reading bargain anywhere for only .99!

BUY IT HERE: I APOLOGIZE–WORDPRESS IS NOT LETTING ME ADD THE LINK, BUT IF YOU GO TO AMAZON AND SEARCH FOR THE SHOT RANG OUT BY SCOTT HARRIS, IT WILL COME UP.  

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