In May my new book “Out of a Texas Night” was released. I was so excited, and didn’t think things could get any better, but they have!
I’m so thrilled to tell you all that the first book in the Kasota Spring series The Troubled Texan is on BookBub in the Romantic Suspense category today for a fantastic price of 99 cents. Below is a link, so you can go directly to the website and purchase your copy from your favorite book provider. If you haven’t checked BookBub out, please do so because they provide daily releases for special pricing, including free books, in almost every genera.
In my May blog, I gave you an insight into how this particular series came about. One of the things I mentioned is that in all three of the Kasota Springs stories I always use a family recipe for one of my characters, particularly Lola Ruth Hicks, who is the cook and the cement that holds the Jacks Bluff Ranch together. I then give the complete recipe, plus a little bit of my family history behind it at the back of the book.
In cleaning out some of my family “stuff”, I found a bicentennial cookbook from the town I lived in when I was born. The Methodist Cooks Celebrate covers from 1784 to 1984. I was amazed and enthralled with the book, especially the gems from way-back-yonder; so, I decided to share some interesting ones that are still applicable almost a century and a half later.
She guessed the pepper; the soup was too hot,
She guessed the water, it dried in the pot.
She guessed the salt and what do you think?
For the rest of the day we did nothing but drink.
She guessed the sugar, the sauce was to sweet,
And by her guessing, she spoiled the meat.
What of the moral, ‘tis easy to see,
A good cook measures most carefully.
There is no indigestion worse than that of trying to eat your own words.
Those who think it permissible to tell ‘white lies’ soon go ‘colorblind’.
Advice to the Housewife
Well mix and bake the dainty cake,And beat the frosting light;
The sweetest plan to please a man is through his appetite.
A Couple of Cooking Tips:
To remedy greasy gravy, add a small amount of baking soda.
Keep tomatoes in storage with stems pointed downward and they will retain their freshness longer.
If you wrap each egg in aluminum foil before boiling it, the shell won’t crack when it’s boiling.
Before measuring honey or syrup, oil the cup with cooking oil and rinse in hot water.
Tight screws: Loosen a screw by putting a couple of drops of peroxide on it and letting it soak in.
Buttons: Coat the center of buttons with clear nail polish and they’ll stay on longer.
Stubborn locks: Dip key into machine oil or graphite to loosen up a lock.
This is probably my favorite:
Let none escape, but try them all,
To boil or fry or bake.
We’ll warrant they are just as good
As Mother used to make!
Do you love old cookbooks? If so, do you use many of the recipes?
To two lucky winners who leave a comment, I will give away an eBook of Out of a Texas Night.
I’m down to the last week before my deadline and things are crazy! However, as any professional writer will tell you, we’re never just thinking about one project. We are writing one while marketing another. We are working on edits for a third a researching plot ideas for a fourth. Thankfully, I’m only juggling three of those balls instead of all four this week, but it still requires a mental dexterity that can be as taxing as it is exciting.
Next week I will turn in my current manuscript and start work on the next project – one that took me to Gainesville, TX last week to research their wonderful history in person. My story will feature a Harvey Girl heroine working at the newly opened Harvey Lunch Counter in 1902 Gainesville, TX. The people of Gainesville have done a fabulous job of preserving their history, and last week I blogged about walking the very halls of the Santa Fe Depot that my character will. You can find that blog here.
Today, I thought I’d share some of the other wonderful finds I discovered in Gainesville. Not only did I need to know what the lunch counter and depot were like, but I needed to learn about the city itself, and I found a treasure trove. Gainesville has numerous preserved homes from the late 1890s and early turn of the century, the era that I will be writing about.
We took a driving tour of the town, and I took lots of pictures. These are my top 8 houses. The hero in my story is going to have a slightly snobbish mother who looks down on the heroine, viewing a waitress as not only being beneath her son’s station as a lawyer and wealthy rancher’s heir, but as a morally loose woman as well. Which of these houses do you think such a woman would live in?
If YOU were going to live in one of these houses, which would you choose?
The westward expansion in the United States began before the Civil War, spurred by a yearning for exploration and discovery. Early settlers were also influenced by the lure of gold and inexpensive land and the belief in something termed “Manifest Destiny.” After the war, there was another catalyst that sent people westward; the desire for a new beginning. But the American west was wild and the way was difficult and dangerous.
Violence was a fact of life as people fought for a foothold in the vast and dangerous landscapes. And lawful governance was hard to come by. In this wide, uncertain world of the western frontier, outlaws thrived. There weren’t nearly enough lawmen to cover all the territories and sheriffs and deputies often found themselves with more than enough to deal with in their small communities. Besides, lawmen were greatly hindered by the limited scope and breadth of their authority. Chasing down outlaws who moved from one place to another was either outside their jurisdiction or beyond the capacity of their manpower.
Relief came as a result of a court decision in 1872 which gave certain individuals the power to track down, imprison (indefinitely, if need be), and turn in anyone who had escaped bail or had a warrant for their arrest. These bounty hunters worked on the side of law but were not regulated by the same rules that tied the hands of true lawmen. They could cross state and territory lines. They did not need a warrant to force entry to a fugitive’s property. They had the unique benefit of anonymity and often had to act outside the law in order to accomplish their tasks.
As you can imagine, this combination of power and independence and the lack of checks and balances attracted a variety of people. Many who took on the role of bounty hunter were former military men who possessed exceptional skill with firearms and the know-how to track and, if necessary, kill known outlaws. One of the most successful and well-known bounty hunters was Charlie Siringo, a Pinkerton Detective. Other bounty hunters were barely a half step away from being outlaws themselves. Some were even convicted fugitives who were recruited to turn on their former partners and rivals.
When it came to outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West, the two were often one and the same. Outlaws became lawmen, lawmen became outlaws, and some men managed to live as both at the same time. That was possibly never truer than when it came to those who took on the mantle of bounty hunter.
In THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW, the first title in my new historical western series, Malcolm Kincaid started out as a vigilante on the hunt for justice. While tracking down the men responsible for his brother’s death, he just sort of fell into the occupation of bounty hunter. Though at his core he has the noble goal of finally seeing justice prevail, he has no problem making sure that happens by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, he falls for a woman whose life might depend on him giving up his vengeful vendetta once and for all.
Whether set in Regency England or the American West, I write historical romance about dashing and sometimes dangerous men who know just how to get what they want and women who at times may be reckless, bold, and unconventional, but who always have the courage to embrace what love and life have to offer.
I decided today to go back and look at some of my history with P&P. Our local newspaper sold after a century and a half and I’m none too pleased with some of the changes. It’s been on my mind so much, that my first anthology “Give Me a Texan” came to mind. Although it was publish a decade ago, I still love my story. My hero is newspaperman Quinten Corbett who wasn’t exactly expecting his new apprentice to be a female. Quin has to find something for the Boston-born Kaira Renaulde to do since she was much too sophisticated for the rough-and-tumble frontier town of Amarillo. He gives her assignments that today might be called “fluff” reporting.
In order to stay authentic, I researched newspaper articles during that era and used two of them. “October 9, 1884: An itinerant looking man with very small mules was selling apples and things here Wednesday. They came from Wichita Falls. The apples retailed at four bits a dozen, and were quickly taken.” — The Mobeetie Panhandle
Naturally, this type of article didn’t set well with the newspaper man, so he sends her out again. This time she comes up with another piece. “August 14, 1884: The juicy watermelon, the odoriferous muskmelon and the warty, git-up-and-dust cucumber have been here several days. Men and things change, but every returning season finds the cucumber possessing unalterably the same old characteristics.” — The Mobeetie Panhandle
I’m happy to say that “Give Me a Texan” is still in print after a decade, as are the other anthologies, so if you want to know more about how Quin and Kaira handle working together, you can still order it through Amazon.com.
In the anthology “Give Me a Texas Outlaw”, which came out nine years ago and is also still available at Amazon in both rack size and eBook, I used old newspaper articles for the epilogue taking a bit of creative liberties. I tried to tie together my stories in the four anthologies just a little bit, along with foreshadowing the next two in the series. Never did I believe that the anthologies, particularly “Give Me a Cowboy” would lead to my contemporary western romances with the same families of Kasota Spring, Texas, three to five generations later.
Here’s some more interesting information, I researched.
October 25, 1890: “At Tolosa, five miles south of Kemp, John Williams and Will Perkins became engaged in a difficulty, both being under the influence of whiskey. Perkins struck Williams just above the temple with a black smith’s hammer, smashing his skull. Williams made his escape, with the officer in pursuit, going in the direction of Athens, his former home. Williams is the son-in-law of W. Almow, a prominent farmer.” Note: They called this “engaging in a difficulty” in those days? —The Galveston Daily News
December 19, 1890: “Professor Garard, superintendent of the public schools, died very suddenly last night. He had been complaining a little for several days, but was feeling better yesterday. He ate a hearty supper last night, retired to his room and was found dead this morning.” —The Galveston Daily News
I thought it’d be fun today to give you a taste of authentic news articles during the 1800’s. I’ve left the spelling and punctuation as it was written for authenticity, so you’ll see some very odd spelling. It took the folks a while to decide exactly how to spell Panhandle. It was Pan Handle and Pan-handle, plus a couple of other ways before they settled into Panhandle.
“September 27, 1883: The largest cattle ranch in the world is said to be that of Charles Goodnight, at the head of Red River, Texas. He began buying land four years ago, securing 270,000 acres at 36 cents per acre. In the meantime the price has advanced from $1 to $2 per acre, but he is still buying, and controls 700,000 acres. To enclose his landed possessions, 250 miles of fence is required. On the range he has 40,000 cattle.” — Dodge City Times
September 20, 1883: “The wire cutters are busy at work with their clippers, cutting the fences in Montague, Clay, Wise and Denton counties, greatly to the annoyance of the owners.”
June 29, 1882: “Hamburg has a curiosity in the shape of a chicken which has only one leg. It was hatched that way, is about two months old and seems as happy and contented as though it had four legs.” —Dodge City Times
May 18, 1882: “Pan Handle Items: The road between here and Tascosa said to be well defined by a row of black bottles that flash back the rays of the sun. They are empty.” –Mobeetie Panhandle
October 16, 1880: “Land in Texas is cheap. The last Legislature set apart 3,000,000 acres of land in the Pan Handle, ordered a survey and put it on the market at a minimum price of 50 cents per acre. The survey of this 3,000,000 acres has been completed, and the land is now in market.” ** —Dodge City Times
**This is the land the state traded for a new capitol building, land that became the well-known XIT Ranch. On my list of future blogs is the story of the famous XIT Ranch, which is still in existence today.
And, one of my favorite articles comes from the Dodge City Times dated September 20, 1879: “The Pan Handle has been suffering for the want of rain, as several weeks have elapsed since rain has fallen; and if we don’t soon get rain we will have a long dry spell.” Hate to say it, but this is applicable to our weather today in the Texas Panhandle.
Since the Panhandle, as it was finally spelled, is suffering from a serious drought and prairie fires today, I must agree … if we don’t soon get rain we will have a long dry spell.
Do you have favorite newspaper or magazine quotes you’d like to share?
I’m fortune to have a supply of all six anthologies, authored with our own Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace. Tonight I’ll be drawing a winner to either get an autographed copy of “Give Me a Texan” or your choice of one of my eBooks, including my recently released “Out of a Texas Night”.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.