Category: Behind the Book

Can Horses Fly? How About Hearts?~Tanya Hanson and a Giveaway!

Eadweard Muybridge, born Edward Muggeridge in Kingston-upon-Thames, London, (April 30, 1820) became an American icon. How? By inventing the motion picture! When I first read about him years ago, I knew someday, somehow, he would be a character in one of my books—and he finally did, in my latest release, When Hearts Fly. (I’m giving an e-copy away today to one commenter, so please leave some words behind before you ride off.)

What made him stand out to me? Well, first of all, was the name change. I grew up with such an odd name myself, I would never have made it worse. But when he came to America in 1850, Edward Muggeridge spelled it Eadweard Muybridge because he believed the archaic spellings were truer to his Old English roots.

However, he took “Helois” as his professional name as a photographic artist in San Francisco where he earned a stellar reputation. In a traveling darkroom, he produced breathtaking landscapes of the West, most famously Yosemite and Alaska.

At thirty, Muybridge suffered a head injury in a stagecoach accident. Changes in his behavior and vision alarmed his friends. It is believed now the accident damaged his frontal cortex, an explanation for his increasingly eccentric behavior…

…which culminated in the cold-blooded, shot-through-the-heart murder of his wife Flora’s lover in 1874. He had become convinced her baby had been fathered by Major Harry Larkins. Although his lawyers used the stagecoach injury in an insanity defense, the jurors didn’t buy it. Nonetheless, they did acquit Muybridge on the grounds of justifiable homicide.

(His penchant for killing an adulterous male is a plot point in my novella, when my hero’s past behavior with Muybridge’s fictional niece is misconstrued.)

The early 1870’s saw the rise of Muybridge’s place in history. Railroad tycoon, former California governor, and soon-to-be-founder of a great University, Leland Stanford hired Eadweard to settle a bet.

A fiery controversy blazed at this time: was there ever a moment in a horse’s gait when all four hooves left the ground? Prevailing attitudes claimed NO—if horses were meant to fly God would have given them wings.

But Stanford believed differently and wanted Muybridge to capture the moment. However, the moment happened too fast for the human eye to see.

During some five years of experiments at Stanford’s farm in Palo Alto, California, Muybridge’s primitive results did show a horse “in flight” but the results did not survive. Finally, he and Stanford were ready to face the crowds. In June, 1878, at a racetrack at the farm, Muybridge set up 12 cameras with strings tripping the shutters  to capture the images against a screen. In front of enthusiastic spectators, a horse named Sallie Gardener proved four feet off the ground.

The achievement was featured in the October 1878 issue of Scientific American.

In 1883, Muybridge went to the University of Pennsylvania to continue his photographic studies of animals—and humans, some nude!—in motion. He had access to the veterinary college and the local zoo. And unclothed athletes as well.

His invention, the zoopraxiscope, showed images on a rotating glass plate projected against a screen. However, the images on the scope, about the size of a dinner plate, had to be drawn on. At that time, they were not his actual photographs. He toured the country and Europe giving demonstrations of “motion pictures.”

Muybridge’s techniques inspired Thomas Edison back then, and still inspire artists and film makers today. He died of cancer in 1904.

Are you a fan of motion pictures? What’s your favorite movie Western?

Blurb:

Innkeeper Cordy Meeker wants a cowboy all her own and to head to the mountains to find him. But she faces financial ruin thanks to her late gambler brother and a hopeless winter of no paying guests. With the bank threatening foreclosure, she needs help fast.

On his way to his family’s holdings in Colorado, British nobleman Hawk Shockley lands in Paradise, Nebraska on a whim, robbed and penniless. Concocting a money-making scheme with the beautiful Cordy is easy, and giving his heart easier, but a woman has gotten him into a pickle before. So…when Eadweard Muybridge threatens to come to town, will a last-minute wedding make things better? Or worse?

Excerpt:

Cordy tightened the shawl so she didn’t scream. But cry, never that. No man would ever make her cry again. Not even the foolish banker. Never. Not after Lambert Truefitt. In some way, she would outwit Mr. Pelikan and his ilk at the bank. True, she hadn’t had a guest for weeks. True, her Sunday chicken dinners were wildly popular. But also true, locals hurried home after church before it snowed again.

So bills had mounted. She and her horses had to eat. The mercantile allowed her to pay down her debt of nine dollars and twenty cents two bits at a time.

Clancy. She clenched her fists. A trudge to the cemetery would be muddy, but the urge to kick her brother’s headstone wouldn’t be stifled. Finally, anger outranked grief, relief, and guilt. On her way to the tiny vestibule where she kept her rubber boots, the little counter bell clanged. But she didn’t hurry. With her present luck, it would be Sheriff Pelton arresting her on behalf of her felonious brother, and she couldn’t afford bail. Finally she called out on the fourth ring.

“I’ll be right with you.” Then she tripped on a boot, stumbled, flailed.

And landed in the arms of a man just in time to break her fall. His warmth scented from the outdoors snuggled around her. Cordy managed to toss her arms around his neck. He held her panting form against his mighty chest.

Then her breath stopped. The sight of him heated her blood. Here he was, as if stepping out from a dream. Her Wild West cowboy, with his Stetson and scruffy cheeks and lake-blue eyes she wanted to drown in.

“Are you all right?” His voice rumbled from his chest to her ear. A drawl mixed with someplace else.

“Yes.” She saddened when he broke contact and set her down. He kept hold of her hand, and she practically fell in love on the spot. “I’m fine. Thank you.”

“I am Keaton Shockley.” He touched his brim and removed his Stetson. Weather and leather ruffled his rugged coffee-brown hair. “And I’d like to let a room. I must find C. Meeker, proprietor.”

Her heart flipped inside itself. Not only a paying customer, but a handsome one. Oh, and how magnificently that duster tightened around his shoulder muscles when he moved.

“You have found her. I’m Miss Cordelia Meeker. Welcome to my inn.” She held out her hand. Adding the Miss risked her appearing a stuffy spinster, but it was a surefire way to inform him she was unmarried. “But do call me Cordy.” There.

“Do call me Hawk.”

“Hawk?” Oh, so…cowboy!

She sparked to her toes when they touched. He raised the hand he held, slowly, then placed it against his warm lips. “Keaton supposedly means where hawks fly.”

 

 

Updated: March 16, 2017 — 1:49 pm

Foods of the 1800’s

Yesterday, I spent a good eight hours editing some chapters in my upcoming Kasota Spring Romance contemporary series Out of a Texas Night.  A part I’d written a while back brought back memories of  my Granny’s cooking. Here’s a little excerpt:  Since Avery had been staying out at Mesa’s family’s ranch, the Jacks Bluff, she’d had the opportunity to enjoy more than her share of Lola Ruth’s larrupin’ good handmade goodies.  Somewhere deep inside, she figured Lola Ruth had lied for years about not using lard for her famous fried pies.  Somehow, Avery couldn’t see the loveable woman turning to shortening or vegetable oil, much less coconut or avocado oil, after all of this time….

I kept thinking about how wonderful my Granny’s fried pies were and that she fried them in plain ol’ lard.  What changes we’ve had in cooking over the last century.  With Easter dinner nearing and my grandkids coming for the week, I started my grocery list.  While doing so, of course I was thinking about what I planned to blog on today. Suddenly, I remembered a section in a wonderful research book about life in the 1800’s, so I pulled it from the shelf and began getting some ideas.  I thought I’d share a few with you. Coffee: drunk throughout the century, although tea was more popular until after the Civil War. Early in the 1860’s folks began using Borden condensed milk. Chase and Sanborn coffee was sold in sealed cans as early as 1878, while Maxwell House canned coffee came around a few years later.  As I recall from previous research, Arbuckles added a peppermint stick as a treat in each package.

The more I read the more interested I got about things we have today that makes cooking so much easier that were new products in the 1800’s and earlier.

The general store or mercantile were the main source of foods in the 1800’s.  The typical items we use today were available, salt, sugar, spices and the like. Beer, whiskey, molasses and vinegar were dispensed through spigots from barrels. Pickles and crackers were also sold from barrels, while dried legumes/beans were on the floor in bushel baskets.

Canned goods weren’t widely available until the Civil War and after; however beans in tomato sauce were first successfully canned and sold commercially by Van Camp in 1861.  Yes, our familiar Pork and Beans were favorites a century and a half ago.

Baking powder was sold commercially from the late 1860’s. Previously, housewives leavened their cakes and biscuits with sour milk and molasses or pearl ash or saleratus (closely related to potassium bicarbonate, which is similar to soda).   Granny’s chocolate cake recipe that is in back of The Troubled Texan uses soda and buttermilk.  This is what I’ve used for years.

One of America’s favorite foods and one that are especially good at baseball games is the hot dog. To me there isn’t anything better than a good ol’ hot dog. They haven’t been around as long as some of the other cooking items, I’ve talked about.  They were introduced in the 1880’s in St. Louis.

Which of course brings to mind one of the favorite condiments for a dog, ketchup.  Heinz ketchup was bottled for the first time in 1876.  Until then, the housewives made their own by squeezing very ripe tomatoes with their hands until they were reduced to pump, then they put a half a pound of salt to one hundred tomatoes, and boiled them for two hours, stirring frequently.  While hot they’d press them through a fine sieve then add a little mace, nutmeg, all-spice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and pepper to taste.  Then they’d boil over a slow fire until thick and bottle when cold.  One hundred tomatoes made four or five bottles and could be kept for two or three years.

The original potato chip was invented in 1853 in Saratoga Springs, New York,  and applicably named the Saratoga chip.

The Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) opened in 1859 on Vesey Street in New York. Its rows of tea bins contained teas from around the world. By 1880, there were ninety-five A&P stores from Boston to Milwaukee.  And, yes, if you are asking yourself, they are the same A&P Grocery stores that were basically on the East Coast for nearly a century before they filed bankruptcy.

What grocery product would you have trouble doing without?  I’m going to give you my two answers.  Pork & Beans because since my grandkids were little I cut up wieners and put in a can of Pork & Beans, warmed them and they were served with Kraft Mac and Cheese.  My oldest granddaughter will be graduating from college in a few weeks and to this day they all say I’m the only one that can fix P&B’s and Mac & Cheese the way they like it.  Proves that Granny’s (yes, I’m Granny named after my maternal granny) cooking is always the best.The produce I couldn’t do without is soda.  I used it for everything from cookin’ to cleanin’!

So, now tell me your cain’t-do-without product!

 

I’ll be drawing two winners who leave a comment and

send you an eBook of The Troubled Texan

Updated: April 3, 2017 — 7:45 pm

The Allure of Fort Laramie ~ by Amanda Cabot

When you picture a western fort from the nineteenth century, do you envision small, perhaps even dilapidated wooden buildings surrounded by a wooden stockade?  I did until I visited Fort Laramie.  It was the summer of 2004, only a few months after my husband and I had moved from the East Coast to Cheyenne.  We needed a break from the unpacking, picture hanging, and other tasks associated with moving into a new house, so we headed for the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.

Old Fort Laramie store foundation

Foreground: foundation of barracks; background: part of officer’s row, including the post trader’s store (the one-story building in the center back)

It was not what I expected.  There was no stockade, the buildings were far from primitive, and the way they flanked the central parade ground made it reminiscent of a New England village, not one of the military forts those old Westerns made popular.

Old Fort Laramie dining room

Nothing primitive about this dining room.

Old Fort Laramie birdbath

An in-ground birdbath.

As we entered the Visitor Center, the surprises continued, and I found myself fascinated by the elegant lifestyle the officers and their wives experienced during the last decade of the fort’s existence (the 1880s).Houses were surrounded by picket fences, many yards had flower gardens, and women strolled along the boardwalks carrying parasols.  There were even birdbaths.  Of course, since this was Wyoming with its famous winds, the birdbaths weren’t the typical basin-on-a-pedestal style that you might expect.  Instead, they were circular depressions in the ground. As I said, it was not at all what I had expected, but what I saw started my brain whirling, and I knew this would not be my only visit to the fort.

Old Fort Laramie Officers Row

Partially reconstructed officers’ housing and Old Bedlam (the two-story white frame building)

Old Fort Laramie Burt house

Andrew and Elizabeth Burt’s home. The red SUV in the background was definitely not there when they lived at the fort!

There’s a lot to see.  While many of the buildings have been destroyed, a number have been restored to their former glory to give visitors a sense of what life was like at the fort that was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail.  The most famous of those buildings is Old Bedlam, the oldest military structure in Wyoming.  Curious about the nickname?  It was originally constructed for bachelor officers’ housing, and those officers were a little … shall we say rowdy?  Later in its existence, it was used as post headquarters, and only a few years ago it was the site of a wedding.  I suspect the guests were better behaved than those bachelor officers of 150 years ago.One of the restored houses is the one where Lt. Col. Andrew Burt and his wife Elizabeth lived during their two tours of duty at the fort.  If you’ve never heard of the Burts, their story is told in Indians, Infants and Infantry: Andrew and Elizabeth Burt on the Frontier by Merrill J. Mattes, a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants an authentic view of life at nineteenth century forts.  The author used Elizabeth’s Burt’s diaries and letters to create a story filled with fascinating details of real life.

What does all this have to do with my current release?  Absolutely nothing.  A Stolen Heart is set in a charming town in the Texas Hill Country, not on a military fort.  Its hero is a sheriff, not a soldier.  Its heroine is a schoolteacher who becomes a confectioner, not a woman dealing with tasteless dried potatoes.  But Fort Laramie is such a wonderful place that I couldn’t resist taking this opportunity to tell you more about it.  If you visit Wyoming, I hope you’ll consider spending a day at Fort Laramie.  It’s well worth the detour.

And now to the highlight of the post: the giveaway.  I’m offering a signed copy of either Summer of Promise, which takes place at Fort Laramie during its elegant decade, or my new release, A Stolen Heart, to one commenter.

 

A stolen Heart

The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . .

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé.

But when she discovers he has disappeared—and that he left behind a pregnant wife—Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

The book is available at Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.

 

Amanda CabotBestselling author Amanda Cabot invites you into Texas’s storied past to experience adventure, mystery—and love. She more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroad trilogy, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.

Find her online at:
AmandaCabot.com
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Can You Hear Country in My Voice?

LONG TIME GONE — Book #2 of the Cimarrron Legacy Series, releases in under two weeks1!!

by

Mary Connealy

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published.

At the end of those ten years, on that fateful day when I earned my first contract, I had twenty finished books on my computer.

TWENTY! FINISHED! BOOKS!

And those books were NOT all romantic comedy with cowboys. Among those twenty books were almost all genres….within of course the genre of romance.

Sweet contemporary romances, police dramas, gothic, mysteries, sci-fi. Yep, I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I was trying seriously to get published all those years, but for good or ill, I wasn’t one of those people who wrote one book then started POLISHING for seven years.

Instead, I’d finish a book, and start another one. That’s not to say I never edited and revised. I did and did and did. I wrote stand alone books. I’d see ways to connect them and rewrite them into series. I’d change dates and names and places to move a book set in 1880 in Montana, so it’d be in 1865 Texas to match up with another books.

I had one three book series I wrote in three lengths. 45,000 words long, 55,000 words long and 90,000 words long, so they were ready to pitch to three different publishers with different word requirements.

I say all this because for some reason…for WHATEVER reason, when one of my books finally hit…it was a historical romance.

And then the publisher said, “So what else have you got like this?”

Eleven published books later, I finally had to start writing new books.

Now why, oh why, did that historical romance sell? A style I call ‘Romantic Comedy with Cowboys’.

I think maybe it’s because I know the lingo. I think I bring some authenticity to the western voice. Being from Nebraska … well, it ain’t Texas but it’s cowboy country, I promise you that.

And my husband is a Nebraska cattleman. We have what they call a cow/calf herd. 120 cows. (this is NOT a big operation by Nebraska standards, but it keeps us busy!)

Every one of those 120 cows has a baby every February and March (a few early ones, a few late) and for the last few years I’ve been chronicle-ing the arrival of those babies on Facebook.

Now, I think baby calves are wonderful. So cute, so lively when they’re so brand new. Angus calves are what we have mostly and they arrive this beautiful, shining black. Watching them stand, learn to nurse, run to their mamas when they get startled by My Cowboy or me driving in on our daily calf check. They’re just adorable.

But what amazes me about my calf pictures on Facebook is the response. I am surprised by how many people find what is every day to us, unusual, fascinating, even miraculous.

A baby calf being born.

So posting these pictures has helped me realize just how special our lives are, what a precious opportunity I’ve been given to be a Nebraska cattleman’s wife.

And I think now, maybe the reason my books finally sold, after all those years and all that work, is that I found my voice. I found a subject, westerns, cowboys, cattle, rural life, that I could portray with authenticity.

One of the bits of writing wisdom we hear of all the time is ‘Write what you know.’

Long Time Gone (Book #2 Cimarron Legacy Series)

Well, I suppose that’s what I’ve done. I’ve found a twist on my life, added considerably more gunfire, of course! (thank heavens) and made a career out of it.

I invite you all to join me on my Spring Parade of Calves (which is usually getting over by the time it’s spring) on Facebook.

And check out my new book, Long Time Gone. A book genre, romantic comedy with cowboys, I finally had to knowledge to write.

 

Tell me a story about an animal you’ve known. Or about what you know. If you were going to ‘write what you know’ what would that be? Commenters will get their name in the drawing for a copy of Long Time Gone.

Updated: March 15, 2017 — 7:07 pm

Welcome Guest Author Tracie Peterson!

Hello all of you wonderful readers,

This month I’m debuting a new series titled Heart of the Frontier. Book one is titled Treasured Grace and is the story of three sisters in 1847. The focal setting of the story is the Whitman Mission in the area of present day Walla Walla, Washington.Whitman Mission, Walla Walla, Washington

Whitman Mission aerial of grounds layout

This is a model of the mission layout with the main mission house to the right, the blacksmith shop in the center and the Emigrant’s House on the left. The mill pond (upper left) was where they also had a grist mill.

Treasured Grace by Tracie PetersonThis location was the site of the Whitman Mission Massacre that took place November 29, 1847. It was this massacre that truly changed the course of westward expansion and brought on the setting up of military forts along the Oregon Trail.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (she was one of the first two white women who crossed the Rocky Mountains) had tried for over ten years to win the hearts and minds of the Cayuse Indians in their area. However, a measles epidemic struck and killed a great many Cayuse, as well as whites. The Cayuse were convinced that Whitman (who was a doctor as well as a preacher) was trying to kill them and so on November 29th, they attacked and killed the doctor and Narcissa, along with most of the other men who were living at the mission. The remaining fifty-four women and children were taken hostage and held for nearly a month by the Cayuse.

The mission site is part of the National Parks system and open to visitors.

On my many visits there to glean information for my series, I found the park rangers to be some of the best I’ve encountered while doing research.  It was fascinating to learn about the Cayuse people. They were a nomadic people who were known for their horses and horsemanship. They were also considered to have some of the fiercest warriors.

They lived in tulle mat lodges and traveled with the seasons to harvest various roots and vegetation, as well as take advantage of the salmon fishing.

In the 1840’s this area of America was called Oregon Country. It was mostly inhabited by Native Americans and the British. The latter ran a string of Hudson’s Bay Company forts and traded with both the Native Americas and whites who came west. I mention this because another fascinating aspect of this massacre and the aftermath was the part the Hudson’s Bay Company played.

When it was learned that 54 white women and children were being held captive, Peter Skene Ogden (one of the factors at Fort Vancouver – now present day Vancouver, Washington) went to work to secure their release.  He and Chief Factor James Douglas put together a ransom hoping they could convinced the Cayuse to let the women and children go without harm. The ransom included 62 blankets, 63 cotton shirts, 12 Hudson Bay rifles, 600 loads of ammunition, 7 pounds of tobacco and 12 flints.  Eventually the Cayuse did agree to this and the women and children were set free. I thought it quite interesting, if not touching that The Hudson’s Bay Company never billed the American settlers for the ransom. I thought it equally interesting that reimbursement by the American government was never offered.

If you’d like to read a brief summary of the actual attack, this website should help.

I had a lot of fun researching this series and hope you enjoy it.  Book 2 Beloved Hope will come out in June and Book 3 Cherished Mercy is due out in September.Tracie Peterson

 

Tracie will send one of today’s commenters a lovely gift basket containing Treasured Grace and five more of her latest book, plus some other goodies. Take our word for it: You’ll love the prize!

 

Find Tracie online at her website, TraciePeterson.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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WHAT’S IN A NAME? A NAME GAME FROM CHARLENE SANDS

 

 

“What is in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,
So Romeo would were he not Romeo called retain such dear perfection to which he owes without that title,
Romeo, Doth thy name!
And for that name which is no part of thee, take all thyself.”

We all know William Shakespeare penned this famous line and so I got to thinking about the most popular names from the 1800’s and how they differ from the names of today.  Of my four little munchkins born in this decade, Everley, Kyra, Madison and Lila, can you guess which name made the present day Top
Ten list?

If you guessed Madison, you’d be right.  But wait, why don’t you close your eyes (so you don’t see the list below) and guess which boy and girl names were most popular in the 1880’s.   And then take a guess at which boy and girls’ names made the list from 2010-2015.    Can you guess what boy and girl names were the only ones to make the Top Ten from both time periods?  Hint-both names are of English royalty.

Spoiler Alert… Don’t read until you guess!

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Top Ten 1880 List

John/Mary

William/Anna

James/Emma

George/Elizabeth

Charles/Margaret

Frank/Minnie

Joseph/Ida

Henry/Bertha

Robert/Clara

Thomas/Alice

 

Top Ten Present Day List

Jacob/Sophia

Noah/Emma

Mason/Isabella

William/Olivia

Ethan/Ava

Liam/Emily

Michael/Abigail

Alexander/Mia

Jayden/Madison

Daniel/Elizabeth

 

What do these names mean?  I have to credit The Best Name for Your Baby book. It’s helped me immeasurably in garnering names of my characters and seeing if the name origin fits with my character’s traits.  Let’s take the Top Boy and Girl names of 1880.

John is Hebrew for “God’s grace.”  The Celtic variations of John are Ian and Sean.

Mary is the New Testament’s form of Miriam which is Hebrew for “bitter”.  Namesakes, Mary Queen of Scots, William and Mary.  Pairs well with Jane, Alice and Ellen.   Variations are Maria, Mariette, Mara, Marian and Madonna

William is Old German for “valiant protector”.  And of course who comes to mind when you think in royal terms?  Prince William!  Variations are Willie, Wilhelm, Wiley, Wilfred and Bill.

Anna is from Anne which is Hebrew for “gracious.”  Namesakes are Princess Anne of England and Anne Boleyn. Variations are Ann, Annis, Anya, Anika, and Anita.

Here are the meaning of the names of hero and heroine in my newly released Taming the Texas Cowboy!

Maddie comes from Madeline which is Hebrew for “tower of strength”  Variations are Marlene, Magdelena, Madlin, Madge and Madalena. Also May, Lena or Lene

Trey is Middle English for “third born”.

Did you play along?  Did you guess any of the Old Names?   What do you think of the names of today?   Post a comment and win a $5 Amazon Gift Card picked at random. Winner will be announced at the end of the day!!   Thanks for playing along!! 

 AMAZON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated: March 7, 2017 — 1:49 pm

Welcome Guest – Pam Meyers

 

The Pioneer City Rodeo – A Perfect Setting for Second Chance Love

I’ve loved everything cowboy since I was a child, and dreamed of living where I could have a horse. But, unfortunately, that wasn’t a dream my parents shared, and as I grew into adulthood, I moved on to other interests. Like many in Wisconsin, or Illinois where I live now, I used to think that all rodeos happened in the west. Just yesterday at church a woman was surprised I was interested in rodeo or that rodeos occur so close to us. There are a lot of rodeos going on in my home state of Wisconsin and all around the Midwest during the warmer months. A fact I learned about a dozen years ago when a friend invited me to a rodeo.

The Pioneer City Rodeo, where Second Chance Love is set, is a real event that happens every Labor Day weekend, which I attend every year now. Like in my story, there are rodeos on three consecutive evenings, and we attend all three. Located in the tiny village of Palestine, a southern Illinois town nestled along the Wabash River, the rodeo offers a wonderful getaway to cap off the summer. We meet a lot of the locals sitting around us in the stands and on Main Street during the street fair. Although some of the retail establishments in my story are from my imagination, many are real, including the Back Porch Smokehouse and the Wabash Coffee House, located a short distance upriver from Palestine.

When I decided to write the story, it was a natural to make my hero, Jace McGowan, a bull rider, since that’s one of my favorite events. My heroine, Sydney Knight, is a born and bred Chicagoan and can no more picture herself living on Jace’s Texas ranch than he can see himself hanging up his bull rope and living in a Chicago apartment building. This conflict leads to a lot of tension, but they both have baggage beyond that which must be overcome before they can move forward and learn how much they really do have in common. I hope you’ll read my story to find out.

Second Chance Love

Chicago lawyer Sydney Knight and Texas bull rider Jace McGowan have nothing in common but everything to lose when they are thrust together during a weekend rodeo in rural Illinois. Neither one of them would have imagined two years ago that the deep attraction they sensed during a day-long outing would resurface when Sydney’s boss assigns her to Jace’s legal case.

Sydney has been through a world of hurt since losing her dad when she was sixteen, then being dumped the morning of her wedding. She’s sworn off romance and instead devotes her time toward a partnership in her father’s law office.

Jace has found faith in God and wants out of his sponsor contract with a risqué restaurant chain that requires him to pose with scantily-clad women. He’s about to bail on the contract and pay steep penalties—something he can ill afford, given that his deceased father left the family with unpaid taxes.

Sydney is determined she’ll get Jace out of his contract and return to Chicago with her heart intact, but Jace is just as determined to help her see they are meant to be together. Can a city girl with roots deep in Chicago and a bull-riding rancher with roots deep in Texas give themselves a second-chance love?

Giveaway!

Pam will give one lucky reader a Kindle version of Second Chance Love. Leave a comment to enter.

  • What is your favorite rodeo event?

Oh, the Scandalous Bicycle~Tanya Hanson

Howdy all. Several years ago, I had the time of my life at my publisher’s retreat at the Silver Spur Ranch in Bandera, Texas. It was here I met fellow author Stacey Coverstone. Despite living on opposite coasts, we have been in touch ever since, with our love of horses and grandkids. However, when I searched through my files for a picture of us in Bandera, I discovered that my photos ran mostly with the ranch’s “pet” Longhorns.

But I digress: a few months ago, Stacey invited me to be part of an anthology of romances based on the modes of transportation in the Wild West, and JOURNEY OF THE HEART was born. The multi-author collection released a few days ago, and I’m giving one PDF copy away, so don’t forget to leave a comment and check back tomorrow. Each of the stories takes you on a wonderful ride through the West! I picked the bicycle.

Anyway, next time you go for a bike ride, remind yourself of one more battle our foremothers fought for us. All over America in the 1890’s, bicycle sales boomed, bike trails were blazed, and “wheelmen clubs” sprouted up everywhere. (In fact, two brothers who owned a bike shop in Dayton Ohio started fiddling around with the technology for another project. Orville and Wilbur Wright)

But notice I wrote “wheelMEN.” Indeed, early bicycles were nearly impossible for women to ride, with pedals attached to front wheels as large as five feet in diameter.

But the “safety bicycles” of the late 1870’s bloomed with possibility. The two wheels were the same size,  and a chain drive connected the rear wheel with pedal power.

Of course “real” wheelmen snorted that the new design was for old men and women.

Well, little did they know.

The Safety bicycle helped women assert themselves. Because now, they could get out of the house and around town on their own, manage their own routes and travels. They didn’t need the expense of a horse, or the complication of a buggy. Bicycles became nicknamed “freedom machines” because a woman could leave her own neighborhood easily and all by herself. Oh, the humanity.

In 1896, Susan B. Anthony proclaimed that cycling had done more to emancipate woman than anything else, ever.

So…the scandals began. Not only was the status quo threatened with women broadening their horizons, but they also left their restrictive Victorian garb behind. For shame! Their elaborate clothing—tight corsets, long layers of petticoats and skirts not to mention the occasional hoop, high necks and tight sleeves impeded freedom and movement. So—gasp, “bifurcated” garments and bloomers (loose trousery things gathered at the ankle) burst forth.

But the threat to prim, proper Victorian appearance wasn’t scandal enough. Bicycle riding became virtually immoral. Not only were woman shedding their proscribed roles of dignified femininity, but also, bike riding—gasp—meant spreading the female legs to straddle a saddle (seat). Of course, stimulation and arousal had to be inevitable, men claimed, bringing about a woman’s complete depravity. She would far too easily be led into infidelity or prostitution. As for “maidens,” any peritoneal stimulation (blush) would be painful and cause debilitating “polypoid growths.”

The solution, prescribed by doctors: the “hygienic saddle” with no padding and plenty of open spaces, to prohibit the womanly zone making contact and thereby thwarting orgasm. Furthermore, tall upright handlebars were designed to reduce the angle of her sitting, for the same reason.

The howls of masculine protest didn’t stop there. Rough roads would also damage kidneys and livers, male doctors claimed. Without any doubt (or proof), damp weather and chilly temperatures would most certainly result in miserable and off-kilter menses.

Finally in 1895, the Mississippi Valley Medical Congress caved, and approved cycling as an excellent form of exercise for both genders. The hold-up now—the all-male delegation refused to approve bifurcated garments, although no medical reason could be found.

Hmmm.

All of this lent itself well to my rebellious heroine, Sarah, who had been nicknamed Sorry as a child. (Hence the title “Sorry.”) Raised by her dour minister-uncle and his obedient wife, Sarah has no choice but to search for freedom all her own. Taking on a temporary job in Truckee, California, as a bicycle-riding “messenger boy” for the telegraph office lands her into deep scandal. As well as the arms of our handsome hero Zaccheus, himself a reluctant preacher on a course he didn’t choose.

       How about you? What is the most scandalous thing you’ve ever done? Are you a bike rider? When did you get your first bike? Let me hear from you today.

Many thanks to Stacey and the other authors, Anne Carrole (our visitor last weekend), Melissa Lynne Blue, Debora Dennis, Karen J. Hasley, Linda LaRoque (whom I also met in Bandera) and Jacqui Nelson. We all hope you enjoy our romp through the West.

Here’s the excerpt when Sarah meets Zac.

Her breath came swift from hot lungs as her legs pedaled far and away. Sinews stretched, bones strengthened against the ruts in the road. She was flying, free as a bird. A woman on the loose wearing trousers and earning a respectable wage while doing it. Mercy, she was the luckiest woman alive. Bicycles weren’t nicknamed ‘freedom machines” for nothing!

Even with the looming threat of another Waldo Dellgood lecture, she laughed like a naughty child, Sierra wind on her teeth. Would her uncle even dare use words like virginity? So enraptured was she with freedom, with nature, with dreaming up polite ways to annoy her uncle that she didn’t notice the man in front of her on the road, walking his horse toward the trail to the Donners’ legendary camp. Until it was almost too late.

Oh, dear heavens! Her heart pounded, and nerves thrashed beneath her skin. Would they collide? With a squeal, she jammed her right hand lever to set the spoon brakes, skidded through a generous pile of gravel, screeched to a halt with barely three feet to spare before smacking into him.

Her eyes closed both in relief and mortification as she hopped off her bicycle and caught her breath. “I’m sorry,” she breathed into the wind around them, raised her eyes to his face. A very fine-looking face, truth be told.

“I’m Zac,” he said with a grin and touched the brim of his Stetson.

Confusion rumbled through her. “I meant I’m sorry for nearly colliding with you.”

His mouth opened to reveal a set of startlingly white teeth. For that matter, his face was startlingly handsome. Dark hair, a ruche of curls across his shoulders. Her breath hitched again, but she settled herself. Sarah Rittenhouse did not need a man and would not be turned by a fetching masculine visage.

He held out his hand, and because Mama, Aunt Min, and even the disagreeable Uncle Waldo had drilled good manners into her, she placed hers in it. And sparked to her toes.

His grin widened further. “And I meant that I know you’re Sorry. Sorry the Messenger Boy. I’ve heard of you.”

Anger pounded through her. “Boy? I’m a messenger girl. Woman, thank you very much. And an honorably employed one.” She ground her teeth, eyed him from top to toe and up again. Her heart pittered and she gulped, then flapped the notion away with angry hands at her split skirt. “And you’re a gossipmonger like all the rest. Simply because I’m a female on a bicycle. Which every woman should be allowed to ride free and clear. There is absolutely no threat to my, to my nethers. To think I regretted almost running you down. Good day to you, Zac!”

He gave her a slow smile.

Her breath hitched. When you see him, you’ll know.

No!

With a flounce, Sarah stepped aboard her bicycle, so atremble she nearly lost her balance, and headed to work a full thirty minutes early.

Updated: March 1, 2017 — 7:45 pm

Give Me a Cowboy and the Rodeo

For Christmas my wonderful son-in-law bought tickets to the PBR in Wichita, Kansas, which will take place in a couple of months.  This isn’t the first bull riding event he’s taken me. They are all a treat and brought to mind the backstory to my $.99 eBook release of the first book in the Kasota Spring Romance series The Troubled Texan. Since this contemporary series takes place several generations later than one of the six Texas anthologies I was fortune enough to be included in with Fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace, Give Me a Cowboy, about a Texas Panhandle rodeo in the late 1800’s, I decided it might be fun to give you all a glimpse into how we developed this book. Without it, there would be no Troubled Texan.

Typically, the publisher matches up authors in a short story collection or an anthology and each author writes their own story based on the house’s criteria. In our case, our editor matched the four of us up and all but this one book had a theme and each of us wrote an individual story.

For our second book, we tried something different. We decided we’d all intertwine our stories around one rodeo.  This was really gonna be fun and challenging, so we got together and went through all of the historical facts. The first date chosen had to go because there was no rodeos in the Texas Panhandle until the summer of 1888. Our story changed dates to the 4th of July 1890. The Pecos, Texas, competition occurred on July 4, 1883. One thing about historical writers, particularly writing about your home town, you must stay as authentic as possible.  So we needed the name of a fictional town.  I was coming back from Dallas, and looked over and low and behold there was a railroad crossing a few miles from Amarillo … West Kasota.  In the 1800’s seemingly everything had a Springs attached, thus Kasota Spring, Texas, came to fruition.

Now for the next problem, since there were only four official events in the rodeo at that time, we all had to select one for our story.  We were sitting around the work table.  Jodi and Linda selected their events, so that left DeWanna and me.  I’ve always loved bull riding. Although it was an unofficial event, taking place somewhere far away from the rodeo grounds, we decided to include it.  I’d really been watching and studying up on bull riding because I had a fantastic story in mind or at least that was how I saw it.  Well, guess what?  DeWanna was the next in line to select; and, of course, what did she choose but bull riding and the reason, her brother was a bullrider!

I tried not to act disappointed when the only choice left was wild-cow milking!  Yes, just like today in our rodeos. The reason was simple, the ranches had to bring in the mama cow to take care of her youngster who was participating in calf roping.  Eventually, someone came up with the idea that if they hauled both mama and calf in why not make an event out of it … so I got wild cow milking.

To tell you the truth, I think my scene in the rodeo was so much fun to write.  It rains, so my hero and heroine who were undesirably teamed up, really got to know one another by the end of the scene!

In The Troubled Texan I borrowed, with her permission, several of Linda’s character’s families as founders of Kasota Springs.  Two pioneers out of my stories I truly loved were Teg Tegler and Edwinna Dewey (from the Christmas anthology). Here is a picture I took at the Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas, a few years ago. This couple is exactly how I envisioned Teg and Edwinna.  I know it’s okay to use their photo, since I got their permission and they asked me to autograph my stories to them as Teg and Edwinna!

The fictional Teg’s great-grandson works on the Jack’s Bluff ranch in The Troubled Texan and Edwinna’s great-great granddaughter lives in Kasota Springs still and has a book of her own as heroine that’s under contract.  It’s so much fun for me to write about these folks and their dreams.

How about a few fun facts about the rodeos of the 1800’s.

  • Before the 20th century, rodeos were called “Cowboy Competitions.”
  • Bragging rights for an entire year were at stake.
  • Cowboys tuned up their horses, shook the kink out of their ropes and made final decisions on who mugs and who milks.  That was my story. My hero did the mugging and my heroine did the milking in the rain.
  • Today, the cowboy winning events earn huge purses; however, in the original rodeos, they won a small purse and blue ribbons from the trim of a girl’s dress or bonnet.
  • Jail cells were used as boarding house rooms, since even prisoners were let out of the hoosegow for the rodeo.
  • The opening was full of “speechifying”, but the crowd never let it last very long.
  • They had chuck wagon competitions, just like today.  Fares included beef, potatoes, biscuits and bread pudding.
  • There was a lot of music competition.  Singers and pickers: guitars, fiddles, and poetry.
  • The oldest cowboy in the area always had the honor of shooting the pistol to begin competitions.
  • There were no rules that governed the rodeo, like there is today. The grounds were typically near the railroad and/or stock yards, because the main street was needed for parades and competitions.

When the evening was over, usually after a dance, everyone climbed aboard creaking buckboards, dusty buggies, and faithful horses and scattered to resume the tasks of their normal lives and to work on their skills for next year’s competition.

My question to you all, do you like rodeos and what is your favorite event?

 

To five lucky winners who leave comments,

I am giving away copies of the eBook

The Troubled Texas!

 

Updated: February 27, 2017 — 8:03 pm

New Release and Giant Western Romance Giveaway!!!

Worth the Wait is here!!!

YeeHaw! It’s always fun to see hard work come to fruition, and this last week my latest addition to the Ladies of Harper’s Station series was released into the world. Worth the Wait is a sequel to No Other Will Do, but it can be read on its own if you haven’t read the first one.

This e-novella pairs shopkeeper Victoria Adams with freighter  Benjamin Porter. Tori is a single mom with a four-year-old son and has been hurt in the past by men. She tries to keep Ben at a distance despite his honorable ways and kindness toward her and her son, but when an opportunity to expand both their businesses by forging a partnership in a delivery service presents itself, she can’t say no. Ben woos her with patience and practicality, and Tori slowly begins to warm to the idea of letting a man inside her heart. But when an accident strikes, and the ugly truth about her past is exposed, their chance at love may be lost forever.

This is a quick read and priced at only $1.99. I hope you’ll give it a try. You can click the cover to order.

Giant Western Giveaway!!!

And just in case my new release isn’t enough to get you excited, there is a huge western romance giveaway going on this week that I can’t wait to tell you about. Four of the Fillies from right here at Petticoats & Pistols are participating, but so are 50 other authors. That’s right. You can win up to 54 western romance novels. How awesome is that?

Grand Prize is a Kindle fire and the 54 books.

First Prize is all 54 books.

All of the prize books will be in digital format.

To enter, click on the graphic above and you will be taken to the BookSweeps page.

The books included in this giveaway run the gamut from sweet to spicy, but they all feature swoon-worthy cowboys and western adventure that will put the giddy in your giddy-up.

The graphic to the right shows all the titles being given away, many by authors who have been featured guests here at P&P.

Be sure to click on one of the graphics to be taken to the contest page. Leaving a comment here will not enter you in the contest.

However, I would still like to hear from you.

  • What do you love best about western romance?

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