Category: Behind the Book

C’mon Inn and A Giveaway by Charlene Sands

 

In my story The Texan’s One-Night Standoff, we first meet Ruby Lopez and Brooks Newport at the C’mon Inn in the small town of Cool Springs, Texas.  Ruby catches Brooks’ eye immediately as he sips a drink at the rustic bar, watching her dazzle her opponent with expert billiard skills.  When a drunken man approaches her with unwanted and persistent advances, Brooks is off his chair ready to come to her rescue, but the feisty capable woman tosses the guy over her petite shoulders, laying him out flat.

The scene could’ve been written in an old time western saloon as well, where men imbibed far too much whiskey, otherwise known as bottled courage, bug juice, coffin varnish, dynamite, joy juice, neck oil, nose paint and fire water.

The first place that was actually called a saloon, rather than cantina (found mostly in Taos, Santa Fe and New Mexico)  was in Brown’s Hole, near the Wyoming, Utah, Colorado border.  The saloon, known as Brown’s Saloon was established in 1822 and catered to mostly trappers during the peak of the fur trapping era.

Though in our mind’s eye our image of an old time Western saloon would be set on the main street of town with a wooden sidewalk, hitching post, swinging doors and a shining polished long bar, the first saloons were actually lean-tos or tents where a cowboy, soldier or fur trader could quench his parched throat.

As well in the 1920’s,  Bent’s Fort in Colorado was among the earlier saloons catering to soldiers, where others were constructed in Dodge City and Kansas where cowboys would wind up after a long cattle drive.  By the time the gold rush hit in California, a settlement housing one cantina, soon entertained 30 saloons.  In the early 1880’s the town of Livingston, Montana, population 3,000, had 33 saloons.

In those early days, the whiskey was made up of burnt sugar, raw alcohol with a touch of chewing tobacco.  Ugh.  There were other concoctions as well and some barkeeps would

cut 100 proof with turpentine, ammonia or cayenne.  I can’t imagine!   Out West, and as time went on the whiskey became more refined and a shot of bourbon or rye was expected to be downed in one big gulp.

Personally, I am a “frilly drinker”.  Give me a strawberry or mango margarita, a pina colada or a Bailey’s coffee and I’m happy.  I’ve never enjoyed the benefit of hard liquor, but it’s a booming industry keeping many of our bars and saloons happy in big cities and small towns, like at the fictional C’mon Inn.   But surely, we can all agree it’s a place where men and women come together and sometimes, if the stars align and the bubbly sparkles, romance can be found!

 

Your thoughts? Do you enjoy a drink now and then?  Wine, beer, cocktails or the hard stuff?  Any fun saloon/bar stories you can tell in public? Ha! Post a comment and one lucky blogger will be picked at random to receive a $10 Amazon gift card!  Be sure to check back by the end of the day for the prize winner announcement!

Available on AMAZON and all online and print bookstores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: January 9, 2017 — 6:06 pm

Animals in Our Stories

Writers who pen westerns must have a deep-seated respect for animals. All those horses and cattle. The loyal dogs. The villainous rattlesnakes. Shoot, even the chickens have a role to play. Out on the lonely prairie, a fella was more apt to talk to his horse than another person for days on end.

I love animals. But I have a confession to make . . . I don’t own any. Part of the reason is that my husband has allergies, especially where cats and other long-haired critters are concerned. Another contributing factor is the three children living with us who already demand a lot of attention and cleaning up after. Also, with all the traveling I do for my writing career, the hassle of finding and paying for dog sitters is not terribly attractive at this point. Maybe once our nest is empty and all the kids have left, we’ll consider some four-legged children, but for now we only support the two-legged variety.

I had dogs and cats as a child – all outdoor animals. We had seven acres with lots of room to roam. But even then, the animals always loved my brother more than me. It seemed dreadfully unfair until I realized that he was the one who lived outside with them. Playing. Going on adventures. More often than not I was in my room reading about animals. All those great Black Stallion books. Old Yeller. Sounder. Where the Red Fern Grows. (Why are the dog books always so sad???) I would imagine myself racing across the plains on my trusty steed, but in truth I’ve only ever ridden about a dozen times in my life and mostly those were at a walking pace. Sigh.

But the imagination is a wonderful thing. I can create heroines who ride, shoot, and spit better than any man if I so desire. Or give a boy a dog that becomes his most trusted confidant. So that’s what I do. I add animals to my books, name them, and give them special connections with their owners. Then I live vicariously through my characters to enjoy all the benefits of animal love without any of the unromantic poop scooping or hair vacuuming.

Hermes – Note the small patch of white on his belly.

Helios – Black belly

In my latest release, my animal-loving heart had free reign. My hero, Benjamin Porter, is a freighter who is a gifted horse trainer. He has a pair of beautifully matched black Shires who pull his heavy freight wagon. They both have white socks and blazes, but only one has a white belly. It’s the only way others can tell the two draft horses apart. Thanks to a childhood fascination with Greek mythology, he named them Helios and Hermes. Hermes for the Greek god of trade and the guardian of travelers; and Helios for the Greek god of the sun who relied on mighty steeds to pull his golden chariot through the sky.

In my story, Ben is attempting to court his business partner, shopkeeper Victoria Adams. Tori has a young son named Lewis, and on one of their business trips, she barters goods in exchange for a puppy for Lewis. I, of course decided to keep with the black and white color scheme and adorableness, so I chose an Australian shepherd pup.

Here’s the scene where the puppy comes into play:

Too cute for words, right?

“Sarah said I could name him.” Lewis grinned, all trepidation vanishing as excitement took over. “He’s the biggest pup of the litter, so I thought I’d call him Hercules. What do you think? Just like the strong man in the stories you tell me.”

Satisfied that the horses were calm, Ben put a hand to Lewis’s shoulder and steered him a couple paces away. He hunkered down and offered his fingers for the pup to smell, enduring the friendly licks and shameless begging for attention before giving in and ruffling the dog’s ears.

When he and his brother had been kids, they’d run across a book on Greek mythology in their teacher’s collection and had enjoyed the adventure stories so well, they’d started naming all their animals after the ancient characters. They still did as adults, though Bartholomew had more of an opportunity, running a livery in Seymour. Ben had saved the names he’d chosen until he’d found the draft horses that lived up to them. Hermes for the Greek god of trade and the guardian of travelers; and Helios for the Greek god of the sun who relied on mighty steeds to pull his golden chariot through the sky.

“Hercules is a big name for such a little pup.” Ben raised a brow in feigned concern. “You sure he deserves such a tag?”

Lewis looked down at the fuzzy fur ball, scrunched his forehead in thought, then lifted his chin in the same stubborn way his ma did. “Well, even Hercules started as a baby.” He lifted the puppy into Ben’s face until they practically touched noses. “He’ll grow, just like the other Hercules did. He’ll get strong and brave and be the best dog ever!”

Click cover to pre-order novella for $1.99. It releases January 31.

“I reckon you’re right.” Ben eased the pup away from his face then pushed to his feet, rubbing Lewis’s hair as he stood. “It was Hercules’s actions that made him a legend, not his name. A man should always remember that. It isn’t his name or his clothes or how much money he has that matters. It’s the way he conducts himself—with honor, kindness, and courage—that makes a lasting difference in the world.”

“So you like the name?” The boy blinked up at him, giving Ben no idea if his attempt at conveying a life lesson had penetrated.

Oh, well. He winked at the boy. “I think it’s an outstanding name.” He tilted his head and scrutinized the pup a second time. “This one’s definitely hero material. You picked well, Lewis.”

The boy beamed and ran back to the little girl waiting for him by the trough. Ben’s heart gave a tug as he watched the two put their heads together and giggle over the puppies’ antics. Lewis had wormed his way into Ben’s heart months ago. It hadn’t taken long. The kid was so eager to please and so hungry for male attention, a rare commodity in a town full of womenfolk. Now, Ben couldn’t imagine his life without the little guy.

Although . . . a secret smile slid across Ben’s face as he watched the two young’uns crawl around in the dirt like pups themselves . . . he could imagine giving Lewis a little brother or sister to play with. That would be a pleasure indeed.

  • So what are your favorite animals to share real or imagined adventures with?

Tina Radcliffe – My Heroes Have Always Been Amputees

Tina Radcliffe

Thanks to all the fillies for having me here today. My current release from Love Inspired, Rocky Mountain Cowboy, features a hero with a prosthetic arm. Amputations and prosthetic devices have come a long way since the days of the Wild West.

As far back as the Civil War, amputations were done for injury, infection and even compound fractures (where the bone was protruding through the skin.). The caveat is that there was no anesthetic, so just like the old films, the patient might be fortunate to be unconscious or be liquored up or receive a dose of tincture of laudanum (which contains opium), but they were most often awake and conscious. Laudanum was considered a miracle drug of its day and was used for everything from coughs, pain, and diarrhea. Until the early 1900’s it was easily obtained.

 
Medicine in the Old West by Jeremy Agnew. http://amzn.to/2iejNx2%5B/caption%5D

The term “bite the bullet,” comes from using a bullet to bite down on during medical procedures such as amputation when no wooden block or leather was available to bite on.

Per Agnew’s book, physicians were valued for their speed, and operating room assistants were chosen for their “brawn rather than their brains.” Surgery consisted of a tourniquet, a circular cut and sawing through the flesh and bone in mere minutes. A flap was created using overlapping skin, to cover the amputated site.

Prosthetic devices have been around since 600 BC. By the 1800’s they were made of wood, metal and leather. Wooden legs were strapped to the body with leather or metal clamps, and were dressed with socks and shoes for a natural appearance.

For more information and pictures of these early prosthetic devices you can check out the following articles:

  • Crude Prosthetic Limbs From The Past Were Horrifying Yet Oddly Beautiful-Viral Nova http://bit.ly/2hKZjrT

You can even purchase these antique prosthetic devices on EBay! http://ebay.to/2iATPEr

                                 

Needless to say, technology has come a very long way. Amputee Coalition’s InMotion Magazine November/December magazine stats tell us the following:

  • Currently, 2.1 million people live with limb loss. By the year 2050 3.6 million people will be living with limb loss.
  • 185 thousand people have an amputation each year.
  • 507 People lose a limb each day.

You can find this magazine online here. http://bit.ly/2io8zTT

With this information in mind, isn’t it totally appropriate that we should be writing more and more heroes, heroines and secondary characters in our novels as amputees? There is no limit to what our amputee characters can do. Don’t limit yourself by false myths about amputees. Do consider an amputee in your stories.

Have you checked out the Paralympic site to see possibilities for these Alpha heroes and heroines as you create your fictional worlds? https://www.paralympic.org/sports

My own hero, Joe Gallagher, a cowboy and rancher, in Rocky Mountain Cowboy utilizes a Michelangelo. This multi-articulating prosthetic device is for his transradial amputation. Joe lost his arm from below the elbow when a tractor fell on him. The character of Joe was inspired by amputee cowboy and roper and a hero to me, Barry Landry. Here’s a llink to Barry with his Michelangelo (scroll to bottom). http://armdynamics.com/pages/michelangelo

Beyond the Michelangelo, newer prosthetic devices are becoming popular such as the Bebionic, “a multi-articulating myoelectric hand made by Steeper. It features 14 different grip patterns and hand positions, including the unique mouse grip for using a computer mouse; trigger grip for using spray bottles; and precision grip for securely handling small items.” More information here. http://bebionic.com/the_hand

Now think really advanced prosthesis and check out these amazing heroes and heroines at The Alternative Limb Project! http://www.thealternativelimbproject.com/

 

And finally, I’d like to introduce you to another hero, Travis Mills.

 

“Never give up. Never quit.”- Travis Mills, retired United States Army Staff Sergeant and recalibrated warrior. https://www.travismills.org/

 

I hope I’ve provided you with information to aid you in considering an amputee for your next hero. What are your thoughts? Can you recommend any other books with amputee heroes and heroines or secondary characters?

I’m giving away two copies of Rocky Mountain Cowboy to commenters. Print or ebook, winner’s choice. International readers welcome.

Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe

http://bit.ly/2hLaH77

The last person cowboy Joe Gallagher thought he’d see on his ranch was high school sweetheart Rebecca Anshaw Simpson. Twelve years after she married another man, she’s back as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot.

There’s much the single mom would rather forget, but Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. She has only a few weeks to make peace with her past. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love.

CHRISTMAS READS–DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE? by Cheryl Pierson

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Do you have a favorite romance story that takes place at Christmas? One that really stands out and makes you smile to remember it?

 

 

 

You would think a Christmas romance would be one of the easiest tales to tell, wouldn’t you? I mean, what could be better than a backdrop of snow and mistletoe, the warmth of a fire in a great room, a twinkling Christmas tree…but what about creating a little excitement?

As romance readers, we want something that’s going to keep us turning the pages, no matter what time of year it might be—and let’s face it, sitting in front of a fire, half-asleep, with a book on our laps and a full stomach is not all that exciting—or romantic, either.

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But sometimes, it can be a little tough to create a full length novel around a short time span—with the entire story being told in a month’s (or less) time. And for me…I’m not ever sure if my characters are going to decide if a short story is going to do their tale justice—or if they’re going to want MORE.

I’ve written quite a few WHR novellas for Christmas boxed sets and anthologies, with some single-author collections of my own that take place for the most part during the Christmas season. But as for full-length novels that take place a Christmas, I haven’t tackled that yet, though I’d love to write one someday.

 

Here’s a wonderful boxed set of western historical romance stories from Prairie Rose Publications that is available in print and e-book. It also features a wonderful story by fellow filly TANYA HANSON, among others! 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-under-Mistletoe-Stacey-Coverstone-ebook/dp/B01M5J1BWQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481249095&sr=1-1&keywords=a+cowboy+under+the+mistletoe&tag=pettpist-20

 

a-wallflower-christmas

What are your favorite romance stories that take place at Christmas? Got some to share? I always love holiday Regency stories—and it seems there are more of those that are full-length novels than other genres. Lisa Kleypas is a favorite of mine with her older Wallflower series.

 

Each takes place in a different season, but there is the Christmas installment, A WALLFLOWER CHRISTMAS. It’s not a western, but this is a wonderful series, and I especially loved the Christmas tale.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Wallflower-Christmas-Novel-Wallflowers-Book-ebook/dp/B0017SWS8G/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481239431&sr=1-6&keywords=wallflowers+series+kleypas&tag=pettpist-20

 

Here are some heartwarming tales that make for some good holiday reading for yourself and for others!

prp-a-hero-for-christmas-web

 

A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS is a collection of four stories that take place at Christmas, each with a little “something extra” that happens within the story. It’s available in print and also in Kindle format. I will be giving away an e-copy of A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS today to one commenter!

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Hero-Christmas-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00M282L7S/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid&sr&tag=pettpist-20

 

Fellow filly Tracy Garrett penned this heart-wrenching tale of lost love found again. You won’t want to miss this one!

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https://www.amazon.com/Her-Christmas-Wish-Tracy-Garrett-ebook/dp/B00M2829GQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8&tag=pettpist-20

 

WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS is an anthology that I’m proud to have a story in along with Kaye Spencer, Jacquie Rogers, C. Marie Bowen, and fellow filly “sister” Kathleen Rice Adams.

prpwild-texas-christmas-web

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PZ9EV38?tag=pettpist-20

 

 

And here’s my latest Christmas short single sell, A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE. I will be giving away an e-copy of this short story today as well! Be sure to leave a comment!

 

 

prpa-marriage-of-convenience

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Convenience-Mail-Order-Bride-ebook/dp/B01JY2IJAW/ref=sr_1_8?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481250790&sr=1-8&keywords=A+Marriage+of+Convenience&tag=pettpist-20

 

Now, let’s hear from you! What are some of YOUR favorite holiday romance tales?

Digging through the Footnotes of History

By Regina Jennings

At the library’s used book sale, I always head to the folding table covered with history books. I’m amazed by what my neighbors have had in their collections. A full-color, hard-backed encyclopedia of the Soviet Navy? A book on the history of boxing? An illustrated guide to historical cosmetics? I never know what I’ll find, but it’s guaranteed that I’ll leave with a paper sack full of resources.

When trying to think of ideas for my historical romances, it’s tempting to steer away from the old favorites. Some events in history have been so thoroughly probed and prodded, that it’d be difficult to come up with a new angle. Besides, as a writer who uses humor in her works, a lot of historical events don’t fit. A light-hearted romance about the Titantic? The Alamo? Nope. Not gonna happen. But I shouldn’t turn down books about those events too quickly. Often in studying the well-known stories, we find stray tidbits that can be quite valuable.

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Camels being loaded for the trip to America. (National Archives)

When I picked up the book titled Orphans Preferred, I didn’t have any plans to write a romance about the Pony Express. After all, no woman of the times would set out to marry one of the poor, hard-working, ultimately dispensable riders, but my reading proved beneficial. Somewhere in the discussion of the mail delivery methods that were tried before the Pony Express was organized, there was a paragraph that taught me something new. Before the Civil War, the U. S. army attempted to replace their cavalry horses with camels in the southwest desert.

reg-us-camel-corp

(US Camel Corps) – “A member of the legendary southwestern ‘Camel Corps’ stands at ease at the Drum Barracks military facility, near California’s San Pedro harbor.”

Wait, what? Here was some interesting fodder for a story, but the book was about the pony express, not the camel express, so nothing more was told. Rushing to my online resources, I began combing through articles and books on the U. S. Camel Corps stationed near San Antonio. After chasing down leads, and following footnotes, I found the material I needed for a fresh story that will be new to fans of the Old West. That story will be coming out next winter in a collection with Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, and Melissa Jagears.

You can never predict where you’ll find that one spark that’ll light up a whole manuscript. Sometimes you already know the event, but you are searching for the right angle to tie the story together.

That’s what happened with my new release For the Record. The Ozark Mountain Romance series is set in…(drumroll)…the Ozarks, and we’d worked our way up into the Bald Knobber era. Now for those of you who haven’t been to Branson, the Bald Knobbers were a gang of vigilantes that tried to impose justice during a time of lawlessness in the mountains. Unfortunately, the masked gang soon turned their justice into revenge and they became the feared and hunted ones.

Sounds like a fun, light-hearted romance, right?

reg-bk-picture-from-shepherd-of-the-hills-1919

The Bald Knobber Gang from the 1919 movie “Shepherd of the Hills”.

So, where was the spark that could move this story away from the inherently dark history? Once again, it was just a line, perhaps an afterthought that the author decided to insert at the last moment. According to the source, because the local law enforcement officers found impartiality difficult in polarizing, post-war Missouri, Governor Marmaduke hired out-of-state sheriffs and deputies to come impose order.

Bingo! I had a handsome, young deputy from Texas from a previous book that just happened to be hero material. A “foreigner” from Texas sent in to straighten out blood feuds, how could that go wrong? There was plenty of conflict, room for misunderstandings and the perfect foil for my dear little heroine who was already convinced that she’d never meet the right man in Pine Gap, Missouri.

All from that one little mention in a Bald Knobbers book.

If writing has taught me anything, it’s to look for the stray, little-known facts that show up in well-researched history books. What someone dropped in as an aside can be the foundation for another story, because meandering down the road less traveled can lead you to the story yet to be told.

~~~~

 

 

Regina Jennings graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor, and has been reading historicals ever since. Regina has worked at the Mustang News along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She makes her home outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Her latest release is For the Record. She loves to hear from readers at her website – http://www.reginajennings.com and on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

For the Record

Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle’s newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don’t seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions. She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.
Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.

 

LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR A PAPERBACK COPY Of THE BOOK!

 

Fun With Fictional Town Names

WG Logo 2015-04

Hello! Winnie Griggs here. I’m buried in revisions that really need to get turned in tomorrow, so I hope you’ll forgive me for revisiting an old post today. This is actually the first post I ever did here on Petticoats & Pistols, back in March of 2009. Back then I was a guest poster, not a bona fide Filly and was quite green at the art of blogging. But everyone, both Fillies and commenters alike, were so warm and welcoming that I was overjoyed to later be invited to come on as a regular.

And since I’m reusing an old post, I’ll freshen it up a bit with a giveaway.  See details below!

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I have always been fascinated by colorful and quirky small town names.

I grew up in South Louisiana so I was familiar with town names such as Westwego, Cut Off,  Dutchtown, Raceland, Crown Point, Head of Island, French Settlement and Grosse Tete (French for Big Head).

For someone who already had storytelling in her blood, these names really sparked my imagination.  I spent many childhood hours making up stories about how all these towns got their curious names.  Westwego – was it named by some settlers from back east who travelled great distances and decided this was far enough?  Or was it merely a stopping point for folks headed even farther west?   And who in the world would name their town Big Head?  At some point I learned Dutchtown was actually settled by German immigrants and was originally called Deutschtown, but the name evolved over the years into what it is today.  Another fascinating story-sparker!

When I went to college I moved further north while still remaining in Louisiana and encountered a whole new map of town names to puzzle over.  There I encountered towns with names like Bunkie, Dry Prong, Flatwoods, Powhatten and Breezy Hill.  Again, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering about the circumstances and people who settled these places.

Then I married my college sweetheart, my own prince charming.  He swept me away to his home town, a place I was delighted to discover was called Plain Dealing.

Today, whenever I start a new book, finding the right name for my town (always fictional) is just as important to me as finding the right names for my hero and heroine.  There is always a story in my mind about how the town name came to be, though that rarely makes it to the pages of the book.

My first book, WHAT MATTERS MOST, was set in the Texas town of Far Enough.  The town name was based on my childhood musing over the real town of Westwego.  I pictured a small group of settlers travelling through the area and the womenfolk getting tired of the whole thing and telling their menfolk they’d travelled ‘Far Enough’ and were ready to settle down NOW!

For my second book, SOMETHING MORE, the heroine arrives on the scene at a stage relay station called Whistling Oak.  The name came about when I pictured a giant oak with a hole formed by two trunks that had not quite fused together.  As the stagecoach driver explains it to the heroine, “See that ol’ oak tree over yonder with the hole in the middle?  That’s what gave this place its name.  Big wind blows through just right and you can hear the whistling for near a mile.”

whistling-oak

Large flocks of small blackbirds winter near my home.  Hundreds of them will land in fields or trees in the area.  If something comes along to spook them, they all fly up at once, like a scattering of pepper on the wind.  That was the inspiration for Pepper Cloud, MO,  the town my third book, WHATEVER IT TAKES, takes place in.

pepper-cloud

My fourth book, A WILL OF HR OWN, is set in a town called Clover Ridge, VA, a somewhat more mundane town name than I normally go for.  But I wanted something that was indicative of lushness and serenity.  Besides, the story doesn’t tarry there for long.  A good one third of the book actually takes place aboard a ship.

Turnabout, TX was the town name I chose for my fifth book, LADY’S CHOICE.  That one was almost a no brainer since the whole theme of the book, in both the primary and secondary storylines, was about turning one’s life around after having made poor choices earlier in life. (2016 update: That book was revised and republished in 2012 under the title HANDPICKED HUSBAND and was the first book of my current Texas Grooms series)

When I started work on my current release, I struggled for quite a while with what to name the town.   I came up with and eventually discarded several names.  THE HAND-ME-DOWN FAMILY is my first foray into the inspirational market and I wanted something that would provide a subtle nod to that change.  I also wanted it to have that rural, small town feel and be just a tiny bit quirky at the same time.  And then one morning I woke up and there it was.  Sweetgum TX.  The sweetgum tree is indigenous to the area, the name is fun and rustic sounding and the word itself has that hint of heart to it that I was looking for.

sweetgum

2016 Update: Since the time I wrote this post I’ve come up with a number of other town names for my books – Knotty Pine, Tippanyville, Foxberry and Frog Swallow among the more notable.

So, do you pay very much attention to town names in book?  Do they help set the tone for you at all?  And are there real town names you’ve come across that have tickled your fancy, piqued your interest or just plain caught your eye?  Share some of your favorites.

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GIVEAWAY: I’ll be selecting one person from the list of those who comment on this post to receive one book of their choice from my entire backlist.  Drawing will take place some time after noon Central Time on Tuesday.

Updated: November 6, 2016 — 11:28 pm

Mail-Order Brides with Lena Nelson Dooley

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As the West was settled, there often were small towns where the residents were mostly, or completely, men. Rough and tumble places where the refinements brought by women were not to be found. In the areas where decent women were few, these women stayed hidden from the general population.

This situation made Mail-Order brides a booming business. A lot of the men sent advertisements to newspapers in the East, trying to find a woman who was willing, for whatever reason, to go West. He would provide a ticket to bring her close to where he lived.

Sometimes, the man lived quite a ways from the town and wanted to marry right away. Other men were willing to help provide a place for the woman to stay while they got to know each other.

You know the women had to be in some kind of dire situation to pull up stakes from where they were and travel a long distance to marry a man she never met. I’ve heard of situations where a woman was left destitute by the death of a spouse. Others were adult brothers and sisters, where the brother gets married and the wife makes the sister’s live miserable in a number of ways.

In some areas, there were marriage brokers, who helped these couples get together. A scary situation to travel far across the country to marry men they’d never bet. Who knew if the letters told the truth? These in-between brokers could research the suitability of the man on the other end of the letters. Many of these marriages were successful, and others were not.

The advent of the railroads as they moved from coast to coast made these connections even easier. Mail traveled faster, so the letters didn’t take so long to get to the destinations, and the brides could reach their destinations with a much more comfortable and quicker means of transportation.

I like reading Mail-Order-Brides stories, and I like to think up reasons for the characters to have problems connecting.

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My first mail-order-bride story has gone out of print, and I’ve released a second edition. It’s a full length novel. The Gold Digger released in April, May, and July. The ebook in April, the print book in May, and the audio book in July. I call this story my heroine-in-peril, mail-order-bride, gone awry story. The heroine is in Boston, and the hero is in Golden, New Mexico.

 

 

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My next mail-order-bride story will release before the end of October. Rescuing Christmas has a totally different story line. It deals with a harsh reality that sometimes happened with these mail-order-brides. Rescuing Christmas will then become the last novella in the Christian Mail-Order Angels collections. These novellas have three editions at this time. Volume 1 contains the first 6 stories. Volume 2 contains the next 5, and my book’s addition to this collection will make it 6. And there’s edition with all 11, and my book will make it 12.

(To view either of these books on Amazon,click on the book cover images)

Do you like mail-order-brides stories?  If so, what have been your favorites?

I love to chat with my readers and fans.  And to show you just how much,  I’ll be giving away a copy of the ebook  Rescuing Christmas to not one but TWO of you wonderful folks who leave a comment on this post.

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Left at the Altar Book Release and Giveaway

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LeftattheAltarfinalcoverI have a lot to celebrate.  My novella Do You Hear What I Hear? released on the 24th; my book Left at the Altar will hit the stores on November 1st; and my office is clean (no small miracle).

Left at the Altar is the first book in my new series and I’m excited about it.  The second book A Match Made in Texas will release in the summer of 2017 and the third book How The West was Wed will follow soon after.

The idea for Left at the Altar came to me in a rather unexpected way.  We inherited several antique clocks and they all needed servicing.  My husband called a clock repairman to the house and the horologist was a writer’s dream.  He was full of fascinating stories about clock collectors.  But the story that really made an impression was the one about a client who owned so many clocks, the quarter-hour racket was deafening.  The horologist’s job was to turn the clocks off before each holiday so that guests didn’t have to compete with the cacophony of bongs and chimes during dinner.

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This Banjo clock circa 1929 was a wedding gift for my husband’s parents.

Ah, sweet inspiration. Before I knew it, the town of Two-Time, Texas was born and the story of two feuding jewelers fell quickly into place.

The book takes place in 1880 before standard time.  Prior to 1883, the town jeweler usually determined the time. Trouble arose when a town had more than one jeweler and no one could agree on the time.  One town in Kansas reportedly had seven jewelers and therefore seven time zones.  Talk about confusion!

Just think, a person traveling from the East coast to the West would have contended with more than a hundred time zones. That wasn’t a problem when traveling by covered wagon, but it became a huge problem when traveling by train.  I was surprised to learn that some battles were lost during the American Civil War due to time confusion. When an order was issued to attack at a certain time, no one really  knew what it meant. Was that Washington time or local time?  And if it was local time, which one?

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This clock has been in the family for a hundred years!

Ah, yes, time.  It affects us in ways we might not even be aware of.  It certainly affected the two feuding families in my story.  A marriage was supposed to unite the families and turn Two-Time into a one-time town, but of course nothing ever goes as planned as this little excerpt shows:

The grandfather clock in the corner groaned and the wall clocks sighed. Seconds later the cacophony of alarms struck the hour of eight a.m. Only today, it wasn’t bongs, gongs, cuckoos and chimes that bombarded Meg’s ears. It was mocking laughter. Jilted bride, jilted bride, jilted bride…

Hope you enjoy the story as much I enjoyed writing it.

Now it’s your turn.  Leave a message and you might win a copy of Left at the Altar.  Giveaway guidelines apply.

How does time affect your life?  Are you always running late, early or on time? Are you looking forward to the November 6th time change?  If you could change one thing about time, what would it be?

Time for a little holiday cheer

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

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Updated: October 27, 2016 — 7:49 am

Hittin’ the Road! with Crystal Barnes

clbarnes_avatarHowdy y’all! Crystal Barnes here and it’s such a thrill to visit y’all at Petticoats and Pistols. And speaking of visiting places, how many of y’all like road trips? I know I sure do.

 

Be it to the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, where you can learn about the daring, brave men who helped bring order to the West. I even learned how to take apart a Colt Peacemaker and put it back together again. Did you know those guns weighed as much as a 5lb bag of sugar?  Crazy!

Perhaps you’d prefer a trip to the Texian Market Days at the George Ranch Historical Park in Richmond, Texas, where you can tour multiple houses from the past, see reenactments, and/or learn how to fire a cannon or spin your own yarn. There are four different homes on this property. The 1830s Jones Stock Farmhouse is a dog-run style cabin with a covered breezeway down the middle. I used this structure as a model for Russell Cahill’s home in book two of my Marriage & Mayhem series, Love, Stock, & Barrel.

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Their 1860s Ryon Prairie Home I’m using as a basis for my heroine’s home in my upcoming story Hook, Line, & Suitor (Marriage & Mayhem, Book 3). (You’ll see some of that Texas Ranger learnin’ pop up in this story too.) This house also has a breezeway, but the wealth of the family is much more easily seen.
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Want another great place to visit in Texas, be it for research or just plain fun? Perhaps you should make a pit stop in Anderson and tour the Fanthorp Inn. The inn was built as a home in in 1834 and later enlarged for hotel purposes. It also served as the area’s first mercantile and post office (1835). You’ll also have the chance to ride a stagecoach while visiting. Why would the inn host stagecoach rides? The inn lay on the stage line crossroads for Houston to Old Springfield and Nacogdoches to Austin.

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Recently, I was blessed to accompany a friend on a research trip to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and boy, did we have a wonderful, memorable time.

 

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To me, that’s what stories are supposed to be too—a wonderful trip with a new friend (or an old one if you like series or reruns, which I do). If the story trail includes some cowboys, desperados, and exciting turn-of-events, even better.

 

How about you? Do you enjoy road trips? What are some of the best places you’ve visited—be it for research or just a fun getaway? Not a road traveler? What are some of your favorite towns/places to visit through stories?

 

I’d love to hear all about them. I love finding new places to visit, plus I’ll be giving away a FREE copy (ebook or paperback) of one of my stories to one of this post’s commentors. (Winner’s choice of title.)

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An award-winning author, bona fide country girl, and former competitive gymnast, Crystal L Barnes tells stories of fun, faith, and friction that allow her to share her love of Texas, old-fashioned things, and the Lord—not necessarily in that order. When she’s not writing, reading, singing, or acting, Crystal enjoys exploring on road-trips, spending time with family, and watching old movies/sitcoms. I Love Lucy is one of her favorites. You can find out more and connect with Crystal at http://www.crystal-barnes.com.

You can also on her blog, the Stitches Thru Time group blog, her Amazon Author page, GoodreadsPinterestGoogle+, or on her Facebook author page.

Want to be notified of her latest releases and other fun tidbits? Subscribe to her newsletter.

Updated: October 17, 2016 — 7:35 pm

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH STAND WATIE AND A GIVEAWAY–BY CHERYL PIERSON

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I am fascinated by Cherokee leader Stand Watie. I’ve used him as a character in many of my stories. I think the reason I can’t seem to get enough of him is because of his remarkable life and accomplishments. Here’s a little bit about Stand Watie and what he did–and then I’ll tell you about my stories he appears in.

 

 

 

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Only two Native Americans on either side of the States’ War rose to the rank of brigadier general.  Standhope Watie (Uwatie), fighting for the Confederacy, was one of those two.  Yet, what makes this accomplishment so incredible is the fact that while he was fighting for the Confederate States of America, he was also fighting other Cherokee tribal leaders who held opposing political views and very different visions for the Cherokee nation.

Stand Watie commanded the Confederate Indian Cavalry of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.  While the cavalry unit was comprised mainly of Cherokee, some Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole tribal members also served.

Born in Oothcaloga in the Cherokee Nation, State of Georgia, Uwatie (or Oowatie) was also known as Isaac.  He was educated in a Moravian mission school.  In his early adulthood, he occasionally wrote articles for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.  The State of Georgia confiscated Cherokee lands in 1832 when gold was discovered, including the thriving plantation owned by Stand’s father and mother.  Stand and his brothers, part of the powerful Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the WA040Cherokee council, stood in favor of the Cherokee Removal. Their signing of the Treaty of New Echota facilitated the removal of the Cherokee people to Indian Territory—what is now Oklahoma.

Another faction of Cherokees following John Ross refused to ratify the treaty signing.  This segment was known as The Anti-Removal National Party.  Members of this group targeted Stand Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, along with their uncle, Major Ridge, and cousin, John Ridge for assassination.  Stand was the only one who survived the assassination attempt.  Although Watie’s family had left Georgia before the forcible removal of all Cherokees in 1838, another brother, Thomas, was murdered by Ross’s men in 1845.

In October, 1861, Watie was commissioned as colonel in the First Mounted Cherokee Rifles. Besides fighting Federal troops in the States’ War, his men also fought opposing factions of Cherokee, as well as Seminole and Creek (Muscogee) warriors who supported the Union.

In 1862, Stand Watie was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, through dissension continued among John Ross’s supporters.

On June 15, 1864, Watie’s troops captured the Federal steamboat J. R. Williams on the Arkansas River off the banks of stand_watie_memorial_editedPleasant Bluff near Tamaha, Indian Territory.  The next morning, Colonel John Ritchie’s men, who were stationed at the mouth of the Illinois River near where the two rivers met, engaged Watie’s men as they attempted to confiscate the cargo.  The river was rising, and they fought to a standoff.  When Watie learned of the advance of Union troops from Fort Smith, Arkansas, (within about 40 miles), he burned the ship and much of the remaining cargo, then sank it.

Watie surrendered a year later in June of 1865, the last Confederate general to lay down his arms.

In my debut novel, Fire Eyes, I weave this bit of history into my plot.  The villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang have come upon the site where the J.R. Williams was sunk four years earlier.  Fallon speculates there could have been gold aboard, and sets his men to dive for it.  As mercurial as his temper is, none of them dare question his order.  Here’s what happens:

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FROM FIRE EYES:

“Damn! I know where we are.” Dobie Perrin said.

Andrew Fallon turned in the saddle, glaring at Perrin, the afternoon sun dappling them through the leaves of the thick canopy of trees. “So do I, you idiot! So do we all, now.”

The secluded cemetery sat on a bluff, overlooking the Arkansas River. They had been wandering for two days, ever since retracing their steps to the first small creek they’d come to. The one Fallon felt sure would give them their bearings. Now, at last, he recognized where they were. He’d figured it out ten miles back.

“Tamaha,” Denver Rutledge muttered. “I was raised up over yonder.” He inclined his head toward the riverbank. “Over in Vian.”

“Then why didn’t you know where we were?” Fallon’s anger surged. “I am surrounded by idiots!”

“I shore ’nuff shoulda known, General,” Rutledge said apologetically. “Right yonder’s where we sunk the J.R. Williams. Rebs, I mean. Stand Watie’s bunch.”

Fallon jerked his head toward the other man. “Right where, soldier?”

Rutledge kneed his horse, coming abreast of Fallon. “Why, right yonder, General. It was in June of ’64. She was a Union ship, the Williams was.”

“What was she carrying?”

Rutledge shrugged. “Don’t rightly know. Supplies, maybe.”

“Payroll? Gold?” Fallon fingered his curling moustache. “Could be anything, eh, Rutledge? But the Yankees were known to cache their gold profits in casks. Maybe that’s what the J.R. Williams was carrying. Casks that weren’t really supplies, but were filled with gold.”

“Could be, I ‘spect.” Rutledge’s voice was hesitant.

Fallon nodded toward the river. “I think maybe we’ll try to find out.”

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00JTAFTPS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476583998&sr=1-1&keywords=Fire+Eyes&tag=pettpist-20

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prp-meant-to-be-1-webThe next story Chief Watie was included in was my time-travel western novella, MEANT TO BE.  Here’s a little bit about this Civil War story:

Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. A flat tire leaves her stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, hoping to find shelter before the storm hits full force. But the road she chooses leads her back in time, to a battleground she’s only read about in history books.

Confederate Jake Devlin, an officer in Stand Watie’s Cherokee forces, is shocked when the spy he captures turns out to be a girl. She’s dressed oddly, but her speech and the ideas she has are even stranger than her clothing. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her? Will he be able to hold on to his heart? Is it possible for a love this strong to span centuries? It is, if it was MEANT TO BE…

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Meant-Be-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00M28NKI2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476584160&sr=1-1&keywords=MEANT+TO+BE+by+Cheryl+Pierson&tag=pettpist-20

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My most recent story that Stand Watie appears in is my first venture into “alternate history” in the alternate history anthology, TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE released through Rough Edges Press. If you aren’t familiar with alternate history, it’s fascinating to read and to write–because you can change history to suit the story you want to tell. My novella is called MRS. LINCOLN’S DINNER PARTY–a very different story about how the Civil War ended, thanks to Varina Davis, Mary Lincoln, and of all people, Stand Watie. Hmmm…let’s just see what’s going on at this odd dinner party of Mrs. Lincoln’s, shall we?

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“If you’ll excuse me, sir,” Mary said, “I must return to the receiving line. You’ve had a long journey—if you’d like a moment to freshen up, Mr. Pennington can show you to your quarters—” She nodded at the guard standing behind the general.

“Yes, please. I’d like to know where I need to place my bag,” the general said.

Mary glared at Mr. Pennington, who squirmed uncomfortably.

“Thought maybe there was a mistake, Mrs. Lincoln—”

Mr. Pennington. There is no mistake. And I will not tolerate rudeness. Please, show General Watie to his quarters—and you carry his bag.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Pennington answered. “This way, sir.”

General Watie gave Mary a rare smile. “Thank you. I will see you at dinner, Mrs. Lincoln.”

Mary felt Abe’s eyes boring into her as she moved across the floor, back into her place in line.

“I’m…surprised at you, Mary.”

Mary felt the hot flush creep up her neck, into her cheeks.

“I’m wondering, what other—guests—you may have invited without my knowledge.”

Oh, how she did wish he’d keep his voice down! She didn’t want the children to see the discord between them—especially here in public, where it was so easy for others to read between the lines, pick up on any issues that were best kept private. As Robert had said earlier, they could all find themselves on the front page of the papers along with unflattering descriptions and comments if they weren’t careful.

She didn’t answer Abe’s prodding, becoming suddenly resentful of being placed in such a predicament. She wouldn’t have had to resort to this if Abe and the others who had started this war had been more reasonable.

And though, in her heart, she believed fathers loved their children dearly…she couldn’t yet reconcile how fathers could call for sons to go to war. War! Where the children mothers had fought so hard to keep safe and whole all their childhood years could—in one moment—be maimed, or left to die a horrific death at the hands of their enemy…The enemy—people who had, just two scant years earlier, been their neighbors, their friends—even their own families!

She couldn’t sit by any longer and do nothing. Robert would be heading off to West Point in the fall…then Eddie and Willie would follow.

She was not going to lose her precious boys to this confounded idiocy.

“My God,” Abe swore, his tone calling her back to the present. “Is that—”

“Varina Davis. Yes. It is.” Mary turned to look up at her husband. “It looks as if Jefferson declined the invitation. Would you care to accompany me to greet her, or—”

“Yes, I’ll come,” he all but growled. “Mary, we have some talking to do.”

But Mary was already on her way across the floor to greet Varina Davis, Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s wife.

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Otherverse-James-Reasoner-ebook/dp/B018CQF05I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476584467&sr=1-1&keywords=Tales+From+the+Otherverse+by+Cheryl+Pierson&tag=pettpist-20

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I want to thank everyone for joining me today! Please leave a comment and you will be entered in my drawing for a copy (DIGITAL OR PRINT–YOUR CHOICE!) of FIRE EYES and I’m also giving away a copy of MEANT TO BE!

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