Category: Behind the Book

HOW WILL WE REMEMBER OUR ANCESTORS? by Cheryl Pierson

How will we remember our ancestors? In these days of hectic living, when there is very little oral tradition–much less written documentation–of our family history, what can we do to preserve the memories of these people who came before us? For their life experiences were so different than ours, yet the same–births and deaths come to every generation, along with the happiness and sadness those events bring with them. But learning about our family and the events that brought us to the place we are, as individuals, NOW–is a precious gift that is slipping away from us.

Every so often, (and it’s been a while now!) I teach a class called “Writing Your Life Story.” Most of the people who are there for classes are senior citizens, who, for the most part, have been urged by family members to come.

As they introduce themselves, it goes something like this:  “I’m Jane Doe, and I’m here because my children keep telling me I need to write this all down—but I don’t know where to begin.”

My first assurance to them all is that they don’t need to write like Laura Ingalls Wilder—their families will be thrilled with anything they put down on paper.  It’s amazing to me how many people don’t feel they have anything of interest to tell their descendants!

This is a picture of me and my aunt, Emogene (my mom’s sister) on one of her visits. She was one of the funniest, sweetest, and MOST REBELLIOUS people I ever knew. I loved her with all my heart, and I do think maybe I got a bit of that rebellious attitude of hers! I was 6 here. There was never a dull moment with her–and I have some wonderful memories to cherish.

Cheryl and Aunt Emogene 1964I want to tell you about my parents, because they were the epitome of opposites when it came to this. My mother told stories from the time I can remember about her family, about her friends, the small town she grew up in. These were details of an ordinary life that gave me insight into the way times were during the Dustbowl days in Oklahoma. It told me about her life in particular and life in general, and it also brought people I never knew to reality for me through her memories.

Mom had a dear friend, just her age, named Mary. They were both the eldest of their respective families, each with many younger siblings that they were responsible for. Mom mentioned how she and Mary both longed for an d cherished the few times when they could be alone to talk “girl talk” without each having two or three little ones they had to look after.

One of their favorite places to go was the cemetery. They’d both been born in Albany, so they knew the stories of everyone buried there in the small cemetery: The Taylor family, whose six children went berry picking, only to take shelter under an oak tree when a storm blew up suddenly. Lightning struck the tree and killed all but two of them. The oldest boy crawled to a nearby farmhouse for help, but died later. Out of the six, only one survived. There were no markers on their graves, but Mom showed me where each was buried.

A drawing I found when going through my mom’s things after she died. She did this in 1939–she would have been 17. Of course, it’s faded and blotchy, but I can’t help but marvel at the talent she had for someone with no artistic training, with only a pencil and piece of paper. My daughter inherited this from her…I can’t draw to save my life!

Another grave she showed me was that of a young child who, at eighteen months, crawled under the porch and drank tree poison his father had believed was well-hidden. Mom told me how his lips were stained purple She and Mary had gone to the funeral and it was imprinted in her mind forever.

Christmases were sparse in that time. It was a good Christmas if they each received and apple, and orange, and some hard candy in their stockings, and maybe a doll, in addition, in the better-then-most years. I wrote a story called SILVER MAGIC for an Adams Media Christmas anthology about something she told me. They’d brought home a Christmas tree that particular year, and one of her younger brothers had suggested maybe they could have some tinsel…My grandfather went into the shed and hand-cut tinsel and a star from the foil covering of an old battery. What a thrill that was for them! Yet, who would ever dream that was something that could be done, now, in our world of buy-it-already made?

 

GENEALOGY STALLINGS AUNT JOYCE487347_384127544966584_100001080247175_1016691_1728302232_nFrom Mom I learned about our family ancestors—where they’d come from and who they were. As a child, I thought of them as a story she told, but as I grew older, they became real people to me.

I learned about her, too—how, as a teen, she’d pool her hard-earned money with her younger sister, Joyce, to buy the newest Hit Parade Magazine with all the lyrics to the latest songs. They had sung together from the time they knew how, adding more harmonies as more sisters came along.

 

My aunt, Joyce. She was something else! She was in the Navy during WWII where she met and married her husband, Bill. Remember the expression “cuss like a sailor”? She could, and did–regularly. My mom always gave her the “big sister look” and said, “Joy-y-y-c-ce” in that shaming voice. She always just laughed. And she could cook like nobody’s business. Her heart was huge.

 

MOM AND DADScans 009My dad never talked about his adolescence much. Even though he and Mom grew up together in the same small community, he never had much to add to the conversations. What I know of his family, I learned mostly from my aunt, his younger sister–and my mom, who had known him from the time they started elementary school together. Theirs was a love story for all times–they grew up together, married, had their family, and were married over 60 years–and they died within 3 weeks of one another.

Why write it all down now? Because most people never believe they’ll run out of time. “Someday” never comes. My mom had such fascinating stories, filled with tenderness, charged with emotion—stories that made it seem as if I was there along with her as she spoke. She was a painter, an artist, and she could paint pictures with her words, as well.

 

El Wanda and Fred Moss, my parents, newlyweds in 1944–ready to take on the world!

Mom told stories of my great grandparents, who I never met–who eloped and ran away from Tennessee in the dead of night. (He was a high-tempered school master…and she was one of his students.) Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

This is my great grandmother, Josie Belle Walls McLain Martin,  the granddaughter of the Indian boy who was stolen by the cavalry (see story below). In this picture she was only about 25 years old, and already getting gray hair. She had 4 children, very young, and her husband had been killed in a freak accident. She married a man with children and they had more between them, for a grand total of seventeen kids before it was all said and done! Mom loved her “grandma”–I did get to know her when I was very young, but she passed when I was in elementary school.

GenealogyJosieBelleWallsMcLainMartin1882-1972made1907542164_386610498051622_691310310_nAnother story of my great-great-great-grandfather, a young Indian boy, who was stolen by the cavalry from his village and given to a white Presbyterian minister to raise, and “assimilate” into his family (my story One Magic Night is based on this–he finally got his happy ending). His name was changed, and I don’t believe he ever saw his real family again, once he was adopted.

And my dad’s grandmother, who stopped beneath the shade of a tree long enough to have her third child as she and her husband made their way to a new life in Indian Territory? He must have been a typical man–they stayed two nights and moved on, her with a new baby and two “stairstep” children just a little older.

I treasure these stories now, but oh, how I wish I’d had my mom a little longer, and that I’d been a little older, to be able to ask her questions that now overrun my thoughts. Mom always had good intentions, but like so many, never found the time before it was too late, and Altzheimer’s took away that ability.

I will write it all down…all that I can remember of it. But I can’t help thinking how I wish she had written her story, with all the vivid details and description she used in telling about it. There is so much I won’t know. So much will be lost, simply because this was her life.

My mom (the oldest) with some of her siblings. Dustbowl Oklahoma–taken probably 1935 or so–she’s on the far left in the back. Hard, hard times.

Genealogy Stallings kids484279_386540661391939_100001080247175_1022301_589553159_nThe memories are hers: the hard times, as well as the good—the days in an everyday life…and, the nights, when entertainment was nothing more than the beautiful harmonies of the four little girls, floating in the summer stillness for miles as they sang on the front porch…in a much simpler, slower time.

Do you have any special “family” stories that have been handed down from your ancestors? Any special memories of special family members from the past? I would love to hear them!

 

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson/span/a/p?tag=pettpist-20

Here’s an excerpt from my story ONE MAGIC NIGHT–an oldie but a goodie!–based on the life of my great great- great-grandfather, David Walls (his name after he was adopted).  I’ll be giving away a digital copy to one lucky commenter! Leave your contact info in your comment so I can reach you if you win!

PRP One Magic Night WebONE MAGIC NIGHT EXCERPT:

As Whitworth’s hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spit the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face.  “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you just can’t wait to see if you’ve won, click the link to buy on Amazon

Cowboy Brave with Guest Author Carolyn Brown

Please give a warm ‘welcome back’ to our guest author Carolyn Brown! 
She’s here to talk about the newest book in her Longhorn Canyon Series and also
to give one (plus a bonus!) as a gift for one lucky person who comments.

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Miss Carolyn
or her books, here’s a short introduction …

 

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

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

 

 

Howdy to all y’all at Petticoats and Pistols! Every time I see the name of your site, I think of my Christmas present last year. Mr. B bought me a lovely little five shot .38 caliber pink pistol. I didn’t want anything that fired 15 rounds in ten seconds. I figure if I can’t hit something with five bullets, then I shouldn’t be firin’ a gun.

I loved writing Cowboy Brave. Justin and Emily were such fun characters to have in my head for those weeks when we were writing the book. And I do say we, not I, because if I didn’t get the story just right, they kept me awake at night.

The blurb for the book tells you a little about Justin and Emily, so I thought maybe today we’d interview the Fab Five. That would be the five senior citizens in the retirement center where Emily works. I thought maybe I’d just give you a little excerpt to introduce you to them. Picture this (as Ma used to say on Golden Girls)—Bowie, Texas, last year. The Fab Five are all in the van on the way to Longhorn Canyon ranch for a week. They’re excited to be away from the retirement center for a whole week, and Emily is driving for them. She’ll be staying with the three ladies in the girls’ bunkhouse. Otis and Larry will live in the boys’ bunkhouse. Now get ready for the ride…

~ Excerpt ~

“Wagons, ho!” Otis shouted from the middle of the van.

“Wagons, my royal butt,” Patsy said. “We’re on tour and this is our tour bus. We’re off to do shows.”

“And what are you going to do?” Bess poked her sister in the arm. “You never could carry a tune, so it can’t be anything musical.”

“Oh, but, honey, I can dance, and I’ve been practicing my striptease dance. I bet Larry can figure out a way to fix me a pole so I can do my best work,” Pasty shot back.

Larry’s grin deepened the wrinkles. “I’ll get my dollar bills ready to stuff inside your under britches, darlin’.”

“Everyone buckled up?” Emily called out as she started the engine.

“Yep!” they all said in unison.

Emily put the van in reverse, popped the clutch, and spun out, leaving a skid mark on the concrete parking lot. “Then get ready for a ride. If you see flashing red lights, yell at me and I’ll go faster.”

“This ain’t a tour van, it’s a race car. When we get to the ranch, we should do some street racin’ in the pasture,” Sarah yelled from the back. “I love to drive fast.”

“You love anything fast. Did you take your heart pills this mornin’?” Patsy said.

“Did you?” Sarah shot back. “I just have to take one to keep my ticker goin’. You have to take three, so don’t be fussin’ at me.”

“Both of you hush and enjoy the fast ride,” Bess demanded.

“You got it, darlin’.” Sarah’s blue eyes glittered. “I’m like fast food. Hot, cheap, and ready in a minute.”

“That’s like Patsy in college,” Bess said.

“Oh, the sweet memories.” Patsy sighed.

Now that you’ve met the five, would you like to see what kind of trouble they’re going to get into,
and how they try to play match maker between Emily and Justin Maguire?

But wait before you answer, there’s more. As a special treat this is a two in one book.
You also get the Second Chance Cowboy by A. J. Pine. So happy reading to all y’all!!

(Don’t forget to comment to be included in the drawing for the giveaway!)

 
FYI: Books in order of publication
Cowboy Bold, May 2018
Cowboy Honor, September, 2018
Cowboy Brave, Now Available!
Cowboy Rebel, May 28, 2019
 
 
Buy Links for the books:

 

 

A Luxury Resort–Was it Really a Ghost Town?

 

My first contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, will be released on January 24th by Tule Publishing.  Yee-Haw!

I just loved writing this book!  From the moment I envisioned Beau Paxton and Ava Howell in my mind, I fell in love with them.  I used the classic ‘fish out of water’ storyline, and the words just flowed.

Ava has a degree in construction management and drives all the way from New York City to take on a ghost town renovation project to honor a promise she made to her friend, who had made a promise to Beau’s mother. 

And of course, Beau doesn’t WANT his beloved ghost town renovated.  He doesn’t want strangers on his family’s land, he doesn’t want to spend the money, he doesn’t want his grandfather’s legacy (the ghost town) touched or changed from the way he’s always known it, and how it’s been for decades.

Sparks fly, for sure. 

I enjoyed the research, too.  But even before I dug in with Google, I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as renovating a ghost town into a guest resort.

Indeed, there was.

Dunton Hot Springs is located near Telluride, Colorado.  Dunton was first established in 1895 as a mining camp, and as was normal for mining communities springing up in less-than-ideal locations, once the mining peaked, the town died a slow death, eventually becoming deserted in 1918. 

A pair of long-time residents bought the entire town and a few mining claims, operating the land as a cattle ranch, then a dude ranch for a number of years.  Finally, in 1994, the current owners purchased the entire town and devoted seven years to renovating it into the luxury resort it is today.

Visitors can enjoy winter sport activities or bask in the captivating summer landscapes.  They can go glamping in a camp of eight luxury tents, enjoy hot springs that steam in the winter and entice in the summer, or head to Telluride for a stay in the historic Dunton Town House.  For the adventurous, or for those who just want to put their cell phones away and relax in the wilderness, Dunton promises a get-away not to be forgotten.

Rooms at the Town House rent from $350 – $500 per night. Cabin rates range from $1,200 to $2,020 per night. 

Um, yeah.

From its website:

“Apart from the beautiful landscape, Dunton Hot Springs is also the number one all inclusive resort in the US according to TripAdvisor, and number 8 in the entire world. Each cabin is different, but shares some things in common. They are all immaculately decorated with elements that find that spectacular combination of rustic and luxury. Oh, and did we mention one cabin has a private hot spring all to itself?”

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?  Of course, luxury comes with a cost, and this resort taps into a clientele that is willing to pay the price.

What about you?  Have you ever stayed at a luxury resort or hotel?  Are you willing to splurge on lavish accommodations as part of your vacation?  Can you justify the cost of an expensive room?  Do you love a spa treatment?  Massage?  Is atmosphere an important part of your get-away?  Do you prefer an outdoors vacation?  Or an urban one with all the comforts of home?

Let’s chat!

 

 

Join in, and you might win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

 

                                                 

                     Available on Amazon                                                                Preorder on Amazon

                Amazon #1 New Release!

Starting a New Series

It’s always exciting, and a little daunting, to start a new series. Even though I still have two more projects coming in 2019 to complete my current series, I’ve already started work on a new group of stories that will debut in 2020.

The inspiration for this new series came from a mash-up of two televisions series I watched as a teen – one from the 1980s and one from the early 1990s.

Anyone remember these?

Well, I decided to create a four-man team of ex-cavalry officers bonded through the shared trauma of the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. They hire themselves out to citizens in need of defense against unjust opposition. Haunted by the atrocities they participated in during wartime, they travel across Texas to right wrongs, using their military skills on behalf of those who have no one else to turn to and stumble across love along the way.

They are known as Hanger’s Horsemen.

*****

Meet the team:

Captain Matthew Hanger – Age 37, leader, hardened by army life, dedicated to keeping the frontier safe for women and children after his own family was murdered by a band of Comanche warriors in Parker County in 1860 when he was only five years old.

Trumpeter Mark Wallace – Age 27, charmer who deals with the horrors of war through superficial relationships, humor, and music. Comes from a privileged background. Enlisted in search of adventure.

Corporal Luke “Preach” Davenport – Age 31, nicknamed “Preach” because he always has a verse to quote. Not because of any real depth of spirituality, but because when he’d been a boy his punishment entailed memorizing and reciting scripture, and he got into trouble a lot. His father shipped him off to the military in hopes of instilling discipline and a respect for authority. His reckless spirit has made him lethal with a sabre and in hand-to-hand combat.

Sergeant Jonah Brooks – Age 30, buffalo soldier with the 10th Cavalry, expert marksman. Jonah is the quiet one, more intelligent that people give him credit for. He prefers to watch from the shadows and decide how to act after he’s weighed all the facts. But when he acts, he can be deadly.

*****

There will be three books in the series. The first pairs the captain with lady doctor, Josephine Burkett. My Posse helped my pick out inspiration images for Matt and Josephine. And we can’t forget Matt’s horse. Meet Phineas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanger’s Horsemen won’t put in an official appearance until summer 2020, but they are coming to life on the page for me now as I write, and I wanted to share a hint of them with you.

  • Are there other 80’s TV shows you think should be turned into western romances?
  • Any A-Team or Magnificent Seven fans out there? Who were your favorite characters?

 

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE ~ Day 4

November 26 – 29

Mary Connealy

Three Christmas Novellas: Longhorn Christmas * The Sweetest Gift * The Christmas Candle

Three previously released Christmas novellas now together in one book.

Longhorn Christmas Netty Lewis, a lonely young widow is saved from a raging mama longhorn by a passing cowboy who’s been wandering since the end of the Civil War. She needs help surviving her rugged life and caring for Jeremiah, her young son. And that means rounding up a nice-sized herd of wild-as-wolves longhorns.Netty and Roy, along with Jeremiah begin a journey toward Christmas, family, home and love…And a herd of longhorns are making the way hard.

A sweet re-telling of The Gift of the Magi–with a happy ending…The Sweetest Gift. She longs for music. He needs a valuable horse to improve his herd.When Christmas comes the gift they truly give is the gift of love.

The Christmas Candle, A lonely widower with a pair of out-of-control sons he never got to know while their mother was alive.A woman with a love of nature and beauty and scent…and the little boys seem determined to destroy her way of life. A feisty Ozark mountain granny who doesn’t put up with much nonsense.The gift of a candle for Christmas and a Christ child who is a perfect match for this scent of heaven.

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Amazon gift card.

Merry Christmas!!!

 

Kit Morgan

   

The Partridge will be celebrating its one year anniversary come December and is still going strong. A delightful tale about a little town struggling to survive. Their only hope, mail-order brides! 

Reverend Chase Hammond hoped was in a pickle. If he didn’t get the men of Noelle married, his and every other man’s hopes of having the railroad come would die, Noelle right along with it. But planning to marry the men off to save the town and actually doing it were two different things. Some didn’t like the idea, thinking a mining town should be mining, not marrying! But that was only one of Chase Hammond’s problems. Problems that if not fixed immediately, would seal Noelle’s fate …
 
Felicity Partridge was in trouble. Big trouble. An active voice for Suffragettes, she’d managed to get herself arrested more than a few times. Now her father demanded she marries to keep her out of more trouble. But how could she further the cause of women shackled to a husband? But when her father gave her the choice between marriage and jail, she decided it best to further her cause elsewhere, and Noelle, Colorado seemed just the place to do it! Especially when she found out who her husband to be was …
Unfortunately, he had other ideas about marrying.  Amazon Link

 

 

Christmas in Clear Creek, another Christmas favorite!

Bowen Drake had a gift. Unfortunately, he didn’t want it. He even went so far as to do ‘bad’ in order to thwart the ‘good’ that seemed to follow him everywhere! For when HE needed it the darn thing didn’t do HIM any good at all! He tried drinking, he tried womanizing, he even tried outlawing, but nothing worked. Finally, he stumbles into the little town of Clear Creek and there discovers why we’ve been given the gifts we have…

Elsie Waller came to Clear Creek after the death of her grandfather. She had high hopes for her life in the little town including looking for a husband. Imagine her elation when she happens upon the man of her dreams the very day after she arrives! Of course, the fact he was half frozen did put a damper on things, but once the townsfolk of Clear Creek thawed him out she endeavored to make sure Bowen Drake stayed around long enough to see she’d make him a mighty fine wife! The only question was, how?

Enjoy Bowen and Elsie’s fanciful tale of mishaps, miracles, and love!   Amazon Link

 

 

 

 

And to top things off, one lucky reader will receive a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card just for following me on BookBub/

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Phyliss Miranda

Although A Texas Christmas has been out since 2011, it is still one of our best selling anthologies. It hit New York Times and USA Today making is a popular holiday read.

On the eve before Christmas a blizzard arrives in Kasota Springs, Texas, transforming the small town into a night to remember.

Four ladies desperately in need of saving, four hard-ridin’ cowboys who aim to please. . . Four stories of holiday fun, and lots of laughter and love.

Amazon Link

 In A Christmas Miracle, Mattie Jo Ashley has lost too many people she loves. She is determined not to lose her baby sister to a mysterious disease. 

Dr. Grant Spencer has every confidence in his abilities as a third generation doctor, but is sorely in need of self worth in other areas of his life….

When Mattie Jo unleashes havoc in the community and takes Grant to the brink of testing his courage and fortitude as both a doctor and a man, all discover the true Christmas spirit and the power of genuine love and acceptance.  

Amazon Link

Prairie Rose Publications

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Winners will be verified and announced on Sunday, December 2nd.

Be sure to check back to see if you won!

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Updated: November 27, 2018 — 8:51 am

Researching the 1880’s Newspaper Office

 

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

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

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

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

                                                

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oak Grove Gazette Printing Press

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

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

A cylinder printing press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A Western Christmas Homecoming!

Connect with Kathryn!

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How to start with a BANG!


 

The word cliffhanger came from somewhere you know

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

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

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

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

You know, the usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE RELUCTANT WARRIOR

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

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

Updated: October 17, 2018 — 6:05 pm

Drawing Inspiration from History

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

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

Health seekers drinking from a fountain in Mineral Wells.

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

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

Click cover to order

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

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

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

Guest Author Carolyn Brown!

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

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

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

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

  • * * * * * * * * * *

Hello to all y’all!

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

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

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

Carolyn: What was your first opinion of Claire?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Levi: Let’s ask something about the heroine—

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

 * * * * * * * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

                                                

Buy Links:

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

Connect with Carolyn!

Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Website 

 

 

My Favorite Time of the Year

By Phyliss Miranda

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

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

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

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

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix      

2 cups Confectioners Sugar

1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

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

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

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

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

 

So what is your favorite drink during cold weather?

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

Updated: October 1, 2018 — 5:25 pm