If you enjoy sweet historical romance, I’ve got a contest for you!
Click on graphic to enter.
This contest was originally slated to end on July 18, but it received an extension, so now you have until July 23 to enter. I’m giving away a copy of my latest release, More Than Meets the Eye (print or digital, winner’s choice), but you’ll recognize several other western romance authors who have been guests here on Petticoats & Pistols.
Kimberly Woodhouse / Tracie Peterson
Everyone who enters receives 4 free e-books, first place winner will receive all 20 books listed, and the grand prize winner will receive all 20 books plus a new e-reader.
Don’t let the chance to win pass you by! Click on one of the contest graphics to access the entry form.
(Leaving a comment on this post will not enter you in this giveaway. You must visit the contest site.)
I hate to admit it, but I find a lot of inspiration for the crazy, odd, unique, outlandish, and downright strange things I often incorporate into fun or funny scenes in my books from things that happen in real life.
And those happenings aren’t things I’ve seen on the news or heard someone discussing.
They are things that have happened to me.
So many loony things happened to me when I was growing up on our family farm, I guess I didn’t give a thought to them seeming weird to others.
But they are – weird, that is.
I captured some of my favorite bizarre childhood happenings in Farm Girl, a humorous account of my growing up years.
Some of the wild tales that really did happen include being chased up the stairs by a snake, battling a shrew (the fuzzy, four-legged kind), and watching a coyote come back to life on our back patio.
I’ve fallen out of moving farm equipment, been drenched in gated pipe slime, and freaked out my mother when we found bones on top of the ground in an old cemetery.
If I’m looking for something different, something a little out there to include in a book, I generally don’t have to look too far.
In my two recent releases, I incorporated tidbits of real happenings into situations with animal characters.
In Lightning and Lawmen, the heroine, Delilah, decides to befriend a half-grown raccoon. Despite of everyone telling her she’s crazy, she works at making him a pet. In one scene, Ollie, the raccoon, attacks the hero. With a recent rabies scare in town, they are thinking the worst, but they soon discover Ollie just wanted the sweets in Dugan’s pocket.
The same thing happened to my dad.
When I was probably around six or seven, my brother brought home a young raccoon. I don’t recall the reason why he had the raccoon, just that it was pretty awesome to have raccoon.
We soon learned that if something wasn’t nailed down, the raccoon viewed it as fair game for him to pilfer. He could take the screen off the window at the bottom of the stairs and make his way into the house. One of his favorite places to explore his cat burglar skills was in my parents’ bedroom where he’d grab anything shiny that was left out. Watches, buttons, even pens disappeared with regularity.
We also learned Bandit had a sweet tooth. My dad, a hard-working farmer, often took a few cookies with him after lunch for a little afternoon snack. One summer afternoon, he was busy working in the shop when the raccoon wandered in. He’d bent down to work on something and the raccoon lunged at him, growling and clawing at his chest. Dad pushed him away and hollered at him to knock it off, but Bandit did it again. The third time, he rascally little devil managed to grab a cookie from Dad’s pocket and, perfectly content, sat down to eat it. Dad quit carrying treats in his pocket after that.
In my sweet contemporary romance, Summer Bride, one of the characters is a whackadoodle cat named Crosby.
The cat is based entirely on our persnickety, cranky, completely insane feline.
In the story, Crosby is afraid of everything: other cats, birds, animals in general, most humans, grass, leaves, the wind – and mice. (Yes, this is totally our cat. In fact, he freaked out just yesterday when a hummingbird flew by!)
There is a funny scene where the cat lets a mouse inhabit the garage and Sage, the heroine, has to take care of it.
The reason for that scene being in the book is because I experienced it while I was writing the story and decided it would be fun to incorporate. Only in real life, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that funny.
Because our cat is a lovable freakazoid we both are allergic to, he stays outside except when it’s time to eat. He gets fed in the garage twice a day (and spends many happy hours lounging on his special bed in there). Anyway, my husband and I take turns feeding the cat so it took us a while to figure out the cat seemed to be eating a lot more food than usual. And his food bowl was licked clean (which has never happened in the many, many years we’ve had him since he adopted us). We finally compared notes and decided something must have snuck into the garage.
We tried to monitor who much food was disappeared. And it was a lot. I mean A LOT!
We set traps. We cleaned the garage from top to bottom. One friend assured us we were probably harboring an entire family of pack rats (and no, that didn’t help me sleep at night). I finally sprinkled flour all around the food bowl one night, hoping to at least see what kind of tracks were left behind. The next morning, Captain Cavedweller and I rushed into the garage to discover tracks all over the floor that led to the door of our furnace room. And they were far too big for a mouse. Freaked out by the prospect of a rat invasion or something bigger – he promised to help me figure out what we were dealing with and get rid of it on his day off.
The next morning, the biggest mouse either of us has ever seen was in one of the traps he’d left setting everywhere in the garage (and you don’t have to worry about our cat getting into one of them. He’s scared of those, too).
Not prepared for whatever was waiting in the furnace room, I opened the door, expecting to be greeted with horrible smells, snarling rodents and disgusting messes. Only, nothing appeared amiss. There were no messes. No bad smells. Nothing.
Then I glanced down and noticed a single piece of cat food in front of the suitcases we’d stored in there. I shoved the suitcases out of the way, and this is what I saw.
You can’t tell it from the photo, but the apocalyptic mouse had stockpiled about ten pounds of cat food. It was packed beneath the shelf you can barely see on the left and stuffed into a little ledge where the concrete floor meets the wall.
And the worst, most insane part of it all? I turned around to get a shovel to start scooping out the cat food and our lunatic cat ran in and started chowing down on the mouse-slobbered food as though he hadn’t eaten in months.
Yep, a crazy thing happened…
To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Farm Girl and your choice of either Lightning and Lawmen or Summer Bride, just share something funny or crazy that happened to you in the past.
This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.
I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.
Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.
Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.
Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).
Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.
For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).
One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!
As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.
I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.
I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.
How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?
Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!
Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.
Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.
Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.
To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?
Isn’t it funny how seemingly random things can be linked to childhood memories? Every time I eat a summer ripe tomato, I’m reminded of my best friend, Angela. She lived in a house on the lake, and after a full day of sun and water, we worked up quite the appetite. I can still picture us in her kitchen, maybe ten or eleven years old, eating fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes like they were apples. My dear friend is gone now, but I have a whole host of sweet memories to remind me of our time together.
I was in a bookstore the other day and came across a toy called Fashion Plates. Instantly, I was taken back to long road trips in my parents’ station wagon. We were allowed to ride in the open space in the back, and I whiled away the miles assembling various outfits and tracing my crayons over the paper to create pictures. I almost bought it, even though I don’t have daughters. I wanted to buy it simply for nostalgia’s sake.
This month marks the end of Love Inspired Historical. While I’m sad about it, I have many of my favorite authors’ books on my keeper shelf. And I have cards, letters and emails from readers that I will keep and treasure in years to come.
What about you? Do you have certain songs, objects or places that remind you of your childhood? I’d love to hear about it.
Karen is giving away one print copy of Romancing the Runaway Bride to only lucky reader. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered!
Though she came west in her wedding dress, Deborah Frazier isn’t looking for a groom. She fled St. Louis to escape marrying a man she didn’t love. In Cowboy Creek, she’s found shelter, friends and a job. All that’s now in jeopardy, thanks to a handsome newcomer.
Undercover Pinkerton agent Adam Halloway is hunting for his family’s greatest enemy. The pretty baker at the boardinghouse is certainly hiding something—but is she an accomplice to a criminal? As eviden
Karen Kirst was born and raised in East Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains. She attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she received a B.A. in Speech Communication. A lifelong lover of books, it wasn’t until after college that she had the grand idea to write one herself. The pursuit of her dream would take longer than she first anticipated…years, in fact. In the fall of 2010, she got the happy news that Harlequin Love Inspired Historicals wanted to publish her manuscript-a true blessing from God. Now she divides her time between being a wife, homeschooling mom, and romance writer. She and her husband, along with their three boys, recently said goodbye to military life and are thrilled to be back home in Tennessee.
I have a brand new series starting with Love Inspired on July 17th, 2018.
I LOVE THIS SERIES.
It’s sweet. It’s poignant. It’s fun. It’s diverse. But more than anything else, it’s based on great stories from a solid premise that’s got some wide-open doors for twists:
MAJOR PUBLISHER INDICTED, BILKS FORTUNE FROM COMPANY, BANKRUPTS FAMILY. PRESTIGIOUS KENTUCKY HORSE FARM LIQUIDATED!
Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald grew up with horses, but their illustrious Kentucky farm was geared for big stakes racing and gilded dressage. When their father sank the three generation publishing ship that made the Fitzgeralds crazy rich, the three women were left with nothing but one car each and college loans. Big college loans. Their Uncle Sean realizes what his good-for-nothing brother has done about the same time his final cancer treatment fails. He wills a 25% share of his sprawling Idaho ranch to each of the girls… and the final 25% to Heath Caufield, a man who came on board when he was thrown off the Kentucky horse farm a dozen years before. Why? Because he had the audacity to fall in love with Lizzie Fitzgerald.
Lizzie and Heath share a past. There’s no way in this world they can share a future, but when those old feelings come to fore, can they look beyond their history to embrace the future God’s laid out for them?
The fun of this story is that it bridges the techno gap of a decade. Ten years ago, it was tough to get cell reception in a lot of out-of-the way places. Now we’re spoiled (or RUINED, but that’s another blog post, right???) because it’s rare that we can’t get coverage in most places.
But that’s a recent change and when big money wants someone G-O-N-E, they generally manage to get it done.
Lizzie comes to the ranch, unaware that Heath is the ranch manager following her uncle’s death… and a co-owner. Her uncle laid out a caveat: The women had to give it a year on the ranch.
For Lizzie this is a no-brainer. She’s got a head for business, a love and skill for horses, and heading up the equine breeding side of Pine Ridge Ranch is an amazing opportunity… right up until she sees Heath Caufield coming her way.
And so it begins….
A story filled with love, with ego, with anger, with emotion and attraction… and a motherless bi-racial little boy named Zeke who can’t help but win hearts wherever he goes.
Sheep ranching has a great history in the hills and mountains of Idaho, so setting this ranch… and others… here fit the storyline and the Western flair.
And bringing three Southern magnolias who are true Steel Magnolias to Idaho was just too much fun. Each girl has her own history, tainted by the loss of their mother as small children, the selfishness of a spoiled, rich father, and the love of a black surrogate mother, a woman who raised these delicate blossoms to be the strong women they are today, a woman who has stayed with them long after the money ran out because raising children isn’t about making money… sometimes it’s just absolutely about love. Corrie Satterly loves these girls like they were her own. And for nearly thirty years, they have been.
But money doesn’t buy happiness and each woman comes west as an individual with her own past, hopes and dreams and goals. All are determined that they’ll earn their inheritance, then sell it back to Heath Caufield, wish him well with his sheep and hay and straw and lambs and dogs and horses… and make their way in the world.
When the good Lord has other plans…. and offers other options…. are they gutsy enough to claim a future in the still somewhat wild West? Or will old-fashioned stubbornness trip them up?
Book one releases in six weeks… and then I was invited to do a novella combo with the amazing and wonderful Linda Goodnight… and so readers will get the second bonus story in December, a beautiful story of a widowed Native American woman with her endearing daughter and a rancher whose sad past colors his present and his future… “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” in the duo called “A Cowboy Christmas”! (And I love, love, love Linda Goodnight!)
And then in February the third book releases
Today we’re celebrating this upcoming release with TWO COPIES to give away!
Leave a comment below and tell me what grabs you about reunion romance? Those star-crossed lovers that are pulled apart…. and what bridges the gap to bring them back together?
Not like Romeo and Juliet because they were kind of too dumb for words, weren’t they?
(Sorry, I should not give out negative personal opinions on a world-famous blog… except I did kind of wanna slap ’em both. And their families…)
Clearly this is why I love writing inspirational romance and women’s fiction.
I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS!
Life comes with its own set of sad moments, and while I’m okay with sadness in a book… I long for the couple’s happy ending!
Erica Vetsch here. Thank you so much to the P&P ladies for inviting me to join you again! I love visiting with you all. That being said, I am on vacation today…sitting in a car, driving the 1700 miles back to frigid Minnesota from beautiful sunny Florida where I was visiting my awesome parents. I will most-likely be unable to respond personally to your messages until I get into my hotel room for the evening, so please, bear with me!
Using Historical Figures in Your Fiction
Have you ever read a novel that used an historical figure as one of the characters? Was it fun for you to ‘recognize’ a character and see the author’s portrayal of how they might have been in a given set of circumstances? Did the character ring true to what you knew about them?
I love stories that have cameo appearances by historical figures, especially famous cowboys and lawmen and outlaws of the Old West, or presidents, soldiers, and personalities of the Civil War, but when I read one and I see things that are glaringly off with an historical figure’s portrayal, I tend to cringe and put the book down for something else.
So how does an author go about using real people in their novels? Can you use a real person in fiction legally? Are there any rules?
First, it is certainly legal to use historical figures in your fiction. Writing about Richard the Lionheart or Wyatt Earp won’t get you into any trouble, even if you mischaracterize them or portray them in a less than glowing light. (FYI, writing about current public figures has different laws about slander, libel, and image copyright, so research those laws if you want to write contemporary fiction. Even flattering treatments of people who are alive and kicking can land you in a legal tangle.) Second, writing about historical figures doesn’t have any ‘rules’ per se, but there are some guidelines that I try to follow that will endear you to readers of historical fiction.
Learn the basic facts and personality of the character by reading history books, watching documentaries, and if possible, reading primary sources such as diaries, autobiographies, and first-hand newspaper accounts. (No matter which historical figure you use, there will be a reader or two out there who is an ‘expert’ on that character and jealously guards their canon. As much as possible, try to get the history correct—or you might hear about it later!) Some things that might be important to consider are: the character’s family situation, how they make decisions, attitudes and philosophies about social issues, familiar catchphrases or gestures (Think Teddy Roosevelt and “Bully!”) etc. You will also be able to create dialogue that feels authentic if you can read their own words and get a sense of their speech patterns and cadences from reading primary sources.
Create a timeline of the character’s life, paying particular attention to the time and setting of your story. If you are going to include an historical figure in a fictional situation, make sure they weren’t demonstrably elsewhere in real life. For example, if your scene takes place in St. Louis on November 19, 1863 and you have President Lincoln show up, EEEK! Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address on that day and couldn’t possibly have been in Missouri at that time.
Stay true to the things you know about the character. Lincoln was tall, skeletal, with a dry wit. George Armstrong Custer was ambitious, overconfident, with a near-obsessive devotion to his wife. Clara Barton was a shy child, a determined crusader, and an autocratic leader. Readers will respond to an historical figure in your fiction that ‘feels’ like the character they already know.
When in doubt, err on the side of historical accuracy. Many people read historical fiction in order to learn while they read. Often, readers will take as gospel what they read of historical events and people in fiction, relying on the author to do the research and present it in a truthful way. Sometimes, you want or need an historical figure to do something in your story that you can’t authenticate through research. That’s fine, but be sure that you are staying within the bounds of historical accuracy when you do. (Unless you’re obviously writing a spoof piece like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.) If you include a fictional variation that might be misconstrued, use an author note to explain to the reader what is factual and what is fictional.
An example from my own work is the story A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas. I used several historical figures from Dodge City who would be familiar to readers of western fiction. Because they were used fictitiously, I wanted to make certain that readers understood which characters were historical and which were fictional, and which characteristics for real people I had manufactured for the sake of the story. I included an Author’s Note so that readers would feel I was ‘playing fair’ and not misleading them with inaccurate historical information. Here’s that Author’s Note as it appeared in the beginning of the book:
Author’s Note: While most of the characters in this story are fictitious, the characters of Charlie Basset, Luke Short, and Bat Masterson are taken from the annals of Dodge City history. I have tried to stay true to the historical record, with one noted exception: Bat Masterson’s proclivity for keeping printed material stacked in his office is fictional and entirely of my own creation.
In my story, it was important that a piece of paper get lost in the sheriff’s office. Since Bat Masterson was the sheriff during the setting of my story, I needed him to be a bit of a paper hoarder. But I also wanted to be clear to the reader that I had no historical facts that would indicate that he was an office slob. J Hence the author’s note.
Questions for you!
If you are a writer, have you ever included historical figures in your fiction? If so, who?
If you’re a reader, do you have a favorite novel that included an appearance by an historical figure?
Answer in the comments below to be entered to win a copy of my newest release, 7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers!
* * * *
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!
If you’re like me, you’ve already been queueing up the Christmas music. There’s something special about the hymns, carols, and jingles written to celebrate the season. But in the west of the 1800s, music was a precious commodity, at any time. There are tales of families sacrificing to bring a piano on the Oregon Trail, stories of stampedes averted by a cowboy with a calming voice. If you could play an instrument or sing well, you were instantly popular!
Perhaps that’s why music boxes were so prized. First developed in the early nineteenth century in Europe by watchmakers, some early specimens were tiny enough to fit inside a gentleman’s snuff box. The mechanism was much like what you may have seen in a child’s toy—a cylinder with bumps equating to notes and a toothed comb that the cylinder rotated against to “ring” out the song. You cranked the mechanism to tighten a spring, which slowly unwound and stopped the motion of the cylinder.
People were entranced by the sound, and demand grew. Music boxes grew larger, fancier. Some came in tortoiseshell cases, others encased in fine wood. Sizes increased to tabletop and even as large as a grandfather clock. Companies found ways to swap cylinders, so you could play more songs. The number of teeth “playing” across the cylinder grew to over 300, providing a range of octaves. More springs meant the box could play for hours without rewinding.
Catalogs allowed you to pick from a range of music, from popular tunes to classical pieces and hymns. One piece even mimicked the sound of a bird singing. Supposedly Beethoven was particularly enchanted with the devices and composed music with them in mind.
At first the price for these boxes was high enough that only the wealthy could afford them. But after the Civil War, more reasonable boxes became available. These used less durable components, such as wooden or even paper rolls. Coin-operated versions were placed in railway stations for the public’s enjoyment. Pocket watches became musical, playing chimes to mark the hour. And people on the frontier ordered the boxes and gave them to those they loved. My hero Levi Wallin gives one to my heroine Callie Murphy in this month’s His Frontier Christmas Family. Callie loves music, but her family circumstances have prevented her from owning any kind of instrument. The music box becomes her prized possession.
The advent of the phonograph and player piano toward the end of the nineteenth century usurped the popularity of the music box. But examples continued to be created long afterward. The round music boxes in this blog post belonged to my great-grandmother and her sister, both of whom were born in the late 1800s. One was used to hold face powder—the original powder puff is inside.
Perhaps, like Callie, they loved music in any form, even from a magical little box.
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for an autographed copy of His Frontier Christmas Family, Regina’s new release.
Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first novel until she learned a bit more about writing. She now has more than thirty-five published works of warm, witty romance. She and her husband of nearly 30 years reside in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Regina Scott has dressed as a Regency dandy, driven four-in-hand, learned to fence, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research, of course. Learn more about her at her website or connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, or Goodreads.
His Frontier Family
After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of.
Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?
Okay, I know the good-bye is from The Sound of Music, one of my favorite movies, and definitely not a Western, but it so fits. It’s time to let all y’all know I’m riding off into the sunset.
I have decided to step back from the computer and help with family things. My mother-in-law and Hub’s younger sister are facing serious health problems, and I never know when I’m needed next.
But there’s family fun, too.
I child-care Her Royal Highness every Friday. Be still my heart.And I am a very loud cheerleader for my grandsons. My five-year old grand-angel is busy with T-ball.
My ten-year old grand-darling has flag football going on when he’s not helping me at the horse rescue.But this is so hard. I’ve had nine years in this wonderful corral. Oh, how giddy I was, getting invited to be a filly…You all saw my daughter’s wedding–now she has two little ones. You traveled with me on a city-slicker wagon train trip in Wyoming, and peeped at glowing aspen during a Colorado fall…watched me ride a horse on a Bandera TX ranch, and rode up and down a glacier with me in the Canadian Rockies, saw how Hawaii and its cowboys tie into the mainland West.
You’ve “visited” Parker Ranch on the Big Island with me, and suspected my crush on Doc Holliday…
I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting just about all of the fillies despite the miles between. And Charlene Sands (a founding filly who just left the corral last month) will always be my dearest friend, muse, mentor, and shining star. Kinda fitting, her and me heading down new trails together at just about the same time.
Here’s us shopping for our grandbabies at the last Romance Writers of America convention.
In closing, I must thank each and every one of you for your comments and support. I wish you all the greatest blessings our generous Lord can bestow. I’ll possibly be back as a guest in Winter 2018, touting a future Christmas story.
And today, I’m giving away three PDF copies of my latest, the HEARTS CROSSING RANCH anthology, containing all eight of the contemporary inspirational novellas about a Colorado ranching family and their city-slicker wagon trains. Oh, and of course their love stories and happy endings. The antho includes the never-before published finale, Cross Your Heart.
So don’t forget to leave a comment and check back tomorrow to see which three names get pulled from the Stetson. Please and thank you.
My eight-novella inspirational series is now compiled in one big anthology, at Pelican Book Group, including the never-published finale,Cross Your Heart. Each of the eight Martin siblings of Hearts Crossing Ranch in Mountain Cove Colorado, has a story of heartbreak and triumph, success or lost faith, sickness or health, and finds a western-style happily-ever after. (Even their widowed matriarch Elaine finds love again!)
My May post showed how a real-life wagon train trip inspired the entire series, but it was my husband’s 2008 cancer battle that led me down the inspirational road. (God be praised, he is now cured.)
Below is a nutshell synopsis about each of the stories.
Hearts Crossing Ranch~Losing her father to a drunk driver has shattered Christy Forrest’s faith and hope. Going solo on the city slicker wagon trip her dad had planned before his death gets her alongside a handsome wagon master. But the last thing she needs is a faith-filled cowboy…
Kenn Martin, himself jaded by a woman’s betrayal, realizes he could heal his heart with the lovely landscape architect—if Christy gives them the chance.
Redeeming Daisy~The ranch’s large-animal vet Pike Martin should steer clear from bad-girl Daisy Densmore, the woman who broke his brother Kenn’s heart, but something about her wounded soul can’t be ignored.
Broken and humiliated by bad decisions, Daisy has no choice but to fall back to Mountain Cove…and literally into Pike’s arms when he saves her from herself.
Sanctuary~Cancer survivor and ranch foreman Hooper Martin doesn’t dare fall in love again. The single dad has been through loss and a horrific physical struggle. But meeting Mallie Cameron at Kenn and Christy’s wedding lets him know love can bloom again
But Mallie is battling an incurable brain tumor and won’t get involved…
(My husband battled the same horrific cancer as Hooper’s, and Mallie is based on my daughter’s beloved sorority sister who left us in 2012 and tore out my heart. Even when you know it’s going to happen, nothing prepares you for when it does.)
Right to Bragg~Nanny and paralegal Tiffany Vickers has been disowned by her own family, and the guilt wants to drown her. Coming to work for attorney Rachel Martin is starting to give her a sense of family again.
Accountant and cowboy Bragg Martin, himself bearing guilt for faking tests during his star-athlete turn, knows in his heart that he and Tiffany could be a perfect couple in spite of everything. And then Daisy’s ex-husband puts the move on…
It’s Christmas, though, the time of hope and love.
Soul Food~Kelley Martin has no qualms about being a vegetarian in cattle country, but her failed restaurant brings her back home. She realizes the value of roots and family. Chuck cook on a Hearts Crossing wagon train gets her up close with geneticist Jason Easterday, a self-acclaimed vagabond. How can she get him to stick around?
Angel Child~Graphic artist and cowboy Scott Martin holds himself back from falling for his high school art teacher. Of course they’re adults now and it’s perfectly acceptable. But Mary Grace holds herself back. Not many men, not even a committed Christian like Scott, will accept her severely disabled little son…
Seeing Daylight~ When her Army husband returns safely from his long deployment in the Middle East, attorney Rachel Martin knows they’ll make it. Until he dies in a foolish mishap. Meeting Brayton Metcalf doesn’t make life any better. He keeps secrets, too, and bears the burden of causing his wife’s death.
The Finale, not available as a singleton: Cross Your Heart~ The youngest Martin, Chelsea has grown up, but nobody takes her seriously despite her college degree and travels abroad. Will her older siblings always consider her a baby? Or will they accept her commitment as an environmental scientist? Saving a wounded horse to prove her maturity is a start. Until she runs into her college love. Once a spoiled surfer with tons of money, Dutton Morse’s new heritage threatens to derail their reunion from the start: he’s an oil man…
I enjoyed writing my “ride” through the trails of Hearts Crossing Ranch and hope you do, too.
Huge thank yous to Karen Witemeyer for hosting me here at Petticoats and Pistols, and to Mary Connealy for suggesting me as a guest today. It’s always an absolute pleasure to talk Westerns! #mustlovecowboys
I kind of stumbled into writing Westerns when asked to join a Love Inspired continuity… I was book 2 “His Montana Sweetheart” and as I chatted with the other authors about the town set-up and the events, I was smitten…
But I got firmly hooked while writing the book.
I love Westerns. I love the feel of the West, the broad, broken land, the distant horizon, the hills, mountains, the far-reaching spreads of ranches. There is something alluring about the whole thing. Something different. And when it comes to heroes, something definably masculine. Manly…
But beyond the look, there’s the unwritten code of the West… put others first.
I don’t know if that seeded itself in faith-filled beginnings or just the prairie common sense that if your horse died, you’d be next… either way, it’s a great code to live by no matter where you hang your hat.
That book became my stepping stone into Westerns and the bestselling “Double S Ranch” series from Waterbrook Press. Even the concept sounded fun— and a little tragic, but from the very worst can spring the very best, so that was the concept I worked with. An egocentric father, mad at the world over the loss of his beloved wife, and three sons, two from different mothers and the third a nephew he rescued and adopted. If you throw together Bonanza, Dynasty, The Big Valley and a splash of My Three Sons, you’re on target… but how do you write three cowboy brothers, all raised on the same huge Central Washington spread, and keep their stories interlocked but distinct?
That’s where life comes in.
And these days life offers a lot of drama! It surrounds us, and if it doesn’t, cable news will make you feel like it does. Based on the Biblical story of the prodigal, Colt Stafford left the Double S to prove himself in Manhattan. Ivy League educated, he amassed his own fortune while working hedge funds but it all ground to a stop when one of his major investments turned out to be an epic Ponzi scheme. With his assets tied up by the courts, Colt has nothing to show for years of hard work. When he realizes his father is gravely ill, Colt returns to the Western ranch, ready to help. Mind you, I didn’t say he was happy to help. But as Colt glimpses his father’s somewhat lame attempts at reconciliation, and his brother’s unhappiness, he begins to re-acclimate himself to the land he could have loved if only things had been different.
It was so much fun to compare the rigors of Wall Street financials and the cut-throat policies that prevail there and the depth of “cowboy code” and Western lore. It’s about coming home… and then being home. It’s about a woman with a past, searching for her future… and it’s about a man’s lament, a man who put his land, his ranch, his state-of-the-art beef enterprise ahead of his children… and isn’t sure how much time he has left to fix things.
It’s about life.
Creating the Stafford men was fun, but I had to be careful to keep them lovable even though they mostly needed Gibbs-smacks upside the head. Colt, the prodigal who stalked away angry and came back, somewhat humbled… but not too humble, because Colt isn’t exactly the humble sort. Nick, the brother who stayed home on the ranch, but not for altruistic reasons. Mostly because he wanted to show up his father on how a real man gets married and has a family and stays devoted while working the land… but when his happy-ever-after walked out with a rodeo cowboy, Nick’s carefully laid plans went up in smoke. Despite his efforts, here he was, working night and day and raising two kids— two troubled kids— as a single parent. Oops.
And then, this week, just released, is Trey’s story. The third brother, a country music superstar, rescued twenty-five years ago when his country singer parents overdosed on a bad batch of heroin. Trey’s the catalyst. He’s the wound-binder. He’s the son who sees beyond Sam’s nature because he wasn’t just born to the ranch: he was chosen. Saved by an uncle who made him his own, Trey’s strong but gentle nature will never forget that blessing even though Sam hasn’t exactly supported him for pursuing country music after seeing what happened to Trey’s parents.
Three stories of forgiveness and moving on. Three Western men. Four, actually, because without Sam Stafford setting the Western stage with his newfangled ideas, there wouldn’t be a story at all… And the four women set in their paths to complete the circle.
Old posters used to proclaim “Go West!” with pictures of a covered wagon and endless grassland.
I went “West” with some of my stories, and it’s been love of the highest order ever since.
Buy Ruth’s newest release, PEACE IN THE VALLEY, on Amazon!
Take a moment to chat with Ruth and be eligible to win a print copy of her opening book, BACK IN THE SADDLE!
BIO: With well over a million books in print, multi-published, bestselling inspirational author Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great stories with unforgettable characters, the kind of books that make you regret the last page because you simply don’t want the story to end. A mom and grandmother, Ruthy lives on a small farm in upstate New York. She’s no stranger to power tools, livestock or an oven. She loves her dishwasher and she’s not afraid to discharge errant critters that might find their way into her old farmhouse. And we’re not talking “catch-and-release” here. She loves chatting with readers and writers on Facebook so send her a friend request, or follow her on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne. Keep up with her scheduled releases and maybe some farm life at her website http://www.ruthloganherne.com, or her blogs http://www.ruthysplace.com, http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com (with 12 other authors!) or the fun café she operates with friends http://www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com.