Category: New Releases

Amanda McIntyre: A Christmas on the Prairie

We’re very happy to have bestselling romance author Amanda McIntyre visiting today. No one lives and breathes cowboys more than Amanda and her books are always at the top of readers’ lists. Please make her welcome and leave a comment to win a copy of Worth the Wait and The Cowboy’s Christmas.

 

 

One of my favorite book series growing up (heck, even now!) is the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Later, of course, I would become infatuated by the television show based on the books. For reasons I can’t explain, I find myself drawn to the struggles, the pioneer spirit, and the determination to carve out a life in a world ravaged by blizzards, windstorms, wild critters, and more. Nature could be brutal. Life was hard. Yet traditions in families were strong, humble though they might be.

At Christmas, I think how even the simplest of gifts were given or received with such profound and sincere gratitude. Granted, there was no Macy’s, no Amazon, or UPS back then. No long lines. No exchanges. No gift cards. Gives one pause, I think. And while I admire the stout-hearted women, men and children of days gone by, I wonder if I could survive in the same vein. (Though writing and publishing a book equates in some ways, I won’t lie!)

My upbringing in a small rural Midwestern town probably has much to do with my love for Wilder’s books, and perhaps the inspiration for a short story I would later write about a lonely, old cowboy, out on Christmas Eve on a cattle drive. “A Cowboy’s Christmas,” would later make an appearance as a beloved holiday story read by Jed Kinnison, the cattlemen patriarch of the Kinnison clan and the three young teens Jed raised alone and who would later take over his ranch in End of the Line, Montana.

End of the Line, Montana (fictitious name, best of my knowledge) has roots in history as well. Back in the early 1800’s, it was part of the gold rush and one of the many mining towns that popped up along with the westward expansion. It followed on the heels of places like Deadwood, Leadville, and Reno to name a few. Interestingly, I was fortunate to be involved in a multi-author “mail-order brides” project that introduces mountain man, Christian Ezekiel Kinnsion to the little town of Noelle, Colorado. An ex Union Army man, he follows his brother west to Noelle in search of finding their claim of gold. Christian and his wife, Genevieve, will eventually travel north and be one of the founding families of End of the Line, Montana.

Family, tradition, honor, perseverance, integrity are all components I weave throughout my three related series; The Kinnison Legacy, the Last Hope Ranch, and End of the Line.

In my current release, Worth the Wait, a woman and her two boys discover the kindness of the ranch and the people in town to help her realize the worth of opening your heart to second chances.

 

When Hank, an old friend rescues Julie from an abusive marriage, he becomes a knight in shining armor to her and her boys. After a year of starting life over at the Last Hope ranch, Hank is ready to set the date. Julie likes the way things are. Can love overcome the pain of the past and prove that it’s all been…worth the wait? I hope you’ll visit End of the Line soon and meet the folks at the Last Hope Ranch!

Amazon buy link Worth the Wait  http://bit.ly/WorththeWaitAMcintyre

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AmandasAuthorPage

Book Bub: http://bit.ly/AmandasBookbubPage

 

About Amanda: Published internationally in print, eBook, and Audio, bestselling author Amanda McIntyre finds inspiration from the American Heartland that she calls home. Best known for her Kinnison Legacy cowboys and Last Hope Ranch series, her passion is writing emotional, character-driven contemporary western and historical romance. Amanda truly believes that no matter what, love will always find a way.

Giveaway question:

What holiday traditions do you have for you or your family? * Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

Giveaway: An eBook or Print copy of WORTH THE WAIT with a bonus of *The Cowboys Christmas standalone print copy to have or keep as a treasured holiday story. (Print copies US only) *My own private copy of The Cowboy’s Christmas.

Man, I’ve been BUSY!

 

No one ever said a successful author was lazy.  No one ever said being a writer was easy, either. Since I last visited with y’all a month ago, I have learned (once again) truer words were never spoken.

For an author to succeed, she has to put herself out there. Take part in promotions and opportunities with her sister authors. She has to put time into social media, emails, writing groups. Marketing is a full time job, and in order to have something to market, you have to write it. And then there’s that crazy thing called LIFE that gets in the way. 

Let me give you a peek into my month, in no particular order:

  1. I’ve taken 3 classes – one on Pinterest and one on Google apps at one of the local colleges. I’ve also taken a month-long online class on Goodreads through KOD chapter.
  2. I’ve re-formatted my historical western romance, WANTED! and uploaded it to Amazon as an ebook. It had been a few years since I’d done it, and it took a little refreshing.  But the end result was very satisfying.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  3. I’ve gotten deep into my latest work, another historical western romance entitled ELEANORA, which is Book #8 in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series I’m doing with a group of authors. The book will be released on January 1.
    AMAZON
  4. Once I got WANTED! up, I knew I had to get my Christmas novellas uploaded. It’s the time of year when the novellas are super popular. First came ONE MAGIC EVE. Since it was a novella, it went much faster. Since it was my second upload in a couple of weeks, and the process was still fresh in my mind, it went even faster.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  5. Then I got this idea that the fillies should have a big promotion to celebrate our Christmas books. We hammered out the details, I came up with some festive memes, and the blogs are coming together. Stay tuned! We’re super excited for this one.  November 26-29.
  6. My husband was diagnosed with a detached retina, which meant not one but two urgent surgeries. Dang. It’s been an ordeal. He developed complications, and that meant extra trips to the pharmacy, the doctor’s office and me doing most of the chores he used to do because, darn it, the eye just wasn’t cooperating, and it HURT.
  7. I uploaded THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE to Amazon. Third time, the novella went pretty smooth. Again, satisfying.  I love the book.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  8. Halloween rolled around. Time to plan our family’s annual Halloween Bash complete with costumes and Halloween-themed food. Can you say Guacamole Ghouls?
  9. My new grandson was born. Theodore Samuel is our 10th grandchild, and oh, my, we are so in love with this little boy-angel.
  10. I was honored to be asked by my sister filly, Shanna Hatfield, to help in her 5th Annual Cowboys and Christmas Facebook Party to raise funds for cowboys who have suffered catastrophic injuries. You think I’m busy? That girl is something—she’s super organized for a big project like this one, with lots of readers and authors and enthusiasm.  There’ll be games, giveaways and FUN. That’s today—and I’m up at 3:20 this afternoon CT. Looking forward to that a whole bunch. PLEASE JOIN US!  The party starts at Noon CT.  Just click on the Facebook link!

    FACEBOOK

  11. Did I say I have to write ELEANORA? And time is ticking.

Ah, well.  They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. I happen to be one of those people that thrive on deadlines. They make me focused and a little stressed (okay, A LOT stressed) but it all seems to get done.

That’s what I love about being a writer.  Busy is good.

Tell me about your month.  Have you been busy, too?  Did anything unexpected happen to throw your month off kilter—like a detached retina or a new baby in the family?

Tell us about it, and you’ll be eligible to win your choice of ONE MAGIC EVE, THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE OR WANTED! ebook!

Re-releases and a Giveaway

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  For various reasons that I won’t go into here, I haven’t had a new release out this year, so I was doubly happy to learn Love Inspired was re-releasing two of my earlier novels as part of their two-in-one program. And both of the books they chose are very special to me (of course I feel that way about most of my books).

Late October saw the release of an anthology that included The Christmas Journey and two novellas, Christmas Bells for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad and The Christmas Secret by Sara Mitchell. This book is special to me because it was the first book of my 3 book and a novella Knotty Pines series.  It was also based on a premise I’d been mulling over for a number of years, that of a heroine who longs to travel and have adventures but is held back by family obligations. Her solution is to try to find a husband for her widowed sister so she can transfer those responsibilities to him and chase her dreams guilt-free.

Here is an excerpt:

Jo resisted the urge to stomp her foot.

It wasn’t fair that Ry had everything she wanted and seemed so discontent.  Yet he judged her for daring to set her sights beyond Knotty Pine.  He wouldn’t think her life was so rosy if he were the one living it.  Too bad they couldn’t up and change places.  If he had all her family responsibilities…

She stilled.  What if he did have her responsibilities?  It was obvious the family already liked him.  And he seemed equally taken with them.  If she could somehow make him an actual part of the family, he was the sort of man who’d do everything he could to provide for and protect those in his care.

Cora Beth admired him.  Jo could see he liked her too.  As for the rest of the family, after that ruckus in the livery Danny practically hero-worshipped him.  Ry had shown he could deal with her nieces – why, he even got along with Uncle Grover.  They’d all be in good hands.

As for Ry’s part, what man wouldn’t be attracted to Cora Beth?  She had that sweet domestic air about her that drew men looking for a wife like bees to honey.

If Ry and Cora Beth were to get hitched, she would be free to leave Knotty Pine knowing the family was well cared for.

So what if she’d been doing a bit of daydreaming over him herself?  It was just because he’d been so all-fired heroic the other day and, to be honest, handsome as all get out.  But, even if the thought stung a bit, she was realistic enough to know a man like Ryland Lassiter wouldn’t fall for a girl like her.

Besides, she didn’t need a man to tie her down.  Just the opposite – she wanted to cut her tightly-knotted bonds to this place so she could fly free.

In that respect, Ry was the answer to her prayers.  God’s hand had been in the timing of his trip through Knotty Pine, she was certain of it. 

Jo lifted her chin.  If this tug of attraction she felt for him was a way of testing her resolve, she was more than up to the challenge.  All she needed for her plan to work would be for someone to give Ry and Cora Beth a little push. 

And no matter how much her silly heart protested, she was just the person to do it.

My second book on the 2018 re-release list The Hand-Me-Down Family will come out in December and it’s paired with Victoria Bylin’s The Maverick Preacher. This book was the very first one I published with Love Inspired Historical and it is based on a premise I’d been trying to develop for several years – that of a mail order bride that married her husband by proxy before she left home and then arrived in her new home to discover she was already a widow. It wasn’t until I married this with another tidbit from my ‘idea file’, that of a hero who left home to get out from under his ‘perfect’ brother’s shadow, that the story finally came together.

Here is an excerpt:

The minutes drew out as the driver unloaded luggage and parcels from the back of the stagecoach.  It was hotter here in Texas than it had been in Ohio.  Callie longed to loosen her tight-fitting bonnet, or better yet, take it off altogether, but she dare not.  Not until she was away from prying eyes and safely inside her new home.

A number of townsfolk stopped to speak to her fellow passenger, Jack, but though she received a friendly nod or two, and more than one curious glance, no one stepped forward to greet her.  

Finally, the last of the baggage and cargo was unloaded and the driver stepped inside the hotel with a mail sack.  The man Jack lifted two of the bags, easily hefting the larger one up to his shoulder. 

Callie couldn’t help but wonder – would her new husband be as fine and strong a figure of a man as this Jack? 

As if feeling her eyes on him, the man paused and met her gaze.  His expression was gruff and a muscle twitched at the corner of his mouth.  “Is someone meeting you?”

She smiled, grateful for his show of concern, reluctant though it might be.  “Yes, thank you.  I’m certain my husband will be along soon.”

Something akin to surprise flashed across his features at the word husband, but it was gone in an instant.

“Good.”  He nodded and allowed his friend to take one of his bags.  “If you’re sure you don’t need any help…”

But as Callie watched him walk away, it was as if the last link to her old life were being severed.  A foolish notion since she really didn’t know this man at all.  But before she could stop herself, she took a small step forward. “Excuse me.” 

Both men turned, facing her with questioning glances. 

“Ma’am?” Jack prompted.

“I was wondering if perhaps either of you know a Mr. Leland Tyler?  He was sup…”  Her voice tapered off as she saw their startled reactions. 

Jack’s jaw tightened visibly.  “Why would you be looking for Lanny?”

Callie noticed his familiar use of her husband’s name.  “So you do know him.”

That tic near the corner of his mouth made another appearance.  “Yes.”  He didn’t expand on his one-word answer, and his expression remained closed, unreadable.  “But you didn’t answer my question.  How do you know Leland?”

Callie offered up a quick prayer that Mr. Tyler would arrive soon.  He should be the one making the introductions to his neighbors and friends.  “I’m Callista Johnson Tyler, his wife.”

“Wife!”  Jack set his bag down with a loud thump and sent a sharp look his companion’s way.  “You know what she’s talking about, Virgil?”

The other man shook his head.  “Lanny never said anything about a new wife.”

They certainly were reacting strongly to her news.  She knew Julia had only been gone about four months, but it wasn’t unusual for a widower to remarry so soon, especially when he had a young child to care for.

For that matter, why didn’t they already know about her?  Surely Leland wouldn’t have kept such momentous news from his friends and neighbors?  Unless he’d worried she wouldn’t show up. 

Or was there another, more disturbing reason?  Her heart beat faster as possibilities whirled through her mind.

Realizing the men were watching her, Callie tried to hide her confusion behind a confident air.  “I’m not certain why Mr. Tyler chose to keep this a secret.  Perhaps he was planning to surprise everyone.  But be that as it may, I assure you, I am indeed Mrs. Leland Tyler.  If you’ll be so good as to tell me where my husband can be found, I’m certain he’ll verify my identity.”

Jack took another step forward.  “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves first.”  He swept an arm toward his companion.  “This is Virgil Wilson.” 

She smiled and nodded acknowledgement. “Mr. Wilson.” 

The farmer touched the brim of his hat, ducking his head respectfully.  “Ma’am.”

When she turned back to Jack he was studying her intently, as if trying to read something from her countenance.  Holding her gaze, he extended his hand.  “And I’m Leland’s brother Jack.”

 

 

So what do you think? Did one of these two stories pique your interest more than the other? If so, let me know why.  I’m going to select two names from those responding and give each their choice of one of these two books.

 

 

A Merry Cowboy Christmas!

Yes, I know we just had Halloween…

I know it’s only November first, but I am in that Christmas spirit because that’s kind of how publishing rolls, my friends and as the publishers roll… Well, so do the authors! And this author has some fun stuff to celebrate this fall…

First, my just released (non-cowboy!) book “At Home in Wishing Bridge“, the second book of my “Wishing Bridge” series, has been on the Amazon bestseller list for weeks and spent a lot of time at #1 so there is a reason to celebrate right there… and readers are loving it. And that makes authors the happiest of all.

And Love Inspired has re-issued this beautiful story from my “Kirkwood Lake” series. “The Lawman’s Holiday Wish is a story of old wrongs, quick judgments and slow healing… but when God gives us a whole new beginning… a beginning with three precocious five-year-olds… well, that’s the kind of Christmas dream we all love to see! Love Inspired doubled the fun by pairing me with Gail Martin and her book “The Christmas Kite”. You can find this on AMAZON, and in Walmart now!

But being a Western blog, let’s see if I can pull something out of my Christmas Stetson!

Yes!

🙂

First, we’ve got an amazingly fun duo with my good Western buddy Linda Goodnight. I was blessed to be part of a novella duo with her… Western-and-cowboy-themed…. and so I was able to add a “Shepherd’s Crossing” novella to my series set in Western Idaho. The “Shepherd’s Crossing” series brings three Southern beauties… real Steel Magnolias… to a sheep ranch left to them by a benevolent uncle. And there just may be some rugged cowboys who know a good thing when they see it and have the brains enough to keep these girls well above the Mason-Dixon line… despite the cold and wind and snow. Shepherd’s Crossing… where love conquers all. Eventually. 🙂

This beautiful story pairs a single mother with a cowboy who’s spent a bunch of years alone… but Christmas isn’t just a season of miracles. It’s a season of family… friends… and second chances. And Ty Carrington gets his second chance in “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” my half “A Cowboy Christmas”! And today I’ve got two copies of “A Cowboy Christmas” to send out this week (it’s catch up week on the farm now that pumpkin season is over!)… so you can win it before you can buy it! This book hits stores in two weeks… and on sale for Kindle December 1st!!!  PREORDER HERE! (I can’t make it much plainer than that, can I, darlings???)

On sale nationwide in two weeks!

And then, for the historical lovers among us (of which I am one!) here is my historical novella Christmas collection “Christmas on the Frontier”.

This three-novella book takes you back to a simpler time… but faith, hope and love still ruled the day as we built this great nation.

Three great pioneer Christmas stories bring us back to a simpler time… maybe a holier time… a time before Christmas became synonymous with commercialism. A time when a baby in the manger was enough to make us bow our heads… take a knee… pray as one. A time to be grateful for the little things. A time when little was taken for granted because our very hold on life and liberty was tenuous back then and no one had the luxury to be jaded.

 

“Her Christmas Cowboy”, “A Town Called Christmas” and “His Beloved Bride” make up a wonderful collection from my heart… to yours.

I’m also giving away two Kindle copies of “Christmas on the Frontier” today…. to start your November off right.

Leave a comment about holidays below… what you love? What you don’t love! What makes you laugh or cry? Are you a Hallmark binge watcher? Or a binge reader? Are you Pinterest crazy? Or do you wing it with cookies from Wegmans or Harris Teeter and a Stouffer’s lasagna in the oven?

Because there’s value and joy in both ways!

Four winners today to kick off our Christmas season, then rejoin me in a month when we celebrate Christmas novellas here with the fillies… and I’ll be giving away copies again. Keepin’ it simple. Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it prayerful in times of trouble…

“For unto you is born this day a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you. You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Luke 2, 11-12

Oh, those shepherds! Those angels!

Can you even imagine what that must have been like?

And today I get to kick of this holy and happy season with you! Bring on the eggnog, my friends! And the cookies. (Who doesn’t love cookies?) And let us rejoice together!

 

 

 

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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The Outlaws Are Coming and Cover Reveal!

A town of nothing but outlaws…Women needing protection, love, and hope

…People living in the shadows in desperate need of saving.

I’m launching a brand new series January 29, 2019 called Outlaw Mail Order Brides and here is the gorgeous cover for the first book!!

By the way, it’s available for preorder. Not that I’m begging or anything.

The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride is about Clay Colby and Tally Shannon. These are both characters from my Men of Legend series. Clay was Houston Legend’s right-hand man in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy and I’m thrilled to give him his own story. In fact, I’m beyond excited for my Legend series to bleed over into this one. Readers weren’t done with my Legend men and neither was I, so they’ll appear some in these. Luke probably will more than any because he and his wife Josie have formed a private mail order bride service to match men and women living outside the law for whatever reason.

I received a lot of mail asking if I’ll free the women in hiding. Yes, in this book.

You first met Tally Shannon and her band of women living in Deliverance Canyon in To Love a Texas Ranger (the first Men of Legend.) They’re in hiding after escaping the Creedmore Lunatic Asylum—only none are crazy. They were put in there by family members wanting to get rid of them. In fact, there’s quite a lucrative racket going in that horrible place.

Tally knows they can’t live in hiding forever and it’s time to walk in the sunshine. She volunteers to go first and try marriage. The outlaws can protect her but she’s struggling with trust issues. She doesn’t trust anyone—not even Clay. And this causes big problems between them. Still, she sees Clay’s huge heart and begins to lose her fear.

Tally begins to feel safe in Devil’s Crossing and loves working by Clay’s side in making it a town. He needs this as much as she. But there are lots of potholes in the road.

Can they smooth them out and stay alive long enough to make this marriage work? It’s anyone’s guess.

This cover perfectly depicts their rustic life. The big fire is in the center of the town where all the people gather and a lot of nights one of the men gets out his fiddle and they dance. I modeled Clay after the real life gunfighter and outlaw, Clay Allison, who loved to dance more than–well, shoot bad guys. So….do outlaws really dance? You bet’cha.

The book is available for preorder: AMAZON  B&N  |  iBOOKS

Book #2 – Saving the Mail Order Bride – follows a few months later on April 30, 2019.

 

 

Question: how do you like the cover? Is there anything that draws you? I just love the splash of red. If you don’t want to talk about the cover…how do you like fall so far?

* * * * * *

Wanted Posters–and WANTED! by Pam Crooks

 

When we think of a Wanted poster, we think of the Old West when those handbills were tacked on the sides of buildings or poles, declaring the name of the alleged criminal and their crime, often with a grainy illustration, a reward and inscribed “Dead or Alive.” 

In truth, the Wanted posters had much humbler beginnings. From about 1840, they originated as a letter or a postcard with the specific information listed (physical description, crime, locale, etc.) and were distributed among frontier lawmen, who kept the paper folded in their pockets.  Occasionally, the information was printed in newspapers, but rarely were the letters circulated widely or even to the public. Travel was difficult, slow and assumed hindering to most criminals; thus, the posters were kept within a small area of local towns and counties.

The Pinkerton Agency was instrumental in improving the Wanted poster as a means of spreading the word in hopes of capturing a known lawbreaker. The admonishment of “Dead or Alive” was merely a disclaimer that if it came right down to it, shooting the guy if necessary kept the bounty hunter or vigilante virtually blameless.

And those rewards? The amount was dependent on the outlaw’s ruthlessness and how much someone was willing to pony up for it. The money was usually split between the arresting lawman and the one who had compiled the information and distributed it.

As time went on, about the turn of the century, photography improved and photos were added.  With more years rolling by, Wanted posters were even used as a form of propaganda throughout the world toward capturing Adolf Hitler, and later, Osama Bin Laden, who warranted a hefty $25 million reward in 2001. In the 1950s, the FBI created their Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list, including a broader range of criminals dictated by the unfortunate sophistication in their methods, namely terrorists and fugitives as well as missing or kidnap victims.

So you could say the Wanted poster was one of history’s first form of social media, right?

In my brand new re-release, WANTED!, Lark is a former outlaw turned responsible citizen and bank teller, who through circumstances beyond her control, finds herself under the care and protection of the man who once tried to arrest her. 

Here’s a peek at how a Wanted poster complicates Lark’s life­… or does it?

He strode into his bedroom and closed the door. He kept assorted pharmaceuticals on a shelf above his washbasin. But it was the bureau he headed for, and the bottom drawer he kept under lock and key.

Once he opened it, he found the flat, rectangular box he was looking for. He removed the lid, tossed it aside, his urgency growing as he rifled through the papers he kept within. Reports he’d penned. Payments he’d received. Documents from his past life as a bounty hunter.

Wanted posters.

He yanked out one in particular.

And there she was.

Lark Renault. Alias Wild Red. Once part of the notorious Reno gang. The artist’s drawing was at least seven years old, crude at best, but it was her. Thick, wavy hair, spilling from beneath a wide-brimmed hat. Eyes, dark and direct. She looked young in the drawing. Thinner, too.

But it was her.

She’d been there that day at the Turf Club. Ross was hell-bent on arresting her, but things turned ugly. Out of control. He never intended to shoot her down.

Catfish Jack took care of matters with his shotgun primed and ready. Ross never saw him coming.

He shut off the memories, dragged himself back to the present. Now, at last, he could finish the case he never solved, and the one person who could help him do it was sitting on his couch at this very moment.

The Wanted poster slipped from his fingers. He rose, strode to the door and yanked it wide open.

But Lark Renault had disappeared.

 

At this point, poor Lark and Ross are both caught up in quite a dilemma. I hope you’ll want to read more. #kindleunlimited

 

Here’s the link on  Amazon

I’d love to give away an ebook copy of WANTED!  (If you prefer a paperback copy, I’ll be happy to send that instead.)

1. To be eligible to win, just follow the above link to Amazon, click on the cover to read the excerpt and answer the following question:

 

Where is Mr. Templeton taking his family for the weekend, thus leaving Lark in charge of the bank?

 

2. When you find the answer, email me at pamcrooks1@gmail.com 

3.  Leave a comment that you found the answer, too.

Check back tonight and I’ll announce the winner!

 

 

The Healing Touch

For some reason, I’ve always loved stories in which a hero or heroine helps the other one heal — either physically or mentally. I think it’s because there is a vulnerability, a tenderness when one person takes the time to help another heal, even though it might not be a quick or easy process. A lot of emotion and eventually love can be born out of those moments. I don’t know how many westerns I’ve read where the heroine has to help the loner/farmhand/gunslinger/you name it heal from some illness or wound. They’re alone in a cabin, quite possibly during a blizzard, and the forced intimacy of the space just lights a fire — whether a slow burn or a raging inferno — under their attraction.

So it was to this story trope that I gravitated for my new release, A Cowboy’s Kiss. There’s no trapped in a snowy cabin story thread, but my hero is a doctor in addition to having a ranching/cowboy background. Here’s the blurb:

When librarian Anna Kenner wakes up in the hospital, she’s stunned to learn that she’s been in a coma for a week, and her life has been turned upside down. Anna has always been quiet and self-reliant, but now she must ask for help. To make matters worse, the man she’s coming to rely on is a casual friend from high school, whom she always wished could be more. As Roman helps her recover, Anna wonders if this time she will be braver and have a different outcome—Roman in her arms. 

Dr. Roman McQueen leads a busy life between his work at the hospital and his time spent at his family’s Montana ranch. And yet, he finds himself sitting night after night at Anna’s bedside reading her a mystery and hoping that somehow she knows that, even though she has no family, she is not alone. When Anna wakes and begins the long process of recovery, Roman finds himself by her side. He tells himself he’s being a friend even as he tries not to notice how her kindness, quiet wit and subtle beauty make him dream that someday they can have more.

Because this is the second in my Once Upon a Western series, it also has that tie to a classic fairy tale — this time Sleeping Beauty. Anna and Roman’s story falls more onto the slow burn end of the spectrum, first because, well, she’s in a coma. But even when she wakes up and even though she isn’t officially his patient, he has to be careful not to give the impression of any impropriety between a doctor and a hospital patient. But they do know each other, so at first their friendship builds even though each is attracted to the other. There are also things in her past that make her hesitant to act on her attraction to Roman, even after she’s back home. Still, no matter how much she might fight it, the pull between them is just too strong. They are just too right for each other. I’m smiling now just thinking about how I gradually brought these two together.

To find out more about this series or for buy links, check out my website

Now I’d like to hear from you — do you like the healer story trope in romance? What are some of your favorite stories that have used this?

Updated: September 30, 2018 — 2:53 pm

Autumn brings gold…a precious color that cannot stay

Cattle drive by two cowboys in Colorado.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

——————-Robert Frost

 

To Celebrate these golden days of Autumn, leave a comment about your favorite things about fall. The golden and orange leaves. Bright pumpkins. Children in costumes and buckets of candy. The cool evenings. The end of mowing and bugs. The oncoming holiday season.

One lucky commentor will win a copy of 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. Click to buy

 

 

 

 

Updated: September 28, 2018 — 10:10 am

Behind the Book ~ A look at Cattle

All of a sudden, I realized that Harlequin is releasing my Christmas novella TODAY!
I am not ready for Christmas. NOT. ONE. BIT. Autumn hasn’t even officially arrived here!

So…at the end of this post I will share a blurb about A Western Christmas Homecoming,
which is the last book in the Oak Grove Series that I have been writing with Lauri Robinson. 

Texas Longhorns

Recently, I had to research different types of cattle here in America for my story, Wedding at Rocking S Ranch that takes place on a ranch. Oak Grove was a railroad town that blossomed as a result of its location and the cattle drives from Texas. Sure, Longhorns came from Texas, but was that the kind of cattle that would be found on a ranch in Kansas? My grandfather and uncle raised Black Angus cattle here in the Midwest their entire lives and I have yet to see a Texas Longhorn this far north. So when, and where, did the switch occur? I also had to check the history of barbed wire.

1870 marked the start of the big cattle drives into Kansas. 300,00 arrived that year. The next year that amount doubled. Three-fifths of the cattle were “stock cattle” which means they were yearlings, heifers, cows and steers younger than four years old. Abilene, Kansas, Wichita and Dodge City became the towns (and later cities) that truly boomed with the transporting of cattle to market.

Many of the Longhorns didn’t immediately board the train and head to points farther east, but wintered in Kansas, existing on the buffalo-grass prairie. Although barbed wire had been invented and was in use, the sectioning off of large parcels of land hadn’t happened yet in Kansas in 1879 at the time my story takes place. Cattle still roamed free and had to be watched over by cowboys. At the Rocking S Ranch, the ranch-house and the crops had fences around them to keep the cattle out of the corn and alfalfa and off the porch. This was known as “fenced out.” Further east, a farmer would use wood and barbed wire to enclose a pasture, which was known as “fenced in.”

In my story, I have the owner of the ranch looking into crossbreeding his longhorns with another breed of cattle to make a healthier, more profitable herd. He has brought in Black Angus to give this a try. Black Angus first came to Kansas in 1873 when George Grant transported them from Scotland. Where the longhorns were hardy, they were a tougher meat and had a wild-streak and could be difficult to manage. Angus had a gentle nature but were more susceptible to extremes in weather. Their meat is more tender and has a better flavor that the longhorns. Angus weigh between 850 and 1000 pounds when mature.

When Grant took his four Angus bulls to the fair at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition that year, the local people didn’t know what to think of them. These cattle had no horns! (Called polled, which means naturally hornless.) But Grant had the last laugh when he successfully crossed his bulls with native Texas longhorns. The calves were hardier, hornless, and weighed more. They were also a bit more docile. Between 1878 and 1883, twelve hundred Angus cattle were imported to the Midwest. Cross-breeding has steadily improved the hardiness of the Angus here in America.

And there are Red Angus! Red Angus occur as the result of a recessive gene. They are the same as their black relatives except they are actually more tolerant of the hot weather. At one time, The Angus Association barred the registration of Red Angus in an attempt to promote a solid black breed. Likely that is one of the reasons they are fewer in number. Eventually, The Red Angus Association of America formed when breeders searched out and collected the Red Angus from the black herds.

Although I used a lot of this information in Wedding at Rocking S Ranch, it was sprinkled in with a light touch. After all, in historical romance it is the relationship between the two protagonists that carry the story!

* * * * * * * * * * *

And now for my New Release!      

Three festive stories ~ Christmas in the Wild West!

A Western Christmas Homecoming

CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW by Kathryn Albright
SNOWBOUND IN BIG SPRINGS by Lauri Robinson
CHRISTMAS DAY WEDDING BELLS by Lynna Banning

In Christmas Day Wedding Bells by Lynna Banning, buttoned-up librarian Alice is swept away by US marshal Rand Logan on a new adventure.
Then, Welles is Snowbound in Big Springs in this novella by Lauri Robinson, where he must confront Sophie and their undeclared feelings…
Finally, rugged outlaw Russ rescues Abigail from spending the festive season alone in Christmas with the Outlaw by Kathryn Albright!

Available at HarlequinAmazonBarnes and Noble

Visit my website for excerpts and more information on all my books!

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