Category: Personal Glimpses

More Real Life Inspiration

I intended today’s blog to be on The Pack Horse Library program, but that will have to wait for next month. As I sat trying to write that piece, life has intruded changing my focus.

My current fosters Noelle, Dash and Charlotte

For those of you who don’t know, rescuing animals has become a large part of my life since my boys left the nest. I foster dogs with Cody’s Friends Rescue, and I handle administration for a primarily cat rescue, A Voice for All Paws. Being involved with these organizations has brought me both incredible joy and reeling sorrow.

As with many authors, my non-writing loves often find their way into stories. Such is the case with the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy which I recently turned in. A character playing a major role bringing Cheyenne and Cooper together is a rescued German Shepherd. She is based on and named in memory of Dennis Pisarski’s amazing service dog, Penny Lane, both of whom inspired the seed idea that became this book.

Cooper Abbott is contacted by the local shelter to foster Penny. After her owner dies, Penny is dumped in the shelter. One of my favorite scenes in To Tame A Texas Cowboy is when Cooper receives a call from the shelter. For me, this scene speaks volumes about my hero.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When Penny arrived, we had to carry her outside, and then she cowered and whimpered until we took her back in. Now she’s quit eating. You know what that means.”

With her owner, the anchor in her life gone, unless something changed, Penny’s case would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of fear or depression, she’d hide in the back of her kennel. People would walk past her to more outgoing dogs. Those would be the lucky ones brought to meeting rooms to turn on the charm and find forever homes. But not Penny. Being withdrawn, she’d remain in her kennel, sinking further into herself, as her time slipped away or her health declined.

 “I need her out now, and since you’re currently without fosters, I started with you. Plus, you and Rowdy would do wonders for Penny,” Kelli said.

“If I weren’t moving, I’d gladly take her.”

“Moving? Where? When? How did I miss that news?”

After Cooper explained about his opportunity to take over the practice in Wishing, Kelli said, “She won’t make it here.” Kelli paused. “I’m making an exception. Because you’re a vet, we won’t worry about medical needs. Plus, Wishing’s only a couple hours away. You and Rowdy can work your magic on Penny, and when she’s ready for adoption you can bring her back. Or, maybe you’ll find an adopter in Wishing.”

“Then sure, I’ll foster her. I’m at the clinic, but I can be there in a few.”

Fifteen minutes later, Cooper knelt inside the kennel and stared at Penny Lane curled into a tight ball in the far corner. His hands tensed around the leash he held, but other than that he remained still, giving her time to adjust to his presence. Most dogs would be all over him by now. Jumping, barking, begging for attention, but not this girl. She’d already given up.

“Hello, Penny. I hear you’re having a rough time.”

The dog’s eyes opened, but she remained motionless. The trauma and loss she’d endured shone in her wide brown eyes.

He inched closer, watching for signs of aggression, but she’d pulled so far inward, she barely acknowledged him. She just plain didn’t care. He continued working closer. “Don’t give up, sweetheart. I know you’re missing your human, but there’s someone else out there for you. Someone who’ll love you, and wants, maybe needs you, too.”

Penny lifted her head the tiniest bit to stare at him. The look in her warm brown eyes was different than it had been a minute earlier, more haunted now, but with something else.

She thinks you’re a hypocrite. You talk the talk but aren’t big on walking that walk yourself.

Cooper shut out the mocking voice. “I’ve lost someone, too. I know it hurts like hell, but you can’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.”

Olivia’s face flashed in his mind. Oval and delicate, framed with long blond hair and big blue eyes. Giving, and sweet as ripe Texas peaches in July, she’d had so much to offer him and the world.

They’d had their lives planned. After a small intimate wedding and a quick honeymoon, they’d return to College Station. She’d get the SeizureReader into production and run the budding company. Then they’d focus on saving the money for his practice where he could offer rescues and those who couldn’t afford it, reasonably priced vet care. They’d both be doing what they loved. They’d have each other, and eventually a family of their own.

But life hadn’t gone as planned. Two years, and yet at times, it felt as if they’d been together yesterday.

“You’ll get through this, Penny.” Cooper hooked the leash to Penny’s collar, slid his arms under her middle, and scooped her up. “Let’s get go home.”

Now it’s your turn. To be entered in the random drawing to win the picture frame and To Catch A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment about an animal who’s changed your life for the better.

 

Please remember, Adopt! Don’t Shop! For more information on Cody’s Friends Rescue or A Voice for All Paws or to see their adoptable pets, click on the organization name. If you’re not in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can click Petfinder and enter your zip code to find adoptable animals in your area.

 

 

 

 

Updated: April 2, 2019 — 7:24 pm

From Hero to Character

One of the questions, as authors, we get asked a lot is how do we find our characters? Do they come from real people? Are we people watchers? Do we just make them up? Are there research books with characters to help develop yours? Do they come from the headlines?

The answer is simple … all of the above. I use a combination, as most writers do. I probably shouldn’t tell you, but sometimes I’ll use the name for a character of someone I really don’t care about who have similar traits. However, most of the time, it comes from someone I like.

In the first book of the Kasota Springs Contemporary Romance series, “The Troubled Texan”, I knew I wanted a strong lawman, with a heroic past. A friend of mine came to mind. In our bowling and coaching days, I knew his mother, father and sister. Although I’d only met him a few times, he was definitely one of those people you’d always want for a friend.

Billy Hobbs was from my hometown and graduated from the same high school as my husband and both of our daughters. He was a two-time All-American linebacker for the Texas A&M Aggies, and an NFL linebacker for six seasons. Cotton Bowl MVP, Panhandle Sports Hall of Famer and National Defense Player of the Year, only begins to name some of his honors. He was selected in the second-round draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and went on to become captain for New England and New Orleans Saints.

After his football career, of 25 years, he surrendered to full-time Christian ministry to preach, work with youth, do mission work in Africa, working with orphans and the many needed fellowships in prisons, even creating a vitamin supplement for the disadvantaged. He started the Mercy Foundation; and, where I knew him best, he ran the Faith City Mission here in Amarillo. His foundation and Faith City Mission are family shelters for those in need of a space to go whether it’s single moms and their children or families who need help getting back on their feet. After many years of doing such wonderful, selfless work, he was killed in a motorcycle-car accident in 2004 at the tender age of 57.

At his funeral one of his closest friends, said Billy applied what he had learned in football to his work in the ministry. “Hobbs took the same competitive spirit to help people.”

What a perfect model for my character, the Sheriff of Kasota Springs and his friend, who is also a deputy sheriff working with the Joint Task Force. They were raised in the same town and went to college together, but in my story it was at the University of Texas, not Texas A&M. Deuce went on to play for the Steelers, while Brody went into law enforcement, later encouraging Deuce to do the same.

Now you can see why I selected Billy, a real person who I admire greatly, as my role model for Deuce Cowan. Although, Deuce had to quit his football career due to an injury and became a defensive line coach, his true love, like Billy’s, was people. To help Deuce, law enforcement became his true love; particularly, since his father was a lawman.

Of interest, I took a headliner news story and used it as the reason Deuce’s love interest in the first book came to Kasota Springs to hide out in a small town; not knowing that her once BFF Deuce Cowan was sheriff.

Names sometimes come easy, other times very hard. For instance, one of my characters in both books came from a family in our anthology “Give Me a Cowboy”. Mesa LeDoux, who like most of my characters are founding family members from our anthologies, is a Johnson, my mother’s family name. Lola Ruth is her BFF. Ruth is my mama’s name and Lola is my mother-in-law. Clara at Pumpkin’s Café is named from my deceased sister, Clara, who was nicknamed Pumpkin. In “Out of a Texas Night”, I even use the first name of one of our P&P faithful readers. Now you’ll have to read the book to see if you can recognize who it is.

So now you have a little insight on how we come about in developing our characters, not just their name but their personalities and traits.

I’m working on the next book in the series, tentatively titled “Deep in a Texan’s Heart” and it’s Sylvie Dewey’s story. You might remember her Aunt from one of our anthologies, so she also comes from one of the founding families; and has a fantastic backstory. In this book, there’s a cooking club made up of retired teachers, and they are real educators I know who taught either my daughters, grandkids or are close friends, so get ready for some great first names only and fantastic holiday recipes in the back of the book. And, a teaser—the story is ripped from the headlines!

Have you ever had a career or hobby that changed you for the better?

To one reader who leaves a comment, I’ll send you an eBook of either “The Troubled Texan” or “Out of a Texas Night” from Amazon.

Updated: April 1, 2019 — 3:15 pm

Three-Week Winter

I honestly thought we were not going to get winter this year. It happens. When February 2nd rolled around and the ranch still looked like this–

I had a bad feeling that it was not going to be a good water year. And then we had our first winter storm–three days before we were supposed to drive to Nevada for the Ranch Hand Rodeo, where I have a vendor booth. The highway was closed for two days, but when it opened we assumed the worst was over and headed south. While we were gone, the cold snap hit, and it was much colder than anticipated, or we would not have left. My mom texted on our first day at the rodeo to tell me that when they fed the cattle that morning, it was -38 degrees F. Cue really bad feelings.

When we got back to Montana, the first big question was, could we get to the ranch. My folks  spent hours on the tractor to open up a road across a field to give us access. The official driveway was too drifted to tackle.

We made it home and took over feeding. It was still well below zero and we had to suit up.

There was a lot of snow. We’re supposed to give vaccinations soon, but with the condition of the chute, that isn’t going to happen for a while.

We spread straw so that the cows had a comfy place to cozy up together and weather out the temperatures.

My husband and stepdad worked for days to open up the driveway, working against time because once the melt started, the field would turn into a bog and we would have no way out of the place. Finally they broke through and we had an escape route. 

Today’s temperature, 25 days after our first storm? Almost 50 degrees F. The cows, and the feed crew, are very happy.

It Started With a Song

Howdy!

Did you know that I have often referred to the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, as my “musical?”  No, not like a musical you might see on television or the movies — if you open up the book, it doesn’t play a song, and yet, in many ways, I’ve often thought of it as my musical.  Interestingly, it is also based on a myth.

Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/SOARING-EAGLES-EMBRACE-Legendary-Warriors-ebook/dp/B074LWHB7W/ref=sr_1_3?crid=32UQUEUDYDX91&keywords=soaring+eagle%27s+embrace+by+karen+kay&qid=1552252142&s=digital-text&sprefix=SOARING+EAGLE%27S+EMBRA%2Caps%2C171&sr=1-3-catcorr&tag=pettpist-20

A rather long link, huh?

SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, from the Legendary Warriors Series, is inspired by a myth of a hunter and a daughter of the Star People.  The book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE actually starts with the hero and heroine and the legend as it is told in Native American lore.  Interestingly, I found this myth not in just one tribe — but several — and the thing is, it was told almost (but not quite) identically, tribe to tribe.  The legend I’m about to tell you is from the Shawnee.

I believe that the name of the hero (it’s from a children’s book that I’m quoting) is Red Hawk, and the name of the book is RED HAWK AND THE SKY SISTERS by Gloria Dominic and Charles Reasoner.  Again, this legend is repeated in several different tribes — although the hero’s name is often different.

Red Hawk is a great hunter.  But he is puzzled because he sees the same print of a circle in the grasses of the prairie each time he goes to hunt.  It is a perfect circle, but there are no paths leading up to it — or going away from it.  There is evidence that something was there and made the circle — but how?  Red Hawk decides to spend the night, hiding himself from view.

51GoIbPuXOL._SL110_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-sm,TopRight,10,-13_OU01_[1]And so he does.  He discovers by hiding himself, that a basket gently falls to the earth and that there is singing from feminine voices.  As the basket comes to land softly on the earth, three sisters alight from the basket and dance around it in a circle.  Red Hawk watches this for many nights until one night he realizes that he  has fallen in love with one of the sisters — the youngest I believe.  And so, once again hiding himself, he waits until the sisters are about to get into the basket and go back into the sky — but suddenly he jumps out from his hiding place and captures the woman of his heart.

They marry and are happy, but she misses her home in the sky (she is a star).  They have a  child and she wishes to take the child and return to visit her home in the sky.  Our hero lets her go, but keeps the child with him, hoping that the child will be enough to cause her to return.  When she doesn’t return, our hero again captures her, and she falls in love with him all over again and they live happily ever after.

th[1]I did find that the ending varies a bit from tribe to tribe, and I’m uncertain of how this book ends the story — I have this book, but of course, needing to find it for this post, the book eludes me.

 

Now, what does this have to do with music and with a song?  Well, maybe a lot.  This book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, starts out with a song and the legend, and it ends with a song, incorporating, also, the legend.

In my youth, I used to watch Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movies on television.  I was enchanted with them, and with their music, which is operetta.  Not full opera, but a light taste of it. My characters, I must admit, are drawn from both Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy’s personalities.  Sometime in the future I might do a blog on these two people.  They were in love, but never married, and it appears as if they were prevented from marrying.  Perhaps that’s only a theory, but there appears to be some truth to it.

But that aside, I thought I’d leave you all a link to some great Native American music.  The group is Brule’.  This is a band of the Sioux tribe.  It is extremely inspiring music, and so I’d leave you this for today.  Please enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtwFkV-C6_A

I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE today to some lucky blogger, so I would encourage you to leave a comment — please see the Giveaway Guidelines over to the right here for our rules that govern giveaways, and be sure to come back in a few days to see if you are a winner.

What do you think?  Is it possible to create a musical with text?

Updated: March 11, 2019 — 7:34 am

Yee-Haw!

 

The fillies are busy gals, not only with their writing but with their families, too. And that means having lots of news to share.

 

All kinds of news!

 

Once a month, we’ll be posting news that make us holler YEE-HAW!

 

We know you will, too!

 

Our first Yee-Haw day is tomorrow. 

 

Stop by and see what we’re excited about!

 

Updated: February 5, 2019 — 5:37 pm

How to Date a Cowboy By Brenna Gallagher

Born and raised in Scotland, I heard tales of the wild Highlanders who fought battles in little more than their plaids (if that). They slept beneath the stars and brandished swords and clubs, but I’d never heard of a cowboy until I ventured to Montana Territory in search of answers about my family. These men: cowboys, ranchers, horsemen, certainly are interesting specimens and I’ll admit I’ve become rather fascinated by them.

The first one I ever met stood tall and proud and behaved as a true gentleman. Of course, he was wearing strange and dusty clothes and an odd hat, but those deep, blue eyes of his bore through to my soul. His strong hands were warm to the touch, and his gruff demeanor couldn’t mask the heat in those eyes on that cold autumn day. Lucky for me, I married him. I’ve learned a few things since my first encounter and I’m here to share my meager expertise, so listen carefully.

  • A lady must know that a true cowboy is both charming and dangerous. He’s a little like the wild land on which he lives. It doesn’t take much more than a swish of skirts and a pretty face to get his attention, but he won’t be easy. If a lady wants to hold onto a cowboy, she must be strong and even a little stubborn. She has to show him that she has what it takes to survive in his world, but don’t worry ladies, he’ll make it worth your while.
  • A hard-working cowboy is independent, stubborn, and even a little fierce. He’ll charm you just as easily as he charms a bull so you’ll want to keep him on his toes. Show him you’re not a lady to be trifled with. He won’t be able to control you, but he’ll certainly want to keep you.
  • He’ll rarely tell you what’s on his mind and doesn’t like sharing his emotional feelings. If you want to understand your man, let him come to you. Don’t push or prod because he’ll make for the range. If you want to rope him in, you’d better learn how to handle the lasso.
  • Most importantly, a true cowboy is loyal to in life, and to the death. Be warned ladies—he expects that same in return. Treat your cowboy well and he’ll move heaven and earth for you.

WILD MONTANA WINDS

By MK McClintock

 

What happens when a mountain man tries to tame the heart of a Highland lass?

Ainslee McConnell turned down every eligible bachelor who asked for her hand, for she knew none could quiet her adventurous spirit. When she travels from Scotland to visit family and seek new experiences, she discovers a life more rewarding than she could have imagined.

Raised in the wilds of the Montana mountains, Colton Dawson lived as rancher, mountain man, and tracker. He was content . . . until one day a spirited Scottish lass crosses his path on her way to Hawk’s Peak. When a moment in Colton’s past revisits him, he fights to keep safe those he loves most.

COMING FEBRUARY 28, 2019!

Available for Preorder on Amazon

Return to Briarwood and Hawk’s Peak to experience a timeless western romantic adventure that will sweep you away on the wild Montana winds.

Don’t miss the other books in the Gallagher series . . . 

Gallagher’s Pride

Gallagher’s Hope

Gallagher’s Choice

An Angel Called Gallagher

Journey to Hawk’s Peak

 

It’s In the DNA

I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but I’ve had some strange things happen during the writing of a book.  I once turned a manuscript into my editor at the same time another writer turned in hers.  Oddly, enough, our protagonists shared the same first names and professions.  There were also many other similarities throughout our manuscripts, and all had to be changed.

Another time I was hiking a trail in Mammoth when I met a geologist who was the spitting image of the geologist hero in the book I was working on.  Even weirder, his first name was Damian and I’d named my hero Damon. Close enough, right?

But the strangest thing that happened occurred recently. I’d been toying with the idea of taking a DNA Ancestry test for quite some time, so my daughter decided to gift me with one for Christmas.  The results were pretty much what I expected, with one surprise.   It turns out that the outlaw Jesse James and I share a common ancestor.  

The timing was especially weird since Jesse James plays a part in the book I’m currently working on. Come to think of it, it’s not the first time Jesse James has popped up in one of my books, and I can’t count how many blogs I’ve written about the outlaw.

That’s because Jesse is a fun person to write about.  Not only was he controversial, he had both a light and dark side. The son of a Baptist minister, he was known to pass out press releases to witnesses at his holdups and had no qualms about exaggerating his height.  He might also be the only person on record who took a gang on his honeymoon. I don’t know what his bride did while he and his gang robbed a stage.  Maybe she went shopping.

Jesse James lived for only thirty-four years, but there was never a dull moment.  He was a Confederate guerrilla, was shot in the chest on two separate occasions and once overdosed on morphine. He also claimed to have murdered seventeen people.

Jesse went by many aliases, but his nickname was Dingus because he shot off the tip of his finger while cleaning his pistol.  He wrote glowing articles about his gang, saying that they robbed the rich and gave to the poor, though all indications are that they kept the spoils to themselves.

Far as I know, he was also the first person to prove that housework can kill.  While tidying up his house, he was fatally shot by his new hire Bob Ford in the back of the head. 

I can’t tell you what it was about Jesse James that first caught my interest.  I can’t even tell you why this writer, who’s allergic to horses, writes Westerns.  All I can say, is that it must be in my DNA.

Have any of you had your DNA tested?  If so, were there any surprises that you’re willing to share

 

“This book charms.”  Publishers Weekly

Amazon

B & N

iTunes

Updated: February 20, 2019 — 10:37 am

The Very Personal Story of Gray Hawk’s Lady

Howdy!

Since we are coming up very soon on Valentine’s Day, I thought we might talk about love, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love.  The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California like my home.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…

So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and I told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….

But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.

So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.

The date was good — okay.  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.”  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”

I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  So I accepted.

Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite some kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware of that.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world was spinning — but in a good way.  Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”

Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.

Did I mention that my earring (the night of that first kiss) fell off — and I have pierced ears…!

In May of this year, we will have been married 23 years.  Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 23 years more or less have gone by now.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.

I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss.    Ah, sweet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.

Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift?  You bet I will.  I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.  Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top. 

And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

https://www.amazon.com/Gray-Hawks-Lady-Blackfoot-Warriors-ebook/dp/B0723B3VCM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1549300185&sr=8-3&keywords=gray+hawk%27s+lady+by+karen+kay%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: February 5, 2019 — 9:02 am

The Wells, Fargo & Co. Shotgun Messenger and Give Away by Tracy Garrett

Today we are thrilled to welcome former Fillie Tracy Garrett back home for a visit! Please join us in welcoming her!

I’m so happy to be back at Petticoats & Pistols. Hey there, Fillies! I get to see old friends and make some new ones. I’m also glad to be here because I get to share my new release with you.

GRACE is one of a seventeen-book series set in Wildcat Ridge, a small mining town in the Uinta Mountains, Utah Territory, in 1884. The mine was devastated by two explosions, killing men, women and children, and leaving mostly widows in town. Each book introduces a widow who struggles to find a way to survive—and finds new love in the process.

When I started the book, I chose to have the hero work for the Wells Fargo & Company, and the stagecoach line serving Wildcat Ridge. As I learned more—and researched more—I discovered a television series called “Tales of Wells Fargo.” I watched a few episodes and, when Michael Landon appeared on screen as a young man wanting to be a shotgun messenger on the Wells Fargo, I knew I’d found my hero.

The shotgun messenger was literally that: he rode shotgun beside the driver, with the treasure box between his feet, holding a sawed-off shotgun loaded with buckshot. A shotgun messenger had to stay alert, identify danger in an instant and not be afraid to act on his decision to shoot. Though Wells Fargo policy said to let a robber have the money rather than risk lives, the shotgun in the hands of a good shooter was an effective deterrent.

“But the real security of the treasure boxes came from who was guarding them — the Wells Fargo shotgun messengers. They were ‘the kind of men you can depend on if you get into a fix,’ according to Wells Fargo detective Jim Hume. If thieves were foolhardy enough to try and steal a treasure box in transit, they would find themselves staring down the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with 00 buckshot, possibly held by Wyatt Earp himself.” [from http://www.WellsFargoHistory.com]

The shotgun messenger gave me a strong hero, sure of himself and capable. All I had to do was add… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

— Now Available —

GRACE

Book 10 of The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series

When a woman who has always done what she was told decides to take matters into her own hands—she just might discover her future waiting

Grace Hill has spent most of her life caring for others. When her beloved little sister is in trouble, Grace defies those who tell her she can’t, and rushes to her aid. Joining the other widows in Wildcat Ridge struggling to survive, she discovers the woman she is—a woman strong enough for a man like Benjamin Sloane.


Benjamin Sloane rides shotgun on the Wells Fargo stagecoach line through the rugged Utah Territory. He’s big-hearted, tough and about as civilized as a grizzly bear. But there’s something about a fancy lady from the big city makes him want to clean up his ways and give her his heart.

EXCERPT FROM GRACE:

     Grace Hill stared in horror at the article in the several-weeks-old Denver newspaper. “No. This isn’t possible.”

     “What’s that, Grace? Speak up. I’ve asked you not to mumble in my presence.”

     “I apologize, Mother Hill. There was a mine collapse in—”

     “There’s always a disaster, Grace. A mine today, an earthquake tomorrow. God will have his vengeance one day soon, mark my words. Close that drape. I swear the sun is hotter this April than ever before.”

     “Yes, ma’am,” Grace rose to do as she was told. “But this collapse was in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, where my sister, Eleanora lives.”

     “Scandalous place for a woman of breeding to live. Why ever did she settle there?”

     “Her husband is a miner, ma’am. He moved his wife there soon after their wedding.”

     “Is he dead?”

     The emotionless question shocked Grace and sent a shaft of sorrow through her. Could Eleanora actually be the widow of Darvin Cavender? “I don’t know. A list of th-the deceased isn’t included.”

     “If it’s God’s will, he lived. If not, she’ll find another husband to provide for her and give her children. It is the task for which woman was created.”

     Grace clamped her teeth around her tongue to keep the retort inside. God created women with minds and dreams, just like men. Woman was created for more than marriage and procreation, not that she’d say that to Mrs. Hill.

     “She has a child. A daughter.”

     She read further in the article, her brain stuttering to a halt as she realized men weren’t the only victims. “It says townspeople were killed in a second explosion while trying to rescue the miners.” Townspeople? Women? Children? “I have to go.”

     “Go where, young lady?”

     “To this place. Wildcat Ridge.” She waved the newspaper. “My sister might be…” She swallowed hard and blinked back tears. Her employer thought tears a useless luxury and Grace didn’t want another lecture. She’d had her fill of her mother-in-law’s opinions. “This article was published in the Salt Lake City paper nearly a month ago. The Denver Rocky Mountain News released the story three weeks ago. I haven’t had a letter from my sister since before the accident. She would have written if she could. I have to go to her.”

     “You will not. I forbid it.”

     Grace rose, clutching the newspaper in her fist. “My sister could be injured, even de—” She forced air into her lungs. She refused to even give voice to the possibility. “My sister and niece might need me. I have to go, Mother Hill.”

     “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably still winter at that elevation. Some of the passes may not even be open. How will you get there? Who will go with you? A decent woman may not travel alone all that way.”

     Grace stared over the woman’s head into an ornate, gilded mirror. She hardly recognized the image staring back. Her dark eyes seemed lifeless. Her long, dark hair tamed into a simple chignon at her nape was dull, as dull as her life had become. She wore an unflattering high-necked black gown and her only jewelry was her wedding ring and a mourning pin, woven of Theo’s blond hair, at her throat. Little remained of the happy girl she’d once been.

     If she didn’t get away from this house soon, she would become as dead inside as her husband was in truth.

GRACE, Book 10, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge

Amazon link: https://tinyurl.com/ycubop7k

 

In honor of the release of GRACE, I’m giving away one copy, ebook or print (U.S. only for the print), to one person who leaves a comment about ~

Do you like to read connected books by multiple authors?

 

Happy Reading,

Tracy

Facebook  TracyGarrett.author

Bookbub  @TracyGarrett

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The Rugged Rock and Guest Author Mary Sullivan!

 

Please give a big Petticoats and Pistols welcome to our
Friday guest author ~ Mary Sullivan!
Miss Mary hails from Toronto, Canada and today is giving away a
copy of her newest release, MONTANA RODEO STAR 
to one lucky person who responds to her questions at the end of this post.

 

 

 

Petticoats and Pistols, thank you so much for having me here today!

I write about cowboys, ranchers, sheriffs, and small towns. Often, I have wondered why I’m fascinated with ranching and farming life when I have never lived that life. I grew up in a large city.

The source of this interest, I believe, was my parents who grew up in rural Newfoundland on the eastern edge of Canada. I grew up listening to my mother’s stories of her childhood, her experience light years from my own urban childhood. Her family lived a life of self-sufficiency ruled by ‘island’ mentality. She was a small child during the Great Depression. Anything they needed or that had to be done or fixed had to be handled on their own. They were hardy and resourceful.

Newfoundland’s nickname of The Rock is justified. It’s rugged, to say the least.

Despite this, the family grew all of their own vegetables—potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbages, and onions—and stored them winter-long in root cellars. Even the children had their daily chores. They were not idle.

They fished for cod and laid it out to dry on ‘fish flakes’ set up on a hillside in the sun. They also salted the fish.

They owned cows and chickens.

Every spring, they bought a pig that they fattened throughout the summer for butchering, curing and preserving in the fall. My mother, a great animal lover, doted on the pig every summer and would steal buttermilk after the cows were milked to rub over the pig’s back to make it soft!

Then, one day in the autumn, her family would send her off to visit friends or family so she wouldn’t be around when they killed the animal she had nurtured for months. It saddened her immensely. I asked her once how she felt about all of this and whether she could bring herself to enjoy the bacon and ham the pig produced. Her pragmatic response was, “Of course. I had to eat.”

Winters were harsh, with frigid temperatures for months on end and deep snow nearly covering ground floor windows. Winter started early and ended late.

The buckets and buckets of wild blueberries my mother picked and sold every summer bought her a new pair of shoes for the start of another school year in September.

I don’t romanticize how difficult her life was, but even given such a bare-bones existence, my mother had a happy and healthy childhood with loving parents. She had a wicked sense of humor, loved to play pranks and was adored by her one older and six younger siblings.

My brothers and sisters and I love to visit. The island and my extended family there hold captive a huge portion of my heart. Here’s a photo of me with my sisters wearing our tourist t-shirts during a recent visit!

 

I imagine large ranches as being much like islands, with life lived so close to the land and the harsh reality of nature and death a hairs-breadth away. I imagine self-sufficiency and pragmatism. I imagine tough, hard-working people.

 

My latest book, HOME ON THE RANCH: MONTANA RODEO STAR is the final, sixth book of my Rodeo, Montana, series. I have loved writing about the six women who labored to keep their small town afloat by reviving the local fair and rodeo.

Cocky but likable Dusty Lincoln meets his match in stubborn Maxine Porter. 
If ever two opposite should not attract, it is these two, but attract they do!

 

You can find it here: http://bit.ly/MontanaRodeoStar

 

I’m giving away a copy of MONTANA RODEO STAR to one of today’s blog visitors.
Please respond to the questions below for a chance to win.

 

Have you ever visited a ranch or wanted to?

Or did you grow up on one?

Or are you a die-hard city person?

 

 

Multi-published author, Mary Sullivan, finds fulfillment in writing heart-warming, small town romance.
Her first book, No Ordinary Cowboy, was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest.
Her books have since won awards and glowing reviews. For Mary, writing a book is very much like putting
together a jigsaw puzzle without the final image. She indulges her passion for puzzles—particularly getting
her daily cryptic crossword fix and putting together real jigsaw puzzles without the box—in her hometown
of Toronto.  

Mary’s Website:  MarySullivanBooks.com   

Follow Mary on Facebook at Facebook.com/MarySullivanAuthor