Category: Places

The Case of the Bungling Robbers

Some people just aren’t cut out for a life of crime.

An example of this is the case of two cowboys named Grant Wheeler and Joe George. In 1895, they decided to try their hand at robbing the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The real loot was carried by rail, so why waste time robbing stages?

After carefully working out a plan, George and Wheeler purchased a box of dynamite and boarded the train.  Five miles out of Willcox, Arizona, the desperadoes got the engineer to stop the train with the help of a .45 revolver.  Piece of cake.

One of the outlaws uncoupled the express car from the rest of the train and ordered the engineer to pull forward.  Wheeler and George then broke into the express car.  The safe had eighty-four thousand dollars in cash and their hands were itching to get hold of it.

They must have been ecstatic to discover that the Wells Fargo agent guarding the loot had escaped. In addition to the unguarded safe, they also found bags of silver pesos used as ballast on the floor.  Oh, heavenly days!

Working quickly, they placed sticks of dynamite around the safe and ducked outside to escape the blast.  Unfortunately, the safe remained intact.

They decided to try again with extra dynamite but got the same results.  The stubborn safe refused to give up its treasure.

If at First…

Not willing to give up, the bungling robbers decided to try yet a third time.  This time, they used too much dynamite and blew the entire express car to smithereens.  Pieces of lumber and thousands of silver pesos filled the air. Acting like shrapnel, some of the coins were embedded in telegraph poles.  It’s a miracle the two men survived.

When the smoke cleared, they found that the safe door had been blown off, but only a few dollars had escaped the blast. The real booty was the Mexican pesos, but the silver coins were scattered all over the countryside.

Meanwhile, the train has rolled into town and sounded the alarm. The sheriff tried putting together a posse with no luck. Folks were too busy racing out to the scene of the crime to hunt for silver pesos.

…Try, Try, Again!

After licking their wounds, Wheeler and George decided to give train robbery another shot.  No sense letting their harrowing experience go to waste.

A week later, they showed up to rob the same train and felt confident they knew what they were doing.  This time they would make careful use of the dynamite.

The fourth times a charm—or is it?

Wheeler and George ordered the crew to separate the express car from the engine and passenger cars.

Everything went according to plan.  You can almost imagine the two giving each other a high-five as they entered the express car. They were, however, in for a rude awakening.  For the hapless duo soon discovered that the crew had reversed the order of the rail cars.  Instead of the express car, Wheeler and George were left with the mail car. They had been duped!

Disgusted, they rode off empty-handed—again!

Coming in September

He stopped her wedding once by mistake;

Dare he stop it a second time–for real?

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Updated: June 21, 2018 — 8:19 am

Cowboy In The Making Reissued

I’m excited to announce that Harlequin is reissuing my book Cowboy in the Making, along with USA Today bestselling author Angi Morgan’s The Renegade Rancher. If you’re like me and occasionally enjoy having a traditional book to hold, here’s your chance to get two great books in one! Look for Home on the Ranch: Family Ties this July.

In Cowboy in the Making, I wove together two of my favorite themes—tackling career struggles/obstacles and exploring the definition of family. After high school Emma Donovan headed for Nashville, her head filled with dreams of a country music career, but life didn’t go as planned. She returned to Colorado both older  and wiser. A freak accident sends Jamie Westland to his grandfather’s Colorado ranch to clear his head and sort out his life. But Jamie’s grandfather has a plan of his own—to play matchmaker between Jamie and his best friend’s granddaughter Emma by throwing them together any chance he can.

Both these characters have been touched by adoption, but from opposite sides of the issue. They both wonder where they belong, and wonder what it means to be family. What matters more nature or nuture? What makes us who we are and what are the ties that bind us together?

Here’s an excerpt:

Emma decided she was done fighting what she felt for him. She was tired of being strong, focused and directed all the time. More important, she was tired of being alone.

Not that she thought she’d found her soul mate or anything crazy like that. She believed the soul mate thing was as real as Big Foot—but Jamie made her laugh, something she hadn’t done enough of since her mother got sick, and for right now, that was enough. No harm. No foul. That became her motto.

From that night on, she and Jamie went out to eat after rehearsals and talked about whatever came to mind. Music, their childhoods. She learned he’d secretly listened to country music in high school. Sometimes they worked on music and had even started writing some songs together. A couple of times they went hiking or horseback riding. Nothing special, and yet their time together fed her soul.

Now today Emma stood in the parking lot at Stanley Park unloading tables and chairs from the shelter van for the Pet Walk when Jamie pulled up. He’d been such a rock for her when she found out about Andrew. It would have been so easy to fall apart, and she probably would have if it hadn’t been for Jamie.

He got out of Mick’s battered Chevy truck, looking way too good for this early in the morning, wearing one of the shirts he’d bought when they went shopping. As it happened her favorite, the tan-and-brown plaid that matched his coffee-colored eyes.

Before when he was dressed in khakis and a polo shirt, he’d looked… She searched for the right word. Restrained. Reserved. Almost as if he was apart from everyone and everything around him. Now a relaxed air surrounded him. He appeared at ease. Almost as if she was seeing the inner man for the first time. He looked as though he’d been here his entire life. As though he belonged.

She nodded toward his feet. “Good-looking boots.”

“Do I pass muster?”

“You’ll do.”

 

Thanks for stopping by today. Leave a comment and be entered to win the plastic, light-up wineglass from my favorite winery Firelight and a copy of Home on the Ranch:  FamilyTies, perfect for an afternoon on the patio or by the pool.

 

 

 

Updated: May 30, 2018 — 8:14 am

Geiser Grand Hotel

I’ve been busy working on the next book in my Baker City Brides series, set in historic Baker City located right along the Oregon Trail in Eastern Oregon.

The series begins in the early 1890s when Baker City was experiencing its second gold rush period. (The first came in the 1860s). Baker City was the geographic center for booming gold, copper, and silver mines. It became a center for trade and commerce and was the second city in the state to boast electricity and paved roads.  In fact, it’s said Baker City almost became the capital of Oregon.

During the heyday of Baker City, new buildings and businesses were popping up all around. The town had earned the name “Queen City of the Mines.”

And one of those new buildings just happened to be a wonderfully luxurious hotel named Hotel Warshauer. Merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the hotel in 1889. Built in an Italianate Victorian style, the building was designed by architect John Bennes and constructed using mined volcanic tuff from the region.

The hotel featured a four-story clock tower and a 200-foot corner cupola. Supposedly, the hotel cost $70,000 to build and included 80 guest rooms as well as seating for 200 in the elegant dining room.

A second-floor balcony overlooked the dining room’s marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and mahogany paneling. Presiding over it, was a beautiful stained glass ceiling (reportedly the largest in the Pacific Northwest) that allowed light to drift into the interior.

The Hotel Warshauer was innovative and ahead of its time. It offered electricity in every room along with hot and cold running water and bathrooms! The hotel also boasted the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River.

They even had a little gold tasseled cloth that hung in each room with a list of rules.

Rule #2: “Fires in rooms charged extra.” Presumably, this was the fire in a stove to warm the room, not setting the room ablaze.

Rule #6: “We will not be responsible for boots and shoes left in the hall. Guests desiring them blacked will please leave with the porter.” I love this one because in Corsets and Cuffs (book 3 in the series) the heroine leaves her shoes in the hall to be cleaned and polished, and they disappear. I wonder how many people had that happen back then?

The hotel was eventually purchased by the Geiser Family of the Bonanza Mine fame. They renamed the hotel the Geiser Grand Hotel, a name it carries to this day.

Baker City and the hotel did well through the 1920s, up until the depression. After that, the hotel began to lose business and fell into a state of disrepair.  One highlight was the cast of Paint Your Wagon staying at the hotel when the movie was filmed in 1968. (The movie starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Several fun tidbits about the filming of the movie and even a few costumes are on display at the Baker Heritage Museum.)

The hotel was closed in 1969, though. The exterior cracked, the interior sustained massive damage and decades later, the threat to tear it down was real.

In 1978, the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places, including the hotel. Attempts were made to preserve the hotel, but it wasn’t until Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel in the early 1990s and poured millions into a restoration and renovation that brought the hotel back to life.

Today, guests can step inside the hotel and find that it looks much as it did back in its days of glory. The stained glass ceiling still floods the restaurant with light, and the opulence of days gone by prevails from the mahogany wood in the lobby to the chandeliers in the guest rooms.

~*~

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Crumpets and Cowpies, the first book in the Baker City Brides series, please post your answer to this question:

If you were traveling in the year 1890, what luxury item or amenity would you want to find in your hotel room?

~*~

Baker City Brides

My Western Bucket List

I love seeing new places. It doesn’t matter if it’s a famous as Yellowstone National Park or a little, out-of-the-way museum hardly anyone has ever heard of. There are so many places I’ve yet to visit that I would love to experience firsthand, but today I’m narrowing my list down to Western locations on my bucket list.

Yosemite National Park — Covering nearly 750,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada of California, this park is known for its granite cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls. About 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness.

U-shape valley, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Guy Francis, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Canyon National Park  — One of the most impressive natural features on the planet, the canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. It has more than earned its name.

Grand Canyon from Pima Point. Photo by Chensiyuan, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

Cheyenne Frontier Days — An outdoor rodeo and western celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming that has been around more than a century.

Mesa Verde National Park — Home to some of the the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan architectural sites in the country. Can you imagine walking in the footsteps of those who lived there more than nine millennia ago?

Square Tower House at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Photo by Rationalobserver, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

Roswell, New Mexico — It might be kooky and touristy, but I’d love to visit the site of a supposed UFO crash. Plus, I’ll admit I loved the show Roswell, too. It’s also home to interesting history other than the famous UFO incident, including the fact that cattle baron John Chisum’s famous Jingle Bob Ranch, once the largest ranch in the country, was nearby.

Arches National Park — This park near Moab, Utah is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. I’ve seen the edge of this park in the distance while traveling through Utah on Amtrak, but I’d love to explore the park’s starkly beautiful high desert landscape.

Updated: April 1, 2018 — 11:35 pm

Bested by a Buzz Wagon

I’ve spent many hours the last few weeks combing through digital editions of old newspapers from Pendleton, Oregon.

As I was browsing through the news on one front page, a headline caught my eye.

Buzz Wagon Proves Too Much for Ted

The first thought that popped into my head was “what’s a buzz wagon?” The second was “who’s Ted?”

If, like me, you haven’t been exposed to the early 20th century slang term, a buzz wagon is what some people used to refer to an automobile. (Presumably from the noise emitted from those early vehicles.)

On a lovely June day in 1912, a cowboy named Ted and another cowpuncher brought 300 head of horses to Pendleton to sell.

According to the newspaper, Ted could ride anything that had two ears and a tail, but the “golderned buzz wagon” was too much for the buckaroo to handle.

While they waited around town the evening before they were to set to sell the horses, Ted and his fellow cowpuncher wandered down to the Pendleton Round-Up grounds to see what amusements they might find.

What they found was an automobile left sitting in the arena, unattended, while members of the Elks club tried out teams for an upcoming chariot race (wouldn’t that be fun to see?).

The two cowboys thought the seats of the auto looked inviting, so they slid in to watch the proceedings. After a while, Ted landed on the brilliant idea of taking the auto for a spin. Although he’d never been in an automobile before, let alone drove one, he asked his friend to get out and give the car a crank to start it.

The car started but ol’ cowboy Ted found he couldn’t control the “red devil” as it traveled across the track of the arena. He whipped the wheel one way then the other, touched every button and pulled every lever to no avail. The auto stopped when he bashed into a pole at full speed.

When the owner of the car arrived on the scene, Ted offered to buy the man a new automobile. The owner thought he could have the auto repaired and they settled on $25 payment.

Ted declared he was through with man’s inventions, much preferring a bucking horse than the unpredictability of a “buzz wagon.”

To find out more about the happenings in Pendleton during 1912, be sure to attend the Petticoat Ball on April 12 on Facebook! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) and runs until 2 p.m. Guest authors, games, giveaways, and details about my latest Pendleton Petticoats book, Quinn, will be shared!

 

Deadwood’s Mount Moriah

This may seem morbid to some but I’ve always loved cemeteries. I love walking through them, reading the tombstones, imagining the person’s story. Did they achieve their hopes and dreams? Did they know love? Were they loved in return? How did they die? So many questions go through my mind. One of the most interesting trips my husband and I went on before he passed was to Deadwood. So much history there. Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickok met his end in the Nuttal and Mann’s Saloon, shot by Jack McCall. Hickok, as well as Calamity Jane and a whole lot of others, is buried in the Mount Moriah cemetery.

Records show that in Deadwood’s first three years as a town there were 97 murders and suicides.

Here are few of Mount Moriah’s residents:

POTATO CREEK JOHNNY was a Welch immigrant at seventeen years old and looking for gold and excitement. Johnny (real name John Perrett) stood just 4’ 3” tall and as he grew older, he let his hair and whiskers grow long. Folks said he resembled one of Snow White’s dwarfs. Then one memorable day in May 1929, in working his mine, he discovered one of the largest gold nuggets anyone in South Dakota had ever seen. It weighed 73/4 troy ounces and valued at $45,000 at today’s currency rate. The find thrust him into celebrity status and he became a regular in all the parades. Folks from all around visited the cabin he built by himself in the woods. In 1943 at 77 years old, he took sick and died. He’s buried next to Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.

 

PREACHER SMITH was the first missionary in Black Hills and he was undoubtedly one of the most famous good guys. His real name was Henry Weston Smith and he walked into Deadwood with a wagon train in May 1876. He began preaching on the jam-packed street to the cutthroats, gamblers, prostitutes, and anyone who would listen. Tough, grizzled miners wearing guns would sit on the wooden planks or stand and listen to him. They always passed the hat at the end. August 20, 1876, he preached his last sermon and headed to a nearby town. He never made it. They found him three miles from Deadwood, shot through the heart. The killer was never found. All of Deadwood’s businesses shut down for the burial on Mount Moriah.

 

CHAMBERS DAVIS came to Deadwood in 1877 from the Denver Mint. He was an expert at ore testing an opened an assayer office on Main Street. He had a credit of $100,000 with which he was able to buy ore for California companies from eager prospectors. He was young and had a beautiful young wife, Adrienne. They were a popular young couple and were mentioned frequently in the social columns of the newspaper. In June 1878, she died very suddenly at the age of 33 of unknown causes. Then a year later in April, Chambers also died very suddenly and was buried next to his wife.

 

KITTY LEROY was Deadwood’s most famous soiled dove. The magnetic beauty was also a bigamist, married to five men all at the same time. Kitty was always armed to the teeth with two pistols, a couple of Bowie knives, and a dagger she tucked into her long brown curls. She wore huge diamonds in her ears and knew how to show a man a good time. In fact, men fought and killed over her. She was a professional dancer in the saloons and was often found at the card tables where she cheated men out of their hard-earned gold. Sam Curley, her fifth husband, was a faro dealer and very jealous. On Dec. 7, 1877, he caught Kitty in bed with another man and shot her, then shot himself. She was only 28 years old. Their funerals were held in the Lone Star saloon and they buried in a double grave. A month after the tragedy, ghostly apparitions were seen and continued until the saloon was demolished.

 

These are just a few of the interesting stories that are buried in Mt. Moriah cemetery. I’ll end this with a poem someone wrote upon the death of Marie Gaston, Deadwood’s first librarian.

How vainly we struggled to save her,

Around her how deeply we mourned,

When back to her Maker who gave it

Her beautiful spirit returned.

 

I just love visiting old cemeteries. In a plot next to my parents in the small country cemetery where they’re buried is a family who all died in the 1800s. The wife’s name was Texanna and I used her name as my heroine in a story I wrote for Give Me a Texas Ranger. I’m always finding something of interest. Do cemeteries interest you? Maybe you have one you’d like to share.

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Kit Morgan: The Gold Rush Town of Leadville

Hi there! Kit Morgan here! It’s so nice to be invited to write for the Petticoats and Pistols Blog. Thanks so much for having me.

Today I want to tell you about a fun project I’m involved in. I love creating entire communities, so when western historical romance author Caroline Lee asked me to help spearhead a multi-author project with her, I was in!

Multi-author projects are difficult at best, especially when creating an entire town, its inhabitants, and the type of town it’s to be. In this case, we had to create a boomtown on a downward slide. A place where the gold was petering out and the miners were leaving in droves. To make things a little easier and have a guide (because lets face it, none of us were around back then) we found a town located near our fictional setting that went through all the same things our town was going to be experiencing. Leadville, Colorado. So we started digging and discovered all sorts of things! (Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.)

The basic story line for our town, which we named Noelle, follows a group of businessmen with a problem on their hands. Now that the gold is petering out, they’re trying to figure out a way to stay, make the town a real town, and not have to lose everything they’ve built up. The answer? Get the railroad to create a spur to Noelle. To do that they need to either find more gold or get folks to settle fast so the railroad will take notice. They go for both. Twelve mail-order brides are on their way while, at the same time, what miners are left work double time to find more gold. The railroad does take notice, but gives the town a deadline to achieve this feat. If Noelle doesn’t meet the required deadline, no spur will be built. And that’s when the fun begins.

But much the same thing happened in Leadville back in the day, sans a mail-order bride scheme to save the town. The town may have run out of gold, but other things saved the day. I’m not telling you what otherwise the surprise will be spoiled should you read the books. Still, towns lived and died quickly in the old west, and Leadville was no exception. This is why it made such a wonderful model for our story line.

By 1880, just three years after Leadville was founded, it was one of the world’s largest and richest silver camps, with a population of over 15,000. Income from more than thirty mines and ten large smelting works producing gold, silver and lead amounted to $15,000,000 annually.

Noelle isn’t quite so prosperous. But we sure are having fun with it! Myself, I’ve written two books that take place in Noelle. The Partridge: The First Day, 12 Day’s of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, and just released, Ophelia A Valentine’s Day Bride.

Our town is still growing and trying to become respectable. Though we don’t expect it to reach to 15,000 people in its first few years, it is growing. Slow but sure, one happy romance at a time.

 

  

 

Have you ever been to a gold rush town? What attracted you? I’m giving away one digital copy of the books above — one to two different winners. Leave a comment to enter.

Happy Birthday, Oregon

 


Today is a special day for a variety of reasons.

It’s Wednesday, which is always a nice day to mark the half-way point through the work week.  It also happens to be Ash Wednesday.

The big event today that most people are celebrating, though, is Valentine’s Day.

A day full of romance and roses, candy hearts and sweethearts.

And of all the quotes about Valentine’s Day, my favorite is this:

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.

When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind

is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”

-Author Unknown

Today also happens to be my home state’s birthday.

On February 14, 1859, Oregon was officially admitted to the union as a state.

Oregon’s story started with Spanish and French exploration in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early 1800s, Oregon was mapped by the Lewis and Clark expedition in their search for the Northwest Passage, opening a route for further exploration.

Merchants, traders and trappers were among the first people to forge a path across the Continental Divide on their way to Oregon territory. Missionaries are credited, through, with blazing the Oregon Trail. The first missionary group made their way west in the early 1830s.

Between 1840 and 1860, thousands of pioneers made the grueling overland trek of more than 2,000 miles. The U.S. began joint settlement of the area with the United Kingdom. In 1846, the border between U.S. and British territory was formally established at the 49th parallel. The part of the territory that was given to Britain would ultimately become part of Canada.

More than 50,000 people called Oregon home by 1857. Only white men were allowed to vote and they petitioned for statehood. The U.S. Senate began to consider Oregon statehood in May 1858 amid a split of the Democratic Party over slavery and ongoing controversy over admitting Kansas to the union. Oregon’s bid added complications to the ongoing debate. Southerners, such as Senator Jefferson Davis, opposed the admission of any more northern states, concerned about keeping a political balance. Others looked at specific issues such as the valid question of whether Oregon had a large enough population to qualify for statehood.

The final vote on the Oregon admission bill in the U.S. House of Representatives was delayed until February 1859, after languishing in the committee on territories for over six months.  When votes were tallied on Feb. 12, they showed a narrow 114 to 103 victory for statehood. Two days later the president signed the bill and Oregon officially became the 33rd state in the union.

Here are some State of Oregon facts:

Date of Statehood: February 14, 1859

Capital: Salem

Population: 4,093,000 (2016 census)

Size: 98,379 square miles

Nickname: Beaver State

Motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings

Tree: Douglas Fir

Flower: Oregon Grape

Fruit: Pear

Bird: Western Meadowlark

Some other fun details about the state include the fact there is no state sales tax. Oregon is the 10th largest state in the union (land wise) and is bordered by Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon’s Nature

The state of Oregon offers great diversity in the landscapes. From the rugged coast and lush green forests on the west side of the state to the high desert and rolling hills of wheat on the east, Oregon offers an example of nearly every geographic terrain on the planet within its borders.

*Oregon is home to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States.

*You’ll also find Hells Canyon in the northeast corner of the state, the deepest river-carved gorge in North America.  At 7,913 feet, it’s deeper than the Grand Canyon.

*The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the richest fossil sites in the world.

*The largest concentration of wintering bald eagles can be found in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

*The highest elevation point is Mt. Hood at 11,239 feet.

*There are more than 6,000 lakes and 112,000 miles of rivers and streams.

*Nearly half of Oregon’s total land area is forested – close to 30 million acres.

 

History and Heritage

Although Oregon’s history may seem relatively new compared to other parts of the country, it has 14 National Historic Districts and four National Historic Trails, including the Oregon Trail (with ruts still visible in some areas).

*The first scenic highway in the U.S. (and also a historical landmark) is the Historic Columbia River Highway.

*Nine historic lighthouses and one light ship dot the Oregon Coast.

*Oregon is home to 10 Native American Tribes.

*Oregon boasts dozens of historical museums and a few interpretive centers including the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City.

Other Oregon Tidbits

*Although many get it wrong, Oregon is pronounced OR-UH-GUN or OR-GUN, but never, ever OR-EE-GONE.

*Oregon grows 99 percent of the entire U.S. commercial hazelnut crop. (Nutella, anyone?)

*More than 750 vinyards in Oregon product in excess of 70 different varietals of wine grapes.

*Tater tots were invented by two Oregon brothers, Nephi and Golden Grigg, founds of Ore-Ida.

*The Goonies was filmed mostly in Astoria with scenic cameo shots taken in other Oregon coastal towns. You can visit the official Goonies museum in Astoria to get more detail on the movie.

Now that your head is full of Oregon lore, how about we fill your heart with a little sweet Oregon-based romance?

Today, you can download this novella set in the fictional town of Holiday, Oregon, for FREE!

Valentine Bride

Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.

Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who’s impossible to forget.

They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.

Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.

Available on Amazon

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Christmas Roses

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely – I feel truly blessed.
As for today’s post, I’m going to break from my usual western-themed subject matter to tell you about another project I’m part of.

Shreveport, Louisiana is home to the national headquarters of the American Rose Society.  The Gardens of the American Rose Center are located on a 118-acre tract of wooded land and is the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses. The park features in excess of 65 individual rose gardens and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 rosebushes. In addition the park is also filled with other plants, fountains and sculptures. And every year during the month of December, they transform the place into a winter wonderland known as Christmas in Roseland. It’s a magical place filled with lights, festive displays, entertainment, photos with Santa Claus and lots more.

As it happens, the Shreveport area is also where my local chapter of Romance Writers of America©, the NOLA STARs, is based. Last spring we decided to undertake a project where a number of our members would pen original short stories for an anthology and we wanted to feature the American Rose Society as part of the project. So nine of our members set out to write these stories with the only restrictions given is that each story be set during the Christmas Season and that there be some mention of the Rose Center as part of it. The result is a collection titled American Roses. Though the stories all contain those same two elements we started with, they are all as different as the authors who penned them. And I deviated from my normal setting to create a contemporary story. My contribution is titled A Crossword Puzzle Christmas and is a play on the ‘friends to lovers’ trope.  I had such fun writing it!

One of the neat things about this collection is that all of the authors have donated their stories – none will be collecting royalties. Instead, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Rose Society and the remainder will go back to our chapter.

And now, as a reward to you for reading through all of this, I’m going to give away a copy of the collection to one of the visitors who leaves a comment on this post between now and Tuesday afternoon. Just tell me your favorite rose-related memory or what variety/color of rose is your favorite and why.

CHRISTMAS ROSES

Come visit a place where love blooms and holiday magic fills the air…

Set against the background of the Gardens of the American Rose Center, these stories of hope and holiday cheer are sure to warm your heart and put you in a festive mood.

There’s no better gift than finding love among the roses. In this collection, you’ll find second chances at love, couples who find more than friendship under the mistletoe, and holiday reunions that bring the joy of the season. So grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with Christmas Roses.

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Updated: December 1, 2017 — 1:27 am

Weaving with Words, Riding with Spurs…

Weaving creates an image, doesn’t it? No matter how you apply the word, we envision yarn or threads being moved in lock-stitch by hand or machine. We see the flash of success as the weft threads pass through the warp threads, and a foot treadle bounces the threads up and down in clockwork precision.

That’s kind of what it’s like when we write a story.

Umm… NOT THE PRECISION PART!!!!

I’m a pantser, a writer who begins with the idea of how I see the story and characters and then I create… and I add and subtract as I go. Not all writers work like this, some like notes, charts, timelines, etc… I do better by avoiding all that as completely as I can.  But what all authors have in common is the weaving of the word… and when I’m writing a Western (like my upcoming Shepherd’s Crossing series with Love Inspired or my Double S Ranch series with Waterbrook) I weave with a different set of threads. Some are coarser. Some are thicker. Some are rugged because carving a living off the land requires not only skill but fortitude. And I love folks with fortitude! (I just listened to the full recording of Peace in the Valley this weekend… Barbara McCullch did a great job with this Western and the character voices!)

I want my Westerns to sound authentic. Not contrived. Not over-done. If a rancher is educated, I want them to sound that way with a distinct twang as needed. 🙂 There’s nothing like an Ivy League educated cowboy (Colt Stafford “Back in the Saddle”) that comes across when he faces the heroine and does nothing more that touch the tip of his index finger to the brim of his hat.

No words needed.

🙂

He said it all with one gesture, a gesture he wouldn’t have used in Lower Manhattan but one that is quite effective in Central Washington. Colt’s a coming home character, a man returning to his roots out of necessity, a man surprised to find he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be… at last.

Mary Connealy taught me years ago that cowboys aren’t generally the talkative type. She’s right.

Like so many hard-working men, they grunt a lot, and then they’re surprised when those around them are at a loss to read their feelings. And then you go and read a Paul Harvey poem “So God Made a Farmer” and you realize you need to go beyond words, to actions.

There’s a book that talks about love languages, and it’s so stinkin’ true in many ways… not all people speak in poetic license.

A lot of men have to choke out “I’m sorry” or “I love you”… the dolts! 🙂

But sometimes those same men will go the distance to make sure the wagon seat is smooth enough to not snag a pretty dress…

Or extra warm potatoes to keep a historical heroine’s feet from taking a chill…

Or run to school to pick up a sick child of a single mother so she doesn’t lose her job at the diner…

Or dig the grave for his daddy’s old Golden Lab, gone home to heaven. I love that scene in “Saint Maybe” and used a similar scene in one of my first books “Waiting Out the Storm”… because acts of sacrifice transcend genre and touch a reader’s heart and soul.

There are so many ways to show emotion as we write. Some require few words. Some require a pause in the action. A long moment. Unshed tears. Or gut-wrenching sobs…

While others show the frontier or pure country joy… a single flower, tucked in a Mason jar on the heroine’s table. A pair of pumpkins, set on a porch with a tuft of corn by their side. A walk with a calf, or a foal, or to bottle feed lambs…

Love on the ranch or the farm or in the country isn’t always shown the same way as on the coasts. Fancy meals and pricey nights out are usually not the norm. And while those are good in their place, there’s something more soul stirring about a pot of stew and fresh bread. A homemade pie. A pretty scarf that the hero buys because it matches the heroine’s eyes…

When I’m writing Westerns, I make sure my mindset is on animals and kids first, because honestly, when dealing with a farm or ranch and animals, they have to come first. They can’t fend for themselves… That simple admission leads the reader into the heart of the rancher, the devotion of the hero and/or heroine. The words I choose to set the scene or ride the wave of emotions have to ring true to the reader, no matter where he or she lives… or what they do for a living.

Word weaving… it’s what makes an authors voice distinctive, and what makes a story memorable or forgettable. Those words create and follow the rise and fall of emotion and that roller coaster ride should be as real as we can make it… so the reader gets the full price of their ticket!

Do you have favorite book scenes that have stuck with you over years? I’d love to hear about them… comment today because I have a beautiful copy of my newest Love Inspired book “The Lawman’s Yuletide Baby” as a giveaway… and I think you’ll love this beautiful story of healing and hope and sacrificial love.

Of course the fact that it’s my 20th LOVE INSPIRED STORY is a wonderful milestone!!! 🙂 I brought coffee and hot chocolate because things are cooling down here in Western New York… and some homemade double chocolate chip cookies, because while Pumpkin Spice everything is fun… nothing beats double chocolate chip. And it don’t pay to argue with me, because I’m armed… and dangerous, my friends!

Cookies for everyone!

 

 

Updated: October 29, 2017 — 7:52 pm
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