Category: Places

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

Past, Present and Future

They say time flies when you’re having fun. That must be why it seemed unbelievable that last Thursday I celebrated the 10th anniversary of when I got the call from Harlequin that I’d sold my first books to them. While the first couple of books that published with Harlequin American Romance weren’t westerns, the third, Elly: Cowgirl Bride, was as part of the six-book, six-author continuity series called The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo. This series was set in northern Wyoming, a beautiful area east of Yellowstone National Park that I visited a number of years ago while on a trip out West to visit my sister.

Soon thereafter I wrote the first book set in my fictional Hill Country town of Blue Falls, Texas. At the time, I thought The Cowboy’s Secret Son was just the first of a planned trilogy about three ranching brothers that was tagged with the name The Teagues of Texas. I had no idea that I would continue to write Blue Falls stories for years and that the series would, after that initial trilogy, have a its own series name named after the town. Thus far, there have been 15 full-length novels, one e-novella and one Harlequin online read set in Blue Falls, Texas. Two more are in the pipeline. In fact, I just finished writing the first draft of the last contracted book last night (Sunday).

Yellowstone River flowing through the Paradise Valley.

As you might have heard, Harlequin is closing the Western line next June. That put me and a number of other authors at a crossroads, trying to decide what step was next in our careers. I’m happy to report that I recently signed a contract for three western romances with Tule Publishing. I’ll be able to return to the Yellowstone area again, this time to the beautiful Paradise Valley north of the park in Montana. This area sits between the Gallatin and Absaroka Mountains, and the Yellowstone River runs through the middle of the valley. This stretch of Big Sky Country is home to ranches, fly-fishing outfitters, hot springs resorts and trophy homes. Such visually stunning films as A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer had scenes filmed here. I’m going to be writing about three brothers once again. This time their family not only has a large ranch but also a hot springs resort. I’m excited to dive into writing the first story soon, creating a new cast of characters and a new small town for readers to love.

Updated: October 29, 2017 — 8:07 pm

Welcome Lena Nelson Dooley

It’s with a great deal of pleasure that we welcome back to the Junction, our week-end guest blogger. Lena Nelson Dooley, who will share with you the story behind the story and her research for A Heart’s Gift!

Love the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My first trip to Colorado was in October of 2004, and that’s when I fell in love. I taught a retreat at Silverthorne in Summit County, not far from the Continental Divide. I was mesmerized by the beautiful mountains. The weather turned really cold, and a light snowfall dusted the higher slopes that I could see from the windows of the house where the retreat was held.

If the person I was talking to was between me and the wall of windows, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on that person. The mountains kept pulling my attention away. Breathtaking isn’t a strong enough word for what I saw when my eyes wandered. I decided that I wanted to set a book in Summit County. While I was in Summit County the first time, I bought a book about the history of the area.

A Heart’s Gift came out in December of 2016. When I write, I work hard to make the book authentic to the time period, which was 1893. Silverthorne wasn’t even a town at that time, but lots of both silver and gold mines were located in Summit County. Some small and owned by individual miners. Some had been bought by mining companies and were large enterprises. In addition to the book I bought when I was there, I also looked on Amazon for any historical books. There are at least two series of books that contain not only information, but also actual photographs taken in different time periods.

A treasure trove of details is available online and in books. I used a lot of them to recreate the area in 1893. I bought the Images of America book of photos in Summit County. These included photos of Breckenridge, which was a thriving town with mines and cattle ranches close by. I learned a lot about the area, and I was able to actually visualize the town and surrounding area.

Of course, the characters in my novel and the ranch are completely fictitious. Here are a few of the things that are authentic:

  • Capital Bank of Denver
  • Details about a cattle drive
  • Shipping cattle by rail to Swift slaughter house in Chicago
  • The baby furniture, the high chair and the cradle (I found these in a historical Sears catalogue I already had)
  • The Ladies’ Book Club in Breckenridge
  • The Arlington Hotel (but I fictionalized the owner and the special suite for mine owners)
  • The Breckenridge Bakery on Lincoln Street that actually did make cream puffs at that time
  • Vaudeville show – The Face on the Barroom Floor
  • Stamp mills, throbbing beat
  • Ladies spent a lot of money on hats

As a reader, I love when there are authentic details in books. I think most other readers do, too. That’s why I do so much research. I want readers like you to get a real picture of the history of the time when my books take place. I’ve written a lot of western historical novels.

I’d love for us to chat some, so I’m going to ask you some questions to get us started.

Do you as a reader like to know that the historical details are authentic? 

What time period do you prefer reading about? 

Who is your favorite western author?

A Heart’s Gift received the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Award for long historicals. I will be giving away one Kindle copy of the book. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a Free copy of Kindle for Apple (computers), Kindle for PC, Kindle for tablets, or Kindle for Android phones where you can read the book.

 

Buy links:

Print – http://ow.ly/X7HK30fC0IV

Kindle – http://ow.ly/Qyth30fC0Ym

 

WELCOME FALL! by Cheryl Pierson

Hi everyone! Fall is here, and you know that old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words?” It’s so true! Today, I wanted to share some pictures of my second home, the state of West Virginia. These were taken by professional photographer Rick Burgess who also happens to be a good friend. Rick is so talented, and he has many prints, 2018 calendars, t-shirts, and even a book that features his wonderful photography that are all available to order! This is a just a very small sample of Rick’s work, but I know once you’ve seen these gorgeous pictures you’ll want to see more!

Do these pictures evoke a fall memory? I don’t know why, but when I think of fall, I think of realizing “fall is in the air” on one of my walks to my piano teacher’s house one afternoon after school. Odd, isn’t it? I was about 10 or so, but I will never forget how that day smelled as I walked–crisp, clean, and well–like fall! What’s a favorite fall memory of yours? I hope these pictures will stir the memories of beautiful fall days in your mind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gnarled tree at Plum Orchard Lake.  The Lord has a beautiful palette of colors in His work–more than we could ever imagine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mist at the end of a West Virginia road…wonder what’s down there around the bend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rick Burgess shot of the New River Gorge. There is a bridge that goes over this, and once you’re at the place where you can get out and look down, you are so high you’re level with the hawks that make their home there–they call it “Hawk’s Nest”–and it’s one of the most breathtaking places on earth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my personal favorites, these trees at sunrise with the mountains behind them. I love these colors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A West Virginia rainbow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of my favorite pics of Rick’s. A reminder of days gone by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many colors! Beautiful stuff, with the leaves on the trees changing to their fall hues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A gorgeous sunset. Isn’t it beautiful?

The fog lifting in the West Virginia highlands. This reminds me of the Woody Guthrie song, “This Land is Your Land”. When I was growing up in a small Oklahoma town in the 60’s, Woody Guthrie’s sister was our school secretary. We learned many of the beloved songs he wrote about Oklahoma, but also “This Land is Your Land” which was about our entire country. When we sang these songs sometimes before class started, she would listen on the intercom and compliment us. She always said, “My brother would be so proud of you all!”  There’s a stanza that talks about the fog lifting:

 

When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
In the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me.

And one last parting shot! Beautiful stuff! If you would like to see more photography and PRINTS by Rick Burgess, here’s a link: https://wvexplorer.com/photo-galleries/gallery-west-virginia-images-rick-burgess/

To connect with Rick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rick-Burgess-Photography-1784107871826356/

Homesteading on the Prairie

 

Homesteading on the Prairie

By Kathryn Albright
Tales of Courage & Hope

 * * * * * * * * * * 

I have scurried down many rabbit holes in my research so that my books set in western Kansas are historically accurate. Rivers, native fish, agriculture, Native Americans, sod houses, native birds and wildlife, cattle drives and cattle breeding are a handful of these “holes.” The internet is a big help in fact-finding, but my-oh-my do I get lost at times and surface just before it is time to prepare supper for my family!

For my next book in the Oak Grove Series, I’ve had to do some research into homesteading on the prairie.

The early inhabitants of Oak Grove, a fictional town set along the Smoky Hill River, lived in tents made from the canvas of their prairie schooners, but with the Kansas-Pacific Railroad now established all the way to Denver (1878), the small town was growing and wooden structures were springing up as the train brought supplies from the east and wood from the Rocky Mountains. The town prospered with the nearby stockyards that shipped cattle (up from the drives in Texas) to the miners in Colorado and to Chicago.

Railroad land grant Kansas

Homestead Act of 1862

However, some who lived out of town on 160 acres of their own, were farmers who’d come west with nothing but a dream to take advantage of the government’s Homestead Act of 1862. Requirements to own a plot of land by this means included:

  1. Must be at least 21 years of age.
  2. Must be a citizen or an immigrant with the intention of becoming a citizen.
  3. Must pay a filing fee (usually at the Land Office in the nearest town where it was also determined that no one else had claimed that particular parcel of land.)
  4. Must farm the land and live on it for five years before gaining the official deed to the property.
  5. Must build a home within six months. (Requirements in some states included the minimum dimensions of the home, one glass window, and also building a well.)

Homesteading on the Prairie

On the open prairie, it seemed that all weather was extreme. On arriving, many of the “sod busters” began by building a small dugout into the side of hill, just to escape the relentless wind, sun, snow and rain. Since there were no trees or large stones for construction material, the settlers would use their mules, oxen, or horses, and a special plow to cut rectangles of sod, 18” x 24” (weight = 50 pounds) to use as “bricks” for their home. These would be set so that the roots could grow and intermingle into the next row of sod, creating a very strong wall.

The base of a soddie was wide and the walls would then taper inward slightly to allow for settling. Most had a dirt floor, but later a puncheon or plank flooring might be used. On the inside, the walls would be plastered with mud to create a smooth appearance. Open windows were covered with oil cloth. A fireplace for cooking would take up one wall of the house.

The roof caused the most concern in the building process. Wooden poles, laid across the rim of the sod house, were then overlaid with bundles of brush. On top of the brush, more sod blocks were placed. Dirt clods dropping form the roof was a problem as well as other insects and an occasional snake. If the sod became too wet after a hard rain it could cave in. Every few years, depending on the severity of the weather, the roof would have to be replaced. Structures had one to three rooms and were surprisingly very snug and warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Homesteading on the Prairie

With all the difficulties they had to face, the years of too much or too little rain for their crops, less than 50 percent of homesteaders achieved the five-year requirement and acquired the deed to their land. Those who did not, went back home or traveled further west. Although most homesteaders consisted of a husband and wife and often children, a single woman or widow could also homestead and work to own the land. Once source reported that single and widowed women made up to 12 percent of the men and women homesteading in the Rocky Mountain area.

From 1862 to 1900 over 600,000 claims to homestead were filed. The Homestead Act ended in 1976 for the contiguous 48 states and in 1986 for Alaska.

 * * * * * * * * * *

Learning these facts helped me form the basis of my fictional character’s life on the prairie. I was worried that the land would not be hers after her husband died, but was gratified to know she could hold on to it and it would be there for her son, and her son’s son if he chose that same life. That is why she fights for it so fiercely. The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, a western historical romance, won’t be available for a few more months, but it is available for pre-order here ~ [  Amazon  ]

* * * * * * * * * *

I doubt that I would have lasted six months living in a sod house! The bugs falling from the roof would have been too much for me! What, for you, would have been the most difficult part of life in a soddie?

Comment to be entered into a drawing to receive my latest release ~ Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove!

Homesteading on the Prairie

 

[  Amazon  ]

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Pinterest | https://www.amazon.com/Kathryn-Albright/e/B001IQXABGAmazon?tag=pettpist-20 | BookBubGoodreads

Return to Oregon’s Past with Tracie Peterson

We Fillies are thrilled to have author Tracie Peterson with us today to talk about another of her wonderful books and a fascinating slice of Oregon history. Welcome, Tracie!

The last book in my Heart of the Frontier series, Cherished Mercy, debuts this month, and I found myself revisiting research that I did for this series and in particular for this final installment. Cherished Mercy takes place in the Oregon Territory, as did the other books in the series.

However, most of the area where Cherished Mercy takes place is in the Rogue River and coastal area of Southern Oregon. To research the area, I took a trip to the Rogue River, enjoyed a wonderful river tour and took lots of notes and pictures. I read various books about the Rogue River Indians and the conflicts that took place there during the 1850s. After starting the series with the Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington, I thought it interesting to contrast the end of the series with the attacks of the whites on many of the various Native American tribes in the Rogue River area.

The Rogue River is a fertile, lush area that provided not only fishing for the native peoples, but also revealed a bit of gold which caused the white settlers to pursue the area in hopes of finding riches. As is often the case, this didn’t prove as bountiful as the miners had hoped. However, it turned up the heat on the already tense relationship between the native tribes and the whites.

There were multiple tribes who called the Rogue River home, but people tended to lump them together as the “Rogue River Indians.” I chose to deal with the Takelma who lived on the Rogue River near Agness.

You can see from this map, however, that there were many tribes that lived along the Rogue River.

The Takelma were an interesting people, not so unlike many of their neighboring tribes. They lived in houses that were dug about halfway into the ground and made of split sugar-pine wood.  Here’s an illustration showing how the natives in this area lived. Often, we think of Native Americans and teepees come to mind, but there were so many different varieties of housing.

Acorns were of immense importance to the Takelma. They used these as a staple in their eating and made flour from them. Camass root and fish were also staples of their diet, but manzanita berries were an all-time favorite.  I did my best to weave in elements of their life and culture in Cherished Mercy.

Sadly, the Rogue River Indian Wars saw our government make big pushes toward the forced reservation system for the American Indian tribes. The Rogue River tribes were moved from a lush forested area along the river where they had fertile soil and plenty of game and fish to live on to an arid, open area of Oregon that was nothing like what they had known. It was called “The Second Trail of Tears.” Thousands would later die of disease, exposure and malnutrition.  It’s a sad time in our history.

I hope my readers will enjoy the conclusion of the series. I’ve loved this little corner of history and I’ll share a secret. I’m already thinking about a second related series dealing with the next generation from these families. I think it’s important that we learn from our history, but also that we cherish and honor it. Every element is important to who we are today and through stories like this, I hope to keep that history alive.

Tracie is offering a great prize to one of today’s commenters. The gift basket contains not only all three books in her Heart of the Frontier series but also some awesome Montana goodies.

Updated: September 12, 2017 — 3:36 pm

New Kid in Town!

I AM A FILLY!

I’ve always been a girl… And then a woman/sister/mom/wife/daughter/sister-in-law/grandma….

But now I’m officially a Petticoats and Pistols filly and do you know why?

I write Westerns.

It’s not my fault.

IT’S NEVER MY FAULT!  (Just had to get that out of my system.)

But this time it’s true… Love Inspired asked me to be part of a Western continuity a few years ago and I was hooked.

#mustlovecowboys

#cowboysrock

I am over the moon and if that sounds overdone, trust me: it’s not. It’s facts, ma’ams, simply facts.  And huge thanks to the wonderful writers/cowgirls of Petticoats & Pistols for bringing me ’round the campfire. But how is writing a Western novel different from writing my typical novels?

BOOK ONE of the DOUBLE S RANCH SERIES AVAILABLE HERE!

That’s Colt Stafford on the cover. And  that cover is a clue. Western heroes are larger than life, regardless of size… Because it’s not the size of the man. It’s the size of the heart.

Real cowboys are strong enough to be gentle… They’re man enough to put others needs, including the horse, the stock, the wife, the kids… before theirs. They’re tough enough to find faith, even if it’s not for the first time. They practice “Cowboy code” and they’re proud of it.  Whether you’re the oldest brother Colt, pictured above…

Or the middle brother, Nick: (Nick’s book is a finalist in the Maggie Award of Excellence for 2017. It’s available here.)

Or the country crooner superstar youngest brother, Trey:

Westerns are different in lots of ways. The obvious distinction is setting, and that’s a big difference because the West prides itself on being The West… Movies and books chronicle the push west, Ken Burns did a whole documentary about Westward expansion, Western movies and television shows abound and there are high school and college courses done on the positives and negatives of that westward push. History books cleaned up some stories, while scholars re-painted those same stories with dark intent that sometimes went to opposite extremes.

In the midst of it all, a region was built, bought, separated, fought for, fought over, divided and maintained. The heartland became the opening segue into the American We. With land spreading west, north and south, new states, cities, towns, villages and ranches were born. People moved west, moved back east, and moved west again, pushing that invisible wall of separation until they hit the Pacific Ocean.

I’ve delved into the history of it to create a fictional town set in South Dakota, one in Idaho and one… romance in a soddy!… in eastern Nebraska.

I’ve written an award-winning, bestselling series about the contemporary west, and loved it.

Whether my stories are set in modern times or historical venues, they have one thing in common: Love. And strong, strong women.

I love strong women.

I love empowering women.

Women are the unsung heroes in so many roles in life, but not in a Ruthy book. A memorable hero is a wonderful thing. But I love a book that celebrates the strong overcomer in a woman. A book that champions HER as much as it does him…

Because I believe women are blessed with an amazing strength that gets overlooked too often. Hey, I’ve been in a labor bed… and at a bedside, holding a dying hand. I’ve been in an emergency room, watching skilled professionals try to save a life… and at a graveside, mourning when life succumbs.

A great Western is a story of strength… of hope… of love.

My joy in writing gets polished in all of my books, but my cowboy books grab a piece of my heart and don’t let go… Maybe it’s the hat.

Maybe it’s the setting.

Or maybe… just maybe… it’s that pioneer-loving side of me that will never take the American West for granted.

Hey, I brought some home-made ice cream and chocolate dipped cones… and strong coffee.  Join me inside and if you leave a comment, I’ll toss your cute name into a hat for the first Double S Ranch book “Back in the Saddle”. Let’s talk why we love romance

Ranches, Horses and Cowboys, Oh My!

Lately I’ve wondered how an Iowa city girl ended up writing romances with cowboy heroes. Or, I’ve wondered about the reasons other than the obvious—that cowboys are incredibly sexy. For my first official blog as a filly at Petticoats and Pistols, I’m sharing what fascinates me about cowboys.

For me, a cowboy isn’t as much about the occupation as the state of mind and attitude. Sure when I think of a cowboy, I see a man in form fitting Levi’s or Wranglers. I see dusty, worn cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but it’s more than that, too. There’s something about the way he moves in a slow, yet deliberate way, that says he’ll take his time with what matters in life. If you’ve seen Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride, you know what I mean. If not, watch it now. I’ll wait.

Now that we’re done drooling over Scott, back to the topic at hand. Cowboys have a connection to the land that goes deeper than most people’s. That taps into my love of my grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa. I spent hours wandering over that land spinning stories and imaging my life living on a similar place. Writing about my heroes and heroines strolling over their land or walking along Wishing’s streets fill me with the same warm affection. That intense bond with the ZSAER%^land was a big inspiration behind my Wishing, Texas series. For those heroes, their link Ty Barnett’s ranch, The Bar 7 and each other anchor their lives.

As to a cowboy’s attitude and mind-set—people see him as a loner, and he is, but I also see his strong tie to family. Family, however he defines it, is allowed past his guard. When I wrote my first novel for Harlequin, I wanted my hero so desperate for money he’d model in New York. But I wanted something different. What does a cowboy love more than his ranch and horse? His mama. That one detail told me everything I needed to know about my hero.

A cowboy has a sense of honor that factors into every decision. In my first Wishing, Texas book, To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s world is turned upside down because of a promise to a friend. One he’ll keep even if it means dealing with Cassie Reynolds. This unwavering honor paired with a good dose of Alpha male, makes writing stories with cowboy heroes fun when I turn the tables on them. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, AJ Quinn’s sick of hearing “let’s just be friends” from women. Poor cowboy. I had a blast torturing AJ giving him what he asked, but not what he bargained for, in New Yorker Grace Henry.

For me, these characteristics make cowboys fascinating, and oh so hero-worthy. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what it about cowboys makes you swoon or say that’s a hero?

I’m giving away a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a wine glass. Post a comment to enter.

 

Updated: August 1, 2017 — 8:54 am

My Southwestern Vacation

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I’ve just recently returned from a week long family vacation to Arizona where we had an absolute blast.  There were twelve members in our group, though we didn’t all travel together. Me, my husband and two of our kids flew together into Flagstaff.  My oldest daughter and her husband flew into with plans to drive to the Grand Canyon from there.  And my youngest daughter and her extended family (a group of 6) decided to drive and make several stops along the way.  All through the week our groups came together in a very fluid way, different combinations breaking off on different days to do things of particular interest to them. But by mid-week we were all together at Bright Angel Lodge on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  For about half the group it was their first time to view this awesome wonder in person and they were blown away by the views.  For the rest of us, revisiting the place had almost as big an impact as seeing it for the first time.

Anyway, I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what we experienced by sharing just some of the many pictures we took.

Flagstaff was our home base for this trip. Our first full day there, we took the scenic drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, stopping at several points along the way to admire the scenery and take pictures.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to take a trip out to the nearby Lowell Observatory. We were lucky in that there was a cloudless sky and we were able to get clear views of the sun, moon, Saturn and  Jupiter through the many telescopes they had set out.  Seeing the actual rings of Saturn as well as the pencil dot moons was VERY cool.

The next day we all headed out to the Grand Canyon Notional Park.  Six of us decided to take the two hour train ride out of nearby Williams to get there. Williams is a fun place right on Route 66. They are set up to entertain tourists and there are fun little Wild West shows at the train station you can watch while waiting on departure time.  The train ride itself was fun (it was my first time on a train) and as you can see from the photo below it was quite comfy 🙂

We spent two days at the park itself, staying in cabins at the wonderful Bright Angel Lodge which is located right on the south rim itself.

Our first day there we  just enjoyed the area around the lodge and got the lay of the land. Our second day, we all headed in different directions.  Four of our group decided to hike down into the canyon along the Bright Angel Trail (it goes without saying I wasn’t one of their number!).

The rest of us went on various exploration trips. Hubby and I saw both the Desert View Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest, two structures designed in the early twentieth century by Mary Colter, one of the few females architects of her time.

We also stopped at a lot of the viewing sights along the way. At one particular spot hubby spotted a rock formation that resembled a human profile. I took a photo of it – can you make it out? We also spotted several elk along the roadside and folks in our group managed to get photos of two of them.

After two days at the Grand Canyon, we headed out, again splitting into two groups, those that were driving the whole way started home, the rest of us headed back to Flagstaff. Along the way, though, we visited a wildlife park called Bearizona.  There were lots of different kinds of animals there – mountain goats, buffalo, wolves and more – but my favorites were the bears. And we got photos of two especially enterprising ones that found a way to cool off.

Our last day out we revisited Sedona for a jeep tour of the area.  It was a teeth-rattling bumpy ride but so worth it for the views.  Here is a picture our driver took of the four of us.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to cap off our vacation with a trip to the Snowbowl. It’s a ski lift that operates in the off season to take tourists up to the top of the peak. It’s a thirty minute ride that carries you up to an ear-popping elevation of 11,500 feet.

And then it was time to head home.

As I said it was a wonderful vacation, one that will make me smile whenever I remember it.

What about you? Have you ever visited this part of our country? And do you have a favorite vacation you look back on fondly?

 

 

 

I LOVE STORIES ABOUT THE WILD WEST

  We’re delighted to welcome our guest,  Anne Greene.  Anne has graciously offered to give away three autographed copies of SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE. (Sweepstake guidelines apply)

I love stories about the wild west, and horses, feisty women, and best of all cowboys. I live in Texas, and though most of the men I meet in my fast-growing town are regular-type men wearing business suits or jogging outfits or casual wear, on occasion I run into a real cowboy. I gape at him with his tight jeans, fitted shirt, cowboy boots, rodeo trophy belt buckle, and black Stetson.

But today the modern cowboy, rather than ride a horse, drives an enormous black truck with a rifle slung across the back window of his double-cab. I wrote about such a cowboy, except he rode a black Harley motorcycle, in my soon to be released book, Mystery At Dead Broke Ranch.

When I was single I even dated a real cowboy, and he delighted in showing me his trophy belt buckle and talking about his rodeo exploits. He was handsome too. So much so that I didn’t feel we were a match. But the few dates I allowed with him were fun. He even let me ride his horse.

My newest released book, Firecracker Bride, takes place in Texas, near the historic Alamo. Cat Divine resists stage robbers, her demanding father, gossiping neighbors, and flash floods. But can she resist Travis McGuire, a hero with a heart and bravery as big as his Texas home?

Seems many of my books are set in Wyoming rather than Texas. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I love Texas, but I enjoy visiting Wyoming. My book, A Christmas Belle, is set in Wyoming. Amanda is a southern belle who becomes a Mail Order Bride. She expects to marry a Wyoming cowboy, but the Wyoming Sheriff puts duty before love.

Felicity discovers Ben at Fort Laramie in A Groom For Christmas.

When I’m not writing about sheriffs, I’m writing about stagecoach drivers. In today’s give-away book, SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE, heiress Abby Hollister’s Papa demands she stop toying with young men’s hearts and marry within a month or be disinherited. She determines to become a mail-order bride and travel to untamed Laramie, Wyoming. Abby creates a list of characteristics she expects for her prospective husband and sets off to claim the perfect mate and secure her personal fortune.

Stage coach driver, Zach Tyler likes his exciting job where he outsmarts robbers and Indians and keeps the stage running regardless of weather, break-downs, and ornery passengers. But passenger Abby Hollister proves to be an unusual challenge. He protects her on the journey to Laramie, but in that town women are as scarce as a bird’s nest in a cuckoo clock, and men go crazy when the beauty arrives seeking a husband.

My own hero husband isn’t a cowboy, but he looks like one when we go Texas Two-Stepping. He wears his tight jeans, fitted shirt, and cowboy boots. And he’s tall, lanky, and laid-back. But he’s not the strong, silent type. He’s the strong, talkative type. And I love him with all my heart. And he rides a Harley.

But, I am certain I shall write many more western stories because I do so love cowboys!

Be sure to visit me at http://www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

So what do you like most about cowboys?

 

 

ABOUT ANNE GREENE: My home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. My dear husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. My little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares my writing space, curled at my feet. I have four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep me running.

I’ve traveled in every location of each book I’ve written, and each book is a book of my heart. Besides my first love, writing, I enjoy travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” Whether writing contemporary or historical, my books celebrate the abundant life Jesus gives.

 

Updated: June 23, 2017 — 11:26 am
Petticoats & Pistols © 2015