Category: Places

Cavedwellers and Love

With Valentine’s Day almost here, my thoughts are tripping around romance and love even more than usual. 

In fact, Valentine’s Day always takes me back to the early days when Captain Cavedweller and I had just started dating. We met the day after Christmas (on a blind date), saw each other New Year’s Eve, then he went back to college nine hours away and I assumed that was all she wrote.

About two weeks later, he called to let me know he’d transferred schools and was back in town. After that, I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t see each other right up to the day we married. 

Under all that cavedweller exterior, he really is a romantic at heart (just don’t let him know I shared that little secret). 

That very first Valentine’s Day, he brought me gifts every day for a week. They weren’t expensive, elaborate gifts, just little tokens of affection that made this hopeless romantic’s heart melt and then melt again. 

Fast forward several years to a point where we were both so busy with life, we’d kind of forgotten about what it felt like when we fell in love. The “spark” had been replaced with getting through one day and then another. 

Unwilling to fully surrender what had once been an amazing romance to the mundane of everyday life, I decided we’d spend a year going on a weekly date, just like we did when we first met. And since this was an experiment, I thought writing our experiences in a journal might be fun.
You can read about all our dates and my feelings of each one (even when they were getting a little routine) in Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. And it’s free right now on Kindle! 

A marriage that lost its spark.
A secret journal.
And a woman determined to light a fire under an introverted cavedweller.

Share the adventure of one couple’s efforts at reigniting their relationship in this G-rated journey through fifty dates.

Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, USA Today Bestselling author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their marriage.
This journal provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.

And while I’m on the topic of cavedwellers and love, I have to share a little about another book with cavedweller in the title. 

Captain Cavedweller and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in December. Way last spring, I started thinking of something unique and special I could give him as a gift. I finally decided it would be fun to write a book inspired by him. Then I landed on the idea of making the book about a time-traveling cavedweller. 

Oh, my gracious! The book was such fun to write! There’s the handsome cavedweller, a ranch with cowboys, and so much more!

Rob Foote, the amazing illustrator I hired to illustrate my children’s book and the covers of The Friendly Beasts of Faraday, took my whackadoodle ideas along with a wedding photo, and turned them into this fantastic cover.

 

I was so nervous when I handed CC a wrapped copy of the book on our anniversary. Would he love it? Hate it? Would he get that it was written with a heart full of love? 

He opened it and started laughing. And laughing. And he totally got that whole love part of it, too.

 

Can true love endure beyond the constraints of time?

Archaeologist Hannah Clayton has the unique talent of clearly imagining the past as she unearths artifacts in the present. When she stumbles across a cave with a wall of hidden petroglyphs, she’s giddy with excitement. At least until a man dressed like a caveman appears out of nowhere and scares her witless.

Inexplicably drawn to the cavedweller who calls himself Thor, Hannah has to decide if he’s involved in an elaborate hoax or if he’s a walking miracle. Thor is unlike any man she’s ever encountered. From the moment they meet, she knows nothing will ever be the same.

He acts as though he adores her, makes her laugh, and fills her world with more joy than her heart can hold. But are the bonds they share strong enough to keep Thor beside her and prevent his return to the past?

Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart is available on Amazon in digital and paperback formats.

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart, just answer this question:

Would you rather receive candy, flowers, dinner out, or jewelry from your sweetheart?

Wishing you all a beautiful, love-filled Valentine’s Day!

A Luxury Resort–Was it Really a Ghost Town?

 

My first contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, will be released on January 24th by Tule Publishing.  Yee-Haw!

I just loved writing this book!  From the moment I envisioned Beau Paxton and Ava Howell in my mind, I fell in love with them.  I used the classic ‘fish out of water’ storyline, and the words just flowed.

Ava has a degree in construction management and drives all the way from New York City to take on a ghost town renovation project to honor a promise she made to her friend, who had made a promise to Beau’s mother. 

And of course, Beau doesn’t WANT his beloved ghost town renovated.  He doesn’t want strangers on his family’s land, he doesn’t want to spend the money, he doesn’t want his grandfather’s legacy (the ghost town) touched or changed from the way he’s always known it, and how it’s been for decades.

Sparks fly, for sure. 

I enjoyed the research, too.  But even before I dug in with Google, I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as renovating a ghost town into a guest resort.

Indeed, there was.

Dunton Hot Springs is located near Telluride, Colorado.  Dunton was first established in 1895 as a mining camp, and as was normal for mining communities springing up in less-than-ideal locations, once the mining peaked, the town died a slow death, eventually becoming deserted in 1918. 

A pair of long-time residents bought the entire town and a few mining claims, operating the land as a cattle ranch, then a dude ranch for a number of years.  Finally, in 1994, the current owners purchased the entire town and devoted seven years to renovating it into the luxury resort it is today.

Visitors can enjoy winter sport activities or bask in the captivating summer landscapes.  They can go glamping in a camp of eight luxury tents, enjoy hot springs that steam in the winter and entice in the summer, or head to Telluride for a stay in the historic Dunton Town House.  For the adventurous, or for those who just want to put their cell phones away and relax in the wilderness, Dunton promises a get-away not to be forgotten.

Rooms at the Town House rent from $350 – $500 per night. Cabin rates range from $1,200 to $2,020 per night. 

Um, yeah.

From its website:

“Apart from the beautiful landscape, Dunton Hot Springs is also the number one all inclusive resort in the US according to TripAdvisor, and number 8 in the entire world. Each cabin is different, but shares some things in common. They are all immaculately decorated with elements that find that spectacular combination of rustic and luxury. Oh, and did we mention one cabin has a private hot spring all to itself?”

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?  Of course, luxury comes with a cost, and this resort taps into a clientele that is willing to pay the price.

What about you?  Have you ever stayed at a luxury resort or hotel?  Are you willing to splurge on lavish accommodations as part of your vacation?  Can you justify the cost of an expensive room?  Do you love a spa treatment?  Massage?  Is atmosphere an important part of your get-away?  Do you prefer an outdoors vacation?  Or an urban one with all the comforts of home?

Let’s chat!

 

 

Join in, and you might win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

 

                                                 

                     Available on Amazon                                                                Preorder on Amazon

                Amazon #1 New Release!

Holiday Fever with a New Historical Release Today!

Are you enjoying our week of Holiday Fever? 

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)! 

I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner. 

In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year. 

So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today. 

I hope you’ll take a look! 

 

He needs a holiday miracle. . .

She’s prepared to deliver one

Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.

All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe.  Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.

With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon:  https://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr

 

 

 
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.

 

 The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.

https://tinyurl.com/y8pldruv

 The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!) 

https://amzn.com/B00GU2BYBQ

Happy Holidays from my heart to yours! 

Welcome Guest Faith Blum!

Last year, I had the opportunity to go to the location my first series was set in, Castle Town, Montana. It’s a ghost town now, although it is inhabited by cattle rather than ghosts. Even so, it was fun to see it. And now I feel like I need to rewrite my series. But I won’t.

Castle Town was a small mining town back in the late 1800s. There are lots of rocks, pine trees, and hills all around it. The only buildings left standing are the foundation of the general store and another building that is actually mostly standing yet.

I loved going there to see where my characters lived, even if it wasn’t quite the way I had imagined it. It had been a dream of mine for a few years to go to Montana mainly because of my books, and I was blessed to have a husband who willingly let me fulfill that dream.

I’m sharing a few pictures with some explanations from the area around Castle Town as well as Castle Town itself.

This sign guided us to the direction we were headed. But first we went to the right because there was a cute little church over there that we couldn’t resist looking at.

This sign was outside of the town. The bottom half says, “This road was the main street of Castle, Incorporated in 1891 with a population of about 1,500 people. The first mine registered was the North Carolina Mine in 1884. In the next 7 years, 991 claims were located. The rock basement is the remains of Baker’s General Store and Post Office. Berg’s Meat Market and Kidd’s Furniture Store were across the street. On the far hillside was Minnie’s Sporting House. The silver panic of 1893 caused the town to die a rapid death.

A panorama of the town.

A closeup of the foundation.

Obviously, there are some recent updates to the church, but doesn’t this look like something from a western?

This is the road leading to Castle Town. It is a one-lane road and you can only hope no one comes barrelling around the corner toward you. It definitely fit the rustic feel of the area.

These rocks lined the road. I don’t know if they were original to the area or put there from somewhere else.

It was so peaceful out there. The only creatures around were the cattle and the only sounds were of the cattle moving and the wind in the trees. I think I need to stop talking about it before I start wanting to back again.

If you ever find yourself near Bozeman, Montana, it’s only a two-hour drive north and a little east to get there. It’s a slow drive there, but fun.

What was your favorite vacation? Why was it your favorite?

Today, I am giving away one free ebook of my book that spends the most time in Castle Town, Montana,  Lily of the Valley. It is the fourth in the series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Updated: November 5, 2018 — 5:37 pm

Halloween, Ghost Stories, and Weddings! What? Weddings?

 

Yup, you read that right.  How do I get from the first two to the later? It’s easy when the wedding is in Estes Park, Colorado, at The Stanley Hotel, the famed inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining.

First a little history. Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora, missing the east’s grandeur, opened The Stanley Hotel complete with electric lights, telephones, en suite bathrooms, uniformed staff and a fleet of automobiles in 1909 among the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado. However, by the 1970’s the hotel’s splendor had faded, and it might have been demolished if not for Stephen King.

The famed author stayed in Room 217 and a dream here inspired The Shining. The room is thought to be haunted by Elizabeth Wilson. Injured in 1911 in an explosion lighting lanterns in Room 217, when recovered, Mrs. Wilson became head chambermaid and worked at the hotel until her death. Since then, guests have reported luggage being unpacked (now this I’d appreciate ?) and lights being turned on and off. Mrs. Wilson, not a fan of unmarried couples sharing the room, has been known to show her displeasure by climbing into bed between them!

The Concert Hall is another room frequented by otherworldly inhabitants including Flora Stanley. When the hotel opened, F.O. presented Flora with a Steinway Grand Piano. Since her passing, guests and staff claim Flora can still be heard playing. Paul, a jack-of-all trades at the hotel, enjoys frequenting this room as well. Charged with enforcing the hotel’s curfew during his tenure, guests and workers claim Paul can be heard saying “get out” after hours. He’s also said to “nudge” construction workers and flicker flashlights for tour groups here.

On the hotel’s fourth floor, originally a cavernous attic where female staff, nannies and children stayed, guests report hearing children running, laughing, giggling and playing. People also claim a certain closet opens and closes on its own. In room 428, guests report footsteps and furniture being moved above them. However, many claim this impossible due to the roof’s slope. But the room’s most frequent ghostly visitor is a “friendly cowboy” appearing by the bed. Now that’s the room for me! What a great opportunity for hero research!

These are a small sample of the ghost stories associated with The Stanley Hotel. If you’re interested in more tales, I recommend Ghost Stories of the Estes Valley Volumes 1 and 2 by Celeste Lasky. (I purchased mine at The Stanley but they’re available on Amazon.)

If you visit Estes Park, maybe you’ll be inspired as I was. That’s where the idea for my first novel sold to Harlequin, Big City Cowboy, literally walked up to me. But that’s a story for another blog…

If you stay at The Stanley Hotel, could you’ll encounter F.O. Stanley hovering behind his staff at the reception desk. ? If you do, keep these tips from tripsavvy.com on how to capture ghosts on camera in mind. “Take five or six quick shots to capture a fleeting spirit. Oh, and bring up back-up batteries because paranormal experts will tell you if spirits are present, they’ll have a draining effect on your batteries.”

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about a place where you’ve encountered a ghost or that’s left you feeling a bit creepy to be entered in my give away. And oh, yes, Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Updated: October 30, 2018 — 6:23 pm

Romance and Banter are Brewing

Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.

We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.

This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!

CIR meme with covers

The stories begin releasing November 1.

Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.

 Sleigh Bells Ring Meme

 Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It  releases Nov. 1.

You’re never too old to fall in love . . .

Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?

Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.

Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.

When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?

As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess  while he recuperates from knee surgery. 

She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her,  but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…

 

“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.

Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”

Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”

“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”

He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”

Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”

“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.

“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”

“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”

“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”

“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”

Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”

 Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”

A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”

“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”

“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”

Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”

 

Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!

A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love. 

Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.

A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?

A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.

Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.

pre-order SBR

 

If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?

 

Prairie Guest Books

In the recently released Old West Christmas Brides collection, Chimney Rock plays an important part of my story.

Located in Nebraska, this rock formation was one of the many prairie “registers” along the pioneer trails leading west, and could be seen from as far as thirty miles away.  Some considered it the eighth wonder of the world.

Thousands of travelers carved or painted signatures onto these “registers.”  Sometimes they left messages to those traveling behind.     

Those in a hurry would simply hire one of the businessmen who had set up shop at the base of the rocks to carve or paint signatures for a fee.  Travelers would often add hometowns and date of passage. 

Chimney Rock was taller in the 1800s.

The best known “Register of the desert” was Independence Rock.  Travelers beginning their westbound trip in the spring tried to reach this rock by July 4th.  Reaching it any later could be disastrous. For that would mean, travelers might not reach their destinations before running out of grain or the winter storms hit. 

The most recognized landmark on the Oregon trail, Independence Rock is located in Wyoming.  The granite outcropping is 1,900 feet long, 700 feet wide, and 128 feet high and has been described as looking like a turtle or large whale.  It’s a mile around its base. 

 

True West Magazine

It’s hard to imagine in this day of instant communication, the importance of these rocks.  In those early days, mail was none-existent and anyone heading west had no way of communicating with family back home.

Travelers climbed the rock to engrave their names, but also to look for the names of friends or relatives who had passed before them. One of the earliest signatures to be found is that of M.K. Hugh, 1824.

Cries of Joy!

Lydia Allen Rudd reached the rock on July 5th, 1852.  Though she wrote in her diary “that there are a million of names wrote on this rock,” she was somehow able to locate her husband’s name.  He had passed by the rock three years earlier.    

Unfortunately, erosion and time have erased many of the names, but the echoes of the past linger on. 

If you were a traveler in the 1800s, what message would you leave for those traveling behind? 

 

 

“This tale charms.” -Publishers Weekly

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Updated: September 26, 2018 — 2:33 pm

Celebrating 68 Years of Marriage

Last week, my parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. 

Sixty-eight years.

My mind struggles to wrap around that many years of wedding bliss.

My dad, always something of a character, informed me the day before their anniversary he’d been married to Mom for 24,820 days and counting. 

I laughed, but the enormity of spending nearly 25,000 days married to your high school sweetheart still boggles my mind.

Russ GraduationMy parents met their senior year of high school. 

Dad’s family had just moved to the area and he only knew the closest neighbor’s kids when school started that fall. He’s always been friendly and outgoing, never had any trouble making friends and fitting in. In no time at all, he was involved in sports, playing in the band, participating in Future Farmer of America activities, and watching a certain dark-haired girl who’d caught his eye.

Dollie GraduationMom was shy and quiet, had a few good friends, and didn’t participate in many extra-curricular activities, mostly because my grandparents’ farm was quite a distance from town and she had no way to get home if she stayed late after school. 

Right away, she noticed the new, cute boy at school, the one many of the other girls were buzzing about. However, they ran in different social circles and it wasn’t until spring when Dad finally asked her out on a date to the movies. 

By the time they graduated, they were an “item.” Dad was gone for a while, serving in the Naval Reserves, but the following summer, they made plans to wed in early August. 

The dimple-cheeked girl with stars in her eyes rushed through her swing shift at the telephone office then raced out to the farm where a handsome boy who had captured her heart waited to make her his bride.

 

She didn’t have a fancy, elaborate gown. They both wore gray suits.

Their flowers were gladiolas, pink and white.

And they said “I do” in the minutes before the clock struck midnight due to her working late.

Not the stuff of fairy tales, right?

But the lasting power of their love — 68 years — includes a little fairy tale, happily-ever-after sprinkled in the mix. 

Growing up, I watched some of my classmates go through the trials and tribulations of having their parents divorce. By then, my folks were middle-aged and settled into life and into each other. I never once worried about them separating. They were then and still remain a united front.

I don’t think either of them ever once considered leaving each other as an option. They were just eighteen and nineteen when they wed, but they made a commitment for a lifetime.

And I’m so glad they did.

If you want to know about true love and real romance, ask a couple who’s been married for more than six decades. I bet they’ll give you some good tips and probably a generous helping of humor.

M & D at park young

Life wasn’t always easy for them. Far from it.

They had plenty of rough patches to work through, but they remained committed to each other and the vows they made.

Their little family grew from the two of them to three with the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.

It expanded to four with the birth of another boy.

And then my sister came along making them a happy group of five.

I’ve heard stories of the adventures they all had, the many, many times they moved before my parents bought a farm in Eastern Oregon and set down roots that kept them there for more than fifty years.

four kids

Evidently, after twenty years of marriage, they still liked each other, because they had me. (Both of my brothers look like they’re waiting for me to do something awful.)

And the family continued to grow with the arrival of grandbabies… then great-grandbabies. 

For  68 years, Mom and Dad have been there for each other — through fights and fears, laughter and tears, celebrations and sorrows. 

If you ask them individually, they’ll both tell you the secret to a happy marriage is listening to your partner and not always trying to be right, even when you know you are.

If you ask me, though, I’d say a big part of their longevity and happiness comes from these things:

russ with dog and heart watch

*My dad’s great sense of humor and the fact that he absolutely adores my mom. He always has and, after 68 years of marriage, I think it’s safe to say he always will.

Dollie attitude

*My mom’s loyalty and devotion to my dad and her ability to be a perfect balance to him.

mom and dad

I, for one, am so glad they  fell in love and have remained in love all these many years. 

If you could give a newly-married couple a tidbit of advice, what would you share?

What Makes a Great Beach Read?

SUMMER!

Oh my stars, can you believe it, that it is not snowing like almost anywhere, except perhaps in the highest of high peaks? And what goes along with summer? So many things!!!

Ice pops (or freeze pops, here).

Popsicles!

Flowers…

Sun…. leaves…. color… green!!!!… heat… warmth…. blue skies… thunderstorms… scampering critters…. birds…. birdsong… frogs croaking… bugs chirping… baby birds out of the nest… Oh, so many things! But what’s one of the most recognizable things about summer?

Bathing suits. Sunscreen. Sun umbrellas. Flowered towels. Plastic water bottles. Sandbuckets. Plastic shovels. And

BEACH READS!!!!!

Why are beach reads a thing? Well… because folks are relaxing on the beach. Sunbathing or lounging or just hanging out on vacation and what do tons of people take with them to the beach? A book. Or an e-reader, a Kindle or even their phone!

Nowadays you can read on just about anything and folks aren’t worried to death about getting sand in a $29.00 E-reader… like they used to be about a $129.00 Kindle…

Times change, but people don’t. Not really. And when they go to the beach, or to the shore, or hanging out in the air conditioned hotel room or rented condo, a great read is a marvelous thing.

And it can be any kind of read, but for my money, you can’t beat a great western or romance. Now I like my romances sweet. We all know that. But I like my stories to go deep… to strengthen the backbone of the romance with some real life things and it just so happens that one of those wonderful westerns has just gone on sale for $1.99 for the e-reader version.

A Cinderella-type story… with a country star cowboy prince… and the sacrificial heart that makes all the difference.

In spite of their differences, Trey Walker Stafford knows he owes his life to cowboy and legendary rancher Sam Stafford—the uncle who rescued him after his parents’ death. Trey had left the Double S Ranch to pursue music against Sam’s wishes, but returns to central Washington when he learns he’s the best match for a procedure that could save Sam’s life. Although Trey’s found country music fame and success, he’s also endured the tragic loss of his wife. He croons about love, but struggles with a yawning emptiness he can’t explain.

Overwhelmed by a growing list of challenges, but mistrustful of Stafford men, single mother Lucy Carlton reluctantly accepts Trey’s help to revive her crumbling farm when Sam instructs him to repay the overdue debt to her family.

As the two grow closer, Trey slowly begins to open his heart to this beautiful woman and strives to let go of the grief he’s held for years. Lucy has a complicated history of her own. Can Trey accept her as she is, learn to forgive the past, and find the elusive peace he’s sought for so long?

Okay, so that’s the “skinny” on the story, but there’s more… so much more. Because this story isn’t just about a romance between two unlikely characters… this is a story that was in part inspired by Jimmy Wayne’s history, how he was taken in by a couple who opened their doors to him…

It’s a story that could take place anywhere… so why in the west? Why on a ranch?

Because this story was made for a cowboy. This series was centered around that cowboy code, sometimes misplaced by geography and timing, but never gone for good… because the true heart of a cowboy, of how a man treats a woman… and a dog… and a or cow and a calf and a horse and a kitten… it’s in that ‘putting others first’ example we all love so much.

Now, okay, it is fiction, of course… Men are men, the world is round, and life goes on. But there is a romance that’s bound in the image of a cowboy, taking care to see things done right, and that’s the kind of story I wrote for “Peace in the Valley”. A story of a man who isn’t afraid to step off the big stage, walk away from tens of thousands of screaming fans, and help re-build a barn for the gal next door. Or fill a shopping cart full of food. Or give a little girl a shoulder ride, so she sees the world from new heights.

A caring man is a wonderful thing, but when we slap that caring man on a horse and give him the perfect tilt to his hat, well, then…

Now you’ve got something.

And for the next two weeks, that “something” is on sale for $1.99 at AMAZON,BARNES & NOBLE .

The perfect beach read. The perfect romance. And a story that fills in all the sorry holes of a longing heart.

And as a fun glimpse at why I picked that title, (besides the obvious fact that the books are set in the beautiful Kittitas Valley of Central Washington state) here’s a link to Elvis Presley singing “Peace in the Valley” in that beautiful voice of his.

I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day. It’s a blessed day to remember the courage and conviction of men and women who stood strong in the face of unfairness and adversity… who stood strong even though they were grossly outnumbered by an enemy with much greater fire power than they ever hoped to have…

And men and women who descended from those brave first immigrants, the pilgrams who fled to the shores of a new land searching for religious freedom. Including the freedom to sing things like “Peace in the Valley”, pray in the church of their choosing… or on the trail… and raise their children to be God-fearing people who strove to make their way… On Independence Day I think about those who came to this country… built this country… defended this country… and worked so hard to make a difference in the lives of others.

Courage of conviction. Another quality our cowboys carry into their work, every single day. Just like those that went before them.

Happy summer and don’t forget the BEACH READS, DARLINGS!!!!

 

 

Ruthy

 

 

 

 

Cowboy Fever and Rodeo Fun

This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.

I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.

Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.

Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.

Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).

Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.

For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).

One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!

As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.

I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.

I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.

How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?

Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!

 Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.

 Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.

Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.

To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLMXSGT/?tag=pettpist-20

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