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Just a Farm Girl

A few weeks ago when I received an invitation to join the fabulous Fillies here at Petticoats & Pistols, I had to read it three times before I could fully latch onto the fact that I was going to be a Filly!

From the first time these wonderful ladies asked me to be a guest on the blog, I’ve been so impressed with them and the great community they’ve built here. And now I get to be part of it!  It’s hard to picture this lil’ ol’ farm girl getting to hang out here, but I’m sure excited to be counted among the Fillies.

Circa 1970-something… me with a fawn our neighbor rescued

I’ve possessed a love of books, reading, and creating stories for as long as I can remember. I also loved growing up on a farm where my dad let me tag after him all the time. (You can find a few of our adventures together in Farm Girl – humorous takes on true things that happened during my childhood.)

In fact, he kept a blanket, one of my baby dolls, storybooks, and a supply of candy in the swather so I could ride with him whenever it was hay-cutting time.

While I trailed Dad like a shadow, I learned about rural life, country living, cowboys, and heroes.

Much of what I saw, experienced, and lived during my formative years is woven into the threads of the sweet contemporary and historical stories I write.  My 50th book just released last week, so I’ve had  many opportunities to incorporate a variety of details from my background, but there’s one thing I keep circling my wagon around.

The heroes in my books are often rugged guys who can be a little rough around the edges, but they generally hold a healthy respect toward women and stick to an unspoken code of chivalry we may never know or decipher.

While some may think these types of men exist only in my fertile imagination, I know they are real. Honestly, they continually inspire me.

My own beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, is a great source of gallant deeds. Although he isn’t much of a talker, if I can get him to be serious for five minutes, he typically manages to say something that melts my heart. (But don’t tell him I shared that with you. I think that breaks rule #63 in the code.)

When I look for validation that the code is alive and well in others of the male species beyond Captain Cavedweller, I find it.

For example, I recently met a PRCA bull rider. He’d never seen me before. Didn’t know me from Adam’s off ox. In fact, he couldn’t be blamed if he was full of himself since he’s quite successful in his line of work. The opposite seemed true, though. When we were introduced, he quickly snatched off his hat, politely tipped his head, and called me “ma’am.” Respectful, kind, and genuine are words I could easily use to describe him. He couldn’t have been more mannerly if Miss Etiquette had been whispering in his ear.

In one of my contemporary romances, Learnin’ The Ropes, the bossy, crusty ranch foreman outlines what he believes to be the code all men should live by to the new greenhorn his boss hired.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Once you give your word and a handshake, it’s as binding as signing a contract.
  2. Never betray a trust.
  3. Never lie, cheat or steal.
  4. Treat all children, animals, and old folks like you want to be treated.
  5. Call your elders sir and ma’am.
  6. Treat women with respect and care.
  7. Always tip your hat to a lady and take it off at the dinner table and in church.
  8. Work hard and give your boss an honest day for your pay.
  9. If someone needs a hand, lend yours to the task.
  10. Respect the flag and our nation.
  11. Be clean – both on the outside and inside of your person.
  12. Never stop learning.
  13. Never make fun of someone who gave it their best.
  14. Never wear your spurs or dirty boots in the house.
  15. Fight fair, be brave, and stand up for what’s right.

Despite what others might say, the Cowboy Code rides on. I’m so, so glad it does.  I need those amazing heroes to counter the strong, independent, sassy women in the stories I write. A milksop hero just won’t do for them. Nope, not at all.

I think one of the reasons we love to read western romances is because the stories and characters are full of  strength, hope, and love. My new release, set in the Wild West town of Pendleton, Oregon, during WWII, centers on the theme of hope.

In the story, (based on the famous Doolittle Raid… did you know 79 of the 80 men on the mission were based at Pendleton? I should probably provide ample warning that I love researching historical details for my stories!) our hero, Klayne, is convinced he’s going to die on a secret mission. Desperate to leave something, someone, behind, he talks a rancher’s daughter into marrying him, in name only, of course. Too bad Delaney has far different plans…

As a thank you for joining us today, I hope you’ll download a free copy of Heart of Clay, the very first romance I wrote.

Easy-going cowboy Clay Matthews is a respected college professor. He’s the man family and friends turn to for help, or when they need a good laugh.  Life would be almost perfect if he could figure out the mysterious, mind-boggling woman who was his wife…

Amazon –
Barnes & Noble –
Apple –
Kobo –

I’m also going to give away one autographed paperback copy of Learnin’ The Ropes with some fun swag.

To enter for a chance to win, please post a comment sharing one of your favorite childhood memories!


Julie Benson has a winner!

Sorry I’m so late getting this done, but I’m still learning the ropes around here. Next time I’ll be sure to announce my winner the day after my post.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat and made me feel so welcome during my first day as a filly!
And the winner is…


Please contact me at to discuss details.


Updated: August 9, 2017 — 10:45 am

We Have Some Winners for Karen Kay and Phyliss Miranda’s Give-Away

Howdy!  We have a great time yesterday at the blog.  What a treat to see you all there and to listen to what y’all had to say.  And indeed we do have winners for the prizes we offered.

Phyliss’s winner for the book, GIVE ME A TEXAS RANGER and the gift certificate for Bath and Body Works is:     Connie Saunders.

Congratulations to Connie.  I know you’ll enjoy the gift.

Karen Kay’s winners are first for the Mass Market copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE:  Deana Dick

Karen Kay’s other winner for the Tradepaper copy of the book SENECA SURRENDER, is

Carol Luciano

Congratulations to Connie and Deana and Carol.

Deana Dick and Carol Luciano, please email me privately at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net  so we can arrange getting the book to you.  I’ll need a physical address to send the book

Connie, bear with me for just a moment.  I have to get Phyliss’s email address so that the two of you can arrange to get the prize to you.

Many thanks to all for coming to the blog yesterday and for your kind, kind comments.  We send you all much love.

Updated: August 9, 2017 — 10:04 pm

New Kid in Town!


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.



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?


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

Winner for Tuesday!


Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left a comment about today’s blog on the Gadsden Flag. 

I appreciate each and every one of you!

Today’s winner of their choice of one of my eBooks

plus a miniature Don’t Tread On Me Flag is


Congratulations, Alice.  Watch for an email from me about how

to get your prizes.

Updated: August 1, 2017 — 6:53 pm

We Have a Winner for Karen Kay’s Free E-book Give-away


Well, yes we do have a winner for Karen Kay’s book, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE — and the winner is:

Patricia B.

Congratulations Patricia.  If you would contact me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — we’ll make arrangements to get you the book.

Many thanks to all those who came to the blog today and who left a message.

Updated: July 26, 2017 — 8:47 pm

Pathfinder — Daniel Boone

Pathfinder Daniel Boone

We all know Daniel Boone, right? King of the Wild Frontier?

In my last few blog posts about Pathfinders I’ve talked mostly about the men on the western frontier.

But I am fascinated that at one time, Kentucky was the far west in America.

Daniel Boone was the first man to chart a real trail to reach Kentucky from the east. He blazed a trail called The Wilderness Road in 1775. It was steep, the trails narrow and treacherous and it became an old version of the modern superhighway. It was used for trade and eventually reached to Ohio then Indiana, and Illinois.

And it all started with Daniel Boone.

Getting across mountains was always tricky. And that’s true if you’re talking the Rockies, the Alps or the Appalachians.

Boone was born in 1734 in a log cabin, the sixth of eleven children. His family lived in Pennsylvania, near present day Reading. It was the far western edge of the frontier.

And then he moved farther west.

With his wife and ten children he settled in Kentucky. Boone fought in The French and Indian War, The Revoluationary War and in countless skirmishes. He hunted to feed his family but also he harvested furs and sold them to support his growing brood.

Nearly every year he went on a ‘long hunt’ and he worked as a surveyor. Once he was gone for fur years and family lore says that Jemima, the fourth child of Daniel Boone as not Boone’s child. He was gone so long he was presumed dead. Boone’s brother married his wife and a baby was born to them. With Daniel back, the brother moved out and Daniel moved back in. He and his wife had six more children.


In 1776, Boone was hired by a prominent judge, who had invested in land in Kentucky, to find a trail passable road through the Appalachian Mountains. Boone blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap–a notch in the Appalachian Mountains located near where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet. The Road went through Kentucky to the Ohio River. The trail would be a pathway to the west for 300,000 settlers over 35 years. This led to the first settlements in Kentucky and eventually to Kentucky’ becoming the 15th state admitted to the Union.


There were many frontiersmen pushing their way west, this was long before Lewis and Clark, but Boone got the good press.

John Filson’s “The Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boon”, was a short biography contained in a book The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke.

First published in 1784, Filson’s book established Boone as one of the first folk heroes of the New World. Filson interviewed Boone for the book but Boone was a man of few words. Where Filson needed to, he decorated up the story until he created a legend (okay he lied, whatever).

Over the years editors felt free to add, and subtract from the biography to suit themselves. It was translated into German and French and made Boone a legend in Europe. Lord Byron, the celebrated English poet, even included Boone in one of his poems.


 Daniel Boone died at age 85 in Missouri. There is an interesting legend about his burial and two cemeteries, one in Missouri, one in Kentucky, claim Boone is buried there.



Updated: July 18, 2017 — 7:36 pm


My winners today for a digital copy of their choice of OUTLAW’S KISS or THESE ROUGH DREAMS are… DALE STEWART and LYNDA PATTERSON! Congratulations, ladies, and if you will e-mail me at, I will see that you get your choice of either of these stories!

Thanks so much to everyone for stopping by today and commenting! It’s always good to see you all!

Updated: July 17, 2017 — 9:56 pm

We Have Two Winners for Karen Kay’s free Give-Away


This is late, and I’m so sorry to post the winner for the book, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION later than it should be.  Please forgive me.

So I’m giving away two books instead of just one.  And the winners are:

Estella Kissell and Lisa Brown

Yea!  Estella and Lisa, please contact me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — I will need a physical address since these are the mass market print books.

My hearty thanks to all who came to the blog today and who left a comment.  I so love “talking” (internet style) to y’all.

Updated: July 13, 2017 — 7:41 pm
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