I know it’s only November first, but I am in that Christmas spirit because that’s kind of how publishing rolls, my friends and as the publishers roll… Well, so do the authors! And this author has some fun stuff to celebrate this fall…
First, my just released (non-cowboy!) book “At Home in Wishing Bridge“, the second book of my “Wishing Bridge” series, has been on the Amazon bestseller list for weeks and spent a lot of time at #1 so there is a reason to celebrate right there… and readers are loving it. And that makes authors the happiest of all.
And Love Inspired has re-issued this beautiful story from my “Kirkwood Lake” series. “The Lawman’s Holiday Wish is a story of old wrongs, quick judgments and slow healing… but when God gives us a whole new beginning… a beginning with three precocious five-year-olds… well, that’s the kind of Christmas dream we all love to see! Love Inspired doubled the fun by pairing me with Gail Martin and her book “The Christmas Kite”. You can find this on AMAZON, and in Walmart now!
But being a Western blog, let’s see if I can pull something out of my Christmas Stetson!
First, we’ve got an amazingly fun duo with my good Western buddy Linda Goodnight. I was blessed to be part of a novella duo with her… Western-and-cowboy-themed…. and so I was able to add a “Shepherd’s Crossing” novella to my series set in Western Idaho. The “Shepherd’s Crossing” series brings three Southern beauties… real Steel Magnolias… to a sheep ranch left to them by a benevolent uncle. And there just may be some rugged cowboys who know a good thing when they see it and have the brains enough to keep these girls well above the Mason-Dixon line… despite the cold and wind and snow. Shepherd’s Crossing… where love conquers all. Eventually. 🙂
This beautiful story pairs a single mother with a cowboy who’s spent a bunch of years alone… but Christmas isn’t just a season of miracles. It’s a season of family… friends… and second chances. And Ty Carrington gets his second chance in “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” my half “A Cowboy Christmas”! And today I’ve got two copies of “A Cowboy Christmas” to send out this week (it’s catch up week on the farm now that pumpkin season is over!)… so you can win it before you can buy it! This book hits stores in two weeks… and on sale for Kindle December 1st!!! PREORDER HERE! (I can’t make it much plainer than that, can I, darlings???)
On sale nationwide in two weeks!
And then, for the historical lovers among us (of which I am one!) here is my historical novella Christmas collection “Christmas on the Frontier”.
This three-novella book takes you back to a simpler time… but faith, hope and love still ruled the day as we built this great nation.
Three great pioneer Christmas stories bring us back to a simpler time… maybe a holier time… a time before Christmas became synonymous with commercialism. A time when a baby in the manger was enough to make us bow our heads… take a knee… pray as one. A time to be grateful for the little things. A time when little was taken for granted because our very hold on life and liberty was tenuous back then and no one had the luxury to be jaded.
“Her Christmas Cowboy”, “A Town Called Christmas” and “His Beloved Bride” make up a wonderful collection from my heart… to yours.
I’m also giving away two Kindle copies of “Christmas on the Frontier” today…. to start your November off right.
Leave a comment about holidays below… what you love? What you don’t love! What makes you laugh or cry? Are you a Hallmark binge watcher? Or a binge reader? Are you Pinterest crazy? Or do you wing it with cookies from Wegmans or Harris Teeter and a Stouffer’s lasagna in the oven?
Because there’s value and joy in both ways!
Four winners today to kick off our Christmas season, then rejoin me in a month when we celebrate Christmas novellas here with the fillies… and I’ll be giving away copies again. Keepin’ it simple. Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it prayerful in times of trouble…
“For unto you is born this day a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you. You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Luke 2, 11-12
Oh, those shepherds! Those angels!
Can you even imagine what that must have been like?
And today I get to kick of this holy and happy season with you! Bring on the eggnog, my friends! And the cookies. (Who doesn’t love cookies?) And let us rejoice together!
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!
I’ll admit it. I have deadline brain. Thus the reason I’m writing this post at 2:38 a.m. after finishing writing for the day. You see, I have a book due Friday, the third book in my Once Upon a Western series, and my brain feels as if it’s the consistency of oatmeal. Yum, oatmeal, I’m hungry. I need to go to bed and have the oatmeal tomorrow (or later today, ack!). Anyway, let’s have some fun today. I’m going to ask you five questions, and I’ll draw for a winner at the end of the day for a surprise pack of three books from my western backlist.
Back in the old west (among other places) once a frontier/pioneer family started to settle and cleared a little land, they bought a cow. If they didn’t have one already, that is.
The useful cow provided milk to feed the family and any calves they might be blessed with could be sold, slaughtered for meat or, if male, trained to plow and pull a wagon. The milk could also be turned into cheese and butter to trade at the general store or used to fatten the pigs and hens. Believe it or not, very little of the milk was used for drinking. As a result, people didn’t get as much calcium as they needed back then and many lost their teeth by the time they were thirty. But cows had other uses as well.
If a Pioneer family ran out of candles they could melt butter and pour it into a small lamp called a “cruisie” or “betty lamp.” The melted butter fueled the linen wick and gave a small amount of light.
In winter when cows couldn’t graze on fresh grass, the butter made from their milk was almost white. Carrot scrapings were used to give the butter a more pleasing color. One of the first color additives!
Families on the move made butter by hanging a leather bag full of cream from the back of the wagon. The bumpy ride churned the butter as the family traveled. Don’t think to hang a bag of cream off your truck and go four wheeling. Unless of course, you’d really like to have that fresh butter!
I don’t have any cows in my latest release. My heroines hail from Boston, they didn’t need to worry about a cow. As they travel west by train and stagecoach, hanging a bag of cream off the back of the stagecoach might have been an option, but they were more interested in meeting their future husbands than making butter. Gee, I wonder if they bought a cow once they were settled? Have you ever had a cow? Had a neighbor that had one? Comment below and I’ll choose a random winner to receive an e-book copy of Dear Mr. Comforts.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with a little snippet!
Rosie Callahan waved at her latest suitor as he ran down the porch steps. “Goodbye, Nicholas – I hope you call on me again!” She closed the door, groaned and let her head fall against it. “Rats. Lost another one.” She turned with a sigh and went into the parlor.
“Well?” her sister Georgie said. “Is he going to call on you tomorrow?”
Rosie shook her head, fell into the nearest chair and groaned again. “How does Aunt Henrietta expect us to get married when she chases off every potential groom?” She glanced around the room. “Where is Aunt Henrietta?”
“Upstairs in her room.” Her eyes flicked to the ceiling and back. “I hope she stays there.”
“Where’s Hunny?” Rosie asked. Their older sister, Phryne Hunnicutt Callahan, had gone by that nickname ever since she was ten, when she found out what historical figure her parents had accidentally named her after. Rosalind and Georgina were thankful that their Christian names lent themselves to comfortable shortening.
“She hasn’t returned from choir practice. Maybe that nice Mr. Edmonds will walk her home.”
“Mr. Edmonds the land agent? I thought he left town to go further west.”
Georgie shrugged. “Maybe he did. I can’t keep track anymore.”
Rosie beat her head against the back of the chair a few times. “At this rate we’ll never get married.”
“I’m worried you’re right,” Georgie agreed. “The way Aunt Henrietta acts, you’d think she doesn’t want us to marry, yet she’s always talking about it. I don’t understand her at all.”
“Nor I,” Rosie picked at a fingernail. “What if we never marry?”
Georgie’s eyes widened. “Don’t talk like that. Of course we’ll marry – it’s only a matter of time.”
“Only a matter of time before Aunt Henrietta chases off every viable suitor in the city. That woman is missing a wagon wheel.”
“Quiet, or she’ll hear you.”
Rosie folded her arms and sat back. “So what if she does? Tarnation, you know it’s true.”
Georgie gasped. “Rosie, watch your language!”
“What does it matter? I’m never going to be in a room with a man long enough for him to notice my manner of speech.”She got to her feet and paced. “Maybe I’ll bake some cookies. That always helps.”
“You can’t bake something every time this happens,” Georgie pointed out. “Even if it was you this time. My suitors never last past one visit. At least with Nathaniel Bridgewater you got two.”
“I know, but cookies make me feel better no matter who it happens to.” She turned and headed for the dining room.
Georgie jumped out of her chair. “Wait for me!”
Rosie crossed the dining room to the rear door that led to the kitchen downstairs. Aunt Henrietta had a large two-story townhome in Denver, complete with servant’s quarters, a summer kitchen and a lovely backyard with a gazebo. She didn’t actually keep servants – she was too cheap for that. Instead, she had three nieces to boss around and keep the house clean and the meals cooked.
Rosie – the cook – went into the larder to gather what she needed. “Sugar or molasses?” she asked Georgie.
“Molasses. We ate sugar cookies the last time Hunny got jilted.”
Rosie nodded. “True. Maybe we should make a different cookie when she gets jilted next time.”
Dear Mr. Comforts is available for pre-order on <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JDYRR1ZAmazon/a/p?tag=pettpist-20
So when I’m not writing beautiful stories like the one that released TWO DAYS AGO!!!! … I’m working on a pumpkin farm in Western New York, and in case you haven’t noticed the date, well… it’s October. Which means life on the pumpkin farm is crazy busy and crazy fun!
Hi, I’m Ruthy and this isn’t exactly a Western-themed post because right now I’m working in pumpkins and cookies and jams and mums…. as denoted in the pictures! And I just released the second book of the “Wishing Bridge” series “At Home in Wishing Bridge”…
Thea never expected to be in a small town like Wishing Bridge… much less love it.
This is what happens when you cross genres and don’t stay firmly tucked in one thing or another… you mess up everything by writing an amazingly good story about a woman who’s come the distance to be the person she is… and needs to go farther to be the person God wants her to be. It’s a story of sacrifice, doors opening wide and shutting tight, of God’s perfect timing and the chance to break out of the walls we tend to build for ourselves.
You’ve probably guessed that September and October are busy times on the farm! We all run from morning til night and I sneak downstairs to write around 3:30 AM each day… This week I heard Great Horned Owls staking their territory so that other boy owls will know to stay away… and one female owl joining in, her slight lilt offering a different kind of song, one that you know will appear in a book someday. 🙂
Jams! We make a selection of them and by “we” I mean “me!”
We sell homemade jams during the busy fall season, a fun thing that will appear in a book, too. There’s nothing like the sweet syrupy scent of Triple Berry or Strawberry jam filling the kitchen with steam, and it’s much nicer at 65 degrees than it was at 90 degrees!
I’m taking some of this expertise and fun and applying it to a couple of upcoming books set in the PNW. The Pacific Northwest is different from Western New York in some ways, but we’re both big apple-growing regions and the similarity in farmland is notable. So I can take some of my information from here in the Northeast Woodlands and apply it there in the rich valleys between the rise and fall of the Cascade mountains. These are a few of the mums I grew this year… I grew 1600 chrysanthemums and they had to be hand-watered and fed daily…. who knew it was going to be one of the hottest summers on record??? 🙂 Watering 1600 mums by hand is a real workout, my friends! No gym needed this summer, LOL!
While I’m writing I specialize in redemption and romance, two wonderful things!
Look at these pumpkins! All delicious heirloom or heirloom-cross squashes that make the best pies, cakes, soups… you name it!
On the farm I specialize in gorgeous colorful pumpkins. We grow Silver Moons, Jarrahdales, Long Island Cheese, Blue Doll, Porcelain Doll, Indian Doll, Speckled Hound, Cinderella, Fairytale, Rouge d’Vif, White Boer Ford, and Sunshines, a huge collection of delicious squashes that we can use for decorating the porch and yard to celebrate harvest… and then we eat them!
Blue Jarrahdale pumpkins developed in Australia… voted the best by Ruthy standards!
You’ve never had a better pumpkin than a Jarrahdale (brought here from cowboys down under, an Australian pumpkin cross) or Marina Di Choggia, an Italian delicacy squash with rich, robust flavor or the French heirloom pumpkins (think Cinderella’s coach) “Fairytale, Cinderellas and Rouge d’Vif”…. Bright green or scarlet or coral/orange, fun flattish pumpkins ideal for stacking.
When I’m writing a story I want the characters to be real. I want my readers to love them, to mourn with them, to feel their joys and their sufferings. To weep as we weep for one another and to laugh when things go well!
The same goes for the farm and using my knowledge of these things for setting or plot. Nothing is wasted when an author can use the knowledge he or she has achieved from real life and applies it to a book/story. I love doing that because I know that when that reader who grows apples or pumpkins out west reads the story, they’ll know I know my stuff… when a young mother reads a passage about kids, she’ll know I’m dealing with kids all the time. And when an older person reads about loss and time passing, they feel like I know them personally.
Taking the bits and pieces of real life and using them in stories adds a layer of depth to the story that might not be there without that hands-on experience. Sure, I study and research things I don’t do or haven’t done… but I mix in some of the actual experiences along with it. Depth in reality… and realism in story-telling.
I’ve always found that the compelling stories and backgrounds of the hero and heroine are the main dish of the book… but the setting, the research, the plot, the people, the animals, the jobs… those are the other dishes on that Thanksgiving table! Sure, it’s still Thanksgiving with just a turkey and stuffing… but when you add in the layers of side dishes, fresh rolls, desserts and good robust coffee and eggnog and punch…
Well now you’ve got a story, my friends!
Hey, I’ve got one copy of “At Home in Wishing Bridge” to give away today! If you haven’t read book one “Welcome to Wishing Bridge”, that’s all right… they’re stand alone stories and you’ll be fine, I promise. But I expect you’re going to like both stories, the stories of three teens who bonded together to survive some really rough childhoods… and who meet together twelve years later when one sends out an SOS and the others come running to help… and then just maybe they realize that Wishing Bridge, NY might be the home sweet home they’ve been dreaming of all along.
Leave a comment below about anything you love…. and I’ll put your name in the mum pot!