Category: Western Novels

There’s a New Outlaw in Texas

I’m so happy, happy to FINALLY share TO MARRY A TEXAS OUTLAW with you! This release will make me twenty published books and short stories. Whew! I can’t believe it.

It seemed this third book of Men of Legend, the story you’ve all waited so patiently for, would never come. (A watched pot never boils.) I think you might find it well worth the wait. At least I’m hoping that’s the case.

At last, Luke Weston has the location for the man who pinned a federal judges’ murder on him. He’s searched for Ned Sweeney for two long years and finally has his location. He only has a one-hour window before Sweeney goes underground again. He’s riding to Dead Horse Creek when he sees a woman bound and gagged underneath a scrawny tree and covered in blood. He’s torn about what to do but his honor won’t let him ride on.

The woman doesn’t know her name, where she belongs, or how she got there. But she’s mad enough to whip someone.

Deliverance Canyon is close by. He decides to take her there to Tally Shannon and the other woman hiding out.

I often think of how scary it would be to wake up and not know who I was or where I lived. You would have no starting point or nothing to relate anything to. I can’t imagine. But Josie somehow keeps her sense of humor and stays optimistic for the most part. She trusts the outlaw Luke Legend and feels safe with him.

As pieces of her life slowly start to emerge, she falls deeper in love with Luke. It’s at that point she begins to pray she never finds out who she is because she senses it will change things between them. Something tells her that her past is riddled with bad people and she’s found contentment with Luke and hates the thought of that ending.

Despite the seriousness of her situation, she is so funny and sweet and I love that. I think you will too. But that doesn’t mean she’ll be a doormat for anyone. She’s quite a fighter.

I think that’s what Luke likes most about her. She takes whatever life throws at her and finds a silver lining.

This story is full of twists and turns and Luke will steal your heart—all over again. Will he clear his name and get to claim the Legend name? So many forces are working against him. And Josie too. You’ll just have to see. All I can say is you’d better hold on tight.

Many secrets are revealed, and love claimed. By the end of the book, Luke and the Legend family will forever remain etched in your memory.

In Texas some legends are born, some are made

…and some are created by destiny.

In this story, the legend is that whoever sleeps beneath the Texas star will find his true worth. Luke does that in this story and gets the affirmation he seeks.

Do you know of any legends? Maybe you’ve read about some in other books. Or maybe a book about amnesia. Leave some kind of comment to be entered in my giveaway for one of three copies of the book.

From the Outback to the Old West

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10-07-photoHi! Alissa Callen here.

I blame Louis L’Amour for my cowboy addiction and fascination with the Old West. Decades after I picked up Westward the Tide I still have every title he wrote. The print size might make me squint, and the pages are dog-eared and yellowed, but his books are still my favourite companions.

I grew up chasing sheep on a family farm in Australia and haven’t strayed far from my country roots. I now live on a small farm with my husband, four children and far-too-many fence jumping cows. I’ve also lived in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and whenever its fall over there I still think of the golden beauty of the aspens.

When I first put pen to paper all my stories played themselves out against a frontier backdrop. And, thanks to Louis L’amour, they still do. Whether my historical or contemporary characters are riding the range in Montana or working cattle in the red dust of the Outback, my books all feature a hero, or heroine, who embodies the cowboy code.

Life on the land can be challenging and it takes a certain set of timeless values to 10-07-image-04survive. A cowboy needs to be resilient, courageous and honourable. He needs to finish what he starts and to do what needs to be done. His word needs to be his bond and his loyalty unquestionable. A cowboy also needs respect for himself as well as those around him.

A cowboy’s body is honed by hard work out in the sun, rain or snow. His work ethic and commitment ensures that when he rides for a brand he won’t deviate. His toughness is always tempered by tenderness. And last but not least, a cowboy looks good in dust, denim and boots.

My contemporary Wildflower Ranch series set in Montana is filled with rugged cowboys and self-reliant cowgirls. My next series (which can’t wait to start) will be a Wildflower Ranch historical series which will explain how each high-country ranch got its wildflower name.
The final book of my contemporary series, His Christmas Cowgirl, will be out October 25.

Blurb:
10-07-coverHeadstrong cowgirl Peta Dixon has put her life on hold this Christmas to prove she can run her ranch as well as any man. There isn’t anything she can’t ride, fix, or stare down, and the only things to scare her are long hemlines and sky-high heels.
Self-made rancher Garrett Ross normally doesn’t take orders – he gives them. But when asked to step in to act as a temporary foreman on a Montana ranch over the holidays, he can’t refuse.
Yet when Garrett meets the beautiful and stubborn ranch owner, he realizes he’s signed on for a whole lot of trouble. Cynical and jaded, he has no time for feelings. And when Peta meets the man she’s to share her life with until Christmas, she discovers she no longer wants to be the person others expect her to be…
Will the rancher finally listen to his heart and admit he can’t live without a certain straight-talking cowgirl?

Thanks so much for having me over!  I’d love to hear if anyone has a favourite Louis L’amour book, or even just an all-time favourite book by any author. You may even have more than one.

I will be giving away a kindle eBook copy of any of my Wildflower Ranch titles to two people who comment. Winners will be chosen at random.

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And for anyone who would like a FREE copy of my first Wildflower Ranch book, Cherish Me, Cowboy, please click here:  FREE COPY

Updated: October 6, 2016 — 7:37 pm

Welcome Guest – Erin Johnson

Rachel photo web

I’ve always been interested in history and did a lot of research on the West while I was writing the Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes (Cengage, 2012). I also spent time in Arizona after my father moved to a ghost town near the Mexican border, and I was fascinated by the area around Tombstone, where much of the WANTED series is set.

encyclopedias

Wanted_GraceBk1

In the first book in the series, Grace and the Guiltless, Grace is the lone survivor after outlaws massacre her family. She risks her reputation by entering the notorious Bird Cage Theater to report the crime to the sheriff:

Clouds of smoke enveloped Grace. Like the black, acrid smoke from the burning cabin that still clung to her pores and clothes, the sweetish cigar smoke and the sharper scent of burning tobacco from hand-rolled cigarettes suffocated her. Raucous laughter, the tinkle of a piano, and the clink of glasses pulsed through the room. The infamous alcoves, or bird cages, some with their red velvet curtains drawn, perched overhead like rows of fancy packages.

Her eyes stinging from the haze, Grace squinted to find the sheriff. So many black frock coats blurred into an indistinguishable mass…

WantedGraceandtheGuiltless_smDisentangling herself from pawing hands as she crosses the room, Grace irritates the sheriff by separating him from the painted lady keeping him company.

The heavyset man frowned at her. “So, what can I do for you, Miss —”

“Grace Milton, sir. Yesterday my parents . . . my whole family . . .” Grace’s tongue tripped over the words. If she said them aloud, it would make it real. But if she didn’t, those killers would get away with what they had done. “Elijah Hale and his gang . . . they shot my pa, and-and…”

The sheriff’s face paled at the mention of Hale’s name, but he leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers, though his hands shook slightly. “Mr. Hale is well known in these parts as a respectable man.”

Respectable man? A picture imprinted itself on Grace’s mind – Hale smiling, his gun pointed straight at her father’s heart.

The sheriff pulled a cigar from his vest pocket and rolled it between his fingers, avoiding her eyes.

Her Cold Revenge 9781630790073 web“Did you hear me? Hale killed my pa. And my ma, and my—”

The sheriff chomped down on the cigar, twisted, and then spat the end into the nearby spittoon. The wad hit the brass with a wet ringing sound. “Any witnesses?”

“Me,” Grace choked out.

Sheriff Behan lit his cigar and blew a puff of smoke in Grace’s direction. “Not sure your word,” he said, his gaze raking her disheveled appearance, “would stand up against Hale’s.” He waved his cigar in a dismissive circle. “You bring me some proof, and I’ll consider looking into it.”

A white-hot volcano of rage erupted in Grace’s stomach. Did that badge glinting at her from across the table mean anything at all?

“My family’s dead in the ground.” She sucked in air to control the tremor in her voice. “I dug their graves myself.” She held out her blistered and bloodied hands. “Is that proof enough for you?”

Something flickered in the sheriff’s eyes. Pity maybe? But he quickly shuttered it. “That’s a sad story Miss Milton, but people die every day.” His voice loaded with fake sympathy, he continued, “Lots of Injuns ’round here. Renegade soldiers. Hermits. Even coyotes. Understandable you’d be a mite mixed up following such a tragedy. You being hysterical and all.”

Wanted_GraceBk2“I. Am. Not. Hysterical.” Grace spat out each word. Furious, yes. Hysterical, no. Although he was rapidly pushing her in that direction. She’d get no help from this snake.

As Grace suspects, the sheriff is in cahoots with the gang, so she trains as a bounty hunter to singlehandedly track down the criminals. One reviewer calls her the “Katniss of the Wild West.” But when Grace falls for Joe, a?rugged range rider, can she give up her independence to take on a partner?

In book 2, Her Cold Revenge, Grace must prove her skills and stop a train robbery masterminded by the outlaws who slaughtered her family. And as she slowly opens her heart to both Joe and the Ndeh tribe, who take her in, her heartache begins to heal. Yet she’s still torn between revenge and love.

“Every second had me on the edge of my seat…”

“I’ve never been so moved by a book. You honesty made me cry…”

The books in the WANTED series came out in the UK first, and then in the U.S., with different covers.

Scuppernong readingFeast on Fiction

 Erin Johnson grew up watching classic western movies with her father, which fueled her lifelong love of horseback riding. She’s always dreamed of being a fierce-talking cowgirl, but writing about one seemed like the next best thing. She loves traveling, painting, and teaching, and she writes under several pseudonyms for both children and adults.

Blog: https://lje1.wordpress.com/erin-johnson/

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/story/16791791-grace-and-the-guiltless

https://www.wattpad.com/story/38198225-her-cold-revenge

Buy links: G&G https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Guiltless-Wanted-Erin-Johnson/dp/163079001X/?tag=pettpist-20

HCR: https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Revenge-Wanted-Erin-Johnson/dp/1630790079/?tag=pettpist-20

Giveaway! : Erin has a great giveaway with two separate winners!  For a chance to win, leave a comment for Erin and you’ll be entered.  One winner will receive a copy of Grace & the Guiltless and the second winner will receive a copy of the recipe book, Feast on Fiction!

Updated: August 2, 2016 — 11:57 am

Welcome Guest Barbara Ankrum & Gift Card Giveaway

Barbara Ankrum

Barbara Ankrum

Barbara Ankrum

Where Love, Adventure and Happily Ever After Meet

Often, as I research a historical book, I run across some little factoid that sets my imagination going. It sometimes has nothing to do with the story I’m researching, and I must store it away from a future book. That’s what happened to me a couple of years ago with what ultimately ended up being the basis for my latest historical, THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS.

I happened upon a story about the Industrial Schools for Indian Children that popped up in the late 19th century just as the Native Americans were forced onto reservations. I was quite stunned to discover that the government had systematically taken the Native American children from their families and sent them to what amounted to military-like boarding schools where they were stripped of their language, their culture, their long hair and even their names. These schools were often church run, and operated on the necessity of saving the souls of heathen children, but that wasn’t their only goal.

The government cloaked the education of these children in the American culture, forcing them to lose their connection to the tribes they left behind, while offering them little in the way of a future. Many children in these schools never made it out. Sickness and abuse was rampant and, despite BIA involvement, there was little government oversight. Ostensibly, the government believed that this cultural genocide—yes, I said it!—was necessary to help the children integrate into the white world. But it would appear they had no such ambition for them. Once the children had achieved a modicum of ‘education’ and they were mostly turned loose or returned to a culture they no longer felt part of, a wave of helplessness and despair swept over them.

Many turned to alcohol once back on the poverty-stricken reservation, a major problem that is still rampant today. What had once made the Native Americans strong was stripped from them piece by piece. Shortly after these schools came into being, the famous Ghost Dance began among the Indian nations, the last gasp hope that Native Americans might, somehow, miraculously, regain their culture, heritage and freedom. Sadly, that was not to be.

Indian Boarding SchoolI was even more shocked to learn that these boarding schools existed right up until the 1980’s-90’s, when they were finally closed, following protests and legislation reform. The backlash of the boarding school experience is still visible on reservations today; a fact conveniently omitted from our school history books, along with much else that was done to that amazing culture. In many tribes, their native language is all but forgotten. If you’re interested in hearing more about Indian Boarding Schools, there’s an amazing and heartbreaking documentary about it called “Our Spirits Don’t Speak English.”

In my book, THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS, Essie is a woman who has lost everything and finds work teaching at one of these schools in the rough world of Montana Territory. The job was not what she expected. My hero, a half-breed Cheyenne who’s come in the dead of night to steal away/rescue one of the children, ends up stealing Essie instead, when the boy is nowhere to be found. The book follows their journey together as they run into the mountains to escape the men pursuing them and to find the boy. But in the end, this is a story of forgiveness and the choices these two very different people make between them and how Essie discovers her own power and finds herself. Is she ruined in the end? You’ll have to read it to find out. I can only say that I fell madly in love with both of them as I wrote this book, not only for their courage, but for their hearts. And besides, can’t all of us stand a little ruination now and then?

I hope you enjoy this book. THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS will be available for pre-sale soon. This is Book Two in my new Wild Western Rogues series, and if you’ve already read THE LADY TAKES A GUNSLINGER, (and I hope you have!) you’ll be happy to know you’ll run into my H&H from that book, Reese and Grace, in this one, too.

www.barbaraankrum.com

I’m giving away a $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD to one lucky commenter.

Just tell me what it is about Historical Western romance in particular you love? 

Happy Reading!

Essie SparksComing soon!

Check out Barbara’s other books here:

Amazon

 

Updated: February 15, 2016 — 12:27 pm

New Release and Giveaway!!!

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With This Ring bethany house

Click cover to order.

It’s always so exciting when a new book comes out, but I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this one into the hands of readers ever since A Worthy Pursuit came out last June. My latest project, a novella titled The Husband Maneuver (from the collection With This Ring?), is finally here! I’ve been dying to share Daniel Barrett (aka Dead-Eye Dan) and Marietta Hawkins’s story with you.

Dead-Eye Dan is a dime novel hero inspired by the exploits of Daniel Barrett during his bounty hunting days, but Dan gave up that life to be an ordinary mule trainer. Only, the dratted dime novels keep glorifying his past and making it impossible to escape. He’s been in love with his boss’s daughter for two years, but his promise not to make advances while in Jonah Hawkins’s employ has kept him silent about how he feels. That and the fact that he worries Etta couldn’t love an ordinary mule trainer if her head was full of dime novel nonsense.

Marietta loves the man, not the legend, but when Dan decides to leave her father’s ranch for good in order to start his own spread, she panics, fearing she’s about to lose him forever. She takes drastic measures to convince him of her wifely suitability, but when a deadly hailstorm hits the ranch, will her dreams shatter like broken window glass?

With all the dime novel aspects in this novella, I wanted to work in actual scenes from a Dead-Eye Dan novel. Those scenes ended up being my favorite sections to write. I start each chapter with a Dead-Eye Dan excerpt, so the reader gets to enjoy two stories in one!

I thought I would share one of the Dead-Eye Dan excerpts with you. Enjoy the over-the-top sensationalist dime novel style.

The cover for the e-single version that will be available in May.

The cover for the e-single version that will be available in May.

Dead-Eye Dan climbed the tall oak with the skill of a cougar. Jaw tight, he scaled the tree hand-over-hand, his gaze locked on the v-shaped branch above his head. He had one chance to slow his prey. One chance to gain the upper hand. He wouldn’t squander it.

When he reached the branch he sought, Dan positioned himself in the cradle, bracing his legs against the sturdy trunk. In a single, smooth motion, he slid his Remington long range rifle from the custom holster on his back and lifted the Vernier peep sight into position with a flick of his thumb. The walnut stock fit against his shoulder as if it were an extension of his body.

Dan leaned forward and rested the barrel against the branch in front of him, notching it against a broken twig’s stub to keep it steady. He located his target. Four horses, 750 yards ahead. Four thieves and a woman. His woman. Taken when the desperadoes left the bank. They thought to use her as a shield to keep him at bay. A fatal error. The moment they touched Mary Ellen Watkins, they’d signed their death warrants.

–from Dead-Eye Dan and the Outlaws of Devil’s Canyon

  • Who are your favorite over-the-top cowboy heroes? From TV, movies, books – there are plenty to choose from.
  • I’m giving away 2 copies of With This Ring? today. Leave a comment to enter.

A Horse of a Different Color (and a giveaway!)

Kathleen Rice Adams headerReaders of traditional westerns and western romance tend to expect certain kinds of characters in stories. After strong men and feisty women, far and away the next most expected character is a horse. That’s how western movies came by the somewhat pejorative monikers “oater” and “horse opera.”

gray, chestnut, and bay roan horse

From left: a gray, a chestnut, and a bay roan

I can’t speak for other western romance authors, but when I put a horse in a story, it can’t be just any old horse. The horse must fit the story and the human character with whom it pals around. All sorts of traits (including breed, size, and temperament) play into the decision, but one of the most obvious is coat color.

The color of a fictional horse says quite a bit about its rider. If a human character doesn’t want to stand out in a crowd, he or she most likely will ride a chestnut or sorrel, the two most common colors. Bays are another good choice for “don’t look at me” characters. Conversely, “flashy” horses—those with lots of white, like Appaloosas, palominos, and paints—send the subconscious message the character wants to be seen.

Duns and buckskins lend an aura of toughness to their riders, male or female. Don’t ask me why, but I’m sure there’s some complicated psychological explanation somewhere. And then there are the uncommon colors that make human characters seem rebellious: grullas and roans.

Because it sometimes can be difficult to visualize horse colors—and because everyone who reads western romance likes to look at pictures of pretty horses, right?—I thought I’d provide some helpful visuals.

Without further ado…

chestnut horsechestnut horseChestnuts are red horses. Period. The shade can vary along a continuum from light to dark. Although manes and tails may be a lighter shade, they usually are the same color as the horse’s body. Liver chestnuts are so dark they seem almost brown. White blazes and stockings are optional. In Prodigal Gun, hero Mason Caine rides only “plain” chestnuts—ones with small or no white markings—because he wants to fade into the scenery.

sorrel horsesorrel horseSorrels are red, too, but the line between sorrel and chestnut can be vague. Sorrel is a light, bright red—sometimes described as “copper penny red.” Some folks call sorrels a subset of chestnut; others say sorrel is distinct from chestnut because true sorrels have flaxen manes and tails. I’m staying out of that argument. Brit Moonchaser, the main characters in my forthcoming novel Ghosts in the Shadows, rides a sorrel gelding with a flaxen mane and tail—mostly because I like the color.

mahogany bay horse

mahogany bay

blood bay horses

blood bays

Bay horses range from a light reddish-brown to a dark, almost black, red. All bay horses have black manes, tails, and lower legs (called “points”). The darkest are called mahogany bay. One of the most striking bays, I think, is blood bay—a deep, bright red. “Flashy” blood bays are particularly attractive. A dangerous, flashy blood bay stallion plays a significant role in Ghosts in the Shadows.

buckskin horses

buckskin mare and foal

buckskin quarter horse

buckskin quarter horse

Buckskins are tan or golden horses with dark
manes, legs, and tails. The tips of their ears also sport dark hair. White stockings and blazes are not uncommon. Cole McCord, the Texas Ranger in Prodigal Gun, rides a buckskin gelding. Cole is a by-the-book, no-nonsense lawman.

three-week-old red dun horse

three-week-old red dun

dark dun horse

dark dun

Duns often are confused with buckskins. Their coats run the same color spectrum, and both have dark points. The difference is this: Duns bear “primitive markings”; buckskins don’t. Primitive markings include a dark line down the center of the back from withers to tail, a dark splash across the shoulders, zebra stripes on the legs, and rings on the forehead (called “cobwebbing”). Many of the markings may be virtually invisible, but the line down the back is a dead giveaway and it’s always present. Often, duns’ tails will bear a dark stripe, as well. Whit McCandless, the rancher with an inflexibility problem in the short novella Peaches, rides a lineback dun.

grullo horse

light grullo mare

grullo horse

See the stripe down his back?

Grullas or grullos (grew-ya; grew-yo) are essentially blue duns, a color combination that occurs when the dun coat color gene crosses the black coat color gene. Grullas/grullos (either is correct), sometimes called “mouse duns,” also bear primitive markings. The color is striking, if uncommon. Quinn Barclay, the hero in the award-winning short novella The Second-Best Ranger in Texas, rides a grulla gelding with a drinking problem.

bay roan quarter horse

bay roan

strawberry roan horse

strawberry roan

Roans come in red, bay, and blue. They look “mottled” because white hair mixes with the horse’s base color evenly across most of the body. Roans’ heads and lower legs are the solid base color. Blue roans have black heads, manes, and tails. Bay roans have black manes, tails, and legs. Red roans—sometimes called strawberry roans—have chestnut heads, manes, tails, and legs. Latimer, a gunman who wants everyone to know who he is, rides a strawberry roan gelding in Prodigal Gun.

paint horsepaint horsePaint and pinto horses are marked with large splotches of white and any other color. (In the Old West, the terms paint and pinto were interchangeable. Nowadays there are technical differences between the two having to do with bloodlines.) Paints come in three varieties—Tobiano, Overo, and Tovero—but unless an author is writing a contemporary story set among the horsey set, nobody cares. Jessie, the heroine in Prodigal Gun, is rebellious from the word go. Her horse, Caliente, is a black-and-white paint mare.

palomino Tennessee Walking Horse

palomino Tennessee Walking Horse

palomino and chestnut horses

palomino mare with her chestnut foal

Palominos can range in color from almost white to deep chocolate, but the vast majority have coats “within three shades of a newly minted gold coin.” All have white or flaxen manes and tails. Everyone remembers Roy Rogers’s Trigger, right?

varnish roan Appaloosa

varnish roan Appaloosa

Appaloosa horse striped hoof

Appaloosa hoof

Appaloosas are easy to spot. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.) The breed is said to have originated among the Nez Perce Indians, who bred them for their spotted coats. Appies can be almost any base color and come in several patterns, but perhaps the best known are leopards (spots evenly distributed over a light-colored horse) and blankets (commonly a splash of white with spots across the rump of a darker base coat, although there are other blanket patterns). Many have striped hooves. Varnish roan is an exceptionally striking and uncommon version of the leopard pattern and is distinguished from other roans by the appearance of dark spots over prominent bones (hips, knees, facial bones, etc.). I haven’t found a character in need of an Appaloosa yet, but I’m sure I will.

What’s your favorite horse color? One of these? Something else? Let us know in the comments. I’ll draw the name of one commenter, and that person will receive a KINDLE version of his or her choice from my backlist. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

Welcome Guest J.D. McCall!!!

Lecompton, Kansas: A Legendary, Forgotten Town

Borrowed Guns Cover 1 (2)I’ve been asked by a few people why I chose Lecompton, Kansas, to be the setting of my second book, and the simple answer is: my publisher, Rebecca Vickery at Western Trailblazer, asked for a follow-up effort. I was not planning on writing a second novel, figuring on being a one-and-done author after Borrowed Guns, so when asked for a new effort featuring the same two main characters, I balked by saying I didn’t have any ideas for a story. This was the truth as I am not a very imaginative person, and I also made it clear at the end of the first book there were no further adventures involving the two.

Rebecca then suggested taking an incident mentioned in Borrowed Guns, and making a short story out of it (does a hundred and fifty-five thousand words qualify as short?), featuring one of the characters. Lucky for me, I set that event twenty years earlier in the historically important city of Lecompton, just south of a rowdy little town called Rising Sun.

Rising Sun completely disappeared from the Kansas landscape within a few decades of its founding, unlike the more politically significant city of Lecompton across the Kansas River to its south, which has endured until this day. With the population hovering around six-hundred in 2014, Lecompton is still a proud little town, never having forgotten the major role it played in precipitating the election of Abraham Lincoln, in turn leading to the secession of the southern states, and ultimately, the Civil War.

Elmore Street, Lecompton-The Wall Street of the West_blog

Elmore Street, Lecompton: The Wall Street of the West

Following the opening of Kansas Territory, scores of Northerners and Southerners flooded the area in attempt to promote their ideological vision for the future state. Lecompton was the first official capital of the Kansas Territory and was originally founded as a pro-slavery settlement, boasting two newspapers, both in favor of making Kansas a slave state. By 1855, enough Missourians had crossed the border to illegally vote in a pro-slavery legislature which took up residence in Lecompton. Abolitionists in Topeka answered this chicanery by drawing up their own free-state constitution for Kansas, but President Franklin B. Pierce threw his support behind Lecompton, declared the Topeka government in rebellion and rebuked the Topeka constitution, ending its debate in the Senate.

Rowena Hotel, Lecompton Kansas_blog

Rowena Hotel, Lecompton, Kansas

Basking in Pierce’s support, Lecompton legislators drafted their own pro-slavery constitution and submitted it to a vote by the populace in 1857. To make certain it passed, the ballot box was again stuffed with pro-slavery votes from residents of Missouri who crossed the border to vote. The trickery was discovered when an informant saw the candle box containing the fraudulent ballots being buried by two legislative clerks. Upon investigation by the sheriff, it was later found, and a legitimate election was scheduled to be held. Two other constitutions were proposed prior to the new vote, with the free-state constitution winning the election, and all three sent to Washington to be debated on by Congress.

SouthOfRisingSun_blogIt was during this debate that the fight mentioned in the South of Rising Sun broke out on the House of Representatives floor. President James Buchanan, a pro-slavery advocate, urged the legislators to adopt the original Lecompton Constitution, but it was eventually by-passed in favor of the free-state constitution, paving the way for Kansas to enter the Union as a non-slavery state in January of 1861.

The Lecompton Constitution was mentioned thirteen times in the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates of the 1858 Illinois senatorial campaign. Democrat Stephen Douglas, who ran for president against Abraham Lincoln in 1860, refused to support the Lecompton constitution when it was being debated in Congress, arguing that the citizens of each territory should be allowed to decide the slavery issue by their own vote. Douglas’s outright refusal to support the Lecompton Constitution so enraged Southern Democrats that they split from their Northern counterparts and ran their own candidate for president against Lincoln and Douglas. In addition, a fourth candidate entered the race, and with the vote split four ways, Lincoln won the election with only thirty-three percent of the vote, and the rest became history.

Constitution Hall Lecompton Kansas

Constitution Hall, Lecompton, Kansas

The story is somewhat more complex than the distilled version I have related, but it would require an entire book to elaborate all the intricacies of the politics involved, and I have no intention of going down that path. It does, however, lay to rest the argument that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights.

Today, not a single trace remains of Rising Sun, but visitors to Lecompton (originally called Bald Eagle) can tour the Territorial Capital Museum and Constitution Hall and learn about the fascinating story behind this small but historically important Kansas town. Since doing extensive research for South of Rising Sun, I’ve become engrossed by Lecompton’s past and its role as “the birthplace of the Civil War.” Did you know Lecompton was also home to one of the biggest gunfights in the West? But that’s another story.

To discover more about Lecompton, visit LecomptonKansas.com.

I’ll give an e-book of my latest historical western, South of Rising Sun, to ten readers who leave a comment about the setting, Lecompton, Kansas. The winners will be announced Sunday evening (Aug. 30).

 

John-Old West Pic B&W jpgJ.D. McCall grew up in Kansas during the time when Westerns were king on television and at the movies. Living in a state that was home to such places as Abilene, Dodge, Wichita, and many other of the wickedest cattle towns ever found in the West, he was never far from Kansas lore, which included the legendary figures of Earp, Hickok, Masterson, and Cody. Not surprisingly, he has retained a great affection for that part of American history which was once the Old West. Born too late to be a cowboy, J.D. makes his living in this modern day as an industrial hygienist in the field of occupational health and safety. He continues to reside in the city of his birth, Ottawa, with his wife and three children.

Visit J.D. at his website. Find all of his books on his Amazon author page.

 

CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN JULY WITH PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS!

Cheryl2041webHi everyone! Ready for some great western historical romance reading at some fantastic bargain prices? Well, let me tell you about Prairie Rose Publications’ 2nd annual CHRISTMAS IN JULY event!

Christmas in July is a chance for us to be able to showcase our authors’ short stories from the past year’s anthologies as single sell stories. Many of the stories are Christmas stories, but there are others, as well, and also for the duration of our Christmas in July event some of our full length novels will be reduced to only .99!

Our Christmas in July event will start on July 24 (this Friday) and will last through the next Friday, the 31st. One fun thing we always try to do when we have these sales is a Facebook party called a “FANDANGO” for our authors and readers to connect and get to know one another. During this year’s Christmas in July, our Fandango will take place on Monday, the 27th and Tuesday, the 28th. We decided on those days because Jacquie Rogers, one of our authors who is always so wonderful at setting up these shindigs for us, has a birthday on the 27th, and mine is on the 28th!

Here’s a collection of the 21 short stories and duos that will be available, but we’ll have more books available at “Christmas in July sale prices”!

PRPChristmas+in+July+2015 FINALI’ll post the links below so everyone can sign up, if you’d like to attend, and come join us for two afternoons/evenings of lots of fun, chatter, and PRIZES! What is Christmas without gifts?

Here’s a sneak peek at our fillies who will be participating with some of their stories in the Prairie Rose Publications Christmas in July event!

 

PRPThe Last 3 Miles Kathleen 2 WebKathleen R. Adams The Last Three Miles

When an accident leaves Hamilton Hollister convinced he’ll never be more than half a man, he abandons construction of a railway spur his lumber mill needs to survive.

 

Believing no woman shackled by social convention can be complete, railroad heiress Katherine Brashear refuses to let the nearly- finished track die. The magic of Christmas in a small Texas town may help them bridge the distance…if they follow their hearts down The Last Three Miles.

 

A PRAIRIE ROSE DUO–TWO STORIES UNDER ONE COVER!

PRPTanya Sisters Double 2 WebTanya Hanson: Sisters: Her Hurry-Up Husband

Prim and proper socialite Elspeth Maroney flees from an indiscretion to the Wild West of Colorado as a mail order bride. She doesn’t plan to stay long, only a month. Rancher Hezekiah Steller needs a wife quick to get himself an heir, but what will the stagecoach deliver to his doorstep?

Their worlds collide deliciously until Ellie must confess her mistakes. Will Hez still want her tomorrow?

Her Thief of Hearts

To escape her domineering mother, Omaha socialite Judith Maroney heads to her sister’s Colorado ranch on the morning train…a train that’s ambushed by the very cowboy who stole her heart on her last visit!

Taking on the disguise of his outlaw twin brother, Tremaine Heisler holds up a train to retrieve a family treasure—and finds his gun pointed at the woman he loves. Is there any way out for either of them?

A PRAIRIE ROSE DUO–TWO STORIES UNDER ONE COVER!

PRPTracy Garrett Duo WebTracy Garrett—A RIVER’S BEND DUO

Wanted: The Sheriff

Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only weeks away, Martha decides to announce her intentions — and declares the sheriff a wanted man.

Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore — until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.

No Less Than Forever

Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birth. He has good friends and enough income to provide him with a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.

Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have…a love that will last forever.

PRPThese Rough Dreams Cheryl WebCheryl Pierson: These Rough Dreams

When Southern socialite Gabrielle Mason discovers she’s pregnant, she takes her future into her own hands. She has her family name to consider, and a husband is what she needs. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride in Indian Territory. But the man who proposes isn’t the man she ends up marrying.

Johnny Rainbolt is not a family man by any stretch of the imagination…but Fate is about to give him no choice. His late sister’s three children will be arriving on the next stage, and he has no idea what to do with them. When cultured Gabby Mason is left waiting for her prospective groom at the stage station, Johnny sees a way to solve everyone’s problems.

Some dreams get off to a rough start. A mail-order marriage is only the beginning. When one of the children is stolen, Johnny and Gabby are forced to depend on one another in an unimaginable circumstance that could turn tragic… or show them what might become of THESE ROUGH DREAMS.

These are just a few of the wonderful stories that will be available on the 24th!

Visit our website at http://www.prairierosepublications.com on July 24 to see the unveiling of over 21 wonderful books, duos, and short stories that we’ll have available for Christmas in July!

To join up for the 2015 Christmas in July PRP Fandango at Facebook, go here and click “JOIN”—this event will start both the 27th and the 28th at 5:00 EASTERN STANDARD TIME, so don’t forget to make the adjustment for whichever time zone you live in! I promise, you won’t want to miss out on one minute of the fun!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1608290686092159/

We look forward to seeing you there!

Guest Blogger Renee Ryan

 

(Read the entire post to learn how to be entered for a FABULOUS giveaway Renee is offering)

Good mR.Ryanorning, Renee Ryan here. I want to thank Winnie for letting me stop by today. It’s great to be back in the junction with my favorite fillies. I’ve always loved westerns and am still writing them, even though I’m no longer a contributing member of this blog. In honor of my temporary return I have a special giveaway today, but more on that later.

It’s been nearly thirty years since I read my first romance novel. I was in college, pursuing a double major in Economics and Religious Studies. Both subjects required intensive reading of complicated material, including several religious texts in the original Greek and Hebrew. A sorority sister noticed my eyes crossing after a long night of studying in the chapter room and took pity on me. She handed me a Harlequin Romance novel and said, “Take a break.”

Skeptical, I did as she requested. Two hours later, I was hooked for life. And so began a fascination with romance novels. Reading these happily-ever-after stories became my greatest treat after a long day of studying or test taking. At the time, I never dreamed I’d one day write a novel (see my majors up above) or that I would write for the company where it all began that late spring evening. I certainly never dreamed I would incorporate some of very same themes I enjoyed all those years ago.

My first western historical romance was written by Teresa Medeiros called Nobody’s Darling. I’d found my favorite time period. I still enjoy reading Harlequin books and I still enjoy reading westerns. As a writer I’ve learned to incorporate my favorite romance novel themes (AKA tropes) in my favorite time period (the Old West). I especially love the following:

  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Reunion/Old Flame
  • Fish out of water (i.e. city girl on a ranch, etc.)
  • Cowboy
  • Rancher
  • Cowboy
  • Cowboy
  • Cowboy
  • Matchmaker/Matchmaker kids
  • Widow/widower
  • Single parent
  • Twins
  • Cowboy
  • Mistaken identity
  • Cowboy
  • Cowboy
  • Temporary Nanny
  • Guardian/Protector/Lawman
  • Bad boy meets Good girl
  • COWBOY!!!

Anyone see a theme? 🙂

Within each of the above tropes there are a million different storylines.  I’ve used one or more in all of my published novels. For example, in THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION I used cowboy and guardian/protector and bad boy meets good girl tropes. MISTAKEN BRIDE I had twins, mistaken identity, nanny, single parent, and widower.

I guess it’s true what they say, there are no new stories just new ways to tell them.

What about you?  When did you first start reading romance novels and what are your favorite themes?  Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of my latest Charity House book, THE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT. The book has the marriage of convenience and bad boy meets good girl and matchmaker tropes.

I’ll be giving away one copy of this book to a lucky reader and one full set of the entire Charity House series to one grand prize winner. THE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT is book 9 of 9 and wraps up the series. Bringing this series to an end has been bittersweet for me. Charity House is no ordinary orphanage, but rather a unique home for the by-blows of prostitutes and gunslingers.  By its very nature, Charity House lends itself to unique stories about people facing a world that didn’t want their “kind” and THE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT highlights one of the original orphans, Jonathon Hawkins, or Johnny.

 

 

The Marriage Agreement coverartTHE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT

Promoted to Wife?

Always the dutiful daughter, Fanny Mitchell surprised everyone when she broke her engagement. Now she’s working at the fancy Hotel Dupree and falling for the mysterious, handsome owner, Jonathon Hawkins. But when she and her boss are caught in an unexpected kiss at a ball, will her reputation be tarnished forever?

The son of a woman of ill repute, Jonathon knows that gossip can destroy lives in an instant. And he won’t allow sweet, lovely Fanny to suffer the consequences. When he proposes a marriage of convenience, Jonathon believes he can keep his heart to himself. But the more time he spends with Fanny, the more he realizes he may just be in love with his wife.

Charity House: Offering an oasis of hope, faith and love on the rugged Colorado frontier.

 

(To purchase a copy or learn more about this book, click on the book cover)

Updated: June 26, 2015 — 10:13 pm

HOW THE WEST WAS FUN!

MargaretBrownley-headerThe only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse

Recently I read that the American cowboy wouldn’t have survived “lonesome” had it not been for his ihorse“guts and his hoss.” The author got it only partly right. For the cowboy had one more weapon of survival under his Stetson: his sense of humor.

Seeing the funny side of life in the Old West was just as vital, if not more so, than a cowboy’s horse or six-gun. Those early buckaroos survived long hours in the saddle under the most difficult conditions with jokes, horseplay and cock and bull stories.

fireNo campsite was complete without a tall tale or two. Cowboys didn’t experience weather like the rest of us. No sirree. One cowpuncher told about winter being so cold they couldn’t hear the foreman’s orders. “The words froze as they came outta his mouth. We had to break them off one by one so we could tell what he was sayin’.”

The wind was a popular subject. “You think this wind is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’.” Cowboys talked about feeding their chickens buckshot so they wouldn’t blow away in the wind. Not to be outdone some claimed it was so windy a chicken laid the same egg five times.

Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.

California’s current drought is nothing compared to what those cowboys of yesteryear experienced. “One teethdrought was so bad the cactus took to a-chasing after dogs.”

Texas was reportedly the healthiest state. So healthy, in fact, no one ever died there naturally. They needed the assistance of a bullet to accomplish that feat. More than one Texan was caught crossing the border just so he could “ride to the great beyond.”

Perhaps the most amusing rivalries in the Old West pitted cowboys against railroaders. Cowboys had little patience with the “bullheaded Irishmen” who stampeded their cattle. In turn, railroaders thought cowboys a bunch of troublemakers—and for good reason.

One railcar filled with smoke when a cowboy attempted to cook a steak on the train’s coal stove. Another cowpoke, on the way to meeting his best gal, shocked women passengers by stripping down to his long johns so he could don his new suit.

When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example,

he hands out good advice.

One foreman befuddled railroad officials by sending a wire requesting cars to ship 2,500 sea lions. The foremen figured his cattle had swum across so many streams that “sea lions” aptly described his sirloins.

Railroaders dished out as good as they got. One cowboy learned the hard way not to travel without a ticket when the train he was riding came to a screeching stop and left him stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Another cowboy boarded a train and when asked for his ticket pulled out his six-gun, declaring it the only ticket he needed. The conductor convinced him otherwise by returning with a rifle and sticking it under the cowboy’s nose.

Cowboys didn’t just laugh at these antics like regular folks. Oh, no. They’d sit ’round a campfire “grinnin’ like a weasel peekin’ in a henhouse.”

So when is the last time you grinned like a weasel? What tall tale, anecdote or family memory would you share around a campfire?

What they’re saying about Undercover Bride

Expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.-Harold Wolf, Amazon

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Amazon

B&N

Updated: June 21, 2015 — 8:24 am
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