‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’
Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.
– Al Franken
I’m fascinated by what makes good people make horrible decisions. I mean, we’re all doing the best we can, given what we know at the time, right? I explore this theme in a lot of my books, but never more than in my December release, The Last True Cowboy.
Carly Beauchamp has loved cowboy Austin Davis since first grade. Ask anyone in their dusty, backwater New Mexico town of Unforgiven, and they’ll say, “Carly and Austin” the way some say, “big trucks and country boys.” But after years of waiting for a wedding ring, Carly’s done with being a rodeo widow. She dumps Austin (again), but after a month she’s a pressure cooker, ready to blow. She heads to Albuquerque, where she’s not half of the C&A franchise. No heartbroken, “poor Carly.” Just an anonymous chick in a generic country bar. There she meets a man with ice blue eyes in biker leathers. They have nothing in common—except heartbreak. They pour out their pain while pouring the booze.
Horror hits when Carly wakes alone, but vaguely remembers she didn’t go to sleep that way. She calls around, to find that her mystery man never existed. He lied. About his name, his job . . . everything. She takes a morning after pill and goes home, determined to put this huge mistake in the rear view mirror. And she manages—more or less—until the doctor confirms her pregnancy.
Austin never meant to put his career on the circuit before Carly. She’s always been his future, his one and only. But now that she’s moved on, he’s beginning to see where he went wrong, and he’ll do anything to win her back. The only thing is, Carly’s suddenly acting differently, and she’s definitely hiding a secret—one that will test the depth of their love and open up a whole new world of possibilities.
So what do you think, P&P readers? Have you ever made a mistake that seemed like a good idea at the time?
Laura is away print copies of Nothing Sweeter and Sweet on You to one lucky winner picked at random from those who leave a comment.
Book 1 of “Shepherd’s Crossing” series available right now nationwide! Walmart, Kroger, Winn Dixie, anywhere mass market paperbacks are sold!
Three steel magnolias….
Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald were raised in the lap of luxury. Dysfunctional luxury! The girls wanted for nothing growing up on the Fitzgerald’s highly regarded Kentucky horse farm. The granddaughters of a crazy rich publishing magnate, the motherless girls were raised by their African American nanny Corrie Satterly… But when their father inherited the publishing empire as print publishing began falling into disfavor, self-absorbed Tim Fitzgerald bilked the company for every last penny he could…
And left the country. And his girls.
Corporate bankruptcy took everything from the sisters, leaving them nothing but college loans and a car. The girls’ uncle bequeaths them with a portion of his beautiful western Idaho ranch, with one condition: They have to stay on the ranch for a year to gain their share… and maybe — just maybe– a reason to stay?
Heath Caufield, Tim Fitzgerald’s widowed ranch manager and a man who has a history with Lizzie Fitzgerald. A history he’s tried to put behind him, but when Lizzie shows up in western Idaho, Heath’s intentions are challenged not only by the past but by the present… and the hope of a future.
Jace Middleton, whose family helped settle the little town of Shepherd’s Crossing just north of Council, Idaho… but with the family land gone, and few jobs for this carpenter/cowboy, Jace has decided to move to Sun Valley. When an elderly woman reveals long-held secrets, Jace is stunned to realize he’s been living a lie. But there’s no time to languish because twin baby girls need him to be at the top of his game, and when the top of his game includes working side-by-side with interior designer Melonie Fitzgerald, Jace is pretty sure life couldn’t turn more upside down. And of course it does… but with God’s perfect timing, sometimes upside down is the only way to get things just right.
Isaiah Woods has enough on his plate. Breeder of prize Nez Perce Appaloosa horses, Isaiah is raising his niece and nephew as best he can after losing their parents to a tragic accident. But when old mistakes meet him head on, he must risk the love of his parents and members of his tribe to put things right… and he can only do that with Charlotte Fitzgerald’s help. And that just makes folks angrier.
Three Steel Magnolias…. three amazing cowboys…. and then BONUS! 🙂 “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy”!
Coming in November, a beautiful Shepherd’s Crossing Christmas novella!
A Christmas novella when Jessica Lambert takes over her aunt’s old house only to find out it was bought by Ty Carrington, part owner of Carrington Acres Ranch… but what kind of cowboy puts a single mother out on the streets during the holidays? And as Ty helps Jessica and “Dovie” Lambert get things straightened out, he realizes that there just might be a Merry Christmas after all. Done as part of a two-story anthology with the amazing Linda Goodnight! Happy dancing because I love working with Linda!!!
I love starting a new series, but what I really love is when I get knee deep into it, where I can feel the characters and setting evolve into what I want it to be once complete.
Now, working on book 4, the momentum of the previous stories helps set the pace for the new ones…
And gives me a cast of characters for the readers to laugh with… and sometimes cry over. And isn’t that the very best thing of all? A story that runs the gamut of emotions, and still leaves you happy.
And now I want to get to Idaho and see this beautiful land! I want to feel what it’s like to have Hell’s Canyon on one side (The Snake River gorge) and the Payette National forest on the other. To be shrouded from sunrises… and claim the sunset.
It’s an amazingly beautiful and still rugged region, ripe with Native American traditions of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) and a mix of people. And as outsiders swoop in and buy up ranch land, the demographic might change, but the love of Idaho. The mountains, the creeks, the forests, the wolves and coyote and deer… that will never change.
Some ranches have the strangest names but probably all mean something personal to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all reflect the owner’s state of mind or what they value. Some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head though. Like the Dime Box and Hoof Prints ranches.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in mine and Phyliss Miranda’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. I thought it was perfect.
Here are others I’ve used:
Sullivan – A Texas Christmas
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Aces ’n Eights – Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star
Each one tells a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star named his ranch for the poker hand he won Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget the miracle of how she changed his life.
To Catch a Texas Star is a story of hope, forgiveness, self-discovery, and vanquishing evil. Marley Rose is on her way into town when she finds a man bleeding and unconscious by the side of the road. Roan Penny has seen the worst of humanity, but Marley and the McClain family restores his faith. As he recovers he falls in love with the dark beauty he calls his Texas Star and longs to make a life with her. But evil from the past finds them. Will it destroy the happiness Roan and Marley have found?
The book released on July 3 and is available everywhere in bookstores and online.
Here are a few of the old Texas ranches still in operation not far from me:
Tongue River Ranch
Matador Land and Cattle
Yellow House Ranch
How about you? Can you name a ranch either in books/TV shows/movies, or that you’ve seen or heard about? I’m giving away one copy (winner’s choice of format.) Comment to enter the drawing to be held on Saturday, August 4. Giveaway Guidelines.
Hello Petticoats & Pistols! I am honored to help Linda Broday by joining you today. (Have fun at RWA, Linda!) For those you don’t know me, or may have forgotten, I’m western romance author, Julie Lence, blogging about a subject I knew nothing about and had fun researching: Mules Working in the Coal Mines.
In the summer of 2016, the Pastor of our church retired and our other priest was transferred to a different parish. We welcomed a new Pastor and another priest and looked forward to getting to know them. During their sermons, each priest will sometimes mention something from their childhood or personal experience to tie into the day’s Gospel. One such Sunday, one of them began talking about mules living in coal mines. My first thought was comical, and my second thought was this would make for a great blog. I’ve never heard of a mule living in a coal mine and wrote a quick note to research.
Throughout civilization horses and mules have been used to help man with lifting or hauling something heavy. This practice was carried over in Montana when it came to working in a coal mine. Pulling carts laden with ore was hard labor for man, so mules were brought down into the mines to help. Horses couldn’t be used, as the cages used to get to the bottom of the mine were small. A typical cage proved difficult trying to cram in six men, but could hold one mule. To get the mule onto the cage and to the bottom required a few days planning. The initial step involved not feeding the mule or giving him water for three days because there was a risk the mule would succumb to a ruptured bladder or suffocation while being lowered. Before being led into the cage, the mule was blindfolded so he wouldn’t spook and his legs were bound in a leather truss to keep him still. The mule was placed inside the cage on his rear and lowered to the bottom. Sometimes, he tried to kick, but usually he settled down to the quiet of the mine and rode the cage just fine.
Once down at the bottom, mules were put to work pulling the ore carts. They worked their eight-hour shift and then were taken to a lit stable inside the mine for food and rest. Muleskinners cared for the animals, and along with their food, made sure the mule had a tub of ice water to drink each night. The muleskinner also scrubbed the mule’s hooves with soap and water to rid him of the deadly copper water he plodded through during the day. The copper was capable of eating away at the hoof and if this happened, the mule would end up useless.
Mules adjusted well to the mines, with many knowing the mine better than the minors. Tales abound of many a mule saving miners from fires and other dangers. One such tale involved a miner who made a hole through a wall the size of his head to see what was on the other side. He discovered a lake but thought nothing of it until the next day. His mule began acting strange, and cutting him free from his job, the mule took off for higher ground. Knowing a mule’s instinct was good, the minor and his coworkers were able to escape quickly when, at the same moment the mule dashed off, the hole the miner had made crashed open, with water gushing toward them from the lake.
Though a mule labored beneath the ground, he wasn’t left there his entire life. If a mule was injured or sick, he was brought above ground immediately. The same applied to the duration of the mine shutting down for vacation or the miners going on strike. And mules weren’t treated cruelly. Miners and mule skinners learned early on to care for the mule. If treated poorly, the mule usually got even with either kicking a man in the ribs or head, or squeezing him against the wall. Trained mules were valuable, worth as much as $200, and always received medical treatment and rubdowns when needed.
The use of mules in mines pulling ore carts came to an end in December of 1965. An Act of Legislature outlawed the underground stable, making it illegal to house animals in mines.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by and read about the mules. They truly were exceptional in that time period. To connect with me and learn more about my writing, you can catch me here:
As an added bonus, I’m giving away 3 ebook copies of my 1st book, Luck of the Draw. To be eligible to win, leave a comment here regarding your favorite thing about the old west. Until next time, have a great day.
After I turned in my last book, Once Upon A Texas Christmas (just a little over a year ago), I took a bit of a sabbatical from writing. The line I wrote seventeen books for was closing and I was also a bit burned out from writing 2 books a year for the previous four years (I’m not a fast writer so this was a ‘stretch’ pace for me).
So I was at a crossroads of sorts. I took some time thinking about where I wanted to go next, free from the constraints of any specific publisher guidelines. I eventually came up with ideas for several multi-book series I could get excited about and worked up some details to hand over to my agent so she could begin shopping them around to publishers.
That done, I figured while I waited I now had time to explore another path that had captured my interest, that of indie-publishing. I had several books from my days with Dorchester’s Leisure Books line that were published in the 2001-2005 time frame, long before the eBook revolution and that had gone out of print more than a dozen years ago and I figured reworking one of those and indie-publishing it would be a good way to ease myself into that scary-to-me world. So I went to work, getting ready to do just that.
And boy has it been a learning experience. Revising the book was the fun part. I’d forgotten just how much I loved those early books. Revisiting the characters and worlds from my early writing days has been an absolute joy. But now I’ deep into the business side of the process – hiring a good editor, figuring out cover design options, creating a back cover blurb, forming an LLC, obtaining ISBNs, etc., etc. It’s been a steep learning curve (and I’m not through it yet!) but hopefully next time will be a little easier.
Anyway, if things go as planned, this first book, which I’m titling The Unexpected Bride, will release in late fall. And today I thought I’d whet your appetite with an excerpt.
The set up for this story – Elthia Sinclare has travelled from Massachusetts to Texas in answer to an ad for a temporary job as governess. Caleb Tanner placed an ad for a mail-order bride. This is the scene where our heroine realizes there has been a terrible mistake:
“Mr. Tanner, we need to talk.”
The lying, scheming blackguard glanced back from his position at the stove, a scowl of irritation on his face. Then his expression changed as something in her demeanor caught his attention.
“What’s happened?” he asked, handing a plate to one of the children.
Zoe slipped into the room behind her, but Elthia kept her gaze focused on Mr. Tanner. She stood stiffly, fighting the urge to back away as he approached. “Exactly why did you bring me here?”
His scowl returned as he rubbed the back of his neck. “What do you mean? This is my home. Where else would I take you?”
“I’m talking about what role it is you expect me to fulfill?” She watched him closely, looking for some sign of guilt or duplicity. “Mrs. Johnston called me your helpmeet and referred to you Tanners as my ‘new family’. Just now, Dr. Adams did the same.”
Elthia clasped her hands to prevent their trembling. Had this man lured her to his home under false pretenses? She was completely at his mercy here. The isolated location and the shadowy approach of dusk suddenly took on a sinister feel. Sometimes having a vivid imagination was more of a curse than a blessing.
She had to remain calm, to think, to keep him from seeing her fear.
Mr. Tanner, however, looked more harried than threatening. Maybe Zoe had misread the situation. Dear God please–-
“I’m sorry that your role as a mail-order bride is public knowledge, if that’s what this is all about. It’s hard to keep secrets in a community like Foxberry.”
“Mail-order bride!” Elthia almost choked on the words. Heaven help her, this nightmare kept getting more unbelievable.
His scowl returned. “Miss Sinclare, stop the hysterics, please. I know the kids’ illness was unexpected, but surely—”
“There’s been a mistake, a dreadful, terrible mistake.”
His eyes narrowed. Then he looked at the children who watched the grown-ups with wide-eyed interest. “Let’s move this discussion to the parlor, shall we?”
He nodded to the two older children. “Zoe and Peter, you help the others with their supper please.” Then he took Elthia’s arm and all but pulled her out of the room.
As soon as they reached the parlor, he released her, as if touching her were distasteful. His next words were all the more intimidating for their softness. “Backing out already? So much for all that talk about honoring commitments.” His expression branded her as beneath contempt. “I should have known a pampered bit of high-class fluff wouldn’t have a notion about honor or responsibility.”
Elthia shook her head, confused and defensive. “No, no, you don’t understand. I came here to fill the post of governess, not to be someone’s mail-order bride.”
The sound he made was suspiciously like a snort. “Foxberry has a great school. Why would I waste money on a governess?”
“But that’s what you advertised for. I read the file myself.” A spurt of anger momentarily replaced her fear. “How dare you misrepresent yourself in such a way! You took advantage of Mrs. Pembroke and of me. It’s vile and probably illegal. I have half a mind to find the local sheriff and have you arrested.”
Mr. Tanner wasn’t intimidated. “I didnot misrepresent anything. I made it very clear to the agency exactly what I was looking for. If you paid any attention at all to my post there’s no way you could be confused about any of this.”
She drew in a breath as he pointed a finger, stopping just short of poking her chest.
His frown turned contemptuous. “If this is some ploy to get out of the contract and still be able to hold your head up, don’t bother. A weak, spoiled, lady with a tendency to run away from her troubles might be the last thing I want for the kids or myself, but I warned you earlier, no backing out once the kids met you.”
“How dare you! Why I—”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your voice down,” he interrupted. “There’s no point in upsetting the kids.”
He straightened. “I don’t have time for this posturing. If you’re not going to help, at least stay out of the way. In the meantime, before you try that ‘I didn’t know what I was getting into’ story again, you should reread that contract you signed.”
Elthia watched him stalk out of the room. Slumping, she steadied herself with a hand to a chair. The long day and its emotional ups and downs had taken its toll. She suddenly felt too exhausted to think straight. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she was too helpless, too naïve, to make her own decisions.
How had this happened? Was Mr. Tanner a villain or had there been a terrible mix-up with the paperwork at the agency?
Of course. He’d told her to reread the contract and that’s just what she’d do, and then force him to do the same. She wasn’t her father’s daughter for nothing. She’d read that sheet of paper very carefully before signing it. It was an employment contract for a temporary teaching assignment, nothing more.
Feeling her energy rebound, she hurried into the hall. Her copy lay somewhere in her luggage, but he still had the one she’d given him. “Mr. Tanner, just a minute please.” Stepping into the kitchen, she ran smack into his rock-solid chest.
He placed a hand on both of her arms, steadying her before stepping back a pace. “Well, Miss Sinclare, what is it now?”
Elthia’s cheeks heated but she held onto what dignity she could. Pushing her glasses up on her nose, she managed to keep her gaze locked to his as she held out a hand. “The contract, sir. I’d like to see your copy of it if I may.”
He raised an eyebrow. “And just what do you expect that to prove?” Then he scowled. “I warn you, don’t try to tear it up.”
She raised her chin. “Why would I want to tear it up? It’s the proof I need to support my story. It states quite clearly that the position I accepted was that of governess.”
“Does it now?”
Elthia frowned impatiently. “Yes, of course it does. You read it there at Whistling Oak. Surely you remember what it said. There was nothing at all vague about the terms.”
“I agree, it spells things out in very plain language.” He strode out of the room and she followed him as far as the foot of the stairs. It only took seconds for him to return and hand her the document.
Elthia, itching to rub the I’m-only-doing-this-to-humor-you expression from his face, unfolded it and skimmed it.
Then she blinked.
She read it twice. Where had this contract come from? It most definitely was not the document she’d read so carefully before signing. Someone had switched papers, but when and how? They’d hardly been out of her sight since she’d signed them.
It must have been Mr. Tanner. He’d somehow substituted the document she’d handed him for this one. Her gaze frantically turned to the bottom of the contract and she got another shock.
It couldn’t be!
There was her name, penned in her own handwriting. Alongside it was the signature of Louella Pembroke. It must be a forgery, but it was such a good one even she couldn’t tell the difference.
How dare he try to coerce her this way. She shook the document under his nose. “How did you do this?”
“Do what?” He looked more puzzled than guilty.
“Forge my signature so perfectly. Did you trace it? And where’s the real contract?”
His jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed at her accusation. “Don’t you think you’re carrying this charade a bit far?”
“Don’t think you can intimidate me with that oh so superior tone. I have my own copy of the contract.”
She turned and all but fled upstairs. If he thought he could bully her with this elaborate act he was very much mistaken. It took her a several minutes, but she finally located her copy in the larger of her trunks.
Marching back down the stairs, she found Mr. Tanner still standing where she’d left him, though now the lamps in the hall were lit against the encroaching darkness.
She waved the paper triumphantly. “This is the document I signed, not that substitute you’re trying to fob off on me.”
With the air of an adult humoring a child, the infuriating Mr. Tanner plucked it from her fingers, pulled the contract out of the sealed envelope and looked it over quickly.
After reading it, he shrugged and handed it back to her. “I won’t argue with you on that score. But I don’t rightly see how it differs from the one I looked at earlier.”
Her hands starting to tremble, Elthia took the contract and forced her eyes to focus on the print. He was right, it was identical to the one he’d handed her a few minutes earlier.
A very simple, very binding, marriage contract.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. And stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted on my progress 🙂
Oh man! Do I have cowboy fever and it’s not just this week! Mine is a permanent condition. I love reading about them, writing their stories, and contemplating how it used to be before barbed wire and paved roads.
I’m sure some things are the same and cowboys still have the same kind of heart and love for the land and his way of life.
Next week, I’ll release TO CATCH A TEXAS STAR (Book #3 Texas Heroes.) In this story, Marley Rose McClain (the baby in Knight on the Texas Plains) is all grown up and looking to make her own way in the world. But she’s shattered to learn the secret Duel has kept from her all these years and to discover he and Jessie aren’t her parents. Who is she really?
A cowboy drifter named Roan Penny comes to see her as his Texas star and helps her sort it all out and find herself again. In the process they fall in love and plan for the future. But, will they live to see it?
I loved figuring out who Marley is and what she wanted. She loves writing stories for the many children her parents have taken in but sees no hope of getting them published. Roan has faith enough for both of them though.
This is the first time I’ve written about a character who writes and it was fun.
People ask why I write orphans into almost every story and here’s why.
The 1800s was overrun with orphans. New York City alone had 30,000 in 1850. Immigrants arrived and a good many died of disease and starvation, leaving their children with no place to go. The orphanages bulged at the seams and there were still so many living on the streets.
In an effort to curb the situation, they began shipping children out on orphan trains and offering them to any one willing to give them a home. From 1854 to 1929, a quarter of a million orphans rode on those trains. Yet, with no oversight, a good many faced horrible abuse.
Things weren’t much better in out west. People were dying in cholera epidemics, yellow fever, small pox, etc. Then you add in the numbers of the women dying in childbirth and it’s staggering. Then came the Civil War and left even more children without parents. On the American frontier, there were Indian uprisings in addition to everything else. It was a horrible time of upheaval and children bore the brunt.
Children are very dear to my heart. They represent the future and we should protect and nurture them. They are so vulnerable and helpless and I think we have a duty to be their voice.
What is your passion, what do you feel strongly about? Animals, children, equality, justice?
To celebrate the release of TO CATCH A TEXAS STAR I’m giving away three copies of the book. Just leave a comment to enter the drawing that will take place on Saturday.
I hope you like it. I’m hard at work on a new series called Outlaw Mail Order Brides and launching Book #1 in January with Book #2 following soon after.
And what better time for me to come back than during our special Cowboy Fever Week?
Some of you may already know that I was one of the founding fillies here at Petticoats & Pistols, back when we first launched in August, 2007. I was busy writing historical western romances for Harlequin, and I blogged monthly for years. I got to know many of you and enjoyed chatting with you during that time.
As sometimes happens with authors, I got the itch to try something different, and I delved into self-publishing my 1920s historical romantic suspense series, the Secret Six. Then life happened, and I had to step back from all writing for a little while. Both of my parents passed away within a few months of each other last year, and the responsibility fell to me to settle their estate. By the time, I could breathe again, the urge to feel like a writer ran strong within me.
And I missed cowboys. Guess the fever never died, eh? So the beginning of this year, I pulled together a contemporary western proposal and submitted to Tule Publishing. In a few weeks, I had a contract with them, and I was on my way to being a western romance writer again!
Currently, we are tweaking my new manuscript, so I don’t yet have a release date, a cover, or even a title. But I promise to tell you all about Ava and Beau’s story in the coming months. I hope you’ll stay tuned.
When I first began researching details for my Baker City Brides series a few years ago, one particular historical fact I found piqued my interest.
In the 1890s, Baker City, Oregon, was home to a meteorological station.
For my soon-to-be released fifth installment in the sweet historical romance series, I decided to make the heroine’s father the newly-stationed meteorologist.
Which meant I had to dig up more detail about the station and why it was in Baker City of all places.
Weather, it seems, has always been important to the citizenry of the United States. As far back as the arrival of the first colonists, records of the weather were kept, noting the harshness of the New World.
Many of the Founding Fathers observed the weather with avid interest including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. During the early and mid 1800s, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States.
Then the telegraph became operational in 1845 and visionaries saw the possibility of forecasting storms simply by telegraphing ahead what was coming.
Acc 000095, Box 27B, Folder Joseph Henry #11775
A man named Joseph Henry (sometimes referred to as the Father of Weather), Secretary of the new Smithsonian Institution, envisioned communication system opportunities that could extend across the North American continent. A plan was approved in 1848 for volunteer observers who could report the weather via telegraph and by the end of 1849, 150 volunteers were reporting weather observations to the Smithsonian regularly. By 1860, five hundred stations were daily furnishing weather reports.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a resolution in February 1870 that established an agency for reporting the weather. Although the brief resolution was given little press at the time, the agency it created would affect the daily lives of most citizens through its forecast and warnings.
Through the resolution, weather stations would operate under the War Department’s Signal Service Corps. This organization, The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce, laid the ground work for the National Weather Service we know today.
On November 1, 1870, the first synchronous meteorological reports were taken by observer/sergeants at twenty-four stations in the new agency and transmitted by telegraph to the central office in Washington, D.C.
The work of the new organization demanded men familiar with observations, theoretic, and practical meteorology. Commissioned officers detailed to Signal Service work were required to acquire meteorological knowledge by studying, consulting and learning from leading meteorologists of the time. For the education of the weather observers (enlisted men), a school of meteorology was added to the existing school of instruction in telegraphy and military signaling located at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer), Virginia.
The Signal Service’s field stations grew from twenty four to almost three hundred in 1878. Three times a day, each station telegraphed an observation to the home office including observations about the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind velocity, pressure of wind, clouds, and general state of the weather.
One such station existed in Boise, Idaho, but it closed just two days before Idaho became a state in July 1890 and moved to Baker City. The reasoning was that the area in Baker City was better for gathering weather information.
Then, in July 1891, the weather stations, telegraph lines, apparatus, and all the office equipment right down to every accounted-for pencil were transferred from the Signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly formed civilian Weather Bureau. The bureau created the basis of the weather service we know today.
Lightning and Lawmen (Baker City Brides Book 5) will release June 28.
Here’s a little excerpt:
At least the pleasant weather was one thing working in Baker City’s favor. In spite of the house’s disorderly status, she would greatly enjoy spring days in the area if today was any indication of what the future held. She pushed the cape from her shoulders, closed her eyes, and relaxed against the chair, enjoying the peaceful moments before her father returned.
“Maybe this place won’t be all bad,” she whispered, allowing her grip on her father’s bag to loosen.
“Baker City tends to grow on most folks, if you give it a chance,” a deep voice said, startling her from her musings.
Her eyes snapped open in surprise. Pride straightened her spine as her glance settled on a man standing a few yards away on the winter-browned grass on the other side of the porch railing.
Sunlight glinted off a shiny silver badge pinned to the front of a long duster. She studied the black western-style hat on his head, similar to those she’d seen cowboys sporting on the train. The lawman wore a tan flannel shirt topped with a dark vest and a neckerchief the color of crocuses. Dark blue denims encased muscled legs while dust covered the toes of his worn boots.
Slowly, her gaze glided from his boots back up to his face. A square jaw covered in a rakish growth of stubble, firm lips, and a straight nose proved to be a handsome combination. But it was the man’s eyes that captured her attention.
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Today is going to be a very busy day for me. I’m going to West Texas A&M University to film a segment for PBS. It’s for a show called 24 Frames. It’s exciting but very scary. I hope I don’t mess up too bad. The segment will air in September. I’ll have more on that later. I may not get to all the comments right away.
But today I want to tell you about my short story collection that I’ve self-published. Gunsmoke and Lace is my first attempt to put something out myself and I found nothing about the process easy. I was supposed to have the ebook and print releasing simultaneously but it didn’t work that way. After two weeks, only the ebook is up. The print should be along soon I’m told.
I have four stories in this collection: The Telegraph Tree, Moon Dog Night, The Gunslinger, and Hard Luck.
The inspiration for The Telegraph Tree came after I attended a lecture about women who came West and the challenges at West Texas A&M University. The speaker quoted statistics about the number of women who committed suicide, unable to handle the constant hardships and loneliness. The women spent most of their time alone in the empty, vast space with their children (if they had any) and not having anyone to talk to broke their spirits until there was nothing left.
Listening to that reminded me of a Sam Elliott movie called Conagher that he made with his wife Katherine Ross. To combat her loneliness, she wrote poems and tied them to tumbleweeds. Maybe you remember it.
That’s where The Telegraph Tree was born and when I finished, I entered it in several writing contests. It placed 3rd in Women Writing the West and also in Wyoming Writers, Inc.
I wrote The Gunslinger (formerly The Widow’s Heart) for an anthology for Cheryl Pierson at Prairie Rose and was real proud how it turned out. I made a few changes to it though.
Moon Dog Night is about two children who ride into a bounty hunter’s camp on a cold winter night. They’re trailing the man who took their mama and they’re determined to get her back. Of course, Bonner Raine can’t let them go alone. But will they arrive in time to save her?
Hard Luck has a lot of humor as two cowboys try to rob a bank. Absolutely nothing goes right and I’ve saved a surprise at the last.
All these stories sprang from a deep well inside me and I think it’s time to share them.
The fabulous Charlene Raddon designed this gorgeous cover and I love everything about it. She’s so creative. The fantastic Jerri Lynn Hill did the editing and she’s an amazing woman. Jeri Walker formatted it. I couldn’t have succeeded without these ladies.
Gunsmoke and Lace is available everywhere online. But here are a few links:
As much as I’d like to regularly get to travel in the West, I only get to visit every few years. So as a writer of contemporary western romance, I look for inspiration in other ways — movies, TV shows, reading other authors’ books. Another way is by reading magazines that focus on various aspects of the West. For instance, in my book Home on the Ranch, the heroine, Ella Garcia, was inspired by Amie and Jolie Sikes, the sister duo behind the junking and repurposed decor empire known as Junk Gypsy. As I watched their TV show, Ella started to form in my head. I sent Amie and Jolie copies of the book dedicated to them when it came out. They were sweet to write me back and send me a Junk Gypsy mug which I drink out of all the time. So when I saw this copy of Cowgirl magazine with them on the cover, I had to pick it up.
Inside was more inspiration for characters’ style choices, whether it be western clothing or jewelry, furniture for their homes, or the homes themselves, as well as articles about western life. There’s even an article in this issue about a cattle drive in Florida, the Great Florida Cattle Drive.
The same can be said of magazines such as Cowboys & Indians. Plus, who can resist Sam Elliott on the cover, right? In this particular issue from a couple of years ago, Elliott talks about his Netflix show The Ranch. There are also articles about camping across the West, Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho, and Muscogee/Creek artist Joy Harjo. Even the ads have beautiful imagery of expansive Western vistas, gorgeous Western-style homes and decor, Wrangler jeans (known to be worn by cowboys far and wide), and useful information such as the list prices for ranches that are for sale.
Sometimes all it takes is one image to set a writer’s mind down a path that ends up with a completed novel. I’m a visual person, so I’m continually inspired by the things I see — whether in person on on the glossy pages of a magazine.
Do you all enjoy Western-themed magazines? What are some of your favorites?