Category: western romance

The Outlaw Kathleen Rice Adams Confesses

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Why do so many women named Kathleen become romance authors? They’re everywhere.

Filly Fun 2016Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Kathleen Kane, Kathleen O’Brien, Kathleen Baldwin, Kathleen Eagle, Kathleen Kellow, Kathleen Maxwell, Kathleen Bittner Roth, Kathleen M. Rodgers, Kathleen Ball, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Kathleen Winsor… They’re all somewhat celebrated, and some are still writing today.

Then there’s that other Kathleen—the one who finds humor in the most inappropriate places at the worst possible times. The Kathleen whose wardrobe consists primarily of egg on her face and the taste of shoe leather on her tongue. The Kathleen who encourages fictional characters to cuss and steal and murder and commit all manner of other dastardly deeds because they can get away with it and she can’t.

The troublemaking one. The one who reveres sarcasm as high art. The one who should be rich and famous by now if for no other reason than name association.

The Hideout

My current hideout. Forget you saw it.

To tell you the truth, I find it more satisfying to be poor and infamous—which is a good thing, since I’m a pro at both pursuits.

Here are a few more truths:

1)  I’m the eldest of four siblings: two girls and two boys. (Yes, four middle-aged hooligans with similar DNA remain at large. Be afraid.) Three of us are overachievers: My sister is a retired judge, the eldest of the boys is literally a rocket scientist, and the baby of the family is a computer systems engineer. And then there’s me.

2) My sister, brothers, and I played cowboys and Indians a lot when we were kids. I was always the outlaw. Why no one saw that as a warning remains a mystery.

3) I retired from the U.S. Air Force at the ripe old age of 22. No, I was not mustered out on a Section 8, although that would’ve surprised no one.

4) I still have my wisdom teeth, my appendix, and my tonsils. My mind, on the other hand, hasn’t been seen in years.

Hole in the Web Gang

The Hole in the Web Gang, clockwise from top left: Dog, age 12; Underdog, 7; Little Ol’ Biddy, 15; Mr. Ed, 4.

5) As a journalist, I’ve worked the scene of a major airline disaster, covered political scandals, written columns about poltergeist-infested commodes and human kindness, won awards…and found myself staring at the wrong end of a gun—twice. Thankfully, I’ve yet to be ventilated. (A more astute individual might have realized it’s unwise to antagonize crazy people.)

6) My author bio says I come from “a long line of ranchers, preachers, and teachers on one side and horse thieves and moonshiners on the other.” I did not make any of that up. Some of my relatives still ranch, preach, and teach. The horse thieves and moonshiners found other lines of work.

7) My paternal grandmother’s mother was American Indian. Grandma never knew what tribe; consequently, neither do I. In the late 1800s, Kentucky hillbillies considered marrying an Indian shameful, so no one talked about great-grandma’s heritage. My grandmother never met her mother’s relatives. (My dad, who as a child helped his father run moonshine, was the first in his family’s history to earn a college degree. He referred to himself as a “hillwilliam.”)

Peaches by Kathleen Rice Adams8) My short story “Peaches” was based on my maternal grandparents’ courtship. Granny, a young widow who taught in a one-room Texas schoolhouse and had her hands full with three rowdy boys, took a peach pie to a church social. The man who was to become my grandfather, a bachelor rancher in his 50s, won the accidentally over-seasoned pie at auction. He nearly choked to death on the first bite. His response? “I s’pose I ought to marry that little woman ‘fore she kills somebody.”

9) My house celebrated its 100th birthday last year. Compared to some of the other homes on Galveston Island, it’s a youg’un. The Capt. H.H. Hadley House (yes, it has a name) was completed in August 1915…two weeks before a deadly Category 4 hurricane struck. More than three dozen big blows later, it’s still standing.

The Dumont Brand by Kathleen Rice Adams10) Four Chihuahuas ranging in age from four to fifteen live in this house. Whatever they’ve told you about the intractability of their servant, don’t believe them. If they didn’t want to be deviled by a spoiled-rotten delinquent, they shouldn’t have rescued me.

There. Now you know all of my deep, dark secrets. Before you decide to pursue blackmail, read “The Ransom of Red Chief.”

To compensate for the loss of financial opportunity, I’ll give away a copy of The Dumont Brand, which contains the first two stories in a series about a Texas ranching dynasty with more skeletons in its closets than there are in a graveyard. “The Trouble with Honey,” a new story in the series, will be published this summer.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment revealing something about you. Oh, c’mon. It’ll be fun! Your life can’t be any more embarrassing than mine.  😉

 

Welcome Becca Whitham and a Give Away!

Welcome to Becca Whitham! Today Becca  is giving away a print copy of The Cowboy’s Bride Collection, but she won’t be able to mail the book until April. Anticipation is a good thing, right? Join me in welcoming Becca!

I’m exciCowboys Bride coverted to be a guest on Petticoats and Pistols today. A big thank you to Karen Witemeyer for hosting me.

My latest release is a novella called “Cowboy Competition” which is part of The Cowboy’s Bride Collection.  While researching, I discovered a distressing story about horses starving to death on the Great Plains during the mid-1800’s. The story was connected to the US Cavalry which imported people and horses from all over the country. Born and bred on richer grasses, the horses couldn’t survive on the less nutritious prairie grass so oats and corn were shipped in.  If a train carrying the supplemental food was delayed, the horses died. Several solutions were devised. One was to grow corn and oats in Texas, and the hazards these farmers faced are worth a story of their own. The second was to take horses born and bred on the plains and train them to be cavalry horses.

The reaction to this second idea was mixed, and that’s what I used in myBlaze story. My hero, Toby, is certain the army will pay fistfuls for trained horses that can survive without supplemental oats and corn. The fastest and cheapest way to start was to round up wild mustangs who roamed the plains. My heroine, Nia, thinks Toby’s loco because mustangs are called wild for a reason! If you’ve ever seen a bronco busting rodeo event, you understand why Nia was concerned.

History records that, starting in 1849, the army began to purchase prairie bred horses—as many as they could get their hands on. Bronco busting became big business. (Try saying that five times fast!) So Toby was right. But Nia was right, too. Not everyone can tame a wild mustang. It takes a very special person to do it.  If you don’t believe me, here’s a link to a movie called Wild Horse, Wild Ride.

The enduring appeal of a cowboy is centered on a man tough enough to tame a wild mustang but gentle enough to earn its trust. These men are the stuff of legend…and romance.

***

12528Becca Whitham (WIT-um) is a multi-published author who has always loved reading and writing stories. After raising two children, she and her husband faced the empty nest years by following their dreams: he joined the army as a chaplain, and she began her journey toward publication. Becca loves to tell stories marrying real historical events with modern-day applications to inspire readers to live Christ-reflecting lives. She’s traveled to almost every state in the U.S. for speaking and singing engagements and has lived in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Website.

The Cowboy’s Bride Novella Collection Authors and Give Away!

TCL+Book+CoverToday we welcome to the Junction three authors who contributed to The Cowboy’s Bride Collection. Nancy J. Farrier, Davalynn Spencer and Darlene Spencer are here to tell us about the inspiration for their stories. And each of these lovely ladies will be doing a giveaway!

Nancy is giving away a copy of the collection and a handmade bookmark, Davalynn is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and Darlene is giving away winner’s choice of either a digital or print copy of the collection. Now let’s learn about these authors and their inspirations!

Nancy headshotCrazy About Cait, The Cowboy’s Bride  Collection  By Nancy J. Farrier

I live in Southern California. For the past few years, we have suffered a severe drought. We’ve had water rationing in some area and restricted watering of plants. In our modern day, we do have ways to conserve water that our predecessors did not have. We can also predict weather patterns more accurately.

When researching my story, Crazy About Cait in The Cowboy’s Bride collection, I wondered about the difficulties of drought in the past and how what the ranchers in the 1800’s had to face. I found out one of the dangers they faced came as a small weed, called locoweed. This little plant is poisonous to cattle and horses, so in normal years, ranchers took care to protect their livestock, making sure they grazed in pastures free of locoweed. When the feed was scarce and dying, due to drought, this hardy little plant often proved too much of a temptation for the hungry animals. The accounts I read of animals suffering and dying from poisoning were very sad.

In Crazy About Cait, Cait, faces the desperate times of drought, the possibility of her father losing their home, and of having to work alongside a man who broke her sister’s heart a few years before. Jonas knows he made a big mistake in the past, but he intends to fight for Cait, and to win her love as they work together, albeit reluctantly on Cait’s part, to save her father’s ranch.

Nancy grew up on a small farm in the Midwest amidst a close knit family. She came to love farm life including the cooking, gardening and canning, but not so much the cleaning house part. In school she often got in trouble in history class for hiding a fiction book in her text book to read during the teacher’s lecture. Nancy was shocked to later discover she had such a love for history. Now Nancy lives in Southern California and loves to research and include bits of history in her books. She is a Christian and enjoys encouraging her readers in their faith. Read more about Nancy at nancyjfarrier.com.

davalynn-spencer-media-4The Wrangler’s Woman  by Davalynn Spencer

I live near Cañon City, Colorado, and the area has been cowboy country since the mid-1800s. With “high park” grasslands, relatively mild winters, and plenty of snow runoff from high country creeks that flow into the mighty Arkansas River, this was the perfect setting for the story I wanted to tell in The Cowboy’s Bride collection.

An idea for a rugged cowboy hero flashed across my inner screen in the form of a rancher driving his herd of longhorns down a small town’s Main Street. I could hear the clacking horns and scratching hooves, and taste the gritty dust on my tongue. No doubt such an event would draw the attention of local residents—particularly that of a woman from the Midwest who’d read everything she could about cowboys.

Familiar with some of the area’s ranches, I took those two characters and chose a spot off Texas Creek on the way to the Wet Mountain Valley. Today, the juncture of that old stage road at US Highway 50 is called Texas Creek. But in 1881, it was known as Ford Junction. And that’s where my lovelorn heroine stands on the porch of her sister’s boarding house as the cowboy trails his herd by in a dusty parade.

“The Wrangler’s Woman” tells the story of widowed rancher Josiah Hanacker who hires spinster Corra Jameson as a lady-trainer for his young daughter, Jess. He fears losing Jess to his wife’s sister if the girl doesn’t meet her aunt’s ladylike expectations. Turns out, Corra has everything Josiah needs for his daughter. He just never figured she’d have what he needed for himself.

Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She won the 2015 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award for Inspirational Western Fiction and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and their Queensland heeler, Blue. Connect with her at www.davalynnspencer.com.

jan 21 15The Reformed Cowboy by Darlene Franklin

I love writing about the west, but I don’t know much about cowboy life. So I created a heroine a lot like me—an easterner, shocked by the differences when she moves west to Wichita. When the cowboys arrive in Wichita at the end of the trail, she offers a class, “Learn to be a Gentleman.”  What she doesn’t know is that her secret correspondent—poet and reader Wes Harper—is himself a cowboy and a student in her class.

Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals.Website and blog  Facebook  Amazon author page

Jane Porter on Creating the Fictional Western Town

After living for almost 17 years in Greater Seattle, during the summer of 2012 I moved with my crew down to Southern California to the most charming of laid-back little beach towns.  I absolutely adore being in San Clemente (it still has its original main street–called Del Mar–with angled parking) but the move was hard on my kids who were true Seattlites and I missed all my friends.  By February, I really wanted to do a fun project with some of my close author friends and I made some calls and sent off some emails, asking if three of them would like to create a series together, something set in Montana, something with cowboys and featuring the beautiful rugged Montana landscape.

My three author friends–Lilian Darcy from Australia, CJ Carmichael from Canada, Megan Crane from California–agreed and we decided to make a girls roadtrip to Montana to brainstorm our books and series.  I thought it’d be fun to share how Montana Born from Tule Publishing came about, using the words of Lilian Darcy, one of the founding authors.

This is how Marietta, Montana, our beloved fictional Western town, came to be!

2Authors in Livingston MT

Founding authors in downtown Livingston, MT: (from left to right) CJ Carmichael, Megan Crane, Lilian Darcy and Jane Porter

In Lilian Darcy’s words:

It began in February…

Milestone #1—The phone call

Jane Porter calls me from California. Jane is a good friend, so I’m smiling when I hear her voice. ‘I want to have a writers retreat to plot a joint series’, she says. ‘Are you in?’

I think I’m in before she even gets to the word. We talk on the phone until my ear turns blue and I have to seek medical attention.

The plan is ambitious. This will be a real publishing company, not simply a group of like-minded authors publishing independently with some linked stories and branding (although, hey, that would be great, too). We will bring in experienced professionals in publishing, editing and marketing, as well as authors whose attitude and quality of work we can count on. 

Honestly, I think my whole world feels different after this one phone call.

Milestone #2—The preparation

‘I want you to come over here’, Jane says in a follow-up email. ‘I have Megan Crane and CJ Carmichael on board, and we all need to get together to talk about our story ideas, and about how this is going to work.’

Did I mention that Jane is a good friend? She has frequent flyer miles that she actually gives me to cover the airline ticket. We decide May will be the best time, so I naturally go straight to the most vital pieces of preparation—crossing the days off a calendar and shopping for clothes.

We do also brainstorm a lot via email about stories during these two months. We decide to create the Montana Born Books imprint, and to set our first few series of books in our fictional town of Marietta, Montana. 

(Because Montana is cool. I’ve been there now, and I know.)

2Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

2Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley

We each throw in a bunch of ideas.

Megan comes up with a big, single title mini-series about three sisters who’ve grown up with the difficult parenting of their saloon-owner and Vietnam vet father, Jason Grey, after their mother left town.

CJ creates a traditional ranching family, the Carrigans, while Jane also creates a ranching family, the Sheenans, on the adjacent property.

I have a major women’s fiction trilogy in mind, following the lives of characters who’ve all been changed by what happened at the Marietta High School Prom in 1996.

Milestone #3—The brainstorming

May 1st arrives, and I fly across the Pacific to California. Jane meets me at LAX and nearly drives off the road about nine times on the way down to her house in San Clemente because we’re so busy talking.

Three days later, we fly to Kalispell, Montana, where CJ picks us up, after collecting Megan earlier in the day, and we drive to her cottage on Flathead Lake.

Now, some of you may have seen the pictures on Facebook, but I want to stress that we actually do work quite hard, despite appearances to the contrary.

First, we talk for a whole day, building our fictional universe. Where exactly is our town located? What’s the population? What’s its history? What stores and other buildings are there in Main Street? Who owns them? (Hint: When you read the books, watch out for mentions of a Jane Austen–inspired character, who’s a bit of a gossip-monger.)

2Historic Marietta - Bramble Lane

Elegant neighborhoods in Bozeman inspired Marietta’s Bramble Lane

 

MariettaMap Sketch before finished map

Our pencil-sketch map of Marietta came to life as we plotted the town layout.

We go to bed very satisfied with our first day’s work, and then the next morning when we get up CJ says, ‘You know what? I don’t think our planned stories are closely enough linked.’

She’s right, we realize at once. We’ve each gone off on our own tangent, with the Carrigans, the Greys, the Sheenans and my tragic 1996 prom night. For our launch, we need something that knits our characters more closely together and celebrates our fictional town in a more vibrant way.

2IMG_4845

Handsome Livingston, Montana with its turn-of-the-century brick buildings inspired our beloved Marietta

Milestone #4—The stories

‘How about a rodeo?’ I think this is CJ, too. She is so great at cutting to the heart of the problem and coming up with the right idea.

‘Full-length stories?’

‘No, how about a novella each?’

As writers, you tend to know something is right when the sparks immediately catch fire. Within an hour, this morning, we’ve each come up with the basic bones for a story.

The Title Fairy pays us a visit, which is close to being a Montana Miracle. She is a pretty temperamental creature, that one, and can withhold her creativity for months, sometimes.

Armed with titles, story ideas, linking threads and a whole lot of detail on our fictional world, we begin writing that very day…

~

Look for more about the making of Marietta, Montana and the results of our efforts with the release of our Montana Born stories in April! 

If you’ve enjoyed this inside look, do leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of our four rodeo stories that created Montana Born, Love Me, Cowboy plus fun Montana Born reader swag!

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(Portions of Lilian Darcy’s story first appeared in the September 2013 issue of the Australian Romance Readers Association newsletter.)

 

 

Updated: March 2, 2016 — 2:42 pm

Just What Is an Indian Medicine Bag?

Linda pubpixI was so excited when Forever His Texas Bride, the last in my Bachelors of Battle Creek, came out in December. I’d waited a whole year for readers to get it. This story is about Brett Liberty who happens to be a half-breed. He knows nothing at all about his past. Someone left him on the orphanage steps with only item in the basket with him—an Indian medicine bag with an onyx stone inside. Growing up with whites, he doesn’t know what the bag stands for even which tribe he belongs to. Finally when a woman comes with proof that she’s his sister, he learns he’s Iroquois.  But the medicine bag remains in the bottom of a chest with his things until he discovers a very sick old Comanche on his land and sees that he wears the same sort of leather pouch around his neck. When Brett gets his, the man explains what it is and the purpose.

 

a medicine bagMedicine bags were widely used in the American Indian culture. It was a special sacred container usually made of leather, but sometimes were fashioned from a small animal pelt. They held any object that the wearer thought would give him great “medicine” or power.

 

Typically, they contained something from each the plant, mineral and animal kingdom in addition to anything else the wearer thought would bring good fortune, protection and strength. Almost all held sweet grass or sage. No one was allowed to open another’s and when a warrior died, the bag was buried with him. To lose a medicine pouch signified a man had lost his “medicine” and he faced great dishonor and was ridiculed in the tribe. It also meant a bad omen for the future. After learning about his, Brett never took it off.

 

simple medicine bagThe onyx that Brett found in his was put there by his mother to protect him. But he knew a copper strand of Rayna Harper’s hair would bring strength so he put that inside as he went about collecting items that would give him power to fight the men who wanted to kill him. He made a medicine bag for Rayna and she put a piece of fringe from Brett’s moccasin inside along with a green stone from their secret waterfall.

 

Cowboy Coffee mugI have a small leather one that has a beautiful green stone, a small turtle figure and sage inside. What would you put inside one if you had it? What things would you think important to carry?

 

I’m giving away this cowboy and horse mug to one person who leaves a comment.

 

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:

 

Rayna’s hand came in contact with a soft leather pouch she’d never seen him wear before. “What’s this?”

“A medicine bag. I’ve always had it, but until today I didn’t know what it was or why it was in the basket when I was left at the orphanage. Bob told me it holds my power, things that have meaning only to me.” He paused a moment, and when he spoke, his voice sounded rusty. “Rayna, I have a request that may sound odd. Would you mind if I cut a small piece of your hair to put inside?”

His request surprised her at first, then warmth rose at the thought that she meant this much to him. She raised her head. “I’d be honored to have a lock of my hair in your medicine bag.”

She moved from the circle of his arm. He pulled his knife from its sheath and, holding a curl between his thumb and forefinger, cut it. Then he opened his leather pouch and laid it inside. A pleasant glow spread through her chest. Part of her would always be with him. Her eyes misted.

Brett placed his lips to her ear. His soft breath ruffled her hair. “Thank you, Rayna.”

Flutters quivered in her stomach. When she leaned into him, he dropped a kiss on her cheek before moving away. Though she wished for more, she’d learned to be grateful for what she got. She had these peaceful moments and shared secrets with Brett to cherish forever. Maybe she was starting to heal. Maybe this land could heal her ragged spirit, too, and help her live with the things she couldn’t go back and fix. If she had a mind to.

But some things just needed doing even if they scarred your soul.

* * * * * *

You can find all three of my Bachelor series online and in bookstores. I’m currently working on a brand new series called Men of Legend. Book #1—TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER releases in October.

Bachelors of Battle Creek BANNER

Jane Porter: Life with the Alpha Hero

TheLostSheenanBride-MEDIUM

We’re heading towards Valentine’s Day and I’m in the thick of writing my next, and final, Taming of the Sheenans story, set in Marietta, Montana and I love this series because it celebrates tough rugged men and equally strong women.

The series started with five brothers that grew up together on the Sheenan ranch in Paradise Valley and each of the brothers (including the lost brother, Shane, that shows up this April) is a true alpha hero.

American actors Robert Redford (left) and Paul Newman in a still from the film, 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,' directed by George Roy Hill, 1969. (Photo by 20th Century Fox/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

American actors Robert Redford (left) and Paul Newman in a still from the film, ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ directed by George Roy Hill, 1969. (Photo by 20th Century Fox/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

An alpha hero is my favorite hero to write, and read. He isn’t defined by money or success. He might be powerful and successful, but that’s not what sets him apart.

 

What makes him riveting reading is that he is almost always a masculine, primal male. He doesn’t need to be rich, but he must have the means to provide for his woman. And he can and will, because he is strong, mentally and physically.

But alpha males are not perfect. They make mistakes…maybe even more than other men…and that’s because they take risks and they aren’t quitters and they refuse to walk away from a fight where something important is at stake.

john-wayne-movie-poster-1971-1020222804These heroes may have painful pasts, too, and because they’ve had to overcome challenges and tragedies, they can be overly confident. Possibly arrogant.

But when they love, oh how they love. Once an alpha hero finds his match…his mate…he will never be content with another woman.

I adore reading and writing alpha heroes because they sizzle and are sensual in bed (whether they seduce the heroine before marriage or wait til after), but he’s complex, and he demands more from his woman. He doesn’t want a doormat. He wants an equal, and he’s going to demand a lot from his woman. Maybe even in bed.

UnknownA great alpha hero must know how to satisfy a woman. He must focus on her, and focus on her pleasure, ensuring she is going to have the most sensual, satisfying experience of her life. He’s a man that’s gifted in foreplay, and can, and will, put her needs before his.

Readers that enjoy love scenes, want to read love scenes where the hero does satisfy the heroine…but not just sexually, emotionally, too. A great love scene requires connection and time. In real life people are rushed and tired and there might just not be enough foreplay, but in a romance novel, the hero better make sure he has endless time and energy to please his woman.

4343437733_remembering_paul_newman_photos_02152009_43_820x1003_answer_3_xlargeAnd thank goodness this same hero doesn’t ignore his ranch responsibilities. We don’t read about him leaving his socks or boots all over the bedroom. His dirty Wranglers aren’t crumpled on the bathroom floor. His truck isn’t filled with junkfood wrappers. Even better, he always takes care of the livestock and the chores so that she doesn’t have to pick up his slack. No, the great alpha hero in our western romances is concerned about making life better for her. He isn’t there to make life harder, but easier.

images-1I love that.

I love that in a romance, we get a man who wants and needs his woman, but doesn’t want her trapped in the laundry room, or the kitchen.

Heaven.

Do you have a favorite type of hero? What makes him special? I’d love to hear what kind of man makes you swoon! (He can be real or fictional!)  Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 gift card from Amazon!

TheTycoon'sKiss-SMALLWinner announced on the 10th!

PS: In case you’re interested in catching up with my Sheenan Brothers, Book 2, The Tycoon’s Kiss is on sale for .99 until Feb 8th so be sure to get your download soon!

 

Updated: February 3, 2016 — 12:02 am

Vegans on the American Frontier?

LindaBroday2With times so hard and food as scarce as it was on the American frontier, being a vegan probably wasn’t heard of that often. But given people’s phobias I have a hard time believing they didn’t develop until the 1900s. People are people no matter what century you live in.

Carnophobia is the fear of meat.

And it’s not limited to vegans. It can apply to anyone who stopped eating meat because it wasn’t prepared well and made them sick.

Rayna Harper in my new book—FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE—is a carnophobic.

ForeverTexasBridemedShe stopped eating meat for a very horrific reason and it makes perfect sense. The only thing is, Brett has a hard time understanding it at first. He’s definitely a meat eater. Game is plentiful and provides critical protein that gives a person energy so it seems odd to him that someone stops eating it.

I’m not going to say what Rayna’s reason is because it’ll give away too much of the story, but she finds a champion in Brett.

Once he learns of her phobia, he makes sure to have plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and eggs available for every meal.

No one understands inner pain better than Brett. When he learns hers, he folds his arms around her, vowing to protect her to the last breath.

I’m giving away a copy (winner’s choice of title and format) of one of my Bachelors of Battle Creek series. All you have to do is leave a comment.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:

Rayna moved to the fire. Cooper handed her a pointed stick that had a rabbit skewered onto it and asked her to hold it over the flames. She looked as though she might retch. Still, she kept her head averted from the dead animal and did as he requested.

Funny thing though, as soon as Cooper relieved her of the rabbit, she rushed behind a tree and emptied her stomach.

Rand strolled over to Brett. “What’s wrong with Rayna?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe she got something bad in the jail. The food they served was little better than slop for the most part.”

When Rayna returned, Brett took her aside to ask if she was all right.

“I’m fine,” she said, not meeting his eyes.

He knew a fib when he saw one, but he didn’t press. She’d talk when she wanted. Or not. Being one who had never felt the need to do much conversing, he understood her desire for quiet.

His gaze followed her as she walked down to the stream. Suddenly, he remembered her refusal to eat the fried chicken the kind jailor had brought them. He suspected it wasn’t just chicken she didn’t eat. Without a word to anyone, he moved into the woods and found some wild berries, roots, and nuts. Wasn’t much, but it would keep her from getting too weak to travel.

 

Romantic Times gave a 4 star review, saying this:

“Broday’s Westerns always captivate with realistic settings, rugged cowboys and feisty heroines. Broday ends her Bachelors of Battle Creek trilogy with a bone-chilling thrill. Two lonely hearts came together against vigilantes determined to destroy all they hold dear.”

 

The whole series is available online and in bookstores everywhere.

Bachelors of Battle Creek BANNER

 

 

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.)

Bread Pudding: From Frugal to Fancy (and a recipe)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Many dishes that are prides of the American table today once were ways to avoid wasting food. Shipping of all but basic staples didn’t begin until the latter half of the 19th century; perishables weren’t shipped at all until refrigerated containers, or “reefers,” were invented in 1869. Even then, perishable cargo could be carried only a few miles before the ice melted.

The first successful long-distance reefer transport occurred in the early 1880s. The first grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916.

Happy Cowboy ChristmasConsequently, settlers on the American frontier and American Indians used every part of the animals and plants they grew or gathered in order to avoid starvation. Frontier and farming families stewed poultry necks, tails, and wings because the meat and bones offered precious protein. Slaves in the American south prepared animal innards like chitterlings (intestines) and vegetable leavings like potato skins in a variety of ways because their masters considered those things offal. Anyone who has visited a restaurant in the past twenty years recognizes chicken wings and potato skins as trendy appetizers. At “soul food” eateries, chitlins are standard fare. (Yes, I have eaten them. No, I won’t do so again.)

Because carbohydrates offer a quick source of energy, bread, too, was a precious commodity. Many frontier families baked with cornmeal or corn flour. The latter was obtained by repeatedly pouring cornmeal from burlap sack to burlap sack and shaking loose the fine powder left clinging to the bags. Bread made with wheat flour was a treat…even though merchants in frontier towns often “extended” wheat flour by adding plaster dust. Frontier families might make a multi-day journey into town for supplies once or twice a year.

savory bread pudding

savory bread pudding

Since the early 11th century, “po’ folks” have turned stale bread into bread pudding in order to use every last ounce of food they could scrounge. Originally, the concoction was a savory main dish containing bread, water, and suet. Scraps of meat and vegetables might be added if the cook had those on hand.

What we think of as bread pudding today came into its own in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Creative cooks turned the dish into a dessert by combining stale bread with eggs, milk, spices, and a sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar. Some also included bits of fruit, berries, and/or nuts.

My family and friends talk me into baking bread pudding each Christmas, and sometimes for other special occasions during the rest of the year. They don’t have to do much arm-twisting, because the rich dessert is easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and delicious.

bread pudding dessert

bread pudding dessert

One thing to know about bread pudding: Making it “wrong” is darn nigh impossible. Any kind of bread can be used, including sweet breads like donuts and croissants. Likewise, spices are left to the cook’s imagination, fruits and nuts are optional, and sauces are a matter of “pour something over the top.”

Through years of trial and error, I’ve created a recipe that works for me. Have fun experimenting with the basics (bread, milk, butter, and eggs) until you come up with one that works for you. I prefer mine fairly plain, but you may want to add or top with raisins (a New Orleans classic), chocolate, bananas, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, rum sauce, caramel sauce, powdered-sugar drizzle, or almost anything else you can imagine.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
(can be doubled for a crowd)

Pudding
(makes 10-12 servings)

3 large eggs
1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
¼ cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1 16oz. loaf stale French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes

Heat oven to 325.

Stir together eggs, cream, granulated and brown sugars, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Place bread cubes into a lightly buttered 13×9-inch pan.

Heat milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until butter is melted. Do not boil.

Stir ¼ cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture. When well-combined, slowly add remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. For a fluffier pudding, lightly press bread into egg mixture so all bread cubes are coated with the liquid. For a dense pudding, allow the pan to sit for 20 mins. before baking.

Bake for 45-55 mins., until top is browned and no liquid is visible around the edges. (The center will look soft. Don’t bother with the toothpick test—it won’t tell you anything.)

Allow pudding to stand for 20-30 mins. Top with bourbon sauce and serve.

Bourbon Sauce
(This will knock folks across the room, so be careful how much you pour on each pudding serving. 2 tsp. vanilla or other extract may be substituted for bourbon, if desired.)

1 cup heavy cream
½ Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.

Whisk together corn starch and water, then add the mixture to the cream, whisking constantly.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Whisk and simmer until thickened, taking care not to scorch the cream on the bottom.

Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add more sugar and/or bourbon to taste.

Ladle sauce over each serving of warm-from-the-oven or room-temperature pudding.

Serve and enjoy!

 

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALBread pudding wouldn’t be on the menu in the dingy cafe on the wrong side of Fort Worth where the heroine in my latest story works. The job is a big step down from her previous life as a pampered socialite. “A Long Way from St. Louis” appears with stories from seven other authors—including filly sisters Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—in Prairie Rose Publications’ new holiday anthology, A Mail-Order Christmas Bride.

A Long Way from St. Louis
Cast out by St. Louis society after her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger when she discovers the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.

Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.

When the debutante and the back-alley brawler collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.

Here’s an excerpt:

If the lazy beast lounging on a bench beside the depot’s doors were any indication, the west was neither wooly nor wild. As a porter took her hand to assist her from the railway car, Elizabeth Adair stared. The cowboy’s worn boots crossed at the ends of denim-clad legs slung way out in front of him. Chin resting on his chest, hat covering his face, the man presented the perfect picture of indolence.

Surely her husband-to-be employed a more industrious type of Texan.

Her gaze fixed on the cowboy’s peculiar hat. A broad brim surrounded a crown with a dent carved down the center. Sweat stains decorated the buff-colored felt. Splotches of drying mud decorated the rest of him.

Lazy and slovenly.

Pellets of ice sprinkled from the gray sky, melting the instant they touched her traveling cloak. Already she shivered. Another few minutes in this horrid weather, and the garment would be soaked through.

The porter raised his voice over the din of the bustling crowd. “Miss, let’s get you inside before you take a chill. I’ll bring your trunks right away.”

Taking her by the elbow, he hastened toward doors fitted with dozens of glass panes. Ragtag children darted among the passengers hurrying for shelter. Without overcoats, the urchins must be freezing.

She glanced around the platform. Where was her groom? She had assumed a wealthy rancher would meet his fiancée upon her arrival. Perhaps he waited within the depot’s presumed warmth. Her hope for a smattering of sophistication dwindled, but a woman in her circumstances could ill afford to be picky.

A group of ragamuffins gathered around the cowboy. As the porter hustled her past, the Texan reached into his sheepskin jacket and withdrew a handful of peppermint sticks. A whiff of the candy’s scent evoked the memory of a young man she once knew—a ne’er-do-well removed from St. Louis at her father’s insistence, and none too soon.

After depositing her beside a potbellied stove, the porter disappeared into the multitude. The tang of wood smoke drifted around her, so much more pleasant than the oily stench of coal. Peering through the throng, she slipped her hands from her muff and allowed the hand-warmer to settle against her waist on its long chain. She’d best reserve the accessory for special occasions. Judging by the people milling about the room, she doubted she’d find Persian lamb in Fort Worth unless she stooped to ordering from a mail-order catalog.

Mail-order. At least the marriage contract removed her from the whispered speculation, the piteous glances.

The shame heaped upon her by the parents she’d tried so hard to please.

Elizabeth put her back to the frigid gusts that swept in every time the doors opened, extending gloved palms toward the warmth cast by the stove.

Heavy steps tromped up behind her. Peppermint tickled her nose.

“Bets?”

A gasp leapt down her throat, colliding with her heart’s upward surge. Her palm flew to the base of her collar. Bets? Deep and smooth, the voice triggered a ten-year-old memory: If ye were aulder, little girl, I’d teach ye more than how to kiss.

She whirled to find the lazy cowboy, his stained hat dangling from one hand. Her gaze rose to a face weathered by the elements, but the blue eyes, the crooked nose…

Brendan Sheppard.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert? I’ll give an ebook copy of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

EE Burke….The Evolution of a Saint In America: St. Nicholas to Santa Claus

I’m so grateful to Elisabeth for filling in for me (Linda Broday) today. I’m out of town so this works out great. I hope you enjoy her fabulous blog about the evolution of Santa. I find it so interesting and I think you will too. Also, get ready for SANTA’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE that releases on Dec. 23rd. It will be available in print and ebook!! I’m so excited.

How well do you know Santa? I had to do some research about the evolution of Santa Claus in America for a brand new book–SANTA’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE. Here’s a collage I put together of the progression.

Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of these images were familiar to me, such as the real St. Nicholas, who truly embodies what being a disciple of Christ is all about. The Dutch brought “Sinterklaas” to colonial America. In the early 1800s, Santa devised his naughty list and hitched up the flying reindeer. And in the mid-to-late 1800s, Thomas Nast’s illustrations made the “jolly old elf” a household icon. Nast did more than 30 drawings for Harper’s Weekly, a number of those during the Civil War.

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates America’s Christmas traditions and the beloved character of Santa Claus. Just how much do you know about Santa?

 

Take this test:

Santa Claus was real person. (T or F)

The English brought Santa to America. (T or F)

A poem and an artist turned a saint into a legend. (T or F)

 

Santa Clause was a real person. True. Sort of… He started out as a saint. Nicholas, born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey, is said to have spent his inheritance to help the needy. He is credited with numerous miracles (including bringing dead people back to life) and had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.

 

bishop st. nicholas

 

The English brought Santa to America. (T or F)

False. Actually, it was the Dutch who gave Santa a ride across the ocean. Fast forward to 18th century America where immigrants from Holland brought with them the tradition of Sinterklaas, which eventually became “Santa Claus.”  Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a long robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys. There are also images showing Santa as a something of a trickster in a tri-corn hat.

 

colonial dutch santa

 

A poem and an artist turned a saint into a legend. (T or F)

True. In 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), gave us a mythical, mischievous Santa. Entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” or “The Night Before Christmas.” Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head. This is also where we pick up flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

1821 santa

 

 

We have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for developing the more familiar images of Santa Claus we cherish from Victorian times. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa. Here is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa his familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, elves, and even his wife, Mrs. Claus.

Nast 1881 santa portrait

Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. By the 1930s, Santa had even ventured into marketing, appearing on Coca-Cola ads.

 

coke santa

 

Yes, Santa has certainly evolved over time. But at the heart of the legend and character we find love and generosity and a special kind of magic that makes the world a better place.

 

norman santa

 

Did you know Santa was a Union man? And who doesn’t recognize the sack-toting Santa from the turn of the century? Being fully Americanized by the 1930s, Santa finally made his way into marketing…for Coca-Cola. Which of these images are familiar to you? Which one do you think best represents Santa? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Santa’s Mail-Order Bride.

 

SantasMailOrderBrideSanta’s Mail-Order Bride by E.E. Burke

 Maggie has an unexpected suitor—in a red suit

Schoolteacher Maggie O’Brien comes home for Christmas on a mission: to gather toys for orphans living on poor farms around Fort Scott. She’s made her list, but there’s no Santa in sight. Not until a local shopkeeper volunteers his services.

Gordon Sumner sets his mind on winning the black-haired Irish beauty, but Maggie’s brother is his fiercest competitor, and O’Brien’s loyal sister gives him the cold shoulder. Undaunted, he comes up with a clever plan.

Maggie sees through the fake Santa’s ploy, but with Christmas just around the corner, she’s running out of time to make the holiday happy for needy children. She accepts his help—with a plan of her own. She’ll play matchmaker and find her persistent suitor the perfect bride.

 

Teaser:

“We’ll get your orphans gifts, Miss O’Brien. I promise you.”

Her dazed expression remained, as her cheeks bloomed with color and her hands floated up to her mouth. At least she didn’t slap him.

His heart pumped liquid fire through his veins, the brief touch only whetting his appetite for more. He vowed to get a longer, deeper kiss before Miss O’Brien waltzed out of his life again, and he knew just how he would engineer it.

“You…you…” she sputtered.

“Kissed you? Yes. That’s what a man does with his wife.”

She scurried backwards, the high color draining from her face. “What are you talking about? I’m not your wife.”

“Not mine, Santa’s. You, my dear, will be Mrs. Claus.”

 

Available on Amazon: http://bit.ly/SantaBride

Find other books by E.E. Burke

http://bit.ly/AuthorEEBurke

www.eeburke.com

 

EE Burke headshotAbout E.E. Burke:

Weave together rich historical detail, passionate romance, add a dash of suspense and you have books by E.E. Burke. Her chosen settings are the American West and her upcoming release, Victoria, Bride of Kansas, is part of the unprecedented 50-book American Mail-Order Brides series. Santa’s Mail-Order Bride is the delightful sequel.

E.E.’s writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the prestigious Golden Heart®. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream…writing stories readers can get lost in.

 

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