Category: western romance

Victoria Bylin: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Give a big howdy to former Filly, Vickie Bylin! We’re so happy she came to visit. AND she brought books to give away. Three in fact, so leave a comment!

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Home   . . .  That word is one of the most evocative in the English language. It’s also a fitting theme for today’s blog, because Petticoats & Pistols was my home for over three years. Hello, Fillies!  I miss hanging out with you and the P&P readers. I thoroughly enjoyed being a Filly during my time with Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Historical.

 

Westerns will always be close to my heart. So will California with its beaches, mountains, valleys, and deserts. The state may not be the first one to pop in your mind when you think “traditional western,” not like Texas or Wyoming, but the history and culture have a western flavor.

 

SomeoneLikeYouCoverI live in Lexington, Kentucky now, but I miss the Golden State. That’s why I started writing about it. If we took a road trip with the characters in my contemporary romances, we’d walk barefoot on Pismo Beach, see endangered California condors in the wild, and camp out on Anacapa Island.

 

The Pismo Beach scene is in my latest release, Someone Like You (Bethany House, May 2016). The story is set at a historic resort in central California and is about what happens when college sweethearts meet after six years. Back at UC Berkeley, Zeke Monroe was a strong Christian, and Julia Dare believed in living for the moment. Fast forward six years . . . Now Zeke is struggling with his faith and Julia is a new believer and a single mom with a four-year-old son.

 


Until I Found YouTo add some western flavor (and because I like country music), I made the owners of the resort a retired country music duo called the Travers Twins. Ginger Travers no longer performs, but George Travers (who looks and sounds a lot like Sam Elliot) is going strong and still a heartthrob for Julia’s widowed mother.

 

California condors played a big role in Until I Found You. Those birds are amazing!  During the 1990s, when my family and I lived in the Los Padres National Forest a.k.a. “Condor Country,” we had the pleasure of seeing condors soar over our home. With their nine-foot wingspans, the birds look like glider planes. Writing about them brought back some great memories.  

 

Together With YouGoing camping again on Anacapa Island is another secret dream.  Anacapa (pronounced ANN-a-cap-a) is one of the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. In Together With You. Kentucky girl Carly Jo Mason and Los Angeles ophthalmologist Dr. Ryan Tremaine make a trip to the island with his kids.

 

 Ryan and Carly have quite the romance, but a little girl named Penny stole even more hearts—including mine. Penny has special needs and remains one of my favorite characters.

 

Thank you for taking a mini-trip home with me!  When it comes to romance, California is the perfect setting for strong characters, dramatic plots, and stories that touch the heart.

To celebrate my home state, I’d like to give away three books—reader choice from the titles above. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing!

 

A big thank you to the Fillies for inviting me to visit.  As the saying goes, “East or West, Home is Best.”

You can contact Vickie at:

WEBSITE   |    FACEBOOK    |     TWITTER   |   BLOGPOST

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Carousels and Brass Rings by Anita Mae Draper

We’re so happy to have Anita Mae Draper visit the Junction. She’s giving away a copy of Romantic Refinements (Austen in Austin Vol. 1) so leave a comment!

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Carousels have always been my favorite midway attraction, so when I decided to include the Texas State Fair into my latest story, Romantic Refinements, it was only natural that a carousel be added to the scene. Happily, I hit the research trail. My first stumble however, was when all the information pointed to Dallas holding the state fair and not Austin. My persistence paid off though and I found several sources to confirm the State Fair of Texas was held in Hyde Park in Austin from 1875 to 1884.

Caption: State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park. Racetrack, grandstands and spectators; undated; Courtesy of Austin History Center - Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection

Caption: State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park. Racetrack, grandstands and spectators; undated; Courtesy of Austin History Center – Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection

 

Since my story takes place in Austin in 1882, I was ready to go carousel hunting. As you can imagine finding images of a carousel that early was difficult, especially since part of my scene involved the brass ring that the carousel riders strive to collect. According to Wikipedia, ring devices were introduced about 1880, and while most of the rings were made out of iron, a couple on each ride consisted of brass. Some carousels had a clown designed on the side and you could toss your iron rings into its open mouth—no prize, but one way to make returning the rings exciting. Other carousels simply collected the rings in a container at the end of ride. However, if you managed to latch onto the brass ring, you were given a free ticket for the next ride.

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Watching several YouTube videos showing riders going after the brass ring, I have to agree with them. Check out this video on Knoebel’s Carousel in Elysburg, PA to see the brass ring dispenser in action:

 

In the carousel scene in my Romantic Refinements story, there is a little girl who wants to catch that brass ring more than anything. The main problem with the ring dispenser, however, is that it’s the same distance for everyone and a bit out of her reach. But she tries ever so hard as can be seen in this photo which was my inspiration for this scene:

Catching the Brass Ring

 

But the brass ring dispenser is just out of her reach. So the little girl does what she sees bigger kids doing—and that’s when disaster strikes. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will tell you that the events in my story will affect how the little girl handles life and romance when she re-appears as an adult in Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, the final novella in Austen in Austin Volume 2.

Sense and Nonsense

Perhaps I’ll take a moment to explain that Austen in Austin contains 8 novellas in 2 volumes, all based on heroines of Jane Austen’s novels. Although we changed the stories to reflect historical Austin in the late 19th century, and took away some relationships such as the familial relationship between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, readers have still been able to identify their Austen counterparts. This is how we can have a little girl in my story grow and appear as an adult in Lisa’s story which takes place seventeen years later. This also gave us the chance for cameos to update characters as each novella progressed—like an ongoing epilogue where you see what happens after they are married.  I love revisiting characters after reading their story ends, don’t you?

Have you ever ridden on a carousel? Where? Did you pick a horse or some other animal? Did you catch the brass ring?

Leave a comment for a chance to win Austen in Austin Volume 1 – winner’s choice print or digital.

 

Thanks for visiting me here today. You can find me at the following online sites:

Website  Pinterest   Twitter    Facebook Author Page

 

Austen in Austin Volume 1 – Available for Order

Austen in Austin Volume 2 – Available for PRE-Order

AnitaMaeDraperAnita Mae Draper’s stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita’s current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016.  Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at  www.anitamaedraper.com

 

 

Peacemakers Didn’t Win the West Alone

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1873 Colt .45 Single Action Army, the Peacemaker

1873 Colt .45 Single Action Army, the Peacemaker

When you think (or write or read or watch a movie about) the Old West, what’s the first weapon that comes to mind? If Peacemaker isn’t the first, it’s likely near the top of your list. Thanks to western novels and movies, the Peacemaker—formally known as the 1873 Colt .45 Single Action Army—is one of the most famous guns in history, and for good reason. The six-shot revolver was lighter than its predecessors, exceptionally well balanced, and accurate in the hands of someone who knew what he or she was doing. Not to be overlooked among its characteristics: A .45 slug makes a big hole.

Though known as “the gun that won the west,” Peacemakers weren’t alone in helping stalwart individuals tame the wild frontier. Several other sidearms and long guns also played roles. Here are a few of the lesser-known weapons carried by folks on both sides of the law.

 

1875 Remington Frontier Army

1875 Remington Frontier Army

Remington Frontier Army

In 1875, E. Remington & Sons began manufacturing a single-action revolver meant to compete with Colt’s Peacemaker. Nicknamed the Frontier Army or Improved Army model, Remington’s Model 1875 Single Action Army six-shooter never attained the Peacemaker’s commercial success or legendary status, partly because Colt got the jump on Remington by two years, the U.S. Army already had adopted the Peacemaker as its official sidearm, and many lawmen and outlaws preferred the Colt’s superior balance and lighter weight. Remington’s Frontier Army had its devotees, however, including Frank James.

In Prodigal Gun, heroine Jessie Caine carries an 1858 Remington New Model, which differed from the Model 1875 only in the type of ammunition it chambered. The 1858 was a cap-and-ball pistol, while the 1875 employed metallic cartridges. Both featured a cylinder that could be removed on the go, which made for easy reloading: just pop out the empty and pop in a fully loaded replacement. For that reason, the 1858 model was popular with both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. In fact, Bennett Collier—a Confederate cavalry officer who returns to his family’s Texas ranch at the end of the Civil War—brings a pair home with him. Ben is the hero in “Making Peace,” one of two related stories that compose The Dumont Brand.

 

1875 Smith & Wessons .45 Schofield (courtesy Bob Adams)

1875 Smith & Wesson .45 Schofield (courtesy Bob Adams)

.45 Schofield

The Smith & Wesson Model 3, which began production in 1875, saw service during the Indian Wars in the Southwest and the Spanish-American War. Favored by Wyatt Earp (who used one during “the gunfight in an alley near the OK Corral”) and Well Fargo road agents, the Model 3 was ordered in quantity for the U.S. military, providing Smith & Wesson modified the 1870 Model 3 according to Major George W. Schofield’s specifications. The contract ended early when the modifications, primarily having to do with the ammunition the revolver chambered, caused confusion and inconvenience in the field. Though heavier than both Colt’s Peacemaker and Remington’s Frontier Army, the Schofield’s range and muzzle velocity were superior to both its competitors. Prodigal Gun’s Col. Boggs, a sheep rancher whose barbed-wire fence touches off a range war, keeps one in a desk drawer.

 

Winchester Model 1873 carbine (courtesy Bob Adams)

Winchester Model 1873 carbine (courtesy Bob Adams)

Winchester Model 1873

Also called “the gun that won the west,” the Winchester 1873’s carbine model saw extensive use all over the West because of its portability. The shorter barrel length—20 inches as opposed to the rifle version’s 24 inches—made the carbine easier to carry and fire on horseback. The Model 1873’s ammunition also made it popular: The rifle and carbine chambered Colt’s .44-40 cartridge, which meant users of both handguns and rifles needed only one kind of ammunition.

The Winchester Repeating Arms Company developed the first lever-action repeating rifle in 1860. Known as the Henry, the long gun was employed by the Union Army during the Civil War, to the Confederates’ extreme consternation. Rebs called the Henry “that damned Yankee rifle they load on Sunday and shoot all week.”

Calhoun, the titular prodigal gun in Prodigal Gun, carries a Winchester 1873 carbine, as does his comrade, Latimer. For that matter, so does Quinn Barclay, The Second-Best Ranger in Texas.

 

A couple of days ago, I found out The Dumont Brand has been nominated for a Reward of Novel Excellence, or RONE, Award. The RONEs, given annually by romance magazine InD’tale, are judged in an unusual way: A jury selects nominees, the nominees go to a public vote, and then another jury selects the winners from among the books most popular with the public. I didn’t realize anything I’ve written was eligible, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Because I’m feeling magnanimous after that discovery, I’ll give an e-copy of The Dumont Brand to one of today’s commenters. To be eligible, answer this question: If you had been a denizen of the Wild West, what kind of weapon would you have carried? Revolver, rifle, shotgun? Maybe a derringer? Or perhaps something pointy would have been more your style. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

 

Here’s a bit about the book, in case you’re curious.

The Dumont BrandThe Civil War burned Texas…and fanned the flames of love.

On the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until one son finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother’s wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy
To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace
After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.

 

If you just can’t wait to find out whether you’ve won, you can find The Dumont Brand at these fine e-tailers:

Amazon  •  Barnes & Noble  •  iBooks  •  Kobo  •  Smashwords

 

 

An Interview with Anne McAllister by Jane Porter

Long before I wrote my first Harlequin Presents, my true love was the cowboy hero and this love was inspired and nurtured by wonderful books written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne McAllister.  I loved her main characters, the plot lines, the descriptions—everything!  Anne made it so easy to fall in love with the cowboy alpha hero and all my early cowboys were inspired to a large extent by Anne’s cowboy romances.

I thought it would be fun to interview Anne McAllister on the P&P blog today so please join me in giving her a big welcome! 🙂

auth_AnneMcAllister-500x500Anne McAllister:

Best-selling author Anne McAllister has written nearly 70 romance novels — long and short, contemporary, time travel, and single title. She has won two RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and has had nine other books which were RITA finalists. Anne grew up on the beaches of southern California, and spent summers in Montana and on her grandparents’ small ranch in Colorado. They were formative experiences — not only in providing her settings, but in giving her heroes. She finds herself attracted to lean, dark, honorable men – often lone wolf types – who always get the job done, whatever it might be. Anne and her husband, The Prof, spend the school year in the Midwest now, but are looking forward to more time in Montana when he retires. But wherever they are, Anne will always be writing. There are too many ideas not to!

 

Jane: You have made a career writing alphas…which came first, your cowboys for Silhouette Desire or your tycoons for Harlequin Presents?

Anne: Neither! My first dozen or so heroes were an archaeologist, an actor, a book illustrator who moonlighted as a beach lifeguard, a baseball player, a Major League umpire, a wildlife biologist/ photographer, a rock star turned grad student, a bartender, an architect, a jungle guide, and a journalist.

I probably write more “lone wolf” heroes than alphas. But what the cowboys, the tycoons (there were probably only two!) and all the rest of my motley crew of heroes have in common is they are strong, capable men who know what they want and how to get it done. My earlier heroes just had a greater variety of venues in which to do it.

But all of them are, in a word, competent. I love competence. I think competence is sexy. And when a competent guy falls for the heroine, I can pretty well be assured that he’s going to figure out how to get her, which makes my job easier.

And, of course it doesn’t hurt if he looks like the guy on the cover of Cowboys Don’t Cry!

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Jane: I have been a long time fan of your writing, Anne, but it was your cowboys that swept me away and made me want to write a great cowboy hero. What draws you to the cowboy hero? Why do you like to write his story?

Anne: Well, he’s competent (see above)! You can count on him to get the job done no matter what it is or what the cost. There is a saying among cowboys: “He’s a good man to ride the river with.” That applies to every cowboy I’ve ever written about. They aren’t necessarily easy to deal with. They can be hard-headed, single-minded and they don’t suffer fools gladly. But when the chips are down — when you need them — they’re there.

Also, my own experience when I was young was that cowboys were pretty much uniformly kind to kids and animals, and they were respectful of women. As a kid, I responded to that. As an adult — and a writer — I still do.

I also like that they are live-and-let-live men. The west is a great place for second chances, for starting over, making new beginnings. My cowboys — and most people — haven’t always got things right the first time around, so I like that they have lived to fight another day, that there is room for hope.

Power is often a word that comes with the alpha hero. It is not a word that springs to the lips when you talk about cowboys. They are not powerful in the traditional sense of the word. And that appeals to me, too, because “power” always seems to evoke its opposite: powerlessness. And that’s not a dynamic that interests me. It’s not a relationship the interests me. On the contrary, I want to explore and to celebrate relationships where both people bring different strengths together, where they complement each other, fulfill each other, and bring out the best in each other. I can do that with a cowboy hero.

Wealth is not a word commonly associated with cowboys, either. I understand the ‘alpha fantasy’ that comes with the billionaire hero. It’s another way of saying he’s successful, that he can get the job done. It’s another version of competence. But wealth per se does not equate with success in the cowboy world. Of course money is nice, but beyond the basics, it’s not what you need in the West to succeed. It is, if anything, a false god. I’m writing about it now in the book I’m working on. It tempted my hero’s father and ultimately destroyed their family. It isn’t always a good thing. So I do not need, as one of my editors once said, “cowboys who own multi-national corporations on the side.” It’s the other measures of the man that interest me.

The women who survive and thrive in a cowboy’s world bring their own competence. By virtue of coping in a demanding and often harsh environment, they bring an equality to their relationship with a cowboy hero. Cowboy heroes simply demand strong independent women. Because I like working with strong characters, I like writing their stories.

Jane: You write the rugged West so well. Are you from a small Western town?

Anne: I grew up in southern California — land of sun, sand, surfers and beach volleyball players (even wrote a hero who was one)! But my roots are in the West — in Montana and Iowa on my mother’s side and in Oklahoma and Texas on my dad’s, so I think perhaps it’s bred in the bone.

We did spend some summers with family on my grandparents’ small ranch in southwestern Colorado when I was growing up. I loved every minute of it. My adult life has been spent primarily in Iowa where those same values are rock solid. Now we are in Montana (there’s a circular migration pattern in my family apparently) where I’m happy to see my grandkids’ parents instilling in them the same independent, hard-working, yet compassionate values that seem to go with the territory.

Jane: Do you have a favorite type of heroine you like to write?

51SpOrK3daL._SX339_BO1X204X203X200_Anne: I like strong, independent-minded heroines who can — and have — relied on themselves. One of my favorites was actually not a heroine at all (in a book at least), but the hero’s grandmother in Last Year’s Bride. Em McCullough had raised her kids and three of her grandkids, and had taken in a cousin’s boy for part of his teenage years. She had been in charge of the Marietta Christmas program for 50 years. She had everyone’s back. She was a fixture. And her grandkids would have said they knew exactly who she was. But there was more to Em than she’d ever really bandied about. And it’s that little bit inside her that her grandkids discovered toward the end of the book that opened their eyes — and made them look at her in a new light, and themselves as well.

I love Em. She’s in my upcoming book, McCullough’s Pride. She had a part in Rachael John’s Marietta rodeo book and is about to show up in one of Deb Salonen’s Marietta books as well. Em gets around! She embodies all the stuff I like to write about most in my heroines — their strength, their compassion, their connection to the community, and the little bits of themselves that they don’t always share, but which give them surprising depth and make them who they are.

Look for Anne’s new release, Cowboys Don’t Cry at these online retailers:
Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlayIMG_9290

 

Thank you, Anne for your time!  Readers, I hope you’ll try Anne’s books if you aren’t already a fan of hers and to add to the fun, I’m giving away a fun Jane Porter & Anne McAllister giveaway just for you!  For a chance to win, leave a comment for Anne!

 

 

Updated: April 4, 2016 — 3:37 pm

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.

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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
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