Chicken Soup, Lemons, and Small Towns

One reason I enjoy writing stories set in small western towns is the sense of community. In one book I joked if someone sneezed, half the town would be at the door with chicken soup before day’s end. From the small towns I’ve known, this isn’t too far from the truth.

Life is hard. In the city I’ve become so accustomed to the polite and well-meaning “hello, how are you today” greetings everywhere, I can respond on auto-pilot. No matter how hard life is knocking me around, I can plaster a smile on my face and reply I’m fine. But in small towns, that’s harder to pull off because people know each other. They’re more likely to see past an overly bright smile and notice something is off. More importantly, they’re likely to ask and care about the answer. Not that this doesn’t happen in the city. It does. I just find it harder to create those mini-communities of support in the city.

Another difference I’ve discovered, is to receive help in the city, I am more likely to have to ask for it friends in my mini-community. My grandparents lived on a farm outside Decorah, Iowa, a town of eight thousand. If someone was struggling financially, if a death occurred in the family, or someone was sick, most of the town knew. For example, my dear friend Lori Turner Halligan shared a story about her father’s death during prime planting time in Iowa twenty-three years ago on April 28. Farmers arrived with equipment and planted her family’s fields before planting their own. Other families brought food to feed those working the fields. Her mother didn’t have to ask. The Turners needed help, and the community turned out. This is the sense of community I tried to create in both my Estes Park Series and my Wishing Texas Series.

Western women are known for their strength. In the old west, they helped carve a life out of the wilderness. While many of my heroines start out as “Eastern city women,” they possess a western soul. One that refuses to let them give up or give in. When fate lobs lemons at my heroines like hand grenades, they put on a hard hat and make lemonade,but sometimes even the strongest of women get weary.

Take Cassie in To Love A Texas Cowboy. When her niece is orphaned, Cassie moves from New York to Texas because that’s what’s best for Ella. Without family to count on, she’s learned to rely on herself, but keeping her art career going, raising a child and keeping a roof over their heads would shake Wonder Woman’s confidence. Like so many of us, Cassie realizes she can’t do it all alone. For her, help comes from the most unexpected place–Ty, a cowboy who at first glance appears to be on the opposite side of every issue and a small Texas town.

Whether we live in the city, small town or a ranch, whether our support comes from those related to us by blood, or a family we create in less traditional ways, we need people we can count on when life gets rough. 

And a special thank you to my BFF Lori for help with this blog and life in general. Everyone should be blessed with a friend like you.

Take a moment to leave a comment and be entered to win the dish towel, wine glass and a copy of Colorado Rescue.

To read an excerpt of To Love A Texas Cowboy, click here

Julie Benson
Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at
Updated: October 2, 2018 — 4:33 pm

Tuesday’s Winner


Congratulations to my Tuesday blog winner …


Minna, I will contact you via email with instructions on how

to claim your eBook copy of Out of a Texas Night.

I hope you enjoy the Avery’s and Brody’s story; and again congratulations!


A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at
Updated: October 2, 2018 — 5:21 pm

My Favorite Time of the Year

By Phyliss Miranda

Between the great autumn fever blogs our Fillies did last week and the weather turning cooler, making the leaves turn to beautiful hues of fall, I can’t help but think about some of the things I like to do in the autumn.

I don’t go out as much this time of the year, so I love to bake and read.  As I’ve said before, and those who have read any of my Kasota Springs contemporary western romances know, I also include a recipe in each book.  It’s always one of my family favorites; and, two of my characters, Lola Ruth and Granny Johnson, use it in the book.  Of interest, Lola Ruth got her name from my mother, Ruth, and my mother-in-law, Lola; while Granny Johnson got her name from well … my own beloved Granny Johnson.  My Granny Johnson’s Chocolate Cake receipt and the history behind it’s five generations is in The Troubled Texan, which is the first of the Kasota Springs books.

Sylvie’s story, which I’m writing now, has a twist and I’ll be using more recipes.  Just gotta wait to read the book to see what twist I give to recipes and characters. But, I’ll give you all a hint. They all come from readers and school teachers.

With cold nights and cool days, I love to read and drink something hot in the evening, so I thought I’d share with you a great recipe. It’ll definitely be in the book. You can prepare this Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix for yourself or it’d be a great holiday gift.  It’s easy and quick to fix.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix      

2 cups Confectioners Sugar

1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 cups Powdered Milk or to cut calories use Instant Nonfat Dry Milk

Instructions: In a large bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. Stir in the powdered milk and whisk well. 

You can add miniature marshmallows to the mixture if you’d like.  Drop in a few chocolate chips to make it even more rich. When ready to use, mix ½ cup hot water with ½ cup cocoa mix, stir and enjoy. 

If you have small kids or just want something special for yourself, make Red Velvet Hot Chocolate, by adding red gel food coloring; and dip the rim of your favorite cup in sprinkles. Use gel instead of regular food coloring, since it’ll give the drink a darker red look.  I can see this being a really fun treat during the Christmas season.


So what is your favorite drink during cold weather?

To one reader who leaves a comment today, I will give you an eBook copy of Out of a Texas Night.  

A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at
Updated: October 1, 2018 — 5:25 pm



The winner of a signed copy of



Pam Lunsford

I will email you to get your mailing address Pam

The Reluctant Warrior is releasing


If you’ve preordered it will be shipping

or turning up on your ereader TOMORROW

Mary Connealy
Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series
Updated: October 1, 2018 — 9:05 pm

The Healing Touch

For some reason, I’ve always loved stories in which a hero or heroine helps the other one heal — either physically or mentally. I think it’s because there is a vulnerability, a tenderness when one person takes the time to help another heal, even though it might not be a quick or easy process. A lot of emotion and eventually love can be born out of those moments. I don’t know how many westerns I’ve read where the heroine has to help the loner/farmhand/gunslinger/you name it heal from some illness or wound. They’re alone in a cabin, quite possibly during a blizzard, and the forced intimacy of the space just lights a fire — whether a slow burn or a raging inferno — under their attraction.

So it was to this story trope that I gravitated for my new release, A Cowboy’s Kiss. There’s no trapped in a snowy cabin story thread, but my hero is a doctor in addition to having a ranching/cowboy background. Here’s the blurb:

When librarian Anna Kenner wakes up in the hospital, she’s stunned to learn that she’s been in a coma for a week, and her life has been turned upside down. Anna has always been quiet and self-reliant, but now she must ask for help. To make matters worse, the man she’s coming to rely on is a casual friend from high school, whom she always wished could be more. As Roman helps her recover, Anna wonders if this time she will be braver and have a different outcome—Roman in her arms. 

Dr. Roman McQueen leads a busy life between his work at the hospital and his time spent at his family’s Montana ranch. And yet, he finds himself sitting night after night at Anna’s bedside reading her a mystery and hoping that somehow she knows that, even though she has no family, she is not alone. When Anna wakes and begins the long process of recovery, Roman finds himself by her side. He tells himself he’s being a friend even as he tries not to notice how her kindness, quiet wit and subtle beauty make him dream that someday they can have more.

Because this is the second in my Once Upon a Western series, it also has that tie to a classic fairy tale — this time Sleeping Beauty. Anna and Roman’s story falls more onto the slow burn end of the spectrum, first because, well, she’s in a coma. But even when she wakes up and even though she isn’t officially his patient, he has to be careful not to give the impression of any impropriety between a doctor and a hospital patient. But they do know each other, so at first their friendship builds even though each is attracted to the other. There are also things in her past that make her hesitant to act on her attraction to Roman, even after she’s back home. Still, no matter how much she might fight it, the pull between them is just too strong. They are just too right for each other. I’m smiling now just thinking about how I gradually brought these two together.

To find out more about this series or for buy links, check out my website

Now I’d like to hear from you — do you like the healer story trope in romance? What are some of your favorite stories that have used this?

Trish Milburn
Trish Milburn is the author of nearly 40 romance, suspense, paranormal, women's fiction and young adult titles. She's a two-time winner of the Golden Heart Award and the recipient of Romance Writers of America's top award for service, the Emma Merritt Award. She's a big sci-fi geek girl, loves seeing new places, and has been known to cosplay on occasion. She's always loved westerns, so considering her other love is sci-fi it's no wonder her all-time favorite TV show is Firefly, which blends the two genres. Check out her books, links to various social media and sign up for her newsletter at
Updated: September 30, 2018 — 2:53 pm

Autumn Fever 2018

What a wonderful 2018 Autumn Fever Week we all had!

Congratulations to all of the winners!

And, a big thank you to each and every reader who stopped by

read the Fillies’ blogs and left comments!

Now, I’m all pumped up and enjoying the beginning

of the fall season.

Without you all, there’d be no Petticoats and Pistols!

Thank you from all of the Fillies!

A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at
Updated: September 30, 2018 — 10:05 am

Kit Morgan’s Winners!

Woo Hoo! And my winners are: Tonya Lucas, Kim Hansen, Stephanie Jenkins Ortiz Cerrillo and Yvonne Wohlfeil! Congratulations ladies, you each get one free e-copy of your choice of the books displayed in my blog post. Comment here to tell me which title you would like and we’ll go from there!

Kit Morgan
Kit Morgan is the author of over 70 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!
Updated: September 29, 2018 — 1:57 am

Autumn brings gold…a precious color that cannot stay

Cattle drive by two cowboys in Colorado.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

——————-Robert Frost


To Celebrate these golden days of Autumn, leave a comment about your favorite things about fall. The golden and orange leaves. Bright pumpkins. Children in costumes and buckets of candy. The cool evenings. The end of mowing and bugs. The oncoming holiday season.

One lucky commentor will win a copy of The Reluctant Warrior:


…Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.

When danger descends on the cabin where they’re huddled, Cam is hurt trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to help him win back their affection–and in the process he might just win her heart as well. Click to buy





Mary Connealy
Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series
Updated: September 28, 2018 — 10:10 am

Summer’s end, Fall’s beginning and a Giveaway!


Ah, Autumn, it’s finally here! And I’m loving it! This is my favorite time of year and has been for as long as I can remember. I love the changing of the seasons as summer fades and fall begins. And of course, I’ve set books around this wonderful time of year but we’ll get to those in a moment. Right now, I want to share a few recent moments (literally, as I just ran outside and snapped some pictures from around the house) and some not so recent but hey, I thought I’d share! 

I’m in Oregon and the leaves are just starting to change. One of my favorite things about fall is what I call the “carpet.” It starts with the cedar trees changing color. Toward the end of October, the orange bits of cedar fall off with the east winds to carpet the driveway and ground, turning everything orange! It’s a grand sight and the smell is lovely too!  I used to love walking home from school, (the house is in a canyon with a mile long driveway) getting to the bottom of the canyon and walking on the “carpet.” My sister and I own the house we grew up in, and of course, this delight never gets old!

Fall also brings with it familiar friends, as our local deer love to venture into the canyon and do so more often in autumn. Always a fun sight, I like sipping coffee and watching them when I can. And yes, these are some of the girls in front of my house by the creek. Autumn is also beautiful in different parts of the country. I spend a lot of time in New York City as my daughter and son both live there. Here’s a shot of a trail in Prospect Park, my favorite. A beautiful place in the Fall!  And then of course, there’s the food … 

Last night I made my first fall dinner. Thin cut pork chops with potatoes, onions, and carrots simmered in Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup. It’s so easy. Just brown your pork chops, add your soup and water as per instructions on the can, stir, add vegetables and stir again! Then let simmer until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. That’s it! You can also add red cabbage or any other vegetables you want!  It’s simple and yummy! Of course, hearty fall recipes get me thinking about pumpkin cookies and what not. You’ve got to have dessert, right? I’m always up for some of that!

Okay, on to the books! I’ve written a few books that take place in autumn. Both historical and contemporary. These books are near and dear to my heart because of my love of the season. Authors approach seasonal romance differently. Some really showcase the season itself, so that it becomes a huge part of the story (almost like a character). Others touch simply on it so you enjoy the setting with your characters. I love all the different ways authors in my particular genre write about how folks celebrated the season with harvest festivals, All Hallows Eve, Fall barn raisings, school and the changing of the seasons in general. Here are just a few of my books that take place in Autumn.


As you can see, I like this season!  In most of the books of this particular series, none of the grooms know the bride is coming! Of the four books above, Love at Harvest Moon and The Thanksgiving Mail-Order Bride, my grooms haven’t got a clue. In The Columbus Day Mail-Order Bride and The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride, the two heroes are also identical twin brothers which made things a lot of fun. How about an excerpt or two?

From Love at Harvest Moon:


“Mr. Brody, it’s my fault yer son lost his sight – ye can’t tell me otherwise!” Finn stood and ran a hand through his hair. “I only hope that one day, Lorcan can see it in his heart to forgive me.”

“Pah! He’s already forgiven ye! Yer just too stubborn to see it.”

“Then why doesn’t he write? I’ve not heard a word from him!”

Mr. Brody stood and waved the letter in Finn’s face. “Well it just so happens that Lorcan is sending ye something! Something very special!”

Finn took a step back and stared at him. “What? And why didn’t he write and tell me about it?”

“Probably so Ada wouldn’t have to write and send two letters.” He unfolded part of the letter and showed it to him. “See, look here – read it!”

Finn did so, and slowly he smiled. “Well, what do ye know? He is sending me something.” He looked at Mr. Brody. “What do ye suppose it is?”

Mr. Brody shrugged. “Must be something special, if he has to send it by stagecoach.”

“Stagecoach – I almost forgot! There was an accident up the road. The afternoon stage lost a wheel and crashed into a ditch. The sheriff’s gone to fetch the driver – he’s hurt pretty bad, I hear.”

“What’s this? Who told you?”

“The Passenger.”

Mr. Brody blinked a few times. “Passenger?” He glanced at the letter, folded it and shoved it into the pocket of his jacket. “Where’s the passenger now?”

“Doc Henderson’s. She was trying to run through my pumpkin patch to get help, but fell and twisted her ankle.”

She?” Mr. Brody began to cough.

“Aye. Birdie’s taking care of her. She told us she came to Oregon City to get married. I was just on my way to fetch her intended, but decided to wait for the sheriff to see how the driver fared.” He looked at the street again. “Ah, looks like the wait’s over. Here they come.”

Mr. Brody stilled his coughing and watched the sheriff and his men approach. One of his deputies was driving a buckboard to transport the injured man. “Er … ah … Finn?”

“Aye?” he asked without taking his eyes off the men.

“Did the young lady from the stage happen to tell ye the … name of her intended?”

“No. But she gave me this,” he said and took the folded envelope she’d given him from his pocket. “Here’s his name and address. I’m sure he’ll want to know what happened. I know I would, so I thought I’d find out before I fetched him to her.”

Mr. Brody gave him a lopsided smile, took the envelope, pulled out the paper and read it. Then he coughed again and gave the paper to Finn. “Ye’ve, uh … not read it?”

Finn looked at him just as the sheriff rode up. “No.”

Mr. Brody’s face was turning redder by the second. “I think maybe ye should.”

Finn glanced at the paper and paled. “Don’t tell me that poor girl is here to marry one of the McPhees?”

Mr. Brody shook his head.

“That’s a relief,” Finn said and crossed himself. He looked at Mr. Brody again. “One of Jim Tark’s boys then? Oh, the poor wee thing …”

Mr. Brody shook his head again. “Read the paper, Finn.”

Finn rolled his eyes. He’d been so intent on the sheriff and buckboard, he really hadn’t thought to look at the blasted paper! He unfolded it and …

“Great Mother o’ God!”

Mr. Brody smiled in satisfaction. “I told ye Lorcan was sending ye something special.”


And from The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride:


Calvin strolled among the various booths, most of which were nothing more than planks of wood on saw horses, with some sort of covering to shade the occupants. He kept a close eye on his wife, who studied her surroundings with interest. He’d felt numb up to this point, their wedding a blur, and just now felt the first inklings of excitement that he was now married.

But did she feel the same?

Her English was broken most of the time, only the occasional full sentence, but that should improve with time. Of course, his hadn’t, nor had his brothers … but they hadn’t really tried. None of them had any fancy education, but they could read and write and do their sums. You didn’t need much more than that to work on a farm. It was more important to know how to till the land, maintain the orchards, take care of livestock, protect your property and those that lived on it …

He stole another glance at his bride. Her beauty was beyond compare. How was he going to protect her? She was turning more than a few heads, and it was starting to bother him. What would she think of him if he socked some dreamy-eyed suitor? He hoped he wouldn’t have to since they were married, but some of the men, especially those from out of town, might not know that.

And then, of course, there were the women. He’d already overheard two or three say “She married Calvin Weaver?” as he and Isabella strolled by. Why was it so hard for them to believe he could have a beautiful wife? Were they expecting her to show up without her teeth?

“I don’t believe it!” another whispered loud enough for everyone within earshot to hear. “Is the girl daft?”

Calvin tensed and wondered if Isabella noticed. He’d best do something to distract himself. “Ya hungry?”

She put down the wooden soldier she’d picked up and smiled at the man selling toys. “A little. Is it time to eat?”

“Not yet, but I could do with a little somethin’. There’s no set time to eat lunch today and everyone’ll make do with somethin’ for dinner before the dance.”

“Dance?” she asked, her eyes bright.

“Yeah, we have one every year. Actually, we have three. The Harvest Festival, Christmas, then the Valentine’s Dance.”

She nodded and eyed one of Aunt Betsy’s pies. She was selling them whole and by the slice.

Calvin followed her gaze and smiled. “How ‘bout a piece of pie? We could share one.”

She smiled at him, then pulled him toward his aunt’s booth. “Hey, slow down,” he laughed.

“Well, there you are!” Aunt Betsy said as they approached. “How do you like our little festival, Isabella?”

“I like it very much. Very happy.”

“Most folks would agree,” she said. “This is a happy time of year. Our barns and root cellars are full, folks are settling in for the winter and Harlan Hughes is in town!”


Ah, and there you have it. Harvest Festivals, mix-ups, surprises and all taking place in my favorite season! To celebrate, how about a giveaway? I’ll give to FOUR lucky winners one e-copy of your choice of the books shown above! Comment and tell me what it’s like around your house this time of year. Do you decorate? Make special dishes or desserts? I’ll pick my winners from the comments!





Kit Morgan
Kit Morgan is the author of over 70 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!
Updated: September 26, 2018 — 9:15 pm

Winners! Winners for Karen Kay’s Super Autumn’s Give-Away


As promised, here are the three winners for a free e-book.  As an aside, please realize that we cannot give away books if one lives outside the US.  It has to do with recent legislation.  So be sure to read our Give Away Guidelines — off here to the right.

Quilt Lady wins the e-book BLACK EAGLE

                                                     Eliza wins the e-book THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

                                                      Debra wins the e-book BRAVE WOLD AND THE LADY


Congratulations to all three winners.  Join me next Tuesday for another blog.  Hope to see you there.

For the winners:  Please contact me at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net, where we can work out getting your prizes to you.


Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to for all contest rules.
Updated: September 26, 2018 — 2:44 pm
Petticoats & Pistols © 2015