CHARLENE’S Blog winner is:

SUSAN P! 

Congrats!   You’ve won a copy of Taming the Texas Cowboy or any of my available backlist titles!

Contact me at charlenesands@hotmail.com for the details!

Happy Reading Everyone and please don’t forget to FOLLOW ME on Bookbub for up to minute new releases and discounted books!

 

 

Charlene Sands
Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling Author of 35 novels, writing both western and contemporary romance. She's a lover of all things romantic, especially her bold, rugged, heartstopping "real good men" heroes! She's the recepient of the National Readers' Choice Award, the Bookseller's Best Award and the Cataromance Reviwer's Choice Award. When not writing, she spends time with her "hero" husband, enjoying Pacific Beaches and drinking iced mocha cappucinos!

Charlene loves to hear from her readers.
Drop her a line at www.charlenesands.com or write her at PO. Box 4883, West Hills, CA 91308
"LIKE" her at www.Facebook.com/CharleneSandsbooks
Updated: May 11, 2017 — 11:34 pm

LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN– SNEAK PEEK by Charlene Sands

Today I’m super excited to share with you the first scene in my upcoming story.. LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN!  It’s book 2 of the Forever Texan Series, but can certainly be ready as a stand alone.   Here’s a sneak peek and keep on reading for the giveaway!

 

Gravel crunched under Sheriff Jack Walker’s boots as he exited his patrol car and headed for the cherry red sports car parked alongside the road just outside of Hope Wells. The Texas night sky twinkled above with bright stars, but on the ground his flashlight was his guide. Years of wearing a badge made him ready for anything and he knew better than to think he’d find a driver in that car, not with Wishing Wells, the town’s natural flowing hot pool just fifty feet away. Lovers and others often frequented the waters past closing time, past curfew, sometimes breaking other Texas statutes as well. His mouth cocked up at the notion. He’d broken a law or two at the wells in his younger days. But Jack didn’t rightly recognize the car and that put him on alert.

He crossed the road where gravel became wildflowers and then headed down the familiar path. As he came upon the gate, the chain link didn’t appear to be jimmied, but that didn’t mean much since the gate was more than climbable. There’d never been a need to secure Wishing Wells with anything more than a strong link fence, Hope Wells being a peaceable town for the most part.

The honeyed sweet scent of star jasmine flavored the air as he drew closer. His ears perked at a disturbance in the wells, a quiet swishing that only occurred when someone was upsetting the soothing waters.

“Who’s there? You’re trespassing at this hour. This is Sheriff Jack Walker.” Giving fair enough warning for a trespasser, he climbed over the gate. He hoped like hell he wouldn’t find two lovers going at it hot and heavy.

His flashlight illuminated the springs with a blast of brightness. Nope not two lovers at all, but one scantily clad woman.

A woman he recognized.

His eyes burned hot and his senses blurred.

He shined the light just below the soulful, baby blue eyes of the trespasser.

Damn.

Jillian Lane.                                                                                                                                                                     

What was she doing here? He didn’t think he’d ever see her again. It’d been years since Jillian had washed her hands of Hope Wells… and of him. He was over her, but cool and casual wasn’t what pounded in his chest now. Instant disappointment at his reaction to her sent him back eleven years.

“Hello, Jack.”

Her soft sultry voice filled him up with memories. “I see you’re still breaking laws, Jillian.”

A smile surfaced and the baby blues that had once done incredible things to him, seemed just as potent now. She had charm and grace to spare, a trait he’d once thought was exclusive only to him. He’d thought he’d known her mind too, but she’d proved him wrong in the end and his grief had lasted too long to admit, even to himself.

“As I recall, you helped me break more than a few, Jack.”

The moonlit waters flowed freely around Jillian’s bare shoulders. What in hell was the famous lingerie designer wearing underneath all that pooling water? A bikini? A thong? The woman ran a successful million-dollar company aptly named Barely There. Maybe Jillian wore next to nothing.

Jack drew a deep breath reminding him that Jillian wasn’t the girl from the wrong side of the tracks anymore. She wasn’t that poor misunderstood wild child that had once touched his heart and made him want to protect and cherish her. But seeing her at the wells again, unguarded, smiling up at him with a gleam in her eyes and that come-here look on her face, had him stumbling for a comeback.

She had moved on. So had he. Both had made something of themselves. It was best to let it alone. “Now. I protect the law, Jillian.”

She looked away, staring out into the darkness. “And the fine people of Hope Wells.”

“One in the same.”

She stroked the water, her hands playing over the pooling liquid like a delicate instrument. “You were meant to be sheriff. It suits you.”

“Don’t see as I could be anything else, what with my father and his father before him, being sheriff. It’s in our blood, I suppose.”

“It’s a good thing, Jack. I understand you saved a little boy’s life. You’re the town hero.”

“I’m no hero, Jillian.”

His gut twisted. Visions of that fateful day tormented him still. That winter night six months ago, rain had poured down so heavily the banks couldn’t hold and the river overflowed in large gulps. The blinding deluge and a set of bad tires had the driver of a sedan skidding off the road and plunging into the raging water. Trapped inside the car was a family of three, a young boy and his parents. Jack had seen it all happen from his patrol car and hadn’t hesitated to jump into the river. Frantically, he’d searched for the passengers, hoping to help, hoping to save everyone. And then he’d seen it, the small arms of the boy flailing wildly from inside the car, his parents offering up the boy through the darkness as if to say, take him. Take him. Their faces strained in panic as they realized their fate. Jack would never forget that scene, as the swift current carried the car and the boy’s parents under and away. There wasn’t anything Jack could do for them but bring the boy to safety.

“I did what any other man would do in that situation.”

“Not every man, Jack.”

A breeze blew by and Jillian trembled. She’d been in the water too long. Typical Jillian.  “I think it’s time you got out.”

“You mean I can’t make a wish in the wells?”

“Is that what you’re doing, wishing?”

She gave her head a tilt. “Maybe.”

“It’s cold tonight. You should get out.”

“Is that an order, sheriff?” A teasing smile played on her lips.

“It’s a firm suggestion.”

“Will you hand me that towel over there?”

Jack reached for the towel hanging over a tree branch and walked closer to the wells as Jillian stepped out of the waters. Dewey droplets cascaded down her body adding a glimmering sheen on tanned, healthy-looking skin. He held the towel open, dipping his gaze to take a peek of frilly black silk covering her near naked body. Male fantasy wet silk.

“Thanks,” she said, tucking herself into the towel.

“It’s late. You’d best get to wherever you’re going.” He kept his focus on her face and off the tempting swells pushing the barriers of her towel.

“I’ve already been there,” she said breathlessly, running a hand through wet hair, “and the Winslows weren’t home.”

Jack arched a brow, ignoring how the honey blonde strands fell against her bare shoulders. “You’re staying at the Winslow place?”

“Yes. They said I’m welcome anytime.”

Jack twisted his lips and shook his head. He had a thousand questions for her, but only one pounded hard in his head repeatedly. Why was she here? What brought her back to Hope Wells after all this time? “Damn, Jillian. As far as I know, they’re gone for the weekend. Won’t be back until Monday.”

Jillian shrugged. “That’s okay. I’ll get a room at the motel or something.”

Jack took his hat off and ran a hand through his hair. Leave it to Jillian not to see things through. She’d always been the impulsive one, the make-love-to-me now and damn the consequences, kind of girl. Jack had been the one to hold back, to want to wait, to do right by her. Jillian had been a temptation from the start, a girl he’d wanted above all else, but he’d been the responsible one. Sometimes, he hated that about himself.

“Doubtful. The rodeo’s in town this weekend. You won’t find a room anywhere.”

Her face fell. “Oh.”

She chewed on her lower lip and Jack’s temperature rose watching her tongue dart in and out of her mouth as she contemplated her next move. He dragged his gaze off her mouth and glanced at his watch. It was almost eleven–too late for her to go traipsing along the highway looking for a place to stay. Jack doubted she’d find a vacancy for fifty miles or so.

Another breeze blew by and she shivered. Goosebumps erupted on her arms as she hugged the towel tighter. Ah, hell. “Follow my patrol car. I know a place you can stay.”

A nervous little laugh erupted and she shook her head. “No way, Jack. I’m not staying at the jail.”

Jack didn’t hide a wicked grin. “You don’t have too many options, now do you? Get dressed. I’ll wait for you by your car.”

 

Do you enjoy stories about lawmen? What did you think of the excerpt?  Some of my favorite television shows revolving around lawmen are Gunsmoke, Justified and Blue Bloods.  What are yours?  Post a comment and one blogger will be picked randomly and announced at the very end of the day to win a gift ebook copy of Taming the Texas Cowboy, book 1 or another of my available titles.  

LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN is available for PRE-ORDER and released on May 22nd.

Be sure to sign up for my latest news and contests at Charlenesands.com 

 

Charlene Sands
Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling Author of 35 novels, writing both western and contemporary romance. She's a lover of all things romantic, especially her bold, rugged, heartstopping "real good men" heroes! She's the recepient of the National Readers' Choice Award, the Bookseller's Best Award and the Cataromance Reviwer's Choice Award. When not writing, she spends time with her "hero" husband, enjoying Pacific Beaches and drinking iced mocha cappucinos!

Charlene loves to hear from her readers.
Drop her a line at www.charlenesands.com or write her at PO. Box 4883, West Hills, CA 91308
"LIKE" her at www.Facebook.com/CharleneSandsbooks
Updated: May 9, 2017 — 4:31 pm

We Have A Winner for Karen Kay’s Give-Away

Hi!

A very hearty thanks to all of you who came to the blog yesterday (and today) and who left a message (comment).

Okay, so we did a drawing and the winner for the mass market edition of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE is:

Debra G.

Congratulations Debra!  Please email me privately at karenkay.author(at)earthlink(dot)net — I will need a physical address to send the book to.

Also, please keep coming back every other Tuesday.  I can’t promise, of course, but I often give away a free book with my blog (and now and again more than one), so please keep checking back.   But most of all, have a super fantastic rest of the week.

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 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 http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: May 10, 2017 — 9:49 pm

Suzanne Dietz Comes to Visit!

Miss Suzanne Dietz has saddled up and arrives on Friday, May 12, 2017!

Was it possible for brides to mix up the grooms they were marrying? Come and find out.

Miss Suzanne is toting a book (print or ebook) to giveaway.

Rise with the chickens on Friday and shake the wrinkles from your bustle.

Then come and join the party!

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: April 25, 2017 — 3:33 pm

A Contest . . . A Discount . . . And a Research Trip to the Deli

You just never know what you might find at the local WalMart deli. On Sunday, I went in to do my weekly grocery shopping and patiently waited my turn at the deli counter. A nice man was assisting several customers, of which I was the last. I asked for a pound of thinly sliced Virgina Ham, and what I got was a research gold mine.

First, this gentleman told me that the meat was technically Virginia Smoked Ham, though they just added a little flavor to it these days instead of smoking it to preserve it like they did back in the day – letting it hang in a smoke house for months and carving off pieces as they needed. He apparently grew up in a small Virginia town in the 1960’s that still had a mercantile. And one day when he was off exploring the woods as a kid, he smelled popcorn and followed his nose. It turned out he’d stumbled across a “shiner” making corn whiskey. The man had a shotgun and a dog, but our intrepid deli man was not afraid. He’d been reading up on the art of making moonshine in the Foxfire books, you see.

To learn more about the Foxfire project, click here.

What are the Foxfire books, you might ask? Well, they are a series of books chronicling the lost arts of survival in the wild as revealed by the residents of Appalachia who preserved this historic way of life by being closed off from the rest of the world. Well, as soon as I got home with my lovely deli ham, I had to look these books up. Sure enough, first published in 1972, The Foxfire Book set to paper everything you need to know about hog dressing, log cabin building, soap making, basket weaving, planting by the signs, preserving foods, making butter, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, and–you guessed it–moonshining.

My research brain quickly began taking notes. What a treasure trove of concrete knowledge for a historical writer! Apparently the first Foxfire book was so popular, they came out with 11 additional volumes covering such topics as: wagon making, banjos and dulcimers, hide tanning, springhouses, horse training, wood carving, knife making, cheesemaking, ironmaking, blacksmithing, flintlock rifles, bear hunting, cucumber dolls, wooden locks, shoemaking, and water-powered sawmills just to name a few.

Who knew that visiting the deli would uncover such research riches?

No Other Will Do On Sale!

The first book in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series is on sale just in time to prepare you for the release of Heart on the Line (book 2) next month.

Emma and Malachi’s story is on sale for only $2.99 (or less – Amazon’s price has been as low as $1.99) for the entire month of May. Yay! Grab a copy or email a copy to a friend. It would make a great Mother’s Day gift, too. Instant delivery for less than the cost of a card.

Click here to download from Amazon. It’s available on Nook and all other digital retailers as well.

Fun Giveaway!

And that’s not all . . .

There’s another big giveaway going on with BookSweeps. Two of the Fillies are participating – me and Margaret Brownley. All you have to do to enter is follow us on either Amazon or BookBub. Pretty painless. I’m giving away my RITA nominated novella, The Husband Maneuver. All the books in this grouping are classified as Christian historicals.

The more authors you follow, the greater your chance of winning.

  • Grand Prize – Kindle Fire and all the books in the overall promotion (including the other categories of historical romance such as Regency, Scottish, American, etc.)
  • First Prize – All the books in the Christian Historical Romance category
  • Second Prize – $25 gift card to the book store of your choice

Click here to enter the contest.

  • So what is the strangest place you have ever learned something interesting?
Karen Witemeyer
Winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the HOLT Medallion, and two-time RITA finalist, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance for Bethany House believing the world needs more happily ever afters ... and hunky cowboy heroes. She's an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. She makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

American Indian Music — Melody of the Soul

Good Morning!

Music.  I’ve had a love affair with music most of my life.  When I was four, I taught myself to play piano on my 3 octave toy piano (the black notes all played).  My mother demanded to know who had taught me and could hardly believe that I had taught myself with the little music book that had been sent with the toy.

For me, I would hate to think of what life would be like without music.  Music — it lifts our spirits, it lightens our load, it becomes our friend in rough or terrible times and a celebration when times are great.  Those with evil intentions use music to promote their propaganda — knowing that music can capture the spirit of a people and cause people to think certain ways about things that they might not otherwise believe.

And so today, I thought we might talk a little about music with a little twist — music Native American style.  Specifically the Native American Song.  I’ll be giving away a free paperback copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE — the novel I’ve always said was my “musical.”  Yes, some lucky blogger will be the winner of this novel today so please come in and leave a comment.

  For those of you who haven’t heard many Indian songs, you might wonder what’s so different about a song in Native America.  In truth, though many Native American songs are like any other song, there are different considerations that attach themselves to Indian songs.  And it’s those considerations that I find fascinating.

Here’s a good place to start, where you can listen to some pow-wow music — the drum (this is a group — called the drum — it’s usually several men who sit around a drum and drum and sing — it is called simply a drum). Here’s the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12RPjPSklxA

Above is a picture of a drum.  Some people might say “drum group,” but the usual language is simply “drum.”  Off to the right here are a couple of  pictures of a couple of young men dancing.

These pictures were gotten,by the way, from the 26th Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM.  The photographer is Derek Mathews.

Here’s some incredible pictures of some of the singers in different drums.

Many of these songs are passed down from generation to generation.  Some, however, are new.  Here’s some more pictures of these incredible singers.09_drumrollcall13109_drumrollcall31109_drumrollcall21  All of these pictures,by the way were taken by Le Andra Peters and are from the website http://www.gatheringofnations.com

Here’s some more pow-wow music: http://www.powwows.com/main/pow-wow-radio/

Now, just a little bit of info about Indian songs.  This is from the book, The Indian How Book by Author C. Parker, who lived amongst the Indians.  Every song has a purpose and no one sings outright for fear of awakening spirits that are attracted to the song you’re singing.  The scales don’t necessarily follow what we know of as the chromatic scale, which follow our string instruments, more or less.  But songs were owned and no one may sing another’s song without permission.

Many of the songs make you want to get up and dance — and dance and dance.  Once again, referring to Arthur C. Parker and his book, The Indian How Book, he says, “It may be that these old Indians were pagans, whatever that word may mean, but certainly they knew how to make men feel that there was a Great Spirit in whom we lived and moved and had our being.  Oddly enough, I have known white men and women, who felt the same way about the songs of the red people, and they have returned again and again to the councils of the Indians to drink in this feeling of mystery, this sense of unseen powers.”

Whatever the reason, I know that I love to dance at pow-wows.   Something about the music gets into your soul and before you know it, you’re out there with the other dancers, 21dancing your cares away.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my blog and I’d love to hear your take on many of these things.   Did you listen to any of the pow-wow music?  And if you did, tell me your thoughts.

SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE is a book about song and about the power of song.  Also THE LAST WARRIOR is about a particular song that’s so compelling, it frees the spirit.   If you’ve enjoyed this blog, consider having a look at Amazon, where, if you are a part of KindleUnlimited, you can read LAKOTA SURRENDER, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN, LAKOTA PRINCESS, BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER free.  So, c’mon, join the fun and have a look at them today.

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 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 http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: May 9, 2017 — 1:46 pm

Ruth Logan Herne Has a Winner!

 

Wow! Thanks for coming, Miss Ruth. Enjoyed your visit.

The random winner of BACK IN THE SADDLE is…..

JOYE

Woo-Hoo! Congratulations, Joye. I’m dancing a jig for you. Miss Ruth will contact you for your mailing particulars so be watching.

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: May 9, 2017 — 2:42 pm

Winnie’s Winner!!

Hello again. Thanks so much to everyone who dropped by and left a comment on my post about Railway Post Offices – it was such fun to read through them and learn a bit more about you all.

I threw all the names in a hat and the one I pulled out is…

Deanne Patterson!!

Congratulations Deanne. Just send me a note via my website or facebook with your mailing address and I’ll get your book right on out to you.

A Tailor-Made Husband

From Bachelor Sheriff to Family Man 

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil. 

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.
Updated: May 9, 2017 — 2:30 pm

Railway Post Offices and a Giveaway

Hi,  Winnie Griggs here. I was doing some research the other day on how long it would take a letter to reach Texas from the east coast. As usual, I stumbled on an interesting little tidbit of history that I wasn’t looking for that took me down a fun little rabbit trail.

Did you know that from 1862 until 1977 there existed Railway Post Offices (RPOs).  These were not just rail cars that carried the mail, but were actual rolling post offices.  Between stops, the mailbags, which had heretofore sat untouched during travel, sometimes for days at a time, were now opened and the contents sorted and processed as the train sped toward its destination.

Originally, the railroad cars that housed these rolling post offices, were converted baggage cars that were furnished with wooden furniture.  Soon, however, a Railway Mail Service employee named Charles Harrison designed a set of fixtures that were a vast improvement over those. It consisted of cast-iron hinged pieces that could be folded and unfolded as needed and set in a number of different configurations to hold racks, mail pouches and a sorting table based on needs for specific routes and volumes of mail. These fixtures could also be completely folded away to leave a wide open space, thus converting it to a general baggage car if needed.

Letters that were cancelled aboard one of these RPOs received a postmark that indicated the route’s endpoints, the train number and the designation R.P.O.  A railway mail route could range in length anywhere from a few miles to over 1,100 miles.

Railway mail clerks had to undergo strict training.  Each clerk was expected to know the post offices and rail junctions, as well as local delivery details for the larger cities served along their route.  They had to undergo periodic testing to keep them sharp.  This testing included gauging speed and accuracy in sorting mail on a moving train, and a score above 96% was expected.

At the height of their use, Railway Post Offices were installed on over 9,000 train routes covering more than 200,000 miles.  Some dedicated mail trains were known to carry over 300 tons of mail daily.

The railway post office network began to decline at the end of WWII.  The last railway post office traveled between New York and Washington D.C. and was discontinued on June 30, 1977.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of post office and railroad history. And speaking of mail, do you have any mail-related stories to share – letters from exotic locations, favorite postcards, a pen pal story?  Please do share.

And because I’m so very excited about my upcoming June release, A Tailor-Made Husband, I’m going to give away one of my advance copies to one of the commentators on today’s post.

A TAILOR-MADE HUSBAND

From Bachelor Sheriff to Family Man 

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil.

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

 

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.
Updated: May 8, 2017 — 12:46 pm

Ruth Logan Herne’s Newest Release!

Huge thank yous to Karen Witemeyer for hosting me here at Petticoats and Pistols, and to Mary Connealy for suggesting me as a guest today. It’s always an absolute pleasure to talk Westerns! #mustlovecowboys

I kind of stumbled into writing Westerns when asked to join a Love Inspired continuity… I was book 2 “His Montana Sweetheart” and as I chatted with the other authors about the town set-up and the events, I was smitten…

But I got firmly hooked while writing the book.

I love Westerns. I love the feel of the West, the broad, broken land, the distant horizon, the hills, mountains, the far-reaching spreads of ranches. There is something alluring about the whole thing. Something different. And when it comes to heroes, something definably masculine. Manly…

But beyond the look, there’s the unwritten code of the West… put others first.

I don’t know if that seeded itself in faith-filled beginnings or just the prairie common sense that if your horse died, you’d be next… either way, it’s a great code to live by no matter where you hang your hat.

That book became my stepping stone into Westerns and the bestselling “Double S Ranch” series from Waterbrook Press.  Even the concept sounded fun— and a little tragic, but from the very worst can spring the very best, so that was the concept I worked with. An egocentric father, mad at the world over the loss of his beloved wife, and three sons, two from different mothers and the third a nephew he rescued and adopted. If you throw together Bonanza, Dynasty, The Big Valley and a splash of My Three Sons, you’re on target… but how do you write three cowboy brothers, all raised on the same huge Central Washington spread, and keep their stories interlocked but distinct?

That’s where life comes in.

And these days life offers a lot of drama! It surrounds us, and if it doesn’t, cable news will make you feel like it does.  Based on the Biblical story of the prodigal, Colt Stafford left the Double S to prove himself in Manhattan. Ivy League educated, he amassed his own fortune while working hedge funds but it all ground to a stop when one of his major investments turned out to be an epic Ponzi scheme. With his assets tied up by the courts, Colt has nothing to show for years of hard work.  When he realizes his father is gravely ill, Colt returns to the Western ranch, ready to help. Mind you, I didn’t say he was happy to help.  But as Colt glimpses his father’s somewhat lame attempts at reconciliation, and his brother’s unhappiness, he begins to re-acclimate himself to the land he could have loved if only things had been different.

It was so much fun to compare the rigors of Wall Street financials and the cut-throat policies that prevail there and the depth of “cowboy code” and Western lore. It’s about coming home… and then being home.  It’s about a woman with a past, searching for her future… and it’s about a man’s lament, a man who put his land, his ranch, his state-of-the-art beef enterprise ahead of his children… and isn’t sure how much time he has left to fix things.

It’s about life.

Creating the Stafford men was fun, but I had to be careful to keep them lovable even though they mostly needed Gibbs-smacks upside the head. Colt, the prodigal who stalked away angry and came back, somewhat humbled… but not too humble, because Colt isn’t exactly the humble sort. Nick, the brother who stayed home on the ranch, but not for altruistic reasons. Mostly because he wanted to show up his father on how a real man gets married and has a family and stays devoted while working the land… but when his happy-ever-after walked out with a rodeo cowboy, Nick’s carefully laid plans went up in smoke. Despite his efforts, here he was, working night and day and raising two kids— two troubled kids— as a single parent. Oops.

And then, this week, just released, is Trey’s story. The third brother, a country music superstar, rescued twenty-five years ago when his country singer parents overdosed on a bad batch of heroin. Trey’s the catalyst. He’s the wound-binder. He’s the son who sees beyond Sam’s nature because he wasn’t just born to the ranch: he was chosen. Saved by an uncle who made him his own, Trey’s strong but gentle nature will never forget that blessing even though Sam hasn’t exactly supported him for pursuing country music after seeing what happened to Trey’s parents.

Three stories of forgiveness and moving on. Three Western men. Four, actually, because without Sam Stafford setting the Western stage with his newfangled ideas, there wouldn’t be a story at all… And the four women set in their paths to complete the circle.

Old posters used to proclaim “Go West!” with pictures of a covered wagon and endless grassland.

I went “West” with some of my stories, and it’s been love of the highest order ever since.

Buy Ruth’s newest release, PEACE IN THE VALLEY, on Amazon!

Take a moment to chat with Ruth and be eligible to win a print copy of  her opening book, BACK IN THE SADDLE!

BIO: With well over a million books in print, multi-published, bestselling inspirational author Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great stories with unforgettable characters, the kind of books that make you regret the last page because you simply don’t want the story to end. A mom and grandmother, Ruthy lives on a small farm in upstate New York.  She’s no stranger to power tools, livestock or an oven.  She loves her dishwasher and she’s not afraid to discharge errant critters that might find their way into her old farmhouse.  And we’re not talking “catch-and-release” here. She loves chatting with readers and writers on Facebook so send her a friend request, or follow her on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne. Keep up with her scheduled releases and maybe some farm life at her website http://www.ruthloganherne.com, or her blogs http://www.ruthysplace.com, http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com (with 12 other authors!) or the fun café she operates with friends http://www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com.

Guest Blogger
Updated: April 29, 2017 — 8:25 pm
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