Tag: contemporary western romance

The Wickedest Town in the West; Jerome, Arizona

 

Dear Readers… Jerome, Arizona earned its reputation as the wickedest town in the west after three catastrophic fires within an eighteen-month period. The pious people of the sinful town attributed the fires to Devine retribution and pushed to incorporate Jerome. Once building codes were passed, a fire department was established and laws were put on the books to rein in Jerome’s wild ways.

Who wouldn’t want to visit the wickedest town in the west after a description like that?

This past summer hubby and I drove Route 89A to Jerome, which lies between the towns of Prescott and Flagstaff. The trip through the Prescott National Forest was breathtaking and well worth the slow climb in elevation to 5,000 feet above sea level.

Jerome was founded in 1876, its population peaking at 15,000 in the 1920’s. I’ve been to this ghost town three times in my life. Once when I was fifteen on a family vacation out west and twice since hubby and I moved back to Arizona. Jerome, a former copper-mining town, sits on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley. Today it’s a tourist stop and a favorite haunt of ghost hunters. All of the various hotels and B&B’s are reportedly haunted.

   

 

Famous Bartlett Hotel

 

The remains of the famous Bartlett Hotel on Main Street brings in as much as $6,500 a year for the Jerome Historical Society. Tourists stop to toss their coins between the bars hoping to hit the old outhouse and pieces of rusted mining artifacts below. My days playing basketball in college did not help me hit the toilet.

 

          

 

The Connor Hotel

I entered the lobby of the Connor Hotel to look around and the desk attendant was happy to tell me about the place, saying several guests had seen the Lady in Red while others reported being touched, feeling a draft of cold air sweep over them, lights and TV’s flickering on and off—the “usual ghostly things” she said.  Behind the motel are the remains of the 1918 haunted Liberty Theater, which played silent movies in the 1920’s. It’s the light tan building next to the red hotel in the picture below.

   

If you’re a paranormal enthusiast, you’ll enjoy the youtube video of photographs taken in the Connor Hotel that show ghostly orbs.

 

Years ago a department store sat across the street from the Connor Hotel, but now its an  empty lot with only department store safe remaining.

 

Sliding Jail

The Jerome Historical Society is working on restoring the famous sliding jail, which slipped 200 feet downhill from where it originally stood. The ground shifted in the area after Phelps Dodge purchased the copper claims during WWII and began dynamiting the mountains. The mine, still owned by Phelps Dodge, closed in 1953.

 

Just for fun!

I get excited when I find something taller than me like this old gas pump.

Books

I don’t write historical romances but if I did, I’d definitely use Jerome, Arizona, as the backdrop for a story. And speaking of books… I have two releases out this month…so here’s my shameless plug!

Twins for the Texas Rancher (Cowboys of Stampede, Texas)

DOUBLE TROUBLE! 

Sadie McHenry and her twin sons are heading home to Stampede, Texas. Sadie wants a chance to start over after being laid off—and she might have found it with rancher Logan Hardell. Logan instantly bonds with her boys, especially with Tommy, whose ADD makes him a handful. But Logan seems to understand the four-year-old’s needs and seeing them together melts Sadie’s heart.

Logan’s ranch is at risk, so Sadie agrees to help with their books—putting Logan on twin patrol! With his fun-loving approach to the kids and his rugged appeal, Sadie can’t understand why he’s ruled out a family of his own. But she’s not giving up on him just yet. Because Sadie’s convinced Logan is exactly what she and her boys need!

  The Future She Left Behind

One woman’s journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt—master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law—has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Tell me about a strange place you once visited for a chance to win a signed paperback or digital copy (reader’s choice) of the first book in my Cowboys of Stampede series, The Cowboy’s Accidental Baby. I’ll announce the winner in the comment section of this post sometime on Saturday Sep 9th. 

Until next time…Happy Trails!

 

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My Favorite Small Town Getaway

Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!

I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.

The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.

The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.

Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.

I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.

I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.

 

 

An Idea Waiting For a Book by Guest Blogger Victoria Bylin

The opening lines for The Two of Us go like this:  “Mia Robinson couldn’t take her eyes off the man in a cowboy hat working a claw machine game, the kind where a child—or a boyfriend or father—put in a dollar and tried to grab a toy in thirty seconds or less.”

The picture of that cowboy has been in my head ever since my family and I drove cross-country from Los Angeles to Washington DC back in 1996.  It was late when we stopped at a motel in Oklahoma and decided to grab dinner at a local coffee shop. You know the kind of place—slightly rundown, orange vinyl booths, paneled walls, and a row of games and candy machines by the front door.

The cowboy who strode in was tall, dressed in a black duster, and sporting a mustache that would have done Sam Elliot proud. Swaggering in dusty boots, he went straight to the claw machine game, cleaned  out the toys, and passed out stuffed animals to all the kids in the restaurant.

I’ve tried to put this scene in a book several times, but it just  didn’t work until I started The Two Of Us, a contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Echo Falls, Colorado.

The story opens in a coffee shop in Las Vegas, where Mia Robinson is worried sick about her eighteen-year-old sister. Lucy is pregnant and about to marry Sam Waters, a decision Mia finds questionable at best and disastrous at worst.

Mia, a nurse practitioner,  is ten years older than Lucy and practically raised her.  Mia is the responsible sister. She gets things done, saves lives, and is the person you’d want in any crisis. Lucy is . . . well, Lucy.  She’s impulsive, fun loving, and generous to a fault.

Jake Tanner strides into that coffee shop just like my real life cowboy, except he’s a retired Denver cop who suffered a devastating loss. The bomb blast that left him hearing impaired also killed his female partner and left Jake to be a friend and big brother to her son, Sam. Sam is now 21, a college senior on an ROTC scholarship, and about to marry Lucy.

Jake supports the marriage. Mia? Well, not so much.  Of course they don’t know about their connection when they meet and Jake charms Mia with a stuffed mother hen.

And so the story begins . . . I’m so glad I could finally give that Oklahoma cowboy a place in one of my books. He’s lived in my imagination for a lot of years. Wherever he is, I hope he’s still cleaning out claw machine games and putting smiles on the faces of children, their parents, and maybe a special lady of his own.

To celebrate cowboys and romance, let’s give away three copies of The Two Of Us.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below.

Have you ever seen anyone actually pull a toy out of the claw machine game?
What games do you enjoy?
I admit to being addicted to Cookie Jam!

Let’s chat!

And last, a big thank you to the Fillies for inviting me hang out today.
It’s always a pleasure to visit one of the best western blogs online!

Victoria BylinVictoria Bylin is known for tackling tough subjects with great compassion. In 2016, Together With You won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary Romance.
Her other faith-based stories include historical westerns and
women’s fiction.
Learn more about Victoria and her books at http://www.victoriabylin.com

 

Contemporary vs. Historical Western Stories

Contemporary vs Historical

I ran across a fun video from three authors talking about things you won’t find in a contemporary western romance.  Melissa Tagg, Victoria Bylin (who will be a guest blogger on August 4th!), and Becky Wade had this list:

  • Shotgun weddings
  • Arbuckles coffee
  • Primitive diseases (the plague, scarlet fever, smallpox)
  • Aristocracy
  • Stagecoaches
  • Corsets
  • Wars
  • Telegraphs and lost letters
  • Covered Wagons
  • Mail-Order Brides

I question them on #10 because this still happens, but the brides are from other countries rather than from the east and communication goes by email. I also thought of a few other things for their list…bonnets and ten-gallon hats, animal clothing such as mink or fox coats,  button-up shoes, mercantiles, ice-boxes.

Since I write historical westerns, I decided to make my own list. This is what I came up with…the first was a biggie because so very many of our modern conveniences stem from it.

Things you won’t find in a historical western:

  • Anything electronic — Cell phones, televisions, texting, computers, refrigerators, automatic dishwashers, air-conditioning.
  • Modern transportation — Automobiles, airplanes, jets, space stations, rockets.
  • Modern medicine.

So, what has stood the test of time and is still seen in both types of stories?

  • Rattlesnakes
  • Horses
  • Cowboy boots and Stetsons
  • Lasso’s
  • Bucking broncos and bulls
  • Windmills
  • The cowboy code
  • Manners among our heroes
  • Guns & rifles
  • Land wars, although these have morphed from sheep vs cattle and farmers vs ranchers to land developers’ vs small towns but they are still definitely land wars.)

Can you think of other differences between then and now?
Or things that have stayed the same?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of my latest release ~

And for your viewing pleasure ~ here’s the video.

(It’s cute!  I think you will enjoy it.)

 

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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Welcome ~ Jodi Thomas!

 

Look who has come for a visit to Wildflower Junction!  

Please  welcome New York Times Best Selling Author ~

Miss Jodi Thomas! 

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Jodi Tomas head shot

Living in the Panhandle of Texas I often feel very close to the past and to the land. There are places I can see wagon trails and on a ranch I often visit, an arrowhead isn’t impossible to fine.

When I begin writing a new story, I always do something I call “walking the land.” I take a few weeks, or sometimes a few months and wander through museums, bookstores, old houses, cemeteries and the stories begin. Since I’m doing books set on modern day ranches, I visit several ranches. My favorite is the Sanford ranch near Fritch, Texas. I also like to go to rodeosJodi Thomas horse and sale barns, etc.

And now and then when I’m listening to a windmill or trying not to smell the cows, a character walks by and my story begins.

Last month I went to the Dove Creek Ranch and Equine Rescue. I was tagging along with a friend doing an interview but within minutes of driving down into the small canyon, stories were popping in my mind. The lady who owned and ran the place had a true love for horses and spent a great deal of time helping horses that had been abused and abandoned.

She told me the first thing she does when she gets an animal who has been left alone in a small corral or barn for sometimes months is she lets them roam the land with the herd. She says they’ve forgotten how to be a horse.

I waJodi Thomas walks the lands around horses growing up and I’ve spent my time riding and brushing them down, but I’ve never seen them until I saw horses through her eyes. She said, “After my husband died and I was raising kids and trying to run the ranch, I would sometimes go out at night and just walk among the herd.”

Then, she made my day. She asked me if I wanted to go with her. We slipped through the fence and walked onto ranchland that used the walls of the canyon as its boundaries. We moved slow, not directing the herd, not invading, just joining. We moved closer. Just letting the horses slowly surround us.

I think it was one of the most peaceful, alive feelings I’ve ever had. She probably thought I was an idiot because I couldn’t stop smiling.

As a writer of over 40 books I sometimes feel I don’t live, I just do research. Like a person who doesn’t see Paris because he’s too busy taking selfies, I’m too consumed with stories dancing in my head to sometimes stop and enjoy the grand, wonderful things in life.

Like walking with a herd of horses on a cloudy day when the wind still whispers winter and the grass crunches beneath your boots.

I may never make it back to Dove Creek Ranch, but you can bet I’ll go there many more times in my mind.

So, walk the land of RANSOM CANYON in my new book, LONE HEART PASS. You’ll fall in love with the Texas plains and the people who live and love there.

Please leave a comment to enter a drawing for a copy of LONE HEART PASS.

 

flower bar 1Lone Heart PassWith a career and a relationship in ruins, Jubalee Hamilton is left reeling from a fast fall to the bottom. The run-down Texas farm she inherited is a far cry from the second chance she hoped for, but it and its abrasive foreman are all she’s got.

Every time Charley Collins has let a woman get close, he’s been burned. So Lone Heart ranch and the contrary woman who owns it are merely a means to an end, until Jubalee tempts him to take another risk—to stop resisting the attraction drawing them together despite all his hard-learned logic.

Desperation is all young Thatcher Jones knows. When he leads an injured Steeldust horse to a ramshackle ranch, he needs help. A horse-stealing ring is on his trail and the sheriff suspects him…and his only protection is the shelter of a man and woman who—just like him—need someone to trust.

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A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable

Welcome ~ Pamela Tracy!


Pamela Tracy HeadshotPetticoats and Pistols is delighted to have Pamela Tracy ride back into the corral here at Wildflower Junction!

Please give her a big welcome!

She is giving away a digital copy of her newest release to one lucky person who comments. See below…

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I’ve visited Petticoats and Pistols many times and am thrilled to be a guest today.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  I’ve talked about my first attempts on other blogs, so I’ll tackle my college efforts today (I’ve tried to suppress the memory.)  So far, I’ve hidden the dark truth.  My first real attempt at plot, chapters, and black moment was science fiction <gasp>.  Truly.  When I was in college, I was enthralled by Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Don’t see the movie.  It REALLY doesn’t do the book justice.  And, if you haven’t read the book, you’ll just be annoyed.)  I was also big on Kurt Vonnegut.  Yes, I know, what was a nice girl like me doing hanging around with Deadeye Dick.

Fast forward (years!) to marriage, kids, writing romance books.  About 2008, I was happily writing suspense (and novellas and prayer books.)  Then, the opportunity came to write a contemporary romance for Love Inspired.  I thought, “Okay, I always wanted to do a prodigal son.”  I put my H & H on a ranch and wallah, my first cowboy hero.

Since then, I’ve written quite a few.  I can’t seem to stop.

I’m from Nebraska originally.  I didn’t have a horse, but there were properties all around me and I used to go stand on the fences and feed grass to the horses.  I asked every Christmas for a horse.  My parents got me a bike.  Okay, they tried.  It did move when I said giddy-yup though I had to peddle instead of knee.     Saddle and stand

I worked on a farm one weekend and rode a horse that got spooked.  We wound up in the middle of the cornfield.  It’s hard to get off the horse with stalks off corn pressing in.  Good thing I was a lot thinner then.

Me, I’m not a cowgirl, but I dated a cowboy in college.  I knew he was a cowboy because he had a buckle, chewed, and never wore shorts.  That was the 80’s.  What can I say.

I do love going to the rodeo, though.  I’ve been in Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona, and South Dakota.  Always a spectator.

My niece, who does rodeo and WINS….

Oh, and I took riding lessons in my 30’s.  I rarely fell off but then I also never rode a horse that went faster than a bike with a flat tire and brakes that were stuck in the STOP position.

My heroes and heroines, though, have all kinds of great.  Guess they were born that way like my grandniece.  She has the petticoat, just needs the pistol.

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I’ve been writing now for seventeen years.  And, I live in the third most populated city.  Guess that’s why over and over I write about small towns, girls horses, and cowboys who know how to treat a lady right.

I’ve a new book out this month.  It’s called the Bluebonnet Bride.   It has a bullrider who isn’t looking for love, a business owner who’s fighting to put down roots, a ranch that needs a little tender loving care, and a small town that’s the right size for both of them.  Ah, happily ever after…

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Pamela Tracy is giving away a digital copy of her newest release, the Bluebonnet Bride to one lucky person who comments today!

To connect with Pamela or to find out more about this book and others, please visit her website:  www.pamelatracy.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne McAllister Loves Cowboys–especially Jess Harper from Laramie

First I want to say thank you to all the members of the Pistols & Petticoats blog for inviting me to visit with you all today. Cowboys have been near and dear to my heart since I was five and fell in love for the first time.

The object of my affection was, of course, a cowboy. He was tall, dark and handsome (5’9″ is tall to a five-year old!).   I followed him everywhere, imprinting on him like a duck.

When he went away again, I was bereft. Fortunately for me, I grew up in a time when every other show on television was a western. I was enthralled.

I was also selective. One cowboy above all set my heart to beating faster — Jess Harper, the second in command at the stage stop on Laramie. (photo attribution to ABC Television) Jess was played by Robert Fuller who understood the finer points of playing a cowboy hero. He had the tall (well, taller than me), dark and handsome bits down pat. He had a gravelly baritone voice that still makes my ears tingle just to think about. Mostly, though, he understood that Jess had to live by his own moral code. The writers of Laramie seemed to understand this, too. It was a western ahead of its time in that respect.

I loved Jess not just because he was gorgeous in a rugged, rough-hewn way. I loved him for the choices he made. What Jess chose to do in any given situation was not always what the law decreed was proper. It was what deep down in his gut, he believed was right. And he arrived at that conclusion after a lot of soul searching. He anguished over the decisions he made.

Even as a child, I loved an anguished hero.

Anne McAllister cowoboy

Jess Harper from Laramie played by Robert Fuller Attribution to ABC Television

I wasn’t the only one. At a writers’ conference a number of years ago, I was tipping back in my chair, dozing a bit and contemplating lunch, when western historical author Jessica Douglass talked about cowboy — particularly Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza who she always fantasized was “her brother” with whom she had great adventures. But the real hero of her fantasies, she went on, was Jess Harper who was “definitely NOT her brother.”

All four legs of my chair hit the ground with the thump. Jess was two-timing me with her! I was appalled. So was she. But eventually we agreed that we both had excellent taste in men — and cowboy heroes — and that Jess was the quintessential cowboy hero.

We even spoke at the RWA National Conference on the topic of My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, because of Jess Harper whom Robert Fuller had made so real.

Preparing the talk we decided to send Robert Fuller a letter asking if he would like to comment on the character he’d played so well. Clearly a fan girl heart beats in most of us long after the cowboy has ridden off into the sunset.

One December afternoon, a month or so later the phone rang right when all the telemarketers and political pollsters in Iowa regularly ring. I was not enthused. Imagine my surprised when, instead of a pollster, a remarkably recognizable baritone said, “This is Robert Fuller.”

Believe me, inside this grown-up otherwise responsible adult mother of four, a 13 year old fan girl was hyper-ventilating.

But I managed to marshal my wits and most of my brain cells and we chatted about Jess. I was gratified to learn that he shared our view about Jess’s need to create and adhere to his own moral code. He thought it was the best role he’d ever had. He recognized and articulated his feeling about Jess’s code of honor needing to be personally arrived at. He was as passionate about it as Jess was.

Talking to him then, I realized that a Jess Harper sort of cowboy embodies what I value in all my heroes. Whether they are bull riders or CEOs, architects or archaeologists, opal miners-turned-entrepreneurs or ranchers struggling to make a living on the land they love — all McAllister heroes are at heart ‘cowboy heroes.’ They all have a personal code of honor they are trying to live up to. It isn’t always easy — in fact sometimes it causes more anguish than joy — but it’s not just a part of who they are, it’s the essence of who they are. That’s why I love them.

And I’m happy to report that I had pretty good taste when I was 13 years old!

Anne McAllister

Anne McAllister has written nearly 70 books for Harlequin, Silhouette and Tule Publishing, many of them cowboys — and all of them, at heart, no matter how they earn their living, are cowboy heroes.  
 
Presently she is hard at work on a four book series for Tule Publishing’s Montana Born imprint called Men of Hard Broke Creek due to come out in 2016.  One of them is the brother of her most recent cowboy hero, Cole McCullough, of Last Year’s Bride.
 
She has an electronic copy of Last Year’s Bride, to send to the winner chosen from among the commenters.  All you have to do to enter is tell her what appeals to you about the cowboy hero.  
 
She’d love to chat with you so stop by and visit!

Barbara Ankrum and the fun research into rodeo bull riders!

Hello, my name is Barbara and I’m a rodeo fan-girl.

There, I said it. Yes, I love watching cowboys take their lives in their hands aboard those lunatic pro-bulls. (Screaming into my fists, aside.) But after agreeing to write a bull-riding hero for my next book, I realized how little I actually knew about the mechanics of the sport. I needed to do some research, which is always one of my favorite parts of writing. I’ve discovered many a good turning point through research.

Hours of YouTube marathons yielded these tidbits, for example:

* Bull riders most often use man-made barrel contraptions manipulated by a huge lever to practice on and not (for the most part) real bulls because…life and limb.

* There are coach/mentors who teach/hone bull riding technique, even to the pros. One of these ended up figuring into my story and even changed my hero’s living situation.

* The bull ‘athletes’ are respected every bit as much as the riders and are specially bred to buck. One is even crowned champion at the end of the season for big money.

Click to Buy

Click to Buy

 

* The difference between a slinger –a bull that tries to hit the rider in the head with its horns and a honker: a really ‘rank’ and difficult animal to ride.

Most intriguing was the bullrope—that woven rope/strap that goes around a bull’s chest and which the rider wraps around his gloved hand—which he must release at the end of the ride or risk getting hung up and dragged around by the arm. (The screaming into fists part.) It took a while to figure out the wrap techniques and how riders freed themselves at the end of a ride.

Traditional American bullropes, position the cowboy’s hand directly over the bull’s spine. Each time a bull bucks, the rope slides a little to the left, tightening on the cowboy’s fingers. And if the stars align badly, the cowboy is unable to release this bucking strap from his pinched fingers and he gets dangerously hung up.

Barbara Ankrum Bull rider 1Brazillian bullropes are relatively new on the scene. They appeared with the influx of Brazillian cowboys who have taken many of the top spots on the rodeo charts in the past few years. The bullrope they use is slightly different from the American one.

Their grip handle starts off center, to the right of the bull’s spine, and releases to the right, the opposite direction of the American rope, which takes the pressure off the cowboy’s hand and allows him to easily free himself, preventing hang-ups. Some U.S. rodeos have banned them, claiming they’re an unfair advantage for the Brazillians and U.S. riders who have embraced them, but the jury’s still out on whether it’s simply a smarter design or an advantage. With the high stakes money in the PBR, it’s understandable that some sour grapes linger over these ropes. But I decided to use one in my story, because it felt like a smarter choice for Finn Scott, who had two little children waiting at home for him, along with a temporary wife with commitment issues.

Barbara Ankrum bull rider hung upI loved every minute of writing CHOOSE ME, COWBOY (Part of the Montana Born Rodeo series) And for those who read last year’s, A FAIR TO REMEMBER, this book follows the second of the Canaday sisters, Kate.

I have a $10 Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter here. Just tell me your favorite rodeo event!

Barbara Ankrum is the bestselling author of fourteen books, including her latest contemporary romance, CHOOSE ME, COWBOY, from Tule Publishing. Her bestselling western historical series, ‘Wild Western Hearts’ and ‘Wild Western Rogues” are available on all e-book platforms. She’s been twice nominated for RWA’s prestigious RITA Award.

It’s All In the Detail by Paula Altenburg

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Settings are something that, in a story, are a crucial element, and part of the reader’s sensory experience, but for the most part should be unobtrusive. You want the reader to feel as if they’re in the same time and place as the characters, but you don’t want the setting details to overshadow the story.

Don’t ask me how this happened, but over the past four or five years I’ve found myself firmly planted in the American West. I’ve written Demon Westerns in a dystopian future. I’ve got a paranormal “Cowboys and Aliens” alternate history story coming out soon.  And my current release, Her Secret Love (#3 in the Secrets of Cherry Lake series from Tule Publishing), is a contemporary romance set on the shores of Flathead Lake, Montana. (Check out those images. My husband wants us to move there.)

I’m fairly confident my love affair with the West began the same way as that of most western romance fans—by reading Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. (How can those author names not appeal to romance readers?)My father recently gave me his entire Louis L’Amour collection—heaven. I tell him they’re Harlequin romances for men. I mean, come on. There’s always a strong woman character who needs a helping hand from the hero, but who can ultimately stand on her own.

The problem for me as a writer, however, is that I’m seriously setting-challenged. I’m an abstract thinker and not at all visual. I can’t read a map. (I once wrote an entire book with the locations upside down and backward from what they are in reality. So far, no one’s noticed.)Descriptive details bore me. And I live on the East Coast of Canada, surrounded by the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean. We have a large dairy industry here, but if you try to compare our farms to Montana ranches…no.

This is what my world looks like:

 

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Here’s my personal experience with the American West:
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And in my head, here’s what I think the West looks like:Paula5

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Mix those with the chase scenes from Mad Max: Fury Road and I’m sure you can understand the challenge I face.

There are details about the world we each live in that, in our heads, are universal truths, but in reality, are anything but. When my youngest son began university, we took a few of his friends from Oman to see Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. They kept asking if we could stop the car so they could explore the boggy wetlands that surround the Atlantic beach areas here. They live in the desert. They’d never seen wetlands before.

Cherry Lake, Montana might be a fictional town, but the location is not. Every time I had a bird chirp in Her Secret Love, I had to look up what kind of bird it might be. The trees are different. The grass is different. I had no idea what the seasons might be like. They turn at different times from what I’m used to. Sunrise and sunset aren’t the same. Not to mention, school starts so much earlier in Montana than it does here.

There are four books and one novella in the Secrets of Cherry Lake series.  (Small Town Secrets is free on Amazon.com if anyone wants to check out the series.) That’s four authors who all had to coordinate setting details for the town and its inhabitants. We were lucky in that one of our authors, Jeannie Watts (The Secret Bride), is actually from the area. She’s the Tule Publishing resident expert on All Things Cherry Lake.

Writing this series was a lot of fun. Creating Cherry Lake was a great learning experience, too. I hope to write more stories in this particular setting.

Cinderella's CowboyAnd I hope readers will enjoy the Secrets of Cherry Lake as much as we enjoyed writing about them.

Giveaway:

If you want to learn more about the Montana Born books offered by Tule Publishing, I’m giving away an e-copy of Cinderella’s Cowboy by USA Today Bestselling author Roxanne Snopek:

Sometimes princes look a lot like cowboys…

Chad Anders doesn’t know why mousy Cynthia Henley trips all over her tongue when she’s around him. Nor does he understand his undeniable attraction to this good girl. Wild and sexy is his type, like the dream-girl he caught a glimpse of years earlier he’s never forgotten.

Cynthia’s superpower is invisibility, especially with men. It’s better for everyone that way. Besides, she’s got a cat. She’s okay. But when playboy-rancher Chad hires her, she’s got a chance to shine. Professionally, at least. Until she learns of his fascination with a mysterious dream-girl, who was actually nothing more than a shy teenager on an ill-advised dare all those years ago. Cynthia knows she’s no man’s dream-girl and never will be.

But there’s magic at the ball. Princesses glow in the starlight, princes appear out of nowhere, and, sometimes, they look a lot like cowboys…

 

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