I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)!
I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner.
In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year.
So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today.
I hope you’ll take a look!
He needs a holiday miracle. . .
She’s prepared to deliver one
Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.
All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe. Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.
With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.
The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.
The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!)
I love a good rodeo. There’s nothing quite like the excitement that snaps in the air while watching athletes, both human and animal test their skills as they compete.
It was while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the granddaddy of all rodeos – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – several years ago that the idea for a series came to me. We were sitting in the airport, surrounded by cowboys as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t help but ponder how fun it would be if a cowboy fell in love with a girl he met at the airport.
From there, the Rodeo Romance series was born and I recently released book six – Racing Christmas!
She’s racing to save the ranch
He’s struggling to win her heart. . . again
Brylee Barton has just one goal in mind: win the barrel racing world championship. Not for the glory, but for the attached cash prize that could save her family’s ranch. When an injury leaves her at the mercy of the very same copper-headed, silver-tongued cowboy she once vowed to loathe forever, she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his help.
Fun-loving, easy-going Shaun Price has a million dollar smile, more charm than he can channel, and a string of ex-girlfriends rumored to have started their own support group. When the one woman he’s never quite managed to get out of his head or heart needs his assistance, he jumps at the chance to help. Little does he realize how challenging it will be to keep from falling for her all over again.
With the holiday season fast approaching, will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?
This sweet Christmas romance warms the heart, lifts the spirit, and touches the soul with its message of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Don’t miss it!
Brylee opened her eyes and tipped her head back, watching as the pickup men rode into the arena. One went to catch Rocket while the other hastened her direction. The announcer and the clown told a joke as the medical team hustled toward her as fast as they could make it through the mud.
Frustration battled with anger as the pickup man approached. The last person on earth she wanted to see was that man.
“Maybe today would be a good day to die,” she muttered as she tried again to move her foot from beneath the fence. If she freed it before he reached her, she could crawl over the fence and make her way back to her trailer without speaking to him.
Why couldn’t he have gone on ignoring her like he had the last five and half years? Why tonight, of all nights, was he going to force her to acknowledge him? Didn’t she have enough to deal with, like missing her opportunity to claim the winning title? Or the undeniable fact she looked like a half-drowned kitten that had been dragged through a pig wallow?
She thought of her wasted entry fee. Not to mention the hours it would take to get all the mud scrubbed off Rocket and her tack.
Wasn’t a no-score enough punishment without being forced to face the most arrogant, self-centered, childish man she’d ever known?
Trapped on her back in the mud, it seeped through her clothes, chilling her and making her fight the need to shiver. She questioned how she could exit the arena with even a shred of dignity when her pants oozed soupy mud like a toddler’s soggy diaper.
The slap of boots hitting the mud in the arena drew her gaze upward. A handsome face appeared above her as the pickup man leaned over her. Gray-blue eyes twinkled behind thick lashes and a smile full of even, white teeth gleamed in the arena lights. Shaun Price braced his gloved hands on his thighs and offered her an infuriatingly cocky grin.
Why couldn’t she have at least passed out and awakened far away from the infuriating, irritating, Adonis-like cowboy?
“Well, Bitsy, I see you’re still racing Christmas,” he said, his voice sounding as deep and rich as she remembered.
Brylee glowered at him. “You know I hate that name.”
“Yep, I sure do.” Shaun chuckled and stepped back as the medics surrounded her.
If you love cowboys as much as I do, I hope you’ll take a look at my Read a Book, Help a Cowboycampaign, too! It’s a great way to help injured rodeo athletes who need a hand up!
Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.
We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.
This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!
The stories begin releasing November 1.
Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.
Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It releases Nov. 1.
You’re never too old to fall in love . . .
Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?
Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.
Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.
When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?
As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess while he recuperates from knee surgery.
She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her, but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…
“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.
Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”
Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”
“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”
He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”
Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”
“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.
“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”
“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”
“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”
“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”
Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”
Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”
A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”
“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”
“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”
Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”
Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!
A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love.
Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.
A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?
A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.
Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.
If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?
This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.
I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.
Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.
Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.
Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).
Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.
For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).
One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!
As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.
I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.
I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.
How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?
Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!
Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.
Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.
Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.
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What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?
When I first began researching details for my Baker City Brides series a few years ago, one particular historical fact I found piqued my interest.
In the 1890s, Baker City, Oregon, was home to a meteorological station.
For my soon-to-be released fifth installment in the sweet historical romance series, I decided to make the heroine’s father the newly-stationed meteorologist.
Which meant I had to dig up more detail about the station and why it was in Baker City of all places.
Weather, it seems, has always been important to the citizenry of the United States. As far back as the arrival of the first colonists, records of the weather were kept, noting the harshness of the New World.
Many of the Founding Fathers observed the weather with avid interest including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. During the early and mid 1800s, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States.
Then the telegraph became operational in 1845 and visionaries saw the possibility of forecasting storms simply by telegraphing ahead what was coming.
Acc 000095, Box 27B, Folder Joseph Henry #11775
A man named Joseph Henry (sometimes referred to as the Father of Weather), Secretary of the new Smithsonian Institution, envisioned communication system opportunities that could extend across the North American continent. A plan was approved in 1848 for volunteer observers who could report the weather via telegraph and by the end of 1849, 150 volunteers were reporting weather observations to the Smithsonian regularly. By 1860, five hundred stations were daily furnishing weather reports.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a resolution in February 1870 that established an agency for reporting the weather. Although the brief resolution was given little press at the time, the agency it created would affect the daily lives of most citizens through its forecast and warnings.
Through the resolution, weather stations would operate under the War Department’s Signal Service Corps. This organization, The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce, laid the ground work for the National Weather Service we know today.
On November 1, 1870, the first synchronous meteorological reports were taken by observer/sergeants at twenty-four stations in the new agency and transmitted by telegraph to the central office in Washington, D.C.
The work of the new organization demanded men familiar with observations, theoretic, and practical meteorology. Commissioned officers detailed to Signal Service work were required to acquire meteorological knowledge by studying, consulting and learning from leading meteorologists of the time. For the education of the weather observers (enlisted men), a school of meteorology was added to the existing school of instruction in telegraphy and military signaling located at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer), Virginia.
The Signal Service’s field stations grew from twenty four to almost three hundred in 1878. Three times a day, each station telegraphed an observation to the home office including observations about the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind velocity, pressure of wind, clouds, and general state of the weather.
One such station existed in Boise, Idaho, but it closed just two days before Idaho became a state in July 1890 and moved to Baker City. The reasoning was that the area in Baker City was better for gathering weather information.
Then, in July 1891, the weather stations, telegraph lines, apparatus, and all the office equipment right down to every accounted-for pencil were transferred from the Signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly formed civilian Weather Bureau. The bureau created the basis of the weather service we know today.
Lightning and Lawmen (Baker City Brides Book 5) will release June 28.
Here’s a little excerpt:
At least the pleasant weather was one thing working in Baker City’s favor. In spite of the house’s disorderly status, she would greatly enjoy spring days in the area if today was any indication of what the future held. She pushed the cape from her shoulders, closed her eyes, and relaxed against the chair, enjoying the peaceful moments before her father returned.
“Maybe this place won’t be all bad,” she whispered, allowing her grip on her father’s bag to loosen.
“Baker City tends to grow on most folks, if you give it a chance,” a deep voice said, startling her from her musings.
Her eyes snapped open in surprise. Pride straightened her spine as her glance settled on a man standing a few yards away on the winter-browned grass on the other side of the porch railing.
Sunlight glinted off a shiny silver badge pinned to the front of a long duster. She studied the black western-style hat on his head, similar to those she’d seen cowboys sporting on the train. The lawman wore a tan flannel shirt topped with a dark vest and a neckerchief the color of crocuses. Dark blue denims encased muscled legs while dust covered the toes of his worn boots.
Slowly, her gaze glided from his boots back up to his face. A square jaw covered in a rakish growth of stubble, firm lips, and a straight nose proved to be a handsome combination. But it was the man’s eyes that captured her attention.
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A while ago, when I was knee deep in research for my latest sweet historical romance, I happened across the mention of a woman who made history. Only I’d never heard of her.
I quickly became quite interested in learning more about her contributions to our past, though.
You see, her big historical moment might have been touted around the world, but fell by the wayside when a much bigger event took place at the same time.
Harriett Quimby was born in May 1875 on a Michigan farm. She was in her early teens when the family moved to San Francisco. With dreams of becoming an actress, she was listed as one in the 1900 census.
She began writing for magazines. In 1903, she moved to New York City and became a theater critic. Reportedly, she even authored a few screenplays that were turned into a silent films.
Harriett eventually turned to photojournalism as a career and leaned into adventure and excitement. She enjoyed travel, theater, and automobiles. In 1906, after a ride on an automobile racetrack, she bought her own car. At that time, it was unheard of for a woman to do such thing.
Through her journalism work, she covered an aviation tournament at Belmont Park in 1910. Harriett was friends with siblings John and Matilde Moisant. John ran a flying school and produced his own monoplane. Harriett enrolled in the school, along with Matilde. In the summer of 1911, Harriett became the first American woman to be licensed as a flyer by the Aero Club of America, the U.S. branch of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. A few women had flown before her, but none at that time were licensed.
Tall and energetic, Harriett was hard to miss, especially when she created a flying costume that became her trademark. She wore a purple satin jacket and matching riding pants with high laced boots and a soft cowl around her head.
Seeking more excitement, she went on the barnstorming (a form of flying in which stunt pilots performed tricks, either individually or in groups called flying circuses) circuit where she became quite popular.
In the spring of 1912, after weeks of preparation, she traveled to England to purchase a Bleriot airplane. She borrowed one in Dover, England. Early on the morning of April 16, Harriet became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, landing in France.
Unfortunately, just a few hours after her history-making flight, the world discovered the tragic news of the Titanic sinking the previous day and poor Harriet was obliterated from the headlines.
She returned to America and barnstorming, joining in several air meets. On July 1, 1912, she was paid handsomely to participate in an air show near Boston. In front of the gathered spectators, her plane lurched, throwing her lone passenger to his death. Although she struggled to gain control, Harriett was also thrown from the plane and was killed.
Harriett had been a pilot less than a year, but her impact on the aviation industry, particularly for women, continues to this day.
As I was working on my book, I thought about how young women of 1912 may have looked up to Harriet, found inspiration in her achievements. You can read more about her impact on my fictional characters in Quinn (Pendleton Petticoats Book 9). The sweet historical romance releases tomorrow.
She’s waging a war for women’s rights
He’s fighting a battle to win her heart…
There’s nothing typical about Quinn Fairfield. The outspoken suffragette spends her days writing sensational headlines as a newspaper reporter and indulging her natural curiosity. She’s much more likely to be found riding a bicycle around town than learning the social graces at which her sister, Caitlyn, excels. When Caitlyn announces her plans to wed a man Quinn doesn’t trust, she sets out to find a reason to break up the happy couple. In the process, she finds herself falling for an intriguing, kind-hearted man.
After spending several years in Portland at college, Walker Williams returns to Pendleton, eager to make his mark on the world. He’s determined to become a legendary architect despite the challenges that arise from his upbringing on the nearby Umatilla Reservation. When a feisty red-headed newspaper reporter catches his eye and captures his heart, Walker fights his growing feelings for her. He’ll do anything to shelter Quinn from the prejudices aimed at him and his heritage.
Can the two of them overcome their fears, set aside the burdens of the past, and surrender to the sweet romance blossoming between them?
Filled with laughter, adventure, and historical tidbits from 1912, Quinn is a sweet historical romance brimming with hope and love.
Christmas has always been such a beautiful, blessed, wonderful season to me.
A tradition that my mom taught me, one I still carry on, is to bake goodies, infused with love, and share with family and friends.
One year, I spent hours and hours making elaborately frosted sugar cookies. In particular, I recall a little rocking horse that I’d painstakingly decorated with tiny little reins and a saddle accented with mini holly and berries made of icing.
Then my dad and brothers came in for supper and made short work of my creations!
I still make sugar cookies (a recipe I spent years experimenting with until I got it just right), although I don’t spend hours decorating them like I used to.
I also love to make cinnamon rolls and share them with our neighbors when the rolls are warm from the oven and icing is melting into sweet pools all around them.
I have an overflowing recipe box with all the traditional sweets I typically make during the holidays.
But while I was researching details for my latest release, I found so many more recipes I’d love to try.
The heroine in the story is a Swedish baker. My goodness! I think I gained five pounds (or ten) just writing about all the delightful pastries and goodies she created in her bakery.
Born to an outlaw father and a shrewish mother, Fred Decker feels obligated to atone for the past without much hope for his future. If he possessed a lick of sense, he’d pack up and leave the town where he was born and raised, but something… someone… unknowingly holds him there. Captivated by Hardman’s beautiful baker, Fred fights the undeniable attraction. He buries himself in his work, refusing to let his heart dream.
Elsa Lindstrom adores the life she’s carved out for herself in a small Eastern Oregon town. She and her twin brother, Ethan, run their own bakery where she delights in creating delicious treats. Then Ethan comes home unexpectedly married, the drunks in town mistakenly identify her as a missing harlot, and a mishap in the bakery leaves her at the mercy of the most gossiped-about man in Hardman.
Mix in the arrival of three fairy-like aunts, blend with a criminal bent on dastardly schemes, and sprinkle in a hidden cache of gold for a sweet Victorian romance brimming with laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer.
“Well…” Fred gave her an odd look as he stood in the doorway with autumn sunshine spilling all around him. “There are two other things I’d like.”
“Two?” Elsa asked, wiping her hands on her apron and facing him. “What might those two things be?” She anticipated him asking for a batch of rolls or perhaps a chocolate cake.
“My first request is simple. Please call me Fred. I’d like to think, after all this, we’re friends and all my friends call me Fred.”
Elsa nodded in agreement. “We are friends, Mr. Deck… er, I mean Fred. If you want me to call you Fred then you best refer to me as Elsa.”
The pleased grin on his face broadened. “Very well, Elsa.”
Her knees wobbled at the sound of his deep voice saying her name, but she resisted the urge to grip the counter for support. “You said there were two things you wanted, in addition to cookies. What is the second?”
“It’s a tiny little thing really,” Fred said, tightly gripping his hat in both hands.
“A tiny little thing? Then I shall take great honor in bestowing whatever it is.” Her gaze roved over the kitchen, trying to imagine what in the world Fred could want. She kept a jar full of assorted candy. Sometimes, she used the sweets to decorate cakes and cookies. Perhaps he wanted one. “A piece of candy?” she asked.
Fred shook his head. “No, Elsa. It’s sweeter than candy and far, far better.”
Intrigued, she took a step closer to him. “What is it?”
He waggled his index finger back and forth, indicating she should step closer. When she stood so her skirts brushed against the toes of his boots, he tapped his cheek with the same finger. “A little sugar right here would be even better than ten batches of cookies.”
~ Giveaway ~
Make sure you enter this drawing for a chance to win a mystery box of Christmas goodies!
Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, holiday season!
What’s one thing do you always look forward to baking or eating each Christmas?
What do a cowboy, a snowstorm, and a delayed flight have in common?
Pour yourself a cup of tea, take a moment to relax, and I’ll share a little story with you…
Picture a bitterly cold December wind blowing snow so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone far enough to get in a vehicle and drive somewhere.
This was the scene my husband (better known as Captain Cavedweller) and I encountered one December day as we prepared to leave on a much-needed vacation. We’d been planning to drive across the state to our destination, but with the blizzard-like conditions, we couldn’t see any wisdom in traveling in the horrible weather.
Rather than stay home, though, I convinced CC to go to Las Vegas to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We’d always wanted to go and had just never got around to it. Since flying somewhere was the only way we were leaving town, it made perfect sense to switch our plans and take the impromptu trip.
As we arrived at the airport the next day, we noticed more cowboy hats in the crowd than just CC’s. And when we landed in Las Vegas, there were cowboy hats (and cowboys) everywhere! Each December, the city of Las Vegas takes on a country vibe as the rodeo comes to town, bringing with it hundreds of vendors, thousands of spectators, and a whole lot of fun.
On the return trip home, we arrived at the airport and discovered our flight was delayed. Gradually, we made our way through a sea of cowboy hats to our gate. While CC read the newspaper and impatiently jiggled his boot-covered foot , I observed those milling around. As I watched cowboys pass by, some in a rush, others walking with a distinctive swagger, my ever-active imagination began to take over.
Since so many of the cowboys who compete professionally spend a good deal of time traveling, I began to wonder how many of them flew from one rodeo to the next. If they were flying, it seemed like a strong possibility that they might meet a girl at an airport who turned their head.
I began jotting down notes for a story idea and by the time we reached home, The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance, Book 1) was born.
The fifth book in the Rodeo Romance series, Chasing Christmas, released last week. Each book in this series features characters tied to the rodeo (a saddle bronc rider, a steer wrestler, a rodeo photographer, a stock contractor, a barrelman, and now a bullrider). All of them are sweet romances full of laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer (and cowboys, did I mention cowboys?).
But more than the fun stories and hunky cowboys, this series set me down the path of helping the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
While I was writing , I included a scene where the hero is hurt at a rodeo. I began to wonder exactly how much medical attention a cowboy could receive at a rodeo and how bad injuries would have to be before he was taken to the hospital.
I reached out to an amazing organization — the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. In 1980, two gentlemen developed the concept of a mobile sports medicine system that would provide medical support services to professional rodeo athletes. Today, the Justin Mobile Sportsmedicine Centers can be seen at arenas across the country. Rodeo athletes who are injured while competing are assured of receiving immediate and expert care through these centers.
The program director kindly (and patiently, so patiently) answered my many questions. Through him, I learned about a program called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
Rodeo athletes say it isn’t a matter of if they get hurt, but when. So when the inevitable happens and they sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent them from competing for an extended time (leaving them without a paycheck), the JCCF steps in and provides much-needed assistance.
After learning about the organization and impressed by how helpful and kind those I’d spoke with had been, I decided to donate to the cause.
This is the fourth year for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. Now through December 24, I donate ten percent of my book sale proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
So if you’re thinking about holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think about giving a book! You can find my releases in digital, paperback, and audio formats, including .
~ GIVEAWAY! ~
For a chance to win a digital copy of The Christmas Cowboy and Chasing Christmas, answer this question:
A few weeks ago when I received an invitation to join the fabulous Fillies here at Petticoats & Pistols, I had to read it three times before I could fully latch onto the fact that I was going to be a Filly!
From the first time these wonderful ladies asked me to be a guest on the blog, I’ve been so impressed with them and the great community they’ve built here. And now I get to be part of it! It’s hard to picture this lil’ ol’ farm girl getting to hang out here, but I’m sure excited to be counted among the Fillies.
Circa 1970-something… me with a fawn our neighbor rescued
I’ve possessed a love of books, reading, and creating stories for as long as I can remember. I also loved growing up on a farm where my dad let me tag after him all the time. (You can find a few of our adventures together in Farm Girl– humorous takes on true things that happened during my childhood.)
In fact, he kept a blanket, one of my baby dolls, storybooks, and a supply of candy in the swather so I could ride with him whenever it was hay-cutting time.
While I trailed Dad like a shadow, I learned about rural life, country living, cowboys, and heroes.
Much of what I saw, experienced, and lived during my formative years is woven into the threads of the sweet contemporary and historical stories I write. My 50th book just released last week, so I’ve had many opportunities to incorporate a variety of details from my background, but there’s one thing I keep circling my wagon around.
The heroes in my books are often rugged guys who can be a little rough around the edges, but they generally hold a healthy respect toward women and stick to an unspoken code of chivalry we may never know or decipher.
While some may think these types of men exist only in my fertile imagination, I know they are real. Honestly, they continually inspire me.
My own beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, is a great source of gallant deeds. Although he isn’t much of a talker, if I can get him to be serious for five minutes, he typically manages to say something that melts my heart. (But don’t tell him I shared that with you. I think that breaks rule #63 in the code.)
When I look for validation that the code is alive and well in others of the male species beyond Captain Cavedweller, I find it.
For example, I recently met a PRCA bull rider. He’d never seen me before. Didn’t know me from Adam’s off ox. In fact, he couldn’t be blamed if he was full of himself since he’s quite successful in his line of work. The opposite seemed true, though. When we were introduced, he quickly snatched off his hat, politely tipped his head, and called me “ma’am.” Respectful, kind, and genuine are words I could easily use to describe him. He couldn’t have been more mannerly if Miss Etiquette had been whispering in his ear.
In one of my contemporary romances, Learnin’ The Ropes, the bossy, crusty ranch foreman outlines what he believes to be the code all men should live by to the new greenhorn his boss hired.
The rules are as follows:
Once you give your word and a handshake, it’s as binding as signing a contract.
Never betray a trust.
Never lie, cheat or steal.
Treat all children, animals, and old folks like you want to be treated.
Call your elders sir and ma’am.
Treat women with respect and care.
Always tip your hat to a lady and take it off at the dinner table and in church.
Work hard and give your boss an honest day for your pay.
If someone needs a hand, lend yours to the task.
Respect the flag and our nation.
Be clean – both on the outside and inside of your person.
Never stop learning.
Never make fun of someone who gave it their best.
Never wear your spurs or dirty boots in the house.
Fight fair, be brave, and stand up for what’s right.
Despite what others might say, the Cowboy Code rides on. I’m so, so glad it does. I need those amazing heroes to counter the strong, independent, sassy women in the stories I write. A milksop hero just won’t do for them. Nope, not at all.
I think one of the reasons we love to read western romances is because the stories and characters are full of strength, hope, and love. My new release, set in the Wild West town of Pendleton, Oregon, during WWII, centers on the theme of hope.
In the story, (based on the famous Doolittle Raid… did you know 79 of the 80 men on the mission were based at Pendleton? I should probably provide ample warning that I love researching historical details for my stories!) our hero, Klayne, is convinced he’s going to die on a secret mission. Desperate to leave something, someone, behind, he talks a rancher’s daughter into marrying him, in name only, of course. Too bad Delaney has far different plans…
As a thank you for joining us today, I hope you’ll download a free copy of Heart of Clay, the very first romance I wrote.
Easy-going cowboy Clay Matthews is a respected college professor. He’s the man family and friends turn to for help, or when they need a good laugh. Life would be almost perfect if he could figure out the mysterious, mind-boggling woman who was his wife…