My first contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, will be released on January 24th by Tule Publishing. Yee-Haw!
I just loved writing this book! From the moment I envisioned Beau Paxton and Ava Howell in my mind, I fell in love with them. I used the classic ‘fish out of water’ storyline, and the words just flowed.
Ava has a degree in construction management and drives all the way from New York City to take on a ghost town renovation project to honor a promise she made to her friend, who had made a promise to Beau’s mother.
And of course, Beau doesn’t WANT his beloved ghost town renovated. He doesn’t want strangers on his family’s land, he doesn’t want to spend the money, he doesn’t want his grandfather’s legacy (the ghost town) touched or changed from the way he’s always known it, and how it’s been for decades.
Sparks fly, for sure.
I enjoyed the research, too. But even before I dug in with Google, I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as renovating a ghost town into a guest resort.
Indeed, there was.
Dunton Hot Springs is located near Telluride, Colorado. Dunton was first established in 1895 as a mining camp, and as was normal for mining communities springing up in less-than-ideal locations, once the mining peaked, the town died a slow death, eventually becoming deserted in 1918.
A pair of long-time residents bought the entire town and a few mining claims, operating the land as a cattle ranch, then a dude ranch for a number of years. Finally, in 1994, the current owners purchased the entire town and devoted seven years to renovating it into the luxury resort it is today.
Visitors can enjoy winter sport activities or bask in the captivating summer landscapes. They can go glamping in a camp of eight luxury tents, enjoy hot springs that steam in the winter and entice in the summer, or head to Telluride for a stay in the historic Dunton Town House. For the adventurous, or for those who just want to put their cell phones away and relax in the wilderness, Dunton promises a get-away not to be forgotten.
Rooms at the Town House rent from $350 – $500 per night. Cabin rates range from $1,200 to $2,020 per night.
From its website:
“Apart from the beautiful landscape, Dunton Hot Springs is also the number one all inclusive resort in the US according to TripAdvisor, and number 8 in the entire world. Each cabin is different, but shares some things in common. They are all immaculately decorated with elements that find that spectacular combination of rustic and luxury. Oh, and did we mention one cabin has a private hot spring all to itself?”
Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? Of course, luxury comes with a cost, and this resort taps into a clientele that is willing to pay the price.
What about you? Have you ever stayed at a luxury resort or hotel? Are you willing to splurge on lavish accommodations as part of your vacation? Can you justify the cost of an expensive room? Do you love a spa treatment? Massage? Is atmosphere an important part of your get-away? Do you prefer an outdoors vacation? Or an urban one with all the comforts of home?
Lonely Sonja Kaplan doesn’t want to spend another Christmas alone. While she has her secret government work to fill her days, she longs for a husband to fill her nights.
Chet Lattimer doesn’t know the first thing about being a father when the six-year-old son he didn’t realize he had bursts into his life. Worse, it’s Christmas, and there’s no one to help him celebrate except the mysterious woman the gossips call the Bird Lady.
But a little boy hungry for love helps them all find truth and peace, and together they revel in the magic of Christmas.
After Allethaire Gibson was kidnapped several years earlier in the wilds of Montana Territory, she tries hard to put her life back together in civilized Minnesota. She almost succeeds—until she’s framed for a crime she didn’t commit. With her reputation in shreds, she flees back to Montana to seek her father’s help in proving her innocence.
Mick Vasco never expects to see Allethaire again, but when he finds her in the middle of a train-robbery-in-progress, he has no choice but to kidnap her—again.
Together they race against time to find crucial answers. But during the blessed season of Christmas, they find wondrous gifts of forgiveness and love instead.
I’m giving away a $10 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON! Who can’t use one of those at Christmastime, eh?
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THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER
Alone in a blinding snowstorm, no shelter in sight, Hank Destry pushes in all his chips and comes up losing. Half-frozen and unable to go any farther, he falls from the saddle into a snowbank. On a return visit from a sick friend, Pretty Sidalee King’s path is blocked by a barking dog. The pet leads her to Hank. She digs him from the snow and manages to get him into her wagon and take him to her home on the Lone Star Ranch.
With no family of her own, she feels for the drifter’s plight. Could he be Miss Mamie’s lost son that she speaks of? And what are the rocks Miss Mamie gives as payment for kindnesses? Mystery and love abound this Christmas season as two lonely people receive an unexpected gift.
I‘m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and a 2019 calendar I put together!
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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?
Consider reading all the Rodeo Romance series, available on Amazon.
SLEIGH BELLS RING IN ROMANCE
You’re never too old to fall in love . . .
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?
The death of her mother left Philamena Booth grieving and at the mercy of her drunken father. After spending more than a decade held captive on their run-down farm, she’s left speechless when her father strikes a bargain to settle a long overdue debt. In lieu of payment, a handsome cowboy agrees to take Philamena. Mortified yet relieved to leave the farm, she finds herself married to the charismatic, caring man.
Luke Granger might own Hardman’s bank and the fanciest house in the Eastern Oregon town, but he’d much rather be outside riding his horses or wrangling his herd of cattle than keeping his account books straight. In a strange, unsettling turn of events, he finds himself accepting a farmer’s daughter instead of money to cover a loan. If the man hadn’t threatened to sell her to the saloon owner, Luke might have refused. He has no idea what to do with the beautiful Filly or their marriage of convenience, but he’s about to get far more than he bargained for.
That’s right. I’m joining the fun and giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card!
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Murphy Anderson is coming home for Christmas…
And as soon as she arrives, she’s putting the family ranch on the market. Her plan is to get in, get out, and head back to the city, where she belongs. Growing up on the hardscrabble property next door to the prosperous Marvell Ranch, and being constantly reminded of everything she didn’t have, left her with no love for ranching, or her handsome neighbors—especially Cody Marvell, who always rubbed her the wrong way. And maybe that’s why, when Cody shows an interest in the ranch, she hesitates to sell.
Cody Marvell has a way with people…unless that person is Murphy Anderson. Cody never understood what she was dealing with when they were younger. Murphy had a hard time while growing up, with no mom and a cold-hearted father. He made some mistakes, which he now regrets. He wants her ranch, and more than that, he wants her.
When a Christmas flood makes Murphy’s home uninhabitable, he invites her to stay at the Marvell Ranch. With the help of country Christmas magic, Cody hopes she’ll start to see him with new eyes.
No one ever said a successful author was lazy. No one ever said being a writer was easy, either. Since I last visited with y’all a month ago, I have learned (once again) truer words were never spoken.
For an author to succeed, she has to put herself out there. Take part in promotions and opportunities with her sister authors. She has to put time into social media, emails, writing groups. Marketing is a full time job, and in order to have something to market, you have to write it. And then there’s that crazy thing called LIFE that gets in the way.
Let me give you a peek into my month, in no particular order:
I’ve taken 3 classes – one on Pinterest and one on Google apps at one of the local colleges. I’ve also taken a month-long online class on Goodreads through KOD chapter.
I’ve re-formatted my historical western romance, WANTED! and uploaded it to Amazon as an ebook. It had been a few years since I’d done it, and it took a little refreshing. But the end result was very satisfying. #kindleunlimited
I’ve gotten deep into my latest work, another historical western romance entitled ELEANORA, which is Book #8 in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series I’m doing with a group of authors. The book will be released on January 1.
Once I got WANTED! up, I knew I had to get my Christmas novellas uploaded. It’s the time of year when the novellas are super popular. First came ONE MAGIC EVE. Since it was a novella, it went much faster. Since it was my second upload in a couple of weeks, and the process was still fresh in my mind, it went even faster. #kindleunlimited
Then I got this idea that the fillies should have a big promotion to celebrate our Christmas books. We hammered out the details, I came up with some festive memes, and the blogs are coming together. Stay tuned! We’re super excited for this one. November 26-29.
My husband was diagnosed with a detached retina, which meant not one but two urgent surgeries. Dang. It’s been an ordeal. He developed complications, and that meant extra trips to the pharmacy, the doctor’s office and me doing most of the chores he used to do because, darn it, the eye just wasn’t cooperating, and it HURT.
I uploaded THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE to Amazon. Third time, the novella went pretty smooth. Again, satisfying. I love the book. #kindleunlimited
Halloween rolled around. Time to plan our family’s annual Halloween Bash complete with costumes and Halloween-themed food. Can you say Guacamole Ghouls?
My new grandson was born. Theodore Samuel is our 10th grandchild, and oh, my, we are so in love with this little boy-angel.
I was honored to be asked by my sister filly, Shanna Hatfield, to help in her 5th Annual Cowboys and Christmas Facebook Party to raise funds for cowboys who have suffered catastrophic injuries. You think I’m busy? That girl is something—she’s super organized for a big project like this one, with lots of readers and authors and enthusiasm. There’ll be games, giveaways and FUN. That’s today—and I’m up at 3:20 this afternoon CT. Looking forward to that a whole bunch. PLEASE JOIN US! The party starts at Noon CT. Just click on the Facebook link!
Did I say I have to write ELEANORA? And time is ticking.
Ah, well. They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. I happen to be one of those people that thrive on deadlines. They make me focused and a little stressed (okay, A LOT stressed) but it all seems to get done.
That’s what I love about being a writer. Busy is good.
Tell me about your month. Have you been busy, too? Did anything unexpected happen to throw your month off kilter—like a detached retina or a new baby in the family?
Tell us about it, and you’ll be eligible to win your choice of ONE MAGIC EVE, THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE OR WANTED! ebook!
For those of us living in the Midwest, we are hopelessly landlocked. No oceans within easy reach for us. We do, however, have some breathtaking lakes, and among some of the most beautiful are in northeast Iowa–West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Spirit Lake in the Great Lakes Region.
This summer, my family–all 19 of us–had a memorable vacation in Okoboji. We stayed in Arnold’s Park, specifically Fillenwarth Beach. Honestly, if you have a chance to go there and stay for even a few days, GO! It’s the perfect family getaway.
While there, my husband and I went on a History Cruise, narrated by the widowed husband of Julie Fillenwarth, whose grandparents developed the resort in 1918. (Yes, this year is Fillenwarth Beach’s 100th birthday.) On the cruise, the narrator told of a museum within walking distance of the beach–an 1850s cabin that belonged to a family that had been massacred by Sioux Indians.
He explained how bitter cold winters forced bands of Sioux to find food and warmth. On March 8, 1857, they attacked pioneer settlers who were trying hard to survive, just like they were. In all, 33 settlers were killed and four females kidnapped, three of them married women and the youngest, a girl barely fourteen.
That girl was Abbie Gardner. After her family’s murder, she endured 84 days with the Sioux where she witnessed the murders of two of the women until finally, she was ransomed and freed. She married shortly thereafter at the (shockingly) young age of 14. Though she struggled with what we now know is PTSD, she went on to live a relatively happy life with her husband and three children. During that time, she wrote a book of her ordeal, The Spirit Lake Massacre and Captivity of Abbie Gardner. The book earned seven printings and Abbie enough money to return to Spirit Lake and buy back the cabin her father built. For many years, she worked at the cabin museum, selling her book and sharing her story.
I could not put this book down, it was so riveting.
There was even a movie made of her experience in 1927.
Abbie’s story reminded me of my newest book–without the massacre of course. My first contemporary western romance will be released in January, 2019, by Tule Publishing. Ava Howell comes to the Blackstone Ranch to develop a resort on the Paxton family’s ranch. The resort has a beautiful lake, too, and a hero, Beau Paxton, who resists her efforts but can’t fight the love that grows between them.
I’ll tell you more about Ava and Beau’s story as details are finalized. We’re working on the cover now–and Tule has some of the best! Can’t wait!
Until then, tell me about your favorite family vacations! Do they include a beach, too, like mine do?
I’ve always had a macabre fascination with prisons, and when I was formulating the story for HANNAH’S VOW, I knew I wanted a bad one for my hero. It took some digging, but with the help of a family friend who worked in a local university library, I found the perfect prison in which Quinn Landry would suffer.
You see, he shouldn’t have been in prison in the first place, but his older brother accused him of murder and did some conniving with the local law, and before Quinn could defend himself, he was whisked across Texas state lines and thrown into a notorious prison in New Mexico Territory.
This penitentiary was based on the Maine State Prison in the early 1830s. The convicts were housed in underground cells and sounded just awful. The dungeons were one story high with no way in or out except for a two feet square opening above them, secured with an iron grate. The convicts descended into the pits by a ladder, which was removed, of course, once they were down.
The pits were eight feet long, four feet wide, and nine feet high. Sometimes, the prisoner was in solitary, sometimes he shared the cell. There was no lighting, and at the bottom of the pit, only a small hole, one and a half inch in diameter, which allowed heated air in from the penitentiary’s furnace. No privies, either, but a tub was provided at night so they could do their business.
During the day, the convicts toiled in workshops as blacksmiths, wagon-makers, shoe-makers, wood-cutters and tailors. Some of the hardest criminals worked in a stone quarry. The female prisoners spent their time in wash-houses under the strict eye of a female officer.
In reality, this particular penitentiary sold the fruits of the convicts’ labors at full market price, and convicts were fed well. Their daily rations of beef or pork, bread, potatoes, and mush and molasses (breakfast) were surprisingly generous, as was their allowance for tobacco. They were allowed visitors and attended religious services on Sunday afternoons. For their care, the prisoners rarely died and hardly got sick.
But in fiction, Quinn had it much worse. He lives for revenge. It’s the only thing keeping him alive. When he learns of drug experiments on the prisoners, he knows he could die next. To right the wrongs dealt against him, he must risk his life and escape. And Hannah, of course, is there as his very unwilling ticket to freedom.
Drug experiments on the incarcerated is not a new practice, and there are distinct advantages, if you will. In modern times, the inmates are in a controlled environment, are available and usually healthy. In addition, they have a choice whether to volunteer. They’re informed and often paid for their trouble. The reasons they volunteer are varied, and while that could be fodder for a whole ‘nother blog, suffice to say, Quinn didn’t have a choice. 🙂 And doesn’t that make for much more interesting reading–especially when Hannah is there to stir up a little romance between them?
HANNAH’S VOW is now available as an e-book, and for a limited time, only 99 cents!
With Memorial Day coming up in a few days, and May being National Barbecue Month, folks all over the country are going to be firing up their grills, smokers and ovens, stirring their spices and mixing their sauces for that first big weekend to kick off summer.
Barbecue will be the name of the game.
How you do the meat will reflect which region you live in.Barbecue experts have narrowed these regions down to four distinct ‘cue styles.
Dates back to colonial times.Wild pigs were plentiful, and most folks were missing their teeth, so they cooked those hogs over a wood fire to get them good and tender–and easier to chew.Meat was pulled right off the bone; hence, the term ‘pulled pork.’Popular seasonings include a thin vinegar sauce, salt, pepper and flakes of red dried chili pepper.
Known for its dry rub seasonings.Barbecue sauce is served on the side.Pork ribs are rubbed with a mixture of salt, pepper and paprika, and depending on taste, onion power, garlic powder, sugar, mustard, sage and ginger are added. The sauce–tomato-based and thick, with mustard, brown sugar and vinegar.
Memphis lays claim to the famous Rendezvous restaurant, located in a basement and accessible via a dumpster-filled alley.
Kansas City Style:
Now, this is my kind of ‘cue.Sweet, sour and spicy. Tomato-based, too. Cooks will usually brush the sauce over the meat just before it comes off the grill.The meat is cooked over a slow-burning fire of hickory and oak wood chips for that sweet-smoky flavor. Be sure to have plenty of napkins near-by!
When you think of Texas, do you think of beef brisket?Or maybe pork ribs.Either way, the meat is rubbed with blended salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, then grilled slowly over a wood fire, often of mesquite.Texas seasonings tend to be hotter, spicier.Not so sweet and sour as the Kansas City style, and with more Worcestershire sauce.
Here’s a couple of easy barbecue sauce recipes:
1 part of Heinz 57 sauce
1 part honey
Blend. Make as much or as little as you like!
My favorite fast food sandwich place is Arby’s, and their barbecue sauce is the best. Here’s a recipe:
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Tabasco pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil, about 5 – 10 minutes. Let cool. Store in covered container in refrigerator.
Being in a ‘cue frame of mind, and in um, research for this blog, Doug and I went out to eat at an Omaha icon known for its barbecue–The Smoke Pit. I visited with the wife of the owner, who first met her husband when she went to work at the restaurant. Thirty-two years later, she’s still cooking for him and their customers, six days a week. They cook their meat in big smoker ovens and are known for their trademark ribs. I ordered chicken, and the meat literally falls off the bone. She makes their barbecue sauce, which I found thinner and sweeter than most.
So, do tell. What are you doing this Memorial Weekend? Serving barbecue? What’s your favorite? Any stories to share? Any recipes?
Let us know, and I’ll draw one lucky name who will win a bottle of barbecue sauce from Omaha’s own The Smoke Pit!