Tag: Pam Crooks

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS!

 

WOW! Twelve years! We’re almost a teenager. Exciting! 2007 seems like such a long time ago and yet, for me, it feels like it was only yesterday that I received an email from Pam Crooks one day in June. She asked me to embark on this wonderful journey with her and nine other authors.

My memory is a little fuzzy but if I recall in the email Pam outlined her vision of a website designed solely for western romance – both historical and contemporary—and devoted to promoting and talking about this genre. There were no sites out there like this.

Blogging itself was in the early stages and few were doing it. Hard to believe huh? It seems like the internet has always burst at the seams with these posts yet social media was just taking off.

Pam had to explain what a blog was. I felt like such a dummy! Totally clueless. I had never even seen a blog, even the word was foreign, but I did want to be in on this exciting adventure. We never expected to last long. Not one of us thought we’d be here TWELVE YEARS later.

I always wondered who gave Pam my name because I was an unknown back then. Hmmm.

Pam talks about forming in her own words: Long about May, 2007, Cheryl St.John and I got together over lunch and brainstormed the possibility of launching a site dedicated to western romance. Blogging was relatively new back then, and there wasn’t a site like we envisioned anywhere in the blogging world. We came up with a ton of ideas, more than we could even implement. We brainstormed names to call ourselves, discussed pages on the site, authors who might want to join us, possible guests to invite. Later, after a gazillion emails back and forth with our fellow western romance authors, the idea not only took off, but has proudly endured.

Here are the original group of Fillies:

  • Pam Crooks
  • Karen Kay
  • Charlene Sands
  • Cheryl St. John
  • Elizabeth Lane
  • Stacey Kane
  • Pat Potter
  • Geralyn Dawson
  • Lorraine Heath
  • Linda Broday

We became a family of sorts and a group of Fillies. 

We blogged twice a month back then which was pretty grueling. We were all so busy.

Charlene Sands kicked us off with her blog – Love Westerns? Welcome to the Club! I remember how scared I was. My fingers were shaking so bad that I kept hitting all the wrong keys in my comment and had to keep correcting the typos. I think it took about 45 minutes to type a three or four sentence comment! I kept erasing and starting over because there was that fear of sounding ignorant sitting in the back of my mind. So funny.

I didn’t know what I’d gotten into. It was terrifying. The thought hit me that if I couldn’t write a simple comment how was I going to write a blog post. Oh man!! Lots of sweating in those days. My main goal was not to look totally stupid. If I could manage that, I was happy.

My first post was Love Those Cowboys! It only consisted of two paragraphs. HaHaHa! But, I didn’t look back and eventually got the hang of it and they didn’t kick me out.

Now, here we are still going strong. How long will our run last? You, dear followers, will decide that. As long as you keep coming, we’ll keep writing blogs.

I know what they are now!!!!

What do we have planned next? Who knows. You’ll just have to stay tuned.

Tell me what you enjoy, what keeps you coming back, or tell me when you first learned of blogs and began following some, and I’ll put you in a drawing for one of three $10 Amazon gift cards.

It’s Yee-Haw Day!

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Karen Witemeyer

My brand new release is on an incredible sale until July 31.
Grab an e-copy of Zach and Abigail’s story for only $1.99 today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook

“Fans of Karen Witemeyer know that she excels at writing sweet, subtly sexy Western romances which are full of charm and joy. Her genuine, heartwarming stories never fail to bring a smile to my face and her latest book, More Than Words Can Say, completely met that expectation. . . fans of Inspirational romance will find a lot to love here, and I urge them to rush out and pick up a copy as soon as possible.”  ~All About Romance

Cheryl Pierson

Guess what, y’all! I just had a birthday yesterday! I know most people aren’t excited about getting older, but I am–even with all the aches and pains that come along with it. This is a big birthday for me–I’m 62! How many of us, when we were 16 years old and learning to drive a car, ever imagined that we would live to be as old as our grandparents were right then? LOL I sure didn’t. I couldn’t even THINK that far in the future–but now that I’m here, it doesn’t seem so old at all. 

The picture above left is me when I was 17, the end of my junior year of highschool–never dreaming I’d one day be old enough to collect my Social Security. Above right is a recent picture of me with my daughter, Jessica. She’ll be 33 this year, and she can’t imagine ever being 62, either. Growing older “ain’t” for sissies, but I’m glad to still be here, alive and kickin’! 

As a way to celebrate, I want to offer a digital giveaway of the Prairie Rose Publications boxed set UNDER A WESTERN SKY to two commenters who are interested in reading some excellent WHR stories!

I love this collection because it’s six books–full-length novels–by six different authors, all western historical romance! Just let me know if you’re interested and leave your e-mail info in your comment–I’ll be drawing two names! My story, FIRE EYES, is included, along with 5 other stories by Celia Yeary, Tracy Garrett, Kaye Spencer, Agnes Alexander, and Patti Sherry-Crews.

 

Y’all wish me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 

Linda Broday

I have a book trailer for LONGING FOR A COWBOY CHRISTMAS!

It comes out Sept. 24, 2019!

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  APPLE  |  Indiebound

 

Jeannie Watt

I just got the cover to my August Tule Publishing release, Her Cowboy Boss. Brodie and McKenna had last seen each other in high school when she was part of the social elite and he was the quiet ranch kid who liked to draw. Now she’s a single mom building a new life and he’s her boss on a cattle ranch. He’s interested in building a relationship, but McKenna is fighting ghosts from her past.

Her Cowboy Boss will be available for pre-order soon.

Ruth Logan Herne

Ruthy is celebrating being a finalist in the Maggie Awards for Excellence, sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers! Winners are announced at GRW’s wonderful Moonlight & Magnolias conference in October, but Ruthy is thrilled to be a finalist with her Amazon bestseller “At Home in Wishing Bridge”! Thank you, GRW!

Pam Crooks

Coming VERY soon!

Book 2 in the C Bar C Ranch Series

Kidnapped by the Cowboy

 

Callie Mae Lockett is betrayed by the man who claims he’s responsible for her young brother’s tragic death. She chooses another to help carry on her precious legacy, the C Bar C Ranch , and he’s the farthest thing from a cowboy she’s ever met.

TJ Grier has always been one of the C Bar C’s best cowboys, but one horrible night destroys all he’s ever known.

Desperate to prove his innocence, he steals Callie Mae away, and together they plunge into danger to solve the secret that has torn them apart.

Watch for it!

From ‘Digester’ to the Modern-Day Instant Pot!

In my new contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my hero’s (Beau) mother brings dinner out to the family’s ghost town resort under construction by my heroine (Ava). She made the meal, appropriately titled “Cowboy Stew” (recipe below) in a slow cooker, often called a Crockpot.

Now, I’d warrant all of you reading this has had a Crockpot at one time in your life. Maybe you still do. While the first slow cooker was actually invented in 1940, most of us will remember the Rival Crockpot, which was officially introduced in 1971 and quickly grew to be the RAGE. I got married in 1975, and you didn’t have a bridal shower (or a wedding) until you got a Rival Crockpot as a gift. We all did. In fact, I still have mine. A 4-

Rival Crockpot

quart, bright orange model. Works great to this day.

As my family grew, I graduated to a 6-quart model which I love, too. However, as most things go, even what’s been wildly popular will eventually lose its stardom for something new and exciting.

Enter the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot

Oh, be still my heart. I got mine for Christmas. A complete surprise cooked up (pardon the pun) by my daughters who thought I needed one. I admit to being quite intimidated by it at first. In fact, I didn’t even take it out of the box for a week. But once I did, and I accomplished the first step—boiling water, by the way—I was hooked.

Believe it or not, pressure cookers have been around a very long time.  The first one was

Digester

invented by a French physicist in 1679, which he called the digester. Yuck. But the name stuck for a couple of centuries, until it was replaced with ‘pressure cooker’ by the military who needed a way to make fast meals in camps, as well as other inventors working to improve canning and beef extract production.  

As the years rolled by, the pressure cooker became smaller, more user friendly, and made cooking and preserving food more economical. I’m quite sure no one expected the primitive digester to evolve into an Instant Pot that can make everything from hard-boiled eggs to yogurt so fun and easy!

Here’s the recipe for my Cowboy Stew. I’ve had this recipe for ages, and I’ve made it in my Rival Crockpot too many times to count. Beau and Ava enjoyed it, too!

Cowboy Stew

COWBOY STEW

4 medium potatoes, sliced

4 large carrots, sliced

1 green pepper, cut in strips

3 stalks celery, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced in rings

Arrange in Crockpot in layers, beginning with the potatoes. Salt and pepper each layer.

Pour 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce on top.

Mix well in a bowl:

1 lb. hamburger

½ cup milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 slice bread, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Press into circle over vegetables to form a cover. Pour another can of tomato sauce on top.  Sprinkle with ½ tsp. oregano leaves.

Cook until meat and vegetables are done. May be baked in 350 degree oven for one hour, or until vegetables are tender.

***** ***** ***** *****

Here’s my favorite Instant Pot recipe. Since IP recipes tend to be lengthy from the steps needed, I won’t type it all out, but I’ll give you the link from the food blog, Rachel Cooks. It’s DELICIOUS!

Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage, Spinach and Tomatoes

Have you ever used a pressure cooker? Do you have a slow cooker? Is it a RIVAL? How about an Instant Pot? Do you love it? Hate it? Share recipes!

Join in, and you’ll be eligible to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

 

Buy A COWBOY AND A PROMISE on Amazon!

 

A Luxury Resort–Was it Really a Ghost Town?

 

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. 

Um, yeah.

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?

Let’s chat!

 

 

Join in, and you might win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

 

                                                 

                     Available on Amazon                                                                Preorder on Amazon

                Amazon #1 New Release!

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE ~ Day 1

November 26 – 29

Pam Crooks

ONE MAGIC EVE

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.

#kindleunlimited

AMAZON

 

THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE

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.

#kindleunlimited

 AMAZON

I’m giving away a $10 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON!  Who can’t use one of those at Christmastime, eh?

***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***

That’s it! 

Linda Broday

 

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.

Other stories in this anthology:

Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood

A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley

A Chick-A-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner

A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt

A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas

AMAZON B&N  |  iBOOKS KOBO

I‘m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and a 2019 calendar I put together!

***Scroll down to the form below. Click the AMAZON link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***

Good Luck!

Shanna Hatfield

 

RACING CHRISTMAS

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?

AMAZON

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?

AMAZON

 

THE CHRISTMAS BARGAIN

One Old West Cinderella discovers

Prince Charming is a. . . Cowboy?

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.

AMAZON

That’s right. I’m joining the fun and giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***

Good Luck!

Jeannie Watt

 

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. 

AMAZON

Also consider the first book of the Men of the Marvell Ranch series — The Cowboy’s Last Rodeo

I‘m also giving away a $10 Amazon gift card!

***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***

Good Luck!

Winners will be verified and announced on Sunday, December 2nd.

Be sure to check back to see if you won!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Man, I’ve been BUSY!

 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
    AMAZON
  3. 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.
    AMAZON
  4. 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
    AMAZON
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. I uploaded THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE to Amazon. Third time, the novella went pretty smooth. Again, satisfying.  I love the book.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  8. Halloween rolled around. Time to plan our family’s annual Halloween Bash complete with costumes and Halloween-themed food. Can you say Guacamole Ghouls?
  9. My new grandson was born. Theodore Samuel is our 10th grandchild, and oh, my, we are so in love with this little boy-angel.
  10. 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!

    FACEBOOK

  11. 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!

A Lake, a Resort–and a Massacre!

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.

(Buy the book on Amazon.)

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?

A Prison for a Hero

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!

Click here to buy a copy for your Kindle!

Click here to buy a copy for your Nook!

So . . . have you ever visited a prison or jail before?  What were your impressions?

How do you feel about drug experiments on humans, incarcerated or otherwise?

Let’s talk!  I’ll draw a winner for a book of her choosing from my backlist!

Knee-Slappin’ Barbecue!

It all depends where you’re from.

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. 

Carolina Style:

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. 

Memphis Style:

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!

Texas Style:

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!

Updated: May 21, 2008 — 7:27 am