Tag: Prairie Rose Publications

THERE’S A NEW BOOK A COMIN’

A Kiss to Remember

On July 28—that’s only three days from now—A Kiss to Remember will release. It’s an anthology of five books by authors we know and (hopefully) love to read.

Her Sanctuary

 

Her Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible

 

 

Gabriels-Law-Web

 

 

 

Gabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

 

Outlaw Heart

 

Outlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

 

 

 

 

The Dumont Way

The Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

 

 

 

 

YESTERDAYS FLAME PRP WebYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

 

 

 

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this anthology with such amazing talents. So thrilled, I’m giving away one electronic (mobi) copy! All you have to do to enter is tell me why you love western historical romance in a comment (include your email address) and I’ll pick a winner tomorrow (July 26).

 

THINGS ABOUT ME YOU DIDN’T KNOW! by Cheryl Pierson

Cheryl2041webI suppose everyone is “strange” in their own weird ways, aren’t they? But I was definitely “the one” in my family! We all have a tendency to be “the oddball” or “the black sheep” or the one who is somewhat “different” in one way or another. So instead of just naming 10 things you might not know about me, I thought I’d talk about this phenomena of being “the weird one” in the family.

First of all, I was a mistake. Yep, my sisters were 10 and 12 when I was born—so I was definitely a “bonus baby”—and one my poor parents weren’t sure of what to do with. Picture this: Mom and Dad were both born in a very tiny town in Oklahoma in 1922. They had a graduating class of 12 seniors. They were highschool sweethearts, married, and made it all the way through the 1950’s with two daughters (my sisters) who were well…typical 1950’s adolescents. Smooth sailing!

MOM AND DADScans 009

But…I came along in 1957 and grew up in the 60’s and 70’s—enough said. So another weird fact about me is that my parents gave me the oddest name in our entire family. I’ve mentioned this before, so if you know this already, just skip on down to the next segment. My name is Cheryl. But it’s pronounced CHAIR-yl, not SHARE-yl. I’m sure my parents thought they were just being different…but that’s the point. I’ve spent part of my early lifetime correcting people and finally—I just gave up. But it still feels weird when someone calls me SHARE-yl. And as if that weren’t enough? My dad decided to name me “KATHLYN” – not Kathleen, not Kathryn. I will be 59 this month, and in my entire life, I’ve met 2 other women named Kathlyn and 2 others named CHAIR-yl rather than SHARE-yl. That’s not a lot, but at least I know I’m not alone. And I named my daughter Jessica…no complications there.

Cheryl and Aunt Emogene 1964

Growing up, I was lucky enough (or not, depending on how you look at it!) to be accepted as a student by a very perfectionistic, meticulous piano teacher. So one surprising fact about me is that I’m a classically trained pianist. This is doubly surprising considering the small Oklahoma town I grew up in!

Here I am at age 6, goofing around with my Aunt Emogene who was a self-taught pianist and could make that keyboard ring.

The next strange or surprising thing about me is that I actually achieved the dream of becoming a writer—something I’d wanted to do since I could hold a pen. In fact, I was the “problem child” who got in trouble for writing in my books—not drawing—but adding my own text. (Never mind that it didn’t make sense—it was a hodgepodge of letters that didn’t make words, but to me, what I was doing was really important!) From THE COLOR KITTENS to FIRE EYES!

THE COLOR KITTENS--LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK

PRPFire Eyes 2 web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another thing that is “strange” was how I met my husband. My father worked in the oilfields, and the summer before I started my senior year in high school in Seminole, OK, he was transferred to Charleston, West Virginia. Yep. I had to leave all my friends that I’d gone to school with since first grade! I graduated from Winfield, WV, and started college. There, I met my “older man”—a Vietnam vet with an ex-wife and two kids. He had just gotten a job with the Federal Aviation Administration, who had their main training facility in…OKLAHOMA CITY! So after a few years of marriage, I got to come back to Oklahoma when my hubby took a job at the FAA Academy, and we’ve been here ever since.

OKLAHOMA MAP-DETAILED

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another little known fact is that I am able to drive a stick shift. We are the last of a dying breed! AND I learned to do it in West Virginia—which is in the Appalachians and full of curvy roads, twist, turns, and…did I mention NARROW lanes? I learned on our little Capri—a car I still love with all my heart and am so sorry that we had to trade in on something else. I found this picture on the internet–this is the exact copy of the car we had back in ’76!

Mercury Capri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocking Chair Reader Memories From the AtticDid you know (I bet you didn’t!) that I started my published writing career as a short story author for Chicken Soup, Rocking Chair Reader, and also a feature writer for our local newspaper? I had been working on the “great American novel” for quite a while, but I had to “break in” somehow—and this was it. Here’s a picture of the first anthology I ever had a story published in. It was called PENNY MEMORIES. What a thrill!

 

 

 

Prairie_Rose_Pub_Logo_1Lg 1

Probably the thing that surprised even me was going into the publishing business. Livia Reasoner and I started Prairie Rose Publications a scant three years ago. We now have expanded to six imprints and I have loved every minute of it! Helping other authors realize their dream of publication has been a thrill I never could have imagined—and now, it’s a reality.

 

 

And last but not least, another strange or surprising fact about me is that in recent years I have become an animal rights activist. Oh, no—not that kind that sprays spray paint on people wearing fur coats and that kind of thing—but I started out by sharing shelter animals that needed homes on Facebook. This might seem like a small thing, but guess what? I matched up at least six homeless animals with their “forever” homes just by sharing! What a great feeling. As time has gone by, I try to share petitions to stop animal cruelty as well as the shelter animals that are running out of time. It’s easy. It’s free. And it really does work. I’ve learned that every small thing we do toward keeping animals safe and loved all adds up in “the big picture.” Here’s a picture of my own rescue dog, Embry, when he was a puppy 7 years ago. He’s now a 200 pound bundle of love!

Embry as a puppy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that does it for me. Thanks so much for stopping by today!

A HEART ON HOLD BY SARA BARNARD–AND A GIVEAWAY!

SARA Author Photo

What makes us write what we write? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you why I penned my debut novel, A Heart on Hold.

I wrote A Heart on Hold for two reasons. One: I really wanted to read it. Two: I had to go get lots of stuff off my chest and it’s hard to afford therapy on a sergeant’s salary. (That was a tongue in cheek joke, by the way.)

My husband was deployed to Afghanistan and I was home by myself with three children under five – one a preemie and just six weeks old. We moved to my hometown, Odessa, Texas, to be near my folks and lucked into renting a house right around the corner from them. However, that didn’t ward off the bad juju to come.

I wish I could say pining away at home for a serviceman was romantic, but if I did, I would be lying. It was stressful, strained our marriage, and put a hurting on our already fragile finances. In the off chance he was able to call, he was a different person – an angry person. Then, Flu-B swept our household, hitting everyone except the newborn. We recovered, only to be struck down with the dreaded H1N1 Flu virus. I honestly wasn’t sure if we were coming out of that one or not. But once again, everyone recovered and lived to tell the proverbial tale.

My husband’s tales from the battlefield were enough to curdle my blood and keep me up at night, on my knees, asking God to keep him safe. His stories, coupled with the ever-present grim news reports, saw me begin to lose weight at an astronomical speed. I figured stress was the culprit. Boy was I wrong.

My thyroid gland was dying and kicking up a fuss, so it had to come out. All of it, right away, and hopefully it wasn’t cancer. Well, the docs piddled and pondered over this all through my husband’s mid-tour leave. Then, once he was safely back in Afghanistan, they decided to schedule a date to operate. The Army didn’t let him come home.

These tales are just a few that are woven through the pages of A Heart on Hold, set against the backdrop of one woman’s undying love for her soldier, no matter what the situation back home brings.

War isn’t romantic, but love can be the silk thread that holds the broken hearts and shattered spirits together that follows in war’s wake. I hope you read A Heart on Hold. I hope you fall in love with Charlotte and Sanderson and Minerva and Jackson. I hope you find kernels of truth that you can take with you in your life. The human spirit is resilient and can bounce back from many pains. Charlotte did. So did I.

Have you ever wondered if you’d survive something?  Did your love–or someone else’s–sustain you? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A HEART ON HOLD.

SARA A Heart on Hold SBarnard 2 Web (1)

What’s A HEART ON HOLD about? It’s the first of a 4-book series to be re-issued with Prairie Rose Publications. Book 2, A HEART BROKEN, will be out in June, and I can hardly wait to see these stories “out there” again. They mean so much to me! Here’s the blurb from A HEART ON HOLD:

How long can a heart hold on before it breaks?

Charlotte Adamsland is separated from her husband, Sanderson Redding, the day after their marriage. A captain in the Confederate Army, Sanderson must return to his unit, leaving Charlotte alone on their Arkansas homestead to fend for herself. Yankees camp around the town of Altrose, bringing their own kind of lawless danger. And then, one dark day, a Southern soldier arrives with terrible news…Sanderson has been killed trying to escape a Yankee prison.

Sanderson has found salvation and hell in a single turn of events he could never have imagined—his much-younger brother, Jackson, is his Yankee guard. When Jackson’s cruel commanding officer learns of the brothers’ family ties, he devises a wicked plan to see them both dead. Jackson is determined to get his brother to safety—but a last-minute betrayal by another prisoner could be the death of both brothers.

Charlotte can’t accept the news of Sanderson’s death—he promised to come back to her. She heads north armed with only her faith in God and her beloved horse to bring her love home—one way or the other. Will she be able to rescue him? Or will her love remained locked forever in A HEART ON HOLD…

 

And here’s an excerpt from A HEART ON HOLD to whet your appetite!

“I had a more romantic howdy planned for you, my dear,” Sanderson said.

His words sounded far away in her sleep-heavy ears as she struggled to wake up.

“I suppose I fell asleep,” Charlotte mumbled. A cold knot formed in her stomach as she realized she had tilted over from her sitting position when she dozed off, allowing her head to land smack dab on Sanderson’s chest. His hand was still stroking her hair.

“Just like Uncle Jake,” Sanderson mused. “It must be nice to be able to sleep wherever your head winds up.”

“Well, it’s about time you woke up,” Charlotte teased sleepily. Although worry strained her voice, she flashed him a smile. “Your color’s coming back, too. Rest and sunshine are good medicine.”

The sunlight streamed in through the holes worn in the transparent linsey-woolsey curtain that she’d tacked up over the precious glass window. The small, muted rays appeared to have shone life back into Sanderson.

“What happened?” he asked as his fingers traced the curve of her face.

He gave Charlotte his full attention as his hand meandered from her face to the back of her neck. As it nestled in her hair, Charlotte felt a rash of goose bumps crop up under his flesh and spread up her neck. A blush colored her face, but wasn’t rightly sure as to why.

It’s just Sanderson.

His free hand found hers atop the quilt. He fingered the delicate golden ring on her finger and smiled that impish smile, revealing the dimples that made the girls in town turn their heads just to watch him pass.

Just the most beautiful, astounding man to ever grace the earth with his footsteps.

Charlotte’s voice came out a bit shaky. “It…ah—seems that you were so happy to see me when you arrived that you fainted dead away and slept for two straight days before you could even kiss me hello.”

Sanderson pushed himself up in Charlotte’s bed. “We shall have to remedy that then, won’t we?” Grinning, he leaned forward and swept her into his arms, cradling her in his lap. “I’ve missed you, my darling Charlotte.”

She closed her eyes and let her senses soak up this moment. Sanderson’s warm breath was moist on her lips and his skin, though roughened by Army life, felt like sunshine wrapped in silk as it brushed against hers.

His kiss fell upon her. His fingers combed through her hair as her arms tightened around his neck.

Charlotte’s tell-tale heartbeat quickened to a gallop in her chest as Sanderson’s hand trailed the length of her tresses coming to rest over her pounding heart. Unable to stay contained within the sumptuous arms of her love, she kissed Sanderson with such carefree enthusiasm that the moment escalated before either of them could escape the other’s grasp. Sanderson’s tender kisses found her neck as Charlotte clasped his muscular biceps, her breath raspy and jagged.

“I love you,” Charlotte whispered, her quiet voice cracking.

Thanks for stopping by today and visiting! For more of my stories and “about me”, I can be found here:

www.sarabarnardbooks.com

http://www.prairierosepublications.com

www.facebook.com/sarabarnardbooks

 

If you just can’t wait to see if you won, A HEART ON HOLD can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online bookstores in both print and digital formats.

Here’s the Amazon Kindle link:

http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Hold-Everlasting-Book-ebook/dp/B01DOQC9GE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp%3Bamp%3Bamp%3Bamp%3Bqid=1462078443&amp%3Bamp%3Bamp%3Bamp%3Bsr=8-1&amp%3Bamp%3Bamp%3Btag=pettpist-20

 

ODD VINTAGE VALENTINE’S DAY CARDS AND GIVEAWAY!–by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041web

Hi everyone! Well, I’m a day late for Valentine’s Day, but I wanted to show you some strange vintage Valentine’s Day cards since I did this for Easter and for Christmas. I was excited to try to find some “different” Valentine’s Day greetings as well, but oddly enough, didn’t have as much luck as with the Easter and Christmas holidays. But there are some really interesting cards here from “back in the day”, even if they’re not as strange as the Easter ones were (those took the cake)–so let’s take a look!

VINTAGE VALENTINE--Flaming heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an odd one–two cupids setting this heart aflame! I suppose it was “burning” with desire…still, a little freaky, since there is no explanation or verse.

VINTAGE VALENTINE-PUMPKIN

 

 

 

 

 

OK, here we have Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater professing his love to the lady in the pumpkin…I wonder if these people just wrote a verse that rhymed and then painted the picture to go with it?

VINTAGE VALENTINE--STUPID RHYME

 

 

 

 

 

But just when you think you have it figured out, there comes along a Valentine like this one, that doesn’t even pretend to rhyme or use the right number of syllables.

VINTAGE VALENTINE-day-clip-art-couple-smoking1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, the smoking couple, in love. Evidently, this was a “thing” around the turn of the century, and maybe even before, because my grandparents’ engagement picture was styled like this–with my grandfather’s cigar (drawn onto the photo) swirling smoke rings into the air, and my grandmother’s picture inside one of those smoke rings at the top of the picture.

VINTAGE VALENTINE victorian_broken_heart_

This is an odd one. Not sure what the inside sentiment is, but the picture is pretty off-putting. Who would buy this stuff?

vintage_valentines_day_victorian couple on the moon

OK, much better. I love these old fanciful scenes like this–much more romantic, and it lets your imagination take flight–which is what Valentine’s Day should do, right?

vintage valentine-card-kissing-couple-SPOONTIME

Here’s another one I just love–“one long Spoontime, Dearie!”

VINTAGE VALENTINE KITTEN

And last but not least, this dear little kitten…I’m not sure what he intends to do with the paintbrush, but I’m sure it’s something loving. After all, this IS for Valentine’s Day!

I hope you all enjoyed this look at some of the cards of the past, and that everyone enjoyed their Valentine’s Day yesterday!

What was the best Valentine’s Day you ever had, and why? Leave your comment and contact information for a chance to win my giveaway today!

Hearts and Spurs Med

I want to give away TWO copies of HEARTS AND SPURS, a wonderful Prairie Rose Publications anthology that was our first Valentine’s Day anthology back in 2014–but rest assured, these stories are wonderful ANY time of the year. If you just can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the Amazon link — and this book is on sale for a limited time for only .99! (Also availabe in print!)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HU5SCYE?tag=pettpist-20

Bread Pudding: From Frugal to Fancy (and a recipe)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Many dishes that are prides of the American table today once were ways to avoid wasting food. Shipping of all but basic staples didn’t begin until the latter half of the 19th century; perishables weren’t shipped at all until refrigerated containers, or “reefers,” were invented in 1869. Even then, perishable cargo could be carried only a few miles before the ice melted.

The first successful long-distance reefer transport occurred in the early 1880s. The first grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916.

Happy Cowboy ChristmasConsequently, settlers on the American frontier and American Indians used every part of the animals and plants they grew or gathered in order to avoid starvation. Frontier and farming families stewed poultry necks, tails, and wings because the meat and bones offered precious protein. Slaves in the American south prepared animal innards like chitterlings (intestines) and vegetable leavings like potato skins in a variety of ways because their masters considered those things offal. Anyone who has visited a restaurant in the past twenty years recognizes chicken wings and potato skins as trendy appetizers. At “soul food” eateries, chitlins are standard fare. (Yes, I have eaten them. No, I won’t do so again.)

Because carbohydrates offer a quick source of energy, bread, too, was a precious commodity. Many frontier families baked with cornmeal or corn flour. The latter was obtained by repeatedly pouring cornmeal from burlap sack to burlap sack and shaking loose the fine powder left clinging to the bags. Bread made with wheat flour was a treat…even though merchants in frontier towns often “extended” wheat flour by adding plaster dust. Frontier families might make a multi-day journey into town for supplies once or twice a year.

savory bread pudding

savory bread pudding

Since the early 11th century, “po’ folks” have turned stale bread into bread pudding in order to use every last ounce of food they could scrounge. Originally, the concoction was a savory main dish containing bread, water, and suet. Scraps of meat and vegetables might be added if the cook had those on hand.

What we think of as bread pudding today came into its own in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Creative cooks turned the dish into a dessert by combining stale bread with eggs, milk, spices, and a sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar. Some also included bits of fruit, berries, and/or nuts.

My family and friends talk me into baking bread pudding each Christmas, and sometimes for other special occasions during the rest of the year. They don’t have to do much arm-twisting, because the rich dessert is easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and delicious.

bread pudding dessert

bread pudding dessert

One thing to know about bread pudding: Making it “wrong” is darn nigh impossible. Any kind of bread can be used, including sweet breads like donuts and croissants. Likewise, spices are left to the cook’s imagination, fruits and nuts are optional, and sauces are a matter of “pour something over the top.”

Through years of trial and error, I’ve created a recipe that works for me. Have fun experimenting with the basics (bread, milk, butter, and eggs) until you come up with one that works for you. I prefer mine fairly plain, but you may want to add or top with raisins (a New Orleans classic), chocolate, bananas, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, rum sauce, caramel sauce, powdered-sugar drizzle, or almost anything else you can imagine.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
(can be doubled for a crowd)

Pudding
(makes 10-12 servings)

3 large eggs
1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
¼ cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1 16oz. loaf stale French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes

Heat oven to 325.

Stir together eggs, cream, granulated and brown sugars, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Place bread cubes into a lightly buttered 13×9-inch pan.

Heat milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until butter is melted. Do not boil.

Stir ¼ cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture. When well-combined, slowly add remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. For a fluffier pudding, lightly press bread into egg mixture so all bread cubes are coated with the liquid. For a dense pudding, allow the pan to sit for 20 mins. before baking.

Bake for 45-55 mins., until top is browned and no liquid is visible around the edges. (The center will look soft. Don’t bother with the toothpick test—it won’t tell you anything.)

Allow pudding to stand for 20-30 mins. Top with bourbon sauce and serve.

Bourbon Sauce
(This will knock folks across the room, so be careful how much you pour on each pudding serving. 2 tsp. vanilla or other extract may be substituted for bourbon, if desired.)

1 cup heavy cream
½ Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.

Whisk together corn starch and water, then add the mixture to the cream, whisking constantly.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Whisk and simmer until thickened, taking care not to scorch the cream on the bottom.

Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add more sugar and/or bourbon to taste.

Ladle sauce over each serving of warm-from-the-oven or room-temperature pudding.

Serve and enjoy!

 

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALBread pudding wouldn’t be on the menu in the dingy cafe on the wrong side of Fort Worth where the heroine in my latest story works. The job is a big step down from her previous life as a pampered socialite. “A Long Way from St. Louis” appears with stories from seven other authors—including filly sisters Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—in Prairie Rose Publications’ new holiday anthology, A Mail-Order Christmas Bride.

A Long Way from St. Louis
Cast out by St. Louis society after her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger when she discovers the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.

Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.

When the debutante and the back-alley brawler collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.

Here’s an excerpt:

If the lazy beast lounging on a bench beside the depot’s doors were any indication, the west was neither wooly nor wild. As a porter took her hand to assist her from the railway car, Elizabeth Adair stared. The cowboy’s worn boots crossed at the ends of denim-clad legs slung way out in front of him. Chin resting on his chest, hat covering his face, the man presented the perfect picture of indolence.

Surely her husband-to-be employed a more industrious type of Texan.

Her gaze fixed on the cowboy’s peculiar hat. A broad brim surrounded a crown with a dent carved down the center. Sweat stains decorated the buff-colored felt. Splotches of drying mud decorated the rest of him.

Lazy and slovenly.

Pellets of ice sprinkled from the gray sky, melting the instant they touched her traveling cloak. Already she shivered. Another few minutes in this horrid weather, and the garment would be soaked through.

The porter raised his voice over the din of the bustling crowd. “Miss, let’s get you inside before you take a chill. I’ll bring your trunks right away.”

Taking her by the elbow, he hastened toward doors fitted with dozens of glass panes. Ragtag children darted among the passengers hurrying for shelter. Without overcoats, the urchins must be freezing.

She glanced around the platform. Where was her groom? She had assumed a wealthy rancher would meet his fiancée upon her arrival. Perhaps he waited within the depot’s presumed warmth. Her hope for a smattering of sophistication dwindled, but a woman in her circumstances could ill afford to be picky.

A group of ragamuffins gathered around the cowboy. As the porter hustled her past, the Texan reached into his sheepskin jacket and withdrew a handful of peppermint sticks. A whiff of the candy’s scent evoked the memory of a young man she once knew—a ne’er-do-well removed from St. Louis at her father’s insistence, and none too soon.

After depositing her beside a potbellied stove, the porter disappeared into the multitude. The tang of wood smoke drifted around her, so much more pleasant than the oily stench of coal. Peering through the throng, she slipped her hands from her muff and allowed the hand-warmer to settle against her waist on its long chain. She’d best reserve the accessory for special occasions. Judging by the people milling about the room, she doubted she’d find Persian lamb in Fort Worth unless she stooped to ordering from a mail-order catalog.

Mail-order. At least the marriage contract removed her from the whispered speculation, the piteous glances.

The shame heaped upon her by the parents she’d tried so hard to please.

Elizabeth put her back to the frigid gusts that swept in every time the doors opened, extending gloved palms toward the warmth cast by the stove.

Heavy steps tromped up behind her. Peppermint tickled her nose.

“Bets?”

A gasp leapt down her throat, colliding with her heart’s upward surge. Her palm flew to the base of her collar. Bets? Deep and smooth, the voice triggered a ten-year-old memory: If ye were aulder, little girl, I’d teach ye more than how to kiss.

She whirled to find the lazy cowboy, his stained hat dangling from one hand. Her gaze rose to a face weathered by the elements, but the blue eyes, the crooked nose…

Brendan Sheppard.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert? I’ll give an ebook copy of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

COULD YOU BE A MAIL-ORDER BRIDE? by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041web

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been enthralled by mail-order brides. No, I’ve not been “studying” them, or “researching” them—yet. I’ve just been wondering why this became such a practice—and a successful one—among women of all walks of life, or so it seems.

What would make a woman leave everything familiar to her and travel to “parts unknown” to marry a man she knew nothing about? What’s scarier than online dating? Being a mail-order bride! Once they’d made the commitment to leave their homes behind—much to the consternation of many family members and friends, in some cases, I would imagine—the die was cast.

A woman would have to be certain in her own mind that what she was going to was better than what she was leaving behind. She would have to be resourceful enough to plan some kind of “exit strategy” if things didn’t work out. And I suppose, many times, women resigned themselves to the fact that they would become a soiled dove—the lowest of the low—in order to survive.

In spite of all the scenarios we might come up with for a mail-order bride to leave the life she has known behind her for something completely foreign to her, there are, I’m sure, many that we never could have even contemplated. For each story is personal, intimate, and heart-rending in its own right.

ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN

One of the most unusual books about mail-order brides is Jim Fergus’s story, ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN—which is not about “mail-order brides” as we think of them, but in a totally different way—a trade by the U.S. Government of 1000 white women to the Indians in order to achieve assimilation into white culture. Interestingly enough, this premise WAS discussed in reality, but not carried through. In the book, however, Fergus shows how the government emptied insane asylums of women and sent them to the Indians…only most of the women were not insane, but had been “put away” by their families for one thing or another.

 

http://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-White-Women-Journals-ebook/dp/B0042XA3OE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449972664&sr=8-1

 

Would you have what it takes to be a mail-order bride in the old west? I’m not sure I would, but it’s fun to think about.

Mail Order Christmas Bride

This is a collection of Christmas mail-order bride stories that Prairie Rose Publications just released with some wonderful tales of how some women with pasts they needed to leave behind find new beginnings at the most joyous time of the year. These eight stories by Livia J. Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Cheryl Pierson, Patti Sherry-Crews, Jesse J Elliot, Meg Mims, Tanya Hanson, and Jacquie Rogers will provide you many hours of reading pleasure during this holiday season!

 

Here’s the blurb, with a teaser for each story.

 

What could be better this holiday season than a warm fire, a cozy chair and a heartwarming collection of mail-order bride Christmas stories? A MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE includes eight wonderful reads by some of your favorite authors.

Livia J Washburn kicks off the anthology with her story, KISSING UNTIL CHRISTMAS, about a mail-order bride who isn’t exactly what she seems—but her unwilling groom hides a dangerous secret of his own.

It’s A LONG WAY FROM ST. LOUIS in Kathleen Rice Adams’ story, but can a handsome Irish alley-brawler and a former debutante rekindle their romance from a decade earlier, now that circumstances have changed?

Ella’s cryptic letter brings her husband’s brother, Caleb, home for Christmas in STORE-BOUGHT ORNAMENTS by Patti Sherry-Crews. Can they finally claim the love they’ve been denied for so long?

Secrets and surprises are in store when families meddle with a beautiful single mother and an outlaw-turned-respectable in Tanya Hanson’s story. Phoebe Pierce may have too many secrets of her own to keep HER HOLIDAY HUSBAND…

An earthquake lands a young woman backward in time in her great-great aunt’s southwestern home. Jesse J Elliot’s story of a TIMELESS love that will prevail, no matter what century, is one you won’t forget!

In this tale by Meg Mims, will it be true love or a HOLIDAY HOAX for these mail-order brides who are traveling together? When they “switch” grooms in Holliday, Nebraska, will things work out for the best, or will they end up ruining their futures?

Hec Murdock orders up two brides for himself and his brother, Zeke. But somehow, he neglects to let Zeke know what he’s done. I HEARD THE BRIDES ON CHRISTMAS DAY is classic Jacquie Rogers-style fun with a humorous, heartwarming ending!

Can a jaded lawman from Indian Territory and a debutante on the run manage to find their own “happily-ever-after” in A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE? Cheryl Pierson’s tale pits a young woman against a monster, with only one man to protect her—a U.S. Deputy Marshal—who stands to lose his heart—or his life.

Prairie Rose Publications is proud to bring you another wonderful collection of Christmas tales for your reading pleasure! A MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE is sure to bring you hours of enjoyment

I’m giving away a copy of A MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE to one commenter! The question is, would you leave your familiar surroundings and go west to be a mail-order bride? Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment!

 

Thanks for stopping by today! Drawing will be held after 9:00 p.m. Central Time. If you just can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the Amazon link!

http://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Christmas-Bride-Livia-Washburn-ebook/dp/B0182FEYU6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449972596&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Mail+Order+Christmas+Bride

 

THAT’S SUCH A CLICHE! by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041webClichés are the bane of a writer’s existence. (I think I just used a cliché!) They’re so easy to fall back on because we’ve heard them all of our lives and they’ve become a part of our speech patterns—so, of course, when we write, they invade our work there, as well.

I really didn’t notice how often clichés appeared in the books I read until I wrote my own book, and my editor sent me a very nice note telling me I needed to go through and remove the clichés and find a different way of wording some of the passages…I had never seen so much red ink in my life!

 

(Here’s my first iteration of Fire Eyes–the one I had to take all the clichés out of!)

FireEyes_w2475_300I got better as time has gone on, but there are still instances when I think, “Nothing else will do!” And I have to tell myself, “Yes. You’ll think of a different way to say it.”

As a reader, I do notice those clichés more now than I did before. And if there are too many of them, I have been known to lay the book down…for good. You might think such a thing isn’t a HUGE deal, but for me, being aware of it tends to jerk me out of the story when I see too many of them.

I subscribe to a newsletter called “QUORA” – it’s a fun little online publication, where people write in with questions and other people answer them. The rest of us can “upvote” the answers if we agree.

Yesterday I came across this question: What are the most common clichés in fiction writing? Author Ellen Vrana gives these answers—and they’re darn good! I had to laugh—I’ve used plenty of these. Take a look:

RICK BURGESS--GNARLED TREE PLUM ORCHARD LAKE

 

 

 

 

(PHOTO by Rick Burgess http://our-wv.com/photography/photographers/rick-burgess-photography/west-virginia-water-colors-2016-calendar/ )

Every oak tree is gnarled. Every gentle wave is lapping upon the shore. Every mountain town is nestled in a valley, every chimney produces curled rings of smoke.

Every politician is slick, every banker is soulless. Journalists are moral and hardworking. Teachers are worn out. Every woman is unsatisfied, every man is flippant. Mothers are worn out too, but the fathers are emotionless.

Every woman has jet black hair and every day starts with bitter coffee (which might also be scorching) and ends with whiskey (who drinks whiskey?) and ice that clinks. (Or is it chinks? My eyes glaze over . . . )

In the city there are cars honking, lights blinking and there are many things that are incessant; noise, screams, cries, honking. Oh, and blaring lights. Lots of blaring lights which sometimes flicker.

The country has chirping crickets and waving grass. Parched earth abounds, there is lots and lots and lots of dust. The moon is always bathing things, the fog is always thick or dense, sometimes both. Thunderstorms rage while thunder cracks. Lighting illuminates, what, I don’t know. The sun shines down, as opposed to up, and clouds really don’t do anything except move.

Waves crash. Cars don’t. Tears roll down cheeks and faces break into smiles while the eyes always crinkle, when they aren’t sparkling, or flashing. Hair shines or curls, always curls. People are clad in clothing, never just clothed in it. Necklaces dangle and bracelets chink. Arms are thick and strong and eyes meet more than people.

Thoughts race or sometimes pervade while anger boils. Chills run up or down spines, depending on where you live, and ideas aren’t just clear, they are crystal clear. What is crystal? It’s what you drink your whiskey in. With the ice that clinks.

Things are notably pale, thick, greasy, cold, strong and dry which don’t need to be. If it’s a pillow we know it’s soft. Ditto Coke and cold. Words like eat and ran and speak are passed over for gobbled and raced and exclaimed. People can’t just hold they have to clasp, they can’t cry they have to sob and they can’t stop they have to come to a halt.

I’m not tired, I’m fatigued. I’m not messy, I’m disheveled. I’m not sad, I’m despondent. Ah whatever, at least I’m not gasping for breath or not sleeping a wink over the use of clichés. Every writer falls for them, at some time or another. Every oak tree is gnarled. Even this one.

(There was a reason I picked this particular photo that Rick did–the “gnarled tree”, the colors that looked “as though they were painted”, and the water that reflects those colors “like a mirror”…)

 

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALI’m giving away a digital copy of the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS’ upcoming Christmas anthology for 2015—A MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE! This fantastic collection of stories will be available on November 27. It’s got a fabulous line up of authors, including fillies Kathleen Rice Adams, Tanya Hanson, and me, along with debut author Jesse J Elliot, Patti Sherry-Crews, Jacquie Rogers, Meg Mims, and Livia J Washburn.

Here’s the link to PRE-ORDER this fabulous collection, and receive it on your Kindle on November 27!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0182FEYU6/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

What cliché grates on your nerves or holds fond memories for you? Leave a comment about it to be entered in this wonderful give-away!

(Petticoats and Pistols contest rules do apply.)

Winners of the Four-Novel Boxed Set!

A Cowboy's Touch Box 2Thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment on my post about the Western Fictioneers convention in St. Louis. Two lucky ladies won Kindle copies of the four-novel boxed set, A Cowboy’s Touch. The set includes four spicy full-length novels about Old West love: The Half-Breed’s Woman by Cheryl Pierson, Prodigal Gun by Kathleen Rice Adams, Spirit Catcher by Livia J. Washburn, and Wild Texas Winds by Kit Prate.

The winners, determined by Random.org, are:

Kim Amundsen

and

Sally Schmidt

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll be in touch.

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie! (#WFcon15)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Fellow filly Cheryl Pierson and I spent last weekend at the inaugural Western Fictioneers convention (also known as #WFcon15) in St. Louis. What a great time we had! We met some of the iconic authors in the western genre, learned more than my head can hold during seminars and panel discussions, got to sit around and gab with people we’d only spoken with online previously…and, of course, ate lots of good food. I may never eat again.

You can discover more about Western Fictioneers — a professional organization for authors of western fiction — and the convention here. If we can find Micki Milom, the superwoman who put the whole thing together single-handedly this year, we’re hoping to host another shindig next year, possibly in Fort Worth. Micki appears to have disappeared into the Convention Organizer Protection Program — a wise move on her part.

Instead of the usual post, this week I thought I’d share photos from the convention. Yes, I realize this is a bit like showing home movies to captive relatives, but I can be cruel that way.

Without further ado…

MickiAndJacquie

 

 

Take a good look at the woman on the left. You may never see her again after this convention. She’s Micki Milom, Nashville singer and songwriter, author of traditional westerns, and ramrod of the convention. Evidently, that smug expression on her face is meant to camouflage her nefarious attempt to strangle western historical romance author and all-around nuisance Jacquie Rogers.

 

 

 

Legends panel

The Living Legends panel discussion featured, from left, Robert J. Randisi, Robert (Dick) Vaughn, Dusty Richards, and Frank Roderus. Between them, the gentlemen have published thousands of stories. For such prolific, popular authors of traditional western fiction, all four men are down-to-earth, funny, charming characters (emphasis on “characters”).

 

RomancePanel_by DianeDuring the Romancing the West panel, authors (from left) Jacquie Rogers, Kathleen Rice Adams, Meg Mims, Kat Martin, and Cheryl Pierson astounded attendees with their… Well, I’m sure we astounded the audience with something, but the “something” probably was our ability to be extraordinarily silly. Couldn’t Micki have found western historical romance authors who possess at least a modicum of decorum?

Social Media panel_by Diane

 

The most evil thing about the Taming Social Media and Other Necessary Evils panel was the panelists: traditional western authors (from left) JES Hayes, that Kathleen Rice Adams person again, Jacquie Rogers (again), and Tom Rizzo.

 

PublisherPanelPublishers who specialize in western fiction also addressed the madding crowd. From left, Prairie Rose Publications editor-in-chief and co-founder Cheryl Pierson, Pen-L Publishing‘s Kimberly and Duke Pennell, High Hill Press‘s Louella Turner, Mike Bray of Wolfpack Publishing, and Golway Publishing’s Dusty Richards provided insight into what publishers look for when considering authors and their work.

 

KeithAndHunterKeith Souter, a medical doctor and popular traditional western author from the U.K., traveled all the way across the pond to present one of the most fascinating seminars during the convention — The Doctor’s Bag: Medicine and Surgery of Yesteryear. The presentation provided a hint of the enormous amount of material Keith covers in his newly released reference book of the same name. He was much too gentlemanly to refuse when I threatened him with a necktie party unless he autographed a copy for me. The book is a fabulous resource for anyone who writes historical fiction. I highly recommend it.

MichaelMilom

 

Intellectual property attorney Michael Milom presented one of the most popular sessions during the convention — The “Rights” Side of the Law: Legal Labyrinths. Despite his prowess as a high-powered entertainment lawyer, he quickly lost control of the rowdy herd and abandoned his planned talk in favor of answering a slew of questions from the audience. Michael, who is married to Micki, was gracious about our rude behavior, but as you can see by the metamorphosis in his expression, the lot of us probably should stay out of Nashville for a while.

 

 

There was plenty of time for fun, as well.

PRP Outlaw Gang_by JES Hayes

 

The Prairie Rose Publications gang whooped it up. (From left, Kathleen Rice Adams and Jacquie Rogers [Who are those women, and why did they keep butting in everywhere?], Keith Souter [who makes a wonderful bank robber, for a Scot], Cheryl Pierson [another outlaw who repeatedly butted in], Micki Milom, and Meg Mims.)

 

Cheryl signing book_by JES

 

 

 

Some of us, like Cheryl Pierson, autographed books. Did I autograph any books? Of course not. My ego may not survive.

 

 

MickiRandisiDuet

 

 

 

The entertainment was entertaining, especially when Micki Milom and Robert Randisi sang a couple of duets. We didn’t have to cover our ears or nothin’! (Micki’s a professional, but Bob was a surprise. He’s actually quite good.)

 

And there you have it — #WFcon2015 in a nutshell! (Most photos are mine, but thanks to JES Hayes for the image of the PRP outlaws and to Diane Rodes Garland for the image of Cheryl autographing a book.)

 

TheDoctorsBag

 

UPDATE: I’ve just received word that we kidnapped about a box-full of Dr. Keith’s The Doctor’s Bag — autographed! They’re available for $15 (including postage), which is a great deal considering the paperback version sells for $18.99 on Amazon. Cheryl Pierson has details.

 

 

A Cowboy's Touch Box 2

 

 

To thank everyone for schlepping through all this rambling, I’ll give two commenters a KINDLE COPY of a very special Prairie Rose release: A Cowboy’s Touch. The boxed set of four full-length western romance novels by Cheryl Pierson, Livia J. Washburn, Kit Prate, and me contains nearly 1,000 pages of spicy love in the Old West, and it’s a steal at 99 cents. To be eligible for the drawing, tell me which of the seminars you would have liked to attend. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

 

 

WINTER MAGIC NEW RELEASE AND GIVEAWAY BY CHERYL PIERSON

PRPWINTER MAGIC Cheryl Final WebHi everyone! I wanted to talk a little bit about my brand new single-author western romance anthology, WINTER MAGIC.

This is a collection of three stories that appeared in some of Prairie Rose Publications’ anthologies over the last year. Sometimes, it’s hard to tie stories together with a logline, but I love this one we came up with: Three criminals who’ve lost everything…three women who have nothing to lose…is it love or magic that bring them together in these three romantic tales of the old west?

PRP Cowboy Cravings Web FINALThe first story, HEARTS AND DIAMONDS, was a part of the Cowboy Cravings anthology (June 2014). Hired gun Nick Diamond is determined to ruin the life of his nemesis, Carlton Ridgeway, by claiming Ridgeway’s bride at the altar with a damning lie. He never gives a thought as to how his actions might affect the bride, Liberty Blankenship, who is ready to sacrifice herself for respectability—though she longs for love with all her heart. When Ridgeway comes looking for a fight, Nick obliges—and all hell breaks loose—but will Liberty get her heart’s desire in the end?

Since I had brought the subject of brothers up in Nick and Libby’s conversation, and since Jake, the youngest brother, made a short appearance in HEARTS AND DIAMONDS, I decided to introduce the middle brother, Brett, in SPELLBOUND, my contribution to the Cowboys, Creatures and Calico II (Oct. 2014) anthology. We had so many wonderful submissions for our Halloween anthologies in 2014 we had to make a second volume! My story appeared in this anthology because of the element of magic—and the fact that the heroine, Angie Colton, is a witch—but it actually takes place closer to Christmas. In fact, the Christmas tree is the entire reason the showdown happens like it does between safecracker Brett Diamond and the villain, Teller Magdon. Without a bit of magic, things might not have turned out as they do!PRP CCC+Box+12+Rev NINETY NINE CENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRPWild Texas Christmas WebFinally, in LUCK OF THE DRAW, the youngest brother, gambler Jake Diamond gets his own story. This tale appeared in WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS (Nov. 2014) and I love the fact that “family” is the theme—with it being so close to Christmas. Jake has a bit of a history with the heroine, Lainie Barrett. She’s been held hostage with him for several days in Brett’s story, SPELLBOUND. They’ve said some things to one another under duress that maybe shouldn’t have been said. But when Jake accompanies Lainie back to visit her mother to let her know she’s all right, they make an incredible “find” that shows them Lainie’s odd “gift” and solidifies their relationship. Can a gambling man and a novice witch risk everything on each other?

EXCERPT:

Here’s an excerpt from the first story in the collection, HEARTS AND DIAMONDS. Nick has just forced Libby to marry him. They’re in the honeymoon suite having their first “heart to heart” talk…                                   

“Be honest, Libby,” Nick said softly. “You weren’t any more in love with Carlton Ridgeway than you are with me. So what difference does it make you which one of us you marry?”

Libby was surprised at how quickly her little ladylike hand uncoiled from her proper stance and unerringly slapped his handsome face, only inches from hers. The noise it made was like a gunshot, and he flinched as he stepped back, his own hand going automatically to his cheek.

“You’re right, Mr. Diamond. I’m not in love with Carlton Ridgeway. The most I had to look forward to was a scrap of respectability—if not for myself, then for my parents. Now, that, too, is gone. So, the only choice is to go forward from this point and—and make the best of things between us. But I will not be used, any more than I have been already, Mr. Diamond.”

“Nick,” he corrected unthinkingly. “And we—can get an annulment, if that’s what you want.”

Libby’s smile held all the promise and danger that was stored in the reckless wildness of her spirit.

“I wouldn’t dream of disappointing you so, Nick,” she said sweetly. “No, we’ll make our dreams come true together,” she continued. “A home of our own, filled with children and, of course, true love.”

His lips quirked at her words. “That sounds pretty damn good to me, Libby. Uh…you do know what makes babies, don’t you?”

Though she only had a vague idea of how it was done, she wouldn’t give him the upper hand. She nodded sagely. “Oh, yes. And I’m looking forward to it.”

As if he knew her secret, Nick Diamond had the audacity to laugh aloud at that. Her face burned.

“I believe you’ll enjoy it more with me than you would have with Ridgeway.”

She moistened her lips and tried to settle the frantic pounding her heart had begun. “Well, then. Perhaps we should—start—immediately. With our family. Our baby.”

Nick stood silent as she floundered. Finally, he said, “Let’s have some dinner first, shall we? I’ll have the bellboy lay a fire for us so we’ll be comfortable when we come back from eating. You’ll need your strength for tonight…when the ‘baby making’ begins. I have a hell of an appetite—for good food and…good sex,” he added wickedly.

 

WINTER MAGIC BLURB:

The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.

HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!

SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.

LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!

 

Thanks so much to everyone who has stopped by today! I want to give away a digital copy of WINTER MAGIC to one lucky commenter, and also a digital copy of the boxed set of COWBOYS, CREATURES, and CALICO I and II–which is now available for only .99 at Amazon for a limited time, so please leave your contact info in your comment in case you win!

 

If you can’t wait to see if you won, here are the buy links for each of these collections!

WINTER MAGIC:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015M5HZR8

COWBOYS, CREATURES AND CALICO BOXED SET–ONLY .99 CENTS!!: http://www.amazon.com/Cowboys-Creatures-Calico-Boxed-Set-ebook/dp/B00OXAP3UA/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1445119268&sr=1-3&keywords=Cowboys+Creatures+and+Calico

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