Each year, I try to choose one word that serves as my motto, or mantra, if you will.
It helps frame my year with intention and purpose, and I always learn some good lessons along the way, too.
In the past, I’ve chosen a variety of words:
I’ve also chosen happiness, gratitude, faith, and hope.
Each week, as I think about what that words means, or how I can apply it in certain situations, it helps me stay focused on something that not only shifts my mindset in a better direction, but helps me be a better person.
I typically have a word in mind for the following year by the time November rolls around. Only I was struggling to come up with something for 2019. Then, my husband and I were on a long road-trip and were talking about the possibilities. At the same time, we both said “brave!” and that’s when it felt right.
So for 2019, my guiding word is “Brave.”
I’m excited at the prospect of the lessons I’ll learn and the places I’ll go being brave this year!
I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)!
I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner.
In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year.
So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today.
I hope you’ll take a look!
He needs a holiday miracle. . .
She’s prepared to deliver one
Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.
All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe. Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.
With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.
The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.
The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!)
A handful of years ago, Captain Cavedweller and I attended an outdoor living nativity performance. It was held in the parking light next to a drive-in burger place. The temps were below freezing. But there, among the people dressed in bathrobes and fake beards to create a wise man costume, along with a few bleating sheep and a cow who seemed more than ready to go home, stood a camel.
Not just any camel, mind you, but one who was clearly there to steal the show. He loved the attention tossed his direction and eagerly accepted the affection of his new fans.
As I stood there and watched CC pet the camel, the idea for a story began percolating in my imagination. Then, just as suddenly, the words to a Christmas carol began floating through my thoughts and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wouldn’t write just one story, but a series inspired by the Christmas carol.
If you’ve never heard The Friendly Beasts, it’s a lovely, old carol about the animals that gathered around the manager when Jesus was born. The verses include a camel, a donkey, a cow (all red and white, of course), a sheep with a curly horn, and a dove in the rafters high.
How fun would it be to write a sweet romance series including all these animals… but have them be the matchmakers?
Super fun! It was super fun to write this series.
The only thing was that it took me a while to be able to sit down and write an entire series all at once. In fact, when Christmas came and went last year without a moment to work these stories in, I decreed I wouldn’t write anything else in 2018 until I finished these stories. Which is what I did. I created a fictional mountain town named Faraday. If it actually existed, it would be near Mount Hood in Oregon.
The first draft to the books were completed by February. The four stories include a camel, a donkey (with a puppy named Bacon as his sidekick), a cow and her baby, sheep and a dove.
I reached out to the illustrator who did such a wonderful job on my children’s book, Steve the Mule. He brought my goofy, wacky, lovable Friendly Beasts to life.
Aren’t they so cute! Jasper the dove is sitting on Ivy, there’s Lolly the camel, Bacon, Shep the sheep, and Pete the donkey.
The books will release every Friday beginning this week, November 16!
No one said anything about a friendly camel or a hunky mechanic
Cedar Haynes has a choice: change her high-pressure lifestyle, or end up dead by the time she’s thirty. Not one to do things by half measures, she quits her demanding corporate job, swaps her sports car for an SUV, and moves to the peaceful mountain community of Faraday. She envisions a quiet, peaceful Christmas, surrounding by silence and sparkling snow. When a camel takes up residence on her porch, she realizes small-town life may be more quirky and complicated than she imagined. Thankfully, the local mechanic seems to have all the answers – plus good looks, bad-boy charm, and a mysterious aura that leaves her wanting to know more.
Rhett Riggs left big city life behind the moment his small-town uncle needed his help. To make ends meet, he takes over Faraday’s one and only garage and gas station. He gets more than he bargained for, though, when Uncle Will passes away, leaving Rhett a run-down farmhouse, a wacky camel named Lolly, and a deep-rooted love for the community he considers his home. With the holidays approaching, he watches with interest as a new neighbor moves in next door. He waits for Lolly to send the woman running, like she has the last handful of residents. Only this time, if his beautiful neighbor leaves, she’ll take his heart with her.
Between spilled secrets, mistaken identities, and a camel determined to spread a little love, it will take more than mistletoe and holiday magic to help Rhett and Cedar find their happy ending.
Will a donkey, an adorable puppy, and a big-hearted man
prove tidings of Joy last beyond the holiday season?
Quiet and unassuming, Drew Miller is more than just a mail carrier in the small town of Faraday. A typical day on his route includes fetching cats out of trees, changing flat tires, and good-naturedly enduring the pranks of the octogenarian crowd. Unexpectedly, he rescues a lovely young woman in distress. Drew’s convinced she’d never make the tiny community her permanent home, but he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.
Among the brightest, happiest memories from Joy Cooke’s childhood are the days she spent with her grandparents in Faraday. When she inherits their home with a stipulation requiring her to live there for six months, she eagerly moves to the mountain town. Then a freak snow storm leaves her at the mercy of the mail carrier, a handsome man she’s spent weeks watching out her office window. Through his steadfast care, she learns the true meaning of giving and selfless love.
Seth Stafford loves every square inch of the ranch where his grandfather raised him. He’s built a good life there, even if it does get lonely. But he doesn’t have time for such nonsense as dating. If the crazy redheaded woman who terrorizes him when he drives into Portland for supplies is any indication of the available females, he’ll stick with tending his cattle. When his grandfather sustains an injury and requires extended care, Seth is forced to open his home to the woman. He just has to decide if he despises or loves her.
Nurse Holly Jones has never had a real home or stayed in one place for more than a year. She never wanted to, until she took a job in Portland working with the elderly. Surprisingly, she finds herself living on a remote ranch outside the small town of Faraday. There, among the cattle, horses, and cowboys, she considers all she’s been missing with her nomadic lifestyle. What would happen if she gave up her wandering ways and allowed her soul to set down roots or her heart to fall in love?
Can a cow named Ivy and a meddling grandfather nudge a reluctant couple together?
The first thing he intends to do is make her fall in love
Veterinarian Angela Carol escaped her past and started a brand new life in the friendly community of Faraday. Her charming little boy, Nick, a thriving practice, and a comfortable home are all she needs to be happy. At least that’s what she continually tells herself. But her traitorous heart longs for Nick’s teacher, a man who’s become her best friend. With no intention of falling in love again, she struggles to keep her thoughts and heart in line where Drake is concerned.
Drake Miller had plans to be the next NBA star, but when an injury left him sidelined in college, he decided to teach and return to his hometown of Faraday. There’s nothing he enjoys quite as much as shaping the minds of the first grade students in his classroom, unless it’s making Angela Carol smile. The first time he saw her, he knew he was a goner, but the widow has made it clear she has no interest in getting involved in a relationship. How can he prove to her that it’s worth taking a chance on love?
The unlikely team of Nick, along with his pet sheep, Shep, and a dove named Jasper, work to spread a little romance along with holiday cheer. Will their efforts be enough to unite Drake and Angela in time for a Christmas miracle?
Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.
We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.
This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!
The stories begin releasing November 1.
Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.
Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It releases Nov. 1.
You’re never too old to fall in love . . .
Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?
Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.
Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.
When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?
As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess while he recuperates from knee surgery.
She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her, but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…
“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.
Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”
Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”
“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”
He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”
Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”
“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.
“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”
“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”
“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”
“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”
Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”
Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”
A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”
“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”
“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”
Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”
Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!
A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love.
Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.
A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?
A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.
Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.
If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?
Last week, my parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.
My mind struggles to wrap around that many years of wedding bliss.
My dad, always something of a character, informed me the day before their anniversary he’d been married to Mom for 24,820 days and counting.
I laughed, but the enormity of spending nearly 25,000 days married to your high school sweetheart still boggles my mind.
My parents met their senior year of high school.
Dad’s family had just moved to the area and he only knew the closest neighbor’s kids when school started that fall. He’s always been friendly and outgoing, never had any trouble making friends and fitting in. In no time at all, he was involved in sports, playing in the band, participating in Future Farmer of America activities, and watching a certain dark-haired girl who’d caught his eye.
Mom was shy and quiet, had a few good friends, and didn’t participate in many extra-curricular activities, mostly because my grandparents’ farm was quite a distance from town and she had no way to get home if she stayed late after school.
Right away, she noticed the new, cute boy at school, the one many of the other girls were buzzing about. However, they ran in different social circles and it wasn’t until spring when Dad finally asked her out on a date to the movies.
By the time they graduated, they were an “item.” Dad was gone for a while, serving in the Naval Reserves, but the following summer, they made plans to wed in early August.
The dimple-cheeked girl with stars in her eyes rushed through her swing shift at the telephone office then raced out to the farm where a handsome boy who had captured her heart waited to make her his bride.
She didn’t have a fancy, elaborate gown. They both wore gray suits.
Their flowers were gladiolas, pink and white.
And they said “I do” in the minutes before the clock struck midnight due to her working late.
Not the stuff of fairy tales, right?
But the lasting power of their love — 68 years — includes a little fairy tale, happily-ever-after sprinkled in the mix.
Growing up, I watched some of my classmates go through the trials and tribulations of having their parents divorce. By then, my folks were middle-aged and settled into life and into each other. I never once worried about them separating. They were then and still remain a united front.
I don’t think either of them ever once considered leaving each other as an option. They were just eighteen and nineteen when they wed, but they made a commitment for a lifetime.
And I’m so glad they did.
If you want to know about true love and real romance, ask a couple who’s been married for more than six decades. I bet they’ll give you some good tips and probably a generous helping of humor.
Life wasn’t always easy for them. Far from it.
They had plenty of rough patches to work through, but they remained committed to each other and the vows they made.
Their little family grew from the two of them to three with the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.
It expanded to four with the birth of another boy.
And then my sister came along making them a happy group of five.
I’ve heard stories of the adventures they all had, the many, many times they moved before my parents bought a farm in Eastern Oregon and set down roots that kept them there for more than fifty years.
Evidently, after twenty years of marriage, they still liked each other, because they had me. (Both of my brothers look like they’re waiting for me to do something awful.)
And the family continued to grow with the arrival of grandbabies… then great-grandbabies.
For 68 years, Mom and Dad have been there for each other — through fights and fears, laughter and tears, celebrations and sorrows.
If you ask them individually, they’ll both tell you the secret to a happy marriage is listening to your partner and not always trying to be right, even when you know you are.
If you ask me, though, I’d say a big part of their longevity and happiness comes from these things:
*My dad’s great sense of humor and the fact that he absolutely adores my mom. He always has and, after 68 years of marriage, I think it’s safe to say he always will.
*My mom’s loyalty and devotion to my dad and her ability to be a perfect balance to him.
I, for one, am so glad they fell in love and have remained in love all these many years.
If you could give a newly-married couple a tidbit of advice, what would you share?
I hate to admit it, but I find a lot of inspiration for the crazy, odd, unique, outlandish, and downright strange things I often incorporate into fun or funny scenes in my books from things that happen in real life.
And those happenings aren’t things I’ve seen on the news or heard someone discussing.
They are things that have happened to me.
So many loony things happened to me when I was growing up on our family farm, I guess I didn’t give a thought to them seeming weird to others.
But they are – weird, that is.
I captured some of my favorite bizarre childhood happenings in Farm Girl, a humorous account of my growing up years.
Some of the wild tales that really did happen include being chased up the stairs by a snake, battling a shrew (the fuzzy, four-legged kind), and watching a coyote come back to life on our back patio.
I’ve fallen out of moving farm equipment, been drenched in gated pipe slime, and freaked out my mother when we found bones on top of the ground in an old cemetery.
If I’m looking for something different, something a little out there to include in a book, I generally don’t have to look too far.
In my two recent releases, I incorporated tidbits of real happenings into situations with animal characters.
In Lightning and Lawmen, the heroine, Delilah, decides to befriend a half-grown raccoon. Despite of everyone telling her she’s crazy, she works at making him a pet. In one scene, Ollie, the raccoon, attacks the hero. With a recent rabies scare in town, they are thinking the worst, but they soon discover Ollie just wanted the sweets in Dugan’s pocket.
The same thing happened to my dad.
When I was probably around six or seven, my brother brought home a young raccoon. I don’t recall the reason why he had the raccoon, just that it was pretty awesome to have raccoon.
We soon learned that if something wasn’t nailed down, the raccoon viewed it as fair game for him to pilfer. He could take the screen off the window at the bottom of the stairs and make his way into the house. One of his favorite places to explore his cat burglar skills was in my parents’ bedroom where he’d grab anything shiny that was left out. Watches, buttons, even pens disappeared with regularity.
We also learned Bandit had a sweet tooth. My dad, a hard-working farmer, often took a few cookies with him after lunch for a little afternoon snack. One summer afternoon, he was busy working in the shop when the raccoon wandered in. He’d bent down to work on something and the raccoon lunged at him, growling and clawing at his chest. Dad pushed him away and hollered at him to knock it off, but Bandit did it again. The third time, he rascally little devil managed to grab a cookie from Dad’s pocket and, perfectly content, sat down to eat it. Dad quit carrying treats in his pocket after that.
In my sweet contemporary romance, Summer Bride, one of the characters is a whackadoodle cat named Crosby.
The cat is based entirely on our persnickety, cranky, completely insane feline.
In the story, Crosby is afraid of everything: other cats, birds, animals in general, most humans, grass, leaves, the wind – and mice. (Yes, this is totally our cat. In fact, he freaked out just yesterday when a hummingbird flew by!)
There is a funny scene where the cat lets a mouse inhabit the garage and Sage, the heroine, has to take care of it.
The reason for that scene being in the book is because I experienced it while I was writing the story and decided it would be fun to incorporate. Only in real life, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that funny.
Because our cat is a lovable freakazoid we both are allergic to, he stays outside except when it’s time to eat. He gets fed in the garage twice a day (and spends many happy hours lounging on his special bed in there). Anyway, my husband and I take turns feeding the cat so it took us a while to figure out the cat seemed to be eating a lot more food than usual. And his food bowl was licked clean (which has never happened in the many, many years we’ve had him since he adopted us). We finally compared notes and decided something must have snuck into the garage.
We tried to monitor who much food was disappeared. And it was a lot. I mean A LOT!
We set traps. We cleaned the garage from top to bottom. One friend assured us we were probably harboring an entire family of pack rats (and no, that didn’t help me sleep at night). I finally sprinkled flour all around the food bowl one night, hoping to at least see what kind of tracks were left behind. The next morning, Captain Cavedweller and I rushed into the garage to discover tracks all over the floor that led to the door of our furnace room. And they were far too big for a mouse. Freaked out by the prospect of a rat invasion or something bigger – he promised to help me figure out what we were dealing with and get rid of it on his day off.
The next morning, the biggest mouse either of us has ever seen was in one of the traps he’d left setting everywhere in the garage (and you don’t have to worry about our cat getting into one of them. He’s scared of those, too).
Not prepared for whatever was waiting in the furnace room, I opened the door, expecting to be greeted with horrible smells, snarling rodents and disgusting messes. Only, nothing appeared amiss. There were no messes. No bad smells. Nothing.
Then I glanced down and noticed a single piece of cat food in front of the suitcases we’d stored in there. I shoved the suitcases out of the way, and this is what I saw.
You can’t tell it from the photo, but the apocalyptic mouse had stockpiled about ten pounds of cat food. It was packed beneath the shelf you can barely see on the left and stuffed into a little ledge where the concrete floor meets the wall.
And the worst, most insane part of it all? I turned around to get a shovel to start scooping out the cat food and our lunatic cat ran in and started chowing down on the mouse-slobbered food as though he hadn’t eaten in months.
Yep, a crazy thing happened…
To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Farm Girl and your choice of either Lightning and Lawmen or Summer Bride, just share something funny or crazy that happened to you in the past.
This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.
I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.
Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.
Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.
Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).
Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.
For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).
One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!
As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.
I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.
I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.
How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?
Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!
Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.
Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.
Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.
To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?
When I first began researching details for my Baker City Brides series a few years ago, one particular historical fact I found piqued my interest.
In the 1890s, Baker City, Oregon, was home to a meteorological station.
For my soon-to-be released fifth installment in the sweet historical romance series, I decided to make the heroine’s father the newly-stationed meteorologist.
Which meant I had to dig up more detail about the station and why it was in Baker City of all places.
Weather, it seems, has always been important to the citizenry of the United States. As far back as the arrival of the first colonists, records of the weather were kept, noting the harshness of the New World.
Many of the Founding Fathers observed the weather with avid interest including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. During the early and mid 1800s, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States.
Then the telegraph became operational in 1845 and visionaries saw the possibility of forecasting storms simply by telegraphing ahead what was coming.
Acc 000095, Box 27B, Folder Joseph Henry #11775
A man named Joseph Henry (sometimes referred to as the Father of Weather), Secretary of the new Smithsonian Institution, envisioned communication system opportunities that could extend across the North American continent. A plan was approved in 1848 for volunteer observers who could report the weather via telegraph and by the end of 1849, 150 volunteers were reporting weather observations to the Smithsonian regularly. By 1860, five hundred stations were daily furnishing weather reports.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a resolution in February 1870 that established an agency for reporting the weather. Although the brief resolution was given little press at the time, the agency it created would affect the daily lives of most citizens through its forecast and warnings.
Through the resolution, weather stations would operate under the War Department’s Signal Service Corps. This organization, The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce, laid the ground work for the National Weather Service we know today.
On November 1, 1870, the first synchronous meteorological reports were taken by observer/sergeants at twenty-four stations in the new agency and transmitted by telegraph to the central office in Washington, D.C.
The work of the new organization demanded men familiar with observations, theoretic, and practical meteorology. Commissioned officers detailed to Signal Service work were required to acquire meteorological knowledge by studying, consulting and learning from leading meteorologists of the time. For the education of the weather observers (enlisted men), a school of meteorology was added to the existing school of instruction in telegraphy and military signaling located at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer), Virginia.
The Signal Service’s field stations grew from twenty four to almost three hundred in 1878. Three times a day, each station telegraphed an observation to the home office including observations about the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind velocity, pressure of wind, clouds, and general state of the weather.
One such station existed in Boise, Idaho, but it closed just two days before Idaho became a state in July 1890 and moved to Baker City. The reasoning was that the area in Baker City was better for gathering weather information.
Then, in July 1891, the weather stations, telegraph lines, apparatus, and all the office equipment right down to every accounted-for pencil were transferred from the Signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly formed civilian Weather Bureau. The bureau created the basis of the weather service we know today.
Lightning and Lawmen (Baker City Brides Book 5) will release June 28.
Here’s a little excerpt:
At least the pleasant weather was one thing working in Baker City’s favor. In spite of the house’s disorderly status, she would greatly enjoy spring days in the area if today was any indication of what the future held. She pushed the cape from her shoulders, closed her eyes, and relaxed against the chair, enjoying the peaceful moments before her father returned.
“Maybe this place won’t be all bad,” she whispered, allowing her grip on her father’s bag to loosen.
“Baker City tends to grow on most folks, if you give it a chance,” a deep voice said, startling her from her musings.
Her eyes snapped open in surprise. Pride straightened her spine as her glance settled on a man standing a few yards away on the winter-browned grass on the other side of the porch railing.
Sunlight glinted off a shiny silver badge pinned to the front of a long duster. She studied the black western-style hat on his head, similar to those she’d seen cowboys sporting on the train. The lawman wore a tan flannel shirt topped with a dark vest and a neckerchief the color of crocuses. Dark blue denims encased muscled legs while dust covered the toes of his worn boots.
Slowly, her gaze glided from his boots back up to his face. A square jaw covered in a rakish growth of stubble, firm lips, and a straight nose proved to be a handsome combination. But it was the man’s eyes that captured her attention.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
I’ve been busy working on the next book in my Baker City Brides series, set in historic Baker City located right along the Oregon Trail in Eastern Oregon.
The series begins in the early 1890s when Baker City was experiencing its second gold rush period. (The first came in the 1860s). Baker City was the geographic center for booming gold, copper, and silver mines. It became a center for trade and commerce and was the second city in the state to boast electricity and paved roads. In fact, it’s said Baker City almost became the capital of Oregon.
During the heyday of Baker City, new buildings and businesses were popping up all around. The town had earned the name “Queen City of the Mines.”
And one of those new buildings just happened to be a wonderfully luxurious hotel named Hotel Warshauer. Merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the hotel in 1889. Built in an Italianate Victorian style, the building was designed by architect John Bennes and constructed using mined volcanic tuff from the region.
The hotel featured a four-story clock tower and a 200-foot corner cupola. Supposedly, the hotel cost $70,000 to build and included 80 guest rooms as well as seating for 200 in the elegant dining room.
A second-floor balcony overlooked the dining room’s marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and mahogany paneling. Presiding over it, was a beautiful stained glass ceiling (reportedly the largest in the Pacific Northwest) that allowed light to drift into the interior.
The Hotel Warshauer was innovative and ahead of its time. It offered electricity in every room along with hot and cold running water and bathrooms! The hotel also boasted the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River.
They even had a little gold tasseled cloth that hung in each room with a list of rules.
Rule #2: “Fires in rooms charged extra.” Presumably, this was the fire in a stove to warm the room, not setting the room ablaze.
Rule #6: “We will not be responsible for boots and shoes left in the hall. Guests desiring them blacked will please leave with the porter.” I love this one because in Corsets and Cuffs (book 3 in the series) the heroine leaves her shoes in the hall to be cleaned and polished, and they disappear. I wonder how many people had that happen back then?
The hotel was eventually purchased by the Geiser Family of the Bonanza Mine fame. They renamed the hotel the Geiser Grand Hotel, a name it carries to this day.
Baker City and the hotel did well through the 1920s, up until the depression. After that, the hotel began to lose business and fell into a state of disrepair. One highlight was the cast of Paint Your Wagon staying at the hotel when the movie was filmed in 1968. (The movie starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Several fun tidbits about the filming of the movie and even a few costumes are on display at the Baker Heritage Museum.)
The hotel was closed in 1969, though. The exterior cracked, the interior sustained massive damage and decades later, the threat to tear it down was real.
In 1978, the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places, including the hotel. Attempts were made to preserve the hotel, but it wasn’t until Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel in the early 1990s and poured millions into a restoration and renovation that brought the hotel back to life.
Today, guests can step inside the hotel and find that it looks much as it did back in its days of glory. The stained glass ceiling still floods the restaurant with light, and the opulence of days gone by prevails from the mahogany wood in the lobby to the chandeliers in the guest rooms.
To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Crumpets and Cowpies, the first book in the Baker City Brides series, please post your answer to this question:
If you were traveling in the year 1890, what luxury item or amenity would you want to find in your hotel room?