The thought of bustles and spurs and how at odds the two things can be just makes me smile.
I love (LOVE) writing about cowboys and anytime I can work in the jingling of spurs, even better!
I also love writing about unlikely couples. You know the type… it might be city versus country or uptight versus laid-back.
One book in particular, Crumpets and Cowpies, was such fun for me to write because the couple was about as opposite as they could be. She was an English Lady. He was a rough rancher from Eastern Oregon. How in the world could these two find common ground let alone fall in love?
Well, that’s part of the joy of writing for me.
In this story, Lady Jemma despises the rough cowboy who’s shown up on her doorstep. She’s as proper as they come and refuses to put up with what she views as his insufferable ideas and overbearing disposition.
Thane Jordan is called to England to settle his brother’s estate only to discover he’s inherited much more than he expected. To claim his inheritance, he has to put up with the fussy, tightly-laced Lady Jemma.
Here’s a fun little scene that illustrates how well the two of them get along:
“There’s one more thing we need to discuss.” Thane smirked in the familiar way that both aggravated and excited her as she looked at him again.
“What might that be?”
“This…” Thane reached behind her, grabbing her bustle and giving it a gentle tug. She sucked in a gulp of air at his outlandish behavior. “Has got to go.”
At her abhorrent glare, he let go of the bustle and took a step back, although his grin broadened. “You can’t work on a ranch with that thing flopping around behind you. You can dress however you like when we go into town, but for life on the ranch, you need to put it away. While I’m on that subject, you can’t go around with your corset laced so tight it makes you faint.”
She glared at him. “I did not faint.”
“You came darn close and I won’t have you putting your health in danger just to make an already tiny waist smaller. You can wear it, if you insist, just don’t lace it so tight. Since you’re going to be getting new clothes, make sure you get them to fit with the corset loosened.”
Jemma trembled with fury as she stood in front of him, about to combust with anger. She couldn’t believe he would dare converse about such personal, sensitive topics as her bustle and corset. “You, sir, are a…”
“Save it, Jem. Unless you can invent some new words to call me, I’ve heard it before.”
Thane gave her bustle another tug as he walked by, returning outside to where he’d been hammering horseshoes at the forge.
I love the sweet smell of earth coming back to life after a long winter’s rest. I love the scent of hyacinths in the air, while daffodils brighten days with their cheerful blooms.
One of the things I love the most about spring are the babies – baby chicks, rabbits, (and my favorite) spring calves.
During my childhood years spent on the farm, I spent many a happy moment watching calves chase each other around the pasture in spring. Tails high, they would race and play and make me so glad we raised cattle.
Last week, I was visiting family and my niece invited me out to her place to take photos of their spring calves. I went with Amanda and her husband as they did the evening feeding.
This little guy was playing peek-a-boo.
While Amanda and Marc fed, I decided to get out of the pickup and snap photos.
I found a spot and hunkered down where I could take photos of the calves. They weren’t quite sure what to make of the stranger who’d infiltrated the pasture.
I could almost see a cartoon bubble above these two… “What is that thing? Do you think it’ll play with us?”
This little guy was by far the most adventurous of the bunch. If he’d come just another step or two closer, I could have pet him. Or given him a few fingers to suck on. There is nothing in the world like the sweet milky breath of a baby calf.
It’s the sweet fragrance of a brand new human baby.
Which Amanda and Marc will be welcoming soon. I can hardly wait!
You can read about some animal babies (chicks and bunnies!) as well as a crazy assortment of rescue animals in my book Easter Bride that will release March 21!
Will meddling matchmakers make a perfect match?
Piper Peterson loves the small community of Holiday, Oregon. She resides there at a beautiful, old farm where she’s surrounded by animals she’s rescued. And she manages the feed store that’s been in her family for more than a hundred years. Despite her contentment with life, her grandfather’s plans to sell the store and farm leave her future up in the air. When a sly matchmaker works to set Grandpa up with the perfect woman, Piper jumps at the chance to lend a hand. But the last thing she expects is to fall in love while helping her grandpa find happiness.
Stuck at a crossroads in his life, Colton Ford can’t decide which direction to head. Then an invitation to stay at his brother’s ranch in Holiday provides an opportunity Colt can’t pass up. He hopes time spent at the Flying B Ranch will help him clear his head and sort out his life. Before long, he finds himself entangled in a matchmaking plot involving his widowed aunt and a charismatic old gent. When he agrees to give the budding romance a nudge, he has no idea the man’s delightful granddaughter will capture his heart.
A heartwarming story filled with country charm, laughter, and hope, Easter Bride is sure to bring readers the joys of budding spring and sweet romance.
With Valentine’s Day almost here, my thoughts are tripping around romance and love even more than usual.
In fact, Valentine’s Day always takes me back to the early days when Captain Cavedweller and I had just started dating. We met the day after Christmas (on a blind date), saw each other New Year’s Eve, then he went back to college nine hours away and I assumed that was all she wrote.
About two weeks later, he called to let me know he’d transferred schools and was back in town. After that, I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t see each other right up to the day we married.
Under all that cavedweller exterior, he really is a romantic at heart (just don’t let him know I shared that little secret).
That very first Valentine’s Day, he brought me gifts every day for a week. They weren’t expensive, elaborate gifts, just little tokens of affection that made this hopeless romantic’s heart melt and then melt again.
Fast forward several years to a point where we were both so busy with life, we’d kind of forgotten about what it felt like when we fell in love. The “spark” had been replaced with getting through one day and then another.
Unwilling to fully surrender what had once been an amazing romance to the mundane of everyday life, I decided we’d spend a year going on a weekly date, just like we did when we first met. And since this was an experiment, I thought writing our experiences in a journal might be fun.
You can read about all our dates and my feelings of each one (even when they were getting a little routine) in Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. And it’s free right now on Kindle!
A marriage that lost its spark. A secret journal. And a woman determined to light a fire under an introverted cavedweller.
Share the adventure of one couple’s efforts at reigniting their relationship in this G-rated journey through fifty dates.
Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, USA Today Bestselling author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their marriage.
This journal provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.
And while I’m on the topic of cavedwellers and love, I have to share a little about another book with cavedweller in the title.
Captain Cavedweller and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in December. Way last spring, I started thinking of something unique and special I could give him as a gift. I finally decided it would be fun to write a book inspired by him. Then I landed on the idea of making the book about a time-traveling cavedweller.
Oh, my gracious! The book was such fun to write! There’s the handsome cavedweller, a ranch with cowboys, and so much more!
Rob Foote, the amazing illustrator I hired to illustrate my children’s book and the covers of The Friendly Beasts of Faraday, took my whackadoodle ideas along with a wedding photo, and turned them into this fantastic cover.
I was so nervous when I handed CC a wrapped copy of the book on our anniversary. Would he love it? Hate it? Would he get that it was written with a heart full of love?
He opened it and started laughing. And laughing. And he totally got that whole love part of it, too.
Can true love endure beyond the constraints of time?
Archaeologist Hannah Clayton has the unique talent of clearly imagining the past as she unearths artifacts in the present. When she stumbles across a cave with a wall of hidden petroglyphs, she’s giddy with excitement. At least until a man dressed like a caveman appears out of nowhere and scares her witless.
Inexplicably drawn to the cavedweller who calls himself Thor, Hannah has to decide if he’s involved in an elaborate hoax or if he’s a walking miracle. Thor is unlike any man she’s ever encountered. From the moment they meet, she knows nothing will ever be the same.
He acts as though he adores her, makes her laugh, and fills her world with more joy than her heart can hold. But are the bonds they share strong enough to keep Thor beside her and prevent his return to the past?
I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)!
I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner.
In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year.
So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today.
I hope you’ll take a look!
He needs a holiday miracle. . .
She’s prepared to deliver one
Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.
All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe. Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.
With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.
The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.
The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!)
I love a good rodeo. There’s nothing quite like the excitement that snaps in the air while watching athletes, both human and animal test their skills as they compete.
It was while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the granddaddy of all rodeos – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – several years ago that the idea for a series came to me. We were sitting in the airport, surrounded by cowboys as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t help but ponder how fun it would be if a cowboy fell in love with a girl he met at the airport.
From there, the Rodeo Romance series was born and I recently released book six – Racing Christmas!
She’s racing to save the ranch
He’s struggling to win her heart. . . again
Brylee Barton has just one goal in mind: win the barrel racing world championship. Not for the glory, but for the attached cash prize that could save her family’s ranch. When an injury leaves her at the mercy of the very same copper-headed, silver-tongued cowboy she once vowed to loathe forever, she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his help.
Fun-loving, easy-going Shaun Price has a million dollar smile, more charm than he can channel, and a string of ex-girlfriends rumored to have started their own support group. When the one woman he’s never quite managed to get out of his head or heart needs his assistance, he jumps at the chance to help. Little does he realize how challenging it will be to keep from falling for her all over again.
With the holiday season fast approaching, will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?
This sweet Christmas romance warms the heart, lifts the spirit, and touches the soul with its message of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Don’t miss it!
Brylee opened her eyes and tipped her head back, watching as the pickup men rode into the arena. One went to catch Rocket while the other hastened her direction. The announcer and the clown told a joke as the medical team hustled toward her as fast as they could make it through the mud.
Frustration battled with anger as the pickup man approached. The last person on earth she wanted to see was that man.
“Maybe today would be a good day to die,” she muttered as she tried again to move her foot from beneath the fence. If she freed it before he reached her, she could crawl over the fence and make her way back to her trailer without speaking to him.
Why couldn’t he have gone on ignoring her like he had the last five and half years? Why tonight, of all nights, was he going to force her to acknowledge him? Didn’t she have enough to deal with, like missing her opportunity to claim the winning title? Or the undeniable fact she looked like a half-drowned kitten that had been dragged through a pig wallow?
She thought of her wasted entry fee. Not to mention the hours it would take to get all the mud scrubbed off Rocket and her tack.
Wasn’t a no-score enough punishment without being forced to face the most arrogant, self-centered, childish man she’d ever known?
Trapped on her back in the mud, it seeped through her clothes, chilling her and making her fight the need to shiver. She questioned how she could exit the arena with even a shred of dignity when her pants oozed soupy mud like a toddler’s soggy diaper.
The slap of boots hitting the mud in the arena drew her gaze upward. A handsome face appeared above her as the pickup man leaned over her. Gray-blue eyes twinkled behind thick lashes and a smile full of even, white teeth gleamed in the arena lights. Shaun Price braced his gloved hands on his thighs and offered her an infuriatingly cocky grin.
Why couldn’t she have at least passed out and awakened far away from the infuriating, irritating, Adonis-like cowboy?
“Well, Bitsy, I see you’re still racing Christmas,” he said, his voice sounding as deep and rich as she remembered.
Brylee glowered at him. “You know I hate that name.”
“Yep, I sure do.” Shaun chuckled and stepped back as the medics surrounded her.
If you love cowboys as much as I do, I hope you’ll take a look at my Read a Book, Help a Cowboycampaign, too! It’s a great way to help injured rodeo athletes who need a hand up!
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?
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.
When I first began researching details for my Baker City Brides series a few years ago, one particular historical fact I found piqued my interest.
In the 1890s, Baker City, Oregon, was home to a meteorological station.
For my soon-to-be released fifth installment in the sweet historical romance series, I decided to make the heroine’s father the newly-stationed meteorologist.
Which meant I had to dig up more detail about the station and why it was in Baker City of all places.
Weather, it seems, has always been important to the citizenry of the United States. As far back as the arrival of the first colonists, records of the weather were kept, noting the harshness of the New World.
Many of the Founding Fathers observed the weather with avid interest including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. During the early and mid 1800s, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States.
Then the telegraph became operational in 1845 and visionaries saw the possibility of forecasting storms simply by telegraphing ahead what was coming.
Acc 000095, Box 27B, Folder Joseph Henry #11775
A man named Joseph Henry (sometimes referred to as the Father of Weather), Secretary of the new Smithsonian Institution, envisioned communication system opportunities that could extend across the North American continent. A plan was approved in 1848 for volunteer observers who could report the weather via telegraph and by the end of 1849, 150 volunteers were reporting weather observations to the Smithsonian regularly. By 1860, five hundred stations were daily furnishing weather reports.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a resolution in February 1870 that established an agency for reporting the weather. Although the brief resolution was given little press at the time, the agency it created would affect the daily lives of most citizens through its forecast and warnings.
Through the resolution, weather stations would operate under the War Department’s Signal Service Corps. This organization, The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce, laid the ground work for the National Weather Service we know today.
On November 1, 1870, the first synchronous meteorological reports were taken by observer/sergeants at twenty-four stations in the new agency and transmitted by telegraph to the central office in Washington, D.C.
The work of the new organization demanded men familiar with observations, theoretic, and practical meteorology. Commissioned officers detailed to Signal Service work were required to acquire meteorological knowledge by studying, consulting and learning from leading meteorologists of the time. For the education of the weather observers (enlisted men), a school of meteorology was added to the existing school of instruction in telegraphy and military signaling located at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer), Virginia.
The Signal Service’s field stations grew from twenty four to almost three hundred in 1878. Three times a day, each station telegraphed an observation to the home office including observations about the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind velocity, pressure of wind, clouds, and general state of the weather.
One such station existed in Boise, Idaho, but it closed just two days before Idaho became a state in July 1890 and moved to Baker City. The reasoning was that the area in Baker City was better for gathering weather information.
Then, in July 1891, the weather stations, telegraph lines, apparatus, and all the office equipment right down to every accounted-for pencil were transferred from the Signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly formed civilian Weather Bureau. The bureau created the basis of the weather service we know today.
Lightning and Lawmen (Baker City Brides Book 5) will release June 28.
Here’s a little excerpt:
At least the pleasant weather was one thing working in Baker City’s favor. In spite of the house’s disorderly status, she would greatly enjoy spring days in the area if today was any indication of what the future held. She pushed the cape from her shoulders, closed her eyes, and relaxed against the chair, enjoying the peaceful moments before her father returned.
“Maybe this place won’t be all bad,” she whispered, allowing her grip on her father’s bag to loosen.
“Baker City tends to grow on most folks, if you give it a chance,” a deep voice said, startling her from her musings.
Her eyes snapped open in surprise. Pride straightened her spine as her glance settled on a man standing a few yards away on the winter-browned grass on the other side of the porch railing.
Sunlight glinted off a shiny silver badge pinned to the front of a long duster. She studied the black western-style hat on his head, similar to those she’d seen cowboys sporting on the train. The lawman wore a tan flannel shirt topped with a dark vest and a neckerchief the color of crocuses. Dark blue denims encased muscled legs while dust covered the toes of his worn boots.
Slowly, her gaze glided from his boots back up to his face. A square jaw covered in a rakish growth of stubble, firm lips, and a straight nose proved to be a handsome combination. But it was the man’s eyes that captured her attention.
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A while ago, when I was knee deep in research for my latest sweet historical romance, I happened across the mention of a woman who made history. Only I’d never heard of her.
I quickly became quite interested in learning more about her contributions to our past, though.
You see, her big historical moment might have been touted around the world, but fell by the wayside when a much bigger event took place at the same time.
Harriett Quimby was born in May 1875 on a Michigan farm. She was in her early teens when the family moved to San Francisco. With dreams of becoming an actress, she was listed as one in the 1900 census.
She began writing for magazines. In 1903, she moved to New York City and became a theater critic. Reportedly, she even authored a few screenplays that were turned into a silent films.
Harriett eventually turned to photojournalism as a career and leaned into adventure and excitement. She enjoyed travel, theater, and automobiles. In 1906, after a ride on an automobile racetrack, she bought her own car. At that time, it was unheard of for a woman to do such thing.
Through her journalism work, she covered an aviation tournament at Belmont Park in 1910. Harriett was friends with siblings John and Matilde Moisant. John ran a flying school and produced his own monoplane. Harriett enrolled in the school, along with Matilde. In the summer of 1911, Harriett became the first American woman to be licensed as a flyer by the Aero Club of America, the U.S. branch of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. A few women had flown before her, but none at that time were licensed.
Tall and energetic, Harriett was hard to miss, especially when she created a flying costume that became her trademark. She wore a purple satin jacket and matching riding pants with high laced boots and a soft cowl around her head.
Seeking more excitement, she went on the barnstorming (a form of flying in which stunt pilots performed tricks, either individually or in groups called flying circuses) circuit where she became quite popular.
In the spring of 1912, after weeks of preparation, she traveled to England to purchase a Bleriot airplane. She borrowed one in Dover, England. Early on the morning of April 16, Harriet became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, landing in France.
Unfortunately, just a few hours after her history-making flight, the world discovered the tragic news of the Titanic sinking the previous day and poor Harriet was obliterated from the headlines.
She returned to America and barnstorming, joining in several air meets. On July 1, 1912, she was paid handsomely to participate in an air show near Boston. In front of the gathered spectators, her plane lurched, throwing her lone passenger to his death. Although she struggled to gain control, Harriett was also thrown from the plane and was killed.
Harriett had been a pilot less than a year, but her impact on the aviation industry, particularly for women, continues to this day.
As I was working on my book, I thought about how young women of 1912 may have looked up to Harriet, found inspiration in her achievements. You can read more about her impact on my fictional characters in Quinn (Pendleton Petticoats Book 9). The sweet historical romance releases tomorrow.
She’s waging a war for women’s rights
He’s fighting a battle to win her heart…
There’s nothing typical about Quinn Fairfield. The outspoken suffragette spends her days writing sensational headlines as a newspaper reporter and indulging her natural curiosity. She’s much more likely to be found riding a bicycle around town than learning the social graces at which her sister, Caitlyn, excels. When Caitlyn announces her plans to wed a man Quinn doesn’t trust, she sets out to find a reason to break up the happy couple. In the process, she finds herself falling for an intriguing, kind-hearted man.
After spending several years in Portland at college, Walker Williams returns to Pendleton, eager to make his mark on the world. He’s determined to become a legendary architect despite the challenges that arise from his upbringing on the nearby Umatilla Reservation. When a feisty red-headed newspaper reporter catches his eye and captures his heart, Walker fights his growing feelings for her. He’ll do anything to shelter Quinn from the prejudices aimed at him and his heritage.
Can the two of them overcome their fears, set aside the burdens of the past, and surrender to the sweet romance blossoming between them?
Filled with laughter, adventure, and historical tidbits from 1912, Quinn is a sweet historical romance brimming with hope and love.