Tag: #sweetromance

A Crazy Thing Happened…

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.

Oh, no.

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.

Meteorology in the Victorian Era

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:

Are you a sunshine or rainy day kind of person? 

I’m definitely a sunshine kind of girl.

Flying Into History

 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.

You can find Quinn on Amazon: http://a.co/2MX4ewF

To enter to win a digital copy of the book, answer this question:

Name a woman who has inspired or influenced you in a positive manner.

 

A Bad Case of Spring Fever

Without fail, it happens every year.

I can’t predict when it will strike. I can’t pinpoint any one single cause.

But I always come down with a bad case of spring fever.

Although it isn’t contagious, it seems like many people suffer from the malady this time of year.

It generally hits our house about the time the crocuses bloom and lasts until the tulips start to bud.

What is spring fever, exactly?

The best way I can describe it is a wishing and wanting and yearning for…. something. Something that exists just beyond your ability to grasp it, even if you can’t define it.  There is a wildness, a willingness, to recapture something you are unable to even recognize let alone verbalize.

I think Mark Twain wrote a perfect summation of Spring Fever:

 

Based on personal experiences of suffering from spring fever, I thought it would be fun (and funny) to include spring fever striking the hero in one of my books.

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance (Grass Valley Cowboys, Book 2)

One lonesome cowboy needs a few lessons in romance…

Trent Thompson doesn’t have many secrets, except for the torch he’s carried for the new schoolteacher since she moved to Grass Valley more than three years ago. Instead of asking her out, he’s dated every single female in a thirty-mile radius, giving her the impression he holds no interest in knowing her.

Lindsay Pierce moved to Grass Valley to teach and quickly fell in love with the small community as well as the delightful people who live there. Everyone welcomes her warmly except for one obnoxious cowboy who goes out of his way to ignore her.

Will Trent be able to maintain the pretense when he has to babysit his niece, who happens to be in Lindsay’s class?

Romance is in the air as spring fever hits the Triple T Ranch!

Here’s a little excerpt:

“Mr. Thompson, I’m sure you are aware of the fact, but let me reiterate it for you – school starts at 8:15 a.m. Not 8:20 and not 8:25, but 8:15 a.m. sharp. Can you and your brother please make it a priority to get Cass here on time until Trey and Cady return?”

Lindsay hoped that by taking him to task and keeping herself in a professional frame of mind, she could ignore the tempting way his lips curled up at the corners when he smiled.

“Certainly, Miss Pierce,” Trent said, appearing thoroughly chastised. “Travis and I will make sure she isn’t late again. We had a little accident this morning. She had to change her clothes and that’s why her outfit is a little… um… creative today.”

Lindsay couldn’t keep herself from smiling. She didn’t know why, but watching Trent try his best at caring for Cass made her heart soften toward the tall rancher. While Trey and Travis were shorter and stockier, Trent was one long, tall handsome cowboy. Even she had to look up to see his face when she talked to him.

Drawn into the warmth of his blue eyes, she took a step back and noticed his coat looked like a blindfolded drunk had snapped it.

“You must have been in a hurry this morning. You don’t even have your coat fastened properly,” she said with a shake of her head. Before Lindsay thought about what she was doing, she took a step forward and unsnapped his coat, just like she would for one of her students. Only the warm, virile male in front of her was no five-year-old in need of her assistance. She couldn’t keep from sucking in her breath as she stared at Trent’s very bare, very muscled chest.

“Oh,” she whispered, blushing from the top of her head to where her neck disappeared into the collar of her blouse. “I’m sorry… I  didn’t…”

What about you?

Do you suffer from the malady of spring fever? 

Post your response for a chance to win a digital copy of The Cowboy’s Spring Romance!

Bested by a Buzz Wagon

I’ve spent many hours the last few weeks combing through digital editions of old newspapers from Pendleton, Oregon.

As I was browsing through the news on one front page, a headline caught my eye.

Buzz Wagon Proves Too Much for Ted

The first thought that popped into my head was “what’s a buzz wagon?” The second was “who’s Ted?”

If, like me, you haven’t been exposed to the early 20th century slang term, a buzz wagon is what some people used to refer to an automobile. (Presumably from the noise emitted from those early vehicles.)

On a lovely June day in 1912, a cowboy named Ted and another cowpuncher brought 300 head of horses to Pendleton to sell.

According to the newspaper, Ted could ride anything that had two ears and a tail, but the “golderned buzz wagon” was too much for the buckaroo to handle.

While they waited around town the evening before they were to set to sell the horses, Ted and his fellow cowpuncher wandered down to the Pendleton Round-Up grounds to see what amusements they might find.

What they found was an automobile left sitting in the arena, unattended, while members of the Elks club tried out teams for an upcoming chariot race (wouldn’t that be fun to see?).

The two cowboys thought the seats of the auto looked inviting, so they slid in to watch the proceedings. After a while, Ted landed on the brilliant idea of taking the auto for a spin. Although he’d never been in an automobile before, let alone drove one, he asked his friend to get out and give the car a crank to start it.

The car started but ol’ cowboy Ted found he couldn’t control the “red devil” as it traveled across the track of the arena. He whipped the wheel one way then the other, touched every button and pulled every lever to no avail. The auto stopped when he bashed into a pole at full speed.

When the owner of the car arrived on the scene, Ted offered to buy the man a new automobile. The owner thought he could have the auto repaired and they settled on $25 payment.

Ted declared he was through with man’s inventions, much preferring a bucking horse than the unpredictability of a “buzz wagon.”

To find out more about the happenings in Pendleton during 1912, be sure to attend the Petticoat Ball on April 12 on Facebook! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) and runs until 2 p.m. Guest authors, games, giveaways, and details about my latest Pendleton Petticoats book, Quinn, will be shared!

 

Comfort and Joy

 

 Due to an ice storm that knocked our power out for a day and a half right before New Year’s Eve, I had plenty of time on my hands to do some much needed cleaning and sorting in my cupboards and closets.

As I dug through one deep drawer where I store assorted blankets, I happened upon a well-loved quilt.

My mama helped me make it one cold, snowy January when I was heading off to begin my college internship 1,100 miles away. The fabric used in the nine-patch quilt came from scraps saved from a variety of places, but all connected to sweet memories. When I settled into my tiny apartment, all alone in that big city, I curled up under the quilt and found comfort in the lovingly-made stitches. The quilt became a reminder of home, of family, of the my ties to the past. Even after I married Captain Cavedweller, the quilt came along. It was often the covering I reached for when I needed a bit of comfort when I once again found myself all alone while he worked nights.

I took the quilt out of the drawer and spent a powerless afternoon cuddled beneath the warmth of it while the joy of remembering sweet times from years ago flooded through me.

Quilts have always been important to me because they’ve always been gifts made with incredible love.

quilt sunbonnet sue

My Grandma Ila made this quilt for me when I was a little girl. It graced my little twin-sized bed in my very pink bedroom for years and years. The pattern is Parasol Lady.

 

quilt roses grandma nell one block

CC’s grandmother made this quilt for us one year for Christmas. She knew how much I love roses and surprised us with this beautiful cross-stitched quilt. Grandma is no longer with us, but the love she put into this quilt will last forever.

 

quilt rose of sharon full

This is the quilt Grandma Ila made as our wedding gift. She let me pick the pattern and the colors then she and my mom pieced and quilted it. There was a lot of piecing and a lot of quilting and a lot of love that went into this Rose of Sharon variation quilt.

 

 

quilt grandma jackson

My Grandma Elsie started this Tulip Basket quilt for my mom back when she was a teen. Mom told Grandma she didn’t like the colors, so Grandma never finished the quilt. One day when I was in high school, we were at Grandma’s helping her clean and found a bag with the quilt blocks. Grandma gave them to me, so Mom put the top together and quilted it. When she completed it, she couldn’t remember why she thought it was ugly in the first place.

 

quilt grandma nell's mom

The blocks for this quilt came from CC’s Grandma Nell. Her mother made the squares back in the early 1900s. No one ever finished the quilt. She gave them to me and when we needed one more block to make the quilt work, Mom did the one with the pink roses (pictured top left of the above photo). Mom sewed the top, then did all the quilting.  I should mention that Mom and Grandma did their quilting by hand. No fancy machines for them. I remember seeing a quilt frame stretched across our entire living room on many occasions. In later years, Mom would quilt using a big hoop instead of the frame.

Unfortunately, with all the talented quilters I’ve known, the gene and talent completely escaped me. I can sew – but quilting is beyond my patience and skill. That doesn’t, however, keep me from having one (or three) storage tubs full of fabric I hope to someday make into quilts. I’ll just have to find someone to do the quilting.

 

quilts pile

I enjoy looking at the quilts and thinking of all the love, detail and skill that went into making them.

Last year, I participated in a series of books that featured quilts. It was a lot of fun for me because it brought to mind all the quilts I watched my grandmas and mom make over the years.

The series, Grandma’s Wedding Quilts (which includes a book by fellow Filly Kathryn Albright!), features all sweet novellas. Grandma Mary’s traditional gift to each of her grandchildren is a hand-pieced and hand-stitched quilt, woven with memories, wisdom, and a family legacy of enduring love.

tads-treasure

My contribution to the set, Tad’s Treasure, is the final book in the series.

Tad Palmer makes a promise to his dying friend to watch over the man’s wife and child. Years later, he continues to keep an eye on Posey Jacobs and her precocious little boy. The only problem is that he’s not sure his heart can withstand the vow he made when he falls in love with the widow and her son.

Posey Jacobs misses her beloved husband, but her wrenching grief has given way to hope for the future as she finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love with Tad Palmer. However, the infuriating man doesn’t seem to notice her interest and treats her as he would his sister.

Throw in a goat who thinks she’s a dog, a town full of quirky characters, and this widow has her work cut out for her if she wants one handsome cowboy to give her his heart.

~*~

To enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Tad’s Treasure, just answer this question:

What’s your favorite way to stay warm on a cold winter day?

Wishing you call comfort and joy throughout this new year!

Read a Book, Help a Cowboy

What do a cowboy, a snowstorm, and a delayed flight have in common? 

Pour yourself a cup of tea, take a moment to relax, and I’ll share a little story with you…

Picture a bitterly cold December wind blowing snow so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone far enough to get in a vehicle and drive somewhere.

This was the scene my husband (better known as Captain Cavedweller) and I encountered one December day as we prepared to leave on a much-needed vacation. We’d been planning to drive across the state to our destination, but with the blizzard-like conditions, we couldn’t see any wisdom in traveling in the horrible weather.

Rather than stay home, though, I convinced CC to go to Las Vegas to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We’d always wanted to go and had just never got around to it. Since flying somewhere was the only way we were leaving town, it made perfect sense to switch our plans and take the impromptu trip.

As we arrived at the airport the next day, we noticed more cowboy hats in the crowd than just CC’s. And when we landed in Las Vegas, there were cowboy hats (and cowboys) everywhere! Each December, the city of Las Vegas takes on a country vibe as the rodeo comes to town, bringing with it hundreds of vendors, thousands of spectators, and a whole lot of fun.

On the return trip home, we arrived at the airport and discovered our flight was delayed.  Gradually, we made our way through a sea of cowboy hats to our gate. While CC read the newspaper and impatiently jiggled his boot-covered foot , I observed those milling around. As I watched cowboys pass by, some in a rush, others walking with a distinctive swagger, my ever-active imagination began to take over.

Since so many of the cowboys who compete professionally spend a good deal of time traveling, I began to wonder how many of them flew from one rodeo to the next. If they were flying, it seemed like a strong possibility that they might meet a girl at an airport who turned their head.

I began jotting down notes for a story idea and by the time we reached home, The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance, Book 1) was born.

The fifth book in the Rodeo Romance series, Chasing Christmas, released last week. Each book in this series features characters tied to the rodeo (a saddle bronc rider, a steer wrestler, a rodeo photographer, a stock contractor, a barrelman, and now a bullrider). All of them are sweet romances full of laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer (and cowboys, did I mention cowboys?).

But more than the fun stories and hunky cowboys, this series set me down the path of helping the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

While I was writing , I included a scene where the hero is hurt at a rodeo. I began to wonder exactly how much medical attention a cowboy could receive at a rodeo and how bad injuries would have to be before he was taken to the hospital.

I reached out to an amazing organization — the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. In 1980, two gentlemen developed the concept of a mobile sports medicine system that would provide medical support services to professional rodeo athletes. Today, the Justin Mobile Sportsmedicine Centers can be seen at arenas across the country. Rodeo athletes who are injured while competing are assured of receiving immediate and expert care through these centers.

The program director kindly (and patiently, so patiently) answered my many questions. Through him, I learned about a program called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. 

Rodeo athletes say it isn’t a matter of if they get hurt, but when. So when the inevitable happens and they sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent them from competing for an extended time (leaving them without a paycheck), the JCCF steps in and provides much-needed assistance.

After learning about the organization and impressed by how helpful and kind those I’d spoke with had been, I decided to donate to the cause.

This is the fourth year for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. Now through December 24, I donate ten percent of my book sale proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

So if you’re thinking about holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think about giving a book! You can find my releases in digital, paperback, and audio formats, including .

~ GIVEAWAY! ~

For a chance to win a digital copy of The Christmas Cowboy and Chasing Christmas, answer this question:

What’s one thing that made you smile today?

Making a List for the Perfect Wife…or Husband

 

Are you a list-maker?

Pen and InkA wonderful friend of mine, when she was young, made a list of qualities that she wanted in a husband. She wrote it on purple paper with purple ink (The color purple is kind of her thing. Her house is varying shades of lavender…along with her garden…her clothes…and her Christmas tree decorations.) She put the list away and forgot about it. It survived through many years and several of her moves.

A few years ago after she’d been happily married for more than fifteen years, she came across her list. Lo and behold, the man she married after meeting him on an internet dating site turned out to fulfill all the qualities she’d long ago written on her list. I thought that was pretty amazing. And I decided to use the same idea in my book that is coming out in late December.

As you may remember from some of my other posts on the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Society of Oak Grove has been busy sponsoring mail-order brides for the many lonely bachelors in the area.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, takes place in the spring of 1879 in Kansas and the good doctor is in need of a nurse. Nelson Graham figures that by marrying a smart, resourceful woman, he’ll get both—a nurse and a wife. It’s a win/win situation, or so he thinks. The first train-load of women have come and married men in the town and he sees that they are all quite happy. So, with the second train-load of women, he is set to make a play for the perfect woman for him.

Here is an excerpt ~                      

Left to himself, Nelson considered the notes he’d made earlier that day and withdrew the paper from his vest pocket. It was a “wish list” of sorts. Likely, no woman would meet all his expectations, but perhaps it would help him stay on course as he considered each of them.

  • Amiable.
  • Biddable.
  • Able to take constructive criticism.
  • Skilled in the domestic chores: cooking, laundry, cleaning, sewing and gardening.
  • Willing to work by his side as his nurse.
  • Quiet. He didn’t want a woman who disrupted his research or his daily habits.
  • Willing to put another’s needs ahead of her own.

He’d added the last as a cautionary point, remembering his fiancé. He’d thought they were compatible in all things, but then suddenly she had broken off the engagement, unable to accept the numerous times he’d been called away to help someone who was ailing.

He wouldn’t let that happen again. What he needed was a practical woman as his wife. She didn’t need to be a raging beauty, but like any man, he wouldn’t mind if she was pleasant to look upon.

He tucked the paper back into his pocket and headed to his office. Now, all he had to do was interview the ladies, one at a time, and see which one came closest to fulfilling his wish list.

I hope you enjoyed that short passage. As for list-making, I think there are those that are prone to making lists and those who keep everything in their head. I tend to be someone who has a list for everything – shopping, daily chores, books I want to read, goals for the day, the month, the year and on and on. Then of course there is the infamous “bucket list!” Even though I don’t always meet the goals I set, they are at least in front of me (making me feel guilty!)

What about you? Are you someone who makes lists and if so—what are the things on it?
What type of qualities would you list for the perfect mate? 

For those who comment, you will be entered into a giveaway drawing for a copy of
Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Fall Into Romance by Shanna Hatfield

Like many of you, I love the autumn season. In our little corner of the world, we have four very distinct seasons and in the last few weeks it has definitely transitioned into fall.

The leaves have set aside their verdant shades of green and seemingly overnight slipped on the jeweled hues of crimson, gold, amber, and tangerine.

The air smells spicy and rich, laced with a hint of wood smoke from the neighbor’s fireplace. It’s cool enough to dig out my sweaters and scarves, to unearth my warm lap blanket I like to curl up under in the evenings when the early dusk brings nose-nipping temperatures.

Then there are the glorious, wondrous flavors of fall… pumpkin and caramel and apple. Yum. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

In an effort to capture some of the sweetest, most wonderful aspects of fall, a group of sweet romance authors got together and wrote ten brand-new novellas all centered around a Fall Festival that raises funds for an animal shelter while finding homes for pets. The stories are bundled together in a boxed set.

The stories all take place in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon. If it really existed, visitors would find it about an hour south of Portland, where autumn is particularly beautiful and the sights, sounds, and scents of fall weave around the romance lingering in the air.

My contribution to the boxed set is Blown Into Romance, the story of a free-spirited artist and a feet-firmly-on-the-ground rancher.  And piglets! Five of them, to be exact, all named after characters from a favorite children’s book. Winnie, the mama pig, and her four babies (Roo, Tigger, Eeyore, and Robin) need a home and Brooke needs a little company in her newly-opened blown glass shop.

(See the disaster coming… five pigs in a blown glass shop?)

I wanted Brooke to adopt something other than a dog or a cat. How much crazier could she get than five pigs?

Luckily for her, Blayne Grundy knows about pigs as well as cattle and horses. He offers her a hand when she needs it most and soon realizes she’s stolen his heart.

Blurb —

Artist Brooke Roberts spent her life without roots, wandering from town to town. When she seeks refuge from a freak storm in the town of Romance, she decides to stay and open a blown glass studio. Determined to immerse herself in the community, she adopts a family of pigs. Brooke is unprepared for the chaos and comfort they bring to her world, or the dashing cowboy who rescues her heart.

Solid, dependable Blayne Grundy runs a busy ranch, volunteers on various committees, and takes in stray animals too large to stay at the local animal rescue. Then a chance encounter with a beautiful, beguiling woman leaves him so befuddled, he can barely remember his own name. His predictable organized life is about to be blown away by free-spirited Brooke.

A sweet, lighthearted novella, Blown Into Romance highlights the mighty power of love and letting go.

 

Excerpt —

She arched an eyebrow. “Did you adopt a new pet, too?”

“I’m actually more of a temporary home before a permanent place can be found. Brent had a donkey and a bunch of chickens that needed a place to go. Grams handled the chickens, but I’m in charge of the donkey.”

“A donkey, huh?” Brooke grinned again. “That might be incentive to visit your ranch.”

“Kong would like to think it is.”

A laugh spilled out of her. “You named the donkey Kong? Are you kidding me?”

“Nope. That was his name before Brent took him in. I’m not sure if Donkey Kong or King Kong would have been worse.”

“Okay, you win. I have to meet this donkey. I have a project I need to finish and it has to be shipped Thursday morning. If it works with your schedule, I could come out that evening.” Brooke walked Blayne over to his pickup.

“That will work great. In case you think about changing your mind, I could probably come up with a more compelling reason for you to come.” He looked at her with an intense light glowing in his eyes.

Rather than back away from him, as he feared, she stood her ground. “What reason might that be cowboy?”

“Just this one.” Blayne stepped close to her, holding her gaze. He wrapped one hand around her waist and slid the other into her messy hair. Before she could protest or pull away, his lips skimmed across hers in a light, tentative kiss. When she moved closer to him, he kissed her again. The long, lingering kiss erupted an explosion of fireworks behind his eyes while her body turned limp in his arms.

When he lifted his head, he kissed her cheek and slowly released his hold on her, making sure she was steady on her feet before backing away. “I’ll let you consider if that’s a compelling reason. If not, let me know. I can come back later and do a better job.”

Giveaway —

If you could adopt ANY pet, what would it be? Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Fall Into Romance. Three lucky winners will be chosen!

Fall Into Romance is available for a limited time for just 99 cents at these online retailers:

Kobo

A ma zon

iBooks

Google Play

B&N

 

Just a Farm Girl

A few weeks ago when I received an invitation to join the fabulous Fillies here at Petticoats & Pistols, I had to read it three times before I could fully latch onto the fact that I was going to be a Filly!

From the first time these wonderful ladies asked me to be a guest on the blog, I’ve been so impressed with them and the great community they’ve built here. And now I get to be part of it!  It’s hard to picture this lil’ ol’ farm girl getting to hang out here, but I’m sure excited to be counted among the Fillies.

Circa 1970-something… me with a fawn our neighbor rescued

I’ve possessed a love of books, reading, and creating stories for as long as I can remember. I also loved growing up on a farm where my dad let me tag after him all the time. (You can find a few of our adventures together in Farm Girl – humorous takes on true things that happened during my childhood.)

In fact, he kept a blanket, one of my baby dolls, storybooks, and a supply of candy in the swather so I could ride with him whenever it was hay-cutting time.

While I trailed Dad like a shadow, I learned about rural life, country living, cowboys, and heroes.

Much of what I saw, experienced, and lived during my formative years is woven into the threads of the sweet contemporary and historical stories I write.  My 50th book just released last week, so I’ve had  many opportunities to incorporate a variety of details from my background, but there’s one thing I keep circling my wagon around.

The heroes in my books are often rugged guys who can be a little rough around the edges, but they generally hold a healthy respect toward women and stick to an unspoken code of chivalry we may never know or decipher.

While some may think these types of men exist only in my fertile imagination, I know they are real. Honestly, they continually inspire me.

My own beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, is a great source of gallant deeds. Although he isn’t much of a talker, if I can get him to be serious for five minutes, he typically manages to say something that melts my heart. (But don’t tell him I shared that with you. I think that breaks rule #63 in the code.)

When I look for validation that the code is alive and well in others of the male species beyond Captain Cavedweller, I find it.

For example, I recently met a PRCA bull rider. He’d never seen me before. Didn’t know me from Adam’s off ox. In fact, he couldn’t be blamed if he was full of himself since he’s quite successful in his line of work. The opposite seemed true, though. When we were introduced, he quickly snatched off his hat, politely tipped his head, and called me “ma’am.” Respectful, kind, and genuine are words I could easily use to describe him. He couldn’t have been more mannerly if Miss Etiquette had been whispering in his ear.

In one of my contemporary romances, Learnin’ The Ropes, the bossy, crusty ranch foreman outlines what he believes to be the code all men should live by to the new greenhorn his boss hired.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Once you give your word and a handshake, it’s as binding as signing a contract.
  2. Never betray a trust.
  3. Never lie, cheat or steal.
  4. Treat all children, animals, and old folks like you want to be treated.
  5. Call your elders sir and ma’am.
  6. Treat women with respect and care.
  7. Always tip your hat to a lady and take it off at the dinner table and in church.
  8. Work hard and give your boss an honest day for your pay.
  9. If someone needs a hand, lend yours to the task.
  10. Respect the flag and our nation.
  11. Be clean – both on the outside and inside of your person.
  12. Never stop learning.
  13. Never make fun of someone who gave it their best.
  14. Never wear your spurs or dirty boots in the house.
  15. Fight fair, be brave, and stand up for what’s right.

Despite what others might say, the Cowboy Code rides on. I’m so, so glad it does.  I need those amazing heroes to counter the strong, independent, sassy women in the stories I write. A milksop hero just won’t do for them. Nope, not at all.

I think one of the reasons we love to read western romances is because the stories and characters are full of  strength, hope, and love. My new release, set in the Wild West town of Pendleton, Oregon, during WWII, centers on the theme of hope.

In the story, (based on the famous Doolittle Raid… did you know 79 of the 80 men on the mission were based at Pendleton? I should probably provide ample warning that I love researching historical details for my stories!) our hero, Klayne, is convinced he’s going to die on a secret mission. Desperate to leave something, someone, behind, he talks a rancher’s daughter into marrying him, in name only, of course. Too bad Delaney has far different plans…

As a thank you for joining us today, I hope you’ll download a free copy of Heart of Clay, the very first romance I wrote.

Easy-going cowboy Clay Matthews is a respected college professor. He’s the man family and friends turn to for help, or when they need a good laugh.  Life would be almost perfect if he could figure out the mysterious, mind-boggling woman who was his wife…

Amazon – http://amzn.com/B0056QJHQ6
Barnes & Noble –http://tinyurl.com/heartofclaybn
Apple – http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/heart-of-clay/id464331140?mt=11
Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/heart-of-clay

I’m also going to give away one autographed paperback copy of Learnin’ The Ropes with some fun swag.

To enter for a chance to win, please post a comment sharing one of your favorite childhood memories!

 

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