Tag: #westernromance

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.

Arizona Sightseeing…Come Visit Tortilla Flat

Anyone who comes to visit us in Arizona gets to see Tortilla Flat–it’s one of our favorite places to see!

This past spring my daughter and her boyfriend flew to Phoenix for a short visit. The boyfriend grew up in a small town in Illinois (3,000 residents) and had never been to Arizona. We took the kids on a drive through the Tonto National Forest in the Superstition Mountain Range along the historic Apache Trail to a town called Tortilla Flat.

 

Tortilla Flat got its start as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and is the last surviving stop along the Apache Trail. Past fires and floods destroyed the buildings but residents have rebuilt each time. Tortilla Flat is thought to be Arizona’s smallest official “community” having a U.S. Post Office and voter’s precinct. The town has a population of 6.

 

There was no road to Tortilla Flat before 1904. The town became a freight camp during the construction of the Roosevelt Dam. Tortilla Flat, as well as the other camps along the road to the dam, sat on U.S. Forest Service land. After construction of the dam, the people who decided to make Tortilla Flat their permanent home had to lease the land from the U.S. government and continue to do so today. Roosevelt Dam has turned Tortilla Flat into a tourist attraction.

  

The drive to Tortilla Flat is a winding two-lane road of breathtaking scenic views of Canyon Lake and one-car bridges. You probably don’t want to be on this road at night.

 

When you reach Tortilla Flat you’ll be hungry, so stop in at the Superstition Saloon for good eats and their signature House Beers: Superstition Mule Oil and Snake Venom.

  

The saloon’s claim-to-fame, besides good food, are the dollars bills tourists stick to walls and the fun cowboy saddle stools at the bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you’re in town you can watch a gunfight or listen to a live band outside on the quaint patio with the backdrop of the mountains. And before you leave be sure to get your picture taken in a toilet seat.

If you’re ever in the Phoenix area I highly recommend taking this day trip!

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY!!

 

I’m offering a digital copy of a reader favorite that led to one of my best-selling series, Cowboys of the Rio Grande. The three delinquent teenagers in A Rodeo Man’s Promise eventually got their own books. (A Cowboy’s Redemption, The Surgeon’s Christmas Baby and A Cowboy’s Claim)

For a chance to win tell me where you take friends or family when they come to visit you. 

I will announce the winner of this drawing on Sunday November 12th in the comment section of this post!

 

Until Next Time…Happy Trails!

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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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