SETTING is a Character ~ by Tracy Garrett

It’s always a special day when one of our fillies return to the corral!  We’re so happy to have you with us again, Tracy!

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Have you ever noticed how the setting of a book is an essential part of a story? There may be exceptions, but I don’t think you can pick up a story and drop it into another place—state, landscape, town versus farm. It just wouldn’t work well.

 

When I started writing JAMES, I decide to set it in Nebraska for several reasons. First, I needed the town of King’s Ford to be close enough to a mining area that my heroine could make the trip, but far enough away that it would be dangerous for her. Since there was gold mining in the Black Hills of the Dakota territory, I grabbed my atlas (yes, I still have one) and looked for the path she would have to take. It led me to a place near Chadron, Nebraska, a real town in the northwestern corner of the state.

 

The location gave me a wagon route to Cheyenne, Wyoming, that a wagon train might take, and a grassland that would support a yearly cattle drive to the railhead in North Platte. Perfect, I thought.

 

Trout Ranch near Chadron, NE
Chadron, NE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’d been through Nebraska once while on a tour with my college choir. We sang in Lincoln, then lit out for Colorado. All I really remember is that I could see the Rocky Mountains coming for hours and hours—it felt like days!

Eastern NE is flat!

So, my memory of Nebraska is flat. Research, however, made me realize that wasn’t the case for the area I’d chosen. Back to editing.

 

JAMES is set in the rolling hills of northwestern Nebraska. And those hills come into play in the story. So does the weather, but that’s another blog.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Do you care where a story is set or does it not really matter to you?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win one of two electronic copies of JAMES.

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JAMES by Tracy Garrett

After five years leading the Lord’s flock in King’s Ford, Nebraska, The Reverend James Hathaway is used to the demands on his time. But nothing could prepare him to find a baby in a basket on his front step. He always expected to marry before becoming a father. Then a young widow agrees to help him learn to care for the child and he wonders if he hasn’t found his future.

 

Widow Esther Travers is still reeling over the loss of her newborn baby girl when she’s asked to help care for another baby. Vowing to get the little one off to a good start, she doesn’t plan to fall for the very handsome preacher, too.

EXCERPT

“Reverend! Reverend Hathaway!”

James heard Tad shouting long before he reached the cabin at the north end of King’s Ford, the town he’d called home for nearly five years now. The seven-year-old ran errands for many folks in town, though most often it was for the doctor. If Doctor Finney was sending for a preacher this early in the morning, it couldn’t be good news. James buttoned his vest and pulled on his frock coat then glanced in the small mirror hung beside the front door to be sure his collar was tucked in properly, then studied his face.

He looked tired. A wagon had creaked and rumbled past his home well before dawn and the noise had dragged him from a sound sleep. He’d been sitting at the table since then, trying to write his Sunday sermon, but inspiration hadn’t gotten out of bed with him. Ah, well. It was only Tuesday.

James glanced around his small home. The parsonage, if you could call the drafty, poorly lit cabin by so lofty a title, sat at the far north end of town. The church sat to the south of the parsonage, which meant the larger building did nothing to block the winter winds that howled down from the Dakota hills thirty or so miles away.

Deciding he wouldn’t scandalize any parishioner he passed, he lifted his hat from the small table under the mirror and opened the door. He was so focused on Tad that he nearly tripped over a basket left on his stoop.

“What on earth?”

“A basket.”

“Yes, Tad, I see that. Who left it here?” He immediately thought of the wagon that had awoken him. “Why didn’t they knock? I’ve been home since nightfall.”

Tad crept closer, lifted a corner of the cloth covering the contents, and jumped back like there was a snake inside. “Baby!” Tad yelled.

“Don’t play games, Tad. Tell me what’s…” James didn’t jump away, though he wanted to. “Merciful heavens, there’s a baby in here.”

BUY on Amazon!

Ebook – https://amzn.to/3cBUP2I

Paperback – https://amzn.to/2Uxodkz

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Tracy

Where I’m From – A Fun Excercise!


I discovered this years ago, and I enjoyed the trip down memory lane so much while creating this, I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a wonderful family keepsake.

And you don’t have to be a writer to do it – promise!

Below mine is the ‘Where I’m From’ template –  If you decide to try it, please post your results in the comments! 

Where I’m From

 

I’m from Johnson Baby Oil, lemon juice hair bleach, and swimming pool perfume. From standing on towels to protect bare feet from tarmac, waiting to pay Smitty the Ice Cream Man for my fudgicle. I’m from Lilac scented, kite flying, cloud watching summers.

I’m from shoelace skate key bracelets, homemade skateboards, and bicycle wheels clacking with playing cards. From kick the can, pickup softball games, and hide-n-seek until after dark when Mom yelled, including our middle names.  I’m from Gold Bell Gift Stamps, candy necklaces, and Vicks Vapo-Rub.

I’m from the big house on the corner, with the blue spruce dressed in red lights for Christmas. I’m from the room in the corner, with two windows, model horses, swimming ribbons, and a pet mouse, Scout. I’m the one on the left of the couch, Steve on the right, Nancy in the middle. I’m from the creek that ran through woods, all the way to Hidden Lake. I’m from the Civic theater with Tarzan, slow-pokes and ancient, popcorn-scented darkness.

I’m from Shakotko bones and Stutte high foreheads. From Lanie’s sweet smile, and Marge’s distracted love. From Nancy’s elfin face, bullheaded stubbornness, and undying loyalty. I’m from put your finger on your hand to show where you live Michiganders, hockey on TV with my chin on dad’s hip and, after the Lions losing on Thanksgiving in Tiger’s stadium, coming home to the smell of Mom’s turkey and dressing.

 I’m from Angry God Baptists, singing in the choir, and the golden-naved church I thought I’d be married in, and never was. I’m from Russia and Saskatoon, Livonia, and Petoskey, pirogues and pasties. I’m from shit on a shingle, milk toast, tuna casserole and Jiffy Pop.

I’m the keeper of treasures: photos, Christmas ornaments, and Toto’s Styrofoam Reindeer from first grade. From Nancy’s library, to her ‘I Love You’ charm around my neck, keeping a promise all these years she’s been gone.

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The WHERE I’M FROM Template

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

 

Julie Benson’s Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk about songs with cowboy in the title.

The winner of the wine glass, cover, and copy of Home On the Ranch:  Colorado Rescue is:

Estella

Congratulations! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you everyone who spent part of your day with me.

                                      Julie

Tracy Garrett Returns to Visit!

Former Filly Tracy Garrett is heading this way and will be here Friday, August 7, 2020!

It’s exciting. She’ll talk about how important setting is to a story.

She comes toting 2 digital copies of James to giveaway!

I haven’t seen the Fillies this excited in a while. We do love Tracy.

Maybe she’ll tell us what she’s been up to. Sure hope to talk her ear off.

So stop by on Friday or Saturday and give her a shout.

It’ll be a fun time!

 

A Cowboy Song in My Heart!

This is the real life cowboy who inspired the first novel I sold.

I hate to admit this, but as a child, I wasn’t a fan of the country music my mother played music. But since I sold my first contemporary western romance in 2011, I’ve come to love it. The other day I thought about how many great songs have cowboy in the title. The first one that popped into my mind was “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” by Willie Nelson. For fun, I ran a searched to find others.

The first site on my search was http://www.myweddingsongs.com. The irony is the day before I wrote this post, I turned in revisions on To Marry A Texas Cowboy which comes out in September. In that book, my hero temporarily manages his grandmother’s wedding planning business! When I went to the website, I discovered the fourth Saturday in July is the Day of the Cowboy. If I’d known, July 25th would’ve found me in my recliner watching cowboy movies. Then I would’ve sat on the patio with a cool drink and listened to cowboy songs.

Since I missed this year’s day, I’m compiling my Day of the Cowboy playlist for Saturday July 24, 2021. Here’s my list so far.

Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys by Waylon and Willie

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? by Paula Cole

Should’ve Been a Cowboy by Toby Keith

Cowboys and Angels by Garth Brooks

Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big and Rich

Cowboy Casanova by Carried Underwood

Cowboy Take Me Away by The Chicks

The Cowboy Rides Away by George Strait

Don’t Call Him Cowboy by Conway Twitty

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys by Willie Nelson

The Cowboy in Me by Tim McGraw

Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy by Chris LeDoux

Cowboy Love by John Michael Montgomery

Asphalt Cowboy by Jason Aldean

The Cowboy’s Hat by Chris LeDoux

Cowboy’s Back in Town by Trace Adkins

100% Cowboy by Jason Meadows

Cowboys and Angels by Garth Brooks

My Cowboy by Jessie James

Cowboys Like Us by George Strait

All Around Cowboy by Waylon Jennings

Cowboy Logic by The Charlie Daniels Band

Cowboys Are My Weakness by Trisha Yearwood (Oh, yes! Mine too!)

I Want a Cowboy by Reba McEntire

I Ain’t Her Cowboy Anymore by George Strait

Broken Down Cowboy

And two non-country music entries…

Put the Boy Back in Cowboy by Bon Jovi

I Wannt Be a Cowboy by Boys Don’t Cry

(This has a great video if you love watching Jon Bon Jovi!)

Since I was having a great time and in a wonderful mood after listening to many of the above, I searched for best songs about cowboys, and I had to include these.

Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi

Desperado by The Eagles

The songs that spoke to me as I compiled my list were “Cowboy Logic” by The Charlie Daniels Band, “I Want a Cowboy” by Reba McEntire, and “100% Cowboy” by Jason Meadows. To listen to those, click on the song title. Now I have another way to brighten the day when I’m feeling blue–listen to songs with cowboy in the title!

To be entered in the random drawing for the brand wine glass, the wine cover and a copy of Home on the Range: Colorado Rescue, leave a comment stating your favorite song with cowboy in the title and why you like it.

 

Old Wives’ Tales Around the House


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I love The Farmer’s Almanac and have both an old version and I a newer one.  I enjoy reading about old wives’ tales around the house from days gone by and wanted to share some of them with you. I took this information from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Enjoy!

  • Never give a knife as a housewarming present, or your new neighbor will become an enemy. I grew up on a version of this.  In Texas we were told never to give a knife to anybody under any circumstances; so, we always did the next thing.
  • If you give a steel blade to a friend make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship
  • When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.  I never heard of this and only moved twice since we married 52 years ago and I always brought my old broom.  Hum?  Fact or fiction?  We’ve had a wonderful life in both house.

  • Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan’s territory. If you do, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers.)  I knew never to walk under a ladder because it’d bring you bad luck, but never knew the name for the sign of the fig, which I think we all have used at one time or another.
  • To protect your house from lightning, gather hazel tree branches on Palm Sunday and keep them in water. How many of you have a hazel tree or can even get branches?  Not in my neighborhood.
  • To banish serpents and venomous creatures from the room, scatter Solomon’s seal on the floor. I have two issues with this.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a serpent or venomous creature in our house and I sure don’t know what Solomon’s seal is.  Do any of you?
  • Never pound a nail after sundown or you will wake the tree gods. Interesting???
  • Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets’ nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to a house of any age. Well, here in Texas, we like to hang a horseshoe over the door for good luck.
  • Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.

I thought this had a bunch a fun superstitions and old wives’ tales from around the house.  There are many more takes about the house and home, but are they fact or fiction?  Often only time will tell.

Do you have a superstition you want to share?

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will  send you either

your choice of an eBook of any of my books listed on Amazon or

a $10.00 Bath and Bodyworks gift card.

 

It’s Yee-Haw Day!

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Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Mary Connealy

I am super excited to find Aiming for Love, book #1 in Brides of Hope Mountain series, is a finalist for a Maggie Award from the Georgia Romance Writers. It’s a mixed blessing though, because I wanted to go to the Moonlight and Magnolia Conference, I have some good writer friends in the area. And the conference is canceled!!! Boo! List of Finalists

 

 

Margaret Brownley

IN THE MOOD FOR A SHORT SUMMER READ? 

NOW ONLY $0.99

 

When two people unknowingly own the same dog,

there’s bound to be trouble. 

 

Amazon

 

Karen Witemeyer

I just learned that An Archer Family Christmas won the 2020 FHL Reader’s Choice Award for best novella. I’m thrilled! This story came about as a response to readers who clamored for more of the Archer Brothers series. I had so much fun reuniting the entire Archer clan and bringing an all-new adventure to their doorstep. My favorite part was meeting the next generation of Archers in the children who played a large role in the story. If you’re in the mood for some Christmas in July, grab a copy and enjoy!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

Laura Drake

My 12th cowboy romance published Tuesday! I’d be honored if you checked it out!

Link to all retailers HERE

 

Charlene Raddon Has Winners!

Miss Charlene, thanks for coming. We loved having you!

Now for the drawing……………..

The ebook of Priscilla goes to…….. DEBRA GUYETTE

The audiobook of Barclay goes to….. JANINECATMOM

I’m kicking up my heels for you ladies! Yes I am. You’re gonna love these stories.

Watch for Miss Charlene’s email soon.

Everyone have a great week. Stay cool, safe, and healthy!

CREATING A MULTI-AUTHOR SERIES by Charlene Raddon

 

When I got the idea for my Widows of Wildcat Ridge series, I had no idea what I was doing. The notion popped into my head; I became excited and jumped in with both feet. I think I left my head behind.

The first thing I did was contact a couple of writers I highly respected and ask them their opinions and if they’d be interested in joining me. They said yes. I wonder if they’re glad they did. At this point, we’re about to complete our second multi-author series.

That done, I did some research on locations. I wanted an isolated gold mining town in the mountains where I could destroy the mine and kill most of the miners. Had I seen Godless at the time? No, I didn’t know that TV series existed. Since I live in Utah, a state not often used in romance novels, that’s the location I chose. I avoided the Wasatch mountains where several mines had existed (think Park City and Alta; ski towns now). I decided to set the series In a mountain range a little farther south, the Manti-La Sals. I picked a spot for my mine to sit, with the town nearby. I wrote to several good authors to invite them to join in, and most accepted—a thrilling surprise.

I researched the flora and fauna of the area, which I already knew, but double-checked my facts. I shared this information with the authors, and, with their fertile minds, they quickly came up with ideas. And we were off and running.

Unfortunately, we soon ran into difficulties. What happened to destroy the mine and kill most of the miners? More research. The deeper I dug, the more problems I encountered. The main roadblock was the fact that there had never been a gold mine in those mountains. There were coal mines, and one had suffered a devastating explosion. Two hundred miners killed. Only a ghost town remains.

I decided to base the series there. It didn’t work. Too many differences between coal mining and gold mining. And other problems. So, I kicked the Manti-La Sals into the round bin and went back to work. I settled on the Unita mountain range, where a gold mine had existed in the 1800s. Not only that, but the Spaniards had established mines in the area in the 1600s. Mines no one’s ever found.

We opened our town, destroyed our mine, producing lots of widows to feature in our stories. Our next dilemma? Learning to share, communicate, and weave all our tales together. Now, that was phenomenally painstaking.

You see, we wanted a town and stories that blended, clashed, and intermingled.

We succeeded.

By “we” I mean myself and the other nine authors in the series: Pam Crooks, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbott, Christine Sterling, Kit Morgan, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Tracy Garrett, and Kristy McCaffrey. Some of us did more than one book, producing a total of sixteen.

We had maps of the area and town. We had lists of flora and fauna. Weather, travel routes and modes, what towns and cities existed at the time, what Native Americans lived in the territory? At first, we posted our research data on DropBox, but not everyone liked DropBox, so we switched to Google Docs. We formed a Facebook page for the series open to readers and another for the authors to communicate among ourselves. Believe me, tons of emails and posts went back and forth. So many that some of us thought we’d go crazy trying to keep up with everything. Three authors dropped out and were replaced. Our lives breathed, ate, slept, and dreamed of this series from the summer of 2019 to May 2020.  

To achieve our goal, we had to read each story published. We had to keep charts of characters, names, dates, characteristics, minor characters, plots, premises, and on and on. Trying to meld our stories together wasn’t easy. Inevitably, someone used a character from someone else’s story and accidentally gave them the wrong color hair or name. A nightmare in the making. The decisions to be made seemed endless. How often should we publish? What promotions should we do? Who should handle what? You might call the series a co-op.

Then there were the covers, all of which I created, according to the wishes and descriptions of the authors. We made memes for announcements and promos. We arranged launch parties. We worked, and we worked hard.

Despite all that (or because of it), the Widows of Wildcat Ridge (not the first name we came up with) proved a huge success.

I told my friends, if I ever mentioned starting a new series, to shoot me. Amazingly, they didn’t. Nor did I shoot myself. I endured and my fantastic authors along with me. I have come to love each of them.

As you know, in June 2020, we did start another series, just not an interconnected one. The idea for Bachelors & Babies bounced around in my head for a few years. I decided that when Widows of Wildcat Ridge ended, that’s what I would write. It would be a trilogy about three brothers who ran a Montana ranch together and a girl who arrives on their doorstep one night, pregnant and terrified. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a good series it would make, and so, I jumped into the fire again, taking most of my fellow authors with me.

Those of you familiar with Bachelors & Babies will know how well that series has done. Will I ever do another one? Well, maybe. Keep watching and find out.

And if any of you get any notions about doing your own interconnected series, give me a ring. I might be able to save you a few headaches.

Today I’ll give away a free ebook of Priscilla, book 1 of Widows of Wildcat Ridge, and an audio copy of Barclay, Bachelors and Babies book 4. Be sure to leave a comment!
 

ABOUT CHARLENE:  Charlene Raddon fell in love with the wild west as a child, listening to western music with her dad and sitting in his lap while he read Zane Gray books. She never intended to become a writer. Charlene was an artist. She majored in fine art in college.

In 1971, she moved to Utah, excited for the opportunity to paint landscapes. Then her sister introduced her to romance novels. She never picked up a paintbrush again. One morning she awoke to a vivid dream she knew must go into a book, so she took out a typewriter and began writing. She’s been writing ever since.

Instead of painting pictures with a brush, Charlene uses words.

 

Char’s Links:

https://twitter.com/craddon http://www.facebook.com/charlene.b.raddon http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1232154.Charlene_Raddon

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/charlene-raddon

https://www.pinterest.com/charraddon5080/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlene-raddon-00854629/

https://www.instagram.com/charrad75/