Maverick Preachers by Victoria Bylin

angel230.jpgI love writing “preacher” heroes. Even before I made the leap to Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals, my Harlequin Historicals all had preachers with grit and purpose. They had faults, too. And courage. And hearts as big as the sky. I can’t think of anything more “alpha” than a man who’s willing to die for a cause, and that’s the kind of preacher I write.

Next in line for hero status is Reverend Joshua Blue. Josh and his wife Adie are side characters in A Bounty Hunter’s Bride (Love Inspired Historicals, May 2008). They get their own story in A Maverick Preacher (LIH, February 2009). Josh isn’t shy. He’ll ride into an outlaw camp or preach in a saloon. He’ll take a punch if it’s called for, but he’s just as quick to protect the people in his care.

Old West preachers ministered to people where they lived. Like his real life predecessors, Josh starts a church in a saloon. He’s a peaceful man, but he carries a gun. It’s a calling card of sorts, his way of meeting men on their own turf. When he rides into outlaw camps, he’s quick to tell the story of Jonah and the whale. He believes in second chances, mostly because he very much needed one for himself. That’s one of the things I love about westerns. Everyone gets to start over.

abbies-outlaw.jpgMy preachers are fictional, but I’ve borrowed bits from historical accounts. One of my favorite stories gets mentioned in Of Men and Angels (HH, July 2003). When William Merritt, a maverick preacher in his own right, leads a church service in July, the men sing “Silent Night” because it’s the only church song they know. Reverend John Leaf (Abbie’s Outlaw, April 2005) is a reformed gunfighter. He walked into my mind fully formed, a mix of the violence and humility that come from staring down the gun barrel of eternity.

Old West preachers weren’t wimps. They traveled for miles in storms and brutal heat. Along with their wives (there’s more to be said there!), they started churches and towns. They lived with purpose and brought hope to the far edges of the world. They weren’t perfect men, but more than a few were hero material.

Catherine Stang Shares Sights of Interest in Kansas

catherine-and-dogs.jpgThank you for asking me to guest blog.  I’ve always loved western romances, especially western historical romances.  I grew up in Kansas in the middle of what was once a cattle town.  My great-grandmother loved to spin stories of the Old West, which included outlaws, gunslingers and of course brave lawmen. Kansas actually has quite a western history.           

sweetserenity.jpgI want to share a few places that you may not be aware of.  Coffeyville, Kansas is home to the Dalton’s Defender’s museum. The Dalton boys started out as Deputy Marshals, but soon found the wrong side of the law more profitable.  Their crime spree included bank and train robberies and horse stealing among other things. On Oct 5, 1892, five members of their gang, Bob, Grat, Emmett, Bill Power and Dick Broadwell, rode into Coffeyville, Kansas, set on robbing the Condon National Bank and the First National Bank at the same time. Their plot was foiled when they were recognized and the alarm was sounded.  The townsmen gathered weapons and waited for them to come out of the bank. Four of the Dalton gang lost their lives.  Only Emmett survived to stand trial. He was sentenced to life in prison, but was later pardoned by the governor and fled to California.  The remaining members of the gang who weren’t in on that robbery continued their crime spree.   

To find out more about the Dalton gang visit  http://www.gunslinger.com/dalton.html  To learn more about them and the museum check out http://www.coffeyville.com/Historical%20Society.htm  

Abilene was a famous end-of-the-line cattle town, where famous marshals Tom Smith and Wild Bill Hickok kept the peace. 

Check out http://www.coffeyville.com/Historical%20Society.htm to learn about old Abilene town. 

old-abilene-town.jpgIf you’re in Abilene, be sure to have dinner at the Brookville Hotel, where they’re serving the same family-style meal they did during the cattle days.  (Although, the hotel has been moved from its original site in Brookville, they did a great job of recreating it.) Also, if you’re a WWII buff, President Eisenhower has his Presidential library there. http://www.abilenekansas.org/page.aspx?page_id=20  

horse.jpgJust outside Larned, Kansas is Fort Larned.  It is one of the few remaining forts from the old west that still stands with all it’s original buildings.  It’s a must see for any military history buff.  To learn more about it, check out http://www.nps.gov/fols/  

My family would tell you to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas.  My mother’s cousin, Linda Clover, is keeper of it right now. In 1953, farmer Frank Stoeber began rolling the spare bits of sisal twine in his barn.  By 1957, his twine ball weighed 1 and 1/2 tons and stood 8 feet tall.  By 1961, when he turned it over to the town, it had over 1,600,000 feet of twine rolled into a sphere 11 feet in diameter, and it has never stopped growing.  Today it weighs almost 9 tons.  For all the jokes that are made about it, my cousin Linda gets calls from interested people all over the world. 

kscawtwine_tourists2.jpgJack Clover briefly relinquishes control of the twine unspooler to tourists Stephanie Kawachi and Christian Cerrito, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 To find out more. check out   http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Cawker/twine.html    

100_0677.jpgHere I am in pink at my first book signing.  Linda Clover, the keeper of the Biggest Ball of Twine is on my right.  You can see more pictures on my website www.catherinestang.com  

These are only a few of the interesting places to see in Kansas.  I hope I enticed all of you to not just drive through Kansas on your way across the country, but to stop and visit some of our rich historical sites. To learn more about Kansas check out http://www.kansasmemory.org/       

Here are a couple of books that may help you with your tour of Kansas:  Kansas Off The Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places by Patti DeLano & Cathy Johnson.  The Old Wild West: A Traveler’s Guide by Michael McCoy.  This one had a great chapter on Kansas.  

Fleeing the prospect of a brutal marriage, Serenity Springfield, needs a safe haven. Widower Collin MacClarron needs a mother for his four rambunctious daughters.  Fate and a meddling grandmother bring them together, but will Serenity’s secrets tear them apart?  

“SWEET SERENITY is a befitting title for this beautiful romance that will capture your heart from the very first page.”  Reviewer Billie Jo – Romance Junkies  

You can see all my other releases on my website at www.catherinestang.com  and www.myspace.com  Happy Holidays!

TiVo Alert!

avengingangeldvd.jpgAVENGING ANGEL

DECEMBER 29

9PM ET

HALLMARK CHANNEL

When a preacher (Kevin Sorbo) defends a local town from greedy land-barons, his church is destroyed and his family is killed.  Now known simply as “The Preacher,” he picks up his long-forgotten gun, leaves town, and heads out into the desert to begin a new life as a bounty hunter.  Returning years later, he discovers his town has been overrun by the same scoundrels who destroyed his quiet existence.  The Preacher can no longer stand by and watch as innocent people suffer the same fate as he.  Justice must be served.

Victoria Bylin Comes Sunday!

Dear heavens, we not only have one guest this weekend, but two as it turns out! My daddy always called it “two for the price of one.” That meant it was a darn good bargain and you’d best snap it right up before it got away.

abbies-outlaw.jpgIn addition to Catherine Stang on Saturday, we twisted Victoria Bylin’s arm behind her back and made her promise on a stack of Bibles to be here Sunday to chat. She’ll give us the low-down on maverick preachers, a subject that’s sure to interest, with it being Sunday and all. Miz Bylin has written a passel of western romances for Harlequin but has one coming up in May for Steeple Hill. Drop by both Saturday and Sunday and say howdy. Take off your shoes and stay awhile. 

Filly #3 – Linda Broday!

Yep, y’all figured her out right away.   Weren’t her leopard print slippers just the cutest thing?

Now, with Stacey Kayne, Cheryl St.John and Linda Broday off the list, let me tell you that you can scratch Patricia Potter off, too.  We feel real bad about her not havin’ a picture to send us.  The good news, though, is that there’s fewer fillies to guess from.

All that’s left is:

Mary Connealy

Pam Crooks

Charlene Sands

Elizabeth Lane

Geralyn Dawson

Karen Kay

Keep those guesses coming!

Cheryl St.John is Filly #2!

That’s right!  That little snow bunny is Cheryl.  Ain’t she a sweetie?

Y’all are getting the hang of this, but we want to keep the contest fun and easy (but not too easy!) by helpin’ you along a bit, so keep track of the fillies as we tell you who they are, y’hear? 

 By the time we mosey on in to next week, you’ll have a better idea of who’s who!