Judging a book by its cover

You’re standing in the checkout line, and the books catch your eye.  One book in particular.  You pick it up, turn it over, and open to the first page.  You must have it.  Into your cart it goes.

What was it that caught your eye?  Something about that cover made you reach for the book.  Maybe something about the back cover lured you in.  Maybe you didn’t even look at the price

I’ll bet you can remember more than one time that you’ve picked up a book for the cover alone.  I know I have.  On the other hand, I’ve passed by some terrific stories because the covers turned me off.  I can think of one in particular.  I got the book in my stack of entries to judge for the RITA awards.  I even put it off until the last, only to discover it was an incredible story that hooked me from the get go and never let up.  I liked the author’s voice and style so much that I hunted her backlist and read as many as I could get my hands on.  So what was it I didn’t like about that cover you ask?  It was a cartoon cover.  I have never purchased a book with a cartoon cover—well except the others by that same author.

I think most of us here have auto buy authors – an author you buy simply because you know they’re going to deliver a story you will enjoy, no matter the subject or the cover.  For me there are several of those: Sharon Sala, Anne Frasier, Janet Evanovich, Robyn Carr just to name a few.

I’ve purchased books based on reviews – sort of like movie reviews that tempt me.  Not because the review was glowing, but because the synopsis told me the book was about a subject or character I knew I would like.  I’ve bought books because someone recommended them to me.  I have purchased a book because of an ad.  That could have been because of the cover or the blurb.  I’ve never bought one because of a quote on the front or because I saw a book trailer. 

If I had to say where most of my book buying was done over the past couple of years or more, I’d have to confess it wasn’t done in stores, but online.  Convenience is the reason – and because the chain stores carry less and less of the mid-list books.  At least one huge chain store near me no longer carries Harlequin or Silhouette lines.

Online book shopping is different.  You pretty much need to know what you’re looking for, or at least I do.  amazon has that clever suggestion feature that shows what they think you’d like based on your previous purchases.  And you can subscribe to any number of newsletters by your favorite authors and be prepared for new releases.

But something about looking at those covers…

Something about picking up that book, seeing it in person…up close and personal, covers are enticing.  For me — If it has a western or an Americana look, I’m a sucker.  There was a day when some readers would buy any book with Fabio on the cover.  I’m probably in the minority of romance readers who aren’t impressed by cover models.  In fact, if I recognize the guy on the front, it’s a complete turnoff for me.  He has become a model in my eyes, not the fantasy hero I’m going to meet for the first time.   I guess that’s it – a recognizable face spoils the fantasy.

So, do you read outside the romance genre?

What are your criteria for spending your cash on a new author’s book?

Have you ever bought a book because you’d met the author and liked him or her?

What are the top three elements that entice you to buy a book?

A Mother’s Day

With Mothers’ Day coming up, I wanted to share something special with you.  It’s a journal entry written by my great-grandmother, Isabella Eleanor Pratt Robison, in 1892, describing a typical day in her life.

Isabella was born in 1854, into a prominent Salt Lake City family.  At the age of 17 she married Franklin Alonso Robison and, over the course of their forty-year-marriage, bore him twelve children.  Most of her life was spent in the southern Utah town of Fillmore, Utah’s original capitol.  In 1912, she suffered a stroke and passed away at the age of 57.

Here is a glimpse into her life.

“15 March 1892

Yesterday morning I arose from my bed with a determination to seek to cultivate patience, not to get nervous and cross at the little delays and accidents so incidental in large families of small children.  I breathed a prayer to that effect and I tried to keep it in mind through the day.

I put the boiler on to heat the wash water, got breakfast, sent three of the little ones to school.  Carrie, age 6, said she was sick.  I told her to be good and go to school and perhaps she would feel better in a little while.

I began to wash.  Alfred wanted some sacks mended to carry grain into the field to sow.  I left the clothes soaking, mended the sacks; put up victuals to last him a week.  Wash half an hour.  Alfred wants one more sack; empty and weigh my dried fruit, put it in anything that is clean and comes handy…go back to the clothes, find they have not diminished in numbers during my absence.  Rub, rub, rub.

Then come the children from school.  Carrie is as pale as a ghost, give her some physic and warm tea, put her to bed and ask God to bless and heal her.  Rub, rub, rub.  Carrie comes out and wants a piece of toast, make her some.  She is better and says she is well.  Wash again a little while.

A visitor comes.  While resting and conversing hear a racket as though the dishes were falling from the cupboard, discover that Ruth has tipped from the top shelf of the cupboard a pan of milk.  Think I will punish her as soon as company withdraws.  Am glad company is present so that my nervous anger will abate before being left alone with the children.  Company goes.  Think what is the use to scold over spilt milk?  Think I will have a little lunch before resuming laundry work.  Milk all over pantry floor…Milk on every shelf, in every dish, in the butter, meat, sugar, and fruit, milk everywhere and yet not a drop for my lunch, nor can I have a lunch till Herma cleans up the milk.

Child comes in with an egg, it drops, little ones run through it.

Three hours later.  All in all, I have many things to be thankful for.

Isabella E. Pratt Robison”

(This is me now)  I only wish I had a fraction of her patience and faith.  Thanks for letting me share this with you.  Does it bring back any of your family stories?

The Facts of Love!

It goes without saying that love has been around since the beginning of time, so it’s not surprising that experts have nailed down some similarities between lovers.  Here’s a few fun ones as compiled by Laura Schaefer, a writer for Match.com:

**1. Men who kiss their wives in the morning live five years longer than those who don’t.

**2. When it comes to doing the deed early in the relationship, 78 percent of women would decline having sex if they had not shaved their legs or underarms.

**3.  Feminist women are more likely than other females to be in a romantic relationship.

(Now, this one surprised me.  Aren’t the feminists known for declaring they don’t need a man in their lives?)

**4.  When describing how they fell in love, lovers overwhelmingly believe the process is out of their control.

**5.  Couples’ personalities merge over time to make partners more and more similar.

**6. People are more likely to tilt their heads to the right when kissing instead of the left (a whopping 65 percent go to the right!).

**7. According to mathematical theory, we should date a dozen people before choosing a long-term partner to provide the best chance that you’ll make a love match.

**8. A man’s beard grows fastest when he anticipates sex.

(How could they possibly determine that?)

**9. The single biggest predictor of love is proximity. Familiarity breeds comfort and closeness–and romance.

(Well, duh.  Those of us who write romances have always known that.  Throw the hero and heroine together from the get-go, and there’s a guaranteed happy ending.)

**10.  Rosy cheeks are crucial when looking for a lover.  British scientists have discovered that primates prefer mates with red faces.  A rosy glow in humans indicates good health.

(Hmm.  Maybe that’s why we women use blusher, eh?)

A recent study on more than 10,000 dating individuals done at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that it doesn’t take us much time to know when the right person appeals to us.  In fact, it’s almost instantaneous.

Within moments of meeting, men and women rely on visual cues such as age, height and attractiveness to determine their mates.  Oddly enough, deeper rooted factors such as religion, education and income tend to play far smaller roles.

Hmm.  Interesting.

I remember the exact moment when I met my husband.  It’s a vivid memory.  I was a junior in high school and working at a Shopko type of store as a cashier.  He came in with his best friend, who was my best friend’s boyfriend.  Doug stood over by the magazine rack with an Old Home Chocolate pie in his hand.  He had no idea I was even there, but I knew who he was.  He came through my check stand with his friend and barely glanced at me.  But I schmoozed my girlfriend to set us up on a double-date.

I even remember where we went.  And when.  March 10th, 1972.  We went bowling. 

Soon after, our best friends broke up, but Doug and I stayed together.  Even though I saw him first and initiated the first date, he fell for me faster.  I dated a few guys after we met, but Doug never dated another girl since meeting me. 

I absolutely love girl-meets-boy stories.  Tell me yours.  How did you meet your mate?  Was it love at first sight?  Or did it take you longer to decide?

Aprons: Nifty Things to Have Around

It’s so great to be back on our regular blogging schedules here on P&P. I’ve really missed everyone! I hope you enjoyed the guests and maybe won some fabulous prizes.


Today, I’m going to talk about the importance of aprons. I’m not so old that I can’t remember when every wife, mother, and grandmother wore them. They were quite handy to have around. The main principle was to protect the dress underneath, especially when cooking. Aprons were a lot easier to wash then a dress. Back before automatic washers and dryers there was usually only one wash day set aside per week. Unlike today when we can pop something in the washer and turn the dial, washing clothes was a major chore.


But let’s look at some of the other uses that aprons filled.


They were handy for removing hot pans from the oven. Not exactly a good replacement for pot holders, aprons were readily at their fingertips and did the job.


Aprons were used for gathering eggs from the chicken coop. Or for carrying fussy chicks. And sometimes for taking half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. They could also shoo an angry rooster or a lazy dog off the porch in case of need.


When company came, those aprons made ideal hiding places for shy children. And those big old aprons were excellent for drying tears or cleaning dirty ears.


When the weather turned cold, aprons could be wrapped around grandma’s arms and used as a makeshift shawl. Or she could wipe sweat from a brow and carry kindling and wood chips into the kitchen for the stove.


While working in the garden, aprons were really useful to have. A woman could load her apron full of ripe vegetables. And she could use her apron to hold the hulls of peas she shelled. In the fall, aprons could carry apples that had fallen from the trees. Those nifty garments could polish those apples to a shine too.


Unexpected company coming to call? No problem. It was surprising how much furniture that apron could dust in a short time. Better and faster than a feather duster and she didn’t have to go looking for it!


Aprons were amazingly used in place of cell phones. When dinner was ready, grandma walked out onto the porch and waved her apron to call men in from the fields. It was a sign dinner was ready and they’d better get their rears to the house.


The big roomy pockets of aprons would hold plenty of clothes pins when grandma was hanging out wash on the line. Those pockets held a variety of other things the wearer wanted close at hand.


In the West, aprons were made from the all-important flour sack and they covered as much of the dress as possible. Cotton material was also used if it was available. The full aprons had a loop or opening that went over the head and held the bib in place. All aprons had fabric ties that went around the waist and tied in back. There were also half aprons that went only from the waist to the knees. Back in Victorian times and earlier, aprons were decorative and worn as actual clothing. In the 50’s and 60’s before they went out of style completely, aprons became merely a fashion statement when entertaining and were very frilly.


Whatever the use, aprons were around for a long time. It’s sad that no one wears them anymore. I have fond memories of my grandmother in her worn apron shelling peas on her front porch. And of my mother, standing at the stove preparing a meal. I loved those old aprons.


Do you have any memories of aprons that were worn by your grandmother, mother….or grandpa? I’d like to hear from you.

The Travails of Research and The Wild, Wild Women of the West

Ahhh, the perils of research.   I started out last night blogging on one subject, then became diverted.   So please forgive me this morning for a completely disorganized blog.
I love research. I wish I could spend nearly every waking hour doing research. It’s a curse.   When I wish to romanticize this obsession, I attribute it to a curious mind that led me into journalism. But — whispers that honest part of me — maybe I’m just an incredibly nosy person. I always have to know everything about everyone and every place I go.
My greatest problem is that I start out with one topic, and I end up with an entirely different one. It would take a psychiatrist to figure out how I got from wild women of the West to ghosts.  There’s really no logic. Just that devilish curiosity.
The internet is the most marvelous – and devilish – invention ever conceived by man. I should be working on revisions for the December book, and there I was at two a.m. researching, of all things, ghosts.
I ended up there by a round-about route. I started out innocently enough at eight p.m. last night.  I knew what I was going to blog about today: women rustlers.   I had all  the information at hand.   At least I thought I had.

I started and ran into a roadblock.   Then I started thinking .   (Always a dangerous thing).   What happened to my lady rustlers? 

Most received short prison sentences, if any, while men were often hung for the same offence.  I reasoned that the cause was lack of prisons for women.    Wrong.   Women were sent to territorial prisons along with the men.

Thus, a trip to the internet to research old west prisons. I methodically found Yuma Prison, the infamous prison named frequently in western films.
This looks interesting. Too interesting. It’s past midnight. But obsession rules.
Built in 1876, it housed a total of 3,069 prisoners, including 9 women, during its 33 years of existence as a prison. It was, above all, hot. Daily temperatures exceeded 100 degrees four months a year, yet the prison administration was ahead of its time. Despite the references in the film, “3:10 to Yuma,” there were no executions at the Yuma Territorial Prison and it was surprisingly enlightened. There was a library and educational programs, and many inmates learned to read and write. So much for that western lore.

On to other prisons. San Quentin. I didn’t know it was the oldest prison in the west. The current facility – or at least part of it – was built in 1852.

But by now I’m hooked. How many other prisons? There was the Montana Territorial Prison built in 1871. And Fort Selden, built in 1865 in New Mexico. And finally the Colorado State Prison in 1871. I visited them all via internet.  The latter has a ghost tour. Thus the diversion to ghosts. I just had to find out more about them.

It’s now two a.m.

Okay back to my orginal intent.   I wanted to blog about lady rustlers because they were a colorful lot. There was Cattle Annie and Little Britches, the Rose of Cimarron and Cattle Kate among others. The most fascinating to me was the Rose of Cimarron – Rose Dunn.

Rose was convent educated. Her parents came to Oklahoma during the Run in 1889. She met the Doolin gang through her brothers who were cattle thieves, and she was captivated by Bitter Creek Newcomb who was described as “handsome as a movie star.”  (Now how can you not fall in love with a guy named Bitter Creek.)

When she joined the gang, she became nurse, scout, spy, courier and horse holder for the gang but she was not a loose woman. According to “The Cowgirls” by Joyce Gibson Roach, the entire gang worshipped her. If anyone had ever dared to intimate that she was not all a good woman should be, any one of the crowd would have killed the accuser instantly.”

During one encounter between the law and the gang, she proved herself a true western heroine. The gang was holed up in a hotel when discovered by the law. Rose was upstairs when she looked through the window and saw Bitter Creek fall wounded by the livery stable. She buckled two belts of cartridges around her waist, grabbed a Winchester and bailed out the window holding on to sheets tied together to make a rope. Running into the line of fire, she gave Newcomb the revolvers while she manned the Winchester.” Bitter Creek survived that battle but not the next.

 She eventually married into a substantial Oklahoma family and lived a long and respectable life. There is some debate as to whether she served a term in prison or not. That’s another topic for more research.

Cattle Annie and Little Britches also rode with the Doolin Gang. Seventeen year old Annie McDoulet and sixteen-year-old Jennie Stevens were delinquent teenagers. It is reported they stole cattle and horses and peddled whiskey to the Osage. After the Doolin gang was brought to justice, a marshal was charged with bringing them in Little Britches saw the men coming, leaped out a window to a horse, and galloped off. The marshal, not wanting to shoot a woman though she had emptied her gun on him, shot her horse instead. It’s reported she fought like a wild cat until the marshal spanked her.

Then there was Mrs. Helen Loveless. According to the Texas Livestock Journal, Mrs. Loveless was found guilty of killing cattle belonging to stock raisers in Paradise Valley, Texas. She owned her own ranch but apparently fed her hired hands from beef on the range. The reporter added that although Mrs. Loveless was probably forty-five years old, she married a youth of nineteen who hightailed it with some of her horses. The conviction of a woman was unusual, and the reporter concluded that perhaps the jury might not have found her guilty if she had “been young and loveable” instead of “Loveless.”

These are only a few of the wild, wild women of the west. Most served only short prison terms, if any, although Cattle Kate was hanged. Overall, justice seemed much more lenient with women than with men.

And now from those tidbits of history, I have many other subjects to research, including western ghosts.   That may well be my next topic, unless, of course, I’m diverted again. 

Does anyone else here go through this ritual?   Do you stretch one hour into five, popping from one website to another in a search for another wonderful tidbit.   Are you, too, an internet  addict?





Victoria Bylin’s Drawing Winners!

Two lucky readers will get autographed copies of The Bounty Hunter’s Bride!  All the commentors names are in the fish bowl…this is exciting, isn’t it?  And the winners are…. 

Cherie J

and Pat Cochran

Congratulations, ladies! Please send me your address at SaintJohn@aol.com and Vicki will send those out right away.

Thanks to Vicki for a great blog and a terrific weekend as we drew Spring Author Round Up to a close.

Special thanks to Kate Bridges, Heather Garside, Debra Clopton, Linda Ford, Charlotte Hubbard, Susan May Warren, Caol Ann Didier, Janette Kenny, Beth Ciotta, Tanya Hanson, Kathryn Albright, Joyce Henderson and Victoria Bylin for participating in this event and for the generous prizes.  We had a record-breaking week, and you helped make it happen.

Thanks to Linda Broday for helping schedule and post winners and prizes.

Next weekend, special guest Jillian Hart will be here.  The fun just never stops in Wildflower Junction!  Now back to our regularly scheduled Fillies….

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Hello darlings, I want to remind you of some things that the Fillies have going. We’re busier than bunch of magpies! So many activities you can’t shake a stick at ’em all.


1.) The Fillies will be at Coffee Time Romance the entire month of May in their Writers Retreat area. You’ll find a link to us at the left of the screen. Just click on that cute little coffee cup and it’ll take you right to us. Come on over and keep us company. We’ll be giving away some prizes over there and serve up some interesting topics! You don’t want to be left out, that’s for sure.





2.) The Fillies have donated a P&P tote that’s full of goodies to Brenda Novak’s Online Auction. The proceeds are being donated to help find a cure for diabetes. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to Brenda’s heart and to millions of sufferers. The link to it is at http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/  Click on the gift bags and scroll down to find the Fillies’ tote. Also, our own Stacey Kayne has donated her own gift bag and it’s quite something. Great gifts. Make a bid and win some loot!


3.) And lastly, our Stetsons and Spurs Contest is in full swing. If you haven’t registered for it, click on the contest link on the left side of the screen and get your name in the pot. The Fillies are giving away a whole pantry full of prizes to one lucky winner. The drawing will be on June 30th. You still have time so get your rears moving. This is a humdinger of a contest.


The prizes include:

Autographed books by all the Fillies

A pretty red bandana

A handsome horse notepad holder

2 in 1 John Wayne DVD

2 John Wayne magnets

The Rifleman DVD

Lovely scented soap

Bookmarks and cover flats

This is a chance to stock up on some favorite items. Don’t miss it!

My Favorite Cowboys by Victoria Bylin

the_bounty_hunters_bride.jpgI wrote The Bounty Hunter’s Bride for one reason. I got an eyeful of Tom Hart, the cowboy on AMC’s Broken Trail, and I knew I wanted to do another western. The guy isn’t at all good looking. He’s not hero material in the sense of charm, but he had more grit than any hero I’d seen in ages. That mini-series reminded me why I love westerns. It also took me down memory lane with thoughts of my favorite cowboys, both fictional and in real life.


john-_22.jpgMy favorite “real life” cowboy is my brother. The Bounty Hunter’s Bride is dedicated to him and I’m as proud as a peahen to be John Bylin’s sister. He has a Monday-through-Friday job, but on weekends he works cattle on a friend’s ranch. There’s a line in The Bounty Hunter’s Bride about quarter horses having big rumps and pretty faces. That’s from John. I’d have named one of the horses “Whiskey” after his favorite mare, but I went with “Ricochet” instead because it fit the story.


lee-horsley.jpgMy favorite fictional cowboys come from television. At the top of the list is Ethan Cord from Guns of Paradise. The show ran from 1988-90 and I loved every episode. Who could resist a gunslinger with four adopted children? Add a lady banker and it’s the stuff of historical romance. There’s no doubt that show fed my imagination. If it ever comes out as a DVD boxed set, I’m buying it.


marty-robbins.jpgIf you asked my husband and sons to name my favorite western song, they’d shout, “El Paso by Marty Robbins.” The song is almost fifty years old, but the story is timeless. A cowboy in love with a saloon girl gets shot and dies in her arms. I still choke up when I hear it, which is fairly often since I play music while I write.


outsidertim.jpgOne last favorite . . . I keep one book on my desk for inspiration. The story kept me up to all hours and when I put it down, I felt as if the characters were still breathing. It’s The Outsider by Penelope Williamson. Johnny Cain is a gunslinger rather than a true cowboy, but he’s one of my favorite heroes. Johnny wouldn’t have survived without Rachel Yoder, a heroine of true faith and honor. Maybe that the real reason I love westerns. At the heart of it, men and women stand side by side, fighting the same battles . . . and winning!


Vicki is giving away two autographed copies of THE BOUNTY HUNTER’S BRIDE!  Watch for your name to be drawn from the comments. 

Kathryn’s and Joyce’s Drawing Winners!

walks_in_shadow.jpgIt’s kind of sad to see this week drawing to an end, but its not over yet!  If you don’t know Vicki, I know you’ll be delighted to meet her this weekend.

And now for the names of the winners from Friday:

One copy of Joyce Henderson’s WALKS IN SHADOW goes to…. LYNETTE

the_angel_and_the_outlaw.jpgAnd one autographed copy of Kathryn Albright’s THE ANGEL AND THE OUTLAW goes to…. CONNIE N

If that’s you. please send your address to me at SaintJohn@aol.com and I’ll see that these gracious ladies get those right away.

Thanks for blogging with us!

And thanks to Kathryn and Joyce for a Fantastic Friday!

Tanya Hanson’s Winners!

All the commenters who made up a little storyline to go with that wonderful old picture made Tanya Hanson’s job really difficult. But there was one that stood out and she is the lucky winner of a signed copy of “Midnight Bride” and a pair of sterling silver cowboy hat earrings.


The lucky lady is …. MELISSA D!


Tanya also is giving away a $10 gift card for either Starbucks or Coffee Bean.


The gift card goes to Lizzie Starr!


If Melissa D and Lizzie Starr will contact Tanya at TanHanson@aol.com she’ll get those in the mail to you. Big Congratulations to both winners!! Isn’t this fun?