The Fillies at Tea Time!

With the two hour time difference, and an incredibly busy day, I’m late adding a couple more pictures to share with you all.

For those of you unfamiliar, we Harlequin Historical authors are edited out of London.  The London editors, headed by Linda Fildew, arranged a lovely afternoon of tea, scones and delicate sandwiches for us in a unique tea and equestrian shop. 

While we waited for the staff to seat us, we congregated on the back patio and got to know our editors better. 


Here’s Charlene, Stacey, Kate and me next to an antique carriage.


Here we are with three of the London editors.  Linda Fildew, the senior editor, is flanked by Suzy and Sally, her associate eds.  Wonderful, gracious ladies who made us all feel so very welcome. 

The tea had a delightful British feel.  Linda sat at my table, and we had a very engaging discussion.  I was thrilled and honored to learn she has visited us at Petticoats and Pistols, and is quite enthralled with what we are doing.  She mentioned especially loving those Wanted Posters with each of our pictures.

The Fillies in Action!

I’m finally able to take a few minutes to sit and upload some pictures from last night’s Literacy Signing from the RWA Conference here in San Francisco.  I haven’t heard how much money was taken in to donate for literacy, but every year, it’s a huge success.  Judging by the long lines, it’s gonna be a bunch.

For me, this year’s signing was so-o fun.  The time flew by, and it was great signing copies of KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY for readers.  Of course, that hunky cowboy hand fan was a huge help.  The ladies love him!

The highlight, though, was finally meeting two of the Fillies I hadn’t met before.  Pat Potter and Stacey Kayne.  So wonderful to put faces to names, and having five of us together was so awesome.  My only regret was that Karen, Elizabeth, Mary, Cheryl and Linda weren’t there to join us!

My roommate, Renee Spencer, took these photos of us during the signing.

Stacey Kayne and a reader!

Charlene Sands with Sherri Shackelford, one of my roommates.

Pam Crooks signing for a reader.  Note that fan in her hand!

Kate Bridges, always photogenic!

Patricia Potter who is an absolutely charming lady.  Keep your fingers crossed she wins that Rita Saturday night!!!

Last but not least, my favorite picture of all–the five of us together!

On the Way to San Francisco and RWA…


Hello from California!  It’s absolutely gorgeous here! I’m driving up the Pacific Coast Highway on my way to San Francisco. We left Los Angeles Monday morning and missed the earthquake by a day. Luckily there were no major injuries or damage. We were in Napa Valley when it hit and didn’t feel a thing. I’ve got to show you these pictures. I grew up on Gidget movies and Beach Blanket Bingo, and have always wanted to see the land where they were filmed. Malibu mostly, I’m told. Oh, Moondoggy…

  This is the Big Sur area.


  This is a lookout point close to a seal feeding ground. In the distance, we spotted what looked like a shark jumping in the water, or maybe a dolphin. We were told that sharks feed on seals, so it’s possible it was a shark. Up on the cliffs, I spotted two eagles guarding their nest. The hairpin turns require such concentration when driving!

 I didn’t expect the landscape to be so dry all the way up the coast to San Francisco. We drove inland north of Santa Barbara, expecting thicker foliage, but it was as dry as straw and all crops have to be irrigated. Incredibly beautiful, and the grand scale is breathtaking.  North of San Francisco, we saw some areas along the road that were burned from the wildfires, and in fact saw a team of firefighters (about 10 trucks and helicopter crews) dousing a grass fire.


Below is a shopping mall in the middle of it all that looks like an oasis!

We hit San Francisco mid-Tuesday and drove north a couple of hours into Napa Valley. My daughter and niece wanted to see where Parent Trap was filmed. My husband and I wanted to sample some of the best wines in the world. 


And now, San Francisco…


  Painted in the international color of orange so that pilots can see it on a cloudy day.


  This is the beginning of Fisherman’s Wharf. Can you see the famous island of Alcatraz in the bay? It’s in the middle of the photo, to the right of the second big lamp post. A federal prison until 1963.


Union Square above–in the heart of shopping district. Beside it is an example of the architecture. There are seven variations of Victorian architecture in the world, and San Francisco proudly has four types. The city is amazing!  Hope you enjoyed the slide show.  Now I’m off to join the RWA convention and meet up with fellow Fillies.

Best wishes from San Francisco…

Rita Finalist Fillies!

Romance Writers of America proudly sponsors the romance-publishing industry’s highest award of distinction — the RITA Award.

RITA awards are presented annually to the best published romance novels of the year. The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for the best in published romance fiction. The RITA and Golden Heart Award Ceremony is a formal event similar to the Oscars where the winners are finally revealed and honored.

We’re plum proud to have two of our very own talented Fillies among this year’s Rita Finalists!

Patricia Potter and Cheryl St. John!
Beloved Warrior by Patricia Potter
2008 Best Historical Romance Rita Finalist!

From the USA Today bestselling author with a special gift comes the highly anticipated conclusion to her Scottish Highland trilogy. Here is the story of Patrick Maclean-a bold warrior who must rethink his strategy for defeating the enemy if he is to rescue the woman he loves from doom.

Christmas Day Family by Cheryl St.John
2008 Best Romance Novella Rita Finalist! 

Marvel Henley thought she was content until the new handsome doctor, Seth Paxton, and his adorable kids crashed into her life! Suddenly she began to yearn for things she had long stopped wishing for….

Click here to view Cheryl’s book trailer!

We’ll be giving a whoop and a holler this Saturday night as our gals chew their fingernails down to the nubbins at the awards ceremony, hoping and praying that their names are called. And back here in Wildflower Junction, we’ll sip on a little cider and get ready to dance a jig. Already got my dancing shoes on!

We’re downright proud of our gals! They’re smart as whips and pretty to boot. Ah think you’ll agree.

Available Now!

Sandi’s Winner? Our very own Mary Connealy!

It’s my fault the announcement for Sandi’s winner is a bit late.  I’m in San Francisco and have been traveling a good part of the day.  

And now – drum roll!  Sandi chose Mary for her winner from her Monday blog since Mary has a trail drive book coming out.  So how’s that for being kindred spirits!

Congratulations, Mary.  You’re the winner of Sandi’s $10 B & N gift certificate!  Yee-haw!

What Makes You Laugh?

Well I have another book coming out. Golden Days is a short sweet romantic comedy set against the Klondike Gold Rush. It is being re-released in an anthology.

 Golden Days is part of a three book series set in historical Alaska for Heartsong Presents. Here’s a short description of Golden Days:


After a mishap on a bustling Seattle street nearly kills her, Amy is going home to Alaska. Braden Rafferty, devastated by the loss of his wife and child, needs to get away from his home. He failed his wife and, as he sees it, that makes him a failure. His brother’s new life in Alaska lures him north in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. A chance encounter on the trip opens recent wounds for both. Amy, frail from her recent injuries, reminds Braden too much of his fragile wife. Amy’s independence is crushed when she has to accept Braden’s help getting home, and she vows that as soon as her strength returns, she won’t need anybody. But when Amy finds out she has no home to go to, Braden must step in and take her to his brother’s. After Amy has another near death experience, she begins to wonder if her accidents aren’t accidental at all.
The first book in the Alaska Brides anthology is Golden Dawn by Cathy Marie Hake. My book, Golden Days, is book two and Kathleen Y’Barbo is the author of book three, Golden Twilight.




I find myself writing heroine characters all that time that are…in my opinion…nothing like me. Golden Days is a great example of that. Amy, my heroine, is how I’d LIKE to be. So strong, brave, competent at everything. Vocal about how she feel and what she wants.

In my life, I spend my time spreading oil on troubled waters. I’m very much the pacifying mom, “Now you kids quit fighting.”

Discovering characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. It always takes me a while to really get a handle on them in a three dimensional way, but I enjoy the process of getting to know them. So even though the basic traits of Amy and Braden were there when I started, making her so angry about her father disappearing and making Braden fight his need to care for everyone.


He’s denying that need and, at the same time, caring for Amy ‘Just This Once’ for the whole book.In Golden Days Amy heads for home before she’s healthy. She has feelings for Braden before his grieving has run it’s course. She just can’t wait. That feels wrong to her. She’s been raised to care for herself and take action. And that’s Amy through this whole book, a woman of action, even when she probably would be wiser to just settle down and be patient.

 I love creating complex funny scenes, lots of characters, lots of movement and dialogue. If possible I like everybody to be talking over each other, misunderstanding each other. I like their words to break in, in such a way that the sentence reads in a comedic way, like she starts a sentence, he ends it, they’re both talking about different things and the combination of the words is a joke. And the READER gets that joke but the characters don’t.

This is tricky. And it needs to be done with a lot of what I think of as wordsmithing. Going over it again and again, leaving it and coming back. Making it sharper. Making the dialogue and everyone’s reactions sing. Trying to make sure it’s written in a way that reader can follow and if there’s a lot of movement it’s very easily visualized. The characters aren’t following it but the reader needs to get it all.

My favorite scene in the book is when a bear attacks. The lead up to this is chaotic and, I hope, really funny, then the bear makes it all worse. This was fun to write and I got it almost like I wanted it. But it can always be better.

 There are so many forms of comedy. What’s your favorite? Do you like romantic comedy in books? Movies? TV?

Favorite Romantic Comedy TV show? Remington Steele

I used to be a huge Remington Steele fan. I loved the humor and snap of romance in that show. For a lot of people it was Moonlighting but for me it was Remington Steele.

Favorite romantic comedy movie? While You Were Sleeping.

I think true richness and excellence in a movie is when ever little character is memorable and worth watching. There isn’t a moment in While You Were Sleeping that isn’t fantastic. Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman are fantastic but Bill’s family members are each and every one priceless. Jon Turtletaub directed this. He also did the National Treasure movies and he’s got a knack for making all the little moments wonderful while telling a much bigger story.

Favorite Romantic Comedy novel? This is harder because I’m such a reading fanatic. It’s possible my favorite is Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie. I also love Boo by Rene Gutteridge. These are true comedies. Lots of books have humor in them and I love romantic suspense, and Getting Rid of Bradley has a suspense thread in it. But mostly it’s just funny. Boo is just frenetic madness, hilarious. I love that book.

 How about you? You want to list your favorites?




 If you’ve got favorites in other categories (romantic comedy theater? Painting? Song? What other categories are there???)

Go for it. Tell me what makes you laugh.


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Hi everyone, my name is Sandi Hampton, and I write western romances.  This is my VERY FIRST BLOG, and I’m delighted it’s for Petticoats and Pistols, a fantastic site for readers, and writers, of western romances.  I think we love our westerns because they epitomize the American spirit, full of emotions and passions, the sacrifice and struggles of those pioneers and their courage to triumph over hardship.

My love affair with westerns began a long time ago when John Wayne and Claire Trevor rode a stagecoach through Monument Valley.  I thought Ringo’s and Dallas’ story was so romantic.  I think I’ve watched the movie Stagecoach at least five times and will probably watch it five more.

Before I sat down to write this blog, I took a look at some of the previous blogs in the archives and was immediately INTIMIDATED.  What could I possibly say that these multi-talented, multi-published ladies (and all you readers) would like to read since my first novel is not even out yet?   

One event in my novel “Last Chance for Love” is a trail drive.  The hero helps the heroine get her herd to market to save her ranch.  So, not knowing very much about a cattle drive, I did a little research.  In the 20 year period from 1867 to the mid-1880s, approximately ten million cattle were driven north from Texas to railheads in Kansas and Missouri, Wyoming, Colorado and even into Canada over five main routes:  Shawnee Trail, Chisholm Trail, Western Trail, Goodnight-Loving Trail and Fletcher’s Route.  Most drives lasted about four months.  

During those four months, the drovers faced incredible hardship and danger.  The weather was always unpredictable:  scorching heat, freezing cold, hail and drought.  Prairie fires, quicksand and riding accidents added to the danger.  And, of course, there was always the dreaded stampede.    In addition to facing those hardships, a cowboy usually spent 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the saddle, and it was an unwritten code that they couldn’t whine or complain.  And all this for about $100 per trip. 

The size of the herd determined how many drovers were necessary.  The ratio of men to cows ranged from 1 man per 250 head to 1 man per 400 head.  The trail boss (remember Mr. Favor!! on Rawhide) led the drive, riding ahead to find water and pasture, with the chuckwagon also near the front of the herd.  Point riders rode behind him, followed by swing riders, then flank riders and drag riders brought up the rear, as well as the remuda (spare horses).  A wrangler was in charge of the remuda. 

The chuckwagon was a remarkable vehicle.  Although it had been in use for some time, Charles Goodnight remodeled it into a unique vehicle by adding a chuck box at the rear of the wagon facing out.  A hinged lid pulled down onto a leg to form a worktable.  The box contained any drawers and cubicles for utensils and supplies.   The meals served to the cowboys included dishes such as Sonofabitch Stew, Cowboy Beans, Sourdough Biscuits (made from sourdough starter), Red Bean Pie, Vinegar Pie, Range Riders Stew, Chuckwagon Stew, Cowboy Fry Bread, Dakota Fried Tomatoes, Indian Breakfast, and Lazy B Corn Fritters, just to name a few.  The cook was called the Old Woman, Skillet, Old Pud, Coosie, Belly Cheater, Biscuit Roller, Dough Puncher, Grub Worm, Sourdough and many more.

1.   Since this was my first blog and I felt very intimidated, have any of you readers been scared to death to try something for the first time?  And if so, what?

2.  What was the worst fear you ever faced?  One of the worst fears I’ve ever faced is public speaking.  It petrifies me, and over the years I’ve never gotten any better at it.  Anyone else?

3.  My heroine didn’t like her first name and refused to use it:  my nickname growing up was “Pug” and I hated it.  Anyone else got a nickname or first name you dislike?

4. Has anyone ever been to a dude ranch, or a working ranch, and gone on a trail drive?

Let us know, and you’ll be eligible for a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble!

Changes for the Coming Week

Hello Darlings! We’re going to do things a little differently this coming week. Once in a blue moon we end up with extra days at the end of the month and we scratch our heads about ways to fill ’em.

Tomorrow on Monday:

Author SANDI HAMPTON will guest blog. She’ll keep us entertained with tidbits about cattle drives, some challenges and hardships you might not know anything about being city gals and all. She’ll also talk about her new book, Last Chance For Love. Miss Sandi is a brand new author and she needs folks to make her feel at home. This publishing business is downright scary and Miss Sandi is a little jittery. So, come on by and help calm her nerves. That’s Monday, now. Don’t forget.

Tuesday — Mary Connealy will blog. She always has something interesting to say.

Wednesday — A Tribute to two Fillies who are up for the prestigious RITA Award! The award ceremony will be held in San Francisco. Send them your best wishes.

Thursday live from San Francisco. Some of the Fillies will post pictures and blogs live from the Romance of America Conference. Bet we’ll see lots of smiling faces and reports brimming with excitement. Ah can’t wait to see what they post!! Lord have mercy!

On Friday we’ll have a special treat. The gals from the website LOVE WESTERN ROMANCES will cross the river and ride over to Wildflower Junction to talk about books, authors, and all kinds of things. Ah know they’ll be full of interesting subjects. Shoot, they might even give some help with these durn mules that keep me hopping! They darn near wear me out keeping the fool animals out of my garden!

Miss Donna Alward will wrap up the week on Saturday, August 2nd. She has some rip-roaring stories about rodeoing at the Calgary Stampede. She has some gorgeous pictures to show us too. Ah know you don’t want to miss her! Miss Donna does love her cowboys no matter what kind of package they come wrapped in. The dear girl is a woman after my own heart. She’ll be giving us a glimpse of her latest book, Falling For Mr. Dark and Dangerous.

Check in every day because you never know what you’ll see!

Lenora Worth’s Homecoming Heroes

I live in Louisiana, about nine miles from the Texas line. So I have always had a big spot in my heart for all things Texas. But then, who wouldn’t? Tall cowboys wearing Stetsons and Wranglers and belt buckles that say “Let’s rodeo!” What woman wouldn’t love that? Okay, there’s more to Texas than cowboys but they sure are fun to watch in action! (And just for the record, I’ve been happily married to a good ol’ Georgia blue-collar working man for 33 years!)



I write for Steeple Hill and I love being able to write sweet, inspirational love stories that reaffirm my faith and my belief in the power of love. So when Steeple Hill asked me to be part of a continuity series about Texans who are returning from war, I was both thrilled and scared.


First, even though I had relatives who’d served in all branches of the military, I really didn’t know that much about military life. And second, I wanted to be sure I captured the essence of the Texas hero in my story as well as the reality of military life. But I had five wonderful fellow writers who helped me as we worked through the kinks with lots of e-mails and angst until we got down to writing this heartwarming and touching series that celebrates the military hero in a whole new way. So I’m so happy to see my book from the Steeple Hill Love Inspired series “Homecoming Heroes” about to hit the stands in August. My title is “Lone Star Secret” and the hero has a big secret that the Russian heroine just happens to know. But he doesn’t know she knows. So … it will take a lot for them to work through their problems.


As far as my own writing life, I knew in the fourth grade that I wanted to write. I wrote all through school and even after I’d married my high school sweetheart and we had our first child. When I discovered romance novels, I found the kind of stories I wanted to read and write. Years later, after I’d sold five books, I finally realized my dream of writing inspirationals. My advice for anyone who wants to write books for fun and a little profit is to first read a lot of the kind of books you want to write, then attend writer’s conferences and workshops and always practice your craft until you get a feel for your own voice. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come without some sacrifice and discipline, but if you truly want to write then you can make it happen in some shape or form.


Now, back to my Texas hero, David Ryland. He’s a strong helicopter pilot who has seen the worst of combat when he flies in to pick up injured soldiers. When he is asked by the humanitarian organization Children of the Day to help get a young boy who is half-American back to Texas for heart surgery, David is honored to help with this, his final mission. But he isn’t ready for the emotions and bitterness going back to his hometown of Prairie Springs brings out in him, especially since he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks without a father.  And he certainly isn’t ready for the determined founder of Children of the Day, Anna Terenkov.


Anna knows David’s pain because she lost her father in a war. For me personally, doing research on this series brought out my patriotism and made it even stronger. I studied how injured soldiers are transported back home and I also learned a lot about what goes on in a surgical field hospital. One of the challenges for all of us was how to get a little Middle Eastern orphan who had an American father back to Texas. It was both fun and frustrating to figure this out but we did it and I’m happy with the results.


While I’ve set several other books in Texas (five others that I can think of!), this one means a lot to me and I’m proud of my story. It was a very emotional journey for me and for David and Anna. I hope you’ll take a look at all of the “Homecoming Heroes” books to celebrate your own love for America (and Texas!)

Lenora is holding a drawing for a goody bag of surprises! Simply leave a comment to get your name in the drawing. Good luck!