Renee’s Prizes

reneeryanEntries are a-rollin’ in for Renee’s prizes, and they’re just so durned nice, we thought they deserved another mention.

She’s going to be giving away three autographed copies of her February release, THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE, as well as one very special GRAND PRIZE.

Yessirree! The grand prize winner will receive a copy of every Love Inspired Historical published during the past year. That’s twenty-four free books to one winner, darlings!!

In order to sign up to win the grand prize, send her an email at with your contact information of name, address, and email. She’ll draw the name of the GRAND PRIZE winner Sunday night, February 1, at 9:00 PM EST.

So git a move on, and email her.  Yee-Haw!

The Nuts & Bolts of Inspirational vs. Secular–Renee Ryan!

I am honored to be a guest this weekend. Thank you to all the Fillies for providing me this opportunity to blog. I’ve been a big fan of Petticoats & Pistols ever since it started, due in large part to the fact that I’m also a big fan sixgun2of westerns, and I mean all westerns, not just romances. My two favorite movies are Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma. I’m also partial to High Noon with Gary Cooper, but who isn’t?

I’ve been fascinated with the Old West ever since I was a kid growing up in northeast Florida in the sixties, a heyday for all things western. I loved watching Gunsmoke on Sunday nights. Even better, there was this really cool theme park near my hometown called Six Gun Territory. My father took my twin sister and me there at least once a month. The park was set up like an old western town straight out of a 1960s television program. Yeehaw!

sixgun1Aside from all the usual rides and yummy food, Six Gun Territory staged a mock “shoot-out” every two hours in the deserted streets. Looking back with my adult eyes, I realize those shoot-outs had to be the cheesiest shows ever staged. But to a five-year-old little girl they were pure magic. The good guy always won! Hmmm, I think I’ve suddenly discovered the origin of my February release, THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE. The hero is a dedicated lawman and the heroine has a five-year-old little sister who utterly charms the poor sucker, er…I mean hero…from page one. Maybe I should write a song, Ode to Six Gun Territory.

Or, maybe not.

For what it’s worth, the Old West has always been good to me. My first published novel was a western romance set in 1879 Denver, Colorado. EXTREME MEASURES came out in July 2002. That was seven years ago. SEVEN years ago! I could write an entire blog about that looooong dry spell. However, I won’t.

Suffice it to say, lots of things have happened in my life since that first novel hit the shelves. Most importantly, I’ve switched from writing secular romances to inspirational romances.

Although, I have found a lot of success thanks to the switch (I’m working on my fifth contracted manuscript for Steeple Hill) I can’t say the move was an easy one. It took me a long time and a lot of false starts to learn the difference between the two sub-genres.
Such as:

1. Level of Sensuality: This is the big difference between the two sub-genres and what I consider the pink elephant in the room. There is often a misconception about this topic so let me clear something up right now. Inspirational romances are not merely “sweet romances”. Oh, they can certainly be “sweet”, but this is not a prerequisite.

In fact, a writer cannot simply take sex out of the story, or even shut the door to the bedroom, and magically have an inspirational romance.

Yes, the story should have two people falling in love without the use of sex, or blatant sexual tension on the page. However, the focus should always be on the emotional connection between the hero and heroine rather than the physical connection. Put another way, whether it’s a kiss, a look or even a touch, the event needs to trigger an emotional reaction in the character(s) not a physical one.

marshaltakesbride2. Attending church: Yet another misconception out there and one that needs addressing. Simply sending characters to church on Sunday does not make a romance an inspirational.

Both the hero and heroine must go on a personal faith journey that is tied directly to their internal conflict. The inspirational thread is actually an additional element to the GMC of your character. Think of it this way: the internal growth of the hero and/or heroine must happen by way of the character’s faith journey.

3. The characters must all be good: No, no, no. Good is boring. Good is unrealistic. Good is…bad. In fact, the best inspirational romances are when the characters are deeply flawed from the inside out. The story will be much stronger if the hero and heroine make a few wrong decisions before they make the right ones.

I had a minister once say, “We’re all emotionally hurting on some level. Christians simply turn to Christ to help them get healthy.” That resonated with me as a writer and is something I keep in mind throughout the writing process.  The more human the characters, the more they’ve fallen away from their belief system, the bigger the journey required to return to a stronger faith than before. Getting them there is half the fun and the key to a good inspirational romance. ?

4. Inspirational romances are preachy: Again, not true. Every inspirational romance is different, of course. The level of “preaching” will depend on the type of story, but nowhere should the story be a place for the author to bang the reader over the head with his or her personal theology.

Salvation stories (where a character ultimately comes to Christ who wasn’t a believer at the beginning of the book) can sometimes seem preachy to someone not used to reading inspirational romances. It’s up to the author to thread Scripture into the story seamlessly.

Now, stories where both the hero and heroine are already Christians but have fallen away from their faith tend to be less preachy. However, the faith journey must still be strong and memorable. Again, it’s up to the author to make sure this journey is both realistic and inspiring.

So, there you go. A quick summary of what I think makes an inspirational romance different from a secular romance.

You might be interested to know that February 2009 marks the one year anniversary of Steeple Hill’s new line, Love Inspired Historical. To celebrate this anniversary, I will be giving away three autographed copies of my February release, THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE, as well as one very special GRAND PRIZE. The grand prize winner will receive a copy of every Love Inspired Historical published during the past year. That’s twenty-four free books to one winner!

In order to sign up to win the grand prize, please send me an email at with your contact information of name, address, and email. I will draw the name of the GRAND PRIZE winner Sunday night, February 1, at 9:00 PM EST.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by this weekend. God bless you all!

reneeryanRenee Ryan writes for the Steeple Hill line Love Inspired Historical. Her fabulous editor is Melissa Endlich of Steeple Hill. Her first book in the Charity House series, The Marshall Takes a Bride is a February 2009 release. Her next book in the series, Hannah’s Beau, hits the shelves July 2009.

For further information check out

Click to order from Amazon!

Spend the Weekend With Renee Ryan

marshaltakesbrideMiss Renee Ryan will be our honored guest tomorrow!

The Fillies are thrilled and honored to have her come visit our little town. Miss Renee will give an interestin’ talk on the differences in writing inspirational romance. Ah can’t wait to learn more about faith, hope, and yes, love. Can’t think of a better subject to discuss than rugged cowboys in love! Hee-hee!

Miss Renee will give away a ton of prizes. If you don’t believe me, then come to see for yourself. It’ll knock your eyes out! She’ll also talk about her new book The Marshal Takes a Bride.

If that sounds like a deal you can’t afford to pass up, drop what you’re doing and head this way.

We’ll save you a seat!

Announcing Our Chance In A Million Hits Contest and More …

computer-hits-iconYes, we’re celebrating!  We’re approaching our one millionth (1,000,000) Petticoats and Pistols hit! Not to be confused with our millionth visitor, but we’ll get there too.  As it stands now, it won’t be long. We’re a few weeks away from this monumental moment and we want to raise the roof with a new contest and two (2) ways to win! But before we do, let’s take a look at the most successful blogs of our time.


Did you know that is the #1 blog in America? Imagine my surprise to learn that I’d never heard of the most successful blog of the decade.  Or maybe I did, and blew it off in my head because I’m sooo not techy. This blog is all about the latest technology of gadgets. The gadget blog covers everything from iPhone Apps to 6 Gadgets That Will Help You Score a New Job. The wide variety of topics include, Emerging Tech, Ipod, HDTV, Airplanes, Comedy, Weapons, Culture, and the one that made me smile…  There’s an article about the newest technology – 3D Porn. Haven’t we risen to great heights?
ranks #2 and is linked to the television program with the same name. TMZ stands for Thirty Mile Zone – I’m guessing that means Hollywood and surrounding areas, because this blog is all about celebrities and people in the news. Perusing this site, I found articles about the Travolta’s tragic loss to the uplifting story of Captain Chesley, “Sully” Sullenberger’s story, the heroic pilot who landed his plane on water!  Their sections include a photo gallery, breaking news, celebrity justice and a “memba them” column where they spotlight one child  or forgotten star and tell you what they are doing now.  Billy Mumy was the latest topic from Lost In Space.  I wasn’t entirely surprised to find a side banner ad of Books on a Budget from Harlequin. Being in the Harlequin family of authors I know they have their finger on the pulse of what’s hot and current in today’s market. And TMZ is big.treehugger


Coming in at #9 with over one million visitors monthly is This is the How to Go Green site with articles like How to Green Your Wardrobe and How to Green Your Sex Life. They have a variety of links including Food and Health and Culture and Celebrity.  I found a great blog about Freak Caterpillar Invasion Eating It’s Way Through Liberia.  Really, it was engaging. Who knew? 




Some other blog sites that are among the top 30 are,,,,, Read/ and


We’re in good company with our million hits. During the Olympics, Michael Phelps, our 8 Gold Medal Winner had topped the international charts with computer hits.  And the Disney superstar, Hannah Montana (Mylie Cyrus) is always amongst the ranks of mega website hits.  





Our Chance in a Million Hits Contest starts today!  All you have to do is click on the icon to the left and enter to win a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.  That’s the first way to win.


Your 2nd chance to win is just as easy.  Just post a comment on our site during the week we hit the 1,000,000 mark and you’ll be included in our It’s Raining Cowboys Book Shower   to win books from all the Fillies at Wildflower raining-cowboyJunction!   We’ll be picking a winner at random.   It may be days from now, or weeks! We don’t know either.   So keep those comments coming!


Hint:  We’re at 850,,000 now. 





 So let’s start the comments coming – what blogs do frequent besides Petticoats and Pistols, of course?

What do you enjoy the most about blogging?





A Sense of Place

elizname2small1What part does physical setting play in the stories you read and write?  In some stories the setting is just a backdrop, like the painted set in a play.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  I’ve seen compelling dramas played out with no scenery at all.  But in my own writing, the setting is as important as the characters. 

 Setting can add a sense of reality.  It can be used to enhance the emotion in a scene.  Think of a castle. borrowed-bride Imagine it in a raging storm with lightning flashing over the parapets.  Imagine it again bathed in moonlight with the scent of gardenias floating on the air.  Put your hero and heroine in each setting and imagine what would happen.  My novella for the upcoming Harlequin Christmas anthology is a story of tragedy, blame and forgiveness.  I used the bleak, wintry Texas plains to express the emotions of the husband returning home after an unjust imprisonment and the wife whose world was shattered by his absence. Setting can even take a role the story—the sweltering sky that refuses to rain, the old house that hides its secrets, the ocean that separates two lovers.   

In my own stories I like to use natural settings.  Since I grew up in the rural west, hiking, exploring and camping with my family, I’m at home in the outdoors.  My biology background helps me add birds, animals and plants.  As most authors will tell you, the secret of bringing a setting to life is in the details—the splash of a cutthroat trout in a mountain lake, the croak of a raven, the scent of moss and wet earth.  These kinds of details come naturally to me.  They’re easy.  But for my next release, due out in April, I took on a whole new set of challenges.  substitute-bride-cover

Those of you who’ve read THE BORROWED BRIDE, will be happy to know that Quint and Annie get their story in the sequel, HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE.  The new book follows Quint to 1906 San Francisco, where he’s become a crusading reporter.  Annie brings his daughter Clara for a visit, and romance blossoms.  I had a great time writing the story, but the research was daunting.  Luckily my daughter and her husband live near the Bay area.  I was able to combine a research trip with a fun family visit.  We trooped all over town, having a great time and getting a feel for the city.  Coupled with that, I did hours and hours of reading and studying old photos, trying to capture the city as it was before the 1906 earthquake and fire (yes, that’s in the book). 

Did I succeed?  You can let me know after you’ve read the story in April.  But I can show you the cover now.  Here it is.  The characters and background are perfect, but I would have added one element to the picture—the infamous San Francisco fog.  

Do you have a favorite setting for the stories you write and/or read?  What kind of details make a setting come alive for you?  If you could visit the setting for one book, where would you go? 


Click on a book to go to

Renee Ryan Comes to Visit

marshaltakesbrideYippee! Wildflower Junction welcomes Renee Ryan this Saturday.

Miss Renee brings her love of cowboys to her stories. She’ll share with us the special things that make a story inspirational romance. We’ll learn the ins and outs of the sub-genres. Definitely a subject ah’m interested in. Ah do love to know what makes a story tick.

Miss Renee will also give us the low-down on her new book The Marshal Takes a Bride. Sure sounds interestin’.

And she comes toting a whole satchel full of prizes. My goodness, the poor woman is plumb loaded down with ’em! Lots of things to give away to the ones who come to chat with her so you don’t want to miss that.

Hitch up your wagon or your buggy or saddle your horse and ride over. We’ll have more fun than a roomful of cats chasing a ball of yarn!

Gingham Mountain and Getting it Right

I’ve got a new book releasing February 1st.
Gingham Mountain.
It’s book three in my
Lassoed in Texas series.
The earlier books are:
Petticoat Ranch
Calico Canyon.
I’ll start this by saying
Here’s part of the press release Barbour Publishing put out about
Gingham Mountain:

When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, a disreputable-looking wrangler, she’s determined to keep him from committing two orphan train children to hard labor on his ranch. How long will she have to play the role of schoolmarm before she gets a chance to rescue the children?

Prudence, the town dressmaker, has designs on Grant. Will she succeed in securing his affections?

As Grant struggles to run the ranch and raise six orphans, he finds love making tracks to his heart. Will he be caught in a web of deceit or lassoed by the love of one good woman?

I’ve talked about this before on Petticoats and Pistols. Remember when I wrote that blog about oil wells and orphan trains? Trying to get all the historical facts to line up with my time in history?

Well, it’s finally done and heading for a book store near you and it may be my favorite squabbling couple yet. Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth…..

I’ve had people tell me historical readers are tough. You have to do your research or they’ll really call you on mistakes.

We’ve got a lot of historical readers here, is that true? Does it bug you when we get it wrong.

Honestly seeking truth is such a burden, if you’d just let me have a train go to a region it did NOT go to, it would be sooooooo much easier.

Has anyone ever been bugged by a mistake in a book, historical especially, but contemporary, too.

I do remember one time getting a short historical romance, one of those that they make so many of every year…and I love them and I loved this book, I still remember it. But the cover…well, the book was set on a dairy farm.

The cover was of the hero and heroine kneeling beside a new calf.

It was a Hereford. Not a Holstein. I live on a ranch and my husband used to milk cows before he switched over to beef cattle. I know the difference between a beef cow and a milk cow. This wasn’t even CLOSE.

I guess at least they weren’t kneeling beside a GOAT. I can take comfort in that.

So let’s hear it. Tell me about books that have gotten it wrong…unless it’s me…then just let it go, people.

And remember, you have to leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

If you want to know more about the Lassoed in Texas Series, check here.


The Lassoed in Texas Series-the entire set available

for the first time!

Writer’s Block? Let’s Talk.

horseheader11.jpgGood Morning!

Well, I thought I’d take a break from my usual posts about Native America and bring you something different today.  This is group-11.jpgfrom my website, by the way.  It has occured to me that you who frequent our blog, are often writers in their own right — and if so, you have my sympathy.  This is not always the easiest of business’s.  Tips can be valuable.  So here are mine — on how to get yourself out of writer’s block.  Now the article featured below is from my website and I wish it were a larger font, but I can’t seem to change it — so please forgive.  So here we go.  Now, don’t forget to come on in and post and tell me your ways to get yourself out of writer’s block, as well.  Okay?12-grandcanyon1.jpg  By the way, the picture above is myself and Lois Greiman with Oklahoma romance writers.  The picture to the left is my husband and myself at the Grand Canyon.



Starved, for ideas? Can’t seem to decide where that next scene should start, that scene you were certain would be easy to write? Or do you find your characters standing before you with arms folded, a scowling expression, tapping their feet,and refusing to go any further?  There’s not an author alive who doesn’t have trouble with a scene or with his characters from time to time.If you have ever had this happen to you while writing your manuscript, you may not be suffering from lack of imagination-itis, as friends and associates might like you to believe. But, rather than blame that fleeting thing called imagination, let’s take a step back and look at it this way:  Your trouble might be nothing more than a simple case of not enough research-ism.  Research, that terrible word that spells w-o-r-k.  Research, that ephemeral term that means hours at the library, or hundreds of dollars spent on b-o-r-i-n-g history books or long hours spent on the internet. I can’t think of anything less interesting than my high school history classes, and if you have had any sort of similar experience, I don’t blame you for looking upon research as a kind of curse word.  Now, how many times have I heard people say, “I’d like to write a book, but I don’t think I can do the research,” or “I don’t know where to start the re-search.” 

 Well, truth be told-and, shhh, don’t tell anyone that I have let you in on the secret, because others might not be easy on me- research is not only easy, it’s fun. 

 I have a quiz for you. Let’s see how you score on the research line. 

    1. Do you talk to other people at least once a day? 
    2. Do you read books or go to the movies? 
    3. Do you have interests that require you to read about them? 
    4. Have you ever had a relationship with the opposite sex?

Give yourself one point for each question that you answered a yes to. Do you have at least one point for the entire quiz? If you do, congratulations and well done. You’ve been doing research.  “What?” you say, “Are you crazy?” 

Well, maybe. But the truth is, all of life is research. Yes, it’s true, there’s a lot to be learned from history books, and if you enjoy that sort of thing write historicals. But all of life- let me repeat that- all of life is research. I believe an author’s work is imbued with his observations, his life experiences, and resultant emotions 

 Got a stuck scene? Go out and live. Go to a movie. Go dancing. Take a friend to lunch. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Go to the library or just talk to someone. 

 Do something and do it for a few days- maybe even a week- and before you know it, thoughts and images will come to you to get that scene moving again, or to get your characters simmered down enough to solve their problems. Believe me, it works. Something will come to you. 

 Don’t be fooled- here’s where a lot of people depart from reality- don’t think that an author stays home and types on his computer and turns in a perfect manuscript without having ever stepped a foot outside his door. Somewhere, somehow, that author went out and lived life. 

 An author- an artist- has probably the most comprehensive job in all the world. Why? Because every single incident he observes, every single thing that happens to him is fodder for an idea in his story. Indeed, an author is indebted to others- to life around him- for a continuing, fresh flow of ideas. 

 So, perhaps the first step in research is simply this one: realizing that your research has already begun. 

 The second step is to be more alert than ever, to let your mind recognize the value of what you see and feel, to record it against a busy mind that will begin to forget as other incidents intrude. 

 Just carry forward doing something that interests you, that you enjoy, something that inspires you. And before long, you’ll have a rich fund of story ideas waiting to be developed. 

 Remember this the next time you’re having trouble with a scene. Go out and live life to the fullest. In fact, splurge on it. Your book will reflect your enthusiasm. 

HINTS FROM KAREN KAYWhile I hardly consider myself an expert on the subject of creative writing, I have found that I do seem to have an abundance of opinions on the subject. Some of these opinions might prove useful to others, some may not. 

    1. Forget grammar, spelling, punctuation structure, etc. etc. Most of what is taught in college courses I’m afraid is how to edit, not how to write.
     2. Write the story of the people before you. Once you’ve created the characters of your story, let them guide you and let them solve their own problems. They will, solve their own problems, that is, unless something earlier in your story is lopsided. And then I feel one should go back and fix whatever is wrong and then magically the characters stop rebeling and the story rolls on through.
    3.Every scene should have three reasons for the scene. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are. It could be anything. But there should be three. (This, by the way, was handed down to me from Anne Stuart, a very sucessful author, and I have found this to be a good rule.) 
     4. Know what message you are trying to deliver in your writing and say it in a language your audience can and will understand. Always remember your audience. While you do write from the heart and while you are not catering to your audience, you still will be more successful if you reach them so they, too, can experiance all that you have, too. (This rule I discovered from the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, another successful writer.)   

Well, that’s it.  What do you think?  Did you learn anything?  Do you have tips you’d like to share?  If so, please do come on in and let’s talk.  Now, please be aware that I am in Florida taking a very extensive course and so I will be checking your posts at lnch and at dinner and also at the end of th evening.  So please bear with me.  Okay?


Women of Alaska–Daring and Resilient


Kate Bridges-signature line

One of the reasons I love to set my books in Alaska is because of the history of the women. When gold was discovered in the Klondike in 1896, a hundred thousand people from all over the world flocked to Skagway, Alaska, headed for the Klondike. Only thirty thousand made it over the mountains. A small fraction of them were women, and their stories are often overlooked in history.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Skagway and its famous criminal, Soapy Smith. Today, the topic is women.


That’s me at the border between Alaska and the Yukon. I like to think I’m standing at the top of the world.

My novel, WANTED IN ALASKA, starts off in Skagway. It was a remarkable town because of the freedom that women had to pursue wanted-in-alaska-web-imagetheir goals. At the start of the gold rush, it’s estimated that only 2 to 4% of the population was made up of women. The percentage  climbed quickly. By 1900, just a short four years after it began, women made up roughly 20% of the town. Because the land was uncivilized and lawless before they arrived, the women of Alaska had fewer constrictions than their sisters in the lower states. They owned their own property, ran businesses and shops without the help of men, and some even traveled to the Klondike and struck gold on their own.

Hooray for Alaska! Women weren’t coddled–unless they wanted to be. There were the prostitutes who earned their living, but there were many more law-abiding, hardworking women who opened jewelry stores, sandwich shops, cafés, laundry houses, and even those who tried their hand at casinos. Women knew how to look good in a corset and gown, but many also knew how to chop wood, balance a ledger, hire and fire workers, and get a house built. Many of them became wealthy in their own right.

In WANTED IN ALASKA, my heroine, Autumn MacNeil, is a singer in a hotel who’s desperately trying to get a business loan from one of the male bankers in town but, so far, is unsuccessful. Her goal is to open up a hotel of her own. Along comes the hero and distracts her from her troubles. At a masquerade ball, he mistakes her for the town nurse, and in an act of desperation to help his wounded brother, kidnaps her. This sets them on a wild collision course. It was a fun one to write. The novel hits bookstores this week.

Over the years as I’ve researched and written my Westerns, there are other things about the Wild West that I’ve found fascinating. For instance, when the Western frontier first opened up, the average ratio of men to women was roughly 10 to 1. Women were cherished and respected because they were scarce. Consequently, a married woman who was being abused by her husband wasn’t as afraid to get a divorce and leave him. She would be quickly snatched up by a kinder man, and she and her children would be well taken care of. Therefore, the divorce rate in the West was slightly higher than the Eastern seaboard. Depending on the state, women had more freedom in property rights, voting, and marriage. It’s that freedom that I love to write about.

Is there anything that surprises you about the West, when you read our novels? Do you enjoy the many different occupations in our storylines?

Or, if you’re a Western writer yourself, what draws you to this era? Is there a particular time period, or state, you love to write about?

“In all her books set in the icy wilderness of the northern provinces, Bridges brings strong, admirable heroes and independent-minded women to life. There’s nothing hotter in these cold locales than her stories laced with humor, passion and danger.”  4 Stars! Romantic Times magazine on WANTED IN ALASKA

Click on the cover to link to Amazon.