Leigh Greenwood – On Writing a Series

 

leigh-greenwood2Several years ago distributors decided series didn’t sell so they told my publisher they weren’t going to buy any more series – or books that even looked like they were part of a series.  That didn’t please me or my publisher, but there wasn’t anything we could do so I had to stop writing The Night Rider series after the third book.  I wrote two standalones, Independent Bride and Reluctant Bride.  Before I would write the third book projected for that set (Accidental Bride), distributors changed their minds and decided series did sell.  What a surprise!  Any bookseller could have told them that.

 

e2808clg-reluctant-brideAs it happened, I had another unfinished series, The Cowboys.  I won’t say I was tired of my orphans, but I had needed to take a break after nine books.  Realizing that I wasn’t getting any younger (Who does?), I decided to finished that series while I still could.  Four books later I was ready to get back to The Night Riders.

 

lg-independent-brideThere are several challenges unique to writing a series.  One is to decide if/how to incorporate characters from previous books.  That’s especially important if there are children involved.  Another is to make sure your characters will make successful heroes when it comes time for their book while remaining in the background when it’s not his book.  Still another is to come up with the right bride for the men your readers have already come to know.  In some cases, the biggest challenge is to come up with something that will tie the series together.  I used family in the Seven Brides and The Cowboys.  In The Night Riders, I used the quest for justice for betrayal.  Family is a connective tissue rather than a character.  Laveau diViere was a character who needed to be an integral part of each book without taking over the story.  I did that better in some books that others.

 

someonelikeyouSomeone Like You is the story of Rafe Jerry.  Due to being named the executor of his father’s estate, he’s forced to return to California to confront a past that had driven him from his home ten years earlier.  Throw in a woman he distrusts and a nine-year-old half brother – neither of which he’s ever seen – and his problems multiply.  The difficulty in that book was how to involve Laveau diViere in a trip that essentially took him from Texas to California.  I think I figured that out.  At least I haven’t had any readers complain that what I did didn’t make sense.

I’m currently close to the end of the first draft of the next book in the series.  I don’t have a name for it yet, but the story centers around Broc Kincaid who is badly scarred as a result of being shot in the face during the Civil War.  (Or as many in the South call it, the War of Northern Aggression.)  I decided against giving Laveau such a big role in this book.  Frankly, having characters focusing on the same thing for seven books can get a little tedious so I decided to give the readers a break.  Laveau does appear, but there are plenty of other villains to take his place.  That book, as yet unnamed, is scheduled for February of next year.

When I finished the Seven Brides, I got requests from readers to write books about some of their favorite secondary characters.  I got the most requests for George’s twins and his son William Henry, Dodie, Hope, and Jordy.  My editor had turned down all my requests to write such a book until last year when she asked me if I would write a spinoff.  I was a little irritated that, after being rebuffed so many times, I’d throw away all the ideas I had for those characters.  Once I got over my pique, it was fun to go back and read ROSE for the first time in fifteen years.  I could have chosen the twins, but that would have taken me away from my favorite settings.  After some thought, I chose Salty, partly because it will give me a chance to revisit Rose, George, and the boys when they are still youngsters.  The book is scheduled for August of next year. 

I hope you will enjoy it.

 

To find out more about Leigh Greenwood’s books, please visit his website

www.leigh-greenwood.com

 

To buy his latest book on Amazon, click on the cover 

 

Jeff Smith & Notorious Great-Grandfather, Outlaw “Soapy” Smith

photo_4Hello, gang!

    My name is Jeff Smith! (This is me, performing the prize package soap racket, 1890s style.)  My researching peers know me as “Soapy” due to my literal obsession with my great-grandfather, “Soapy” Smith’s, history. My reenacting friends also know me as “Soapy” for my first-person performances as Soapy in which I operate short-con swindles like the shell & pea game, three-card Monte and the prize package soap racket, the know-how all passed down from father to son, generation to generation starting with Soapy himself.

photo_1

(An 1898 newspaper rendition of the shootout between Soapy Smith and Frank Reid, July 8, 1898)

 

    I grew up in a family dedicated to preserving and increasing the memory of Soapy. My parents had a building in our backyard that contained a saloon and gambling hall, complete with a full size roulette table that belonged to Soapy, a crap table two blackjack tables, a faro table and a dozen or more antiques slot machines. By 5th grade I knew more about gambling and confidence scams that most adults.

    Whereas Soapy’s children and grandchildren did not wish to admit the bad side of Soapy, they chose to recognize his many good deeds and downplay the bad. I am perhaps the first member of the family to see and research both sides of this complex Old West crime boss. This has not made me very popular with some members of my family, but as my father once told me, “Jeff, he’s more interesting this way.”

 

photo_2

   

(Soapy in his saloon (Jeff Smith’s Parlor) in Skagway, Alaska, 1898)

 

One fortunate fact is that Soapy considered himself a business man and thus saved most of his correspondence letters and documents. I personally own about 160 letters, whereas there are perhaps a thousand artifacts within the family circle. My collection, combined with copies of the remainder bundle, has given me something few other relatives of outlaws can brag about; a personal documented look into the world of a renowned criminal. This will all be made public on August 17, 2009, when my manuscript, Alias “Soapy” Smith, The Life and Death of a Scoundrel is released.

 

photo_3

 

 (Seventeenth Street at the intersection of Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado, 1890s.  This was Soapy’s main location of operation.  He had an office on the second floor of the building on the right.)

 

photo_5

 

(Soapy Smith, circa 1890)

 

photo_6

 

(Theater playbill for HONKY TONK (MGM 1941).  Based on book, THE REIGN OF SOAPY SMITH, 1935.  Clark Gable played Candy Johnson)

 

Quick history of “Soapy” Smith

    Born: November 2, 1860, Coweta county, Georgia

    Died: July 8, 1898, Skagway, Alaska. Cause of death, a bullet to the heart.

    Last words: “My God, don’t shoot!”

 

photo_7

 

(Playing card from a souvenir deck.)   

 

 

photo_8

 

(Jeff and daughter, Ashley Smith, in front of Soapy’s saloon (Jeff Smith’s Parlor) on July 8, 1998 (100th Anniversary of Soapy’s death), Skagway, Alaska)

 

Soapy Smith is most known for his prize package soap racket in which he wrapped large denomination currency inside bars of soap and mixed them in with bars that contained no bills and sold them for $1.00 each. As the pile dwindled he would begin auctioning off the remaining cakes of soap for large amounts, the victims believing they had a “sure-thing.” No one but planted shills ever won any money.

photo_9

 

(Drawing of Soapy performing the prize package soap racket.)   

 

He traveled around the states with a network of bunco men before settling down in Denver, Colorado. By 1889 he owned several saloons, a cigar store and gambling halls all paid for with soap. He became the Al Capone of the Old West, fixing elections and criminal operations, all the while during which he gave out large donations to the poor, churches and charitable subscriptions.

    One scandal after another, and several gunfights from 1889 to 1895, finally brought his reign of power in Denver to an end. In 1897 he joined the thousands heading to the Klondike gold fields. He arrived and immediately took over control of Skagway, Alaska, until vigilantes pushed to drive him out. It was on July 8, 1898, during a meeting of the vigilantes that Soapy met his demise in a gunfight with one of four guards at the meeting’s entrance. For a century, the Smith family knew that Soapy had died under mysterious circumstances. Recently that information was released showing that Soapy was not only shot by another man, but that he was unarmed at the time. He had been murdered and it was being suppressed.

    Soapy’s escapades through-out his life were published all over the United States. In fact, while the two men were alive, Soapy Smith was more widely known than Wyatt Earp. Although this popularity was reversed, Soapy’s legend is growing. Since 1974 the family holds a public wake. Now there are two. The original is held each July 8 in Skagway, Alaska and the other is held at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California.  

 

photo_11

 

 (Cover of LOOSE CHANGE magazine showing Jeff in the Smith family home with the back building saloon and gambling hall.)

 

photo_12

(Jeff performing the shell game for a youngster, Anchorage, Alaska, February 28, 2009.  Note that it’s snowing!)

To learn more about Jeff and his notorious great-grandfather, visit his website:

www.soapysmith.net

Be sure to watch for Jeff’s release, Alias “Soapy” Smith, The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, coming in August, 2009!

Jeanmarie Hamilton’s Winner

blackcowboyhat.jpgWoo-Hoo!

I put all the names in a hat and we have a winner……

Roberta Harwell

Congratulations, Roberta! If you’ll send your mailing address to me at lindabroday@live.com I’ll get the info to Jeanmarie. Seduction will be in your mailbox very soon.

Thanks to everyone who came and posted a comment. We had a great time.

Don’t forget our Cowboys and Outlaws week. It starts tomorrow and runs through April 3rd. There’ll be some prizes to give away, plus a grand prize (a nice spa basket)  to one lucky winner who posts a comment over the five days. Yee-haw!

Cowboys and Outlaws–Oh, My!

cowboys_and_outlaws_logo_1

Hello Darlings,

Durn these Fillies!

They’re bound and determined to take some free time. Can you believe that? But the little darlin’s deserve it. They work awfully hard. And we have such a special treat in store for you that you won’t even miss ’em at all.

Cowboys and Outlaws Week will start tomorrow and run to Friday, April 3rd. The lineup of guests will knock your eyes out!

Get ready to party with us!

 

photo_4JEFF SMITH

  • Great-grandson of Jefferson Randolph Smith II (more commonly known as “Soapy” Smith) King of the frontier con men and Alaska’s outlaw
  • President of the Soapy Smith Preservation Trust
  • Soon to be author of Alias “Soapy” Smith, The Life and Death of a Scoundrel

 

LEIGH GREENWOOD

  • leigh-greenwood2Has written more than 35 romances
  • USA Today Bestselling author
  • Has won numerous awards for his books
  • Well known for his series books
  • SOMEONE LIKE YOU is his latest release

 

LINDA LAEL MILLER

  • Wears the title First Lady of the West
  • linda-lael-millerA regular on NY Times and USA Today lists
  • Published more than 70 historical and comtemporaries
  • Has published some books under the pen name Lael St. James
  • Self-confessed barn goddess
  • Has long running McKettrick and Stone Creek series
  • Latest releases are her Montana Creed series Logan, Dylan, Tyler

 

KATHLEEN EAGLE

  • eaglepicHas written over 40 romance novels
  • Was a Romance of America’s RITA award winner
  • NY Times Bestselling author
  • What the Heart Knows was chosen by Library Journal as one of the Five Best Romances of the Year
  • Latest release — MYSTIC HORSEMAN

 

MAUREEN CHILD

  • maureen-child2Has written over 103 historical and comtemporary romance
  • Pen names are Ann Carberry, Sara Hart, Kathleen Kane
  • USA Today Bestselling author
  • 5 time Romance of American RITA nominee
  • VANISHED is latest release

 

 

CAROL FINCH

  • photo-finchHas written 73 books under 5 pseudonyms
  • Of Native American Heritage
  • Lives on 400 acre ranch with her husband
  • Latest book — TEXAS RANGER, RUNAWAY HEIRESS

 

 

We hope you’ll stop by every day and chat a spell!

To show just how honored we are to have these special guests with us, we’re going to give away a Grand Prize SPA BASKET!

spa-basket

The basket contains:  a terrycloth robe, matching flip-flops, a candle and a jar of bath minerals. 

Jeanmarie Hamilton: Seduction, Inspired by History

jmI’m so happy to be a guest of all the great authors at Petticoats and Pistols. I jumped at the invitation to blog here today! Thank you all for inviting me.

I’m excited to tell you and your readers that my debut book, SEDUCTION, came out last week on Amazon.com. A western historical, it was a finalist in the American Title II contest. One of my favorite authors, Stacey Kayne, kindly gave her praise for Seduction, and Rae Monet put Stacey’s recommendation on the front of the cover she designed for me.

In Seduction, a business entrepreneur, Cole MacPherson, lives in a small town setting of the old west. The town is similar to towns described to me by my grandmothers when I was growing up. I’ve discovered that many people find it surprising that entrepreneurs in those old west days built beautifully appointed and gracious inns and hotels in some towns. Even back then people led fast paced industrious lives that in some cases blended ranching with a formal lifestyle found in big cities. Although most homes didn’t have modern conveniences like we have today, women worked hard right along with the men, and they appreciated these comfortable inns as much as visitors from the cities back east.

I usually center my stories around an inspiring incident from my own family history, or historical events that influenced my family. The heroine’s back story in Seduction is based on events in Texas following the Civil War. Drifters banded together and raided farms and ranches for livestock and valuables that they sold or used for their own benefit.

In  Are You Going To the Dance, a novella I recently contracted to The Wild Rose Press, an event takes place that was inspired by my Texas family history. My great great grandmother, originally from Alsace Lorraine, saved the life of a Comanche brave who was wounded in a skirmish with local farmers. She also learned the Lipan Apache language and her family traded with one of their nearby camps. In my novella, I incorporated these last two facts and used poetic license in changing the fictional characters to protect the innocent, so to speak.

I’ve found helpful historical information at the Handbook of Texas web site as well as here on Petticoats and Pistols. The jm2Handbook of Texas has articles about the Lipan Apache. One of the Lipan leaders, a Texas Ranger, accompanied the pioneer group of Alsatians as they traveled from San Antonio to their untamed home of Castroville, Texas.

While researching, I also enjoy delving into my family genealogy. I recently discovered a distant relative with the first name of Seneca who lived in the early 1800s in the northeast part of the U.S. I read on one of Karen Kay’s blog posts that Seneca was the name of one of the Iroquois Confederacy tribes. My Texas grandmother was named Ynez by her mother, in honor of the American Indian who was in effect her bodyguard on their remote Fort Davis area sheep ranch. The elderly Indian, Ynez, kept my great grandmother safe when her husband was away.

For one scene in Seduction, I drew from a story about my great grandfather who had been a lawman in his youth with Bat Masterson. That experience helped Great Grandfather on more than one occasion in dealing with law breakers. However, he was not successful at sheep ranching in the Fort Davis area. They moved to El Paso in the early 1880s. My grandmother remembered many trips on the train to San Antonio, with her mother and their canary, to visit family.

Here’s the back cover blurb for Seduction:

They challenged the town and each other with their forbidden affair.

Belinda Rose is two people. On stage, she’s a confident vocalist who entertains her audiences. Alone, she longs for a secure home and her own opera house where she can entertain or book others to perform. She carries with her the painful memories of her past, but won’t be denied her future. Can her love for a handsome businessman derail her plans? Cole MacPherson has become a wealthy entrepreneur in spite of his loveless childhood. Believing he doesn’t know how to love, he seeks power instead. What a shock when a beautiful singer knocks him for a loop. Could he learn to love? Does he dare?

I’ve enjoyed being here today and sharing some of my writing experience with you, as well as some family stories.  To celebrate its release on Amazon, I’m giving away a copy of Seduction today

What favorite bit of your family history has inspired you? I’d love to hear it.  I’ll be happy to answer your questions. 

To learn more about Jeanmarie, visit her website:

http://www.JeanmarieHamilton.com

Seduction, available now at Amazon!

The Weaver’s Magic Garden

 

Kate Bridges-signature line

It’s spring!  My thoughts turn to planting and what I’m going to do with my flowerbeds this year.

I can well imagine how much joy the gardens brought to the settlers of the Old West as they tried to scratch something valuable out of the soil.

wg5In my novels, I’ve mentioned all types of gardens. Or thought I had. There were those belonging to apothecaries and doctors – the herb gardens they planted to create remedies and cures.  There were those belonging to florists, who would plant their flowers for market. Restaurant cooks planted vegetables and herbs to use in their dishes. Private citizens grew produce, too, not to mention orchards for fruit wherever the land could sustain it.

But recently in my research, I came across a type of garden that took me by surprise. I’d simply never thought of it:  the town weaver and his or her special garden where they planted a spectrum of plants to create powders and liquids for the dyeing of fabrics.

That must have been fun! Wild bursts of color, rich seeds that started out pink and ripened to a rich berry, roots that dyed fabrics blue or black, or maybe some exotic plant from China that grew from fragrant seeds passed along from some stranger on a wagon train.

wg8The town weaver was a valuable asset to any growing Western town.  From their maze of looms, they produced blankets and coverlets, shawls and rugs. No scraps went to waste here. They collected rags from the community and produced cloth balls that had a dozen uses around the house—anything from knotting rope to hanging laundry to creating rag rugs.

 

wg6

The photos of this weaver’s shop are circa 1860s.

wg7

The color of the plant or flower doesn’t necessarily correlate to the end result of dye color. There are hundreds of plant choices. Here’s a sampling of some common ones, a few of which surprised me:

wg1sunflower – pressing the seeds creates a bright yellow oil; combining different plant parts produces dyes in the color of tan, gray, and green

indigo – rich blue color obtained from the leaves– the dye is colorfast, very desirable

goldenrod – root contains a brilliant yellow dye

wg2white birch tree – leaves give a yellow dye; inner bark creates lavender, tan, or purple

elderberry – purples and blues

bloodroot – juice of the stem and roots for the color red

flowering dogwood – bark produces a red dye; root produces violet wg3

Have you started your gardening yet? Do you prefer planting vegetables or flowers? Or neither? Have you ever hand-dyed an object? When I was younger, some of my friends dyed their leather shoes (ie. for dance class). I tried it once but they didn’t turn out right.

There must have been something special about the town weaver – a professional craftsman who knew what he was doing.

Visit my website www.katebridges.com

 

Click on the cover to link to Amazon

 

 

Jeanmarie Hamilton Rides This Way

seductionJeanmarie Hamilton is all set to pay the Fillies a visit.

She’ll arrive Saturday and settle in for the weekend. Miss Jeanmarie will give  us the lowdown on how family history inspires her stories. And ah do declare, she’s got some interesting relatives!

While Miss Jeanmarie is here she’s promoting her new book. Talk about a hot cover! Oh my Lord! It looks like it’d plumb scorch your fingers to pick it up. What a man! Ah’m having trouble breathin’.

For a chance to win an autographed copy of Seduction, just head over to the Junction and leave your two cents. It’s quick and easy.

Don’t you dare miss out on the fun now, you hear!

His Substitute Bride

elizname2smallJust wanted to share the excitement!  My new historical, HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE, will be on store shelves April 1 and is already available for online ordering.  Thank you for this chance to tell you about it.  Those of you who met the Seavers brothers, Judd and Quint, in THE BORROWED BRIDE will be happy to know that Quint and Annie finally get their chance to fall in love.  Here’s a peek at the blurb from the back cover. 

“Dashing but cynical Quint Seavers lives for danger.  A past betrayal has made him wary of love, and he has no idea that independent, practical Annie Gustavson holds a secret longtime passion for him.  Nor does he realize that the only reason Annie has traveled to San Francisco is to win his love—or walk away forever.  When disaster strikes the city, Annie’s courage and determination match his own—and suddenly Quint knows that she’s exactly what has been missing from his life all along…” 

There’s lots more.  The story takes place in 1906 San Francisco in the days prior to the catastrophic earthquake and fire.  Quint, a crusading reporter, has invited Annie to bring his six-year-old “niece” to San Francisco for a visit.  The three of them become enmeshed in a web of intrigue and danger.  Reviews are still coming in.  Here’s an excerpt from one of the nicest ones—this from Carol at Loves Western Romance. 

“…Author Elizabeth Lane has set a first rate suspense against the background of 1906 San Francisco and the earthquake that defined that city.  She’s also created a sensual romance where secrets won’t stay buried.  With a hero who has to learn boundaries and a heroine who needs to spread her wings, Ms. Lane gives readers characters who tug at your heart strings as they face danger around every corner.  Especially poignant is the little girl Clara, blissfully unaware of the threats swirling about her.  A captivating romance, an intriguing suspense and characters that make you care.”   

Here’s a very short excerpt from the book.  You can read a longer version on my web site. substitute-bride-cover

“Where’s the ocean, Aunt Annie?  I want to see it!”  Clara bounced with excitement.  Her nose smudged the window of the first class railway car. 

“All in good time, Miss Clara Seavers.”  Annie resettled her weary buttocks against the vibrating seat cushion.  She adored her sister Hannah’s child, but three days and nights on a rattling train with an active six-year-old had frayed her nerves.  She looked forward to a quiet lunch, a lovely hot bath…and Quint.  Especially Quint.  Damn his charming, impossible hide! 

Maybe after this week, she would finally be over him. Frank Robinson, who owned the hotel in Dutchman’s Creek, had asked Annie to marry him three times.  He was decent, kind and passably handsome, with enough money to keep her in comfort for the rest of her days.  Her sister Hannah thought she was crazy for turning Frank down.  “You’re twenty-three years old, Annie!” she’d fussed.  “What are you waiting for, a knight on a white horse?” 

The question was wasted breath, and both sisters knew it.  Quint Seavers was no shining knight.  But Annie had worshipped him since her teens.  Annie had jumped at his invitation to bring Clara to San Francisco.  But she had no illusions about why he’d sent her the ticket.  He needed someone to accompany Clara and act as a nanny during the visit.  Well, fine.  She was determined to have a good time anyway.  And she would do her best to see Quint through clear eyes. 

“Will Uncle Quint be there when we get off the train?” Clara asked. 

“He said he would.” 

“Then he will.”  Clara nodded happily.  “How much longer is it?” 

“Not much longer.  We should be there in time for lunch.”  Annie slipped an arm around the little girl.  “Here, look out the window.  We’re coming into Oakland now.  Soon you’ll be able to see San Francisco Bay.  It’s almost like the ocean!” 

Thirty minutes later the train pulled into the station.  Plastered against the window, Clara scanned the platform.  “There he is!  There’s Uncle Quint!  Look, he can see us!  He’s waving!” 

They gathered their things and filed down the aisle to the exit door.  Quint was there to greet them, looking tired but unforgivably handsome in a light woolen topcoat and black derby.  He helped Annie down the steps, then swept Clara off her feet, waltzing her around until she squealed with laughter.  Watching them, Annie felt the familiar ache.  What a breathtaking pair they were, the man and the child.  They had the same brown eyes and thick, dark chestnut curls, the same dimpled cheeks and dazzling smiles. 

No one with eyes in their head could fail to guess the truth.  Clara was Quint’s daughter.

* * * * *

To celebrate the book’s release, I’ll be giving copies to some lucky winners.  For every ten responses to this blog, I’ll draw one name to receive a copy of HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE.  Good luck!

Cowboys and Outlaws Week at the Junction

cowboys_and_outlaws_logo_1

Hello Darlings,

Durn their hide! The Fillies are taking another week off. Can you believe that? Reckon they’ll be hanging out with their own handsome cowboys. Hee-hee! But, oh man, we have such a special treat in store for you that you won’t even miss them at all.

Cowboys and Outlaws Week will run from Monday, March 30th to Friday, April 3rd. The lineup of guests will knock your eyes out!

Hold onto your bloomers!

 

photo_4JEFF SMITH

  • Great-grandson of Jefferson Randolph Smith II (more commonly known as “Soapy” Smith) King of the frontier con men and Alaska’s outlaw
  • President of the Soapy Smith Preservation Trust
  • Soon to be author of Alias “Soapy” Smith, The Life and Death of a Scoundrel

 

LEIGH GREENWOOD

  • leigh-greenwood2Has written more than 35 romances
  • USA Today Bestselling author
  • Has won numerous awards for his books
  • Well known for his series books
  • SOMEONE LIKE YOU is his latest release

 

LINDA LAEL MILLER

  • Wears the title First Lady of the West
  • linda-lael-millerA regular on NY Times and USA Today lists
  • Published more than 70 historical and comtemporaries
  • Has published some books under the pen name Lael St. James
  • Self-confessed barn goddess
  • Has long running McKettrick and Stone Creek series
  • Latest releases are her Montana Creed series Logan, Dylan, Tyler

 

KATHLEEN EAGLE

  • eaglepicHas written over 40 romance novels
  • Was a Romance of America’s RITA award winner
  • NY Times Bestselling author
  • What the Heart Knows was chosen by Library Journal as one of the Five Best Romances of the Year
  • Latest release — MYSTIC HORSEMAN

 

MAUREEN CHILD

  • maureen-child2Has written over 103 historical and comtemporary romance
  • Pen names are Ann Carberry, Sara Hart, Kathleen Kane
  • USA Today Bestselling author
  • 5 time Romance of American RITA nominee
  • VANISHED is latest release

 

 

CAROL FINCH

  • photo-finchHas written 73 books under 5 pseudonyms
  • Of Native American Heritage
  • Lives on 400 acre ranch with her husband
  • Latest book — TEXAS RANGER, RUNAWAY HEIRESS