Today we welcome Jill Marie Landis back to Wildflower Junction! Jill Marie is the NYT extended and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty novels. She’s the winner of the RWA Rita Award, the Golden Heart and Golden Medallion and a seven time Rita Finalist. She lives in Hawaii with her husband where she spends her days writing when she’s not sunning or dancing the hula.
What did it take to be a lawmen in the Old West? The requirements were slim to none. The local butcher wold do, but everyday citizens often proved too amiable to do much good, or too busy holding down their day jobs to be effective. Sometimes, much as they wanted to uphold the law, they simply didn’t have the disposition. Wild western towns that required a firm hand to back up the badge sometimes resorted to hiring a known gunman, figuring he knew how best to handle men of his ilk. All they could do was hope he could keep shady characters who threatened the hard won peace in line.
THE ACCIDENTAL LAWMAN, my latest release from Steeple Hill, is a western romance about a man who is a most unlikely hero and sheriff. Hank Larson isn’t a lawman by trade. He’s a writer. He’s educated, intelligent, and should have known better than to let the townsfolk of Glory, Texas, railroad him into the job of sheriff. But Hank is also a man of honor and though he didn’t want the position, he ends up with it and is sworn to do his duty and uphold the law.
Hank foolishly thought he could start a newspaper in a town where there is no news. A town as quiet as Mayberry. Nothing much ever happens in Glory, at least that’s what everyone assured him–no headline making events, anyway. Of course, the day he walked into the bank to see about a loan and ended up foiling a robbery wasn’t a day like any other.
That’s the day he literally ran into Amelia Hawthorne, the town healer and apothecary. When the gunman intent on cleaning out the bank trips over the two of them, Hank wrestled him into submission. The situation gets carried away and despite his protests, the good folk of Glory decide Hank is just the man to be their first sheriff.
Amelia is just the kind of woman who can heal Hank’s wounded heart–a heart full of grief after the death of his late wife. It’s not long before Hank sees the fine qualities in Miss Hawthorne, but when he begins to fall for Amelia, complications set in. He might not be a man of faith, but he’s a man of his word. He’s sworn to bring in the outlaw gang terrorizing the county, even though Amelia’s brother is one of them. He promises her that he’ll do all he can to bring her brother in without harming him–but is it a promise he can keep?
THE ACCIDENTAL LAWMAN is a story of love despite the odds, of commitment, honor, of promises made, and above all, the power of forgiveness. The tale is set in the town of Glory, Texas, the fictional town where I also set last year’s release, HOMECOMING. A few of the characters from the first book make a cameo in THE ACCIDENTAL LAWMAN. If you haven’t read HOMECOMING, you can still order a copy from your local bookseller or Amazon. com.
It was great to be here at Petticoats and Pistols again. I can’t believe a year has come and gone already. it seems I just penned my last blog for this great gathering of Western writers. Good luck to the readers and the Petticoat gals. Thank you so much for letting me say my piece again!
I’ll be awarding autographed copies of THE ACCIDENTAL LAWMAN to two lucky winners who leave a comment.
Let me know the title of the most memorable western romance you’ve ever read and why you like reading them.
Many thanks for sharing your time with me.
Best wishes and keep reading!
Last month, while attending the Romantic Times BookLovers Convention to promote my latest release, TOUCHED BY LOVE, I had the pleasure of participating as part of a panel on “Historical Romance Through the Ages.” The writers, five in all, covered the gamut of settings, from 1100s Scotland, through Georgian, Regency and Victorian England, and across “the pond” to the American West.
Our discussion concerned what set apart a romance in our chosen time period. In my case, what makes a western a western.
I enjoyed listening as those who wrote European-set stories discussed social mores, etiquette, keeping Mama happy, and buying just the right hat at the right store for that party that all the right people will attend.
In a western, in my opinion, the environment has more influence on stories than most other factors. Think pioneers, survival, and hardship; taking care of yourself and looking out for your neighbors because that’s what a good person does. Hats and parties were important, especially to young ladies of a “certain age,” but, for the most part, people concerned about survival don’t care if their clothes are the latest fashion – they’re just glad to have clothes to wear.
As to social etiquette, the proprieties were certainly observed, but I imagine they were often tossed off the wagon in deference to survival. Of course, the backlash of ignoring them makes for great conflict in our stories.
When a family moved west, they took what they could carry and left everything and everyone else behind. Letters moved slowly, if at all, leaving these westward pioneers isolated from everything familiar. They had to suck it up and create their own “familiar”, their own new lives, friends and routines. They even had to build their own surroundings. Young men suddenly had to provide for their families. Women learned to create a home wherever they decided to put down roots. It took real grit to make it when nothing was familiar. And if the crops failed, or a fire destroyed the house, or their livestock were rustled, they brushed themselves off and started over.
Westerns are about hope and opportunity. That’s a big part of why I love writing them. There was a chance for those who had “fallen” to redeem themselves or turn their backs on the past and begin again. No matter the hardships, they had an opportunity to make a happy-ever-after for themselves and the generations to follow.
How about you? What makes a western a western for you?
You’ll be pleased to know that Miss Jill Marie Landis has again plotted a course for Wildflower Junction. She’ll arrive on the noon stage in time for her appearance here on Saturday.
The Fillies have sprung into gear to have everything spic and span.
Miss Jill Marie will be talking about lawmen of the old West and what made them good at their job. Ah don’t know about you, but I dearly love a man who wears a star! He gets my heart pitter-pattering and ah can’t rightly think of anything else.
While she’s visiting, Miss Jill Marie will give us a peek inside her new book, The Accidental Lawman. Ah can bet you won’t want to miss that. Or a chance to win one of two autographed copies.
So shake the lead out and get on over here. We’ll save you a seat.
One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor in my bedroom with a children’s book of fairy tales. The book was tall and wide and about a half-inch thick. The cover showed Rapunzel with her hair flowing while a prince in a pointy hat gazed up at her. Red Riding Hood is looking up, and there’s a unicorn in the background.
These memories rushed back to life when I started researching the second book in the Swan’s Nest trilogy. No title yet, but those of you who have read The Maverick Preacher will remember Pearl. This is her story. She needed a fresh start, so I packed her off to Cheyenne where she meets a troubled lawman with a five-year-old daughter. He’s a rough and tough ex-Texas Ranger, but he’s got a soft spot when it comes to his little girl. Every night, he reads a story to her.
That vision led to all sorts of questions. What would he read? Would he have purchased the book? Would it be a family heirloom? What would it have looked like? The story takes places in 1875 Wyoming. With the arrival of the railroad, the town had money and some culture. It seemed reasonable that his little girl could have a big book of fairy tales similar to mine, but I had to be sure.
And so the research began . . .
Fairy tales have been around forever, but children’s books the way we know them weren’t common until the late 1800s. In 1875 Wyoming, my little girl would mostly likely have a copy of “Mother Goose,” a collection of ten fairy tales collected by Charles Perrault in 1658 and translated into English from French. The first American edition, titled Mother Goose’s Melody or Sonnets from the Cradle was published in 1787 and had many of the stories we love today. Among them were Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty in the Wood and Little Red Riding Hood.
In addition to traditional stories, children’s books in the 19th century contained short rhymes, moral lessons and simple drawings. Some of the rhymes would be familiar to us all, things like “One, Two. Buckle My Shoe” or “Hey Diddle Diddle.” I can’t read those words without smiling. Both my sons (now grown) were fascinated with the idea of a cow jumping over the moon.
The most well known publisher of children’s books in the 19th century was the New York firm of McLoughlin Brothers. Their books had color illustrations which must have thrilled little girls just like the ones in my book thrilled me. The pictures were made using etched zinc plates, chromolithographs and photo engravings. They popularized well known illustrators including Thomas Nast and Ida Waugh.
When I wrote the scenes where my hero reads to his little girl, I pictured my well thumbed copy of The Tasha Tudor Book of Fairy Tales. The book itself is too modern for an 1875 setting, but the feeling of discovery would be the same. Like me, the child in my story would be magically transported to another place and time. My hat’s off to the men and women who illustrate these wonderful books, especially to Tasha Tudor. Her drawings gave me hours of pleasure and fueled my imagination. Who’d have thought? The little girl sitting on the floor with her big book of fairy tales grew up to write stories of her own.
Do you remember reading fairy tales as a child? Maybe you’re a mom or a grandmother or an aunt. Do you read stories to the children in your life? I’d love to hear about your favorites!
Drawing today on Petticoats & Pistols for a signed copy of
Nosy in Nebraska
releasing June 1st.
And I baby sat last Sunday for my granddaughter Elle. So, trying to pick which of those was most important to write about…….well, that’s a killer. Because while it is true that I worked thousands of hours, chained to a computer, the sun rose and set without notice while I was immersed in plot, character, murder, fear of mice and caffeine, and all that is very important, still, Elle’s really cute.
So the book Nosy in Nebraska contains three books. The books first released in a book club my publisher has for cozy mysteries. They were really nice to let me in on it because contemporary cozy mysteries aren’t really my thing. I write historical westerns in case you didn’t know.
BUT I really think of myself as a writer of romantic comedy. THAT is my genre. The fact that the romantic comedy lands in Texas in 1880, is just incidental. So, Nosy in Nebraska is romantic comedy for sure. Still, be warned if you read it, no one at any time in this book, pushes the front of their Stetson back with one thumb and says, “I reckon this is shootin’ trouble, little missy.”
So it’s important that you know what you’re getting if you want to win a copy of this book.
But…is it MORE important than the fact that Elle seems to be getting a little SLEEPY? I don’t THINK so!
I wrote Nosy in Nebraska with pretty much two things in mind.
ONE…that Algona, Iowa is the Home of the World’s Largest Cheeto. (I am NOT making that up) .
TWO…that I have a nice list of quirks that I’ve never used in a book before…personal quirks. Why make quirks UP if I have my own. So Of Mice. . .and Murder has, as the heroine, a woman who is terrified of mice. And she just happens to be living in Melnik, Nebraska, The Home of the World Largest Field Mouse. (see I couldn’t copy Algona exactly, right?) So that’s Of Mice. . .and Murder…the first book of three short cozy mystery, romantic comedies in Nosy in Nebraska.
And I worked really hard on that book. I’d never written a cozy mystery before, so I had a steep learning curve and I HATE learning, such a nuisance and my head is somewhat atrophed from age so it’s painful for me.
But did all that hard work equate to the hard work of rocking poor sleepy little Elle? I mean a grandma has to have her priorities, you know? Then the next book, Pride and Pestilence, I needed a new murder. This isn’t all that convenient because there really aren’t many murders in small town Nebraska. So we’re sort of pushing the envelope of reality here. Of course the story is set in a town full of quirky characters who adore a really large field mouse, so I suppose reality has already been sacrificed, so sure, let’s kill off someone else.
I found out something about myself writing these books. (horrible to find out new things, I’m in a comfortable spot with my current self-image, sure I’m lying to myself but who doesn’t do that? Denial is a beautiful thing). What I found out is, I really hate killing off good people. It just makes me feel bad. So, I created CREEPY people to kill off. Seemed like the right thing to do. I could just snap them like twigs.
In Pride and Pestilence I went with the shy, insomniac bookworm historical society museum curator as my heroine. Another one of my quirks, the book worm, the social dork, also I’m an insomniac. My heroine was just so happy sitting in her museum full of artifacts and books–late at night. Re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo and contemplating revenge.
So, in my writing I’m dealing with murder, vengeance, comedy, True Love, and a giant mouse, but when Elle goes limp in my arms and I get to hug her close and brush my cheek against her soft, sweet smelling face, and hold her dimpled little hand, well a whole novel full of laughter and drama could just pass me by without notice.
I cropped the picture above so tightly because it created a sense of intimacy, warmth, love, peace and beauty….also, I could cut off my extra chin without expense or pain. If only real life was so easy!
And the final book in the anthology, or 3-in-1 collection, which you will have a chance to win if you leave a comment is–The Miceman Cometh.
This has a heroine who is an anthropologist…also a klutz. Trust me the part of my personality that is reflected in Dr. Madeline Stuart is NOT the highly educated scientist. I chose an anthropologist because I think it’s a funny field of study because nobody really knows what it is (or maybe I just don’t) and they mix it up with archeology and I saw some opportunity for comedy there. I have a niece, Heidi, who is an anthropologist and I could ask her some questions, learn about this misunderstood field and shed the light of truth.
I COULD have done that.
Instead, I just made stuff up. But it’s NICE to know I could. By the way, Heidi is as gracful as a butterfly wafting on a summer breeze. Maddy tumbling down stairs and tripping over her pant leg…alllllll me.
So yes, it’s true and important that I’m bringing light into the darkness of anthropology, but look how completely asleep Elle is, she is so CUTE. That is so much more fun and important than anthropology and science and even a murder mystery.
It occurs to me as I write this that you all hang around Petticoats & Pistols because you like western romance…that’s the whole point right? So, as a salute to the true interests of our beloved readers at P & P, I did get this one picture of Elle and her Aunt Shelly, in cowboy hats. I think that’s enough to unite us all. Can’t we all just get along?
I will leave you with a bit of math so this entire blog is about education,
literature and cuteness.
Nosy in Nebraska + Grandma + Elle = Bliss.
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of
Hope you all had a terrific Memorial Day. Mine was spent touring bookstores, I’m afraid. But that’s only because I have a new book out, and I’m one of those people who think one should visit local bookstores when the book first comes out. I’d love to hear how you spent the day, however.
Keeping with the theme of Memorial Day, and all those who gave their lives that we might live in freedom and prosper, I thought I’d take you on a tour through early Native America, and those who gave this country some precious gifts. We are all pretty well aware of the gifts given in terms of food. There was corn and squash, pumpkins, potatoes, tobacco, maple syrup and hundreds of herbs. In fact the first Europeans who arrived here would not have made it had it not been for the Native Americans helping them — bringing them food and showing them how to plant the various foods for this part of the world.
But what about some other gifts? According to John Smith’s writings, Native America was not a wilderness, as we have been led to believe. Forests were purposely kept trimmed, using fire and other means to keep the grass short and weeds at a minimum, creating park-like conditions — he writes of being able to ride through the Forests easily and without worry because they were kept neat. There were villages that kept crops cultivated close to their villages. Children and women were responsible for the crops and there were scarecrows and as well as other means to scare away animals from the fields. Men hunted for meat, thus the necessity to keep the forests easy to traverse.
But the gift I’m thinking about now, due to Memorial Day, is the gift of a particular kind of mind-set. What was that mind-set? I forget when I first noticed it, maybe 20 years ago. I was talking to and getting to know several people from Germany, England and other European countries. I noticed then that their idea of freedom was quite different from mine. They thought nothing of another telling them what to do, what to think, what to wear, how you should run your life, etc. More times than I care to count, they would bow to the “wiser” authority. Whereas I objected and would argue with someone who thought they had a “right” to tell me what to do. At the time, I didn’t know what it was — all I knew was that my ideas of freedom and the Europeans were amazingly different.
So let’s have a look at this. I think the mind-set that I’m talking about is this: That all men are created equal in the eyes of the Creator. That all men are independent and are entitled to think as they see fit and argue their viewpoints with others if they feel so inclined. That one is not ruled or subject to another man’s whim, and that leaders are responsible not to themselves,but to the people. And how about this mind-set that flourished in Native America? That women have the right to reverse anything the men agree upon if they feel it adversely affects the tribe.
Dr. William B. Newell, an anthropologist, as well as an historian writes: “Indian political theories as embraced in the League of the Iroquois are important and stand out in marked contrast to the European theory of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ which flourished in Europe at the time of the discovery of America. The individual rights of man were recognized in America long before the Europeans awakened to this political philosophy. Ideas of freedom, liberty, and equality existed and were engraved in the hearts of the Iroquois when Europeans were boiled or roasted alive for daring to speak against the state or church.”
Also, this author writes: “One of the outstanding differences between the European and the American Indian was the fact that in America the Indian was permitted freedom of thought while in Europe an individual’s thinking was done for him by autocratic ad dogmatic leaders….”Among the Iroquois, dictators were unknown. No man could tell another what he must do. Every man and every woman was allowed freedom of expression. Every person was allowed to decide for himself what he should do…’We counsel together’ was a famour phrase of the Iroquois.”
Another writer, Felix S. Cohen, says this: “American Democracy, freedom, and tolerance are more American than European and have deep aboriginal roots in our land.”
And another writer, even yet, writes this: “Under the influence of modern theories of race and climate, it has been fashionalbe to trace the roots of American freedom to the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of dark German forests, most of whom were serfs. These historians forget that there were free men in America before the first white settlers arrived with their slaves and indentured servants. There is more truth in a popular account of America widely circulated in Great Britain in 1776: ‘The daring passion of the American is liberty and that in its fullest extent; nor is it the original natives only to whom this passion is confined, our colonists sent thither seem to have imbibed the same principles. Truly the passion for liberty as practiced by the Iroquois was a contagious thing.”
And so ends a mystery that I’ve carried for several years. The urge to be free, to think our own thoughts, to go our own way is embedded deep in our roots, I think. It’s in the air that we breathe. It’s as much a part of this land as the giant cottonwoods and gentle weeping willows. It’s a wish from our ancestors — a wish given to us by Haiwatha and the person they call the Peacemaker so long ago that people to this day argue over when it really took place. All I know is that they set into motion a wish that all men would be free, that all men would come to be friends, and that the land they called Turtle Island (North America) would lead the way to freedom and a land free of war…forever.
Okay, so now that we’ve talked about this a little, let me ask you this? Can you feel it? Can you feel that wish that is still alive to this very day? I think that our Veterans felt it. I think that those who gave their lives for their country understood how very precious freedom is and how much it is our heritage. I think it’s still alive and well to this very day. And perhaps this is what makes a man great — to set into motion an idea that leads others to envision a way of life that is free from tryanny, where another is free to say what he thinks, to believe what he thinks and to live his life as he sees fit, so long as he realizes that others also have this right.
Well, that’s all for today. So tell me, what do you think? Did you know this? Or is it coming from out of the blue? Let me know your thoughts and also what you did on Memorial Day.
And now before I end this for the day, please allow me to say that if you don’t already have your copy, please pick up a copy of BLACK EAGLE today — it is a story of the famous Iroquois (a Mohawk warrior), the same people who Haiwatha and the Peacemaker lead to freedom all those hundreds of years ago.
As I was pondering what my topic for this blog would be it hit me that this particular post would be going up on Memorial Day.So I decided that a fitting observance would be to discuss a little about origins and history of this special day.
In 1866, as the country was trying to heal from the long and bloody Civil War, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, NY by the name of Henry Welles, watched the surviving soldiers come home, some with horrendous injuries and missing limbs, most with nightmarish stories to tell, and decided to do something to recognize the sacrifices that had been made.He discussed his idea with General John Murray, a war hero and intensely patriotic man.General Murray supported the idea and helped rally the local veterans’ support.Welles’ and Murray’s suggestion that the businesses in town close up shop for one day to remember and honor who had given their lives in the war and were buried in the town cemetery was met with community-wide approval.On May 5th of that year the shops did indeed close.The village was draped in evergreens and mourning black, flags were flown at half mast and the townspeople marched to the three town cemeteries to the sound of martial music.Solemn ceremonies were held and the graves were decorated with wreaths, flowers and crosses.
The ceremony became an annual event.
On May 30th, 1868 General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of an organization of veteran soldiers and sailors called the Grand Army of the Republic, established Decoration Day with this declaration in his General Order 11:
The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
May 30th was chosen as the date in part because it was not the anniversary of any given battle and so could stand on its own.
That first year, General James Garfield, who would later become the 20th president of the United States, gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery.Afterwards, an estimated 5,000 people pitched in to adorn the graves of the more than 20,000 Civil War soldiers, both Union and Confederate, who were buried there.
In 1882 the name was changed to Memorial Day and by the end of the nineteenth century, towns and communities across the nation were observing the day in some way.After World War I, the observances expanded to recognize and honor those Americans who had died in any war in service to their country.
Of course those early observances in Waterloo, NY were not the sole or even the first such ceremonies.Local observances of this type had been undertaken in many towns across the country since the end of the Civil War.In fact, even though President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966 declared Waterloo NY to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, over two dozen cities, both in the North and the South, still claim to hold that honor.Among them are Macon GA, Richmond VA, Carbondale IL and Columbus MS.It is said Waterloo NY received the official nod from President Johnson because it was the one town that had made Memorial Day an annual event, one the entire community supported by shutting down businesses for the day and showing up in large numbers to honor the fallen.
In 1971 that Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.On the national front, Memorial Day is observed at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with special reverence.In the early hours of the Friday before Memorial Day, soldiers of the Third US Infantry walk along the rows of over 200,000 grave markers, pauses before each and places the shaft of a small flag into the ground before it.These soldiers are members of the Old Guard, a special regiment, and it is considered an honor to be selected for this duty.As one soldier said “They have done their job and now it is time to do mine.”
On Memorial Day itself, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of these fallen heroes and to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.Members of the armed forces shoot a rifle salute in the air.About 5,000 people attend the ceremony each year (the same number who attended that first ceremony with General Garfield presiding).
I hope that today, whatever your plans, you will take some time to remember and honor those who have given their lives to protect the freedom and quality of life that we Americans enjoy.
What a weekend! I hope everyone enjoyed it. Terry Blain was wonderful. She does get a thrill out of talking about cowboys and westerns.
The names were thrown in the hat and we have a winner…..
Yee-haw! Big congrats, Pat. You have your choice of Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold or Kentucky Green. Once you’ve made your decision, email Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know. Also include your mailing address.
Well, that’s it for this week. Tune in tomorrow and see what new Filly, Winnie Griggs, is blogging about.