Have you ever stepped into a place where you felt like you’ve been there before, yet you know it’s impossible? I experienced that at the Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona.
I just got home from the Romance Writers of America annual conference in Anaheim, California. We had a great trip and enjoyed meeting many of my favorite authors. I was fortunate enough to travel with fellow Filly, Linda Broday, and one of our frequent guests, Jodi Thomas. We had a ball. On the first night we stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona, and had dinner in one of the original hotels … the Weatherford. Many of you know that we’re from the Texas Panhandle and there’s a town in North Texas named Weatherford, so my first comment was “Wonder if this has any connection to Weatherford, Texas?”
To my surprise, I learned the hotel was originally built by a native of Weatherford, Texas.It’s a unique building, but unlike many early frontier structures it is made of stone and brick with a stucco façade. But there is a reason. Like most frontier towns built of wood, disastrous fires plagued early Flagstaff. After a particularly bad series of blazes in 1897, the city passed an ordinance requiring all buildings in the downtown business area to be built of brick, stone or iron. Among the new buildings appearing in 1898 was the Weatherford Hotel, built by John W. Weatherford (1859-1934) and yes he was a native of the North Texas town of Weatherford but not the founder. The original structure housed a general store on the first floor and the Weatherford family upstairs.
In March 1899, Weatherford began construction of a brick three-story hotel addition, with a grand opening on New Year’s Day 1900. For years, the Weatherford Hotel was the most prominent hotel in Flagstaff, entertaining guests such as artist Thomas Moran, publisher William Randolph Hearst, and writer Zane Grey. Grey’s famous novel “The Call of the Canyon” was written in the now Zane Grey Ballroom on the third floor.
A beautiful sunroom occupied part of the top floor and was used for dances and parties, while numerous civic groups engaged the downstairs. A three-sided balcony, visible in the 1905 photograph hanging in the hotel was damaged by fire and removed in 1929, along with the original cupola. At various times, the hotel housed a restaurant, theater, and billiard hall and radio station.
When transcontinental telephone service first reached Flagstaff about 1910, a small brick building with a three-bay façade of red Coconino sandstone was erected south of the Weatherford to serve the telephone company, becoming part of the “Weatherford Block”. The building served its original purpose until around the 1930’s when it underwent the first of two modernizations. The sandstone façade was resurfaced with stucco in a modified art-deco style, and in the 1950’s aluminum siding was added. It was known for some years as the “Le Brea Café”, an establishment whose character does not appear to have elicited any significant historic recollection.
Henry Taylor, the present owner, purchased the hotel in 1975 in an attempt to keep it from being demolished, at a time when the downtown area was in an acute state of disrepair and decline. Today, one would not believe the area could have ever been in that condition. Since then, Henry and his wife Pamela (Sam) have been continually renovating the structure, with the goal of restoring the hotel to its original grandeur.
The café façade renovation completed in 1995 restored the appearance of the original 1909 Telephone Exchange. The building is beautiful with a simple elegance and casual ambience after it was returned to the reminiscent of Flagstaff at its turn of the century heyday.
Have you ever felt like you stepped back into time when you visited a place?
I will give away a copy of Give Me a Texas Outlaw, to one person who leaves a comment today.
I’m filling in for Felicia today because the old girl is gadding about somewhere in California. Sure do hope she doesn’t get lost and is unable to find her way back to Wildflower Junction. I’ve seen her a few times and she sure is having fun.
The winner of AGAINST THE SUN is…………….
I’m sending big congrats to you, Sherry! Hope you enjoy the book. Please send me your mailing address at phylissmiranda (at) aol.com. When I receive the information I’ll forward it on to Miss Kat.
Since my latest book, AGAINST THE SUN, big Jake Cantrell and Sage Dumont’s story, deals
with a visit to Texas by a Saudi Arabian sheik and his family, I thought it might be fun to talk
about favorite places in the sun.
With temperatures that reach higher than 120 degrees, Saudi Arabia would definitely not be one of them!
Personally, I hate hot weather. Among my personal
favorite places, would be the ski slopes of Aspen
on a sunny day, or up on the top of the hill at Mammoth Mountain in California. Yummy days of cold and sunshine and crystal clear blue skies.
We usually travel in the spring. A favorite sunny day happened to me in Rome in April a few years ago, when we stood in the warm rays next to the beautiful Trevi Fountain. And of course you can’t beat
walking in the sun on the Left Bank in Paris.
Closer to home, Montana has some great sunny days. Today I’m working in my office, looking at the lush green pastures outside my windows toward the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Big sky country is a major winner when the sun is shining and the clear blue sky seems to go on forever.
A day on the ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara is hard to beat when the sun is shining. Sailboat or powerboat, just being out on the water makes me feel completely carefree.
In AGAINST THE SUN, the sheik, his daughter A’lia and his son Roshan aren’t bothered by the brutal Houston heat. And Sage is more concerned about learning the protocols she must know in order to negotiate the three hundred million dollar deal that will make or break her career. Customs like not showing the bottom of her foot, which is considered an insult, or making the okay sign, which would be giving them the evil eye.
AGAINST THE SUN was one of the most difficult books I’ve ever tackled because of the research involved in getting the customs, the clothing, the attitudes of the Saudi visitors correct. I hope you’ll try AGAINST THE SUN and that you enjoy it.
I’d love to hear some of your favorite places in the sun and why you love them? I’m giving away a copy of AGAINST THE SUN to one lucky commentor today!
Warm wishes for a great summer, Kat
It’s not in bodyguard Jake Cantrell’s job description to share his suspicions with his assignments. Beautiful executive Sage Dumont may be in charge, but Jake’s not on her payroll. As a former special forces marine, Jake trusts his gut, and it’s telling him that there’s something off about a shipment arriving at Marine Drilling International. His instinct is aroused…in more ways than one.
A savvy businesswoman, Sage knows better than to take some hired gun’s “hunch” as gospel. And yet she is learning not to underestimate the man her grandfather hired to protect her. Determined to prove Jake wrong, Sage does some digging of her own and turns up deadly details she was never meant to see.
Drawn into a terrifying web of lies and deceit—and into feelings they can’t afford to explore—what Jake and Sage uncover may be frighteningly worse than they ever imagined.
Here’s an excerpt from AGAINST THE SUN:
Walking out of the elevator across the shiny black granite floor, Jake Cantrell made his
way to the receptionist desk on the tenth floor of Marine Drilling International. The waiting area was done in black leather sofas and chairs, the receptionist desk dark walnut and chrome, nothing but the best for the Dumonts, the family who owned the company.
A good-looking woman, late twenties, wavy, shoulder-length mink-brown hair, busily searched the drawers and cabinets behind the desk, bending over in a tailored pencil shirt, providing him with a perfect view of a very shapely ass.
He almost smiled. Even the help was first class.
She jerked upright at his approach, noticing him for the first time, and her face colored, a pretty face, remarkable really, with amazing golden brown eyes. Those eyes looked him up and down, which took a while, being six-five, two-hundred thirty-five pounds.
“May I help you?” she asked.
He gave her a smile. “I’m Jake Cantrell. I’ve got an appointment at ten with Ian Dumont.”
She frowned. “He didn’t mention it. He’s getting ready for a meeting. You might have to wait a while.”
“Not a problem. In the meantime, I could sure use a cup of coffee.”
Amusement tipped her mouth up, a tiny dimple appearing next to plump, rose-colored lips. “I’ll see what I can do.” But she didn’t make a move, just turned to the woman hurrying toward her across the waiting room.
“I’m so sorry I’m late, Ms. Dumont,” the woman said. “Thank you for covering for me.”
Sonofabitch, a Dumont, Jake thought. Asking her to fetch him a cup of coffee was probably
not the best idea he’d ever had.
“It’s not a problem, Marie.” She tipped her head toward Jake. “Mr. Cantrell is here to see Ian. I have to go into the meeting. Could you get him a cup of coffee while he waits?”
Jake felt the slight rebuke in the glance she cast his way. Clearly, she wasn’t used to fetching a man much of anything.
“Of course,” Marie said. The Dumont woman headed for the tall walnut door leading into Ian Dumont’s imperial domain, her strides long and purposeful, as if she had someplace important to go. He liked a woman who didn’t dawdle. And besides the great ass, she had a pair of legs that wouldn’t quit.
He watched her disappear behind the door, wondering what role she played in the Dumont empire, then turned his attention to the receptionist.
Marie was smiling. “Mr. Cantrell, Mr. Dumont mentioned that you would be coming in. I believe he wants to see you as soon as you arrive.”
“Thank you, Marie.”
“I’ll bring coffee into the meeting.” The woman blushed as he walked away. It was his size mostly, he figured, that made women take a second look. He was used to it by now.
He shoved open the office door and stepped inside, found only two people in the room–the woman he had subtly insulted and a silver-haired gentleman in his late seventies, slightly stooped but still impressive, undoubtedly Ian Dumont, CEO of the company.
“Mr. Cantrell, I assume,” the man said. “Our mutual friend, Trace Rawlins, had nothing but good things to say when he recommended you for this job. Please do join us.”
The Dumont woman was staring, one of her dark eyebrows elevated in question. He noticed she was wearing a flashy diamond engagement ring. Since he felt a jolt of heat whenever he looked at her, it was probably good she was out of his reach.
Ian Dumont reached out to shake his hand. A strong, solid handshake that set the tone for the discussion ahead. “Why don’t we all sit down?” Ian suggested.
They spaced themselves at the near end of the conference table, which sat in the middle of a room done in the same walnut and chrome as the waiting area.
Ian fixed his attention on Jake. “I asked you here to discuss providing security for one of our people during an upcoming business negotiation.”
“S.E. Dumont, you said when we spoke on the phone.”
“That is correct.”
“Wait a minute,” the dark-haired woman interrupted, her gaze sliding toward Jake. “Ian, you aren’t thinking–”
“Mr. Cantrell, I’d like you to meet my granddaughter, Sage Elizabeth Dumont.”
The room fell silent. Sonofabitch. She was his assignment?
“I don’t need a bodyguard, Ian.”
The old man turned toward her, a determined glint in a pair of eyes that looked strikingly similar to the flashing gold-ringed brown ones belonging to his granddaughter.
“Mr. Cantrell has experience in Middle Eastern protocol as well as a background in personal security. Isn’t that correct, Mr. Cantrell?”
“Over the years, I’ve done a lot of corporate protection work, both in South America and the Middle East. I worked in Saudi for three years after I got out of the Marines. So yes, I know the protocols.”
“This is simply not necessary,” Sage said.
Both men ignored her. “I understand you were in Special Forces. You served in Iraq, I believe.”
“Sage is Vice President of Acquisitions and Distribution for Marine Drilling. Currently she is involved in a transaction that may reach the three hundred million mark. A deal being negotiated with Sheik Khalid Al Kahzaz of Saudi Arabia. The sheik and his family are due to arrive in just a few days.”
“I see,” Jake said noncommittally. Protecting a corporate exec was one thing. Protecting a spoiled young socialite who got her job because she was a member of the Dumont family was something altogether different.
“With your experience,” Ian continued, “I’m hoping you will be able to guide my granddaughter through this visit with our Saudi friends, and should trouble arise in the city, also keep her safe.”
“That’s what I get paid for.”
Sage shifted in her chair, irritation clear in her face. “We need to discuss this in private, Ian.”
The old man smiled indulgently. “We can do that, of course, but the result will be the same. You’re representing Marine Drilling International. You will be prominently engaged in entertaining the sheik, his daughter and son, and the rest of his party. Currently, there is a great deal of unrest in the Middle
East. Last night there was an incident right here in the city. Mr. Cantrell can handle whatever problem might come up.” He rose from his chair, and Jake and Sage stood up, too.
Ian turned to Jake. “When can you start?”
Part of him wanted to refuse the assignment. He didn’t want to deal with a bossy, cantankerous female. The other part was looking for something interesting to do after weeks of mostly sitting behind a desk. “If we only have a short time until they arrive,” he found himself saying, “we had start today.”
Sage’s spine went a little straighter. She fixed her gaze on Jake. Even with her ultra high heels she had to look up at him, which he could tell she didn’t like.
“Fine,” she said. “I’ll see you in my office in half an hour. Does that work for you?”
“I’ll be there.”
As soon as the door swooshed closed behind her, Jake heard Ian chuckle. “I knew she was going to pitch an all-out fit about this, but I want her safe. She means everything to me, Mr. Cantrell.”
“It’s just Jake. And you can count on me to take care of her–whether she likes it or not.”
Ian Dumont just smiled.
AGAINST THE SUN debuted at #17 on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and was a Romantic Times “top pick”! Here’s how to order.
Today I am at the RWA national conference in Anaheim, CA. And after 4 days of tromping around Disneyland with my family, I’m beat. So I thought I would take a break from serious blogging this week, and instead share some of my favorite cowboys with you. Some of these you have seen before from me. Some are new additions. But one thing’s for sure, they are all sigh-worthy.
These first two cowboys are personally responsible for inspiring my love for western men in the first place. On the left is Pernell Roberts, better known as the eldest Cartwright brother, Adam, on Bonanza. And on the right we have hunky Robert Fuller who played Cooper on Wagon Train. I would hitch my wagon to his train any day.
Watching re-runs of these great westerns started my love affair with cowboys.
Then there is the great Sam Elliott. Has any man ever personified the west better? I think I’d even give him the nod over John Wayne. Just the sound of his rasping voice conjures images of rugged landscapes and hardened men on horseback. I want to go out and buy a Dodge Ram truck every time I hear his voice-over on their commercials.
I have to admit, I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Hugh Jackman. And when he donned a dusty hat and a pair of boots for Australia, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect combination.
A blogger recently asked me to pick a celebrity who best captured the look of my latest hero, Travis Archer, from Short-Straw Bride. I don’t usually work from a photograph when I write my characters, so I had to go searching for a man to match his description. And then I found him in the world of country music. Luke Bryan. He’s got that sable hair and the rugged good looks that jumped up and said – Travis – to me.
So who would you add? Who are your favorite cowboys?
I’ll be in and out today, but will try to post when I can. I wish everyone a wonderful weekend full of hunky cowboys, at least in books if not in real life. *Wink*
Hallelujah! It’s Kat Martin time again. The Fillies dearly love this talented lady.
She’ll arrive on Saturday, July 28th.
Miss Kat has in mind to tell us about some of her favorite places where the land meets the sky and the sun warms her heart. These are parts of the country that inspire her as a woman and a writer, places that tickle her creativity. I can’t wait to see what’s on her list.
My favorite places are where there are plenty of handsome cowboys to look at and dream about. Hee-Hee!
Of special note: Miss Kat is giving away a copy of her newest release AGAINST THE SUN.
So saddle up and head over to the Junction come Saturday.
My husband and I live in Lexington, Kentucky–the Thoroughbred Capital of the World. You can’t drive down the street without seeing horses grazing in the bluegrass, or noticing a statue of a horse posed on a street corner. We’re particularly blessed to live next to a farm for retired thoroughbreds. These beautiful animals routinely come to our back fence for carrots and peppermints–an event that sends are little dog into raptures of joy.
I didn’t realize it until we moved here, but there’s a sad side to the world of horseracing. When a horse says goodbye to its glory days, where does it go? Not all of them are big winners and famous like Secretariat. Some are mid-listers. They have some success but not enough to guarantee a plush retirement.
Then there’s the story of Ferdinand, the winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby. By all rights, Ferdinand was a success. He won close to $4 million and was the 1987 Eclipse Horse of the Year. He was retired to stud in 1989, sold to a breeding farm in Japan in 1994 and sadly met his end in a slaughterhouse in 2002. Not a very noble end for a horse with the heart of a champion, but Ferdinand’s demise led to the formation of Old Friends, a thoroughbred rescue program started in 2002.
Old Friends is in Georgetown, Kentucky and just up the road from where I live. It’s the only thoroughbred rescue operation that accepts stallions, and it’s supported solely by donations. The rescue farm behind my house belongs to a different organization, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, but the principles are the same. These amazing athletes are retired with dignity. Some live out their days peacefully; others (though not many because of injuries) are retrained and adopted out to new owners.
I often see dog adoptions on facebook, and they always tug on the old heartstrings. Our little dog is a “rescue,” and I sometimes wonder if that’s why he goes so crazy for the horses. It’s like he’s saying, “Home! Home! We have homes!” He might also be saying, “Hey, I’ll get my mom. She has carrots in the fridge.”
These thoroughbreds have truly inspired me. In “Josie’s Wedding Dress”, my novella in the Brides of the Westanthology, Ty Donner comes home to from prison to discover Josie Bright still owns Smoke, his beloved mustang stallion. In one of the final scenes, Ty and Smoke ride like the wind in a race for their lives. As I wrote that scene, I had my next door neighbors clearly in mind.
Hi everyone! I wanted to share some beautiful pictures of my “second home” — the state of West Virginia. My dad got transferred out there with his company when I was a senior in high school. I met my husband there (and have now made an “Okie” out of him!) These pictures were taken by a friend who is a native West Virginian, Rick Burgess. These are just a sample of all the beautiful pictures he has taken all over the state. Rick has a fantastic eye for color and composition, and although I believe these pictures belong in a book devoted to his photography, he has graciously allowed me to show you West Virginia through his eyes. Let’s have a look!
This is a picture of the New River Gorge Bridge. It is beautiful and I’ve been there myself–this picture really does it justice! Yes, I drove over it–it’s 3030 feet long. 876 feet high. 70 feet wide. 88 million pounds of U.S. Cor Ten steel and American cement. Opened and dedicated on October 22, 1977, the span has since become the symbol of West Virginia.
Look at this beautiful church, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, West Virginia.
Of course, there are horse lovers everywhere throughout the USA–and these beauties conjure up images of cowboys no matter where they might be!
Cooper’s Rock State Forest, at dusk… I’ve never been here, but next time we go back for a visit, I’d love to see it.
Misty morning in Pocahontas County…
I wonder where this road leads? Beautiful countryside, no matter where it goes. Thanks for joining me on this trip through West Virginia. And thanks to Rick Burgess for allowing me to show you his state through his camera lens!
We have a winner for a free book! Yea! I want to thank each and every one of you who came here today and left a message. And that winner is: Kathleen — forgive me Kathleen, I have to go back and look at your last name.
Well in keeping with the “Story Behind the Story” theme, I have a new book soon to be released (it’s selling for a song right now). And that book is SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE. I’ll also be giving away a free book today to some lucky blogger so please come on in and leave a message.
I love this book. But before I get into that, let me tell you of another love of mine. I think I must have been all of ten years old when I first saw the movie “Naughty Marietta,” on television. Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. Struck by one of the last scenes in that movie (their love doesn’t stand a chance and she and he are singing their hearts out to each other — she on the stairs, and he staring up at her), I have always loved them. So much so that I wanted to be an opera star when I was about 10 — until my mother spoiled that ambition by telling me that all opera stars are fat…
As I grew older, I eventually saw all of the movies that they did with each other — and I was struck by the fact that these two people were very much in love. If you don’t believe me, look at the movie, “New Moon” and their duet together beneath the trees and stars. He can’t keep his hands off of her and she stares into his eyes with a passion that isn’t acting.
That lead me to another book entitled SWEETHEARTS by Sharon Rich, and I found out that I, indeed, was right about these two star-crossed lovers. They were very much in love — were in love all their lives through — but due to studio (MGM) pressures and outright suppression, they never married, although in the filming of ROSE MARIE, Nelson proposed to Jeanette and she accepted. But executives at MGM at the time weren’t about to let these two lead happy lives — they needed to sizzle on the screen…
You might be wondering what all this has to do with SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE. Well, at the time of writing that book, I was reading Sharon’s book, SWEETHEARTS. I even went to a fan club meeting…
I’ve often called SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE my musical. Yes, yes, I know it’s only a book. Yes, I know there isn’t a song going to jump out at you when you open the book. Still, it’s my “musical,” with the characters based on what I considered the personalities of both Jeanette and Nelson.
I highly recommend getting and reading Sharon’s book, Sweethearts. They were on again, off again lovers, forever misunderstanding one another and thus, often setting the other against him — however, they remained true to each other all through their lives. Jeanette died in her sixty’s of heart failure and Nelson soon followed her two years later.
A story told to me by someone in my church (Nelson was a member of my church) said that Nelson had come into the church shortly after Jeanette’s death, and told him that Jeanette was with him always. Shortly after that — so the story goes, he followed her in death.
Now another interesting little tale that I thought I’d share with you comes to me from Grandfather George, who, before his retirement, was an actor. He also taught acting classes.
Grandfather George tells the story of MGM in those days — telling the story of how these two people kept trying to be together, but that the studio keptpulling them them apart using lies and other devices — even blackmail to keep them apart. They (executives, I guess) even arranged a marriage for Jeanette, which she later, according to George and to Sharon’s book, regretted. But that isn’t the main story that George tells. He tells me that one day, (now here I have to to rely on your imagination) these two people (young people in the 1990’s) approached him, and told him the story of who they were, that they were Nelson and Jeanette and that now, at last they could be together…
I asked Grandfather George once who these people were in today’s world, but George told me they had sworn him to secrecy. But after reading their love story (tragic though it was), it was nice to have a “happy ending.”
What does this have to do with SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE? A lot, I fear. I was enraptured with this story (and all of their movies) as I was writing this book — thus, I call this book, my musical. Now before I go, I’ll leave you with a link to my book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, but also with a link to two of the most impassioned scenes caught on film. Enjoy!
This is the scene from New Moon, where these two sing to each other — and it literally takes your breath away. The song is : Wanting you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RdqU5kJ3Os And here’s the link to that scene that first started me loving this couple: