Jodi Thomas Here Saturday!


Woo-Hoo! Miss Jodi Thomas is coming! Saturday, November 2nd.
Promise Me TexasLong known as the Queen of Texas Romance by her fans, Miss Jodi is revered for her gripping stories that pull you in and don’t let you go.  Even Jasper loves them. You might not believe this but I read to him. Shhhh! Don’t tell him that you know or he’ll start to braying his fool head off. Creates such a ruckus.
Not exactly sure what Miss Jodi will blog about but it’ll be interesting.
And she’s packed some books in her saddlebag to give.
So, get your lazy rears out of bed on Saturday and hitch up your wagon.
Miss Jodi will be right pleased to see you!

Tanya’s Winners…yes TWO

Howdy, in the spirit of the upcoming season, I decided to honor all the authors of Wishing for a Cowboy and draw TWO names for either pdf or Kindle copy of our Christmas anthology!

MAXIE and MARY J… please email me at tanya DOT hanson AT gmail DOT com with your particulars.

Hope you enjoy reading our stories and cooking with our recipes as much as we enjoyed complling this book!

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A Haunted Mission, a GIVEAWAY…and Christmas Stories…~Tanya Hanson

One never knows what spookiness lurks in your own backyard! And being Halloween, well, I wonder if the vibes are eerier today.

Now I’m not talking about bodies buried in Gramma’s garden, or skeletons in the attic. I mean, local places with their own ghostly cachet.

Like the San Buenaventura Mission of California’s central coast, not far from my homestead.


It was established by Franciscan padre Juniper Serra in 1782 (his last) and is sometimes visited by a gray-robed spectral monk!  Or so it’s said. It’s been going on for years. A local woman, awash in family troubles, had just lit a candle when she saw the monk by the church door. He was dressed in flowing gray robes tied around his middle. Although certain she was at church alone, she was not convinced he was a spirit–she even reported feeling warmth emanate from him. But as soon as he smiled at her, he disappeared.

Thing is…Franciscans wear brown!


Hmmmm. How about ghosts in a church? What do you think about that? Or about spooky stuff in general?

But that’s not all you get today. I am thrilled to have been invited to be part of the newly-released Christmas anthology from Prairie Rose Publications along with my filly sisters PHYLISS MIRANDA, TRACY GARRETT, and CHERYL PIERSON as well as Livia Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Sarah McNeal and Jacquie Rogers. Wishing for a Cowboy is available in both print and e-book editions.

I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy or pdf. TODAY, so don’t forget to leave a comment! 

Here’s some  quick words on my story, Covenant.   (I LOVE Hallmark Christmas movies that just wrench the heartstrings, so that’s what I tried to do with this one.)

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Alone, abandoned, struck with guilt and grief, mail order bride Ella Green refuses to celebrate their first wedding anniversary by herself on the Nebraska homestead. Her fault Charlotte died.

Her fault her husband couldn’t stick around. So it’s back to Pennsylvania. Until the snow hits. 

But do the spingerle cookie molds depicting her life–Carsten’s hand-carved courtship gifts to her across the miles–still have more story to tell? 

Or is it truly The End? 

Widower Carsten Green took on a bride merely to tend his little daughter. Unbeknownst to Ella, he gave her his heart instantly. Yet he believed she’s got no reason to stay after the child’s death. So he’s left her first. 

How can the Christmas blizzard separating them warm their hearts, brighten their future, and ignite love gone cold? 

Springerle cookie molds play a huge part in the story. I remember my gram making them when I was little…and I LOVED spinning the rolling pin and examining the carvings close up. But her recipe and rolling pin, sadly, were lost to time. However, King Arthur Flour has generously allowed me to use their recipe for the book, and their pictures for promo.

Springerle rolling pin


Merry Christmas early…and Happy Halloween right on time!

Buy link, print.

Buy link, Kindle

Arbor Day and Lodge

Arbor day treesTreeArbor Day is a holiday that celebrates the planting and caring of trees.  It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska by Mr. J. Sterling Morton.  The first Arbor Day was April 10, 1872.  It was an amazing success.  In fact, nearly a million trees were planted that day.  It wasn’t until 1884 that the second Arbor Day was celebrated.  In 1885, the young state of Nebraska decided to make this an annual event in April to coincide with J. Sterling’s birthday, April 22.

J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and politician in Nebraska.  He worked tirelessly to improve agricultural techniques in his adopted state (he moved to Nebraska from Michigan) and throughout the United States.  He even served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture.  But it was his role as a member of Nebraska’s state board of agriculture that he proposed a special day be set aside to increase the awareness of the importance of trees.

Original Morton Home
Original Morton Home

I had the honor of visiting the Morton Mansion a few weeks ago.  After several additions, the house is now a stately, 52-room, neo-colonial building that included a bowling alley in the basement.  J. Sterling Morton built the original structure in 1855, but the mansion wasn’t completed until 1902 by Morton’s oldest son, Joy.

The 52-room Morton Mansion
The 52-room Morton Mansion




The Red Parlor
The Red Parlor


Joy added the carriage house and an Italian-terraced garden in 1903, as well as updated the interior.

For 20 years, Joy and his family used Morton Mansion, or what they ultimately called The Arbor Lodge as a summer retreat.  He donated the house and the grounds to the State of Nebraska in 1923.  The entirety was to be preserved as a monument to his father.

Do you remember the Morton Salt slogan?  Leave a comment or just the slogan and your name will be put in a drawing to win my November release, FINALLY A BRIDE.

Tis’ the Season for Candy …

Hearts and Spurs MedThis is my favorite time of the year because we can make, eat, and enjoy tons of candy and justify it because it’s the holiday season!

In my story Tumbleweeds and Valentines for the anthology Hearts and Spurs from Prairie Rose Publications, I wanted my sassy, Texan heroine to have an enjoyable job.  How much more fun could a lady in the late 1800’s have than to own a confectionary store? 

I almost didn’t write this blog on candy because I thought … “Wow, it’s a long time to Valentine’s Day!”  Then I thought, “But we have candy from Halloween through Valentines.”

 What kind of candy would my heroine have in her store?  We know the type that would be in a mercantile. Penny candy. Licorice, gumdrops, and later lollypops.  Penny candy became the first material thing many children spent their own money on. For this reason candy store owners relied almost entirely on the business of children to keep them running. But, for my heroine what could she have that was really special for a cowboy to buy his sweetheart for Valentine’s Day?  Research time knocked on my door.  So, here are some interesting facts I found. 

It has been reported that the fascination with candy, particularly chocolate, first occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus returned home from his fourth voyage of the “Americas.”  Although he was not personally partial to the bittersweet treat, his benefactors in Spain found it fascinating, and five centuries later the love of chocolate continues stronger than ever.

Before sugar was readily available, candy was made from honey.  Honey was used as far back as the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy.   

Candy originally was a medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat.  In the Middle Ages it appeared on the tables of only the wealthy.  At that time, candy began as a combination of spices and sugar that was used as an aid to digestive problems, which were common due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh nor well balanced.  Banquet hosts typically served these type of “candies” at banquets for their guests.  One in particular was referred to as a “chamber spice” and made with cloves, ginger, aniseed, juniper berries, almonds and pine kernels dipped in melted sugar.

The first candy came to America in the early 1700’s from Britain and France. Only a few of the early colonists were proficient in sugar work and were able to provide the treats for only the very wealthy.

Prior to the 1900’s candy was commonly sold unwrapped from street vendors, whereNecco Wafers it was exposed to dirt and insects.  By 1914 there were some machines to wrap gum and stick candies, but this was not the common practice.  After the polio outbreak in 1916, unwrapped treats garnered widespread censure because of the dirt and germs.  At the time, only upscale candy stores used glass jars.  With advancements in technology wax paper was adopted, and foil and cellophane were imported from France by DuPont in 1925.  Necco packagers were one of the first companies to package their wafers without human touch.        

Hard candy may be indefinitely stored, while milk chocolate and caramels might stale after a year. But my favorite, and one that purports to have health benefits, dark chocolate can last up to two years.

Just a couple of interesting tidbits:

1848:  The first branded chewing gum, made from tree sap, was The State of Maine Spruce Gum, followed by William Wrigley, Jr.’s Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gum in 1893.

1854:   Whitman’s Chocolates became available.

1868:  Richard Cadbury made the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, starting the tradition that continues today.  Conversation Hearts arrived on the scene around 1902.

1896:  “Tootsie Rolls” came along by Leo Hirshfield, a New York confectioner, who named the candy after his daughter’s nickname, “Tootsie”.

1900: Milton Hershey introduced the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar.  The famous Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses appeared in 1906.

ValomilkAlthough I’ve mentioned many of my favorite candies, the one that I grew up with and probably loved more than any are the Valomilk Candy, originally known as dips,  which was accidentally invented in 1931. I loved those yummy chocolate covered marshmallow treats.  But, my fondest memories go back to my grandfather who kept Hershey Kisses just for the grandkids.

 I could go on forever about famous candies, but I’d love to know what your favorite is and why? 

  To the first person giving me the name of the most popular candy in the United States, I will give you an eCopy of Tycoon and the Texan or Wishing for a Cowboy.





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Watch for Wishing for a Cowboy due out November 1st.

We are thrilled that Kensington released the award-winning anthology with Fellow Filly, Linda Broday, DeWanna Pace, Jodi Thomas and yours truly A Texas Christmas again for this holiday season.  It’s available at a special price at Walmart Stores and Sam’s Clubs throughout the nation, plus at your favorite bookstore.  If you are an eBook lover, you can get it from and





Her Christmas Wish

In my last blog, I cWishing for a Cowboy Smrowed about my brand new story in a brand new Christmas anthology from a brand new publisher. Today I want to share that story with you.

Her Christmas Wish is one of eight novellas in the Christmas Anthology, “Wishing for a Cowboy,” from Prairie Rose Publications. There’s also some bonus content — each story has a recipe in it and those recipes are in the book, too.

“Wishing For a Cowboy” hits the cyber-shelves on November 1, perfect timing to buy a stocking stuffer for those romance readers on your list.

By the way, Prairie Rose Publications is a new imprint dedicated to western historical romances written by women. Check it out at

Now let me introduce you to Katie & Will from Her Christmas Wish …


Even a woman capable of living on her own…
Kathryn McConnell is a widow celebrating a milestone birthday alone. Though she feels a woman should be able to mourn the passing of her thirtieth birthday any way she wants, she won’t turn away a cowboy in need of lodging—until she learns it’s the man she’d expected to marry thirteen years earlier.

…never forgets her first love.
Will O’Brien had challenged his father’s prejudice against the woman he loved only to discover he was unable to stand against his family’s wealth and connections. Without a way to support his bride, Will struck out for the west, determined to earn a living for them both. When he returned after two years with no word from Katie, he found she’d married another and moved away. Heartbroken, he returns to his work, but never stops hoping to find her.

When chance lands Will at the remote stagecoach station run by the widowed Kathryn, he grabs at the opportunity he’s been handed, hoping to win back the only woman he has ever loved.

“William Matthew O’Brien. You picked a fine time to finally make an appearance.”


His eyes widened in surprise. And no wonder. The last time she’d clapped eyes on him had been in Chicago and she’d been thinking he might propose.

Will dropped the reins of his mare and strode across the yard, not stopping until he’d backed her against the cabin wall. “My Katie.”

His kiss was masterful, reaching, and still irresistible. So much better than memories. She managed to remain stiff for one moment then melted against him as if thirteen years hadn’t passed since the last time she’d been in his arms.

“Happy birthday, Katie,” he breathed into her hair. It was enough to break the spell he wove around her.

“No!” She shoved him back a step. “You left me once and broke my heart. I’ll not be letting you draw me in so you can do it again.”

“I left? That must be why I arrived at your home only to discover you were gone. Married. And your father…” His jaw stiffened as he stopped the words, held back on giving voice to the reminder of why she’d finally had to leave the hopeless dreams of him behind.

“You thought I’d just wait? Waste my whole life when I hadn’t a word from you in… I won’t discuss this anymore. I’ve important things that need tending.”

For an instant she thought he’d refuse to let her go. It was in his eyes to hold her there. Thankfully, he took a step away from her, allowing her to escape into the yard.

“Katie, I never expected to see you way out here. Are you waiting on the next stage?”

“I’m through with waiting. I run this station.” The shock on his face gave her a measure of satisfaction.


The note of disbelief had her temper flaring again. “I’m not in the habit of lying. This place was my husband’s dream and I chose to make a go of it after he died.” She didn’t mention that she hadn’t wanted to come here in the first place. “If your horse needs tending, you’ll find what you need in the barn. A bed and three meals for you is seven cents a day, plus three for the horse.” His hesitation surprised her. He’d come from a wealthy family in Chicago, something his father had mentioned frequently.

“I’ll pay for my horse, Katie, but I’ll spread my bedroll in the barn or out here.”

As much as she wanted to let him sleep in the brush, just to keep him as far away as possible, she’d never refused hospitality to anyone. Besides, she knew how bad the storms here could be. “We’ll be having a storm by sundown tomorrow, maybe snow. If you’d rather work to pay your way, there’s plenty you can be helping with. You never feared work before.”

“I’m happy to help you while I’m here, Katie, but I don’t want your charity.”

“You have my offer, Mr. O’Brien.” Walking past him into the cabin, she tugged her husband’s heavy duster off a hook. “There’s hay, water and feed in the barn for the mare. You’ll find biscuits, bacon and coffee on the table. Put yourself into any empty room, preferably far from mine. I’ll be around when you’re ready to work.”

–Excerpt from Her Christmas Wish

 Tracy Garrett

 Thanks for visiting today. Be sure to mark your calendar for November 1 and the release of the Christmas anthology, Wishing For a Cowboy, including Her Christmas Wish.

To learn more about Tracy and her books, visit her website,

A Special Grandmother by Paisley Kirkpatrick

Paisley Kirkpatrick2I may have inherited my great, great grandmother. She lives in my head and feeds my muse. I have no other explanation for how her words got in my head, but if it is true and she is living in there giving me plots, I am not complaining. Up until I asked a speaker on past lives who spoke at our Sacramento Valley Rose chapter meeting, I had no idea where my ideas came from or why this time period and the gold country has always been important to me. I consider her a gift and I intend to always nurture it.

Her pen name was Mary Kirke. She sailed from the east coast to San Francisco to marry the man she loved — he was my great, great grandfather who wrote the journal I used for research in my Marriage Bargain story. Mary is supposedly the first woman to have had stories published in a magazine and the originals are kept in the Sacramento State Library. My mother was able to get copies of her stories and while I was writing Forever After, I happen to read them. When I read the first one (which I later found out was about her own journey to San Francisco by sea), I was gobsmacked when I read two sentences that were written verbatim to two sentences that I had written in my story, with my heroine traveling under the same exact circumstances. Chills raged through me – how could this be? I asked the speaker if I could have inherited my ancestor’s memories. She said maybe, but she figured I probably inherited Mary.

These two ancestors lived in the west and left quite a footprint in the history here. Do you think I have this talented woman in my head, feeding my muse? It’s a question that I probably will never know for sure, but then again — how did those exact words in the same order happen?

I have an ebook copy of Paradise Pines Series: Forever After to give away to one of the commenters today. This isForeverAfterCoverArt Marinda Benjamin’s story. She is the last of the Benjamin sister stories in the Paradise Pines Series. My next book introduces the MacGregor brothers. 


Abandoned by her sisters, her father in jail, Marinda Benjamin takes on the care of her ailing mother the best way possible — working for an unscrupulous man with the power to crush her.  Forced to spy on a decent man, Marinda’s honesty saves her virtue and revenge restores her self-respect.

When Ethan Braddock discovers his brother’s poker pot cleaning his private office, he jumps to the right conclusion — she’s there to spy for his nemesis. Ethan can’t help but find her irresistible. In spite of what his heart tells him, his brain reserves judgment on her character. Until he unravels the mystery of her connection to Danforth, trust is the one thing he can’t allow himself. For that, she’ll have to prove herself.


“I’ll bet this little lady against whatever you’ve got in your hand.”

A sudden hush stifled all the noise in the Hidey Hole Saloon. Master against novice. Who would win? Then quiet snickers began to echo off the wood walls. The regulars of the saloon moved in for a closer look.

Marinda Benjamin stared around at all the patrons who just witnessed her humiliation by Danforth’s claim. She latched onto the back of her employer’s chair to steady her crumbling nerves. Jonas Danforth had bet her, body and soul, in a card game.

Fancy women dressed in garish attire crowded around the poker table. Some stared at her with pity while a few sneered in obvious enjoyment of seeing another Benjamin sister fall from grace.

She wracked her brain for a way of preventing the ridiculous bet, but she knew Danforth held all the cards. Yet she had to stop this travesty. “Enough!” She stepped up beside his chair. “You can’t do–“

The menace in Danforth’s glare as he looked at her stopped her from saying more.

A malicious sneer marred his face. “As long as I hold the loan on your house, you’ll do as I say. Is that clear?”

She wanted to run, but her feet refused to move. She wanted to speak her piece, as she always did, but now was not the time. So instead, she held her head high. She refused to allow Jonas Danforth to see her frustration. He had broken her father’s spirit. He would not break hers.

The town’s mischief-maker sat across from Danforth. Patrick Braddock glanced her way. “She looks like she might be worth five twenty-dollar gold eagles and I could use a servant. I call your bet. Let’s see what ya got.”

The knot in her stomach tightened.


Desert Breeze