I Have Winners!

CelebrationThank you all for your wonderful comments today. Many touched my heart. Weddings are always special.

So….I decided to draw two winners!

JANINE

PATRICIA B

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll contact you.

Thanks again! You’re the best readers in the world. 🙂

Weddings and Memories


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Nothing makes my heart melt quite like weddings. I ALWAYS cry. There’s something about two people starting this new life together. They’re full of hopes and dreams, unable to see the trials and hurdles to jump over ahead. But I know they’ll be there.

Getting married was serious business with me.

M&R2I’ve been married twice and both husbands have now passed over.

The first time was a private ceremony with a preacher. No guests. The second was at the Justice of the Peace. So I don’t know anything about being married in a huge church with hundreds (often thousands) of guests except through my oldest daughter. This is a picture of her with her new hubby.

My parents married during the Depression on April 14, 1934 at the JP. They were homeless and living in a migrant camp. Mama had to borrow a pair of shoes from one of the women because she didn’t own any and she wore an old dress. Daddy wore overalls.

They faced hard times aplenty. But they dreamed of owning a real house someday.

It took them seventeen years.

Though the doctors told my daddy he was sterile from having rheumatic fever when he was a boy, they had a baby girl two years after tying the knot and went on to have five more. One was stillborn. (In the lineup, I was kid #5.)

Twice a Texas BrideIn my newest, TWICE A TEXAS BRIDE, Rand Sinclair and Callie Quinn married the first time so they could keep an orphaned baby. Callie borrowed a dress from Delta Dandridge who married Cooper Thorne in the previous book.

Neither Rand or Callie voiced love for each other, though they had it tucked deep in their hearts.

Callie made it clear she wouldn’t sleep in his bed, but Rand made her promise to kiss him each night before they went to their separate rooms.

They married again at the end of the book for real in front of lots of guests and the three children who made up their patchwork family.

Now, I’d like to hear about your wedding tales (either yours or someone else’s.) I’ll give away one copy (any format) of either book in my Bachelors of Battle Creek series.

And don’t forget…Book 3 of the series- FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE – will be out on December 1 of this year! I’ve saved the best for last!

For Ever and Ever…Tanya Hanson

Wedding-Week-sepiaDon’t forget to leave a comment today! I’m giving away one of my backlist books because…it’s about a Bride, and it’s Wedding Week here in Wildflower Junction!  PLEASE check the comments later tonight for my “winner” as I don’t want to intrude on tomorrow’s filly…

The picture below is me and my posse in July 1974 at my bridal shower. (I’m seated on the right.) This womanly gathering owes its roots to a Dutch maiden three hundred years ago whose wealthy papa pooh-poohed her marital choice of a lowly miller. He refused her a  dowry, so her friends and neighbors “showered” her with enough household goods to start life with her true love.

In the 1890’s, gifts for the bride were actually placed into a Japanese parasol which was later opened over her head. Hopefully there wasn’t a cast iron frying pan or meat cleaver knife in there.

my bridal shower

The honored roll of Bridesmaid got its start during the bride-stealing days of the Anglo-Saxons. A gaggle of lovelies usually dressed identical to the bride even to their veils to confuse marauders and act as decoys. Later, the flock of bridesmaids was believed to ward off evil spirits who might curse the happy couple.

In those good old days of bride-stealing and kidnapping, the groom of course had to surround himself with pals ready to assist in abducting his woman. Sometimes the “groomsmen” snatched brides of their own from the herd of bridesmaids. Romantic? Can’t decide if there’s a historical romance plot in there somewhere. Or if it’s just downright inappropriate behavior no matter what century you’re in…

Anyway, here are some helpful proverbs for any superstitious brides out there.

  1. If you find a spider on your wedding gown, you’ll come into money. 
  2. If you see a flock of birds, your marriage will be blessed with fertility. 
  3. If it snows on your wedding day, you’ll be wealthy.
  4. If the sun is out, you’ll be happy.
  5. If you marry as the hands of the clock move up (after the half hour), you’ll have good fortune. 
  6. If you drop the ring during the ceremony, it’s best to start the whole thing over. 
  7. If you look in the mirror before walking down the aisle, you’ll leave a part of yourself behind. 
  8. If you cry on your wedding day, especially before the kiss, you’ll prevent tears during the marriage. 

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Above is an heirloom photo of my grandparents. The one below is my niece. As for Hubs and me…we’re still going strong after 41 years even though it did not snow on our wedding day. The sun shined bright, though, so that adage works.While we’re never been wealthy, we’ve never been in want. And of course I looked in the mirror. If any part of me got left behind, I haven’t missed it!Ethereal!

So…what’s the best bridal shower gift you ever got or gave? I’ll draw one name from the commenters  for a copy of MARRYING MINDA, my tale of a mail-order-bride who heads West and marries…the wrong man. (U.S. Residents only for print; others e-copy)MarryingMinda_w2706_680

“It’s All About the Horses!” by Susan Anne Mason

SusanAnneMasonThank you so much, Karen, for inviting me to be here today! I must say I feel like the city cousin at a barn dance, because although my upcoming release, Irish Meadows, is a historical romance, it is not western-themed, nor does it involve cowboys!

The one commonality it does have is that the story takes place on a horse farm. Irish Meadows is the name of my fictional farm in Long Island, New York, where the O’Leary family raise, train, and board thoroughbreds. I wanted the O’Learys to be fairly affluent, yet not as wealthy as some of their Long Island neighbors. I also needed to put Irish Meadows in financial jeopardy to drive the main conflict of the story.

As I was researching horse racing in the 1911 time period, I discovered an interesting fact: that horse racing had been banned in the state of New York at this time. This played perfectly into my conflict!

James O’Leary becomes very worried because some of his clients are pulling their horses out of his stables. This anxiety increases James’ deep-seated motivation to find rich husbands for his two eldest daughters— he wants to secure their place in society and make sure they never revert back to his parents’ time of poverty.

My heroine, Brianna O’Leary, has grown up at Irish Meadows, and her love of horses made her into a bit of a IrishMeadowsbackcover2tomboy when she was younger. Now that she is about to turn 18, her father has restricted her riding time in the hopes that she will become more feminine and hopefully attract a suitable husband. Naturally Brianna does not like this turn of events one bit!

My hero, Gilbert Whelan, has been raised by the O’Leary family as their ward and as a pseudo-sibling of the O’Leary children. Horses are his passion, and his main goal is to one day start his own breeding farm. (His other secret passion is Brianna O’Leary!) When James asks Gil to court the banker’s daughter in order to assure the business loan he needs, Gil goes against his better judgment and agrees to help save Irish Meadows. After all, he can’t sit back and let the O’Learys lose their home and business, can he?

Some of my favorite scenes in the book revolve around the horses and the stables – namely Brianna’s wild ride on a prize stallion (which goes terribly awry), and the birth of a foal anticipated to be a champion (but who ends up a huge disappointment and another blow for the ranch.)

So although there are no cowboys in my story, I hope all you horse lovers out there will pick up a copy of my book and fall in love with Irish Meadows and the O’Leary family!

Irish Meadows releases with Bethany House Publishing on July 7, 2015. Ebook releases June 30th.Irish-Meadows-662x1024

Blurb: Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he’s put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, depends on their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, the quiet sister with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry—as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards of the perfect man. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans.

As financial ruin looms ever closer, James O’Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid becoming pawns in their father’s schemes and follow their hearts. Yet even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

Susan is giving away a print Advance Reading Copy! Leave a comment to enter the drawing!

Author Bio:
Susan Anne Mason describes her writing style as “romance sprinkled with faith.” She particularly enjoys exploring the themes of forgiveness and redemption in her stories. Irish Meadows is her first historical novel and won the Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance Author chapter of RWA. Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Learn more about Susan and her books at www.susanannemason.com.

HOW THE WEST WAS FUN!

MargaretBrownley-headerThe only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse

Recently I read that the American cowboy wouldn’t have survived “lonesome” had it not been for his ihorse“guts and his hoss.” The author got it only partly right. For the cowboy had one more weapon of survival under his Stetson: his sense of humor.

Seeing the funny side of life in the Old West was just as vital, if not more so, than a cowboy’s horse or six-gun. Those early buckaroos survived long hours in the saddle under the most difficult conditions with jokes, horseplay and cock and bull stories.

fireNo campsite was complete without a tall tale or two. Cowboys didn’t experience weather like the rest of us. No sirree. One cowpuncher told about winter being so cold they couldn’t hear the foreman’s orders. “The words froze as they came outta his mouth. We had to break them off one by one so we could tell what he was sayin’.”

The wind was a popular subject. “You think this wind is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’.” Cowboys talked about feeding their chickens buckshot so they wouldn’t blow away in the wind. Not to be outdone some claimed it was so windy a chicken laid the same egg five times.

Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.

California’s current drought is nothing compared to what those cowboys of yesteryear experienced. “One teethdrought was so bad the cactus took to a-chasing after dogs.”

Texas was reportedly the healthiest state. So healthy, in fact, no one ever died there naturally. They needed the assistance of a bullet to accomplish that feat. More than one Texan was caught crossing the border just so he could “ride to the great beyond.”

Perhaps the most amusing rivalries in the Old West pitted cowboys against railroaders. Cowboys had little patience with the “bullheaded Irishmen” who stampeded their cattle. In turn, railroaders thought cowboys a bunch of troublemakers—and for good reason.

One railcar filled with smoke when a cowboy attempted to cook a steak on the train’s coal stove. Another cowpoke, on the way to meeting his best gal, shocked women passengers by stripping down to his long johns so he could don his new suit.

When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example,

he hands out good advice.

One foreman befuddled railroad officials by sending a wire requesting cars to ship 2,500 sea lions. The foremen figured his cattle had swum across so many streams that “sea lions” aptly described his sirloins.

Railroaders dished out as good as they got. One cowboy learned the hard way not to travel without a ticket when the train he was riding came to a screeching stop and left him stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Another cowboy boarded a train and when asked for his ticket pulled out his six-gun, declaring it the only ticket he needed. The conductor convinced him otherwise by returning with a rifle and sticking it under the cowboy’s nose.

Cowboys didn’t just laugh at these antics like regular folks. Oh, no. They’d sit ’round a campfire “grinnin’ like a weasel peekin’ in a henhouse.”

So when is the last time you grinned like a weasel? What tall tale, anecdote or family memory would you share around a campfire?

What they’re saying about Undercover Bride

Expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.-Harold Wolf, Amazon

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Susan Anne Mason Sets Her Sights on Wildflower Junction!

Irish-Meadows-662x1024Ms Susan Anne Mason is all set to arrive on Friday, June 26, 2015!

This dear lady is going to give us the lowdown about horses and horse racing as a profession in the very early days.

She has a brand spanking new book called IRISH MEADOWS.

And she’ll give away a print Advance Reading Copy of it!!

So hightail it over here and “Talk” horses with her.

Dime Novels – The birth of the paperback

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Dime Novel - MalaeskaRight around the start of the Civil War, Erastus and Irwin Beadle published a new series of cheap paperbacks entitled Beadle’s Dime Novels. Thanks to increased literacy rates among the American people during this time, and the inexpensive price (yes, they truly did cost a dime), these thin, paper-bound books met with huge success. The debut novel – Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter, by Ann Stephens (a woman – hooray!) sold more than 65,000 copies within the first few months of its publication. Those are the kind of numbers even today’s authors would get excited about – believe me! The book released on June 9, 1860 and was basically a reprint of a serialized story that had appeared in the Ladies’ Companion magazine back in 1839.

Dime novels varied in size and thickness, but the tended to be about 100 pages in length, about the equivalent to today’s novella. At first, dime novel covers had no cover art beyond the fancy title script. But it didn’t take long for the Beadles to move to illustrated covers, better designed to grab a browsing customer’s attention.

If you saw a homicidal squaw about to tomahawk a frontiersman, wouldn’t that grab your attention?  The next one is slightly less blatant with the rifleman helping a young woman escape danger, but there is certainly still an element of adventure and the breathless question of “What will happen next?”

Dime novels were famous for lurid, often melodramatic tales of the frontier. Heroes were larger than life and typically had exaggerated strength and skill. Not that the readers cared. The more jaw-dropping the story, the more fun it was to read. Hence the birth of genre paperback fiction.

In my latest release, A Worthy Pursuit, I have a lot of fun playing with these dime novel ideals. Young Lily is an avid, and rather bloodthirsty, fan of dime novels – her favorites being the tales of Dead-Eye Dan and his winsome companion Hammer Rockwell, who just happens to bear a striking similarity to Stone Hammond, our hero.

Here’s a sneak peak from one of the scenes where Stone and Lily are reading dime novels together:

Taking Dead-Eye Dan in hand, Stone fanned the pages to a random spot in the middle. “‘Dan dove behind a fallen tree as a hailstorm of bullets rained down around him. The Gatling Gang had come by their moniker honestly, laying down rapid fire that mimicked the output of the famed war gun. Unruffled by the deadly flurry, however, Dan flipped onto his back behind the log and reloaded his Henry repeater with methodical precision. The six-gun at his hip sported full chambers. The knife on his belt was razor-sharp and ready for action.'” Stone’s voice trailed off, cueing Lily.

She grinned, taking up the challenge like a seasoned gamester.

“‘Bullets blasted shards of bark all around Dan, but he just brushed the pieces off his chest with a flick of his wrist. Billy’s gang couldn’t aim worth a hill of beans. That’s why they always sprayed so much lead. It was the only way they ever hit anything. Too often, innocent civilians. Dan scowled, his jaw tightening as he rolled onto his side to steal a peek over the top of the log. One against seven were lousy odds, but Billy Cavanaugh and his crew were vermin that needed e-rad-i-cation.'” She stumbled slightly over the large word, but it didn’t stop her. She passed right over it and forged ahead. “‘He’d just wait for them to reload, then take them out one by one.'”

Stone closed the book and set it in his lap. “You do know this story is hugely exaggerated, right?” He tossed the dime novel to Lily and winked at her. “There were only five men in the Gatling Gang, not seven. And Daniel Barrett didn’t bring them all in on his own. He had help.”

A Worthy Pursuit
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Lily’s blue eyes glimmered as she rose up on her knees, bringing her face level with his. “Do you mean to tell me that you know Dead-Eye Dan?”

Stone blew a self-deprecating breath out of the side of his mouth. “Know him? Shoot. He and I were partners back in the day. ‘Course no one actually calls him Dead-Eye Dan. He’s a rancher now, foreman at a place called Hawk’s Haven up north a piece. Gave up chasin’ criminals in order to chase cows. He is a crack shot, though. Saved my sorry hide more than once.” He nudged Lily with his shoulder, nearly toppling her back onto the cushions. “‘Course I saved his hide a time or two, myself.”

“Wait a minute.” Lily drew in a breath so large, he expected her head to start swelling. “You’re . . . You’re . . . Hammer Rockwell. The man who shows up in the nick of time and takes the Gatling Gang by surprise by climbing down the box canyon wall with his knife clenched in his teeth!”

Hammer Rockwell? Knife in his teeth? “Of all the ridiculous, made-up, nonsense,” Stone sputtered. “I’ll have you know, all my knives were safely stowed in their sheaths when I made that climb.”

  • Do you like your fictional heroes larger than life? Or do you prefer more realistic story lines?