I’m delighted to visit Petticoats and Pistols and check in with all my friends. After twenty-five years under contract, I took a year and a half away from writing to care for and nurture a new grandbaby. During that wonderful and exhausting time, I refreshed my mojo so that I could write with renewed energy. I also promised myself that from then on, I would only write books I love. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

One of the things I especially like to do is take a character out of their place of comfort and put them into a new and difficult situation to see how they react. This is exactly what I did when I created Raylene Cranford, a gently-raised Southern belle whose new husband and father were killed in the brother’s war. She and her childhood friend survived through the winter in the burned-out remains of her family home, living on acorns and scrawny rabbits, and eventually made their way north to safety.

Determined and resourceful, the two are able to turn a family member’s home into a boarding house to support themselves. The system of male-dominated households existed to protect the weaker gentler sex. All Raylene knows how to do is maintain appearances and reputation, and to perfect the feminine graces—like modesty, piety and meekness—qualities that made a Southern woman the center of attention.

Here’s an interesting article about how the war left these young women at a loss with no way to fulfill the roles they’d been primed to fill:


Raylene’s behavior does not go over well with the gaggle of more practical, capable and single women of Twin Springs, Colorado. Nor does her exaggerated drawl endear her to the former Union Army captain who spent months in a confederate prison.

But Tanner Bell has bigger problems. He’s just become solely responsible for a newborn. He owns a livery, where he lives in a tiny back room. His current arrangement will not do for taking care of a newborn. The most convenient solution is to rent a room at the boarding house. Also convenient is asking his industrious new landlady to help him care for the baby.

All Raylene knows is the past. Tanner is focused on the future. It might seem they have nothing in common, but the more they come to know about each other, the more similar they truly are. Both have faced loss and endured hardships. Both are acutely aware of racial injustice and are making a difference by helping change lives and hearts in their community. Both want the best for the tiny girl who has won their hearts.

Raylene’s journey is one of self-discovery. I enjoyed unwrapping these characters to get to the heart of matters, and I hope readers will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Have you ever been out of your comfort zone and having to learn how to reinvent yourself? I’m offering three e-books from the choice of my backlist! 

Thank you so much to all the Fillies for the warm welcome, and a big howdy to all my friends!












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  1. Good morning and welcome- I am a recovering alcoholic, this year will mark 20 years of sobriety. So I admit I was way out of my comfort zone when I enter recovery. I had to change my entire way of life, friends, and my everyday way of living. It was the most challenging and most uncomfortable way of life at the beginning. But I Praise The Lord he helped me through it and into my new norm!
    You have a blessed day and weekend.

    • I’m so proud of you and can’t even imagine that complete change in life! I’ve often wondered if some alcoholics can’t succeed because they aren’t willing to give up their friends! 20 years, awesome, dear friend! Love you!

      • Stephanie, thank you my dear friend. Yes that’s a huge huge part of sobriety, you’re old drinking friends will do everything in their power (unfortunately) to get you back to your old way of life. 99% of the time it’s because they themselves are afraid to take that 1st step.

    • What a success story! I know you are an encouragement to others who struggle. That couldn’t have been an easy road, but as you said, God is faithful and walks us through the darkness to the other side! Congratulations.

  2. When I married my country boy husband I was way out of my comfort zone. I grew up in a fairly large city and summers and weekends I would go stay with my aunt in what I called the sticks. It was a very rural small town. My cousin was less than a year older than I, he was more like a brother. So we went out riding around cause seriously that’s all that there was to do at night. Well one summer night He stops to chat with a buddy of his and omg I thought he was the cutest guy I ever saw. So fast forward I married this cute country boy and moved to the sticks. Omg I cried everyday for 6 months, to visit this place was one thing but to actually live here I thought I would go mad with the quietness because we were even farther in the sticks than my aunt was. To make matters worse right before our wedding day my cute guy got put on evening shift and so those first 6 months we were on separate shifts and oh I hated hated being home alone in these woods. Finally I did learn to adjust and I became a country hick gal. May 9th was 33 yrs we been married and I been in these sticks. I would never want to live in the city again. But oh the changes I did have to do that first part of our marriage

  3. Well having moved a lot as a child I felt like I had to reinvent myself many times in my life. I have to say that my first out of my comfort zone experience was when I decided I needed a job with benefits after moving to East Texas to work for my uncle after we closed our last feedlot and my parents retired from the cattle business. I live very rural and so the job with benefits was being a Correctional Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at a maximum mens facility. I’m an upbeat, positive, friendly, patient, happy-go-lucky kind of person and believe me I was so out of my element!

    My second major reinvent myself time in my life and the BIG one was when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was 35, had an 11 month old and a 7 year old, was all the sudden half blind, heard a helicopter in my head, in shock and trying to learn about a disease that I had never even really heard of. I had gone back to work for my uncle at this point because a CO just wasn’t the job for an overly nice person so I continued to work for about a year after my diagnosis because I was my uncles best sales person. I’m not sure I would have quit working but my uncle was diagnosed with cancer and we decided it was time for me to go home and take care of myself and he shut down the plant nursery so he could deal with his cancer. I was in no condition to even attempt to work somewhere else and hadn’t truly been in the condition to work from the day my MS reared its ugly head. I was just stubborn. So it’s been 16 years now since I was diagnosed at the end of this month. Just last month I took on a little gig of being a Pampered Chef consultant and I’m reinventing myself yet again. Boy am I behind on technology and out of my element yet again.

    I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books! A giveaway is a great way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list! Reading became my saving grace in 2016 after decades of not reading and I’m now on my 370th book! Thank you for joining us at P&P! You really got me to reminiscing this morning!

    • What an inspiration you are! My husband was a CO for a couple of years and it affected our lives in a negative way. The oppression of the jail is real. So glad he left there. I have friends and also a sister-in-law with MS and I understand your struggle. Good for you for pushing on and being your best you. Wishing you many sales with your new endeavor!

    • You obviously had to learn to be adaptable, but that had to be difficult. My husband had a similar childhood, and he doesn’t remember it fondly. Hugs.

    • Teresa, working from home takes discipline! You think you’ll have all the time in the world, but you don’t. My daughter is just learning that now. But she’s loving more time with her kids.

  4. I am out of my comfort zone right now because I just had back surgery and you can’t do any bending over for a while.. Do you realize how many things you drop when you can’t bend over to pick them up. I think I am dropping everything I pick up then I have to run down this grabber thing to try and pick them up. Its been really rough lately.

    • Hey, good to connect with you! My husband had a back surgery, so I can imagine what you’re going through. My grandson had two steel rods put on either side of his spine last year. Man, was that a recovery. I was so proud of him. He never complained and just trudged on. He’s now three inches taller!

  5. I always feel out of my comfort zone when i comes to things my husband likes to do. He is a people person and can talk to anyone and I have always been the one who sits back and observes,

    • Janine, you sound like my daughter. Her husband is outgoing and has a million friends, and she’s just the opposite. He has brought her out of her comfort zone though.

      • Mine is still working on it. Even at church I am quiet, but there is one lady (about my mom’s age) that I have formed a pretty good friendship with. We have been calling each other since we have both decided we don’t feel safe going back yet.

  6. Cheryl, what a great idea for a novel! Complex psychological issues.
    Been out of comfort zone many times in life, when husband and I moved across the country for him to attend Bible college and I had my two children out there with no family around. Just got through each day with the Lord’s help.
    Out of comfort zone now, COVID 19, Life As We Know It pretty much gone. In a sense, we have to reinvent ourselves every day. But we do it.

    • Kathy, ain’t that the truth! We’re all out of our comfort zones right now. Glad you like the idea for this story. I honestly loved writing it. Hopefully it shows.

  7. Welcome back to P&P, Cheryl! Always good to have you back in the corral with us, if only for the day!

    Speaking in front of a group pulls me out of my comfort zone. I do much better one-on-one. And then there are others that thrive on the attention of a group, right? Ha! We humans are so complicated.

    Wishing you many more sales with TANNER. It’s doing very well so far – and much deserved!

    • Thank you, Pam! It’s always fun to come check in and see what the Fillies and all the friends are up to. Congrats on keeping this group thriving throughout the years. I’m delighted with the reactions to Tanner. I loved this story, and I’m glad others to too. xoxo

  8. H Cheryl, so glad to have you back. I missed you. I don’t know if you remember, but you’re the one who asked me to join P&P and I’m so glad you did. Your book sounds wonderful, as always. Can’t wait to read. I would say I was thrown out of my comfort zone when my husband passed. Still feel like I’m wheeling at times and this pandemic hasn’t helped. Widowhood is not for the faint of heart.

    • Margaret, I’ve missed you too. I first met you one year we roomed together at RT, and you were an inspiration. You have all my love and heartfelt sympathy over losing your husband. What a change that must continue to be. It helps to have friends and loved ones to get us through. Thanks for the warm welcome!

  9. I think we all venture out of our comfort zone when we graduate from school, move out of our parents’ house, and get a job. I really struggled in my first year as a classroom teacher. I was suddenly in charge of a classroom of 28 young children, and I had very little guidance and assistance. I made a lot of mistakes that first year.

  10. My husband and I were just talking about this last night. Recently, I was working in the public library and while it was stressful I mentioned how it was great for getting me out of my comfort zone. He was surprised and said it seemed like nothing was outside my comfort zone. What??!! I feel like I’m outside my comfort zone so frequently. My go to response has been to “fake it until I make it” but hearing that from him also reminded me that I need to do a better job of reaching out and asking for help and support when I am out of my comfort zone. It’s okay to not be okay. This is my new mantra. 🙂

    Great food for thought, Cheryl! And I love Tanner!

    • Absolutely! I’m on the fake it until you make it team. People always think I’m confident and some actually said they were intimidated. I was probably shaking in my boots. But you’re so wise to acknowledge we all need to ask for help when we need it. That’s not my strong suit either. Love you, darling!

  11. Welcome. I am glad you were able to spend the time with your grand baby. My mom was all about spending time with each of her grand babies. This looks like a fantastic book. Nothing like characters who have to find a way in life. And nothing like a man and a baby. When I had to go to work when our children were in high school, I had no work skills, so I applied for a server. This was nerve racking to think about initially. I mean being a server was hard work, I saw what they did. But I needed to help my husband out in this regard, so I put all my fears and such aside and dove in. Before I realized it, I was having such a grand time making peoples lunch and dinner experience a good one I started becoming employee of the month and I had my own customer following. And because I was having fun and enjoying putting smiles on customers faces, I decided that I would like to train. I mean I did like to teach. The managers took me up on it. I became the top trainer and boy did I have a blast. There were actually some that came to be trained that I had to ask them pointed questions and they never came back. Being a server is not for everyone. I was ready to go and help train servers in new locations when the company went bankrupt. Sigh. Oh that would have been so much fun to travel to different stores and train servers. I now look at that time and know that I could not have done any of it with out Gods comfort and peace and guidance and the support of my husband and children. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • What a wonderful story, Lori. Thanks for sharing. Not everyone has people skills, but those who do need to teach others. I see a lot of problems arise in offices and companies because the bosses are poor leaders. We need more people like you, willing to teach hospitality.

  12. Yes, at age 31. I got divorced from my childhood sweetheart, who turned out to be an alcoholic. I came from a bad home life so I married young. I stayed in this mentally abusive and controlling relationship because I thought that was how life was suppose to be and that I didn’t deserve better. I think that’s why I love your books so much, Cheryl. Your heroines always go through such great trials but still keep their compassion and they get their happy endings.

    Thanks to my children, I finally got the courage to leave. I went back to school and got my medical transcription certification. I also became a therapeutic foster parent. I met a wonderful, kind man and have been married to him for 17 years. We adopted 2 children together and have a total of 11 grandchildren between us 🙂

    • Your story blesses my heart. Thank you for sharing. I’m thankful you knew you deserved better and you went after it–and got a happy ever after! Thanks for your kind words about my stories. xoxo

  13. Yippee! You’re back! I’m so happy, happy to see you, Miss Cheryl. And happy to see you have a new book. It looks awesome. I love stories of cowboys out of their comfort zones. Seems we’re always having to reinvent ourselves. One thing ends and another begins. I hope you’re doing well and having fun. Love you, lady! 🙂

    • Hello, my sweet friend! I’m excited to be here and to have a new western! I love being able to follow you and see what you’re up to. We’ve had a few ups and downs health-wise, but all is well now and hubby and I are enjoying our summer.

  14. So glad to see you here at P&P again! As for being out of my comfort zone… that happens a lot for me with anything outside of my norm… it definitely takes some time to feel comfortable when that happens…

  15. When I moved to a very, very small town in the middle of nowhere (literally) after coming from Omaha, I had to change pretty much everything. There wasn’t a lot of places to go like groceries, eating out or just plan fun. When I first moved here I was going down the highway and came across a herd of cattle being moved from one pasture to another. Now that gives you a whole new perspective on life.

  16. I grew up the oldest of 6 and it was always necessary to put everyone else and my responsibilities first. I enjoyed school and was a good student. Going to college was my idea, but I went to the college in town and lived at home those 4 years, still being daughter and sister. I had wanted to go into the Peace Corps and did so right after college graduation. I went from a very confined existence in a family that never got the opportunity to travel, to being pretty much on my own on the other side of the world. I was no longer defined as sister and daughter, but as me with no preconceived expectations of who I was (other than the American label). I could define myself, be who I wanted to be, live my life the way I had hoped. It gave me the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures and places the way I had always dreamed. When I came back to the U. S., I was no longer the shy introvert. I had more confidence in myself, was more assertive, and became more active in the community.

  17. I felt out of my element going off to college. I was so homesick and worried about my widowed mom alone at home. At orientation, I looked for the person who looked as lonely as I felt and befriended her. We end up roommates for 3 years and maids of honor at each other’s weddings.

  18. When my husband passed away, I had to reinvent a life for myself – one without him in it. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done and at this point, the most rewarding! I’m happy, healthy, busy and writing!! This looks like a really good story!

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