Those Hunky Colorado Cowboys! (And a Giveaway!) with Jody Hedlund

Most readers know me for my historical romances about lighthouses, orphan trains, and bride ships. But a western? Whoa! What’s that all about?

No, I’m not switching genres. My friends here on Petticoat and Pistols have the western genre well covered! But I am delving into a five-book family saga set in the high country of Colorado in the ranching area of South Park.

The Colorado Cowboys Series has all my usual trademarks—deeply emotional characters, fun plot twists, and sizzling romance. But this time the package includes hunky cowboys!

Most of the time when we think about cowboys in Colorado, we think of the ranches on the eastern plains, not the mountainous high country. But believe it or not, ranches started popping up in the mountains very early in Colorado’s history.

One of the first ranches in South Park (near Fairplay), was Hartsel Springs Ranch, founded as a homestead in 1862 by Samuel Hartsel. He started his ranch by buying oxen brought into the mountains by men arriving to mine for gold. The oxen were often worn out and worth little after making the long trek to the West. But Samuel fattened them and then turned around and sold them as beef to the mining community.

By 1864 Hartsel decided to branch out and diversify his livestock. He went to Missouri and purchased a herd of shorthorns that he then drove to Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a tough trip, but he eventually completed the cattle drive and made it back to his ranch with 150 head of short-horned cattle. 

Figure 1 Picture in South Park that I took of a cattle ranch during my research trip

Hartsel went on to become a very successful rancher, capitalizing on the rich grassland in South Park that fed his cattle. He also took advantage of a natural hot spring near his land that he developed and used for tourists who wanted a chance to bathe in the “healing waters.”

A Cowboy for Keeps, the first book in the series, is inspired by this real life cowboy and ranch. The hero, Wyatt McQuaid, is attempting to make a go of homesteading and ranching. But with all the obstacles he faces, he’s having a hard time making a new home. When Fairplay’s mayor offers him a deal, one that involves taking a bride in exchange for cattle, Wyatt can’t resist.

If you like hunky cowboys, mail-order brides, and marriages of convenience, then I invite you to give A Cowboy for Keeps a chance!

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on January 16.

What’s your favorite thing about cowboy stories?

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com

Guest Julie Lessman and a Give Away!

Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Bonanza!

Howdy, Everybody! My name is Julie Lessman, and I’m wondering if anybody remembers the above musical intro to the hit Western TV series back in the day, Bonanza? Probably not, because I’m pretty old, but it was a staple in our household growing up and not just in ours either. Bonanza is ranked No. 43 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and the 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time, still in syndication today.

So … why am I talking about an almost 60-year-old TV show? Well, despite the fact I’m primarily known as an Irish family saga author with novels set during the early 1900s on both coasts, one day I had this Western series percolating in my brain so strong I could smell the chicory coffee. Next I know, the dad-burned thing caught on fire like the Ponderosa map at the beginning of every Bonanza episode.

It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch Series, and it’s the story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers in Virginia City, Nevada (where Bonanza was set) from 1868 till the 1890s. This is an absolutely fascinating era on the heels of the transcontinental railroad and the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built. 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that writing a Western scared the pejeebers outta me because, well, to be honest, I was intimidated by so many wonderful Western authors I love like Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Winnie Griggs, Kit Morgan, and Margaret Brownley, most of which—gulp—are part of this amazing blog!

But once I got into the fascinating research—like the Transcontinental Railroad, which lots of Irish workers helped build (YAY!) and Virginia City, which numbered as many as 115 saloons in its heyday (BOO!), I knew I found a home in the Wild West!

So I’m a-lookin’ to give away some books today, including my latest Western release, Love’s Silver Bullet, which is book 2 in the Silver Lining Ranch Series. Now, to give you the flavor of this novel, my talented artist hubby created a realllllly cool VIDEO/TRAILER that also features pix of my grandchildren, so I hope you check it out.

And if you do and send me an email via my Contact Julie tab on my website telling me where the heroine, Sheridan Donovon, went to school, I will send you a FREE E-COPY of the prequel novel to this series, For Love of Liberty

Have you ever run across some interesting tidbit in history that you wanted to learn more about?

Here’s a sneak peek of my series:

A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.

 

 

Next, here’s a gander at book 1 in the series, Love’s Silver Lining:

She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, my new release, Love’s Silver Bullet:

She’s targeting his love.
He’s aiming to steer clear.
Till true love picks them off
in a bull’s-eye of the heart

 

GIVEAWAY!

In addition to my video/trailer giveaway mentioned above, I am ALSO giving away winner’s choice of the entire Silver Lining Ranch series in e-book OR a signed paperback of her choice of one of the novels in the series. So leave a comment, and you’re automatically in the draw!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

Julie

 

Come Along with Alicia Fannin!

Hello, fellow book lovers!

I’m so honored to be here today!  When I received the invitation to write this guest blog post, I was beyond thrilled! So thank you so much for the invitation, Karen!

I thought the best thing to do was tell you about my debut novel which just launched.  

I’ve always been drawn to mail order bride stories.  My heart has felt so compassionate for the women who found themselves in the position of needing to marry for financial survival in times gone by.  I marvel at the bravery of the couples that took that risk.

“The Expectant Mail Order Bride” is such a story.  Meggie James is heartbroken and hopeless when she loses her husband in a tragic accident.  Her options are few and her situation is dire, complicated by the fact that she has a baby on the way.  With little family to turn to, she sees an ad for a mail order bride.

Thomas Kellen has suffered his own losses.  He’s lost his wife and is left with a beautiful little boy to raise on his own.  It’s a task that’s proving to be too much with a ranch to run and he’s desperate for a solution.  Though it’s unconventional, he advertises for a wife. 

When Meggie arrives in Springwater, Texas, there’s a little detail she may have neglected to mention.  She’s expecting and that’s something Thomas never expected!

In addition to that little tidbit, other issues arise.  Thomas can be gruff when afraid, which is practically all the time since he lost his first wife in childbirth and his new wife is facing just that.  He’s also very much a man’s man (don’t we just love those?!) and Meggie has a very independent spirit!  Clashes are bound to happen.

Then there’s the more tender element that they don’t have a matching faith and Meggie is discovering that her hurts can only be healed by The One she’s ran from for so long.

I hope you’ll come along as their story unfolds. 

You’ll also meet other characters that will have their own personal journeys and love stories in books yet to come.  “The Expectant Mail Order Bride” is book one in the “Springwater Sweethearts” series.  

It’s available on both eBook and paperback on Amazon.  https://amzn.to/3nZUltT

                                      Have you ever been caught in an unexpected situation?                                                  

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will send you a copy of

                                                                      “The Expectant Mail Order Bride.”

I’ll see you in Springwater.

Until next time,

Alicia Fannin

P.S. You can follow along my writing journey at https://www.instagram.com/aliciafanninauthor/

Jan Sikes Gets Lost in Music and Romance

You’re in for a treat. Jan Sikes is sitting in for Linda Broday today and she has a heck of a new book to tell you about. Oh, by the way, she’s also Linda’s talented little sister. Please welcome her to the Junction!

I’m so happy to be here at P&P talking about my first contemporary romance. Thank you for having me. I’ve written four full-length biographical fictions about my life with country/western performer Rick Sikes. But now I’m writing romance and it’s so much fun. My creative juices are flowing in a totally different way.

One of my greatest joys in life is going to hear live music. I loved it as a little girl and even more now as an adult. COVID-19 has put a halt to all live music for the time being, but I miss it and long for it to return.

In Ghostly Interference, Jag Peters plays an electric keyboard. Music is his passion. He loves every aspect of it. He longs to play on the big stages to sold-out crowds. It’s the dream he holds and protects deep in his heart.

In a scene early in the book, he confesses this desire to Rena, then questions himself at his willingness to share that secret.

So, when his mother sets up a benefit concert and brings a man out of retirement to perform that Jag has idolized his entire life, he is on cloud nine. All his life, he’s wanted to meet his idol and now he has the chance. Little does he know this will change everything.

BOOK BLURB

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

EXCERPT

A local radio DJ personality took to the stage and slipped a microphone off the stand. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll all take your seats, we’re just about ready to get this show started. Are you excited to be here?”

The crowd applauded and some whistled.

“All right! But first, I want to say a word about the charity you’re supporting here tonight. The Exodus Project has helped women escape from abusive situations for over six years here in Cedar Springs. And without your contributions and fundraisers like this one, it wouldn’t have the outreach that it currently does. So, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.”

Jag grinned and winked at his mother when she slipped into the empty seat next to Rena. Again, he had a strong feeling something was up with her.

The DJ continued. “So, without further ado, I present to you a man who has graced stages around the world, and we’re honored to have him here in Cedar Springs on this stage tonight, Damien Blue!”

Jag held his breath. The band came on first kicking it off with the intro to Damien’s first big hit. The high-energy straight-ahead rock, heavy on the backbeat sound, they were famous for poured out of them. 

The crowd cheered.

Thirty seconds later, Damien strolled onto the stage, guitar slung across his back, both hands in the air greeting the audience.

Jag felt Rena shift beside him and glanced at her to see her eyes wide and mouth slack.

Mesmerized, he focused on the man he’d admired for a lifetime. Tall and lean, he had a commanding presence. Dressed in black pinstripe pants, white silk shirt open to mid-chest and matching pinstripe vest, he could have stepped out of a fifties gangster movie. The fedora pulled low over his eyes and sharp-toed shiny black Spats completed the look.

People were on their feet, clapping, whistling and yelling. One woman’s voice rang out. “I love you, Damien!”

He flashed a dazzling grin and stepped up to the microphone. “I love you too, darlin’.”

Even under the fedora, Jag could see streaks of gray in his brown hair. He was close enough to see small lines at the edges of his idol’s blue-gray eyes. Eyes that held intrigue, mystery, and power.

When Damien shifted his vintage Les Paul Gold Top guitar around to the front and delivered a blistering riff, the audience went wild before they finally took their seats. Damien’s soulful whiskey flavored voice filled the auditorium.

Jag knew every word and every chord. He immersed his entire being into the music, unaware of anything else. He never took his eyes off his hero. The electricity he’d felt earlier settled down to a low steady hum under his skin and rang in his ears along with the amplifiers.

***

Tell me about the most amazing concert you ever attended. Did you get to meet the artist? I want to hear about it! I’m giving away one ebook copy of the book to two people who comment.

 

BOOK PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON  |  B&N

You can contact Jan at:   WEBSITE  |  BLOG  |  TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  AUTHOR PAGE  |

Carole T. Beers Presents New West Mysteries With Heart

We’re delighted to welcome author Carole T. Beers to the Junction. Scroll down for her giveaway.

“Home for the Holidays.” I love those feel-good words, the timeless idea and yearning they represent for many of us. Basically, that idea is hope—a theme of my novella, “In from the Cold.” The story centers on how an old man facing retirement and a dying marriage while Christmas and blizzards fast approach, rescues an abandoned horse off a snowy Oregon mountain. In performing that one selfless act, he rescues himself. He restores hope and a sense of belonging and cause for celebration not only in himself, but also in his struggling foster daughter and her differently-abled son.

Wow. Sweet! Happy tears. We all want a safe place where we are loved, free to be. We also want holidays, time off to feel peace and to reaffirm special traditions and connections. Yet sometimes seemingly unsurmountable obstacles block our way. Do we give up? Hello! We cowboy or cowgirl UP, as characters in my Pepper Kane Mysteries say.

It’s the same with us writers. Notably, THIS writer. We want a place to be, to strut our stuff and express ourselves in safe, even welcoming, places. This lovely blog and the heartful Western vibe it puts out, is one of those places. A virtual “home” with you friends gathering ‘round. Thank you! And may your days be merry and bright.

How do you plan to keep the spirit of Christmas alive during these hard times? Comment below for a chance to win a signed paperback of “In From the Cold.” It’s my gift to you!

I came to fiction writing after 30-plus years working for The Pulitzer-winning Seattle Times newspaper. I covered celebrities, car crashes, community events and climate aberrations. Reviewed the arts. Skewered buffoons. I even leaned to fly planes, train and show horses, shoot guns! Though not at the same time. Cue polite laughter and loud crickets.

I came to writing modern West stories of separation, struggle, reunification and hope— brightened with humor—almost from the start. Why not? I am, after all, an offspring of westering pioneers, who needed grit and hope and humor to survive. I like to inspire adventurous, preserving and hopeful attitudes in readers.

Horseback riding and writing five days a week, and aligning with Spirit, help me keep it all together. Pay it forward. Enjoy.

There are dark days. Oh yes. There are family, aging or work challenges that I must persevere through. I hate these times!  But I also realize they can make me stronger and teachable. and  hopeful. So I keep riding, writing, working on love. And on coming “In From the Cold.”

Thank you for reading! I appreciate the chance to toot my horn, on P&P.

Enter to win or order your own and leave a short review on http://www.Amazon.con and goodreads.com. Let’s connect via my blog or newsletter at http://www.caroletbeers.com.

 

Happy Holidays, and beyond!

 

Buy a Ticket, Win a Baby

We are pleased to welcome Regina Jennings as our guest blogger today!  No doubt you’ll be amazed with the circumstances surrounding her topic…”Buy a Ticket, Win a Baby.”  Enjoy!

You’ve probably heard of some crazy raffle prizes, but they all pale in comparison to what I found in the Joplin News Herald of 1910. First, some background.

After the Civil War, Joplin became the land of opportunity. It didn’t seem you could dig a hole in the ground without hitting either lead or zinc. Stories were told of poor families traveling through the region who decided to do a little digging around their campfire one night and a few years later they might be living in a mansion in the expensive Murphysburg neighborhood.

But with easy riches came a host of other problems. First off, there were purported to be seventy-five saloons in the newly-settled town, along with gambling dens and houses of ill-repute. Before long, the respectable citizens of Joplin thought to establish a Children’s Home to accommodate the children abandoned by the less-responsible and less-fortunate among them.

Not surprisingly, the Joplin Children’s Home had trouble keeping up with the needs of the community. In an attempt to raise money for the Children’s Home, the Elks planned a charity fair in 1910 and M. B. Peltz, the new manager of the Electric Light Park, offered his services to promote the amusements, including a raffle.

Now, to Mr. Peltz’s thinking, raffling off a baby was a practical solution. Not only would the Children’s Home raise funds, but it would also be left with one less mouth to feed if the raffle was a success. And Mr. Peltz wasn’t alone in his thinking. This was a trend of the times.

In 1911, A Foundling Hospital in Paris had a baby raffle, and in 1909 a baby named Ernest was put up as a prize during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Washington State. Who knows how many other orphaned children were placed in that way? To many early 20th Century humanitarians, it was a pragmatic solution.

But the fine citizens of Joplin wouldn’t hear of such a thing. While the Elks were divided on the idea, the mayor said he’d call out the militia to prevent a baby from being raffled. Despite the threat, Mr. Peltz continued to share the tragic (and often contradictory) history of the orphaned child, along with promoting the other amusements of the charitable fair.

When Peltz failed to disavow the plans, he was arrested, but the publicity only encouraged Peltz. Even after he posted bail and was released from jail, he couldn’t help but drop hints to the newspapers about the poor kid that would be rescued by someone willing to buy a ticket. After all, his goal was to get people talking about the carnival and to raise funds. People were talking all right. A promoter, through and through.

The day of the Joplin fair arrived with its parade, carnival, and games. There was no baby among the raffled items, but the controversy seemed to have achieved its purpose. One thousand and two hundred dollars were raised for the Children’s Home, and Mr. Peltz undoubtedly credited himself and the scandal for the success. How did he explain the absence of a kid to be given away? The newspapers don’t say specifically but stories passed down over the years say he produced a goat “kid” while others say there was a kitten.

While some places might have raffled off a baby, Joplin, for all its scandalous ways, avoided that trespass. But barely. And in my new release Courting Misfortune, a baby raffle does take place, with disastrous consequences.

What are some things you’ve seen raffled off? What would you like to win? What would you refuse?

To one person who leaves a comment I will give away a copy of Courting Misfortune. 

Here’s a quick excerpt of the book.

“Courting Misfortune”– Calista York needs one more successful case as a Pinkerton operative to secure her job. When she’s assigned to find the kidnapped daughter of a mob boss, she’s sent to the rowdy mining town of Joplin, Missouri, despite having extended family in the area. Will their meddling expose her mission and keep Lila Seaton from being recovered?

When Matthew Cook decided to be a missionary, he never expected to be sent only a short train ride away. While fighting against corruption of all sorts, Matthew hears of a baby raffle being held to raise funds for a children’s home. He’ll do what he can to stop it, but he also wants to stop the reckless Miss York, whose bad judgment consistently seems to be putting her in harm’s way.

Calista doesn’t need the handsome pastor interfering with her investigation, and she can’t let her disguise slip. Her job and the life of a young lady depend on keeping Matthew in the dark.  

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s a Christy Award finalist, the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at the Oklahoma National Stockyards. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online. Her link to purchase is: http://www.reginajennings.com/courting-misfortune/  

Food Preservation the Pioneer Way ~ by Patty Smith Hall

 

One of my favorite childhood memories was harvest time at my grandmother’s house. After the crops were picked, Mom, my sister Rose and I would rise early, knowing we had a long day ahead of us. But whether it was shelling peas, snapping green beans or peeling apples, we had a good time just sitting and talking while we worked. It’s a good memory and one I relive every year when I’m canning various vegetables and fruits out of my garden.  

It also got me wondering—how did people back in the 1800s preserve food before canning and refrigeration were widespread?  

The type of food helps determine the best way to preserve it. Take corn. It could be shelled, ground into cornmeal, or left on the cob and stored in a corn crib. But what about other vegetables like green beans, cabbage or potatoes? One way of preserving fruits and vegetables in the early 1800s was to run a heavy thread through them and hang them by the fireplace or in a warm, dry room. This helps remove the moisture from them and keeps them from rotting. In order to cook them, you’d treat them the same way we do dry beans today. You’d put them in water overnight to rehydrate, then cook the following day. 

Another way to preserve food was by using a root cellar. If you’ve never been in one, it’s basically a small room, very dark and much cooler than the temperature outside. The walls have roots growing out of them and there’s a strong scent of dirt, fresh vegetation, and kerosene from the lantern used to light the room. Barrels filled with sawdust line the walls and inside them are various fruits and vegetables. Green beans and peas are strung from one side to the other. Root cellars were used up until the mid-1900s when home refrigeration become popular. 

We can thank Napoleon for home canning. In 1795, the French emperor offered a reward for anyone who could come up with a way to preserve food for his army. It was fifteen long years before Nicholas Appert unveiled his method of heat processing food in glass jars. Over the course of the next century, improvements to the equipment were made. John Mason introduced a glass jar with a screw-top lid and rubber seal. William Charles Ball and his brothers got into the home canning business and marketed their canning jars across the country, making it easier for families to preserve their own food. And Alexander Kerr developed the wide-mouth jar (praise the Lord!) and the metal ring with a lid that sealed the preserved jar. 

Funny story—I went to high school at a former Agricultural and Engineering College built during the 1890s. While I was there, one of the original buildings was torn down. The workers found the A&E school’s root cellar with canned beans, pickles, and squash dating back to 1913. And they still looked as fresh as the day they were picked! 

Do you can or freeze food for your family?   

Let’s Chat!  I’ll give away two print copies of THE HEART OF THE MIDWIFE 

The Heart of the Midwife

If Not For Grace by Patty Smith Hall
New York City, 1889
After her friend’s death in childbirth, Grace Sullivan converts her family home into a haven for immigrant families preparing for the birth of a child. But when the city threatens to close her down, her only hope is to ask for help from an unlikely source—her former fiancé, Patrick O’Leary.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Bio: Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.  

Website: http://www.pattysmithhall.net 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorpattysmithhall 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorpattysmithhall/boards/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorpattysmithhall/ 

The First College for Women in the West ~ by Kathleen Denly

When we think of the western frontier, few of us picture a young woman seated at her desk, studying English grammar, yet many would argue that the West was shaped as much by education as by anything else. Thus, when I learned of the pioneering institution known at its inception as the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia, California, I was immediately intrigued. Established in 1852, it was the first school of higher learning created for women west of the Rockies and continues today as Mills College.

Despite the word seminary in its name, the school’s purpose was not to prepare its pupils to be priests, ministers, or rabbis. It was established to fulfill the perceived educational needs of the daughters of California’s Protestant Christian families. The original trustees were concerned that the pioneering families of the West were forced to choose between forgoing a higher education for their daughters or sending them on a long ocean voyage to New York, potentially severing family ties.

Thus the school was established while the gold rush was still in full swing and Benicia was California’s capital. According to the school’s early catalogues, its aim was “to train healthy, companionable, self-reliant women—those prepared to be useful and acceptable in the school, in the family, and in society.” To that end, the teachers deemed it important for their students to “be able to spell correctly, to read naturally, to write legibly, and to converse intelligently.” The young ladies of the school performed regular recitations at which family and select members of the public were often invited to attend. In addition to an English course of study, the school offered what they called “ornamental branches” of study which included “instrumental music (pianoforte and guitar), drawing, crayoning, painting (in water colors and oils) and ornamental needle work.” (Keep, 1931)

Initially many of the school’s students came from the nearby cities such as San Francisco, Marysville, Sacramento, and Stockton, but most came from Mother Lode camps such as Hangtown, Park’s Bar, Rough and Ready, Angels Camp, and more. A few students also came from the southern part of the Golden State, which is where my heroine, Clarinda Humphrey, hails from in my novel, Sing in the Sunlight. Keeping in mind the incredible fluctuation of fortunes and social status going on in California during this time period, the idea of young women from such varied backgrounds coming to Benicia to learn and live beneath the same roof is fascinating. What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall of the Young Ladies’ Seminary in those early days.

I think I’d have planted myself on the shoulder of those early principals first, though. It seems they had a terrible habit of forgoing their duties to pedagogy in favor of matrimony. The romantic in me is incredibly curious about how those courtships began and progressed. Further adding to my curiosity surrounding the school’s romances is the manner in which the school’s students were required to attend church.

Escorted to church each Sunday by their principal, the students were required to sit at the rear of the church in the upper gallery near the organ so that they would be out of sight of the young men present. My guess, though, is that more than one man gained a crick in his neck during services. What do you think?

Source:  Keep, R. (1931) Fourscore Years, A History of Mills College

 

 Preorder https://kathleendenly.com/books/

I’m excited to share with you that Sing in the Sunlight, book two of my Chaparral Hearts series which features the Young Ladies’ Seminary, is currently on preorder.

So today, I’m giving away a signed copy of Waltz in the Wilderness, book one in the series. Leave a comment below to enter. (International Winners will receive a digital copy of the book & signed bookmark in place of printed book. Void where prohibited.)

How influential was your college experience, or lack of it, in creating who you are today?

Buy WALTZ IN THE WILDERNESS on https://kathleendenly.com/books/

The Lingering Appeal of the Wild West and Doc Holliday ~ Kimberly Grist

Happy Fall, y’all. I’m so pleased to be your guest blogger today. I love history, and one of my favorite parts about the writing process is doing the research required to ensure accuracy in my stories. I also like to try to find something that may not be widely known to keep the story interesting.

My family and I share our hometown of Griffin, Georgia, with a notorious gambler and gunfighter who’s also a dentist. I work only a block away from the location of his dental practice.

Doc Holliday is well known for his participation, along with Wyatt Earp, in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881. The battle itself lasted less than a minute. After almost 140 years, what do we still find so intriguing about the man? Multiple movies retell the story of the lawman, Wyatt Earp. But strangely, the character we’re most drawn to is a sickly dentist turned gambler and gunman known as Doc.

Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

Perhaps the complexity of his character is the reason for his lingering appeal. His vibrant personality is rooted in contrast. Doc is critically ill but bold and gallant. He’s a deadly gunslinger and gambler, yet smart, educated, flashy, witty, compassionate, and loyal. Stir in a bit of vulnerability, a touch of vanity, and don’t forget a healthy dose of gallant southern charm to describe this critically ill man.

 

Born with a cleft palate on August 14, 1851, John Henry Holliday was fed by his mother with an eyedropper and a spoon.

The baby’s uncle, Dr. John Stiles Holliday, performed surgery, assisted by Dr. Crawford Long, the namesake of the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The operation may have been the first time in history in which ether was used on an infant. He was schooled at home by his mother, who spent years training him to conquer his speech impediment. She also instilled in him Southern etiquettes, which would forever be part of his demeanor.

Two actors who played Doc Holliday, Stacy Keach and Jason Robards, were also born with the same condition.

Jason Robards played Doc in Hour of the Gun in 1967.

In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where his mother suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis, and died when he was fifteen. Three months after his mother’s death, his father remarried.

 John Henry Holliday, age ten

Holliday attended Valdosta Institute, where he received a classical education, and in 1870, nineteen-year-old Holliday left home to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He graduated five months before his twenty-first birthday. He returned to Griffin, Georgia, in 1872 to practice dentistry. 

John Henry was soon diagnosed with consumption and, in 1873, ended his career as a dentist. Some say he didn’t want his family to see him deteriorate and die from the disease. Others suggest he went west in hopes that the climate would be beneficial to his lungs. Regardless, Doc took the train to the literal end of the railroad line—Dallas, Texas.

Holliday understood the gravity of his disease and most likely considered himself a walking dead man. Though a realist, he remained hopeful for a cure. Doc found comfort in whiskey and gambling.

Texas was full of guns, knives, and violent men, some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic stress from the effects of war. Doc reinvented himself—from a southern gentleman dentist to a dangerous gunman who’d killed more than a dozen men in various altercations.

Holliday traveled from town to town, following the money and gaining a reputation as both a gambler and a gunman. In 1877, Doc was involved in an argument, but instead of going for his gun, he used his walking stick. His serious wounds, compounded by worsening tuberculosis, spurred a change of scenery. His next stop was Fort Griffin, where he met Wyatt Earp, who ultimately saved his life.

Earp and Holliday became fast friends. Eventually, Doc would join Earp in the wild boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Due to recent silver strikes, the town was flooded with merchants and cash but short on law and order. By the end of 1880, Tombstone was embedded with organized rustlers and thieves called the Cowboys. 

Val Kilmer as Doc alongside Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell & Bill Paxton as Virgil, Wyatt & Morgan Earp in 1993

On October 26, 1881. Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized Holliday. Virgil asked Doc to carry his shotgun under his coat, and the four strode down the middle of the street to meet and disarm five members of the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral, which resulted in a thirty-second shootout.


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Telegraph operator, Willow Graham, has benefited from a unique lifestyle growing up with her grandfather at the livery. She’s independent and loves spending time riding and training animals. With her twenty-first birthday approaching, her family pressures her to return to the city and take up the lavish lifestyle her uncle has planned for her.

Her other alternative is to take her chances with a matchmaking agency’s recommendation and begin correspondence with a handsome farmer.

Leo Weaver is a man of many talents. Hardworking, he’s helped his father develop a successful farm. Loyal and giving, he volunteers as a deputy sheriff. Handsome and charming, he’s about to become the target of several well-meaning ladies in the community who have submitted his name for a new matchmaking venture.

 Willow craves the outdoors. Leo loves community life and wants to live in town. Can a matchmaking agency help two independent people realize the opposing desires of their hearts?

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Kimberly Grist is married to her high school sweetheart, Nelson, a former teacher and coach, now a pastor. They have three adult sons, one with Down syndrome, and they have a passion for encouraging others with family members with special needs.

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a young girl; however, I began writing my first novel in 2017. Inspired by so many things life has to offer, one of which includes our oldest son’s cancer diagnosis, it’s especially gratifying to write a happy ending.

I believe you should come away refreshed and inspired after reading a book. In my personal life, I wear so many hats, working inside and outside the home. I work hard, try harder, and then begin again the next day. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome. My stories are designed to entertain, refresh, and inspire you, the reader. They combine History, Humor, and Romance, with an emphasis on Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.

Links:

Website: https://kimberlygrist.com/

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A Different Kind of Christmas – by Jodi Thomas

It’s a crazy world out there right now, and Christmas is coming with a warning label to stay away from people. I can’t do that. It won’t be Christmas without the “grands,” I tell myself.

Calm down, I say to myself. I’ll wash my hands another hundred times and put on two masks, not just one. I’ll even jump back if I pass someone in the grocery aisle. I will whisper my new battle cry: I’ll live through this, or not. I’m in the danger zone.

I don’t know about everyone but for me now and then, I just have to relax and have fun or I will go completely nuts. I’m staying in, staying safe and staying up all night watching at least one Hallmark movie a night. And, of course stepping into fiction anytime I can. If I can’t see people, I have to talk to my characters and that’s how I got the idea for a new story.

When I started writing my new novella, THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, I wanted to put lots of love and laughter in the story because that’s what we’re all looking for.

So, of course I picked a dark time in Texas to start. In the ten years after the Civil War, almost half the people in Texas died, hard times. I picked a woman with no future and a man down on his luck, a broken soldier. The two get their chance to start a life when they get a job to transport five little girls from Jefferson, Texas, to a ranch north of Dallas.

Now the fun begins. Trapper knows nothing about little girls, and it seems every bad guy in Texas wants to kidnap the rich girls. He teaches them how to survive, and they teach him to care. Trapper risks his life to save them, and they open his heart.

So cuddle up with THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS. I promise you’ll love the journey this story called “Father Goose” takes.

These are my little outlaws last Christmas who inspired the story. We may not all get to see our families this holiday, but if you have a comment about your family at Christmas, I’d love it if you’d share.

Do you have a funny story that happened at Christmas? What is one of your family traditions? (Do you have matching pajamas?) What is a favorite food your family always requests?

Join in, and I will send one lucky winner a copy of the book.

 Let’s all take a minute to remember happy days in the past and know that we’ll get to hug everyone next Christmas.

Until then, read on dear friends. I pray my gift to you this holiday is laughter.

Jodi 

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