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

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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.

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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 

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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.


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and you could win an ebook copy of WILLOW’S WORTH!

 

 

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?

Buy on AMAZON

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/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/FaithFunandFriends/

Sign up for my newsletterhttps://mailchi.mp/a920c145512a/kimberlygrist

Amazon: Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kimberly-grist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GristKimberly

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kimberly-grist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GristKimberly

 

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 

Amazon

Yellowstone Calls in the Cavalry

By Regina Scott

             Regina Scott   http://www.reginascott.com

My father was a big John Wayne fan, so I grew up watching Westerns that featured the iconic actor. In them, the US Cavalry always rides to the rescue, no matter the odds. When I was researching for my second book in the American Wonders Collection, Nothing Short of Wondrous, I was delighted to learn that the Cavalry really did ride to the rescue of our first national park, Yellowstone.

When Yellowstone was first created, there was no National Park Service. No one had any idea how to manage the millions of acres that encompass the park and range from snow-capped mountains to steaming hot pools.

Congress appointed a superintendent, but some of the first tried to manage things from Washington, D.C.! Others that followed moved out to the park, at least when it wasn’t covered by snow, but even they struggled to protect the natural wonders and the species who called Yellowstone home.

By 1886, Yellowstone was in real danger. Commercial interests were lobbying to build railroads into the park, erect businesses, even log and mine. The number of visitors was swelling, and many had no idea how to behave.

   Albert Bierstadt Painting of Old Faithful

They carved their names into the geological formations, chipped off chunks to take home as souvenirs, and even plugged up the geysers to see how high the debris would shoot.

Postcard #157 – The Buffalo Herd;
Frank J Haynes

Worse, poachers traveled brazenly through the park, picking off game. The buffalo herd, the last truly wild herd in the country, dwindled to less than 30.

Captain Moses Harris

Something had to be done. Congress used a clause in an earlier law to send the Army to manage the park. Captain Moses Harris and Troop M of the 1st Cavalry rode into Yellowstone on August 20, 1886, to take control.

     Troop M of the 1st Cavalry in Yellowstone

Their first task? To fight the wildfires that were raging throughout the park, at least some set by poachers intent on driving the game onto unprotected lands for slaughter. There was no fire wagon, no hoses, and no money to allocate for them. But they fought the fires nonetheless. They also stationed detachments at all the major tourist attractions to safeguard the park.

The men expected their work in the park to be temporary, until Congress could determine a better way to manage Yellowstone, but the Cavalry remained in charge for 32 years. Their zeal to protect the land and its animals lay the foundation for the conservation mindset still prevalent in the National Park Service today.

What else would you expect from those trained to ride to the rescue?

Have you ever been to Yellowstone? Which attraction was your favorite? If you haven’t been, which have you heard about you’re longing to see? Comment below for a chance to win an autographed print copy of Nothing Short of Wondrous, a set of vintage-style postcards, and huckleberry lip balm straight from Montana.

                      Click to Buy

Regina Scott is the award-winning author of more than fifty works of warm, witty historical romance. She and her husband live in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. Her fascination with history has led her to dress as a Regency dandy, drive a carriage four-in-hand, learn to fence, and sail on a tall ship, all in the name of research. You can learn more about her at http://www.reginascott.com or connect with her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorreginascott) or Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/reginascottpins).

LORDS AND OUTLAWS: THE PARKS OF COLORADO

Andrea Downing

In my recent release, Shot through the Heart, my hero, Shiloh Coltrane, goes in search of outlaws in the Colorado Rocky Mts. through both Estes Park and Brown’s Hole (later named Park). This mountain area was once called the ‘Switzerland of America’ because of its beauty, and within its domain at around 8,000 ft. are several “parks”:  North Park, Middle Park, South Park, Winter Park and, of course, Estes Park. Why are they called “Park”?  Apparently, it’s Colorado-speak for an upland valley—and I have to say sounds rather nicer than ‘Hole,’ which is another western take on valleys, as in Brown’s Hole.

  Estes Park was renowned for its beauty but was also an abundant hunting ground. It was brimming with wildlife that attracted numerous overseas visitors in the 19th century, notably wealthy men who came to hunt creatures they wouldn’t encounter back home. The Earl of Dunraven, an Anglo-Irish peer, was so enamored of this area, which he first viewed in 1872, that he set out to make it his own.

 

Why Dunraven favored Estes Park came down to several details, as varied as the beautiful sunsets, the dry air, and the fact nearby Denver was a station for no less than five railroad lines. He loved the area so much that he paid Albert Bierstadt $15,000 for a painting of Estes Park. The way Dunraven set about obtaining ownership to six thousand acres was a modus operandi that would be employed by numerous ranchers throughout the west in the coming years. Exercising his vast resources, he had his agents bribe various American citizens to make use of both the Pre-emption Act and Homestead Act to either buy or prove up 160 acres each. By choosing the sites wisely, Dunraven enclosed more acreage without access to water. Thirty-one claims were filed for his use.

In the next sixteen years, Dunraven was able to make the seventeen-day journey from Liverpool annually or more often. But as time went on, with squatters moving in, a grand jury investigating his claims, and his own increased involvement in HM Queen Victoria’s government, he was unable to visit after 1882 and eventually sold his land.

Most people who have visited the national park will have travelled at least part of Trail Ridge Road. Peaking at 12,000 ft., it twists and turns on the backbone of the Rockies through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. If you continue on this road on a rather circuitous manner, you will eventually reach Steamboat Springs. And from there if you head north, you touch upon Brown’s Hole, or Brown’s Park, nestled near the borders of CO, UT, and WY. You can see in the photos how the landscape changes from the greens of Estes Park to the red rock country and canyons of Brown’s Park.

Brown’s Park had a long history of being visited by Native Americans and trappers.  Its harsh landscape was not particularly welcoming but a few settlers did move in, and there was a trading post. But the main visitors in the late 1800s were rustlers and other outlaws, and it became part of the outlaw’s trail, which included Robber’s Roost (UT) and Hole-in the-Wall (WY). Men such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Elzy Lay, and Tom Horn, as well as the Queen of Cattle Rustlers, Ann Bassett, had hide-outs or homes in Brown’s Park. Today part of it is the Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge, and its landscape, which eventually leads into Flaming Gorge in WY, remains fairly isolated and remote. Strict regulations are in place for the hiker, camper or other visitor, and warnings such as lack of cell phone reception and bringing enough water abound. For the outlaw on the run it remains a perfect hide-out.

To find out whether or not Shiloh gets his man and returns home to his beloved, you’ll have to read Shot through the Heart.  I’m happy to let one lucky reader find out for free by commenting below. The prize will be a signed paperback if the winner is in the US or, for an overseas winner, any version of an eBook they prefer.

 

Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large.
Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind.
When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?

Click to Find Andrea Downing online 

 

Kathleen D. Bailey Looks at Story Structure and the Classic Westerns

The Fillies welcome guest Kathleen D. Bailey. Please make her welcome.

Judge Henry Garth owns “Shiloh,” the largest ranch in and around Medicine Bow, Wyoming. When feuding ranchers and Indians from “up north” want to meet to settle their differences, Garth offers Shiloh as a neutral venue. He has two house guests: Ben, a city-slicker newspaperman come to visit Garth’s daughter Betsy, and the Indian Affairs agent who’s supposed to settle the whole mess. Garth wants a peaceful solution to the Indian/rancher problem, but his plans go awry when a group of thugs takes over Shiloh. He finds himself a hostage in his own home along with Betsy, the journalist, the Indian agent and Randy, his singing cowboy. His other hands are all at the roundup.

The hostages try various ways to foil the thugs. After the criminals take everyone’s guns, Randy mouths to Ben that there’s one in the desk Ben’s leaning on. Ben sneaks it out and aims it at the ringleader, but loses his nerve. When the captives discover a small bottle of laudanum they try to drug one of their captors’ coffee, but they are again foiled. The Indian Affairs guy turns out to be part of the problem when he reveals himself as allied with the criminals. There are other attempts at freedom, and each time the viewer thinks, “Well, they’ve got it now.” Except they don’t, because this is a 90-minute Western and there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong. Even The Virginian, Garth’s relentlessly resourceful foreman, can’t get them out of this one. He’s been shot.

Where will it all end? How will it all end, with every escape blocked?

Western movies and television have always known how to keep a viewer engaged. The classic stories hook viewers by baiting, switching and baiting again. Just when the viewer thinks the cowboy/wagon scout/marshal has figured a way out of their dilemma, someone or something will trip them up. Just when the viewer thinks there’s no hope, a solution appears, and they’ll wonder why they didn’t see it before. It’s like mystery writing only with horses.

The genre could be formulaic, especially in the early years. My husband and I are aggressive Western watchers and we’ve learned to recognize the archetypes such as the physician who won’t practice medicine any more, usually due to alcohol or losing someone precious to them. Or losing someone precious, then turning to alcohol. But it’s what they do with these archetypes that makes these tales stand the test of time.

I spent most of one summer watching “How The West Was Won,” the epic TV miniseries starring an aging James Arness as Zeb Macahan, one of the legendary Mountain Men. Arness was perfection in the role of his life, and supporting cast members included shoot-em-up royalty such as Slim Pickens and Dennis Weaver. But as I rolled through it a second time, I became hooked on the story itself. It wasn’t just Zeb meeting up with old cronies, or rescuing his kinfolk from one scrape after another. Oldest nephew Luke, played by a young Bruce Boxleitner, stumbled into serious trouble when he went back East to check on his father. He got conscripted into the Union army, ran away from same, stole a horse and shot a sheriff. The sheriff lived but lost the use of one arm, and that one rash act—and the sheriff’s lust for revenge—followed Luke through the entire series. Luke spent most of the show on the run, eluding the sheriff’s spies, hired guns and the sheriff himself. The threat to Luke’s life kept resurfacing, like Whack-A-Mole, every time he thought he had a chance at happiness. It’s perfect story structure, a thread that runs through the entire series and keeps the watcher hooked.

The best Westerns carry out the classic themes of guilt, shame, retribution and justice. They connect on a deeper level, as with John Wayne in “The Searchers.” It’s why I chose to write Westerns. Take two strong characters, give them something to fight about, give them an attraction—and set it against the Oregon Trail or a cattle drive or the Land Rush. Watch the magic happen.

What of Judge Garth? He solved his dilemma without a single bullet. Calling on his memories of a court case, he set two of his assailants against each other. A long-simmering grudge came to the front, and they destroyed one another. With all other escape routes blocked, Garth solved the problem with his mind.

The perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.

Find Kathleen online

The Western genre is adventure, romance and at its best something more. Western stories pack a satisfying experience for the reader. And if you’re a writer of Westerns, you can chalk up all that movie watching as research. You’re welcome.

So…what’s your favorite Western movie, mini-series or TV program? I’ll be giving away a paper copy of my first book, “Westward Hope”; an e-copy of the sequel, “Settler’s Hope”: and a New England gift pack to three separate winners. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.

 Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. Her first Pelican book, ‘‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020. She has a Christmas novella, “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle,” scheduled for this December as part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza,” and is completing “Redemption’s Hope,” the third and final book in the Western Dreams series.

She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.

 

For more information, contact her at ampie86@comcast.net; @piechick1 on Twitter; Kathleen D. Bailey on Facebook and LinkedIn; or at http://www.kathleendbailey.weebly.com.