For Your Viewing Pleasure

Thanks to the pandemic, entertainment options are dwindling quickly. Usually I’m getting geared up for new fall shows about now, but this year, I’m scraping the streaming service barrels to try to find something new to watch.

I ran across a western called The Legend of 5-Mile Cave and thought I’d give it a try. It’s available to stream free for those who subscribe to Amazon Prime or you can rent it for $2.99. If you like sweet and clean, family-friendly movies, you’ll like this one. It’s a split-time story told both from the 1890’s and the Depression-era. It’s a dime novel romp come to life with adventure, romance, villains, and fancy gun play.

A mysterious drifter befriends a widow and her son just when they are about to lose their ranch to the bank. The boy loves to read pulp fiction and is immediately fascinated by his latest story – The Legend of 5-Mile Cave – and the missing gold that was never found. The drifter warns him he can’t always believe everything he reads and reveals that he knew Shooter Green, the main character of the story, and starts to tell the boy his own version of events. As they work to save the ranch, secrets are revealed that tie past to present.

This was a fun movie with a good story and subtle Christian overtones. It won’t be winning any Oscars, but it was worth the watch, especially if you enjoy wholesome westerns that remind you of the old-fashioned oaters of the 1950’s.

If you don’t have access to Amazon Prime, but do have access to Netflix, I’ll recommend another show involving horses. It’s not exactly a western. It’s more of a down under-ern.

Ride Like a Girl is the inspirational true story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup despite facing odds of a 100 to 1. She was the youngest of 10 children, raised without her mother who died when she was just 6 months old. Her father was in the racing business, so his children tended to gravitate to that world, but none more strongly than Michelle. I love watching stories about strong women who defy the odds, and if there are horses and Aussie accents involved, even better!

What have you streamed lately that you would recommend?

Who Would You Be in the Old West?

Last week, I played a game in my Posse Facebook group, that ended up being so much fun, I thought we could play it here as well.

If you lived in the old west, who would you be, and what would you be doing?

I decided that I would be one of those town wives who invited everyone over once a month for a quilting bee where we would get very little quilting done but would have lots of tea and conversations about books.

When everyone else chirped in, we had a wonderful variety of answers including:

  • school teachers
  • librarians
  • innkeepers
  • cafe owners
  • bakers
  • druggists
  • nurses and doctors
  • preachers’ wives
  • farmers’ wives
  • ranchers’ wives
  • sharpshooters
  • tomboy trouble-makers
  • even dance hall entertainers
  • and saloon barkeeps

Who would you be?

Covers That Could Have Been

The first book in my new Hanger’s Horsemen series released last Tuesday, and I’m so excited to have a cover that features a rugged cowboy hero. I’ve had a few heroes make appearances on other covers, but they were always the supporting cast to the heroine.

I have three covers where the heroes get an arm and a leg in the picture. (Although you gotta admit that arm on Levi is pretty nice.)

My first hero only got his leg in the picture.

I did get nearly an entire hero on three of my covers, but the heroine remains the focal point.

So having my cowboy hero front and center this time was an exciting change. And I love the model they chose as well as the addition of the horse as the supporting actor.

However, when I asked my publisher if they had any cover mock-ups that failed to make the final cut, I was surprised to find an entirely different cowboy on the cover. One with a shy smile, rugged physique, and a lot more facial hair.

Here are a few of the first version mock-ups. Notice the different poses, the different backgrounds, even different hat colors.

If I had to pick one of these iterations, I think I would take the bottom middle. I like the hat tip, the smile, and the sunset in the background. Although, I strongly prefer the font and series designation of the one at the top left, which is most similar to the final copy.

All in all, I think they made the right call. I really like the final cover.

 

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger’s Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they’re the ones in need of saving.

Amazon
~
Barnes & Noble
~
Christianbook

 

  • If you were to select one of the runner-up covers for this book, which would you pick?
  • What do you think of having a hero-centric cover? Is it less romantic without the heroine?

 

 

 

Damsels on Railroad Tracks

No western romance trope is more cheesy or more famous than the old Damsel on the Railroad Tracks trope. Which is why when I recently wrote a scene that ended with my heroine stuck on a railroad bridge with a train heading for her, I just had to giggle. I promise the scene is ripe with tension and believability. There is no mustachioed villain cackling in the background. And she’s not actually tied to the tracks. She doesn’t even scream for help. Though our hero is still called upon to rush in to make a daring rescue.

So how did this trope get started and how has it endured so long in tongue-and-cheek fashion?

Most people credit the damsel on the tracks to the melodramas of silent movies. However, the first time it appeared with significant impact was on stage in an 1867 play called Under the Gaslight by Augustin Daly. By 1868, the trope reportedly could be found in five different London plays all running at the same time, and remained a theatre staple for decades. But here’s the kicker. In the original story, it is a man who has been tied to the railroad tracks and a woman who rescues him!

This trope became so popular in the theatre, that even though there are no original silent movies that use this plot in a serious fashion, several used it for comedic effect. The most notable of these spoofs was a Keystone Komedy called Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life from 1913. Note the top hat and impressive mustache on the villain. Those become staples of the trope.

Some of you will probably remember watching the classic cartoon The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, either when it aired in the 1960’s or in reruns in the 1970’s like I did. This was a silly spoof that used over-the-top villains to hilarious effect. One of the main characters on the show was the dim-witted yet heroic Mountie named Dudley Do-Right. His nemesis Snidely Whiplash wore a top hat, sported a curvy mustache, and had a tendency to tie damsels to railroad tracks. Hence the trope was preserved for a new generation.

In 1969, Ray Stevens released a song called Along Came Jones which reached #27 on the billboard charts. My husband and I are big oldies fans, so we love this silly song and have even shared it with our kids – successfully perpetuating the trope into the future.

  • Do you remember any of these songs or shows?
  • Besides the top hat and mustache, what are other villain elements that have become cliche over time?

Speaking of damsels and railroads, my Harvey House Brides novella collection, Serving Up Love, is on sale this month for only $1.99.
Grab a copy while you can!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

Watch a Western, Save the World

While do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by sheltering in place, a new challenge arises . . . how to stay sane while cooped up with annoying (cough, cough), I mean beloved family members.

Never fear, we have a host of cowboys who are ready to hogtie your boredom and send it packin’.

There’s a western to fit every mood.

In the mood for a crime drama? Try Longmire (streaming on Netflix).

Maybe you’re into reality shows. Check out The Cowboy Way (streaming on Amazon Prime).

There’s nothing better than a good medical drama, right? Gotta love Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (available for purchase on Amazon).

Or maybe you like to mix in a little kooky steampunk action with your cowboys. You can’t get kookier than Wild, Wild West (available on Netflix DVD).

And if you like kooky, you’ll no doubt enjoy this western adventure/comedy from back in 1990s – The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (available on Amazon Prime).

Or maybe you like to mix things up with a bit of science fiction. Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford. Yep. Cowboys & Aliens (available on Netflix DVD or to rent on Amazon).

Then to help you get some much-needed exercise, everybody can get up and dance through a barn raising with the classic western musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (available through Netflix DVD or to rent on Amazon).

What western movie/TV show are you going to watch to help save the world?

Karen’s Game Day Winners

Such creative readers we have here at Petticoats & Pistols! You all came up with some exceptional wild west acrostics during our Game Day on Monday. They were so good, in fact, that I found it impossible to pick only one winner. So I picked two!

Congratulations go to

Tina Rice and Kerri!

Both of you have won a $10 Amazon gift card. YeeHaw!

Big thanks to everyone who played.
Reading through those acrostics kept a smile on my face all day.

Game Day with Karen!

I love playing games, and word games are especially fun. So for our Game Day this month, I thought we could enjoy some word play.

But first, we need a theme. I just so happen to have some inspiration.

Short-Straw Bride, the first book in my Archer Brothers series and consistent reader favorite, is on sale through March 31 for only $0.99 ($0.79 in some places).

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

So now that we have our theme – Western Romance – let’s play our game!

Wild West Acrostics!

To play, select one of the three words below from the featured book title:

SHORT          STRAW          BRIDE

Create a string of words that start with each of the five letters in your word to describe what you love about reading western romance. I’ve given you some examples below. You don’t have to use all three words like I did. Just one will do it.

.

Leave your acrostic in the comments below.
My favorite will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Have fun . . . and don’t forget to grab your copy of Short-Straw Bride!

Research Road Trip

As an author of historical novels, I love it when I get a chance to walk over the same ground as my characters. Most of my research is done online, but every once in a while, I get the chance to get my boots walking in the actual setting of a book I’m writing. This past January was just such an occasion.

During the last weekend of January, I took a research trip to explore the setting of my current work in progress. Not only did I get to dig into the local history of Kingsland, TX, but three writing friends met up with there and turned the weekend into a writing retreat. So wonderful to be blessed by the fellowship of fellow writers and friends.

Anne Mateer and I are in the ticket window with Nancy Kimball (left) and Crystal Barnes (right) in the main living area.

I love staying in historic places whenever possible, and especially when I’m trying to immerse myself in an historic setting. We pulled that off in Kingsland with The Antlers Hotel. The hotel was built by the railroad in 1901 a few years after the rail line came through town in 1892. Unfortunately, it’s about 6 years too modern to include in my story, but it offered fabulous accommodations. I took some photos inside the lobby as well as the exterior.

Since there were four of us, and retreats are much more fun when we can all stay together, we rented a separate building on the property. The Depot cabin we rented had been an actual railroad depot in Muldoon, TX in the 1890’s. I loved opening the door to discover two ticket windows still in place. So fun! Creaky wooden floorboards added to the historical ambiance.

After spending a couple hours on Friday afternoon in the local library’s genealogical section reading up on local families, I drove down to the railroad bridge that is still standing from 1892. I found a really cool tidbit about how folks from the Burnet side of the Colorado River could only get into Kingsland by rails – either on the train or by walking across the railroad bridge. I took a photo from the Burnet side showing the top of the track. I also took a picture from the Kingsland side to show the underside and the pillars. The 4 stone ones are original. The concrete supports were added later.At some point, one or more of my characters is going to be in peril on this bridge. I just need to figure out who and why.

Saturday morning, I took a drive down a country road (and I mean country – dirt, cattle guards, livestock free and ranging) to get some photos of Packsaddle Mountain. It was named for the dip in the middle that makes it resemble a packsaddle on a horse. A major plot point in my novel revolves around this mountain, so being able to see it in person will help me get the details right. A couple decades before my novel’s timeline, this was also the site of the last Indian battle in the region. The settlers, while greatly outnumbered, routed the raiding Apaches and ushered in a time of peace.

On my drive, I also ran into this fellow. Probably not historically accurate, but fun nonetheless.

We finished off the weekend by having brunch on Sunday at the Grand Central Cafe located on the same property where we were staying. It is a grand Victorian home built around the turn of the century and serves wonderful food.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. So much history, so many great conversations, and great food for the imagination and the taste buds . (Crystal Barnes made us her famous farm fresh breakfast with ingredients straight from her very own cow and chickens Saturday morning and fried us up some fresh-off-the-hoof hamburgers for dinner. Yum!)

What are some of your favorite historical locations to visit?

Kingsland was only about a 3-hour drive from my home. Do you have places close to you that are rich in history?

 

Cover Reveal, Free Gift, & Valentine Sale

Happy Valentine’s Week!!
The time for romance, gifts, and love stories.

One of my favorite experiences as an author is seeing my cover for the first time. It’s terrifying and exciting all rolled into one. Such anticipation! Well, I’m excited to reveal my next cover. Talk about romantic! The designers did such a fabulous job giving this cover an incredibly unique yet timelessly romantic feel.

The Kissing Tree is a novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Nicole Deese and Amanda Dykes that spans roughly 150 years. Each of the four stories takes place in Oak Springs, Texas, centering around a particular sprawling live oak whose trunk and branches have been carved over the centuries with couples’ initials. It is the keeper of a thousand stories, and this book showcases four of them: one in the mid-1800’s, one in the late-1800’s, one during World War II, and one in present day. It releases this fall, and should be up for pre-order in just a few short weeks!

The tree we used as a model for our Kissing Tree is a real tree with it’s own romantic heritage on the Texas A&M university campus. The Century Tree. Isn’t it gorgeous? This tree is the site of many a romantic marriage proposal to this day.

Our Free Gift to You

We loved what the Bethany House designers did with the cover, and they were so kind to work with us to cook up these beautiful designs for you to use as either a wallpaper for your phone or a background image for your computer. They utilized many of those lovely cover elements—the embossed backgrounds, those lush leaves, and a Bible verse that encompasses the deepest love of all. A reminder that you are beloved and cherished!

Use these links below and the download button you’ll see near the top of the screen to claim your free gift:

Phone background/wallpaper: https://tinyurl.com/w55addw

Computer desktop background: https://tinyurl.com/tnkerxt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sale Price on Another Great Valentine Read

Since The Kissing Tree won’t be available until fall, I thought I would offer another sweet, western romance read for your Valentine reading pleasure. The first book in my Patchwork Family series, More Than Meets the Eye (ebook) is on sale for only $0.99 starting today! Love, adventure, cowboys, and a pet hog. What could be more fun?

When her family is threatened, falling in love may be her best defense.

“More Than Meets the Eye captured my heart from the start. This story is easily the best Inspirational romance I have read in years, if not the best Inspirational romance I have ever read.”  ~ All About Romance

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

If you were to give yourself a gift for Valentine’s Day this year, what would choose?

Reading Challenge for 2020

I’ve been a book lover my entire life. Yet over the last decade or so, I’ve found that I am reading less and less. With a day job, writing full time, and family/church responsibilities, time is at a premium. Yet I don’t want to lose the pleasure of discovering new characters and adventures inside the covers of unexplored tomes. So I’ve started looking for new motivations to help me keep reading a priority. Last year, I attempted to keep a list of all the books I had read. I think I lost track somewhere around fall, but I did find satisfaction in seeing over 20 books on my list before I stopped keeping count. I know that’s small potatoes for many of you, but it was encouraging to me.

This year I’m going to try something with a little more accountability and hopefully a lot of fun. Inspired by many fun reading challenges circulating around social media, I decided to create one for my Facebook group – The Posse. I asked for their input in coming up with the categories, and nearly all the ones you see on my list are iterations of their suggestions. Here’s what we came up with . . .

We tried to create a list with a lot of flexibility to allow for personal taste and interest while still giving us the motivation to try something new or perhaps stretch our literary comfort zone just a bit.

You don’t have to be a Posse member to use this reading challenge, but if you want to participate with other readers and join in the discussion, we’d love to have you! We talk about all kinds of other things, too, including brainstorming ideas for my books. But at the beginning of every month, I’ll be posting the upcoming reading challenge category, and at the end of the month, I’ll create a post where everyone can talk about the book they read, how it fit the category, and what they thought about the story. It’s strictly for fun, so if you need to skip a month or two, that perfectly fine. Just join back in when you can. Personally, I’m hoping to use this as a motivation to read more as well as an accountability piece to keep me going even when life gets busy.

If you’d like to join the Posse and our Reading Challenge – Click Here.

  • Have you ever participated in a Reaching Challenge? Did you enjoy it?
  • Do you have any reading-related book goals for 2020?