Setting the Scene in Durango, Colorado

MK McClintock

Are you ready for an adventure in the rugged Colorado mountains? Let’s take a journey back to 1899 with Cassandra McKenzie and Quinn Morgan, the duo out for justice in my latest release, The Case of the Copper King.

When Samantha St. Claire pitched the series and invited me along for the ride, I knew my original choice for a setting was not going to work. The historically rich town of Durango was not the original setting, but as Cassandra (aka Casey) and I were getting to know each other, we couldn’t agree on several things, and where she would spend most of the book was among our disagreements.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Durango is a railroad town in southwestern Colorado, and Silverton is a small mining town to the north. Durango was quite different today from what it was in my youth, but what has not changed is the intriguing history of a wild west town filled with contradictions and tales of both survival and prosperity.

View from the Durango & Silverton train_1989_MK McClintock

I couldn’t wait to get started on the research, and I have no problem admitting that it distracted me from the writing on numerous occasions.

Durango, founded in 1880, was constructed because of the gold beneath the rocky mountain soil and built on the backs of miners, prospectors, bankers, and enterprising men and women who found various ways to make a profit off the land, and off the people who worked the land.

Around Silverton and Animas Forks, Colorado_1989_MK McClintock

My memories of a babbling creek beneath a footbridge behind the house, walking around on all fours with the horses in the pasture, brunch at the Strater Hotel, and playing tourist at nearby resorts were not going to give me the foundation I needed for an 1899 setting. After months of research, I realized those youthful recollections were quite valuable when it came to Casey’s character. When she stepped off the train in Durango or rode into Silverton on the back of her mare, I was right there with her, seeing through her eyes, the hustle, dust, and color of those booming mining towns.

The Strater Hotel, opened in 1888 during a mining boom in Durango, Colorado | Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress

Durango and Silverton, like settings in many books, became secondary characters. From dusty streets to grand hotels, stockyards to caves, and saloons to sporting houses, Casey and Quinn experienced both the unsavory and the beautiful during their adventures.

If you haven’t been to these fascinating towns in Colorado, I highly recommend them. In the meantime, you can join the intrepid crime-solvers and experience a bit of how life might have been when a plucky Pinkerton and a bounty hunter with a conscience join forces.

If only the Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory had been around in 1899, we could have had some real fun in Silverton.

Have you been to Durango or Silverton? If so, what is one of your favorite memories from your visit?

Giveaway!

I’ll be giving away both a of The Case of the Copper King and The Case of the Peculiar Inheritance to one random winner!

For a chance to win, leave a comment about one of your favorite western-related memories, or what wild-west era town you’d like to visit today.

To read an excerpt of The Case of the Copper King CLICK HERE.

Award-winning author MK McClintock writes historical romantic fiction about courageous and honorable men and strong women who appreciate chivalry, like those in her Montana Gallagher, British Agent, and Crooked Creek series. Her stories of adventure, romance, and mystery sweep across the American West to the Victorian British Isles, with places and times between and beyond. She enjoys a quiet life in the northern Rocky Mountains.

To purchase The Case of the Copper King CLICK HERE.

Website: http://www.mkmcclintock.com

Cover Reveal & Book Sale

Seeing a cover for the first time is a nerve-wracking mix of excitement and terror. As much as we say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we all do. The cover is one of the biggest marketing tools an author has. This single picture needs to speak 1000 words to the prospective reader. It needs to convey time period and setting. It should hint at key story elements as well as project emotion. Most of all, it should please or intrigue the reader enough to prod them to learn more. To pick it up and read the back cover or make that click that takes them inside for a sample.

Covers for novella collections are especially tricky since they must convey details from more than one story. Different characters. Different settings. Even different time periods. Because of that, novella covers usually focus on creating a more general mood than honing in on specific details, thereby creating an image that would apply to any of the stories contained within.

My latest cover is just such a project. Three novellas whose common ground consists of four things: Historical time periods, Texas settings, Christmas themes, and romance. So while the scene depicted does not relate directly to any of the three stories, it conveys those four commonalities to perfection.

The long skirt and beautifully knotted updo on the model combined with the wrap-around porch commonly found in 19th century homes immediately places us in the historical time frame. The serif fonts and swirled design around the subtitle and name also give it a Victorian feel. The rugged landscape combined with the cowboy riding home in the distance hints strongly at Texas. Then there are the beautiful Christmas touches of garlands wrapped around the porch railings and the bold red pop of color in the heroine’s dress combined with the green subtitle bar. Finally, the romance. What says romance more than mistletoe? And having it dangling right above the heroine’s head as she leans forward, eager for the hero’s return makes it clear that love is in the air.

Under the Texas Mistletoe will release this fall.

What element of this cover is most inviting to you?

Book Sale

Grab some Valentine’s chocolate and treat yourself to some classic romance, Archer style. The book that started it all – Short Straw Bride – is on sale for only $1.99 until February 17.

If you already own a copy of Travis and Meredith’s story, consider sharing a little romance with your favorite “gal”entine by surprising her with a gift copy. All you need is an email address to share the love.

Grab a copy from your favorite e-book retailer.

Amazon | Christianbook | Barnes & Noble

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Once Upon a Mail Order Bride Cover Reveal

 

I just love when I get a new cover. It’s like opening a present on Christmas morning. I never tire of seeing the new designs by the people at Sourcebooks. They’re truly amazing.

I especially love this one. The colors are so beautiful and the models are truly romantic

This is Outlaw Mail Order Brides #4 and the ex-preacher Ridge Steele gets a bride at last.

Except Adeline Jancy cannot speak.

She communicates through writing so she carries paper and pencil everywhere. But just because she can’t speak, doesn’t mean she’s passive. Ridge finds that out pretty quick and doesn’t make the mistake again.

This story is about finding hope and having the courage to right wrongs. Ridge and Addie are reaching for the impossible. Oftentimes it’s easier to let things stay the way they are, especially when living in a safe, outlaw town. It’s a lot harder to force change and they had to reach a point where they could accept that it would be possible by the slimmest of margins to make their lives better and grab hold of their future.

I’m going to be very sad to leave Hope’s Crossing. I love all these people. But a new series awaits and will start soon.

So tell me what you like or don’t like about this cover and/or the title. The book comes out on November 24, 2020.

Amazon  |  B&N  |  APPLE

 

To Marry A Texas Cowboy Cover Reveal!

Last week was crazy for me. I played What if…with a lot of you for June’s Game Day. I had a pin removed from my right index finger on Tuesday. The fourth book in my Wishing Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, was due Wednesday, and then it was the Fourth of July weekend. Lesson learned? Consult my calendar more carefully when scheduling events and deadlines.

But I have a surprise for you, Today I received the final cover for the book!

Though I don’t have a release date yet, here’s the backcover copy for the book:

She lives by a set of rules. He aims to break each one.

When Zane Logan returns to Wishing, Texas, he’s shocked to learn that his grandmother has hired an assistant to manage her wedding planning business as she heals from surgery. With five marriages between his parents, just the thought of weddings breaks him out in hives. To look out for his grandmother’s financial interests, Zane takes charge. He doesn’t trust easily, especially when the assistant is prettier than a Texas spring day.

Childhood taught McKenna Stinson an important rule: never count on anyone but yourself. She dreams of working hard to have her own business. Stepping in for a successful wedding planner in a small town known for big weddings is the perfect opportunity…until her employer’s grandson announces he’s the new boss. He’s cynical about love and knows nothing about weddings—so why is she falling for him?

Even worse, Zane’s so hot McKenna has to make up two new rules: don’t date a man more attractive than you and never, ever, date a man you work with.

Being a mom to three sons has helped me create heroes. I learned early on males communicate differently. I wasn’t surprised to learn women use 20,000 words a day and men 7,000. In an interview Clint Eastwood said the first thing he did with a script was cut dialogue. Before I send a book off, I look for where my hero is too wordy. I also check for non “guy speak” dialogue. For example, men don’t use qualifiers. They don’t say “Would you like to…” or “What if we…” Nope. We women do that. Men simply cut to the chase. “Want to get pizza?”

From the book I just turned in, To Marry A Texas Cowboy:

Zane tried to tune out the women talking about how else Susannah would incorporate her color scheme. Who wanted to waste their New Year’s Eve at a wedding? Not him. Why did a bride have to ruin a perfectly good holiday and football night? From the color scheme, they chatted back and forth about whether they should eat or check out dresses first.

Ridiculous. It wouldn’t take him and his buddies a minute to decide. You hungry? No. Me neither. We’ll eat later. Done. Issue settled. But women made every discussion as hard as finding hair on a frog.

There are more ways men and women communicate differently, but I’ll leave those for another time. Today’s giveaway is a Warrior Not Worrier Cozy Sleeve and a copy of Home On The Ranch: Colorado Rescue. To be entered in the random drawing, leave a comment about the way men and women communicate differently or your thoughts on my cover or the backcover copy. Basically, just leave a comment and talk with me! 

 

Kickin’ up Yer Heels

Step back in time—how do you celebrate a barn raising in the Old West? A wagon train coming to town? A wedding? The end of a cattle drive? Or something as regular as a Saturday night?

Dancing!

The towns in the West were full of independent, rugged people, looking to make a mark on the world or at least on their own pockets. Town dances invited all to attend; cowboys and miners, outlaws and lawmen, bankers and merchants, cultured women and soiled doves. Dances were important to bring a community together for courtship and friendshipping. It was also a vehicle that mixed the social classes, giving people opportunities for advancing one’s class. America’s class system wasn’t as rigid as had been the countries of Europe and the attendees of the dances proved this especially in the West.

Immigrants found it easy to hoe-down with their neighbors as many of the dances originated in Europe and changed very little from the folk dances people already knew. The Polka was a favorite in the new West, but other common dances were the Quadrille, Grand March, Waltz and Scottish Fling. As dances evolved, new steps became incorporated and a dance master would call out the steps to keep the group in sync. This evolved into an American original, the square dance. It seemed to fit the American ideal of a mixture of people and ideas that work together to create a new culture.

In many western towns, women were scarce. And just as in Shakespeare’s plays, men would assume the female role. “Heifer branding” solved the problem as burly men would don a piece of fabric tied round their arm or strap on a bonnet or apron to take the place of the fairer sex and the party continued.

Hurdy-Gurdy Girls traveled to western towns in a group of several women, chaperoned by a married couple, often with children. They hired out for dances and then traveled on to another town.

Saloons found that dancing brought in more men and more money, and employed women as dance hall girls. These women were looked down upon by “proper” ladies, but they were not prostitutes as they were accused. Men would buy a dance ticket for a dollar, then spend it on a partner of his choice, dancing together for a quarter of an hour. The interaction allowed for dance and conversation with men starved for female companionship.

The women generally earned half the price of the tickets they claimed. If they took the man to the bar after the dance, they received a commission on the drinks as well. The dance hall girls could make more in a week than most men made in a month. They also made more money than the prostitutes did, and when given an opportunity, the soiled doves made their way into the dance hall ranks.

Towns also sponsored regular dancing events. In Albert Benard de Russailh’s travel journal, Last Adventure, published in 1851, he wrote of dances in San Francisco. “I am occasionally reminded of our balls at the Salle Valentine on the Rue St. Honoré. There is one important difference: Parisian rowdies often come to blows; but in San Francisco hardly an evening passes without drunken brawls during which shots are fired.”

Dance in the Old West is part of the mystique of the era and was as vital to building their culture, as it is today. It was used to release energy, bring together neighbors, socialize, and provide recreation. So come on out to the barn—let’s dance.

One lucky commenter chosen at random will receive her choice of one of Jo Noelle’s ebooks! To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment on your favorite dance or your favorite dancing memory.

To follow Jo Noelle on on Facebook at Loving Sweet Historical Romance click here. To visit her website click here, and to buy her books, click here.

Works Consulted:

 

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
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Barnes & Noble
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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?

 

 

 

Jodi Thomas Is Back in the Saddle Again

In this time of ‘house arrest’ we are all staying home most of the time.  Now I don’t know about other writers (haven’t seen any) but I started out the first two weeks thinking I’d write like crazy. 

Didn’t work.  I cleaned closets, cooked, watched TV, read books.

When the two weeks continued on and on, I made a list every morning of what I would do. Pretty soon I learned I could keep my Monday to-do-list all week and just change it to Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday.

THEN I discovered a box of old music, country of course.  I bounced out of bed, put on my sweat pants, didn’t bother with shower or makeup half the time, and flipped on Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison. We danced around the house.

I know it sounds strange but it cheered me up. By the time I played it three times, I was ready to write.

Then I found a CD of Riders in the Sky with a song Gene Autry wrote.  Back in the Saddle Again. I learned to sing Whoopi-ty-aye-oh. Dancing again. To hear the song click here.

I played it as I saddled up for work.  When I was a kid I loved nothing more than riding across open country and today (as I have for thirty years) I love writing.

I’ve stepped into fiction in good times and bad.  When my heart’s been broken, I fall in love with my characters. When reality gets too much, I make my own world. When I simply want to have an adventure, I travel in my mind.

During this time of isolation, I still feel connected to my readers and all the writers I know. We may be home dancing to Only the Lonely but we’re together. 

After I took a bad tumble riding in my teens, the hardest thing I ever did was climb back on a horse, but the strange thing was, once in the saddle, I wondered why it had taken me so long.

 

My advice for this time: 

  1. Be good to yourself.  Get lost in a good book whether you’re reading it or writing it. Have a party every night.  Popcorn and a movie or cookies and milk on the porch watching the rain.
  1. Be happy.  Sure you don’t get to see the people you love, but the upside is you don’t have to be around all those folks who bother you.
  1. Dance.  Personally, I never learned to dance, but I do it anyway.  I told Tom once that I may look like I’m standing still, but I’m dancing inside.  He smiled and said, “I know.”

I’m in the middle of a series and I’m loving it. Book One, BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ came out last week. It’s packed with action and love stories that will keep you reading through the night.

Please add it to your reading list and ‘if you have time’ leave a comment and tell me what you’re dancing to during this isolation. One reader’s comment will be selected to receive my first book out of the box. 

Joke of the day from Riders in the Sky.  “If the world was logical, men would ride sidesaddle.”

 

 

These Boot Are Made For Giving!

After the Civil War, the boots cowboys were wearing weren’t cutting the muster on the job. While accounts differ whether this occurred in Kansas or Texas, most agree a cowboy went into a shoemaker asking for changes to the day’s boot style. Each feature the smart cowboy asked for fixed a problem. The pointed toe made it easier for him to get his foot in the stirrup. The taller shaft served the purpose of protecting his leg from mesquite tree thorns, barbed wire, snakes and other dangers. The bigger, thicker heel kept his foot from coming out of the stirrup. The boot’s tough leather protected a cowboy’s ankle from being bruised by the wooden stirrup.

The cowboy changed his footwear his footwear because it wasn’t working. A lot of my stories deal with something not working in my hero and/or heroine’s life. Sometimes they know they need to make a change. Sometimes not. Sometimes life forces them to make a change when it’s the last thing they want. But still, my characters tug on their boots, put one foot in front of the other, whether they’re happy about it or not, and walk toward the future.

In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, both AJ Quinn and Grace Henry are forced to make a change in their lives, and neither is very happy about it. Grace is laid off and her best friend talks her into coming to Texas to manage her bed and breakfast. AJ is undercover for the FBI taking the recently vacant job as chief of police to catch a forger. Both vow working in Wishing, Texas, is temporary. They know where they want their lives to go and this isn’t what they had in mind.

Their meeting is one of my favorites. Grace is driving into town and her breaks give out. She rear ends AJ’s truck. AJ tries to tell Grace who he is, but she won’t let him get the words out, instead saying they should exchange insurance info, call a tow truck and be on their way. AJ lists the reasons to call the police, her insurance company may require a police report, debris needs to be cleared from the road, and someone needs to divert traffic until their vehicles are moved. When Grace still resists, AJ asks if there’s a reason she doesn’t want the police called. Grace responds that all the police will do is complicate the issue and small-town police will be even worse about it. Talk about an awkward first meeting! I love when my characters dig themselves into a hole and refuse to put down the shovel!

Another thing I love to do is have the hero or heroine give a gift to the other during the story. Though they may not realize it at the time, the gift is a big turning point in their relationship. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, Grace is a New York city girl. AJ tells Grace she can’t keep running around in flip-flops and gives her a box. What does AJ give her? What else? A pair of cowboy boots she admired!

I’m going to admit something…I love shoes and I love boots even more. I have four pairs of cowboy boots I wear in the winter and various open toe ankle boots I wear in the winter. Stop by today and leave a comment about your favorite footwear to be entered to win a signed copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a pair of boot socks. 

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?

Musings From A Budding Optimist

2020 is off and running for me with a big event. Tomorrow To Tame A Texas Cowboy is released! 

I’m also starting out the new year with a shiny new outlook thanks to some advice I received. 

I’m a firm believer that everyone we encounter teaches us something. I also believe the simplest action sometimes has a profound impact. That’s what I discovered when I entered Maxine’s Uptown Boutique, in Pitman, New Jersey and met Jinger Cahill. What she told me changed my outlook. Today, I’m passing on her wisdom.

My heroine, Cheyenne Whitten, a barrel racer, is definitely an optimist. For me, that sometimes proved difficult. My strength has been seeing possible pitfalls in situations. Because of that, I never would’ve called myself an optimist and have tried to change that. I’ve heard “it’s how you look at something” before. It’s the old the glass is half-full, not half-empty idea, but I’ve struggled to put those words into practice.

Jinger taught me what I give voice to, I give power to and attract more of. When I said I struggled with negativity, the universe heard, “Hey, I love negativity! Give me more!” As I’m writing, the vision of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors saying “Feed me, Seymour” popped into my head! 🙂 

Over the years, people have told me not to worry. I’ve been given what I call the Frozen advice—Let it go.  I’ve been told not to get my panties in a bunch. I thought it was great advice, but wondered how to accomplish it? How do I rewire my brain? Then Jinger shared a quote from Mother Teresa. “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” The light bulb went off. My brain screamed, “I understand it now!” Instead of concentrating on what not to do, I needed to give my brain something else to focus on! The way for me to fend off those emotions was to work on being more positive.

I’ve never been a big believer in affirmations. Imagine Natalie Wood’s character, Susan in Miracle on 34th Street. When she doesn’t find the gift she asked Santa for under the tree, in the car on the way home she mutters, “I believe. I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” That was me when I tried Jinger’s affirmation, and like Susan, I received a surprise.

“Great I Am, White Light of Truth (you can tailor to your own beliefs), only good will come to me. Only good will go from me. So be it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Those few words reframed my thinking. They remind me to stay positive. When I slide back into old ways, they remind me to look at the flip side of a situation and to focus on what I can do, rather than what I shouldn’t.

If what I’ve shared resonates with you, great. If not, file it away. Someone you meet may need to hear it one day. Whichever the case, thank you for being here today, and I wish you a blessed 2020 full of possibilities. 

I have two giveaways today. One person will receive the Chakra bracelet from Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique. Another will receive the Goldstone bracelet, and both will receive a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about the best or most impactful advice you’ve received. 

Click here to buy a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. Click here to like and follow Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique on Facebook.