Category: Courting

When to Call a Spade a Shovel


One of the challenges of writing historical fiction is getting the words right. How did they say goodbye in the 1700s? Or greet each other after the Civil War? And when did the guard on a train engine change from  horse catcher to cow catcher?

bookThese are just a couple of the treasures that can be found in my favorite research books I Hear America Talking and Listening to America Talk by Stuart Berg Flexner. The books not only give a fascinating peek into the past, but keep me from using a word before its time.

And  You Thought You Knew

Your Cowboys

Word meanings have changed through the years, sometimes dramatically. The word cowboy is a good example. Today, it might conjure up an image of a romantic hero, but it was originally a disparaging term for colonial settlers who let their cows roam rather than plow the land. Wait. It gets worse. During the Revolutionary War cowboy was a term for loyalist guerrillas who used cowbells to ambush patriotic farmers.




Fooling Around Victorian Style

I write romance so I’m especially interested in courting terms. Oddly enough—terms changed every decade starting with the 17th century when couples billed and cooed. I find this interesting since TV and other media wasn’t around to influence language.


Skipping forward to the 1860s the word lollygag meant to kiss and caress. (Ten years later the word meant to waste time.) During the 1870s couples were said to be lovey dovey, but by the end of the decade couples walked out together.   By 1890 couples favored sitting in the parlor to walking. That’s because they were too busy making goo-goo eyes to watch where they were going.

Tush Matters

bearI recently had a heroine fall on her patootie.  That word has only been around since the 1920s and originally meant girl. So I knew I couldn’t use it. Oddly enough the backside seems to be the body part with the most synonyms. Much to my surprise I discovered that the word fanny has been around since the 1860s, though no one knows for sure who Fanny was and why her name was used in such an odd way. Back porch was used in the 1880s and the modern sounding butt appeared in writing as early as 1859.


With all this talk about rear ends, it’s surprising that Victorians considered the word legs crude. If they admitted to owning such things they always referred to them as limbs or stems. As for bosoms, they hardly seemed to exist much before World War II, at least in print.


cowboyjpgOh Perdition!

I’m careful not to use objectionable language, but there are times that “oh, darn” just doesn’t cut it. My characters tend to be a passionate lot. Fortunately for me, so were the Victorians as their many euphemisms for swear words attests. George, ginger, Godfrey, golly, gosh, gracious and gravy it are just a few of the ways annoyance or anger was expressed in polite society.


There was also gee willikens and gee wiz and of course doggone.   Surprisingly the term blankety blank has been around since the 1880s.


As for when to call a spade a shovel, we can all relax. Both words have been around since 900 A.D.


Thinking back to my childhood I realize some terms I grew up with no longer exist. A couch in our house was called a davenport back then–don’t ask me why. My husband still insists upon calling the ‘fridge an icebox. What about you? Any words or phrases in your past that are no longer relevant?


Get Ready for Margaret’s Exciting New

Undercover Ladies Series

Coming in December


Number 1



Updated: August 27, 2014 — 4:49 pm

The Victorian Parlor: aka The Chamber of Horrors


This past week I wrote a scene in which my cowboy hero was forced to sit in a formal parlor. It was during the 19th century age of clutter which meant the front room was filled to capacity with ornate furniture, needlepoint cushions, framed photographs, musical instruments, and enough froufrou to create a dusting nightmare. The poor man in my story couldn’t move without knocking over a beaded fringed lamp or a delicate music box. Worse, he had to trust his six foot parlor6two bulk to a spindly chair since no “sincere” furniture existed.

Parlors Were Never Designed for Comfort

A proper parlor had one purpose and one purpose alone; to showcase a woman’s gentility to all who entered.

In his book Domesticated Americans Russell Lynes describes the parlor as a chamber of horrors for children. “It (the parlor) set husband against wife, daughter against father and swain against maiden.” It also took a lump out of the family budget.

A Hostess Must Avoid Any Allusion to the Age, Personal Defects or Ill-manners of Guests

No one really knew how to act in a parlor and this unleashed a steady stream of articles and books on the subject. Not only were people counseled on how to enter a parlor without “Jiggling their bodies” but how to leave it.  Phrases, such as”What-d-ye call it,” “Thingummy,” “What’s his name,” or any such substitutes for a proper name or place were to be avoided at all costs.

Go Already!

The Ladies Indispensable Assistant explained the rules of exiting in great detail. “Don’t stand hammering and fumbling, and saying ‘Well I guess I must be going.’ When you are ready go at once.”

parlor2Parlor rules existed for every possible situation, even courting. Never was a man to sit with his “arms akimbo” or strike an awkward pose. Nor was he to enter a parlor without the lady’s invitation.

God Made Weather to Give Us Something to Talk About

Visitors were cautioned against talking about religion, politics, disease, dress or, heaven forbid, one’s self. Cookbook and etiquette writer Miss Leslie wrote that inquiring about a hostess’s children was to be done “with discretion.” Saying that a son “was the very image of his father,” could be offensive if the father was not a handsome man. Even then the visitor could be treading on ice if “the mother was vain and wished the children to look like her.”

Sparlor1everal things happened to make the parlor with its endless rules fall out of favor. Women were admitted to college and soon after entered the work force. No longer was a woman judged by her parlor but rather by her contributions to society.

The westward movement should also receive credit for putting sanity into the home. Though some pioneer women tried to carry the tradition westward, many soon learned the folly of such ways—much to their husbands’ gratitude.


Not all parlors died a quiet death. Some lingered into the twentieth century. As a child, I remember our next door neighbor’s parlor—and yes, that’s what she called it. Everything in it including the lampshades was covered in plastic which made a crinkling sound if you wiggled. Did any of you spend time in such a room?

Working Undercover is no Job for a Lady!

Click cover to pre-order book 1 in Margaret’s exciting new series

Petticoat Detective coversmall


A Kiss is Just a Kiss—Or Is It? (Yay! Book Giveaway)


A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point. That’s basic spelling that every woman should know. ~Mistinguet

You might wonder why I have kisses on my mind today. The answer is simple and it has something to do with my new release Four Weddings and a Kiss.

There are four novellas in the collection, written by Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher, Debra Clopton and me. But it’s the fifth story in the book which explains the kiss in the title.

A young minister bemoans having to break up with the woman he loves. She’s simply not suited to be a preacher’s wife. I mean we’re talking a woman who (gasp) plays rounders and sides with the church next door. That’s not all she does; she has also has the nerve to laugh in church!



 I’ll let you find out how that particular story ends by reading the book, but   to get you in the right mood here are some fun facts about—what else?—kissing!




  • Did you know that kissing prevents wrinkles? It’s true. Kissing uses twenty-nine face muscles and all that exercise helps keep your skin firm and smooth.

  • Kissing for one minute burns 26 calories. Hitting the lips for an hour sounds like a whole lot more fun than hitting the gym.

  • The average woman kisses eighty men before she marries (Harrumph. Now they tell me.  I’m how many men short?).

  • On average, a person spends two weeks of their lives kissing. (I know I’ve spent at least the amount time writing about kissing. Hey, it’s harder than you think.)

  • Men who kiss their wives before going to work live on the average five years longer than men who leave slamming doors.

  • Is kissing learned or instinctual? No one really knows for sure.kiss3

  • The film with the most kisses was Don Juan (1926). John Barrymore and Mary Astor shared 127 kisses. Don’t believe me? Count them.

  • Kissing is good for the teeth. All that extra saliva. . . So if you want to save on dental bills, you now know what to do.

  • Kissing releases the same neurotransmitters in the brain as bungee jumping and parachuting. I’ll have to take their word for this because I’m a great believer in keeping my feet grounded.

  • We all know that Xs at the end of a written letter represents kisses. But did you also know that signing a telegram with the numbers 88 was how our ancestors showed love and kisses?


Tell us about your first kiss or a favorite movie kiss and you could win a copy of Four Weddings and a You-Know-What!  And don’t forget to enter the drawing below.  We’re giving away a mini iPad.  Just click the picture below.


New Picture (1)

Updated: June 26, 2014 — 8:16 am


Charlene Newsletter Banner2


Hi Everyone!   I’m celebrating a milestone anniversary all week long.  I always say you have to live life in order to write about it. After all, most of what we write about comes from actual people we’ve known, places we’ve been, emotions we’ve experienced and love we’ve given and received.

So help me celebrate 40 years of love!  Yes, that’s right four decades married to a wonderful man whom I love dearly and who loves me back just as much.  I think that’s why I became a romance writer. For me, these stories are just an extension of my love for my own personal hero!

 Answer these fun questions:

Charlene and Don

Charlene and Don

1. Where was the above picture taken?

A.  At a wedding

B. At Charlene’s Class Reunion

C. At a Romance Writers Awards dinner

2.  Charlene and Don have:

A. One child

B. Two children

C. Three Children

3.  Charlene’s First Western novel was called:

A.  Bodine’s Bounty

B. Taming the Texan

C. Lily Gets Her Man

4  Charlene’s wedding reception was at:

A. The Secret Garden

B. Nob Hill

C. The Odyssey

5.  Charlene and Don’s favorite vacation spot is:

A. Palm Springs

B. Bass Lake

C. Lake Tahoe

D. All of the above.

Here’s a sneak peek at my next Desire.  I will give away 2 advance print copies of REDEEMING THE CEO COWBOY.  This is a July/ August release, so you’ll have to be patient.  As soon as I get my author copies, (think June) I’ll send one to the winners, before they even hit the shelves.  If you are willing to write a fair and honest review, all the better!  Just play the game and have fun.  I’ll be out celebrating, so I’ll pick my random winners on Sunday night…my real anniversary!

Ten years ago = ancient history…right? 

So what if former rodeo champion turned construction mogul Casey Thomas is back…living right next door? Susanna Hart is busy running her Sweet Susie’s pastry business and raising her two-year-old cousin. Why pay any attention to the man who took her virginity ten years ago, then left town? 

Casey still feels guilty for taking advantage of his little sister’s best friend. A helping hand is just what her business—and his conscience—need. But guilt isn’t his only motivation. Casey’s got a sweet tooth for Susie. And the more she resists, the sweeter it gets!

Thumbnail (1)

Updated: May 15, 2014 — 12:53 am

Lassoing Some Romance


Two New Anthologies!

Coming from Prairie Rose Publications May 20, 2014


I’m so excited to announce my next two releases, new short stories that are set in the town of River’s Bend, Missouri. There’s one story in each of two anthologies being released on May 20! One features Martha Bittner & Sheriff Matthew Tate, whom we met in COMING HOME; the other introduces Rebekah Snow Redmann, who turns out to be the perfect match for Martha’s brother, Franz.

LASSOING A BRIDE has five new stories from five award winning authors. Here’s a little taste of my story.


Lassoing a Bride Web

Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birt

h. He has good friends and enough income to provide with him a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.

Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back.  Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have…a love that will last forever.


For the ride to the schoolhouse where the dance would be held, Rebekah sat close to Franz in the rear seat of the sheriff’s carriage. It might have been scandalous, but the heat of his body warmed her and made her feel safe. And the heat in his gaze made her helpless to resist. Glancing around her, she smiled. “I haven’t been in anything like this since I left Boston.”

“Did you grow up in such a lifestyle?”

“Papa liked people to see how important he was. I didn’t care, really, but I enjoyed not having to walk everywhere.”


“Ah.” Of course, he understood immediately. “Because of your hip.”

Rebekah nodded. Her disfigurement used to embarrass her, but she’d survived so much in the past four years, the fact that she limped now seemed insignificant. “I was thrown from a horse when I was five. Mama tried to tell Papa I was too small to ride alone, but he insisted that any daughter of his would be a natural horsewoman.  Funny, I actually remember their argument more than my fall.” She fell silent, her parents’ angry words replaying in her mind. “Papa shouted at Mama and startled the horse. I couldn’t hold on. Fortunately my head landed on his boot rather than the stone of the courtyard, but I wasn’t able to walk right after that.”

“Then you must stay warm.” He leaned close to tuck the blanket around her and she took the opportunity to enjoy the spicy scent of his soap. Franz spent the rest of the short ride pointing out the things he most liked about River’s Bend. When they arrived at the schoolhouse, he helped her from the carriage and introduced her to the couple her stood waiting on the landing.

Mary Hawken was a sweet, bubbly, very pregnant woman. Next to her husband, Jericho, she seemed tiny. But the dress Rebekah wore fit perfectly and she knew she wasn’t small. Many times, Reginald had pointed out that he felt as if he had a clumsy giantess at his side. Pushing aside all thoughts of the man, she nodded at Mary & Jericho. “Thank you for loaning me your dress. It’s really beautiful.”

“That dress looks much better on you than it ever did on me. You should keep it.”

Rebekah was so stunned, she stopped walking. Even her own mother had never parted with a frock simply because it looked better on one of her daughters. Martha laughed and urged her forward, promising she’d get used to Mary’s way. Then they stepped inside the schoolhouse and all thoughts of gowns and gifts flew from her mind. She stared around her at the dozens of flowers and ribbons in a rainbow of colors. “It’s so beautiful.”

Martha seemed thrilled. “How very lovely it is.” Then Mary ordered the men to open the shutters—actually told those three, huge, strong men what to do! And they did it with laughter and smiles and jokes, not with arguments and fists and… No, she wouldn’t go there tonight. Squaring her shoulders, Rebekah joined the women who were now flowing into the room to see if she could help.

Franz left her alone for nearly an hour before he gently suggested she be seated. “You are not quite as healed as you feel right now.”

“But I should help—”

“You have already

done your share. There are others who can do this now.”

The women nearby assured her they would take over, so she allowed Franz to lead her to a chair away from the open door. When he leaned close in order to be heard over the musicians, a shiver that had nothing to do with a draft skittered down her back. He pointed out the mayor and the schoolteacher, the butcher and his wife, and a dozen others whose names she’d never remember. The musicians played a reel and her toes began tapping in rhythm.

“You enjoy dancing.”

“I do,” she admitted, “although I’m not very good at it because of my hip.”

Rising, Franz held out his hand. “Will you try a few steps with me?”

Oh, how she wanted to say yes. To take his hand and join the bouncing line of laughing dancers. But she had to work very hard at not showing her limp when she danced and she was too tired to do that. “I don’t think—”

“I don’t care that you do not walk perfectly. I only want to hold you for a moment or two.”

His gentle words stole her breath and sent her heartbeat racing. “I would love to dance with you, Franz.”


* * * * * * *


And featuring six short stories, LASSOING A GROOM


Lassoing a Groom WebMartha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only week

s away, Martha decides to announce her intentions—and declares the sheriff a wanted man.

Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore—until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.

“How can I help? I’m not as talented as you in the kitchen, but I can be useful.”

Martha brandished the sharpened knife, pointing to the bowl of potatoes. “Peel.”

“Yes, ma’am.” With a smart bow to her, he dropped onto the bench at the big, scarred table and set to work. “This is a lot for three of us.”

Martha returned to her basting. “Franz invited the blacksmith to join us.”

“Ah, Daniel Arnault. I see. Do you want these whole or cut in pieces?”

Surely, she only imagined disappointment in his tone. Turning to Matt, she stared at the sight of the tall, handsome sheriff peeling potatoes at her kitchen table. Then, his question registered. “Pieces, please. About the size of your thumb,” she clarified. “That way they cook faster, and dinner will not be late.”

On cue, his stomach growled in anticipation. “Obviously, we can’t have that.”

Martha laughed with him, enjoying the moment. She could so easily imagine them in the kitchen together every night, talking over his day, sharing dreams and plans and—

“Martha, what do you think?”

“What?” Had he asked her a question?

“You always look as if you enjoy singing, and Mr. Hart seems to know his business.”

She took a breath to calm her nerves. He asked about singing. “Yes, I do enjoy being in the church choir. Mr. Hart is a fine director. He has helped us all be better singers and chooses music that enhances the Reverend’s message. I believe Sunday mornings are more enjoyable now for everyone.”

“And Reverend Oltmann seems to have shortened his sermons a bit to allow for more songs. Yes, I think I will.”

“Will what?”

Matthew grinned. “Join the choir.”

Martha just knew her mouth was gaping open like a landed trout. “You sing?”

“I did, many years ago. Rather enjoyed it, as I recall. It will be a good way to meet more of the townspeople, don’t you agree?”

Ja, I mean, yes.” She moved to take the meat from the oven, but Matthew reached around her to lift the heavy pan.


“On the table, please.” She spread several large towels to protect the surface from the heat. “Thank you.”

Matthew turned and stepped just a little closer. “My pleasure, ma’am.”

His voice was deeper, rougher. It sent pleasant chills chasing along her skin.

“Matthew! Come back, now.”

The sheriff flinched at the sound of Franz’s voice, then retreated a step. Obviously, he didn’t wish to be found standing too close. Martha licked her suddenly-dry lips, fascinated when his eyes narrowed and followed the movement.

“Martha.” His voice was soft as a wish, making her tremble. Moving slowly, he brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. “I’m looking forward to dinner.” His gaze, deep and intense, held hers for several seconds before her turned and strode from the room.

Martha stood rooted to the floor as his footsteps faded. Even knowing she was alone, she couldn’t seem to break the spell he’d woven. He couldn’t wait for dinner? Was that all he wanted?

The spattering of boiling water on the hot stove forced her into motion. Mechanically, she went about whipping the potatoes with milk, butter and salt, and adding flour and butter to thicken the gravy. Hadn’t she seen something more in his eyes than desire for a meal?

Having so little experience, she wasn’t certain, but she thought Sheriff Tate was interested in more than beef and potatoes.

That should be a good thing, ja? But what if she was wrong?


Mark your calendar and place your order for LASSOING A BRIDE & LASSOING A GROOM, both coming May 20, 2014.

Visit Tracy at

For more information on these and other books coming from Prairie Rose Publications, visit their website,

The Lost Wagon Train

There’s nothing like a good mystery to capture our imagination and flight Malaysian airlines Flight 370 has certainly done that.  Such puzzling disappearances, however, are not new.  The Old West had some very intriguing mysteries of its own.  I especially like the following mystery because it’s also a love story.
WAGONIn the late nineteenth century, A wagon train with a half dozen teams disappeared without a trace in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The team leader was Edward Earle, a widower who left behind a five year old daughter named Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s aunt took over her care, but the child never stopped waiting for her father to walk in the door.  As she grew older the question continued to haunt her; how does a wagon train simply vanish?
At the age of twenty, Elizabeth took a teaching job to relieve her aunt of her care.  Around this time a young man by the name of Henry Merryweather began courting her, but she showed little interest in him or marriage.
Certain that her father’s mysterious disappearance was holding her back Merryweather set out to find the missing wagon train. It was now fifteen years later and his chances didn’t look good, but he was convinced that solving the mystery was the only way to win her heart.
After days of exploring the area where the wagon train was last seen he noticed a dam and small lake.  The young trees told him the lake had been formed fairly recently.  Looking up he realized the lake had been created by a major landslide.
Could this be the answer to the mystery that had haunted his beloved all these years?  After much digging he found a horse’s hoof. Convinced he was on the right track, he hired several men to help him dig.  It was a backbreaking job but they finally uncovered the wagon train that had been buried all those years.  Among the articles found was a strong box containing seven hundred dollars in cash belonging to Elizabeth’s father.  It also contained stock which had been worthless at the time of his death but had since gained in value.
Much to Merryweather’s profound relief Elizabeth was indebted to him for solving the mystery that had haunted her for so many years.  Not only did he win her hand in marriage—but also her heart.
 Let’s hope we don’t have to wait fifteen years to find out what happened to Flight 370.

What mysteries have kept you guessing?

NRCA-Icon Inspirational

Just found out that Gunpowder Tea is a finalist in the

National Readers Choice Award.  YAY!

Gunpowdertea1To order, click cover!


The Cowboy Contract 3One of the very nice things about being traditionally published with a publishing house is that there’s an  art department that deals with making marketable covers.  They take care of assigning models to represent your story on the cover of your book.  The author does have to fill out an Art Fact Sheet to describe the hero and heroine’s physical traits.  At the same time, the author also describes the theme of the story, any major turning points and locations of particular interest that would enhance the cover.   For me, the majority of the time, they’ve gotten it right.  Not that I’m always thrilled with my covers or titles, but for the most part I am. 

The one negative about being traditionally published is that the author has no control over the final artistic vision of the cover.  So when I received the rights back to a story I’d written, I decided to self-publish it.  I am still in the process of doing just that.  You may have heard me speaking about this book in the past. It’s been months – the major drawback?

We can’t find the right cover art.   Yes, there are pre-made covers available at several online sites and many images to go through, but believe it or not, there aren’t a slew to choose from bearing good-looking western/country/cowboys or scenes.  The Cowboy Contract

Well as luck would have it, my son-in-law is a photographer and he suggested that we do our own cover shoot.  He’s a talented guy and I only had to think about it for a few seconds before agreeing it was a great idea.  But that still left us with who to use for our hero and heroine.   

That’s where my daughter Nikki came in. She’s auburn-haired and petite just like my heroine. And their age range is the same.  Her dear friend, and Zac’s brother-from-another-mother, ( the best man at their wedding and Godfather to their little girl), Tony was willing to help out.  As you can see in the pictures, Tony is tall, dark and handsome- the perfect hero. 

We chose Paramount Ranch for the setting. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s where the series, Medicine Woman was originally filmed and the historical town is still set up, complete with livery stable, sheriff’s office, wagons, train depot and gorgeous landscapes of the Santa Monica Mountains.   On a side note, we took a field trip there with my nephew’s class years ago and saw them shoot one of the episodes. Jane Seymour made a special point to come out to speak to the children and she was lovely to them.   So, the area had always stuck out in my mind.   

We had a few poses in mind and I learned a lot about placement and lighting.  Believe it or not, near dusk is the best time to shoot.  Bright sunshine and the shadows are gone. We only had an hour of good lighting that day, but I am happy with the results. 

The Cowboy Contract 1So not only was I the babysitter of the cutest new little cowgirl in town, but I was helping with direction. I never thought I’d hear myself tell my daughter, get closer, hold him around the waist and look passionately into his eyes, to a man other than her hubby.   Many shoots were tossed out because everyone was laughing too hard. If nothing else, we had a great time!


Now, I need your help in deciding which picture best depicts the story and reflects the title. Keep in mind, this isn’t the finished product, there may be more graphics on the cover, but I’m asking what scene works the best.  I’ve captioned them by number.  I’ll pick three random winners  for a prize of one of my available backlist books.  I appreciate your input on this!!

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE COWBOY CONTRACT:

Trey Walker was cursed when it came to women, so he never expected to invite veterinarian, Maddie Brooks to live under his roof at 2 Hope Ranch. But the petite, wholesome redhead needed a place to stay and practice medicine after a fire in Hope Wells nearly cost her everything she owned.  And Trey needed her expertise.  The bargain they struck seemed to be made in heaven.  If only the Walker Curse wouldn’t rear its ugly head.

Maddie Brooks knew the temporary arrangement she made with Trey was strictly business.  For over a year she’d tried to get the handsome rancher to notice her, but the man simply wasn’t interested.  Now, she’d be living at his ranch and using his barn to treat animals.  She owed him her livelihood, but oh, how she wished for something more.   Would Trey give her reason to hope?

NIK and Tony












Nik and Tony 2





Nik and Tony 4


Nik and Tony 5













Updated: August 8, 2013 — 10:50 pm

Retro Week: Day Four-A Cowboy Comes A-Courting


 When a man’s on his knees proposing,

resist the urge to look triumphant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       -A Suitor for Jenny

It”s June, which partly explains why brides are very much on my mind. There”s also another reason:  A Bride for All Seasons, a collection I wrote with Robin Lee Hatcher, Debra Clopton and filly Mary Connealy, was released last week.   

A Cowboy Comes A-Courting originally ran February 20, 2011.  I don”t remember what I gave away then, but this time you”re in for a treat.  Karen Kay is giving away a copy of War Cloud”s Passion to one lucky person. 

A Cowboy Comes A-Courting

Cowboys had a way with words so it’s not surprising that they used some pur-ty colorful terms to describe matters of the heart, and that included courting.  “Gittin’ hitched” was serious business and spooning or sparking no less so.

 Nothing changed the concept of marriage and courting as much as the westward movement. Marriage offered a semblance of security in an unsettled land. For a widow or widower with children finding a spouse was a dire necessity. 

 Rules that had defined courtships for centuries went out the window. Marriages arranged by well-meaning parents were no longer the norm. Ordering a bride from a catalogue was and following the Civil War, dozens of marriage brokers sprang up.  Not all were scrupulous.

 Women asserting their rights politically also demanded matrimony democracy as well.  Demographics in the west were on their side for women were vastly outnumbered by men.  In the mid 1800s one man lamented that there was only sixty or seventy women in all of Houston.   He never said how many of those women he’d be willing to take home to mom.

 Couples took buggy rides; went on picnics;

cuddled in the hayloft; and danced at socials.

A man having fancy for a woman might give her a token.  If he was serious Unibet on todella erinomainen rahapelisivu, jota voi suositella lampimasti kaikille – ja muidenkin rahapelien – ystaville. he might even start hoarding coffee. Yep, that’s right coffee.  The coffee that won the west may have owed its popularity more to courtship than to taste or convenience.  John Arbuckle came up with what at the time was a unique marketing plan; He added coupons or vouchers to packages of coffee that could be redeemed for goods. Arbuckle’s catalog contained thousands of items. Twenty-eight coupons could get you a razor, for example, but the most popular item by far was the finger ring. 

 During the 1890s Arbuckle Brothers was the largest distributor of finger rings in the world.  In “Arbuckles” author Francis Fugate quotes a company official who bears this out: “One of our premiums is a wedding ring, and if all the rings of this pattern serve their intended purpose then we have been participants in eighty thousand weddings a year.”

 Getting married wasn’t always that easy. Some communities didn’t have a regular preacher and had to depend on a circuit preacher who might not show up for months at a time.  It wasn’t unusual for a saddle preacher to ride into town and find couples waiting to get married with toddlers in hand. 

 It might have been the gun that won the Wild, Wild West but it was love that tamed it.


Tell us about your courting days and you might win a copy of Karen”s

 fabulous book War Cloud”s Passion! 

To order, click on cover


Updated: April 14, 2015 — 3:08 pm



They say if you want something done, ask a busy person!

Raising my hand here!!   I’m ultra busy.  It seems to be the way of the world, so no complaints here.  There’s nothing I would trade in my life right now.  I’m blessed with a good family, nice home and recently two lovely granddaughters were added to the mix.  Little Everley is 16 months old and baby Kyra is 8 months old.  I watch them 2 to 3 days a week and it’s truly the highlight of my week.  The other hours are spent writing and I usually have 2 to 3 projects going at once. 

Right now, I’m working on a Harlequin Desire continuity called TEXAS RENEGADE RETURNS.  This story anchors the 9 book series and is a unique challenge for me to tie up loose ends of all 9 books and tell my hero’s story to a satisfying and hopefully compelling conclusion. 

It’s my next project that is baffling me. And I will admit to being frustrated with decisions that I don’t usually make on my own.

 I will be self-publishing a story that was one of my earlier works, called Like Lightning.   Luckily for me, my daughter is an editor and she’ll be my grammar guru.  One problem solved.

 The cover art will be pretty…not a clench scene or a sexy cowboy, but a cropped shot of a bride in a flowing lacy wedding gown, wearing cowgirl boots nestled next to a groom in cowboy boots.   We may not even see their faces. That’s to be determined by the cover artist.  Second problem solved.  

The original title (I never cared for…the cover and title an experiment for the line) really had nothing to do with storyline and now desperately needs a makeover. We’ve narrowed it down to a few titles and I’d love the wonderful bloggers at Petticoats and Pistols to give me your pick!  Will you help me solve Problem Three?  

Here’s is the story in a nutshell:

When a fire destroyed everything Maddie Brooks owned, rancher Trey Walker offered the pretty veterinarian a deal, he’d give her a place to stay and a barn to treat her animals if she’d help out at 2 Hope Ranch.  Maddie was sweet and sexy, and had “keeper” written all over her. But Trey didn’t dare act on the sizzling attraction between them—because of the Walker Curse.

Trey came from a long line of men who broke women’s hearts. And he was determined not to break hers, too. But with Maddie sleeping next door, she was impossible to ignore. He wanted to hold her, feel her body against his. He knew Maddie was the last woman on earth he should fall for. 

Which title do you find most appealing?  Which title would make you wonder about the story?  Which title would compel you to open the book and read the first few pages?

Rancher to Her Rescue

The Cowboy Contract

Contract with a Cowboy

Making Maddie Mine

Two Hope Cowboy

Cowboy Be Mine


I’ll be drawing a random winner today to win a book from my available backlist!! It’s the winner’s choice.  I hope to hear from all of you! And thanks for your help!!











Smooth-Talking the Hometown Girl my Digital Only book is 99 cents all during the month of March! 

 Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online retailers

Updated: March 5, 2013 — 8:04 pm

Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day …

I had so much fun with my last blog about Valentine’s customs and traditions that I thought it’d be enjoyable to look at some of the interesting facts surrounding the holiday.

The first one I found made me feel so much better about the times I’ve bought the cute little candy “conversation hearts” on sale after the holiday, saved them, and given them to my girls and now my grandchildren the following year. I figured they are already hard, so could they get any harder?  Well, I got my answer … they have a shelf life of five years.  Don’t know about you guys, but I do feel better about my frugality.

Then I found out something that made me feel not so good about my deception. They introduce about ten new candy “conversation heart” sayings each year. Recent additions have included “Yeah Right,” “Puppy Love,” and “Call Home.”

I love chocolate, but then who doesn’t?  Richard Cadbury produced the first box of Valentine chocolates in the late 1800’s.

Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936 and has become widely popular. However, because of a translation error made by a chocolate company, only women buy Valentine chocolates for their spouses, boyfriends, or friends. In fact, it is the only day of the year many single women will reveal their crush on a man by giving him chocolate. The men don’t return the favor until White Day, a type of “answer day” to Valentine’s Day, which is on March 14th.

The symbol of the ribbon, which often adorns modern-day Valentines, is rooted in the Middle Ages. When knights competed in tournaments, their sweethearts often gave them ribbons for good luck.

The rose has historically been a symbol of love, and on Valentine’s Day, nearly 189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S.  The red rose was the flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The most popular flower is a single red rose surrounded with baby’s breath.

Different colored roses have special meanings. Red means love, yellow means friendship, and pink means friendship or sweetheart. Red carnations mean admiration, white carnations mean pure love, red chrysanthemums mean love, forget-me-nots mean true love, primrose means young love, and larkspur means an open heart.

In 2010, 25% of adults bought flowers or plants as a Valentine’s gift. Of these, 60% were men and 40% were women. Men mainly bought flowers for romantic reasons, while women bought flowers for their mothers and friends as well as their sweethearts.

A True Love Knot, or Endless Knot of Love, was a very popular Valentine in England and the U.S. in the seventeenth century. As their name implies, these Valentines were drawn as a knot and could be read from any line and still make sense.

According to Welsh tradition, a child born on Valentine’s Day would have many lovers. A calf born on Valentine’s Day, however, would be of no use for breeding purposes. If hens were to hatch eggs on Valentine’s Day, they would all turn out rotten.

Some events that happened on Valentine’s Day, as well as famous people born include John Barrymore (1882), Jimmy Hoffa (1913), Jack Benny (1894), Carl Bernstein (1944), Renée Fleming (1959), and Florence Henderson (1934).

Groundhog Day was originally observed on February 14th.  On Valentine’s Day 2010, 39,897 people in Mexico City broke the record for the world’s largest group kiss. Oregon and Arizona were admitted to the Union (1859 and 1912, respectively), James Polk became the first president photographed while in office (1848),UPS (United Parcel Service) was formed (1919), the League of Women Voters was established (1920), Aretha Franklin recorded “Respect” (1967), Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House (1971), the U.S. performed a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site (1976), and Voyager I took a picture of the entire solar system (1990).

Americans spend around $277 million on Valentine cards every year, second only to Christmas. Approximately one billion Valentine’s are sent each year around the world. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, and wives. Children between the ages of 6-10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine cards a year.

The first American Valentine was produced in 1834 by New York engraver Robert Elton, and Esther Howland (1828-1904) was the first person to create Valentines to sell in the United States. She first patented a lacy Valentine in 1844—and by 1860 her factory was selling thousands of valentines, earning over $100,000.

Each year 300,000 letters go through Loveland, Colorado, to get a special heart stamp cancellation for Valentine’s Day. By the way, my mother and father were married in Loveland in August of 1945. There is also a Valentine, Texas, but not for any romantic reason. The first train to arrive there happened to do so on February 14th… it’s just one of our Texas things.

A common symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid (“desire”), the Roman god of love. The son of Venus and Mars, he was originally depicted as a young man who would sharpen his arrows on a grindstone whetted with blood from an infant, though now he is commonly presented as a pudgy baby. This transformation occurred during the Victorian era when business owners wanted to promote Valentine’s Day as more suitable for women and children.

Valentine Writers” were booklets written in 1823 by Peter Quizumall to help those who couldn’t think up Valentine verses on their own.

Picking out my favorite piece of information was easy.  If anyone wants to know if I’ve given them this year’s box of conversation hearts or one I picked up on sale the year before, they’ll have to read each one and compare them to a newly purchased box.  Okay, if they have “Right on Man”, “Flower Power”, “Peace” or “Make Love, Not War” then I’d strongly suggest you not eat them.

May each of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  I will give away a copy of fellow filly, Linda Broday’s and my newest anthology Be My Texas Valentine to one lucky commenter today.

Updated: January 30, 2012 — 9:59 pm