Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.

Heather Blanton

Hey, y’all! It’s an honor and a thrill to be back visiting you here at Petticoats and Pistols. You know, the name of this blog says it all. At least for me. Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.

My new book, A Scout for Skyler, from the Mail-Order Mama series, has been described as Pride and Prejudice meets The Beverly Hillbillies.

Yes, it’s a comedy, but my heroine, Priscilla Jones, was written as a serious tribute to some of the most amazing pioneer women in American history.

Over the years, my research has introduced me to some gals who defied expectations and overcame some impossible situations. Sometimes, it was life-and-death. Other times, it was a matter of life—hers, and how she wanted to live it.

As I was writing A Scout for Skyler, I had these historical figures in my head:

Of course, when we think of rough-and-rowdy frontier women, the first one to come to mind should be Calamity Jane. She lived in a man’s world. Smoke, drank, chewed, and fought with the best of them.

Orphaned at twelve, left to care for five brothers and sisters, Calamity did not shirk her duty. Most likely she did work as a prostitute early on to provide for the family. She left the lifestyle behind, though, by learning to shoot and throw a respectable punch. Everyone who knew Calamity did respect her courage and her kindness. She rescued a runaway stage from a Cheyenne war party and nursed some Deadwood residents back to health during a smallpox epidemic. The only thing Calamity couldn’t do was win Hickock’s heart.

Susan McSween watched her husband get gunned down in the street during the Lincoln County War. Livid over his murder by a US Army colonel in cahoots with the Murphy-Dolan gang, she stayed in town and hired an attorney to fight for justice. He was soon murdered, as well. Susan still didn’t back down or leave. She changed tactics. She figured out the best way to get back at the corrupt forces in Lincoln County was to hit them in the pocketbook.

Susan McSween was a shrewd businesswoman and she put all her efforts into frustrating her nemesis, James Dolan. Eventually, she became the Cattle Queen of New Mexico, at one point running nearly 5,000 head of cattle. Best of all, she outlived all her enemies.

And I thought of Nancy Hart, a patriot on the frontier of North Georgia. The Cherokee named her War Woman because she was fearless and an accurate shot (even with crossed eyes). Her real legend came about when she killed six British soldiers with their own guns.

Six.

I could go on and on. The women who built this country were tough, stubborn, and courageous. Suffice it to say, the things my girl Priscilla Jones does in A Scout for Skyler—she’s totally capable of them. Because real heroines have gone before her.

My hero, Captain Corbett, is an arrogant Scotsman who believes women should have babies not opinions. How well do you think an attitude like that would have gone over with the rough-and-tumble Calamity Jane, or the fiery, refined Susan McSween?

In A Scout for Skyler, all these ladies have a voice, and the story was a hoot to write. Talk about fireworks and sassy dialogue.

A Scout for Skyler is part of the multi-author series, Mail-Order Mama. All the stories are stand-alones but have one thing in common: the mail-order bride is a surprise. I hope you’ll check them all out.

To buy a copy of A Scout for Skyler click here.

To visit Heather’s website click here.

GIVEAWAY!! Today, I’d like to give TWO random commenters ebooks of A Scout for Skyler. So, tell me, do you have a favorite heroine from history? Belle Starr, Amelia Earhart? Pocahontas? Or…?

The Heart’s Charge – My Favorite Scene

Want a pair of ruggedly handsome Horsemen to charge into your life for a few hours and get your heart pumping with adventure and swoon-worthy romance? Let me introduce you to Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks – the heroes of The Heart’s Charge, my latest release. These men are seasoned ex-cavalry officers with a calling to help those in need. Even if those who need them are homeless children society deems beneath their notice. And when they team up with a pair of passionate women who run the local foundling home, more than one heart will be charging into the fray.

When I first starting researching this story, I knew I wanted it to be set in a small town that was relatively secluded. Enter Kingsland, TX – a town surrounded on three sides by water. Kingsland was founded at the place where the Colorado and Llano Rivers meet, and during the time period for my story, the only way to get into town from the east was to cross a bridge built for the railroad.

I love to study old town maps when I am setting a story in a real place, but Kingsland, TX was never incorporated, so I had a difficult time finding any historic maps of the area. I reached out to the Chamber of Commerce, and they were kind enough to point me in the direction of local historical John Hallowell. Mr. Hallowell generously shared his research with me, including some photographs and personal recollections of that railroad bridge being used for pedestrian traffic. School children crossed it to get to school. People traveling from Burnet County would leave their horses or wagons on the Burnet side then cross the bridge to conduct their business in Kingsland. All of these facts fueled my imagination as I plotted.

However, the most colorful piece of history I uncovered was the fact that people vividly remembered mistiming their crossing on this bridge, and having to make dramatic climbs onto the support piers in order to avoid being hit by a train. I knew I had to use this tidbit at some point in my novel.

Railroad Bridge from the Kingsland Side. The stone pillars are from the original bridge that was built in 1892.

I visited Kingsland during the course of writing the book, and I saw the bridge in question. It still stands today, though a few additional concrete pillars have been added over the years for extra support. Note how there is no railing or trestles or anything to add stability for the people who crossed this bridge. And the Colorado River is no trickling stream. Falling in would spell disaster. Yet school children crossed it every day! I was brave enough to walk out on the bridge to the edge of of the shore, but that was as far as I dared. I had no desire to act out the scene I was plotting in my head, especially since I had no idea if the tracks were still in use.

Bridge from the Burnet Side. I walked a few feet out on the bridge from this side.

Here is the start of the scene that was inspired by this bridge research, a scene that would become one of my favorites in the entire novel.

Katherine clutched Mark’s arm. It didn’t matter if Alice could recognize the man or not. She was putting herself in his path, and if he spotted her, she could be taken, just like the others.

“We’ve got to get to her. Now!”

Mark nodded but took the time to shake the porter’s hand in thanks. Katherine didn’t. Leaving the men behind, she hoisted her skirt above her ankles and sprinted across the platform and down into the street. People turned to stare as she raced past, but she paid them no mind. Her only thought was to follow the railroad tracks and get to the bridge.

Mark called out to her, but she didn’t look back. He’d catch up soon enough. Nor did she hesitate to mount the tracks and start across the bridge. People crossed this bridge on foot every day. Heavens, children from Hoover’s Valley walked across it every morning to come to school in Kingsland.

Once on the bridge, she hiked her skirt up a bit more and watched the placement of each hurried step. There were no railings and no trestles to protect her from falling into the Colorado River below should she lose her balance.

“Kate!” Mark called, much nearer now. “Stop!”

She lifted her head to judge how far she’d come. Almost halfway. And there, across the river, she spied a pair of horses at the end of the bridge. A small child in boy’s clothing moved between them. Alice! Katherine’s heart soared.

“I see her!” She halted momentarily and glanced over her shoulder, her excitement building.

Mark stood on the tracks at the edge of the bridge, waving her toward him. “Come back!” he yelled.

Go back? No. They had to go forward. Get to Alice before she was lost to them again. She shook her head and resumed picking her way across the bridge. Faster now. Nearly at a run. Alice was on the other side. In danger. Nothing else mattered.

But two-thirds of the way across, she realized she was wrong. Something else did matter. Something barreling toward her with such speed that the tracks convulsed beneath her feet. The deep, haunting moan of a train whistle pierced her ears and her heart.

The 6:50 from Burnet. Heading straight for her.

Giveaway!

I’ll be giving away 2 copies of The Heart’s Charge today.

For a chance to win, leave a comment about a favorite bridge-related memory
or about a bridge you would love to visit one day.

 

 

Julie Benson’s Winner!

Debra J Pruss

Congratulations, Debra!

Look for an email from me for how to claim your giveaway.

Thank you to everyone who spent part of the day sharing ways to stay positive. May all the positive energy you put out into the universe be returned to you threefold.

                                                                                                     Julie

 

Thinking Positive Takes Work

I love when God or the universe if you prefer, tells me exactly what I need to hear some days. And it’s even better when that reminder leads to not only one blog post, but two! This happened last month as I struggled to find a post topic. When I went to Starbucks to pick up my morning tea, I said I couldn’t think of a topic for my post. The fabulous manager and incredibly perceptive person, Caitlyn said, “And now you’re putting that negative energy out there.”

 

Caitlyn’s words reminded me I’d been backsliding on positive thinking. (Click here for the post inspired by a dear friend Jinger who started my positive thinking journey.) I smiled and responded, “I don’t know why I’m worried. I’ll think of something. I always do.” My fear eliminated, at home when I read through my blog ideas, the file entitled “Sayings that tick me off” caught my eye. Thinking someone else might need a gentle nudge about turning a negative into a positive, I wrote this post.

Do you see a woman’s face or a man playing an instrument?

Just as the picture here illustrates, most things come down to how we view them. One saying on my ticked me off list was “too blessed to be stressed.” For me, this felt too Pollyanna and like ignoring stress. I can’t do that. Plus, stuffing things down never works. (But they make for great books!) I need to actively fight stress. I prefer the staying “Pray more. Worry less.” or “Be Still” Psalm 46.10. Then there’s “Stars don’t shine without the darkness.” Yes, we know the road will at times be rough for everyone. But when stuck in the darkness, thinking rough times makes the good moments shine brighter offers me no comfort. I prefer, “Stars don’t shine in the day.” That reminds me day will come, though the night feels endless. It also says something positive can come out of what has happened. Though that thought doesn’t make going through difficult times easier. However, when the night recedes, just as it’s easy to forget the stars during the day, it’s easy to forget what I learned.

Sometimes simply changing a word can change a negative to a positive. Can’t to can is the obvious one. But here’s another less obvious example. Instead of saying I’m struggling to find a post topic, what if I say I have to work to find them? The first is negative, while the second if positive. I have to work to discover topics indicates I will find one. The hard work will pay off. For me to remain positive, I have to watch for words like struggled that can trip me up.

How did I get two posts out of Caitlyn’s comments? When I saved this post under May’s scheduled date, I discovered my day was May 5. I thought if I posted these musings for June and wrote about the history of Cinco de Mayo for May I’d be ahead for once!

Today I’m giving away the T-shirt pictured here and a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy since that book was released when I started my positive thinking journey. The heroine, Cheyenne also refuses to let her medical issues destroy her positive attitude. To be entered in the random drawing, share your favorite positive thinking advice or how you keep a positive attitude.

Margaret’s Grand Adventure & Book Giveaway

I’ve always loved writing Mail Order Bride books.  I often wonder if I would have had enough nerve to travel across the country to marry a stranger.

Many women did so out of necessity. The Civil War created not only an abundance of widows but also a shortage of men.  Many women needed marriage just for survival.  Single women had a hard time making it alone in the East. This was especially true of widows with young children to support.

Still, the thought of a woman traveling thousands of miles to an unknown future is hard to comprehend. 

Would I have done it? 

I like to think I was adventurous enough or at least brave enough to have done it.  However, recently, I found myself in a situation that makes me now know I’m basically a coward at heart.  Yep, I would have lived and died an old maid had I lived in the 1800s.

How do I know this? It all came about when a friend of mine insisted I sign up for one of those online dating sites.  She said it was nothing more than a modern-day Mail Order Bride registry like they had in the Old West.  After initially resisting, I finally gave in.  I figured if nothing else I would get a story out of it.

Lo and behold, I was contacted by a man who was also a widow and lived locally.  He suggested we meet for lunch at a nearby restaurant.  He seemed nice enough, so I said okay.  Writers will do almost anything for a story, right?

The restaurant happens to be one and a half miles from me, but it felt like a three-thousand-mile journey.  A zillion thoughts went through my mind, mainly having to do with ax murderers.

I Almost Chickened Out

There were umpteen places to turn around and I considered every last one of them.  By the time I reached the restaurant, my hands were glued to the steering wheel.

I was about to race for home when I spotted a nice-looking tall man waiting by the door.  I opened the window and croaked, “Are you Jim?”

He said that he was and that was the beginning of an amazing whirlwind romance.  Who would have ever thought such a thing possible?   He is a wonderful man and I’m so lucky to have found him.  We laughed because it turns out he had been just as nervous that first day as I had been.

Jim and I are getting married on June 5th and since we plan on doing a lot of traveling, this is my last blog.  I’ll miss you all but will come back to visit.  You can’t keep us fillies away from the barn for long.

Thank you so much for your great support through the years.  Just for the fun of it, I’m giving away an eBook copy of my book, The Outlaw’s Daughter.  Ah, but you’ve got to answer the following question to qualify for the drawing.

Have you or would you ever consider trying an online dating site?

Amazon

It’s Game Day With Linda Broday!

 

Hey, It’s Game Day, Everyone!!

Games are such fun and keep us young. When I was growing up, a favorite time was when our family all gathered around the kitchen table and playing a board game called Aggravation. It’s similar to Sorry. We loved it so much, my dad made the board of wood. It kept us entertained for hours. I can still hear my mom’s laughter even though she’s been gone for years. Such special times.

Today, we’re going to play FILL In The Blanks. My sentences need completing. Use any words from the bottom to fill in the blanks and you can make them plural or singular. If you want to get really creative, you can insert anything of your own . Let’s make these really funny. I need to laugh.

I’m giving a $10 Amazon gift card. Everyone who comments will be entered in the drawing.

 

“Reach for the ___________ or I’ll blow _________ on your ___________,” Black Bart growled.

Grapes     Coconut     Watermelon      Dandelions      Paper towels       Kleenex      Cow Snot      Moon Pies    Ceiling    Bicycle     Gravel      Cookie Dough     Dictionary      Debit card      Blood      Pickles    Library Card      Dishwasher    Pencils    Romance Novel

Good Luck, everyone!

Winnie’s Winner

A big thank you to everyone who stopped by to tell me about their train adventures on Monday. The winners of their chaice of any of my backlist books are:

February Jones

Linda Klager

Congratulations to both of you. Just check out my list of books (https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ), then contact me via my website with the title you selected and your mailing info.

HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY TO US!

Howdy!

It’s my husband’s and my 25th anniversary today!!

So, I thought we might talk about love today, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love with my husband, Paul.  The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale of finding love again began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California my home, although I wasn’t born there.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…and here I was a romance writer.

So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I have known and loved since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….

But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.

So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  (I believe it was Paul’s first blind date, also.)  The gentleman (Paul) picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.

The date was good, but perhaps a little conservative.  I think I was a little stand-offish.  (Remember I wanted nothing to do with men, romance, marriage.)  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called during the week that followed, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, “so long” sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and we’ll just get on with our lives” …or something like that.  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”

I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  So I accepted.

Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite some kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware he meant it.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world were spinning — but in a good way.  Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”

Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.  Interestingly, I’ve recently had the occasion to read the book again, as it will be coming out soon in the 25th Anniversary edition of the book, and I was reminded while reading the book how much I fell in love with this man.  As I was reading it, I said to my husband that all the love I felt for him is in that book.  Indeed, I think the character of Gray Hawk underwent a change in personality and became more and more the personality of the man I love.

Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can not bring myself to take them down, even though it’s 25 years later.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.

I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes who once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.

To the left here is the e-book cover of GRAY HAWK’S LADY, but, as I said, it’s going to be coming out fairly soon as a 25th Year Anniversary book so instead of giving this book away, I’ll be giving away a paperback copy of the book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR.

And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!

Happy Anniversary to the man I love!

 

It’s Picnic Time with Jodi Thomas

 

Jodi Thomas

                                                      Check below to see what Jodi is giving away!


Everyone knows writers live in other worlds inside their minds. Characters chatter, people get shot, couples fall in love, all surrounded in a make-believe world.

Then the doorbell rings or your cell chimes and the writer has to step out of one world and step into reality. The only way I can explain the fast change is it’s like changing trains while both are going 100 miles an hour.

So, as a writer for thirty years, I’ve become accustomed to jumping from racing trains. Only lately, I’ve been writing more because I’m staying home. More books, more fiction, more worlds to live in.

Right now I’m promoting one book, PICNIC IN SOMEDAY VALLEY.  I’m doing edits on DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL and writing Book 4 in the series.

Since I have about twenty-five characters in each book, that is 75 people running around in my brain.

People ask me if I’m lonely during this time. How could I be?  There is a party going on in my study.

When a writer’s brain begins to shatter, what happens?  Nothing. It’s just part of the job. I don’t need TV. I’ve already got too many channels in my head.

And, I love it. I never get my characters mixed up but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I don’t call my son by a character’s name.

Last week my agent called and asked if I had an idea for the next series. I smiled and opened another channel.

I hope you’ll grab your favorite food and drink and enjoy a picnic with your family and friends. Let me know which character from any book you would love to have a picnic with. I would love to give away a copy of PICNIC IN SOMEDAY VALLEY to one lucky winner. Giveaway rules apply.

Enjoy,  Jodi

 

 Amazon