Character Names

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. As I write this blog I’m getting ready to start work on a new book. I’ve done some pre-writing – thinking about my characters backstory, what’s hurt them in their pasts and what motivates them in the present and touched on what their goals are, but now I’m ready to put pen to paper, start the story, and really figure out who they are.

That is both a very exciting thing and a scary thing for me. Exciting because at this point there are so many fun and adventurous new possibilities stretching out in front of me. Scary because there is always that little niggling worry that I won’t be able to do justice to the story as I try to translate what’s in my head to the actual manuscript.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. This book will feature twin sisters – one will be the heroine of this book and one will be the heroine of a future book. I’ve been trying to name these two ladies and I’m finding it a bit more difficult than usual.

Do I give them similar sounding names like Amanda and Miranda, Hilda and Wilda, Annabel and Isabel, Connie and Bonnie.  Or maybe I should go with themed names like Ruby and Opal, Summer and Autumn, Daisy and Lily, Iris and Rose, Fern and Ivy, Flora and Fauna, Scarlet and Violet? Or just name them like I would any other siblings? After all I have twin daughters of my own and deliberately didn’t chose matchy-matchy names – they are Lydia and Melissa.

There are other people as well as places and things I’ll need to name in these books of course.

There are the heroes naturally. Right now I am thinking I’ll name them Wyatt Hayes (a ranch hand) and Gavin Burns (a small town lawyer) but that may change as I figure out who they really are.  For the town name, I’m waffling between Larkin and Crossvine.  And one of them owns a dress shop – should I name it after her (Miss such-and-such’s Dress Shop) or after the town (Crossvine’s Fashion Emporium) or something altogether original (Purple Plume Fashions)?

But back to my dilemma over naming my twin heroines – what do you think, which approach should I take? And based on your answer, do you have any suggestions for actual names?

Give me your thoughts in the comments below and you’ll get your name in the hat to win a copy of one of my backlist books AND a fun Christmas ornament.

Are We Speaking the Same Language?

 

Soon after having my first son (I now have three), I realized how males and females possess dissimilar views the world. We also speak and communicate differently. This realization and my sons have helped me be a better writer and create more realistic heroes. At least, I hope so!

 

When my heroes talk, I keep in mind there are phrases that guys just don’t say. Here’s the ever-growing list I search for to eliminate on my final edit.

I don’t think…

What if we…

How about if…

You may have to…

You might want to…

Think about… (or as I say qualifying it further, “Think about maybe…”)

I thought we might…

 

 

Men don’t qualify what they say or soften the blow. They tell others what needs to be done. Period. In clear, concise terms. What if someone doesn’t like it? Tough. We women worry about hurting someone’s feeling. Goodness, we don’t want anyone getting mad over what we say. And where does that come from? Anyone else raised as I was to avoid conflict at any cost? I see all the raised hands from here in Texas.

 

I’m not sure this illustrates my point, but then who cares?

 

For example, here’s setting up a lunch date between two female friends and two male ones.

Women’s Conversation:

“Where would you like to go to lunch?”

“I don’t know. What sounds good to you?”

“Anything. You choose. Wherever you want to go is fine with me.”

“I was thinking Italian.”

“Actually, I had that last night.”

“That’s alright. We can have something else. What do you suggest?”

“Anything but Italian is great, and if you’re really in the mood for that, I don’t mind having it again.”

Five minutes later, the women will hopefully have decided on a time and place.

 

Men’s Conversation:

“You hungry?”

“Yup.”

“Pizza?”

“Sounds good. Make mine pepperoni and green peppers.”

 

This leads into my next point. Women use around 20,000 words as day versus the paltry 7,000 men use. Guys are like Sergeant Joe Friday in Dragnet. They keep it to just the facts. They don’t embellish or add emotion to the story. (When I taught fourth grade writing, that was the hardest thing for boys to learn—to add their feelings to their writing.) Nor do men notice the same details women do. Women notice what people wear, jewelry, outfits, shoes, and hair. My heroine might think a friend’s dress is aqua, but then qualify if as turquoise, but not the blue kind, the type that has a green hue. Guys? They’ll say it’s blue if they notice the color. But a car? Men will often know the make, model, color, how much horsepower it has, and Lord only knows what else. Me? I’m lucky if I know how many doors the car had. This can be fun, though, giving a character an unusual trait such as the heroine being a car expert or a sharpshooter as in The Andy Griffith Show when his date, Karen beats him in shooting competition. Or I might have a hero who has two or more sisters notice details other heroes won’t.

 

Men are also fixers. That’s why when women talk, they often jump in with solutions. They don’t realize we merely want to vent and need another human being to listen. This makes for great conflict, especially if the heroine assumes the reason the hero’s offering solutions is because he thinks she can’t solve the problem or needs his help.

 

For me to write strong characters I had to understand how people are different and how those distinctions create conflict. It’s not that these traits are right or wrong. They’re simply facts. I find if I don’t remember them when I’m writing, especially from my hero’s point of view, my hero doesn’t come off as real to me, and if I don’t fall in love with him, I know none of you will.

 

GIVEAWAY:  To be entered in today’s random giveaway for the credit card holder, coaster, and signed copy of To Tame a Texas Cowboy, leave a comment on what you think is the biggest difference between men and women–other than the obvious Y chromosome, that is. Lol!

Texas Ranching History – by Debra Holt

“Other states are carved or born;

Texas grew from hide and horn.”

                                            — Bertha Hart Nance, 1932

 

Texas ranching has a long and storied history. Its roots go back to 1493 when Christopher Columbus made his second visit to Hispaniola. He brought with him several head of cattle, who were the ancestors of the Texas Longhorns bred throughout the state today.

The 16th and 17th centuries saw cattle ranching advance through Mexico and into modern-day Texas. The first cattle ranch was found in the El Paso region, where several thousand cattle were raised. These early ranches were formed by Spanish missionaries; private ranches would arise in the mid-18th century.

The Mexican War of Independence destroyed the Spanish missionary ranches. The Austin colony was formed at the end of the war, attracting Anglos to come stake a claim on the land and the cattle on it. They brought their eastern cattle to breed with the Spanish cattle, and the result was the Texas Longhorn.

The U.S. annexed Texas in 1845, and it spread out land for railways and new settlements. There was plenty of land to go around, and the demand grew high for beef. The cowboy system we’ve come to hold so dear began around this time.

It wasn’t just men who worked on the ranches; women were important to ranch operations, too. One woman, a former slave named Julia Blanks, helped with roundups, planted crops, raised up animals, and helped with the cooking during roundups on the Adams Ranch.

Her daughters followed in her footsteps — “My oldest girl used to take the place of a cowboy, and put her hair up in her hat. And ride! My goodness, she loved to ride.”

The first woman who led a cattle drive was Margaret Borland. After her husband passed, she became the sole owner of the Victoria ranch and 8,000 longhorns. Six years later, she had 10,000 cattle in her care. In 1873, she became the first female trail boss, leading 2,500 longhorns, her three children, and several cowboys up the Chisholm Trail into Kansas.

In recent years, ranches have had to adopt newer ways of bringing income, as the cost of cattle and maintaining the land has risen. The historic YO Ranch let its land for hunting and outdoor recreation. The Matador Ranch soon followed suit.

This past spring, the last ‘grande dame’ of the Texas ranching world was laid to rest. And last month, one of the few remaining ranching ‘empires’ went on the chopping block.

I call it a chopping block because here in Texas, far too many of our great and historic ranches have been sold to the highest bidder (usually someone residing outside the country, let alone the state) and chopped up into smaller pieces, the land and its resources plumbed until nothing worth anything remains, and a vital chapter of our Texas heritage and history has been wiped clean.

This sad fate of a place I consider to be a bit of Texas heaven inspired this story and this series — the Texas Heritage series.

In the first book, The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal, we meet the two granddaughters of Sarah McNamara Burkitt…Laurel Annabella and Samantha Josefina. The heroine of this first book will be Samantha, aka Sammi Jo. She has just been handed a hard blow when her older sister shares the finer points of their grandmother’s will.

GIVEAWAY

Stop a minute and comment about a piece of your heritage that still impacts your life today.

One lucky commenter will receive a free copy of The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal!

Purchase The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal here

Find Debra online at her website here

To Invite Parents Into A Story or Not

Many of my books deal with the theme of family of choice. There are a couple reasons why. I’ve always been geographically separated from family and then later, I became estranged from my parents. This changed my writing and my definition of family.

Another reason I turned to this theme is because having parents–ones who have a solid relationship with their children, offer advice when asked without dictating, forgive their children, are mentally healthy, and set good examples–is tough. At least for me, they muck up a story. They often keep their children from making bonehead mistakes that drive a story and create conflict. Why? Partly because they’ve raised children to consider options before acting, gave them a solid moral base, and are present during rough times.

That’s why either my hero or heroine often have past issues from with one or both parents. Let’s face it. Anyone who’s a parent has worried about screwing up their kid. I often joked I hoped I wouldn’t botch parenting so bad my kids spent spent in a therapist’s office. But in romance novels, emotionally damaged characters make for create conflict and character growth. How we’re raised, our emotional baggage and wounds, taint how we see the world and influence our every relationship. For example, Zane in To Marry a Texas Cowboy has major family baggage. Like two  large suitcases and a trunk’s worth.

 

Here’s an excerpt that shows how two relationships shaped Zane’s life.

“Why isn’t your old man helping out?”

“He’s in Europe trying to patch up marriage number three. Good thing, too, because he’d be a worse choice than her assistant.” How could folks as wonderful as his grandparents have raised such a shit for a son? Someone who would lead two completely separate lives with two families?

“I’m thinking a man who breaks out in hives when he hears the word wedding has no business managing a wedding planning company,” Cooper said. “If you ask me, that’s looking for trouble.”

Zane wouldn’t let  Grandma Ginny, the one person who’d been there for him his entire life, loving him unconditionally and acting as a guiding force, put her future at risk. He’d do anything this side of legal for her.

Even run Lucky Stars Weddings.

 

Another thing I like about parental absence in my stories is it allows friends to occupy a prominent role. I love creating banter between good friends, who as Elbert Hubbard says, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” That kind of friend will also tell you when you’re being an ass, and often do in my books.

 

Here’s an example of the heroes in To Tame a Texas Cowboy, who view themselves as family.

“What did this one do? Is she another one with a hyena in heat laugh?” Ty asked, pulling Cooper back to the conversation.

AJ dug his wallet out of his back pocket. “Nah, can’t be that. Not even Coop could find two of those. Ten bucks says this one talked too much.”

“I’m still here, guys, and I’d rather skip the psychoanalyzing session. If you’re interested, I think I can scrounge tickets to the Alabama game. If we can beat them, we’ve got a real shot at the national title,” Cooper said, hoping to channel the conversation onto football and off his love life, or lack thereof.

“I say Coop connected with this one on Facebook, and she posts pictures of her food all the time.” Ty tossed a ten on top of AJ’s, completely ignoring Cooper’s change of subject.

Damn. He was in trouble if tickets to the A&M Alabama game failed to divert his buddies.

Zane tossed a bill on the stack and rubbed his chin while he flashed a perfect white smile at the women two tables over who’d been giving him the eye.

When he glanced back at his friends, he said, “I peg her as the strong, assertive type who’s recently divorced and is still in her angry phase. I say she complained about her ex.”

His friends stared, waiting for him to declare the winner. Betting wasn’t much fun when he was the topic. While AJ and Ty weren’t correct now, in the past, he’d lost interest in women for both the reasons they predicted. Tonight, Zane came damn close. Too close.

“Zane, sometimes you’re damn scary when it comes to women. How do you do it?”

“Years of extensive research.” Zane grinned as he scooped up the cash.

 

So, that’s why I often don’t include a parent or parents in my stories. Another time I’ll chat about the couple times I have had a parent be a prominent character.

 

To be entered in my random giveaway for the cactus T-shirt, coozie, and a signed copy of Family Ties, leave a comment telling me what you think about having the hero or heroine’s parent(s) as main characters in a story.

Regina Walker Insists Genealogy Isn’t Such a Bore After All!

The Fillies give a big welcome to Regina Walker. Regina crafts interesting characters facing some of life’s hardest challenges. Her heart’s desire is to always point toward Jesus through the way her characters face challenges, relationships, and adversity.

Regina is an Oklahoma import, although she was born and raised in the beautiful state of Colorado. She likes to curl up on the couch and binge-watch crime shows with her hard-working husband. When she’s not wrestling with a writing project, she can be found wrangling their children, riding their horses, or working around their small hobby farm.

Before I get started, I want to take a moment and thank Karen Witemeyer for so graciously inviting me to write a post for Petticoats and Pistols. I appreciate all of the ladies that run this fun site, and I’m thankful you are here to read this post and the others!

For as long as I can recall, my mother has traced our family history. Sometimes she makes slow progress, occasionally great leaps, but it’s something she has built for years. While her dedication and commitment have always inspired me, I must admit that I thought it was such a boring pursuit.

I listened with half-hearted attention, my mind always wandering to something else. When I decided to take my writing seriously, I swore I would never write historical anything.

See, not only did genealogy bore me endlessly, but history, in general, made my eyes bug out of my head. I know it is important to understand certain aspects of history, but it was never my thing.

When I received a message asking me to join the Mail-Order Mama series, I wrinkled my nose. Historicals and I don’t mix! But I read the premise, and immediately, Mary Ann came to life and started whispering her story to me.

The way she respected and loved her father, the way he cared for their family, and the struggles with her mama all blossomed in my mind.

How could I say no to a story that was writing itself with no help from me?

I did end up helping sort out a few things in this story. I started my research on my mom’s website, reading about real-life people in our family. I selected Wyoming because my great-great-grandfather homesteaded there. The old house, although in terrible disrepair, still stands near Lake De Smet.

I chose to give Mason the last name Barkey to honor my heritage. Although my great-great-grandfather did not order a bride via the mail, it was my way of honoring where I came from to include the last name in this story.

Now, don’t let me fool you. I didn’t become a history buff and I’m not going to take up genealogy the way my sweet mom has. I did gain an appreciation for both history and genealogy that I did not have before.

 

Now that you know a little bit about how I came to write Mary Ann’s story – A Maid for Masonhow about a chance to win an e-book copy of my book? Three lucky winners will be drawn at random for this giveaway. To be entered, leave a comment on whether you’ve ever developed an appreciation for something because of a book you’ve read. 

Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for spending a little time with me today.

Heather Blanton Finds An Angel on the Loose

In my new book releasing today, Penelope, Book 6 in the Love Train series, my heroine has to pretend to be a nun. This is, of course, a substantial obstacle to the hero who fights falling in love with her. He has to wonder, though, what kind of a nun can’t keep her veil on and doesn’t know her Bible? But when called upon to help an abused Indian girl, Penelope rises to the task with plenty of heart.

The way this story went put me in mind of a young Catholic girl who, while she didn’t don a habit, impacted the West forever with her faith.

In 1850, at about the age of five, Nellie Cashman immigrated to Boston from Ireland with her sister and widowed mother. The three spent almost fifteen years together there, but then relocated west to San Francisco around 1872. Nellie and her mother, both of whom apparently had an adventurous streak, decided to move on to the bustling, untamed mining town of Pioche, NV. They only stayed a few years, but Nellie was deeply involved with

the Catholic church there, helping with fundraisers and bazaars.

When her aging mother decided Pioche was a little too wild for a senior citizen, she and Nellie returned to San Francisco. Nellie, however, didn’t stay. She left her mother with her married sister and headed north alone to British Columbia to another rough-and-rowdy mining town. She opened a boarding house in the Cassiar District and tried her hand at mining.Now, most girls in this situation, hanging around with such an unsavory crowd, might get into mischief, forget their morals. Herein lies the quirky thing about Nellie: she loved to help people, sometimes through hell and high water…and avalanches.

In the winter of 1874-75, Nellie took a trip to Victoria where she helped establish the Sisters of St. Ann Hospital. Over the coming decades, she would continue to be a stalwart supporter of this hospital and several others. She is most famous, though, for what she did upon leaving Victoria.

Traveling back to Cassiar, she heard a blizzard had stranded dozens of the folks from the district. They were trapped, hungry, and experiencing a scurvy epidemic, to boot. Nellie immediately hired men and sleds, acquired medicine and supplies and started out for Cassiar. It took the group 77 days in unimaginable conditions to reach the miners. Nellie then worked tirelessly to nurse the folks back to health.

Her feat was so astounding, so fearless, the story was picked up by the newspapers. With good cause, she came to be known to the miners as their “Angel of the Cassiar.”

Nellie was a legitimate legend.

She was also a restless girl, constantly on the move from one raunchy mining town to the next. After the death of her sister, she continued to feed her wanderlust, but with five nephews and nieces in tow. To keep food on the table, she bought and sold restaurants, and even owned and worked her own claims.

She spent several years in Tombstone, AZ where she rubbed shoulders with larger-than-life figures like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Nellie’s faith, however, was as ingrained on her heart as cactus on the dessert. Even in wild-and-wooly Tombstone, she worked to build the city’s first hospital and Roman Catholic church.

Nellie worked tirelessly to make the world a better place and still managed to raise five upstanding citizens while keep her mines working. When she passed away in 1925, she did so in the Sisters of St. Anne hospital that she had funded for nearly fifty years.

Today Heather is giving away 5 copies of Penelope! For a chance to win one, tell Heather what ways you think we can make an impact in our local communities or neighborhoods.

Buy PENELOPE on Amazon!

Beach Inspiration

My view from my friend’s condo.

As I write this, I’m in Panama City Beach visiting a friend and am sitting on the beach. My mind is inspired by the beauty and serenity around me and turning to writing and cowboys. If you know me or read my books, you won’t be too surprised my mind has taken this peculiar turn. First, my wanders and takes unusual side trips all the time. Sometimes it’s like herding cats. Secondly, I love writing fish out of water stories.

The first story I sold, Big City Cowboy, was one. For those of you who don’t know, on a Colorado vacation I met a cowboy bit city slickers kept asking to model. Big City Cowboy sent a born and bred Colorado cowboy to New York City to model to earn the money for his mother’s experimental cancer treatment. That fish out of water concept hooked my editor. She bought that story and Bet On a Cowboy about the first hero’s brother.

Sitting here watching waves crash against the shore and rush out taking part of the beach with it, my mind’s spinning. What would send a Texas cowboy to a Florida beach town? What would he be running from—lost love, trouble with the law, money issues? Or would he be running to something or someone he sees as a solution or his salvation? Whatever the answer, he’d have to be at rock bottom, desperate and tortured. What does he want, but more importantly, what does he really need?

Maybe it’s because I’m the mom of three boys, but I always start with the hero. Once I clearly see him and the conflict tormenting him, once I know he’s someone I could fall for, I turn to my heroine. She will push his buttons at every turn simply being who she is. She will make him think about who he is, everything he thought he knew, who he wants to be, and who he could be. And he will do the same for her. They will be the last person the other would pick, but something draws or forces them together, and in the end, they are exactly who they need.

Florida 4With my cowboy, I see him as someone who needs order, predictability and to be in control. However, something or someone has destroyed that for him. Because of this trait, my heroine will be the opposite. She’ll be a laid-back, go with the flow, loves unpredictability, and lives on beach time gal.

That’s how a story starts for me, with a tiny kernel. In Big City Cowboy, it was a hunky cowboy who wanted nothing to do with the city and modeling and my warped need to force him to do the last thing her wanted to. Today the beach’s laidback lifestyle and calming presence have me wondering how I could torture a good old Texas cowboy to lead him to his true love.

Only time will time will tell whether I can answer these questions to get this little seed to grow.

To be entered in today’s random drawing for a signed copy of Home on the Ranch:  Colorado and the books and birds tea towel leave a comment on what you think should be the reason my hero goes to Florida.

Was she a heroine, a villainess, or just a fool?

By Heather Blanton

 The life of Ellen Watson, aka Cattle Kate, was defined for us by greedy cattle barons, and dutifully reported by a cowardly, boot-licking press. According to these men, Ellen was a prostitute, a cattle thief, and a fornicator. She traded sex for cows and had no compunctions about doing a little cattle rustling on the side.

All that was a smear campaign to protect the cattle barons.

So, what was the truth about Ellen Watson? For one thing, she was a woman with a brain in her head and a fire in her eye.

At 18, Ellen married an abusive drunk who beat her with a horse whip. She put it up with it for a couple of years, then left the loser and filed for divorce. Truly a rare thing in 1883. Strong-willed and stubborn, she moved away to escape the ex. Life took her from Nebraska, to Denver, to, finally, fatefully, Wyoming. She made her living alternately as a seamstress and cook. There is no evidence she ever worked as a prostitute at any time in her life. She did drink, smoke, and cuss, though.

She met Jim Averill while she was cooking at the Rawlins House. Jim had a road ranch on his homestead, catering to travelers and cowboys. Ellen worked as his cook and was paid for her time. She eventually bought her own land—adjacent to Jim’s—started her own ranch and acquired her own legally registered brand. All while she and Jim were courting.

The couple applied for a marriage license in 1886, but never filed it. Homesteads were limited in size per family so it would have been to their benefit to keep the marriage a secret. Ellen also took in two young boys who came from abusive homes and they, in turn, worked her ranch.

Ellen’s independent ways brought her into direct conflict with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and a neighboring rancher named Bothwell. Still big on the open range way of ranching, he despised Ellen and Jim’s piddly ranches. For nearly two years, Bothwell saw to it that the couple were threatened, harassed, and watched incessantly by riders from the WSGA.

Not interested in kowtowing to the cattle barons, Jim wrote fiery letters to the newspapers, decrying the men’s greed and tyranny. Ellen just kept on ranching, and to the devil with anyone who didn’t like it. Eventually, Bothwell ran out of patience.

On July 20, 1889, Ellen and Jim were accused of rustling cattle from his ranch. He and some his riders took the couple to a gulch and hung them from a stunted pine, not more than two feet off the ground. Witnesses said Jim begged for mercy, but Ellen went down cussing and swinging.

At the time of her death, 28-year-old Ellen had 41 head of cattle, a little over 300 acres, and a tenacious fighting 

spirit that burnt bright right up to the last second of her life. If there is any justice here, it is that we remember her to this day, not the cowards who hung her.

My book, Grace be a Lady, is set during the Johnson County War, in the aftermath of Ellen’s murder. I’ll give two winners paperback versions of the book. Just comment on Ellen and tell me what you think of her life and death. Was she a heroine or a fool? Did she bring this on herself? Should she have sold out and left Wyoming?

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for one of the 2 print copies of Grace be a Lady.

Buy Grace be a Lady on Amazon.

Find Heather online at Heather Blanton 

 

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

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…?