Potato Candy Anyone?

Ahh, research! What amazing things you find. Have you ever heard of potato candy? Apparently, women made it pretty regularly in the Depression from recipes brought over from Russian, Irish, and German immigrants in the 19th century who came through the Appalachian Mountains.

With only three ingredients, it was cheap to make and that was a definite plus.

Though a large portion of potatoes are used, it doesn’t have the potato taste. It consists of leftover mashed potatoes, powdered sugar and peanut butter. It’s rolled into a log and chilled. You don’t cook it. Just slice and serve.

The starches in the potatoes turn this into something smooth and creamy. Kinda like fudge or divinity.

Instructions: Boil a small, peeled potato cut into chunks until it’s very soft. Place into a bowl and mash until it’s smooth and no lumps. Next incorporate 4-6 cups of Powdered Sugar into the mixture. It’ll be very sticky at first but get thicker as you go and wind up the consistency of cookie dough. Then roll out on a piece of wax paper and spread it with either peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate or any other filling you want. Roll into a log and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Slice and serve.

Some cooks like to add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mashed potatoes before the powdered sugar. Your choice. And some people prefer to roll into balls and dip in melted chocolate! Wow.

But, I hear your minds turning. How did those early setters get powered sugar?

The answer is they made it themselves. They blended regular sugar with corn starch and sifted. The ratio is one tablespoon corn starch with one cup of sugar.

Modern cooks use a food processor or any other high-powered mixer and it’s much easier and faster than hand sifting.

I had never heard of this until a writer friend mentioned that her mother used to make when she was a kid. I don’t think my mom ever knew about this or she would’ve made it. She liked to experiment and made us mayonnaise cakes, Coca Cola cakes, 7-UP cakes and anything unusual. She had a huge sweet tooth.

There’s also Potato Fudge. I image the list goes on.

What is the most fun and interesting thing on any subject that you discovered, present or past?

Now shifting gears….

Courting Miss Emma is coming out on November 7 and I made a book trailer for it. I’m so proud of myself. Usually I have to get my sister’s help. Not this time.

A little about this second book in the Hangman’s Daughters series. Emma Taggart has been run of town and told not to return simply because of her father’s occupation. She’s 26 years old and never been courted once so she’s resigned to living out her life as a spinster. But a new neighbor moves next door to the orphanage she runs and her life begins to change. Stone Landry has just mustered out of the Frontier Army and has brought a pair of camels he rescued. It’ll take both of them joining forces to defeat the man determined to take their land.

So, I hope you watch the short video and preorder the book. Please Note: It’ll only be out in ebook form until March when Severn House Publishing will release it in trade size print.



ALSO, for a FREE SHORT story

Thanks for spending time with me. Hope you enjoyed it.




And a happy, terrific Tuesday it is.

SHE PAINTS MY SOUL, book #3 in the Medicine Man series is now released and on sale at 20% off its regular price.  Its usual price will be $4.99, but at present it is on sale for $3.99.  The paperback is on sale, also, and is priced at $9.99.

Today, I’m going to leave an excerpt from the very start of the book, and I’ll also be giving away the e-book of the first book in the medicine man series, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.



Karen Kay

Back cover Blurb:


In spite of her fear of Indians, Sharon Wells travels from her home in St. Louis to Indian Territory in the northwest, along with her fiancé, and her friend Amelia, who is determined to return to Blackfoot Country. An orphan, Sharon yearns to be married and have a family of her own. She’s loyal to her fiancé, even when he carelessly puts her life in danger.

Strikes Fast, of the Crow People, was once on the path to becoming a medicine man, but he has lost his way. When nearly all his family were killed in a Blackfoot raid, he went on the warpath to avenge the ghosts of his murdered family. But he’s carried revenge too far, and the blood of innocents has left him feeling no longer human, without empathy or sympathy. But the beautiful white woman, Sharon, ignites a spark in him. When she’s captured in an Indian raid and her fiancé does nothing, Strikes Fast hopes his heroic deed of rescuing her might return him to the good graces of the Creator, from whom all medicine men receive their powers.

Strikes Fast’s handsome masculinity calls out to Sharon, as her beauty and her kindness calls to him. Trapped together in a blizzard, surrounded by danger, and despite the many reasons they shouldn’t be together, their growing love is undeniable. Can they find a way to heal one another and create the family each of them is longing for?

Warning:  A sensuous romance that might just melt a gal’s heart.


Fort McKenzie, built where the Missouri and the Marias Rivers meet

Northwest Indian Country

The Season of Home Days, August 1840 


Crack!  Blast!

Sharon Wells screamed and awakened to the sound of bullets spitting overhead, followed by ear-shattering explosions.  Placing her hands over her ears, she hunkered down in her bedding of soft furs and blankets, reaching toward the place where David, her fiancé, should have been.

But, he wasn’t there.  Bringing up her hands to cover her head, she tried to become invisible while the whiz of bullets crackled overhead.

What is going on?  Why am I under attack?  And, where is David?

Because the night had been warm and pleasant, both she and David had spent the evening in each other’s arms under a canopy of stars.  A painter, David had earlier placed his art equipment of canvas, easel and paints on a wide ledge overhead.  From there, David had said he hoped to capture the early-morning sunrise, immortalizing its image onto the canvas.

Kaboom!  Blast!

Shaking, Sharon assumed a fetal position, and, so great was her fright, she began to convulse as though she were seized by a fit, there under the cover of the soft fur blankets.

Wherever you are, please hurry back to me, David!

Peeking out from the warmth of her covers, Sharon saw it was still dark; it perhaps being the time of day when the world was blanketed in the extreme darkness before dawn.  Had David awakened and left her to climb the bluff, hoping to paint the beauty of the sunrise?

If so, why hadn’t he taken her with him, especially since he often bragged about how she inspired the best artistry in him?

She wasn’t allowed to answer the question, however, because suddenly, and from out of nowhere, the running feet of perhaps hundreds of men rushed by her, seemingly without seeing her.  With a force of will, Sharon controlled her quivering and, unable to stop herself, peeped out again from beneath her blankets.

The sight of Indian warriors made her sob, and she thought she might faint.  Each one was stripped of all clothing except for his breechcloth and moccasins, and each was painted in black, white or red colors which covered his face and body.  Each man she could see was carrying a rifle, as well as the more familiar Indian garb of quiver, arrows and a bow.

As she shivered and tried to make herself invisible, a feeling of utter terror overtook her.  Why, oh why had she ever agreed to come to this far western land?

Luckily for her, during the night she and David had placed their bedding beneath a tall pine tree and the enemy warriors were ignoring the tree, racing by her as though they were each one hurrying to be the first to launch an attack upon some poor victim.  Was their target the Pikuni camp?  Or were they attacking the traders’ fort?

Trying to force her body to be as motionless as possible, she was aware she wasn’t able to do it.  She was shivering, and she cried silently as she waited until there were no more warriors fleeing by her.  Then she stirred uneasily, because her thoughts were of two minds: she desperately wished to arise and climb the bluff in search of David, but fear kept her in place, mute and fearful of making a single move.

Meanwhile, down below in the Indian encampment came echoes of the awful sounds of blasts and screams.  Had the Pikuni people awakened to find themselves facing this horror?

It was then that she excused David for his absence, since it was he who had suggested they spend the evening on this butte.  Had he not done so, she might even now be experiencing the fate of the people below.

But, what about my dearest friend, Amelia, who will still be down there in the Pikuni camp?  Should I leave my hiding place and rush to try to find her?

Instinctively, Sharon knew she didn’t dare go down into the Pikuni camp.  Instead, she would pray that Gray Falcon, Amelia’s beau, would protect her.

Then upon the early morning atmosphere came the sound of many pairs of heavy feet running back up the butte as quickly as possible.  Was the enemy fleeing?  Had the Blackfoot warriors sent them scurrying?

Yes.  It seemed to her as if the enemy were in full retreat.  Too late it occurred to her that she should have left her hiding place and climbed the tree above her for added protection, but there was not the time to scamper up it now.  Instead, she covered her mouth to keep from screaming and tried to control her shivering.  And, crouching down, she waited.

Hours seemed to pass before the sound of the battle was little more than a single shot heard here and there.  Down below in the Pikuni camp came the inevitable wails of the women.  Obviously, people had been either injured or killed.

Still, Sharon waited and waited, so terrified she could barely move.  However, as time went on and she heard no more sounds of the battle, she raised her head and peeped out from the blanket of furs.  No one was about.

Slowly, she sat up onto to her knees and glanced quickly around the environment.  In the east she could see the beginning of a gray haze announcing the coming of the sun.  Would now be the right time to set out to find David?  It was still dark enough to provide cover for her, yet it was light enough so she wouldn’t lose her way.

Picking up the buckskin blanket and throwing it over her head and shoulders both for protection as well as a disguise, she came up to her feet and stepped toward the path leading upward toward the high butte—the one where she and David had set out his equipment.

Hopefully, David, too, had successfully hidden from the enemy warriors.  She forgave him his negligence and perhaps even his cowardice since she couldn’t imagine him fighting these Indians; he was ill-equipped to go into battle, for one reason.  Although he always carried a gun for self-defense, he would have been caught unprepared to fight off this kind of enemy.

Deeply relieved at still being alive, Sharon breathed in a long breath and, letting it out, stepped a foot upon the path leading upward.  That’s when the awful yelp of an Indian war whoop spilt through the air.  It sounded close to her, and, spinning around, she beheld a horse and its rider speeding toward her.

Momentarily, she was struck with the unreality of what was taking place.  The rider on the horse was a huge man, was painted in black stripes covering his face, and, below his shoulders, he looked to be naked.  The sight sickened her.

It was a reality she could not believe was happening to her, and one she had hoped to never experience in this strange and foreign land.  Watching with horror as the man—looking more fiend than warrior—raced toward her, she felt as though this were no more than a nightmare and she merely needed to awaken and the awful sight would be gone.  But, as he came closer and closer, she realized this was no dream.

As quickly as possible, she threw off the blanket and ran up the path, her screams for help loud to her ears.  But, no help was to be seen or experienced this morning.

Again she wondered, Where is David?

As the enemy darted toward her, she suddenly discovered she possessed a spark of courage, and, realizing that fleeing would do her no good—she could not outrun a horse—she stopped her flight.  She would take her stand here.

She turned then to watch the big ugly warrior ride toward her as though he would knock her down and kill her with one simple movement of his lance.  Oddly, she wondered if the man would fetch a good price for her scalp because of the unusual coloring of her hair.  It was strange because she felt suddenly unafraid.  Indeed, if David were dead and if this were to be the place where she would die too, she would face the event with as little flinching as possible.  After all, death came unto all creatures upon this earth.  She wished, however, that the event weren’t happening to her so soon in this life.

Even though the warrior’s actions were quick, it seemed to her as if the events taking place around her were in slow motion, giving her more than enough time to consider her own death.  After all, mightn’t death be preferable to being taken captive by an enemy?  Hopefully, the end of her would be quick and with as little pain as possible.

She watched as though from above herself as the horse continued to speed toward her, and, coming right upon her, the warrior’s big arm came out to grab hold of her.  She was jerked upward and thrown before her captor onto his racing steed; she faced downward as the awful scent of a sweat-drenched man and horseflesh made her gag.  It was a painful position; she had been thrown onto her stomach, and, closing her eyes, she prayed to God for a quick death and an everlasting salvation.

It was her last thought before, thankfully, she lost all consciousness.

And now before I sign off on this blog for today, I’d like to leave you with a review of the novel, SHE PAINTS MY SOUL.:

“I always enjoy this authors Native American books and this one didn’t disappoint. Strikes Fast and Sharon’s story is so good. He was a medicine man who lost his way after his entire family was killed. This book mostly tells of his journey to find himself. A captivating read that I read straight through.”

MJ, Amazon Review

Be sure to leave a comment.  I will be giving away book #1 in the Medicine Man series, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.


And now here’s a one minute trailer of the book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.



London James – Miles Apart, Paws Together: A Barn Cat’s Unbelievable Homecoming

Hey, y’all! It’s London James, and I’m back. First and foremost, I would like to thank the lovely ladies at Petticoats and Pistols for allowing me to guest blog and spend some time with you today! Now, for all of you who have crossed paths with me before, you’ll remember me as the lady with the missing pony and the monkey sanctuary behind my house.

(For those who have never read the story yet, CLICK HERE

So, what sort of a story do I have for you today? Did I lose my pony again? Did I have another run-in with the monkeys? Thankfully, no. I haven’t. But I still do have a tale to tell about how, two days after Christmas, I found a whiskered intruder in my barn who ended up taking a 3,586-mile trek back home.

Now, before I delve into the tale any further, let me step back for a moment here to tell you that I don’t have barn cats. It’s not because I don’t like cats. I have five indoor-only cats in my house right now—much to my husband’s displeasure. It’s also not because I don’t think cats belong in a barn. I understand why people have them, and I know their worth for keeping pests in check. With that said, however, I still don’t have them because I’m scared to. I grew up where our cats were allowed to go outside, and while I would never say it’s bad, having to face the numerous losses to coyotes and knowing that a coyote den lurks just across the street from my house fills me with just enough fear that I just can’t bring myself to have barn cats.

Now that I’ve said that let’s dive right back into the tale . . .


So, here I was, two days after Christmas, in my barn with a cat that wasn’t mine, watching it as it meowed and rubbed on my legs. I was utterly perplexed about who she was and where she came from, and while, yes, I know we have neighbors who probably have cats, this is the first cat to appear in my barn since we moved here 15 years ago! And I didn’t recognize her.

She was a cute little thing, and so stinking friendly. She instantly jumped into my arms, purring like the motor from a 67’ GTO, and from the sheer roundness of her belly (No, it wasn’t kittens, she had a blue dot tattoo on her belly, indicating she had been spayed), it was evident that she was a pampered pet. So, what was I to do? Well, there wasn’t anything for me to do, then put her down and hope she would return home.

She didn’t.

Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I whisked her to my veterinarian, praying she had a microchip, and as luck would have it, she did. Yes! Finally. I would be able to find out where she lived and take her home! After making a few calls to the microchip maker and then the shelter where the chip was registered, I was given the name and number of the owner, and I left a message on her voicemail, not only hoping she’d call me back but expecting her to live close enough to me that I could just take the cat home.

Well, God managed to answer one of those hopes.

And this is when the story took a turn I hadn’t seen coming.

As it turns out, the owner of the cat used to reside a whopping 140 miles away from my home in another town. How this cat traveled through Oklahoma remains a mystery, but as we dug more into the details, the 140-mile trek was just the tip of the iceberg.

Did you notice how I said, “used to live”? Yeah, the owner didn’t live in that town anymore. In fact, the owner didn’t even live in Oklahoma anymore.

She lived in (and was calling me from) Alaska!

The story she gave me, which coincided with the details the shelter gave me when I called them, was that she adopted the cat in June of 2022, and a few weeks after she brought her home, the cat got out. She spent months looking for the cat but couldn’t find her, and when her military husband got orders that they had to leave, they had no other choice than to pack their bags and leave without the cat.

To say that the owner and I weren’t shocked would be an understatement—5 ½ months on the road, 140 miles from where she got out. How did she find her way to my barn? I asked the owner what she wanted to do about the whole thing, and she said, “I want my cat.” So, I said. “Then let’s make it happen.”

I spent the next several days contacting the news, different airlines, and a couple of rescues to see how and what we could do to get this military family reunited with their pet. And boy, did people step up. Alaska Airlines discounted the ticket and footed the bill for her overnight stay in Seattle. A local rescue woman and my friend chipped in for the crate, and I paid for her paperwork and physical exam. It was a huge undertaking and an exhausting week with a few setbacks that almost made me cry. Ultimately, we got her on the plane, and on January 5th, Athena, the cat, finally made it home.

If you want to check out the NEWS9 STORY that aired, here’s the link: News Story on Barn Cat

And you can bet this story will end up in a book!!!

Maybe not in any of my historicals, but definitely in my contemporaries.

Speaking of Historicals, I have a new series this year! It’s Oregon Trail Brides.

Books One and Two are out in the world! Book One is only $.99!

Four orphans and their headmistress set out for Oregon in search of men looking for mail-order brides. Will they find what they are looking for? Or will fate have other plans?

Plucked from a life of uncertainty at a bordello, Lark Brockwood finds herself at the mercy of fate. A ward of the Kensington Orphanage since she was little and scarred by her past experiences with men, she dreads the prospect of being forced to join a wagon train bound for Oregon in search of eligible husbands.

A man haunted by the loss of his family, Dr. Carter Evans travels west to start anew and leave the memories of his past behind. After he sets his sights on the guarded and alluring Lark, he finds himself drawn to her despite her attempts to keep him at bay.

When an outbreak of measles threatens the lives of everyone on the wagon train, including Lark, the journey west takes a dangerous turn. With Lark’s health rapidly deteriorating, Carter must do everything in his power to save her, even if it means laying bare his own vulnerabilities to prove to her that she is deserving of love and that she’s worth fighting for.

Will they be able to overcome their pasts and forge a future together, or will their love be lost to the peril of their journey? This is a timeless tale of love, redemption, and the power of second chances, set against the backdrop of the American West and a time when anything was possible, and the future was unwritten.

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Her-Oregon-Trail-Doctor-Historical-ebook/dp/B0BPMLSZ48?tag=pettpist-20

Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Her-Oregon-Trail-Doctor-Historical/dp/1960443135?tag=pettpist-20

Long Valley Press Shop Paperback: https://longvalleypress.shop/products/her-oregon-trail-doctor-paperback


Tina Susedik – “Darlings of Deadwood” and Giveaway

Hello, I hope this finds you all well. As this goes to print, I will be in Deadwood, SD at the Wild Deadwood Reads event. This is the sixth year (should have been seven, but COVID.). I’ve been to each one. Organized by Ginger Ring and Linda Rae Sande, this is one of the best events I have attended. I get excited each year as the day approaches. I get to hug authors and readers I don’t get see for a year and meet new ones. It’s like a family reunion.

Besides being a great event, one of the reasons I brought up Deadwood is because of my “Darlings of Deadwood” series which came about after the first year. It’s a rather funny story. The first two years, we did an 1880s train ride through the hills of Deadwood. We got on the bus in Keystone, SD and were driving down the street when I saw a sign on a balcony that read, Balcony Girl. Boom. An idea for a woman who comes to Deadwood with her sister in 1879, the year a fire wiped out the town, nearly knocked me from my seat. She’s a seamstress, her sister a teacher coming to Deadwood as the new schoolteacher.

I won’t go into more detail, but “The School Marm,” ended up being a short story in the following year’s Wild Deadwood Reads anthology, “Wild Deadwood Tales,” but I had to tell her sister’s story next. The book, “The Balcony Girl,” is the first book in the series. They can be read as standalones, but best in order. After “The Balcony Girl,” came the full book, “The School Marm.” Then “The Proprietress,” “The Banker’s Wife,” and “The Unconventional Blacksmith.” There will be two more books about a traveling librarian and a traveling photographer. There is also a novella, “Saving Ellis.”

Each book features a strong woman trying to survive in a man’s world in the wild west. Oh, by the way, The sign actually read, “The Balcony Grill.” Because I can’t read properly, I now have this award-winning series.

One of the best things I like about writing these books in Deadwood is the research. Like most authors say, we can get lost in the internet rabbit hole when researching. There is so much history out there. Each time I go, I learn something new. Hubs and I also love Custer State Park. So much wildlife.

I also write contemporary and other stories. All my books have mysteries in them. I can’t seem to write anything without a mystery. It’s also my favorite genre to read, especially romantic mysteries. I have won quite a few awards for my books, including first runner RONE award for “The Balcony Girl.”

I live in northwestern Wisconsin with my husband of fifty years. Yes, I said fifty years. We’re not sure where the time went, but we’re still hanging in there. We have two children and five grandchildren, whom I adore. I always believe grandchildren are our reward for raising our own kids.

Where are you from? What is your favorite genre?

I would love to give away one of my books from the ‘Darlings of Deadwood.’ All you need to do is comment on the blog. I’ll leave the choice of the book to you. Here’s the question to win: If you could travel back to any time period, what would it be? What do you think it would be like?

How visual are you when you read a book?

By Lacy Williams

I can still remember being about twelve and realizing that I had visualized Frank and Joe Hardy as opposites when reading (countless) Hardy Boys books.

I was devastated because I liked Joe better and now my vision of him was ruined.

I think that’s why I don’t write in-depth descriptions of my characters. I definitely write the important stuff. Hair color, eye color, etc. But I don’t usually write detailed descriptions of facial features or what they are wearing. As a reader, I like to imagine the characters I read about in my own way. And I think most of my readers are like that too.


I have a long held dream of eventually seeing one of my books made into a movie or TV show. Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? And I thought it might be fun to dream up the perfect cast for my new book, Heart of Gold, for this blog post.

Sebastian Stan as Tom. Did you see The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+? Sebastian Stan can definitely play a conflicted character, and that’s who hero Tom is. He was raised by two outlaw brothers and has had a very loose relationship with the law. But when he is exposed to Ida and her family, his foundations are shaken. Who is he if he isn’t the outlaw he was raised to be?

A slightly younger, blonde Daisy Ridley as Ida White. I am a huge Star Wars saga fan and Daisy’s portrayal of Rey means she would be a fantastic Ida. Ida is a nurse who just completed her training and after some traumatic events, came home for Christmas to heal. She’s the spunky youngest sister in a big family and can definitely hold her own—but there’s a part of her that is still innocent about men. Not innocent enough to trust Tom. At least not until she sees the real him beneath the arrogant outlaw exterior.

Hugh Jackman as Jonas White (Pa). I loved Hugh Jackman as a father in The Greatest Showman (more so at the beginning and the end of the movie). I could totally see him taking on the fatherly role in this book, both to comfort/support Ida and to offer advice to Tom.

Amy Adams as Penny White (Ma). I love Amy Adams and think she’s versatile enough to play Penny, who might be even more protective of her children than Jonas. And all of Ida’s older brothers. Penny is the heart of the home and one major reason Ida needed the homecoming she gets in this book–there’s nothing quite like the special bond between mother and daughter.

I wish I had the time to dream up a full cast for this book! I didn’t get to imagine Breanna and Seb and Oscar… all my favorites. But I’ve got to get back to the writing cave.

I would love to do a giveaway today. One random winner chosen from the comments will receive a paperback copy of Heart of Gold and a $10 Amazon gift card. Leave a comment and let me know what is your favorite book-to-movie (or TV) adaptation. Or if you are someone who never sees a movie adaptation because you love the books so much, tell me that too.

Thanks for hanging out with me today!


Heart of Gold 

They survived a harrowing near-death experience. Can a poignant family Christmas bring them together?

Ida needs a quiet Christmas at home to rest and find her footing again. But her boisterous family is anything but quiet and things only get worse when her U.S. Marshal brother brings home a prisoner for the holiday-the same outlaw that saved her life.

Tom Seymour discombobulates her. He’s arrogant and unrepentant. But when she’s forced to nurse his injuries, she realizes that his persona is all a facade. The man underneath is wounded and kind and in need of redemption.

But Tom must make a choice between his old life and the chance to make a new one with Ida. Can she trust the man he is becoming or will he betray her?

Click HERE to buy on Amazon


FOUR ACES by A. K. Holthaus

My latest work, FOUR ACES, is my first ever American Western Romance featuring my newest hero, U.S. Marshal Jameson “Jake” Reid in my new series, The 1880 Deadwood Diaries. From the dusty trails of the West Wild to a timeless tale of redemption and hope, this captivating story will leave you wanting more.

What I love about this story is the passion that develops between the two main characters and the surprising twists and turns that catches the readers off guard. I was inspired to write this story after I moved to the historic town of St. Peter and learned about a bank robbery in Northfield, MN, in 1876 by Jesse James and the Younger Brothers.

During their escape, they had traveled through St. Peter down to New Ulm, which is also the setting of the Dakota Indian War fourteen years prior in 1862. Southern Minnesota has a rich history which was been depicted in such books and tv show like Little House on the Prairie. As I am a lover of history, I enjoy visiting these places, walking the ground the settlers would have walked, and seeing the buildings that would have existed during their time. I feel a sense of appreciation for the history, the hardships, and the lives they lived.

With this inspiration, Jake Reid and Emily Taylor emerged. FOUR ACES is a historic tale about second chances in life and love.  Jake is a man with a haunted past trying to learn what it means to live again, and Emily is a recent widow trying to learn what it means to love again.

When I’m not absorbed in researching my next story, I love spending time outdoors with my family. Born and raised in Minnesota, you will always find me outside pitching baseballs, tossing the football around, or skating on the ice playing hockey with my boys. When I do find free time, I am plotting several more stories, starting with a continuation of the 1880 Deadwood Diaries Series called the LUCK OF THE DRAW, as well as a new Regency Era romance.


April Holthaus (aka A. K. Holthaus) is a certified genealogist, a visual communications account manager, an all-season sports mom, and a self-published, award-winning author of Historical Romances.  From the Scottish Highlands to the dirt roads of the Old West, April’s stories are noted to be well written, rich in historical details, and full of tension, suspense, and slow-burning romance.

You can find April on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/author.april.holthaus

Or on her Amazon page: https://tinyurl.com/tv77chjj



About Four Aces: The 1880 Deadwood Diaries

U.S. Marshal Jameson “Jake” Reid has been searching for the notorious outlaw, Harmon Elwood for nearly a year after he robbed the Midtown Lincoln Stage. From horse raids to train rides, every clue to finding Elwood has led Jake to the small mining town of Deadwood. Upon his arrival, he is immediately met with resistance and suspicion and no further at catching the elusive Elwood.

Newly widowed Emily Taylor is doing everything she can to save her farm. Deep in debt, and unable to tend the farm on her own, she is forced to hire a farmhand. Little does she know that the man who answered her ad is really an undercover marshal. When he begins to stir up trouble and the truth comes out, her way of life is threatened as well as her heart. Emily struggles to choose between living the life she had fought for or losing everything she has.

As Jake and Emily become close, Jake finds himself surrounded by conspiracy, blackmail, and a town full of secrets. Can he solve the mystery looming over this town and finally bring Harmon Elwood to justice or will his heart and senses get tangled in a web of lies?



I’m giving away FIVE e-book copies of FOUR ACES!

I would love for readers to tell me in the comments, a fun/unique little family history story or perhaps a fun historic fact about where they live.

A Very Merry Christmas Blog! And, a New Release!


Welcome to a Terrific Tuesday on this December day with only 12 more days until Christmas!

Are you ready?  All your shopping done?  I know I’m not ready…not yet.

Before I begin with the blog, let me be sure to say that I’ll be giving away a free e-book of my new release, SHE CAPTURES MY HEART today.

Although the American Indians in the early 1800’s did not celebrate Christmas — they didn’t really know about Christianity until later in the century — they often celebrated the winter season by telling stories around the campfire.  And so, today I’d like to tell you an American Indian story, as well as post an excerpt from my new release, SHE CAPTURES MY HEART.

This is a true story about a young Blackfoot woman who found romance when she least expected it.  Just so you know, I am changing the names of these people.

Comes Running Woman lost her parents during an Assiniboine raid.  She was a beautiful woman, and, although her relatives asked her to live with them, she refused, preferring to live alone.  Time went on and after her grieving period was over, several young men asked for her hand.  But she refused them all.

Although she might have hated the Assiniboine warriors who had raided the Blackfeet and killed her parents, she tried to encourage the chiefs of her own tribe to make peace with the Assiniboine.  She was not successful, but she kept trying.

Red Coyote was the son of a chief and he loved Comes Running Woman, but he never approached her because she had refused to marry any of the young men who had sought her hand.  Instead, he watched her from afar and he tried to help her with whatever she was attempting to do, even watering her garden at night for her.

Many months went by as he watched Comes Running Woman, but always did he keep his distance from her.

Then, one day the Crow tribe raided the Blackfeet and the Blackfeet repelled the Crow.  However, several Crow were killed in the raid.  Comes Running Woman, however, found one Crow warrior who was badly injured, but still alive.  Because she wanted peace with the other tribes on the Plains, she tried to help this man.  She tried to lift him up to bring him to her lodge where she hoped to save his life.  But she couldn’t move the man.

Red Coyote came her rescue and lifted the man up and took him to her lodge, whereupon he laid the man down on one of her many couches.  Red Coyote didn’t ask for anything.  Instead, he simply looked at this woman whom he admired so much.

When she needed herbs or water, he always brought her the things she requested.  He even helped her to administer them to the Crow warrior.

But, he never asked her for anything.  He simply helped her.

The Crow warrior soon healed and was ready to leave and go back to his own home.  Comes Running Woman asked the warrior to please talk to his people and tell them about how the Blackfeet had helped him and ask them to please come and make peace.  The Crow warrior agreed to do this.

But, how to get him out of the Blackfeet encampment without being seen or causing a fight?

It was Red Coyote who came to the rescue of Comes Running Woman; he dressed the Crow warrior in Blackfeet clothing.  Before they left, Red Coyote asked Comes Running Woman if she was ready to go with the Crow warrior.  But she didn’t answer.

Instead, the Crow warrior said, “I go alone.”

Red Coyote then walked the man out of the tribal camp and answered the questions from the scouts who were on lookout.

Once he had taken the Crow Warrior far away from the encampment, he turned to the man to let him go, but the Crow Warrior, using sign language, asked, “Why don’t you ask Comes Running Woman to marry you?”

Red Coyote answered that he could not, because she was in love with him, the Crow Warrior.

The Crow warrior responded to this and said to Red Coyote that she didn’t love him.  Hadn’t he ever noticed the loving looks she always gave to him, Red Coyote?  No, the Crow warrior said to Red Coyote, she is not in love with me; she is in love with you.

The Crow warrior left to go back to his people and Red Coyote returned to the tepee of Comes Running Woman.  Upon entering the lodge, he simply sat before her, not looking at her, but simply sat with her.

She asked him if the Crow warrior had left with no trouble.

Red Coyote said he had, but then, he asked, “Do you want me to take you to him?  If you love him, I will escort you to him.”

She shook her head and said, “I do not love him.  So I do not wish to go with him.  I love only one man.  Do you know who that man is?”

Red Coyote said, “No.”

“It is you,” said Comes Running Woman.  “It has always been you; you, with your kind heart and helpful ways.  I have loved no one else.”

Red Coyote was joyous to learn this was, indeed, true.  Soon they were married.

A few months passed and one day a Crow chief and several men and women approached the Blackfeet encampment.  With them was the Crow Warrior who had been so well taken care of and nurtured back to health.

Soon, all that had taken place and the good deeds bestowed upon him by Comes Running Woman and Red Coyote were told to one and all, and the Blackfeet rejoiced to learn that these two people had helped this man without letting anyone else know.  Peace was made by the Crow and by this band of the Blackfoot tribe, which was never broken.  And it was all done because of the love of a woman for her people and for all the Indian people.

It is said they lived long and happy lives together and had many children.  And, always, did the people talk about the girl and the chief’s son who brought peace between the Crow and the Blackfeet people.

I hope you have enjoyed this story, which is based on a true story from the long ago.

Now, I also have a new release, SHE CAPTURES MY HEART, book #2 in the the new Medicine Man series.  And, I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt of the book:


A Forbidden Passion.

When Amelia was only fourteen, she met Gray Falcon who helped her through a difficult time. Gray Falcon always thought she was a pest, yet she opened up a vital part of the medicine man’s world to him.

As adults they meet again and fall in love, but is it enough to stand strong against a world trying to pull them apart?

Please enjoy this short excerpt:

He looked on as A’sitápi stepped across the distance between them.  Oddly, a sentiment he didn’t recognize caught hold of him, making him swallow hard.  Suddenly his eyes teared a little, and he shook his head against the feeling of the utter joy sweeping through him.

The feeling startled him out of his usual stoic demeanor.  Indeed, he was more than aware that he—who was inclined to show little emotion even under great stress—was happy to see her.  Even considering all the reasons he knew as to why he should keep her at a distance, he wondered how he could not have recognized how much he had missed her friendship.

Pest, she might be.  Forthright and bold, she was.  But, she was also his friend.

She stopped her pacing about two feet away from him, and, instead of throwing herself at him as he had feared she might, she stood before him.  She looked down at the ground.  And, then she said the words he only now realized he had been waiting to hear.  She murmured, “I have missed you so much.”

“I, too,” he replied in English.

“Do you mean it?  You missed me, too?  Wait!  You speak English now?”  Her eyes were wide as she gazed up at him, and she said, “I thought you would not understand me.”

Áa to your questions.  And, I did understand you.”


“Your sister taught me English.  She taught me, along with her husband.  But, he was a much faster learner than I was, and he, even now, can read the words of the Americanas, whereas I cannot.”

“You never told me.”

“You never asked.”

“I thought my heart would break,” she uttered, “when we had to part.  I have grown up as quickly as I could, but it was not fast enough for me.  As soon as I came of age, I did everything I could to return here to see you again.  I have thought of you so very much, as you know, and it has been hard for me to be without you in my life.”

He smiled down at her, and, without thinking through what he was about to say, said, “Perhaps you should not tell a fully grown man about this, in case he thinks you invite him to share your blanket with him tonight.”

“Share my blanket?  I don’t understand.  What do you mean?”

He didn’t answer.  He merely smiled at her, but at the same time he wondered at himself.  Never had he ever mouthed words so suggestive to a woman—and he had said them to this girl-turned-woman whom he had always considered to be little more than a troublesome ally.

“Oh, I think I understand,” she said at last.  “Oh, Gray Falcon, I am so happy to see you!”  And, then she acted as he had feared she might.  She threw herself against him, placing her arms around his neck and hugged him closely to her.  Standing on her tiptoes, she stretched up and placed a kiss on his cheek.  At once, he was reminded of another time when she had stolen a kiss from him.

Involuntarily, he found himself attracted to her, the pest, and he honestly didn’t know what to do about it.  Unsure of her and of himself in reaction to her, he backed away from her slightly.  She didn’t, however, allow him to leave her arms completely, and at last he took the only action appropriate at this moment, and, putting his arms around her, he drew her to him.

He wasn’t prepared for the feeling of utter pleasure their embrace brought him, and the idea that he should be experiencing so much delight sent shock waves through him.  Indeed, he was struck by the fact that holding her was much more pleasant than it should have been for being mere friends.

He placed her gently away from him so she wouldn’t become aware of how happy he was to see her.  Also, he required a moment to gather his wits about him so as to provide himself a defense against the impact of her womanly charms.

Hánnia, she had grown up.


Well, that’s all for now.  I hope you enjoyed the American Indian story, as well as this short excerpt.

The book, by the way, is priced right now at 30% off its regular price.  Here’s a link to the book:  tinyurl.com/SHE-CAPTURES-MY-HEART

Also, please let me wish you a very Merry Christmas, as well as some very Happy Holidays to come!

Guest Blogger Regina Jennings – The Coney Island of the Tri-State District

The Coney Island of the Tri-State District

By Regina Jennings

Whether you get a big bonus at work or flat out win the lottery, what do you start planning immediately? For most people, they make plans for a vacation to one of those fancy theme parks.

The citizens of Joplin, Missouri, were no different.

The little mining town of Joplin had, after a fashion, won the lottery. Situated on the nation’s richest lead and zinc fields, what had been only a small camp site and scattered farms after the Civil War was producing seventy-five percent of America’s zinc by 1895. For every railroad car of ore shipped out of Jasper County, bags of money were rolling back in. But instead of visiting a theme park, Joplin decide to build their own.

Schifferdecker Park Promenade


In the 1890s, successful brewer Charles Schifferdecker purchased a dairy farm on the outskirts of Joplin. Seeing an opportunity with his new land acquisition, he leased ten acres to some businessmen for the formation of an amusement park. Eventually Schifferdecker transferred more land to the partnership until Schifferdecker Park had expanded to 160 acres and became the premier attraction in the area.

Over 12,000 people attended the Park’s grand opening on June 10, 1909, making it the largest gathering ever in the Tri-State District. On that day, visitors could tour the extensive gardens, slide or dive into the pool, boat across the lagoon, roller skate at the rink, play tennis, attend concerts and animal exhibitions, and enjoy Schifferdecker’s brew at the biergarten in a replica German village.

And just twenty years after the invention of the roller coaster, upstart Joplin had three of them. In my book Engaging Deception, Olive and Maxfield have a thrilling encounter on the Dazy Dazer.

I thought it better to put them on the Dazy Dazer than the Figure 8, which was demolished in 1916 for being “a menace to safety.” Roller coasters, animal shows and roller skating, but what Schifferdecker Park became famous for was its amazing light display.

Schifferdecker Park became known as the Electric Park because of the 40,000 incandescent bulbs installed on its structures. At a time when electricity was used sparingly and cautiously, Joplin had a Tower of Light that was 125 feet high and covered in 10,000 light bulbs. It was a marvelous feat of engineering and a source of pride for everyone in the region.

Tower of Lights

While Schifferdecker and Joplin had the riches to build the magnificent Electric Park, it did not have the population to sustain it. With the vast grounds, attractions and electricity usage, the Park was horribly expensive to maintain. Schifferdecker’s Electric Park was closed in 1913 and Schifferdecker donated 40 acres of the property to the City of Joplin with the understanding that it would always be used as a public park. Although the Tower of Lights is long gone, people still gather on Schifferdecker’s land for fun and relaxation.

Speaking of fun and relaxation, you could use a break! Take a literary trip to turn-of-the-century Joplin with Engaging Deception. It releases December 13 and is available for pre-order now. Not only that, but the first two books in the series (Courting Misfortune and Proposing Mischief) are on ebook sale for the month of November. Only 99 cents and $2.99 for them!


To win a paperback copy of Engaging Deception, leave a comment below letting me know which theme park is your favorite! The fillies will pick a winner and you’ll get a copy in the mail after the release date. (US residents only, please.)

Connect with Regina at:





New Release Coming Your Way Tomorrow


I’m so excited to share my new release with you! Well, it will release officially tonight at midnight. It’s special because you still have a chance today to get it at the preorder price. And saving a dollar is a good thing.

If you prefer print, the print book is available now.


The thrilling conclusion to the Belle Fourche Chronicles

Alice has always been the good daughter, the one who does what everyone expects. She promised Kent Douglas she would wait for his return even though her family has fought his for the past thirty years.

Then he left and never contacted her again.

Five long years have gone by and Alice is an adult. Despite the occasional annoyance by the Douglas patriarch, they hear nothing from their neighbors. When word comes that Kent not only returned, but has been back for quite some time without contacting her, tensions rage. Alice wants revenge for her humiliation.

Kent was heavily scarred protecting Alice from a bomb, and he’s returned home with worse scars to his heart.

He went to school to become a doctor, but along the way found out the teachers thought he’d be better suited to a barn. No patient wants to look to a monster for hope. He never wanted to work on a ranch again, but now his training — the training he ran away and fought to have — will be in a barn.

He loves Alice Johlman like she’s half of his heart, but he can’t accept the failure he is and won’t force her to follow through on her promise from years before.

If only he could forget her.

Wounded hero Kent will do anything for the only woman he’s ever loved, except ask her to keep her promise.

It’s so hard to say goodbye…

This was the first series I started as a filly so I’m excited to share this book with you. It also feels like “the end” in other ways because I’ll be writing mostly contemporary cowboy romances next year. I have a contract with Love Inspired Suspense and my first book with them will be coming out in Oct or November of 2023.  So, saying goodbye to these characters feels different from a usual “book goodbye”.

Don’t worry though, it’s not permanent. I like historical books to stay away from them for too long.

What’s one type of book you said goodbye to, but you know you’ll be back because you love it?

For me: Westerns are my favorite, but I used to love Medieval romance (for many of the same reasons, rugged heroes, chivalry, horses…)

A Well Traveled Pooch and a Give Away!

So you all know how I stumble upon things while I’m researching for a book. Well, my current book is no exception. In Dear Miss LeBlanc, one family in my fictitious town of Clear Creek has a car. Now it’s 1903 so they are the only car owners.  Cattle Ranchers, they quickly learn that you can’t use a car to check on the herds. It can cause the cattle to stampede. But it was fine to take to town or to go visiting. What kind of car is it? A 1903 Winton. My characters call it JW for Jefferson, (their step-father) and Winton.

While researching cars of 1903, I discovered an interesting road trip involving a Winton and a dog. His name was Bud, and he was a pitbull purchased by Horatio Nelson Jackson, a doctor from Vermont who bet a guy fifty bucks he could drive a car across America. No mean feat back in 1903. Cars back then weren’t exactly built for off roading. Horatio and a man named Sewell Crocker (a bicyclist and machinist) outfitted a Winton for the trip and left San Fransisco on May 23, 1903. They had 90 days to get to New York and win the bet.

Horatio went north then cut across Oregon to Idaho where he purchased Bud. He even outfitted him with a pair of goggles to keep the dust from his eyes!

Bud became a well traveled pooch and got to see his new owner ask locals for directions (a lot) and sometimes get wrong ones. They traveled across open prairie, over rocky trails where they had to get out and remove  more than a few rocks on occasion, and followed trails that ran alongside train tracks. The going was slow, and some of the wrong directions they were given led to the culprit’s relatives so they could see the car and of course, Bud. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a dog wearing a pair of goggles?

The Winton averaged 71 miles a day, so when they got bad directions, it could waste a lot of time, even whole days. And things didn’t alway go right and parts had to be replaced. When that happened they had to ask the Winton Motor Company for parts they needed then wait for them to arrive by train. On July 12th they reached Nebraska which had more paved roads and voila! They were doing 250 miles a day! The three made it to New York in 63 days, didn’t collect their fifty dollars, and frankly, didn’t care. They were the first to drive across the country in a car and let’s face it. That fifty bucks wouldn’t have put a dent in the eight thousand dollars Horatio forked out for the trip. The first three thousand went to purchasing and outfitting the car alone.

Personally, I love road trips and have done a few. The last one was from Oregon to Deadwood South Dakota with my daughter over a year ago for a book event. It was great fun! And I got inspiration for an entire series along the way! When was the last time you took a road trip? Where did you go? I’m giving away a free e-copy of Dear Miss LeBlanc to one lucky commenter! Here’s a little more about the book:

Fantine LeBlanc is the assistant to the famous matchmaker, Mrs. Pettigrew. The job came with a lot of perks, one of which was getting to travel with Madame Pettigrew to the famous little town of Clear Creek. And they weren’t going alone. Madame was bringing Gibbs the butler and Mr. Tugs, her ancient gardener along. Toss in members of the Colorado Adventure Club, a few extra guests, and the trip was going to be an adventure indeed. Clear Creek may never survive it. Or, was it going to be the other way around? Clear Creek was full of more than a few oddities. When the residents fancy themselves better matchmakers than Mrs. Pettigrew, they set out to prove it and with hilarious results. Enjoy this sweet, clean romance as only Kit Morgan can deliver!