The Appaloosa’s Heritage (and a PAPERBACK GIVEAWAY!)

Hello! It’s so nice to return and spend the day with you here – I had such a great time the last time I visited. Thanks for having me!

One of my favorite parts of writing a historical is the research. I can easily get lost in it (which can sometimes be a problem when I’m supposed to be productive). Most recently my wandering has taken me to the workings of a western essential: the livery stable. Why, you ask? My next release, Copper, is book three in my Heart of a Miner series set in the ghost town of Silver City, Idaho, where the main character, Mac Walley, is the owner of the town livery.

 

Most of us probably know that a livery stable was a place where one could find horses,

University of Idaho Library: https://digital.lib.uidaho.edu/digital/collection/ott/id/1514/rec/6%5B/caption%5D

wagons, and other means of conveyance for rent, as well as board a horse short-term. Mac would be tasked with providing shelter, water, feeding twice a day, mucking stalls, and even turning a horse out for exercise. Mr. Walley, however, has his eye set on breeding a very special type of horse, one that you may have heard of or even recognize: The Appaloosa.

This unique spotted horse has a distinct heritage, as its ancestors were highly coveted, versatile intelligent, hardy, and courageous. Carefully bred by the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho’s Kamiah Valley, these horses gained the attention of attentive cowboys and breeders in 1877 during the flight of the Nez Perce. Led by Chief Joseph, the tribe gathered 2,000 of their prized horses and fled 1,500 miles northeast over rough, unfamiliar terrain without rest, the horses surviving solely on forage.

Despite the impressive feat, the herd’s numbers declined until only a few hundred remained. Efforts to save the faithful, reliable horses resulted in today’s Appaloosa, well-favored for their spotted coats and easy-going dispositions. The breed has its place in the American West even still, making excellent working ranch and cattle horses, pleasure and family mounts, and even sport and racing horses. The Appaloosa has become one of America’s best-loved breeds and has truly endured the test of time.

Mac Walley, recognizing their strength and beauty, can hardly pass up the chance to buy a pair when they turn up at his livery – but they don’t stick around for long. You’ll have to read the story to see what happens to his cherished horses, and whether his bride-of-convenience, Joan, can help him get them back!

 

Copper is scheduled to release later this month (March 26), and in celebration of its release, I’d like to send a paperback of the book to one winner here today  (Giveaway guidelines apply). To enter the giveaway, tell me about your favorite horse breed or a characteristic you admire.

You can pick it up on pre-order here, and it’ll also be available with the rest of the series on kindle unlimited.

Amazon

 

Krystal’s website/newsletter sign-up: https://www.krystalmanderson.com/

Amazon: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/krystal-m-anderson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkrystalmanderson/

 

 

The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

My favorite time period to write about is between 1880 and 1890. In many ways, the cowboys of yesteryear struggled with some of the same issues we currently face and that’s what makes the time period so fascinating to me.

They aren’t paying attention to each other. They’re too intent on the wireless.

For example, technology in the way of telephones and electricity changed the way people lived in the 19th century, just as new technology does today.  The Victorians even had their own Internet.  It was called the telegraph, and this opened-up a whole new world to them.

What, for that matter, is a text message but a telegram, the high cost of which forced people in the past to be brief and to the point?

In the past, our ancestors worried about losing their jobs to machinery.  Today, there’s a real possibility that robots will make us obsolete.

Sears and Roebuck was the Amazon of the Gilded Age. The catalogue featured a wide selection of products at clearly marked prices. No more haggling.  Customers were drawn to the easy-to-read, warm, friendly language used to describe goods, and the catalogue proved an instant success. Our ancestors could even order a house through the catalog and that’s something we can’t do on Amazon.

The Victorians worried about books like we worry about iPhones. We worry about screen time damaging the eyes.  Victorians were certain that the mass rise of books due to printing presses would make everyone blind. 

Then as now, women fought for equal rights.  Our early sisters fought for property ownership, employment opportunities and the right to vote. Women have come a long way since those early days, but challenges still exist, especially in matters of economics and power.

Nothing has changed much in the area of courting

Almost every single I know subscribes to at least one dating site.  These are very similar to the Mail-Order Bride catalogs of yesteryear.

Did our Victorian ancestors worry about climate change?  You bet they did! The Florida Agriculturist published an article addressing the problem in 1890. The article stated: “Most all the states of the union in succession of their settlement have experienced a falling off in their average temperatures of several degrees.  A change from an evenly tempered climate has resulted in long droughts, sudden floods, heavy frost and suffocating heat.”

Nothing much has changed in the world of politics. Today, the Republicans and Democrats are still battling it out, just as they did in the nineteenth century. We still haven’t elected a female president, though Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood tried to change that when she ran in 1884 and again, in 1888.

What about environmental concerns? Today we’re concerned that plastic bags and straws are harming our oceans.  Our Victorian ancestors worried about tomato cans. That’s because a German scientist told the New York Times in 1881 that the careless deposit of tin cans was “bringing the earth closer to the sun and hastening the day of the final and fatal collision.”

During the 1800s, horses were taken to task for messing up the streets.  (Oddly, enough, it was once thought that automobiles were good for the environment.)  Today, cattle are under fire for the methane in their you-know-whats. Oh, boy, I can only imagine how that would have gone over with those old-time ranch owners.

We have Coronavirus, but that’s nothing compared to what our ancestors battled.  The 1894 Hong Kong plague was a major outbreak and became the third pandemic in the world. The rapid outbreak and spread of the plague was caused by infected fleas. Repressive government actions to control the plague led the Pune nationalists to criticize the Chinese publicly. Sound familiar?  The plague killed more than 10 million people in India, alone. 

As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Reading how people in the past survived and, yes, even prospered during tough times inspires me and gives me hope for the future.  I hope it does the same to my readers.

This list is nowhere near complete, but what did you find the most surprising?

Attorney Ben Heywood didn’t expect to get shot on his wedding day–and certainly not by his mail order bride.—Pistol-Packin’ Bride/Mail Order Standoff collection.

Amazon

B&N

 

Book Women—The Depression’s Book Mobile

As a contemporary romance author, my research is different from historical authors. For the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, my research topics included seizure treatment/causes, service dogs and veterinarian office software. As a result, I don’t often come across cool historical tidbits to share with you the way Petticoats and Pistols historical authors often do. But recently, I came across a Facebook post about librarians on horseback. Considering my love of books and horses, I couldn’t resist learning more.

The Pack Horse Library program was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration during The Depression. In 1930’s Kentucky, the unemployment rate was almost forty percent and around thirty percent of the state’s population was illiterate. The hope was The Pack Horse Library program would decrease both these statistics. In addition to these issues, the ten thousand square foot area of eastern Kentucky this program served lagged behind other areas in the state in terms of electricity and highways. Scarcity of food, education and few economic options compounded the problems.

Getting the program’s employees to these rugged, rural areas of The Appalachian Mountains where people with the greatest need lived proved challenging, too. Because of the terrain, horses were chosen as the mode of transportation. However, the most astounding aspect of the program was that most of the employees of The Pack Horse Library were women! Folks simply referred to them as “Book Women.”

After loading donated books, magazines and newspapers, these librarians set out on their own mules or horses and headed into the mountains. Not an easy task, even when the weather cooperated. But imagine how difficult and treacherous the trip had to be in snowy or rainy conditions. Often the terrain became so rugged or remote, even horses couldn’t travel, forcing the librarians to continue on foot, carrying the books! No matter how cold or bad the weather, these librarians persisted, covering one hundred to one hundred twenty miles a week. One librarian had to complete her eighteen-mile route on foot after her mule died. Now that’s dedication!

By 1936, these devoted librarians serviced over fifty-thousand families and one-hundred-fifty-five schools. But these women did more than provide books. They acted as a connection between these rural Kentucky communities and world. They tried to fill book requests, read to people who couldn’t read themselves, and fostered a sense of local pride. And all for a salary of twenty-eight dollars a month.

All photos from atlasobsura.com

The Pack Horse Library program ended in 1943 along with the WPA. War had pulled the country out of The Depression, but these strong, determined librarians had left their mark. They made a difference.

To be entered for the drawing to win a copy of Colorado Rescue, a looking sharp wine glass and the bracelet pictured, tell me what you love about libraries or share your favorite memory involving a library.

Heather Blanton – The Ghosts of Horses Past Live On

Hello everyone. Please welcome Heather Blanton to the Junction. Heather is sponsoring a very generous 4 item giveaway today – three individuals will receive her e-book box set of the Romance in the Rockies trilogy and one will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. So join  in the discussion by leaving a comment to get your name tossed in the hat for your chance at one of these prizes. 
Now, let’s hear from Heather:


Legends, myths, ghost stories. Experts say they are all rooted in at least some fact. Recently, I had the honor to see some Spanish ponies—genetically-proven descendants of horses left in the West by Spanish explorer Coronado in 1519. Five hundred years ago.

Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to hear the stories the braves and the medicine men and chiefs told about seeing those amazing, beautiful animals for the first time.

The initial sightings did, indeed, spawn some amazing tales. I heard a few of them when I was in South Dakota this summer, and my favorite is the Legend of Swift Blue One.

One day a brave was out hunting, and he saw a horse draped in flowing, blue raiment with a man covered in shiny metal on its back. Afraid, but determined to show courage, the warrior shot an arrow at this amazing animal. It struck a crack in the man’s metal and he fell to the ground. The brave rushed up and was going to shoot again, but, the stallion, a mystical blue-gray color, pawed angrily at the ground, screamed, and bared his teeth when the brave approached.

The brave wanted very badly to possess this animal, but each time he came near, the blue horse chased him away. Through signs, the man on the ground said if the warrior would save his life, he would teach him to talk to the horse called Swift Blue One.

The warrior agreed, and he and the man rode the horse back to his tribe, amazing everyone in camp at this spectacle. But the horse was fierce, kicking and attempting to bite anyone who came too close. The man taught the young brave how to talk to blue horse, but soon died from his wound. The only other one who could ride the magnificent animal, the brave still did not remove the covers that draped around Swift Blue Horse. He believed they kept the stallion from harming anyone in camp.

The blue horse was the fastest creature the tribe had ever seen. They said he had lightning in his hoofs. When the brave died in battle, though, the elders turned the horse out for no one else could talk to him. For a long time they would see him racing about, kicking up his hoofs, calling for others to join him.

Soon, Swift Blue One had gathered many horses to himself and was chief of them all. His herd grew large and his offspring were many. His descendants still roam the great plains of the West today. Some say if you look hard enough, you will see the ghost of Swift Blue One running among his children, his blue raiment flickering in the sun.

I love that story. During a visit to the Black Hills Wild Horse Preserve I saw the Spanish ponies——and the Swift Blue Ones were there, too.

 

Click on cover to learn more

There is an old poem in my forthcoming release, Daughter of Defiance, that a reader gave me about a horse with four white socks. Supposedly, not a good thing.

I am giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and digital copies of my Defiance books—all of which were just optioned by a movie producer! To WIN, just comment with any story, old wives’ tale, or legend you know about a horse. I’d LOVE to hear them!

And if you’d like to learn more about wild horses and their stories, I hope you’ll check out the Black Hills Wild Horse Preserve.

 

 

 

When Steel Magnolias Go West!

Book 1 of “Shepherd’s Crossing” series available right now nationwide! Walmart, Kroger, Winn Dixie, anywhere mass market paperbacks are sold!

Three steel magnolias….

Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald were raised in the lap of luxury. Dysfunctional luxury! The girls wanted for nothing growing up on the Fitzgerald’s highly regarded Kentucky horse farm. The granddaughters of a crazy rich publishing magnate, the motherless girls were raised by their African American nanny Corrie Satterly… But when their father inherited the publishing empire as print publishing began falling into disfavor, self-absorbed Tim Fitzgerald bilked the company for every last penny he could…

And left the country. And his girls.

Corporate bankruptcy took everything from the sisters, leaving them nothing but college loans and a car. The girls’ uncle bequeaths them with a portion of his beautiful western Idaho ranch, with one condition: They have to stay on the ranch for a year to gain their share… and maybe — just maybe– a reason to stay?

LINK TO AMAZON FOR HER COWBOY REUNION!

Enter three smokin’ hot cowboys!

Heath Caufield, Tim Fitzgerald’s widowed ranch manager and a man who has a history with Lizzie Fitzgerald. A history he’s tried to put behind him, but when Lizzie shows up in western Idaho, Heath’s intentions are challenged not only by the past but by the present… and the hope of a future.

Jace Middleton, whose family helped settle the little town of Shepherd’s Crossing just north of Council, Idaho… but with the family land gone, and few jobs for this carpenter/cowboy, Jace has decided to move to Sun Valley. When an elderly woman reveals long-held secrets, Jace is stunned to realize he’s been living a lie. But there’s no time to languish because twin baby girls need him to be at the top of his game, and when the top of his game includes working side-by-side with interior designer Melonie Fitzgerald, Jace is pretty sure life couldn’t turn more upside down. And of course it does… but with God’s perfect timing, sometimes upside down is the only way to get things just right.

Isaiah Woods has enough on his plate. Breeder of prize Nez Perce Appaloosa horses, Isaiah is raising his niece and nephew as best he can after losing their parents to a tragic accident. But when old mistakes meet him head on, he must risk the love of his parents and members of his tribe to put things right… and he can only do that with Charlotte Fitzgerald’s help. And that just makes folks angrier.

Three Steel Magnolias…. three amazing cowboys…. and then BONUS! 🙂 “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy”!

 

Coming in November, a beautiful Shepherd’s Crossing Christmas novella!

A Christmas novella when Jessica Lambert takes over her aunt’s old house only to find out it was bought by Ty Carrington, part owner of Carrington Acres Ranch… but what kind of cowboy puts a single mother out on the streets during the holidays? And as Ty helps Jessica and “Dovie” Lambert get things straightened out, he realizes that there just might be a Merry Christmas after all.  Done as part of a two-story anthology with the amazing Linda Goodnight! Happy dancing because I love working with Linda!!!

I love starting a new series, but what I really love is when I get knee deep into it, where I can feel the characters and setting evolve into what I want it to be once complete.

Now, working on book 4, the momentum of the previous stories helps set the pace for the new ones…

And gives me a cast of characters for the readers to laugh with… and sometimes cry over. And isn’t that the very best thing of all? A story that runs the gamut of emotions, and still leaves you happy.

And now I want to get to Idaho and see this beautiful land! I want to feel what it’s like to have Hell’s Canyon on one side (The Snake River gorge) and the Payette National forest on the other. To be shrouded from sunrises… and claim the sunset.

It’s an amazingly beautiful and still rugged region, ripe with Native American traditions of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) and a mix of people. And as outsiders swoop in and buy up ranch land, the demographic might change, but the love of Idaho. The mountains, the creeks, the forests, the wolves and coyote and deer… that will never change.

 

 

Sometimes We Eat Giant Pickles at the Movies

When I talked to a dear friend, Jennifer Jacobson, about writing a blog on misconceptions Easterners hold about Westerners, she recommended the children’s book Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Byron Barton. The book’s young hero laments about what he’ll find when he moves out West. Not only did I get a good laugh, but the book fit perfectly with many stories friends shared on the subject. As Sharmat and Barton’s hero says at the end, “Back East they don’t know much about us Westerners.” Because of this fact, getting regional dialect/phrases, career details and settings that add richness to a story can be harder than readers realize because many industry professional are Easterners.

 One thing the hero in Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport claims at the beginning is, “…there’s cactus everywhere you look.” I chuckled because apparently, we have a cacti cover problem on Texas romance novels. When I asked author friends and readers on Facebook what Eastern folks get wrong about the west, I received a few cactus stories. Fact is, we don’t see many cacti in east or central Texas, but often there they’re on covers of novels set there. Other authors found saguaros on covers for west Texas novels though they don’t grow in Texas.

Often authors must explain regional phrases or words to editors. For example, what some call a dish towel, others call a cup towel. A pumpjack or nodding donkey is part of an oil well. It was suggested she say pumping jack. Ah, not only no, but hell no. As the author who shared the story said, she’d be “laughed out of west Texas if she’d used that term.” Another thing people don’t understand is y’all isn’t singular. A live oak is a specific type of tree, not a tree that’s actually alive. Texas barns are most likely weathered and red, not the giant red barns seen in the East and Midwest.

Another big issue was horses. One friend’s pet peeve was when authors put a hero on a “well-behaved” stallion. First, stallions are rarely “well-behaved,” and second, stallions often can’t be near other horses. Another author friend said she spotted a cover where the male model had a bridle thrown over his shoulder… upside down! According to her, “No one who has been within 20 feet of a horse would carry a bridle that way.” 

A friend and amazing artist, Jane Monsson also said her pet peeve is when authors get horse details wrong. From her art, it’s apparent she loves horses and knows a lot about them. I admit, I’ve worried about messing up with horse anatomy or gear. After all, I write western romance. There’s going to be horses in my stories and I need to get it right. While I know which end of a horse is which, I’ve never owned one and am nowhere near an expert.

How do I get details right enough so as not to offend experts like Jane? Edgar R. “Frosty” Potter’s cool book Cowboy Slang. The book contains an illustration “Parts of a Horse” and “Parts of a Horse Skeleton.” (I haven’t needed the later, but one never knows!However, I’ve frequently referred to the section “Colors of Horses.” This book of one hundred twenty-three pages is a treasure, containing great western sayings, info on cattle brands, barbed wire, cattle ear crop types, and how cowboys use a bandana! For horse gear, I refer to the illustrated horse gear section of a volunteer booklet from Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship Program. 

The other way I check facts or do research for my stories is by finding an expert. But that’s a blog for another day.

Now it’s your turn. Share with me what your pet peeve that people get wrong about the west or us Westerners and be entered to win a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy and the Book Club wine glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star-crossed Cowboy Romance: #mustlovecowboys

I have a brand new series starting with Love Inspired on July 17th, 2018.

I LOVE THIS SERIES.

It’s sweet. It’s poignant. It’s fun. It’s diverse. But more than anything else, it’s based on great stories from a solid premise that’s got some wide-open doors for twists:

MAJOR PUBLISHER INDICTED, BILKS FORTUNE FROM COMPANY, BANKRUPTS FAMILY. PRESTIGIOUS KENTUCKY HORSE FARM LIQUIDATED!

Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald grew up with horses, but their illustrious Kentucky farm was geared for big stakes racing and gilded dressage. When their father sank the three generation publishing ship that made the Fitzgeralds crazy rich, the three women were left with nothing but one car each and college loans. Big college loans.  Their Uncle Sean realizes what his good-for-nothing brother has done about the same time his final cancer treatment fails. He wills a 25% share of his sprawling Idaho ranch to each of the girls… and the final 25% to Heath Caufield, a man who came on board when he was thrown off the Kentucky horse farm a dozen years before. Why? Because he had the audacity to fall in love with Lizzie Fitzgerald.

Lizzie and Heath share a past. There’s no way in this world they can share a future, but when those old feelings come to fore, can they look beyond their history to embrace the future God’s laid out for them?

The fun of this story is that it bridges the techno gap of a decade. Ten years ago, it was tough to get cell reception in a lot of out-of-the way places. Now we’re spoiled (or RUINED, but that’s another blog post, right???) because it’s rare that we can’t get coverage in most places.

But that’s a recent change and when big money wants someone G-O-N-E, they generally manage to get it done.

Lizzie comes to the ranch, unaware that Heath is the ranch manager following her uncle’s death… and a co-owner. Her uncle laid out a caveat: The women had to give it a year on the ranch.

For Lizzie this is a no-brainer. She’s got a head for business, a love and skill for horses, and heading up the equine breeding side of Pine Ridge Ranch is an amazing opportunity… right up until she sees Heath Caufield coming her way.

And so it begins….

A story filled with love, with ego, with anger, with emotion and attraction… and a motherless bi-racial little boy named Zeke who can’t help but win hearts wherever he goes.

Sheep ranching has a great history in the hills and mountains of Idaho, so setting this ranch… and others… here fit the storyline and the Western flair.

And bringing three Southern magnolias who are true Steel Magnolias to Idaho was just too much fun. Each girl has her own history, tainted by the loss of their mother as small children, the selfishness of a spoiled, rich father, and the love of a black surrogate mother, a woman who raised these delicate blossoms to be the strong women they are today, a woman who has stayed with them long after the money ran out because raising children isn’t about making money… sometimes it’s just absolutely about love. Corrie Satterly loves these girls like they were her own. And for nearly thirty years, they have been.

But money doesn’t buy happiness and each woman comes west as an individual with her own past, hopes and dreams and goals. All are determined that they’ll earn their inheritance, then sell it back to Heath Caufield, wish him well with his sheep and hay and straw and lambs and dogs and horses… and make their way in the world.

When the good Lord has other plans…. and offers other options…. are they gutsy enough to claim a future in the still somewhat wild West? Or will old-fashioned stubbornness trip them up?

Book one releases in six weeks… and then I was invited to do a novella combo with the amazing and wonderful Linda Goodnight… and so readers will get the second bonus story in December, a beautiful story of a widowed Native American woman with her endearing daughter and a rancher whose sad past colors his present and his future… “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” in the duo called “A Cowboy Christmas”! (And I love, love, love Linda Goodnight!)

And then in February the third book releases

Today we’re celebrating this upcoming release with TWO COPIES to give away!

Leave a comment below and tell me what grabs you about reunion romance? Those star-crossed lovers that are pulled apart…. and what bridges the gap to bring them back together?

Not like Romeo and Juliet because they were kind of too dumb for words, weren’t they?

(Sorry, I should not give out negative personal opinions on a world-famous blog… except I did kind of wanna slap ’em both. And their families…)

Clearly this is why I love writing inspirational romance and women’s fiction.

I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS!

Life comes with its own set of sad moments, and while I’m okay with sadness in a book… I long for the couple’s happy ending!

Looking forward to chatting with you all today!

 

 

 

Welcome Guest – Amanda Renee

 

Farrier Fascination

Happy New Year and Happy early Valentine’s Day!

I’ve wanted to write a Valentine’s story for years, and was lucky enough to do so before my beloved Harlequin Western Romance line closes this year. WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY is not only a holiday romance, it has allowed me to share my fascination with the age-old art of farriering.

Many moons ago, I worked on a large reining horse ranch in Northern New Jersey. Up until that point I had always thought of farriers as people who trimmed hooves and put shoes on horses. I hadn’t realized that many farriers work alongside equine veterinarians and provide therapeutic and corrective shoeing to horses suffering from hoof disorders, trauma, neglect and other injuries.

The reddish orange glow of our resident farrier’s forge drew me in and I became captivated watching him precisely sculpt each shoe with what seemed like the most primitive of tools. From the first rise of steam when the shoe met the horse’s hoof, I knew I wanted to write a farrier story. Back then I had always assumed it would be about a male farrier because that’s all I had ever heard about. Years later, I moved to the deep south and discovered most of the farriers in my area are women. The story idea once again began to rattle around in my brain, but I hadn’t given it the attention it deserved until I stumbled across a photo of country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves with her horse Mismo. The name Delta Grace immediately sprung to mind and I knew I had my female farrier. I just needed a rugged family man to round out my story…and like a sign from above, singer Luke Bryant began playing on the radio. The man epitomizes family and I had all the inspiration I needed to write WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY. While this is by far my most heart wrenching story to date, it was one of my favorites to write. I hope you enjoy reading it.

FALLING HEAD OVER BOOTS…

Farrier Delta Grace has a strict rule about not getting involved with clients. Rugged ranch owner Garrett Slade is exactly why. The attraction between them is instant. He’s also her biggest client and the epitome of complicated. A widowed father of two, he’s moved back to Saddle Ridge, Montana, for a fresh start.

Despite her better judgment, Delta can’t stay away from Garrett or his kids. And it’s not long before her heart melts completely, along with her rules. However, when life deals Delta a devastating blow, she needs to distance herself from Garrett—their family has already experienced too much heartache. All is not lost, though, because with Valentine’s Day around the corner, love may actually conquer all!

Want to win a copy of WRANGLING CUPID’S COWBOY?

Tell me what fascinates you most about ranch life in the comments section and one winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy (your choice: digital or paperback).

*****

Amanda Renee was raised in the Northeast and now wriggles her toes in the warm coastal Carolina sands. Her career began when she was discovered through Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. When not creating stories about love and laughter, she enjoys the company of her schnoodle—Duffy—camping, playing guitar and piano, photography and anything involving animals. You can visit her at amandarenee.com.

Let ‘Er Buck

Today kicks off a 107-year-old tradition — the Pendleton Round-Up.

This rodeo, held in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, began when a group of community and area leaders developed the idea of an annual event. It all started, really, with a successful 4th of July celebration in 1909 that included bronc riding, horse races, Indian dances, foot races and fireworks.

The Pendleton Round-Up was incorporated as a non-profit organization at the end of July in 1910. The legal name was the “Northwestern Frontier Exhibition Association.” The group decided to stage the event in September to allow the grain farmers time to complete their harvest and the ranchers time to make a late summer check-up on their grazing cattle.

Image from the East Oregonian

The first Pendleton Round-Up was to be a frontier exhibition that brought the old west back to life and offered the crowd entertaining Indian, cowboy, and military spectacles, held in conjunction with the Eastern Oregon District Fair.

Image from the East Oregonian

People responded so enthusiastically to the idea, special trains ran from Portland to Pendleton to make sure the “city crowd” could witness the event.

The stores in town closed for the first performance. In fact, so many people showed up at that first performance, workers jumped in after the rodeo and added an additional 3,000 seats to accommodate the crowds the next day.  More than 7,000 people attended the first event (which far exceeded the number of people living in town at the time).

In just a few short years, the wooden grandstand and surrounding bleachers were completed, offering seating to more than 20,000 spectators.

Before women received the right to vote in Oregon, the Pendleton Round-Up gave them a chance to compete in a variety of events. In 1914, Bertha Blanchett came within a dozen points of winning the all-around title, right alongside the men.

Many famous names competed in the Round-Up arena including people like Slim Pickens, Hoot Gibson, Jackson Sundown, and Yakima Canutt (a stuntman who doubled for Clark Gable and John Wayne, to name a few).

Pendleton is home to the Umatilla Reservation and from that very first show in 1910, many Indians have participated in the event. There are Indian races at the rodeo, the special Happy Canyon pageant, and the Indian Village that is one of the largest in North America with more than 300 teepees set up annually.

Tribal members also ride into the arena before the Indian dancing at the rodeo (right before the bull riding) and wow spectators with their beautiful regalia, some that dates back more than a century.

There are unique facets to the Pendleton Round-Up that make it different from many rodeos. For one thing, the rodeo arena’s grass floor is one-of-a-kind in the world of rodeo, adding a unique challenge for competitors. It provides the largest barrel racing pattern on the professional rodeo circuit, too.

Also, the Pendleton Round-Up was the first rodeo to have rodeo royalty, beginning in 1910. Today, the queen and her court race into the arena, jumping over the fence surrounding the grassy expanse not once, but twice.

The first year of the rodeo also saw the introduction of the Westward Ho Parade, one of the longest non-motorized parades in the country.  The parade tradition carries on today with entries from all around the region.

Since 1910, the Pendleton Round-Up has been a popular event. Other than two years it was not held during World War II, it has run continuously each September. Today, more than 50,000 attendees fill the bleachers to watch the four-day long event.

And on their lips, you’ll hear them shout the slogan that was first used in 1910…

Let’ Er Buck!

***

 Dally  (Pendleton Petticoats, Book 8) is a sweet romance that encompasses the first year of the Pendleton Round-Up. In fact, the girl on the cover is one of the 2017 rodeo court.

I’m going to give three lucky winners a digital copy of  Dally .

To enter for a chance to win, all you have to do is answer this question:

What’s your favorite rodeo event or thing to see in a parade? 

 

 

Memoirs of a Wannabe Cowgirl

We’re happy to have another wonderful guest with us today. Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they recently moved overseas.

Welcome, Myra!

I wasn’t always a city girl. The first four years of my life were spent on my parents’ farm outside Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. My two brothers, already adults when I came along (surprise!!), lived on the property and had their own horses, Red and Rusty.

I still remember my first “cowgirl” initiation. My mother set me on Rusty’s bare back, ostensibly for a lazy ride around the corral. But I had other ideas. I gripped Rusty’s mane, gleefully leaned toward his ears, and commanded, “Go, Rusty, go!”

He did. Except Mommy still had hold of my ankle, which pulled me off Rusty’s back and headfirst into, um, something very, very soft and squishy.

Next stop: the bathtub.

So began my lifelong love of horses—with one significant problem. Shortly before I turned four, my dad passed away, and soon afterward Mom moved us into town. From that point forward, my future as a city girl was fixed.

It wasn’t long before both my brothers left the Valley and settled in the Texas Hill Country. The younger brother, married with three children, had a small ranch with horses and cattle, so whenever my mother and I visited, I got to be a country girl again, even if only for a few days.

The years passed, and when I was a young teen, circumstances brought my mother and me back to the farm that was my first home. Still, my mother wouldn’t agree to having a horse—too much responsibility, she insisted.

Then one day a stray horse wandered up our driveway. My mom placed a lost-and-found ad, but for days no one responded. The horse looked gentle enough, and I was itching to try riding him. Finally I talked my mom into helping me, so with an old rag rug for a saddle and makeshift rope reins, I carefully climbed onto his back.

For the next few days, we enjoyed leisurely strolls down the lane, and I was the happiest girl in the West—er, South—until a woman and her and two ecstatic children arrived to claim their missing horse. I cried to watch him go.

More years passed. I grew up, got married, and had kids of my own. Horse adventures were limited to the occasional trail ride while on vacation . . .

. . . until the year I signed up to volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding center. Working directly with the horses was a dream fulfilled, even more so when another volunteer encouraged me to take dressage lessons (not exactly cowgirl-type horsemanship, but nearing 50 by then, I was okay with a tamer kind of riding).

My volunteer friend eventually introduced me to a horsewoman who owned a sweet old gelding that needed extra attention. When she offered to let me ride him for lessons and practice, it was the best of both worlds—a “free” horse I could ride whenever I wanted, without the responsibility of feeding, mucking stalls, vet care, etc.

Those years of dressage lessons and volunteering at the therapeutic riding center also brought knowledge, skills, and priceless firsthand experiences. Besides the basics of horse care and tack, I learned ground driving and lunge-lining, and I exulted in the thrill of “joining up” with horses in the round pen. I could even harness a horse to a small carriage for a ride down the lane!

After seven wonderful (and wonder-filled) years of such experiences, my husband and I moved far away from Texas and my “horsey” friends, and for the past eleven years I have been utterly horseless [cue the violins]. My only recourse has been to write books with horses in them, and there have been several, including my “Horseman” trilogy, set in North Carolina and featuring three handsome horsemen and the women they love.

My recent Love Inspired contemporary romance, Her Hill Country Cowboy, returns to Texas and is set on a small guest ranch in the fictional town of Juniper Bluff, about an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio. I’m delighted to give away two copies today (U.S. postal addresses only, please). You can read more about the story below.

So let’s chat. Do you harbor a cherished lifelong dream? Has it come true? If so, in what ways? If not, what can you do or have you done to fill that empty place in your heart?

About the book: Single father Seth Austin will do anything for his children. So when he discovers the new housekeeper his grandmother hired for their guest ranch is a former social worker, he plans to keep his family far away from Christina Hunter. Seth once almost lost custody of his beloved kids because of an overzealous social worker. Problem is his children adore Christina and her sweet service dog—and he’s starting to fall for her, too. Recuperating from an accident, Christina is determined to slowly ease back into her old life. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realizes that her future might be with the cowboy and his family.

Connect with Myra:

Website

Facebook

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

Sign up to receive Myra’s quarterly e-news updates here!