Category: Behind the Book

A NEW SERIES–COMING SOON FROM CHERYL PIERSON! by Cheryl Pierson

I’m obsessed with mail-order bride stories. I can’t imagine what would make a young lady leave her home and head west to marry someone she’d never met, live in unfamiliar surroundings, and basically consign herself to a life of uncertainty from the moment she stepped foot on the train (or stagecoach).

But this “wondering” was what got me started on a massive writing project that I’m loving every minute of! My SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE series (and this is my first series!) was born of wondering what would happen if a gambler, Calum Ross, had won some mail-order brides for himself, his cousin Blake, and their best friends Paxton, Collin, Liam, and Jordan Taylor—four brothers who they’d grown up with.

Returning to Texas when the Civil War ends, the men are eager to get back to life as it was “before” they went off to fight. Calum has all but forgotten that odd bet he “won” in a smoky bar near the end of the war, and the others never even knew about it. Of course, marriage is the very last thing on any of their minds on their travels home. 

The six brides who are traveling to Texas from “back east” are as different from one another as any people could be, but during this long journey, they have embraced one another and become as close as sisters—they are family long before they ever cross the Red River.

The brides arrive before the men, to the unsuspecting Taylor family’s spacious home—and this excerpt is about the greeting they receive.

As I said, this is slated to be a series, as each of the couples have their own problems to overcome, with issues that happened before they ever met—and also, those that any couple might face—especially since they are starting marriage on such shaky ground.

I’m hoping this first book of the series will be released by early fall—and I’ll be sharing more about this venture as time goes by—but let me introduce you to some of my characters from SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE!

EXCERPT:

“Oh…my…stars,” Noelle gasped as the coach pulled to a halt in front of the elegant Spanish-style stucco home.

“As I live and breathe…” Angelica murmured. “Things are looking up already.”

“If we’re welcomed here, that is,” Tabitha added.

“Which we might not be,” Cami said quietly.

“Only one way to find out, ladies,” Jessamyn said firmly. “We’ll ask Mr. Fielding to wait a moment and see what kind of reception we get. No need to unload the luggage until we see.”

Just then, the front door opened wide and a man emerged. At the same time, the stage driver and shotgun rider called out a greeting, and the man lowered the barrel of the rifle he carried.

“Ain’t no call to shoot us, Lowell. We’re bringin’ a bevy of beautiful brides to your door!” Arnold joshed. He stepped lively to the stage door and opened it, and the women began to emerge in the heat of the June day.

 

“What in the cornbread hell—Arnold, is this some kind of sorry joke you’re pulling?”

The driver gave the man a peeved look, his bushy brows furrowing sharply. “I’ve saved you a drive into town, Taylor,” he said in a low growl. “The least you can do is be respectful in front of ladies.”

“Ladies!” Taylor scoffed loudly. “Load ’em back up. Only one here needs a bride is my foreman, J.A. Decker, and I ain’t gonna tempt him with a woman.”

“What’s going on, Lowell?” A woman’s voice came from somewhere inside the open doorway.

“Nothing, Ellen, just—”

A woman with a head of dark hair and emerald green eyes peered around the door, then, a wide smile of greeting lighting her features she moved past her husband onto the porch.

“Arnold Fielding, and Joe Darwin! Oh, and some weary travelers! Is there trouble?” Her look turned anxious.

“Only just now, Mrs. Taylor,” Joe muttered darkly.

She whirled to look at her husband, who towered over her by a good ten inches. Defiantly, she turned back to the group in the front yard and graciously announced, “Please, come inside and refresh yourselves.”  Looking past them, she motioned one of the stable boys forward. “Jose, please unhitch the team and take care of the horses. They’re hot and tired, too.”

The boy nodded, moving toward the horses.

“Should we unload the—” Arnold began.

“That can wait until we’ve cooled off some,” Ellen interrupted, motioning them forward. With a welcoming smile, she threw the door wide. “We have guests, Pilar,” she called.

Si, senora,” came a muffled voice.

Lowell Taylor stood aside as the travelers climbed the front steps and entered his house. As Arnold brought up the rear, Lowell put a staying hand on his shoulder. “What the hell, Arnie?”

Arnold shook his head. “I don’t know any more’n you. They say they’re mail-order brides on their way here from back east somewheres.”

Where back east? Hell, ever’thing’s ‘back east’ from where we are.”

“I don’t know, Lowell. It wasn’t my business. Said this is where they was headed, and I offered to bring ’em on out to save you a drive into town. It ain’t too far out of the way.”

Lowell stepped aside grudgingly. “You’ve never been one to trurn down Pilar’s lemonade and sopapillas. Reckon that’s why you offered so kindly.”

Arnold smiled. “No, sir. And I ain’t gonna make today any different.”

“Let’s go see what this is all about,” Lowell muttered. “Then I’ll decide if those women stay.”

Arnie chuckled. “Or, Miss Ellen will.”

                                                                                       ****

It was impossible to remain proper and aloof, the women soon discovered, in Ellen Taylor’s home. What her husband lacked in manners, she made up for in spades, with her welcoming demeanor, the genuine friendliness of her smiles, and her God-given ability to draw them out of their awkward reserve.

“When was the last time you ladies had a proper meal?” she asked, assuming that, no matter what, their funds would be running low by the end of their journey.

Quick looks at one another darted around the room, and she turned a blind eye, as if she didn’t notice.

“Pilar, perhaps you and Luisa could make some sandwiches for everyone,” Ellen instructed. “I’ll pour the lemonade.” 

“I’ve made tea, as well,” Pilar said with a quick nod as she excused herself and called to Luisa.

“Let’s move to the back porch, everyone,” Ellen said when she’d poured their glasses full of something to drink. “There’s a good breeze out there, usually.”

They’d all seated themselves except Lowell, who remained standing in the center of the porch looking around at all of the travelers, the driver, and the shotgun rider.

“Now I want some answers. Not to be rude—” he held out a hand as Ellen started to intervene, “—but I need to know what this is all about.”

Silence fell, and the others looked to the woman with blonde hair that was once curled, but now hung in tired, relaxed ringlets at the back, beneath her hat that looked as frayed and threadbare as her spirits. Her blue eyes still sparked with determination, and it was plain to see she was the one the others had come to depend on.

“Miss…” Ellen questioned, meeting the woman’s eyes.

“Thomas. Jessamyn Thomas. But I go by Jessie to my friends.”

Ellen smiled. “Jessamyn. What a lovely name. May I call you Jessie, then? Can you shed some light on this situation?”

Jessie nodded, and glanced at the others to be certain they approved of her speaking for all of them. “For various reasons, we had all ended up in Charleston, South Carolina, during the war, or at the war’s end. Also, we had all applied to the Potter Marriage Pairings Agency—”

“Mail-order brides,” Lowell muttered, raking Jessamyn with a disdainful gaze.

Seeing the fight come into her features, Ellen sent her husband a quelling look. She reached across one of the other women to touch Jessamyn’s hand. “Please, continue, my dear.”

Jessamyn turned away from Lowell’s steady glare to look at Ellen, effectively dismissing him. Ellen held back a smile.

“Yes. But we each have a reason for becoming a mail-order bride. And those reasons are for each of us to tell—our own stories—when the time is right.”

“But how did you come to be here? In Texas?” Ellen prodded.

Jessamyn lifted her chin. “We were…won. On a gamble. It-it was a card game, and Mr. Potter had nothing else to wager but part of his business holdings. Normally, he charges a fee to the—the prospective groom. And the groom would also pay travel expenses for—for the bride. So, Mr. Potter bet six brides.”

Lowell let out an indignant huff of disbelief. “And who would you have us believe would be stupid enough to wager a pot of money against six women who are desperate enough to—”

Jessamyn stood quickly as her anger got the best of her. “Mr. Taylor, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever man becomes the husband of any of us will be the winner of that game, I can promise you.” Her voice shook with fury. “We are all here of our own accord. We are here honestly. We were told that we had husbands waiting for us.” Her blue eyes narrowed, but by now, Lowell Taylor stood, slack-jawed at the young woman’s dressing down.

“As for the man who—as you say—was stupid enough to gamble on us? That would be a dear friend of your family—a Mr. Calum James Ross.”

Lowell’s eyes widened at this, but Jessamyn wasn’t finished.

“So you see, when we meet with Mr. Ross, he will be able to explain everything to your exacting satisfaction, I believe, Mr. Taylor.”

The room fell deathly quiet, and a muttered “Sandwiches are ready,” sounded from the doorway.

****

I don’t know if I could be a mail-order bride–could you? 

1800’s Frugal Frontier Housewife

 

THE AMERICAN FRUGAL HOUSEWIFE.
DEDICATED TO
THOSE WHO ARE NOT ASHAMED OF ECONOMY.

When I began my novella for Be My Texas Valentine, some nine years ago, I had to do some research on how laundry was done in the late 1800’s, so I went to my bookcase literally filled with reference books not only on the craft of writing, but books about everything anyone would ever want to know about the 1800’s. I’d totally forgotten about a CD I’d purchased with a number of works on it, including one written in 1832 and simply titled The American Frugal Housewife by a woman only identified as Mrs. Child. After reading a while, I decided in today’s economy it might be fun to visit some of Mrs. Child’s philosophy and guidelines from yesteryear.

The author’s premise is simple: “The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost … Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be … every member of the family should be employed either in earning or saving money.”

Here are some of her tips. Please note that I left much of the spelling and punctuation as it was originally written to truly reflect her authentic voice and the era.

• In this country, we are apt to let children romp away their existence, till they get to be thirteen or fourteen. This is not well. It is not well for the purses and {4} patience of parents; and it has a still worse effect on the morals and habits of the children. Begin early is the great maxim for everything in education. A child of six years old can be made useful; and should be taught to consider every day lost in which some little thing has not been done to assist others. They can knit garters, suspenders, and stockings; they can make patchwork and braid straw; they can make mats for the table, and mats for the floor; they can weed the garden, and pick cranberries from the meadow, to be carried to market.

• Provided brothers and sisters go together, and are not allowed to go with bad children, it is a great deal better for the boys and girls on a farm to be picking blackberries at six cents a quart, than to be wearing out their clothes in useless play. They enjoy themselves just as well; and they are earning something to buy clothes, at the same time they are tearing them.

• ‘Time is money.’ For this reason, cheap as stockings are, it is good economy to knit them. Cotton and woollen yarn are both cheap; hose that are knit wear twice as long as woven ones; and they can be done at odd minutes of time, which would not be otherwise employed. Where there are children, or aged people, it is sufficient to recommend knitting. Run the heels of stockings faithfully; and mend thin places, as well as holes. ‘A stitch in time saves nine.’

• Patchwork is good economy, but it is indeed a foolish waste of time to tear gppd cloth into bits for the sake of arranging it anew in fantastic figures; but a large family may be kept out of idleness, and a few shillings saved, by thus using scraps of gowns, curtains, &c. 

 

ODD SCRAPS FOR THE ECONOMICAL

• Look frequently to the pails, to see that nothing is thrown to the pigs which should have been in the grease-pot.
• Look to the grease-pot, and see that nothing is there which might have served to nourish your own family, or a poorer one.
• See that the beef and pork are always under brine; and that the brine is sweet and clean.
• Preserve the backs of old letters to write upon. If you have children who are learning to write, buy coarse white paper by the quantity, and keep it locked up, ready to be made into writing books. It does not cost half as much as it does to buy them at the stationer’s.
• The oftener carpets are shaken, the longer they wear; the dirt that collects under them, grinds out the threads. Do not have carpets swept any oftener than is absolutely necessary. After dinner, sweep the crumbs into a dusting-pan with your hearth-brush; and if you have been sewing, pick up the shreds by hand. A carpet can be kept very neat in this way; and a broom wears it very much. When a carpet is faded, I have been told that it may be restored, in a great measure, (provided there be no grease in it,) by being dipped into strong salt and water. I never tried this; but I know that silk pocket handkerchiefs, and deep blue factory cotton will not fade, if dipped in salt and water while new Keep a coarse broom for the cellar stairs, wood-shed, yard, &c. No good housekeeper allows her carpet broom to be used for such things.
• Suet and lard keep better in tin than in earthen. Suet keeps good all the year round, if chopped and packed down in a stone jar, covered with molasses. Pick suet free from veins and skin, melt it in water before a moderate fire, let it cool till it forms into a hard cake, then wipe it dry, and put it in clean paper in linen bags.
• The covering of oil-flasks, sewed together with strong thread, and lined and bound neatly, makes useful tablemats.
• Never leave out your clothes-line over night; and see that your clothes-pins are all gathered into a basket.
• After old coats, pantaloons, &c. have been cut up for boys, and are no longer capable of being converted into garments, cut them into strips, and employ the leisure moments of children, or domestics, in sewing and braiding them for door-mats.
• An ounce of quicksilver, beat up with the white of two eggs, and put on with a feather, is the cleanest and surest bed-bug poison. What is left should be thrown away: it is dangerous to have it about the house. If the vermin are in your walls, fill up the cracks with verdigris-green paint.1
• Eggs will keep almost any length of time in lime-water properly prepared. One pint of coarse salt, and one pint of unslacked lime, to a pailful of water. If there be too much lime, it will eat the shells from the eggs; and if there be a single egg cracked, it will spoil the whole. They should be covered with lime-water, and kept in a cold place. The yolk becomes slightly red; but I have seen eggs, thus kept, perfectly sweet and fresh at the end of three years. The cheapest time to lay down eggs, is early in spring, and the middle and last of September. It is bad economy to buy eggs by the dozen, as you want them.
• If feather-beds smell badly, or become heavy, from want of proper preservation of the feathers, or from old age, empty them, and wash the feathers thoroughly in a tub of suds; spread them in your garret to dry, and they will be as light and as good as new.
• Feathers should be very thoroughly dried before they are used. For this reason they should not be packed away in bags, when they are first plucked. They should be laid lightly in a basket, or something of that kind, and stirred up often. The garret is the best place to dry them; because they will there be kept free from dirt and moisture; and will be in no danger of being blown away. It is well to put the parcels, which you may have from time to time, into the oven, after you have removed your bread, and let them stand a day.

I don’t know about you, but I became exhausted by just reading about the do’s and don’t of a frugal frontier housewife. May of her tips are still used today.

So, what chore do you find the least pleasant and which might be fun?

I will be giving away a copy of my newest contemporary romance “Out of a Texas Night” to one lucky commenter, but if you have already read it, I bet I can find one of the others to give away in it’s place.

 

Updated: May 4, 2020 — 6:35 pm

Charlene Raddon: Were Those Really the Good Old Days?

We’re so happy to have Miss Charlene Raddon back visiting with us. She’s brought an interesting subject to talk about in addition to a giveaway at the bottom. Take us away, Charlene.

Thank you for having me. I’m so happy to be back. My image of a typical 19th-century family sitting down to supper used to include a table laden with healthy, wholesome, homemade foods. To a shocking degree, the truth is the opposite. Contamination was rife, even among foods prepared at home, on the farm or ranch. Few people understood germs, bacteria and E. coli. Foreign substances and chemicals tainted foods. By the 1840s, home-baked bread had supposedly died out among the rural poor. I find this hard to believe. But it is true that people living in small urban tenements, typically unequipped with ovens, bought their bread when they could afford it.

In 1872, Dr. Hassall, the primary health reformer and a pioneer investigator into food adulteration, demonstrated that half of the bread he examined had considerable quantities of alum. Alum lowers the nutritional value of foods by inhibiting the digestion. The list of poisonous additives from that time reads like the stock list of a wicked chemist: strychnine, cocculus inculus (both hallucinogens), and copperas in rum and beer; sulphate of copper in pickles, bottled fruit, wine, and preserves; lead chromate in mustard and snuff; sulphate of iron in tea and beer; ferric ferrocynanide, lime sulphate, and turmeric in Chinese tea; copper carbonate, lead sulphate, bisulphate of mercury, and Venetian lead in sugar confectionery and chocolate; lead in wine and cider. All were extensively used and accumulative in effect, meaning that, over a long period, in chronic gastritis, and, indeed, often fatal food poisoning.

                                          

Dairies watered down their milk then added chalk to put back the color. Butter, bread, and gin often had copper added to heighten the color. In London, where ice cream was called “hokey-pockey,” tested examples proved to contain cocci, bacilli, torulae, cotton fiber, lice, bed bugs, bug’s legs, fleas, straw, human hair, cat and dog hair. Such befouled ice cream caused diphtheria, scarlet fever, diarrhea, and enteric fever. Meat purchased from butchers often came from diseased animals.

 

A significant cause of infant mortality was the widespread practice of giving children narcotics, especially opium, to keep them quiet. Laudanum was cheap—about the price of a pint of beer—and its sale was unregulated until late in the century. The use of opium was widespread both in town and country. In Manchester, England, five out of six working-class families used the drug habitually. One druggist admitted to selling a half-gallon of a very popular cordial, which contained opium, treacle, water, and spices, as well as five to six gallons of a substance euphemistically called “quietness” every week. Another druggist admitted to selling four hundred gallons of laudanum annually. At mid-century at least ten proprietary brands, with Godfrey’s Cordial, Steedman’s Powder, and the grandly named Atkinson’s Royal Infants Preservative among the most popular, were available in pharmacies everywhere. Opium in pills and penny sticks was widely sold and opium-taking in some areas was described as a way of life. Doctors reported that infants were wasted from it—’shrunk up into little old men,’ ‘wizened like little monkeys’.

And what was the fate of those wizened little monkeys? Chances are the worst of them grew up in a “sanitorium” or an asylum for the mad. After all, we can’t have rich Aunt Matilda or the preacher’s wife seeing such a child. Or the child might be put in the attic to be raised by Grandma, who’s not quite right in the head.

Kept in a drugged state much of the time, infants generally refused to eat and therefore starved.  Rather than record a baby’s death as being from severe malnutrition, coroners often listed ‘debility from birth,’ or ‘lack of breast milk,’ as the cause. Addicts were diagnosed as having alcoholic inebriety, morphine inebriety, along with an endless list of man dypsomania, opiomania, morphinomania, chloralomania, etheromania, chlorodynomania, and even chloroformomania; and – isms such as cocainism and morphinism. It wasn’t until WWI that the term “addiction” came into favor.

In the beginning, opium was considered a medical miracle used as the essential ingredient in many remedies dispensed in Europe and America for the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, rheumatism, diabetes, malaria, cholera, fevers, bronchitis, insomnia, and pains of any sort.

One must remember that at this time, the physician’s cabinet was almost bare of alternative drugs, and a doctor could hardly practice medicine without it. A great many respectable people imbibed narcotics and alcohol in the form of patent medicines and even soft drinks. Coca Cola got its name because it originally contained a minute amount of cocaine, thought to be a healthy stimulant. A shocking number of “teetotaling” women relied on daily doses of tonics that, unknown to them, contained as much alcohol as whiskey or gin. Of course, it was no secret that men imbibed alcohol at alarming rates, and alcoholism was rampant. The result was a happy but less than healthy population.

 

 

I used this in my mail-order bride story, Forever Mine. The hero’s shrew of a wife had diabetes and treated it by drinking a tonic that promised to cure everything. It didn’t. In my book, Taming Jenna, the heroine’s missing father fell victim to dipsomania and was saved by the hero’s determination and kindness. In Thalia, Book 7 of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series, my heroine is in love with the town’s newspaper owner. Unfortunately, he suffers from dipsomania. It doesn’t faze Thalia though. She loves him anyway.

Is it any wonder the nineteenth century became known as “the good old days”?

What are your thoughts on this? Would you have drank Coca Cola if you knew it had cocaine in it? I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card plus a copy of one of these books—Forever Mine, Taming Jenna, or Thalia—to one person who comments. The drawing will be Sunday.

 

Charlene Raddon is an Amazon bestselling author of sixteen historical romance novels set in the American West. Originally published in 1994 by Kensington Books, she is now an Indie author. Charlene also designs book covers, specializing in western historical. You can find her covers at https://silversagebookcovers.com

http://www.charleneraddon.com

http://www.facebook.com/charleneraddon

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/charlene-raddon

His Boots Are Made For Running!

Running for sheriff, that is!

Tug Moyer isn’t your average, every-day guy.

He’s a widower with two kids and great parents who jumped in when Tug lost his wife so they could help with the kids. Now… with Tug’s bid to become the next Grant County sheriff at hand… it’s Tug’s time to put his best foot forward, but when his smart and helpful daughter posts a video about her dad needing a new wife…

A video that goes viral within hours!

Tug’s got a mess on his hands.

The school is not amused. The sheriff’s department is not amused. And Evangeline’s teacher is the least amused of all. How could a sheriff’s deputy, a man who does teen-empowerment podcasts and blogcasts, not understand the dangers of kids let loose on the Internet???

Tug’s not your typical Western hero. He’s not a cowboy, but he wears boots. 🙂

He’s not riding range or roping calves or herding cattle, but he’s there, in the thick of a beautiful Western state that’s become a hub of agricultural beauty, vying for the sheriff’s office, fighting crime, helping kids and saving lives, unaware that his growing interest in Evangeline’s teacher might be his undoing.

Christa didn’t come into the ranks of teaching easily. The daughter of a Guatemalan immigrant, a woman who sacrificed so much to get her baby sister and daughter to America, Christa had a rough childhood that framed the solid person she is today. But when one of those youthful mistakes is made public, she knows she can become the downfall of the man she’s fallen in love with.

Boots aren’t just for riding, are they?

Wearing boots makes a statement.

Cool guys dare to wear them in Manhattan.

My son who moved to Texas 18 months ago now owns boots…

And loves them.

It’s not a fashion statement.

Perish the thought.

It’s a personal statement of self-confidence. And maybe a hint of swagger.

Having a hero running for office deepened Tug and Christa’s conflict, but it also gave the reader a better look at who Tug is. And his partner, Lorenzo Calloway, who will be the hero in the third Golden Grove book. Lorenzo is a boot-wearing deputy as well. Raised on a Central Washington beef ranch, Renzo wears the uniform but he’s on hand to help during busy times of calving, wrangling and getting calves to market. Unlike Tug, Renzo will not be running for any kind of office, but he’s the kind of man who stands tall in those boots, who stands firm for faith and family… but more about Renzo and Sarah later! 🙂

Boots sell movie tickets…. Tom Selleck, Dennis Weaver, Sam Elliott, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne… but look at the more recent Stetson wearing crew:

Tommie Lee Jones… Jeff Bridges… Kevin Costner… Kurt Russell… Val Kilmer…

Boots have crossed the marketing line. They’re not only acceptable anywhere, they’re beloved! And they go great with jeans, skirts, dresses…

Now I am not a fan of boots with shorts…. I’m just sayin’, that’s a little too oxymoron for me. If it’s hot enough for shorts, give me sandals or sneakers…. but that’s just me.

So what are your thoughts about boots? 

Here in the cold north, I’ve got snow boots and farm boots, but that’s a whole other blogpost! Share your boots thoughts below, and I’ll tuck you into a drawing for one of two copies of my just released “Learning to Trust”!

 

AND WE HAVE A WINNER FROM RUTHY’S EARILIER MARCH POST… and by earlier, she means before she had flu that ended up as pneumonia, when she could think a cognizant thought, darlings…. Luckily, she’s almost 100% healthy again!

Winner is Quilt Lady!!!! Congratulations, you’ve won a Kindle copy of Ruthy’s bestselling “Welcome to Wishing Bridge”!

A COWBOY’S SONG ~ Megan Ryder

Hi everybody! Thank you so much for letting me celebrate the release of my book, A Cowboy’s Song, here today!

This book was special to me, as all of my books are, as it combines two special loves for me – cowboys and music. But it also presented a whole bunch of challenges, especially around the music side since I was not that familiar with writing songs and my hero was all about writing a song. So I had a tough road to travel, so to speak.

Country music man playing guitar

Ty Evans, my hero, loved music since he was a boy but he stopped playing and writing music when his family was killed, leaving him an orphan. He ended up in foster care on the ranch in my book, Redemption Ranch, along with two other boys, who became his brothers, but music was not a part of his life. Slowly he reclaimed music, but only to play, not write.

When his oldest brother met the love of his life (Book 1 in my series), Ty decided to try his hand at writing music, and it brought up all the ghosts from his past. A visitor to the ranch, Piper Raines, the daughter of country music royalty, who understands the struggle of music, is there for the wedding, and she helps him breakthrough his block and they sing the song together. When it’s recorded and goes viral, he gets swept up in the hoopla and follows her to Nashville to see if he can have a career, or if it’s too late.

I listened to a lot of country music but listening to music and writing music are two very different things. So, I was lucky to be introduced to a talented songwriter, Sierra Bernal, who wrote a song for the book, which took themes from all three books and made it into the song that is featured in this book. She is recording it now, and I hope to share it in the near future! But learning about Nashville, the country music scene, and how different it is from the other types of music was fascinating.

She taught me about the Nashville numbering system, how they use numbers instead of chords for their music. It was quite complicated and I ended up not using a lot about it in the book but it gave me a foundation for my hero feeling like his time had passed.

I also researched venues for where they might play. I had visited the Grand Ol’ Opry hotel many years ago during the holidays and would have loved to set a book there, or at least a scene. But, that wasn’t realistic. So, I had to find some other place. The Bluebird Café was not at all what I expected (and possibly a little unrealistic) but perfect for my purposes. There are a ton of these little venues for up and coming musicians in Nashville to showcase their talent, and this is a highly sought place.

Here is a playlist I created for this book on Spotify since music was so important to this book, if you’re interested in hearing my inspiration: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4Yj768NXWQHhvPSfWnG8T0?si=g2HivK4WRLK8FzEyGDzEwg

In addition, if you’d like to hear more about the songwriter, check out Sierra Bernal on Spotify at SierraBernal or at her website: Website: http://sierrabernal.com

Ty wrote a song for his brother’s wedding.

What do you think is a romantic gesture for a wedding?

Let’s chat, and I’ll give away an ebook copy of A Cowboy’s Song to one lucky commenter! 

Short Book Blurb:

Can they build a future on a shaky foundation?

Tyler “Ty” lost everything in a car accident when he was twelve, retreating into his shell so tightly that it took months for him to come out again. Music and the ranch saved him, and he will always be grateful to his foster family for saving his life. Now, with the ranch on financial tenterhooks, he wonders if he can use his music to contribute to the solution.

Piper Raines is the daughter of a legendary country music family. While her parents and brother are all famous, her attempt at an independent career went off the rails, and, with exhaustion and stress and bad press dogging her every step, she needs a place to recover. When Piper is invited to vacation at the ranch, Piper and Ty connect through horses and music. After a video duet of Piper and Ty goes viral, they’re invited to sing in Nashville, which also provides added pressure, stressing their new relationship.

 

BUY LINKS:

UNIVERSAL LINK: https://books2read.com/ACowboysSong

Detailed links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/32kRGRr

B&N: http://bit.ly/37Fbos4

KOBO: http://bit.ly/2HG8QiQ

iTunes: https://apple.co/2SWvcle

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BIO: Ever since Megan Ryder discovered Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught while sneaking around the “forbidden” romance section of the library one day after school, she has been voraciously devouring romance novels of all types. Now a romance author in her own right, Megan pens sexy contemporary novels all about family and hot lovin’ with the boy next door. She lives in Connecticut, spending her days as a technical writer and her spare time divided between her addiction to knitting and reading.

 

Visit me at: http://meganryder.com/

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Updated: March 10, 2020 — 2:41 pm

Wishing Wells and Various Lucky Charms

As I took pictures of my foster Kimber for a St. Patrick Day’s post, I started thinking about “lucky” items. I love horseshoes. I pick up pennies I find. “Find a penny pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” I’ve always wished on the first star I see in the night sky. I throw coins in fountains. I’ve never found a 4-leaf clover, but if I had, I’d have kept it. Considering all that it’s not surprising that when I wanted to add something special to my fictional east Texas town, I chose a wishing well. But I’ve never thought about how the wishing well lore started.

Deciding to fix that, I did some research. The lore started because of man’s natural obsession with water. Since without water we humans are toast, water has been a major concern since we burst onto the scene. Many ancient cultures viewed underground springs as sacred gifts. In appreciation, people dropped tokens for the gods into the water. Wells or well houses built around water sources to protect them became gathering places. Germanic tribes believed spirits who liked to intervene in humans’ lives inhabited these waters, and if someone voiced a wish or hope, the spirits might grant the wish. Someone could increase the chances of the wish being granted by dropping a coin or small token in the well. And it turns out poor Odin, Thor’s father, lost his eye because water deity Mimir, who lived in and guarded the Well of Wisdom, demanded his right eye as payment for a drink. The legend says his right eye was thrown in the well for others to know there was a price for the well’s wisdom.

When I created my well, I wanted a twist so I made my well persnickety, only granting wishes made for someone else. I created a legend which started with two sisters, Anne and Alice. The short version is, after the Civil War when Anne’s husband failed to return, she became despondent and took to her bed. Alice, not knowing what else to do, stood at the family well, her tears dropping into the water as she tossed in a coin. She wished for her brother-in-law to return to the family who loved and needed him. Two days later, Sam returned, and the town’s legend was born.

I’ve had fun starting each book with a wish for the hero or heroine and weaving references to the well through the stories. In To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s sister Aubrey turns to the wishing well when she’s concerned he’s marrying the wrong woman. Book 2, To Catch A Texas Cowboy, opens with Ty making a wish for his best friend AJ Quinn. In To Tame A Texas Cowboy, my latest release in the Wishing Texas Series, Cheyenne Whitten’s sister Sheridan wishes for her to receive help with her health issues.

But like Odin, a price is demanded before the wish is granted. My hero and heroine must survive trials, struggles and conflict, often caused or exaggerated by what or rather who fate has decided possesses the answer to their loved one’s wish. Yup, my well enjoys stirring up lives and causing trouble before answering those wishes. Because just like in real life as the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.”

Today’s giveaway is a horseshoe and a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy. This book contains my favorite wish so far. It’s my favorite mainly because it’s done in such a guy fashion. You’ll have to read the story to find out what Ty wishes for AJ. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about your favorite lucky charm or item to wish on. 

Updated: March 3, 2020 — 9:29 pm

Welcome, Carolyn Brown!

Today Carolyn Brown rides into the Junction to talk about her new book, Cowboy Courage, and the give away of signed copy of the book! Welcome, Carolyn!

Thank you to the fillies here at Petticoats and Pistols for inviting me to prop up my boots here on their front porch for a little while today. Y’all all grab a sweet tea and some cookies and let’s talk about Cowboy Courage, that just hit the shelves a couple of days ago.

When I first started this series, it was going to be three books, and then Emily Baker married the young brother, Justin, who was co-owner of the Longhorn Canyon. She had two brothers, Tag and Hud, back home out in the Texas Panhandle, and they missed their sister, so they bought the ranch next to The Longhorn Canyon. They brought along the Callahan brothers with them to help run their ranch and suddenly the series grew to seven books. Cowboy Courage is Hud’s story and it’s the sixth book in the series. CowboyStrong will be out in June and the series will officially wind up in the fall with a novella about Dixie and Landon, two secondary characters in Cowboy Courage and Cowboy Strong.

That said, let’s talk about Hud and Rose, the hero and heroine of Cowboy Courage. Writing about these two was so much fun that I dragged my feet on the last few chapters. I simply didn’t want to tell them goodbye. They met years ago when Rose went to school out in the panhandle with Hud, but then she moved away, and they never saw each other again. Evidently, first love, even if it does involve two fourteen-year-old kids, is difficult to forget. When they are reunited in Bowie, Texas, the old flame is still burning brightly.

After spending years traveling the world with the military, Rose O’Malley is ready for a change. Heading back to Texas to hold down the fort at her aunt’s bed-and-breakfast will give Rose just the break she needs. But while she may speak seven languages, she can’t repair a leaky sink to save her life. When Hudson Baker strides in like a hero and effortlessly figures out the fix, Rose can’t help wondering if the boy she once crushed on as a kid could now be her saving grace.
Hud has always been rock-solid and dependable-a quintessential cowboy to his core. But the moment Rose steps back into his life, his world is turned upside down by meddling family, a rescued baby, and one highly mischievous cat. Now he’ll have to decide if it’s time to throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to convince Rose that by her side is exactly where he wants to stay.

This book includes a first time ever in print novella, Wildflower Ranch, a continuation of Daisies in the Canyon. My readers have asked me for Shiloh and Bonnie’s stories for years. This is Shiloh’s story. Bonnie’s will be included in Cowboy Strong.

What is your favorite? Stand alone stories? Series? If you like series, what do you consider to be too many? Is three a good number or is seven plus a final novella something you’d consider a perfect number?

I will give away a signed copy of Cowboy Courage. Y’all pull up a rocking chair and prop your boots up on the porch rail with me. Got questions? I’ll be dropping by several times throughout the day to answer them!

Montana Dad by Jeannie Watt and a Give Away!

I’m so excited that my next book will be out on February 1st, three short days from now!

Montana Dad is the second of my Sweet Home Montana series about the Callahan family, which is part of the wholesome Harlequin Heartwarming line. 

Before I tell you about the story, I want to mention that Harlequin has updated their covers starting this month, and Montana Dad is among the first in the re-brand. I’m thrilled with this cover, which really speaks to the special relationship Nick Callahan has with his two little girls.

Nick Callahan is a widowed dad who recently moved back home to the Callahan ranch so that his daughters will be closer to his mom and sister. Alexandra Ryan has moved across the country to live in her aunt’s isolated house next to the Callahan ranch because she believes she’s being stalked by associates of her former boss, who absconded with a great deal of money. Things come to head when Nick asks for access across her land while his bridge is being repaired. Alex says no, then discovers that the locals don’t take it well when someone messes with their neighbors.

Here is an excerpt:

Alex Ryan climbed out of her car and stalked toward Nick with murder in her eyes. Apparently he had something to answer for, which was odd, because wasn’t he the one getting screwed over in this deal? Wasn’t he the one who quite literally had to traverse ten miles of bad road to get home?

She came to a stop a few feet away and pointed a finger at him. “You had me blackballed at the lumber store.”

“Cooper’s Building Supply?”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t.”

She gave him a puh-leeze look as her green gaze burned into him. “I’ll drive to Missoula to get what I need. And you can enjoy the fact that you’re putting me out, but remember this—petty revenge is bad for the soul.”

“I’ll remember that when I take the ten-mile detour to my ranch.” He folded his arms over his chest and looked down at her. Steam was practically coming out of her ears. “And if I engaged in vengeful behavior, it’d be a lot more creative than having someone blackballed at Cooper’s.” His voice was little more than a growl, but it must have carried, because he heard the wheels of a grocery cart come to an abrupt halt behind him, then start moving again.

“People are looking,” Alex said in a hissing whisper.

“Of course they’re looking. Wouldn’t you?” He glanced over to see Mary Watkins and her three kids staring at them as they loaded their SUV with groceries. And the cart that had stopped so abruptly behind him was being pushed by Lester Granger, who would totally enjoy spreading this tale at the co-op coffee klatch. Nick smiled tightly and raised a hand at his neighbors.

Nothing to see here, folks.

Mary waved back.

When Nick shifted his attention back to Alex, she let out a breath that seemed to come from her toes. “I need to go.”

The expression she’d worn when he’d come to her ranch that first day was back. Half cautious, half defiant. Fully self-protective. What was this woman running from? Was she a criminal? An abused wife on the run? His gaze strayed to her ring finger, which was bare and showed no signs of a ring having been recently removed. Okay, probably not married, but one didn’t need to be married to be abused, and she was as jumpy as he would expect an abuse victim to be. She’d asked him not to judge until he knew her circumstances. Fair enough. Of course, it’d be nice if she explained her circumstances, but he didn’t see that happening anytime soon.

“I’ll talk to Emmie at the building-supply store.”

“I…” She swallowed, obviously not expecting the gesture. “Thank you.” It was as if politeness was so deeply engrained in her that now that her anger had faded, she couldn’t simply get in the car and slam the door like she so obviously wanted to.

“You’re welcome,” he replied. She was there, living on the property he’d wanted, and avoiding her wasn’t going to change the situation. “What did you need at the building supply?”

“A hinge. I’m fostering a dog. I have to have a secure enclosure.”

If you would like to win a copy–print or digital–of the first book in the series A RANCH BETWEEN THEM, just let me know in the comments. I’ll announce a winner on Friday.

The Love of Appaloosas by Misty M. Beller

We’re excited to welcome our guest Misty M. Beller and what a great topic–Appaloosa horses. Today Misty will give away a signed print copy of her latest book Freedom in the Mountain Wind! Thank so much for stopping by, Misty!

Howdy, Friend! It’s always an honor to stop by for a visit with you.

All my life I’ve been a horse lover, and was blessed to grow up on a farm. My older brother and I each had ponies of our own and rode hours each day. When we were old enough to graduate to full-size horses, we met neighbors who also had horses and loved to ride together. The two mares they rode had a mottled black and white spotted look, which I knew to be part of the Appaloosa breed. Through years of riding together, I developed a deep appreciation for those two Appaloosa horses, as well as respect for the entire breed! Those two mares proved they could outrun and outlast any of the other horses in our riding group.

As I met other Appaloosas, I learned the breed has a wide variety of coat patterns, from dramatically spotted horses (called leopard Appaloosas) to solid horses whose rumps sport white “blankets” (with or without spots). You don’t always know what pattern a horse will have at its birth.

I’ve long wanted to include Appaloosas in one of my stories, especially since the breed was said to have begun in the Nez Perce tribe who lived just west of the Rocky Mountains. Most of my books are set in the majestic Rockies, so anything from that area snags my attention!

When I was brainstorming ideas for a new series, I realized this was the perfect time to include Appaloosas! A band of five good friends—as close as brothers. One sets off on a mission to find the famed Paloose horse bred by the Nez Perce tribe. When he doesn’t return as promised, the other four set off to find him. Thus begins the journey of a lifetime…

The story kicks off in book 1, Freedom in the Mountain Wind. I pray you love this story as much as I loved writing it, and enjoy a glimpse of the famous Appaloosa horse!

Is there a breed of horse you’ve always admired? A random person from the comments below will be picked to receive a signed print copy of Freedom in the Mountain Wind

Freedom in the Mountain Wind

The last epic journey before her life changes forever.

Susanna Wilkins will do anything to make her father’s final dream come true, including trek along the path Lewis and Clark explored into the untamed wilds of the Rocky Mountains. Every mile is more crucial now that lung cancer is stealing Pa’s last days faster than she can come to terms with losing him. The journey becomes harder than she ever expected, but paddling upriver through fierce rapids and fighting hungry grizzlies isn’t what terrifies her the most.

Beaver Tail endured more than he can stand from the women in his Blackfoot camp, but the last disaster gave him the final shove he needed to join this band of brothers searching for one of their group who’s gone missing. The last thing he expected was to find a white woman and her sick father stranded at the base of a massive waterfall. His plan is to help them carry their oversize canoe and supplies, then leave them to their strange mission. Yet, the more he learns about the pair, the more he realizes his life is about to be derailed—again.

From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.

Author Bio:

Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author, writing romantic mountain stories set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters. 

Misty loves to connect at her website, FacebookGoodreadsTwitter, Bookbub, and Pinterest

 

Welcome, Heather Blanton

Today we’re happy to welcome Heather Banton! Today Heather will tell you about her book, A Good Man Comes Around, and she will give away three copies of her book to three winners. If you prefer, you can choose a book from her back list. Welcome, Heather!

In the Tragedy, Find the Blessings…

Greed is good.

Greed is good?

Hardly. But the 19th-century discoveries of gold and silver inarguably drew men by the thousands to the American West. Some prospectors were good. Some were bad. All played their part in settling America’s frontier.

As I researched gold rushes for a few previous books, I was struck by one man’s random, utterly stunning gold strike, and the way it impacted his life. His tale is the basis for my book, , the expanded version releasing today!

 

Oliver Martin was one of the few men in the goldfields who was there more out of directionless boredom than Gold Fever. Ostensibly, he was in the gold camps to strike it rich. The fact was, though, Oliver was a good-for-nothing slacker who didn’t even own a pan. Hard work didn’t pull his trigger. He meandered around boom towns like El Dorado and Yuba, panning, drinking, doing odd jobs, but mostly, drinking. Drifting, lost, he had no real plans for his life.

Then tragedy struck. And in nearly the same instant, Oliver was handed an incredible, amazing blessing. I mean, a jaw-dropping fork in his road.

 

After an accident, the young man had to bury his lifeless best friend in the wilds of the Sierra Mountains. Grief-stricken and with no conscious thought to location, he merely chose the first spot he saw. Along a bustling creek, he dropped to his knees and started clawing at the sand. He had not dug down two feet when he found a nugget of gold that weighed in at over eighty-five pounds.

Eighty. Five. Pounds.

In modern money, the rock had an approximate value of $650,000. Digging less than a foot in any direction and Oliver would have missed the nugget entirely.

I was fascinated by this turn of events in the man’s life. Wham! Suddenly he had a pot of gold sitting in his lap. He had gained something of great value yet lost something priceless, irreplaceable, in one fell swoop. I thought of Job—God blessing him, then Satan cursing him.

Receiving an overwhelming financial windfall is definitely a blessing or a curse. Depends on how you use it. We know most of these stories don’t end well. The goldfields were killing fields, rife with thievery, murder, and mayhem. And even when the prospectors managed to hang on to their money, they often spent it on riotous living before they could get out of the mountains.

Oliver found himself facing an unfamiliar choice: squander the unimaginable wealth or use it wisely, to become a better person, maybe make the world a better place.

What would he do? He had spent much of his life breaking promises, abusing friends, and running from God. Now it was time for him to examine his heart. He was still reeling from the painful loss of his friend. How could his future be so bright and yet so grim? Was it even in him to be a better man?

Meanwhile, God was working on someone else’s heart. Moved by Oliver’s tragedy, Abigail Holt, the mail-order bride Oliver had rejected, offered him friendship and forgiveness.

So, the question is, did Oliver go the way of so many lottery winners? Did he drink and gamble the money into oblivion? Loan it to moneygrubbing friends more lost than he? Or did he grow up and find the path God had for him? Did Abigail play any part in his choices?

I hope you’ll read releasing today and find out what drew me to this true Gold Rush story.

What about you? Have you or anyone you know been able to look past an enormous tragedy and find a blessing in it? Comment to win your paperback copy OR any paperback by me of your choosing! I’ll do THREE (3) winners!