The Heart’s Charge – My Favorite Scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ve got to get to her. Now!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway!

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

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

 

 

Welcome to the Wild Cow Ranch!

Denise
Natalie

Georgia author Denise F. McAllister and Texas author Natalie Bright have teamed up to bring you a new western series. Book #1 MAVERICK HEART, Book #2 A WILD COW WINTER, and Book #3 FOLLOW A WILD HEART. All three books in the new series hit the top 20 hot new releases on Amazon on the same day! The books are available on Amazon in print or eBook formats. Denise and Natalie have just contracted with CKN (Wolfpack Publishing) for three more books in the series to be released this coming fall.

 

The story follows a Georgia girl, Carli Jameson, who inherits a Texas ranch from grandparents she never knew. She makes the courageous decision to pack up her life and move to Texas to run the ranch. She forges ahead into a new life filled with uncertainty and along the way discovers a ranching community that becomes the family she never had. Independent, ambitious and smart, Carli has always been careful with her heart, except for the one time she thought she had found her soul mate and true love. He proved her wrong, and she vowed never to jump into a romantic relationship that easily again. When Carli drives away from her life in Georgia, no looking back, she intends to stick with her vow and not fall into any romances, especially with a Texas cowboy. She doesn’t have time for love. She has a ranch to run.

Can a fresh start erase the troubles of her past?

Author Q&A

Q: What inspired the new Wild Cow Ranch series and what is it about?

 

Natalie: I enjoy stories about quirky, complex characters who leave their old life behind and start anew, and I’ve always wanted to write a story set in the Texas Panhandle. The Wild Cow Ranch series centers around our main character, Carli Jameson, who inherits a cattle ranch from a grandfather she never knew. Her journey is the main focus, which makes it women’s fiction, but included is the small-town vibe and a bit of cowboy romance. We’ve also added a faith element to these books, as Carli tries to discover who she is and what her purpose should be. Most of the characters hold with Christian values, but some do not. The stories are clean and sweet, the types of books you can pass along to a daughter or your mother.

 

Denise: Inspiration for this series was Natalie. She told me her idea, and we decided to write it together. Coincidentally, I had a similar story in my head before we even met so I guess it was meant to be. I love how we were able to bring experiences from my life in Georgia and Natalie’s in Texas together to create some of Carli’s adventures.

 

Q: What are some comparison titles of books or movies similar to this book?

 

Denise: I think of Hallmark stories but also anything with a strong female lead. This is about a woman who has had to learn how to make it on her own, a woman who has been forced, for whatever reason, to be independent. Sometimes that independence makes her a little distant from the very people who are trying to help her. In Book One, MAVERICK HEART, that person might be a potential love interest.

 

Natalie: One of my all-time favorite movies is THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER, in which the setting is as much of a character as the people. The Texas Panhandle plays a big part in our stories. I love westerns that include the connections with the land and livestock. Denise brings the knowledge of horses as horse shows were a big part of her youth, and as a cattle ranch owner, I’m including that element. If you like feel-good, hopeful stories with happy endings, you might give our new series a try.

 

Q: Which scene or chapter in any of the books is your favorite? Why?

 

Natalie: My favorite scene is the snowstorm in Book #2, A WILD COW WINTER. Even though it releases on February 10, the story is centered around Christmas—a holiday that our main character, Carli Jameson, really dreads. The norther that blows in is typical of Texas Panhandle weather, which can be unpredictable. She and her horse Beau are trapped in a barn as temperatures drop, and she finds herself in a life or death situation.

 

Denise: I love it when Carli relaxes some and has peace, when she opens her heart to a love interest, and especially when she opens her heart to God. It’s a hard thing sometimes to give up control. But it can be such a better life to not have to carry life’s burdens all on your own. I also love in Book #3 FOLLOW A WILD HEART how we introduced art and museums to the story. Not many westerns have that element.

 

Q: Was it easy to co-author these books?

 

Natalie: It has definitely been a challenge but has been very fulfilling creatively. The best part is having someone to bounce ideas off of, and to have brainstorming sessions about the characters and plot lines. Our process improves with every book that we write together.

 

Denise: It was a learning process. We had to be willing to compromise, listen to the other person’s ideas, and accept that our co-author might have a better way for the good of the story. Sometimes we hit a little bump in the road, but I think mostly that has to do with our schedules. We might write on different days or weeks. Then we come together and dissect everything, review, edit, revise. But at the core, we both have the same story in our heads.

 

We’re giving away a paperback copy of MAVERICK HEART.  Just tell us why you like reading Western romance novels!!

For buy links and more about the authors and their inspiration, read an interview on the publishers website  https://christiankindlenews.com/get-know-wild-cow-ranch-co-authors/

Find the authors online at  http://www.nataliebright.com or  http://www.mcallisterediting.com

For more about the Wild Cow Ranch Series, check out the inspirational boards on Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/natbright/maverick-heart/

HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY TO US!

Howdy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Anniversary to the man I love!

 

It’s Picnic Time with Jodi Thomas

 

Jodi Thomas

                                                      Check below to see what Jodi is giving away!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy,  Jodi

 

 Amazon

 

                                                  

 

 

 

 

That’s Plum Crazy!

Hello! I’m Katrina Kyle. I’m thrilled to be here for the first time today, and even more ecstatic to give you a glimpse into my debut novel, Meg’s Motivation. Joining with like-minded readers is something special.

But first, I have a confession. When I set out to write a series about three sisters working to save the family plum orchard, I knew very little about plums. As in, practically nothing at all. The deeper I sank my teeth into the flesh of the matter, the more astounded I became. For instance, did you know that plums are the second-most cultivated fruit in the world and are grown on every continent except Antarctica? Plums are a member of the rose family with varieties that ripen in red, purple, yellow, green, and white. The average life span of cultivated plum trees is 10-30+ years.

Okay. That’s all well and good, but I needed to know about plums in California in particular. You see, that is where the Trudy family orchard called Damson Acres is situated in my series. Like many goods in California, plum production began in the mid-1800’s and really took off as the transcontinental railroad was completed. Today, the San Joaquin Valley in central California produces 95% of domestic fresh plums on 20,000 acres – not to say anything of the 50,000 acres of plums intended to dry for prunes. It takes three pounds of fresh plums to get one pound of prunes. That’s plum crazy! (Alright, that’s the last plum pun I’ll throw in here. I’d like to hear you say ‘plum pun’ ten times fast!)

What could a fictional three-generation farming family possibly do with that many plums? Most of the harvested fruit is packed up and shipped to markets around the country. The rest get processed into juice, spreads, syrup, and desserts made and sold in the Damson Acres Café.

As the eldest Trudy sister, Meg discovers that all is not well financially at the orchard. Money is draining from the accounts much faster than they can make it, and rather than worry her mother and sisters, Meg is motivated to turn things around. She quickly learns, however, that she can’t do so on her own. Enter the handsome travel blogger renting a guest bungalow on the property. Meg’s sisters dare her to kiss him while having lunch at the café, and when Meg finds out who he is, she is mortified! She and Morris are thrown together repeatedly, of course, and as they spend more time together, it’s only natural that they fall in love.

Some surprising twists tangle their relationship until neither is certain they’ll attain a happily-ever-after. But if you know me at all, you’ll understand that a happy ending for two people who are totally good together is a MUST.

I’d love to send a paperback copy of Meg’s Motivation to one lucky reader here today. To enter, tell me about a family legacy or tradition you cherish. I can’t wait to hear about your heritage. (And by the way, if you’d like to share a favorite plum recipe in the comments, I’d love to include it in a collection I’m putting together.)

Guideline rules apply – https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/ 

So next time you take a bite out of a fresh, juicy plum or open a bag of soft prunes, there’s a 95% chance you’re eating fruit straight off the truck from California. Mm.

Thanks for having me!

Pre-order Meg’s Motivation for only $0.99!
Amazon

Six Things You May Not Know About 19th Century Newspapers and a Give Away!

Hi! Amanda Cabot here. For me, one of the more enjoyable aspects of writing historical fiction is doing the research. I never fail to find at least one tidbit that intrigues me enough to include it in the book. As someone who once aspired to be a newspaper reporter, I had fun researching nineteenth century newspapers while I created a hero who owns a paper. That’s why I thought I’d share six things that might (or maybe won’t) surprise you about newspapers and printing in the mid-nineteenth century.

1. Importance – With the increase of literacy in the US, you’d think people would have had a large supply of things to read. That wasn’t always the case, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas. For them, newspapers were often the only things they had to read besides the Bible. As a result, papers included more than news. It wasn’t unusual to find poems, stories, and recipes in addition to what we would call news.

2. Prices – How much did all this cost the average subscriber? According to my research, an annual subscription to a weekly paper was $5, an amount that was often paid in goods rather than cash. I hope the editor enjoyed hams and jams as well as turnips and apples.

Advertisements frequently had a tiered cost, being priced at $1 for the first time they were run with subsequent weeks at $.50. To put this in perspective, a doctor’s office visit was also $1. Suppose you were running for office and wanted the paper to announce your candidacy. You might think that would be a simple ad at a cost of a dollar. Not so. Political announcements were priced at $10.

3. Revenue – In many cases, subscriptions and ads weren’t enough to support the newspaperman. That’s why he (and, yes, most of them were men) offered personal printing services, providing cards, posters, and stationery to residents.

4. Town Booming – This was a new term for me, but it underscored the power of the press. When towns were first established and sought new residents, they relied on papers to promote the town – sometimes through gross exaggeration – in an effort to attract settlers. One of the first towns to benefit from this practice was Oregon City in 1846 which relied on the Oregon Spectator to tout its attractions to potential residents.

5. Skullduggery – One of the more popular printing presses during the nineteenth century was the Washington Hand Press. Unlike previous presses, it was made of iron rather than wood, making it sturdy. Even more importantly, it could be easily assembled and disassembled – a real plus in the rapidly expanding American West.

For years, Samuel Rust held the patent on the Washington press and refused to sell it to his competitor, P. Hoe and Company. Hoe, however, was determined to obtain the patent and convinced one of his employees to pose as an inventor who wanted to expand on Rust’s design. Rust agreed to sell him the patent, not knowing that it was all a ruse and that the faux inventor would immediately turn the patent over to his boss.

6. Dangers – While the underhanded techniques that robbed Rust of his patent were unfortunate, they weren’t the only danger involved in the newspaper printing business. Sadly, not everything printed in newspapers was true. Many editors, following the practice of their Eastern colleagues, made little distinction between news and opinion. In some cases, diatribes and personal attacks made their way onto the printed page. You can imagine how those were received. Who would have thought that freedom of the press sometimes resulted in death?

Did any of these surprise you? More importantly, did any intrigue you enough to want to explore the world of nineteenth century newspapers? I’ll pick two people from the comments to receive a print copy of Dreams Rekindled (U.S. addresses only.) 

Giveaway Rules Apply: https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/ 

If you’d like more information, my primary sources for this post were Red Blood and Black Ink by David Dary and Passionate Nation by James L. Haley.

About the book:

He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up

Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers—until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is.

Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new—and completely uncontroversial—start in the Hill Country.

As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood.

Bio

Amanda Cabot’s dream of selling a book before her thirtieth birthday came true, and she’s now the author of more than thirty-five novels as well as eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city. Her inspirational romances have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists, have garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and have been nominated for the ACFW Carol, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers Best awards. A popular workshop presenter, Amanda takes pleasure in helping other writers achieve their dreams of publication.

Buying Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Social Media Links

http://www.amandacabot.com

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot

https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/

http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

 

GRAY HAWK’S LADY — My Own Personal Story of Love and Romance

Howdy!

Ah, February — a true month of love.  At least for me.  My husband and I just celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our first kiss.  So very, very special and I hope you’ll bear with me as I tell you a little about our personal story of finding love.

The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing.  As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that.  This is the story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.

My own tale began with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California my home.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…
 
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
 
But she insisted for a while (several days) and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
 
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
 
The date was good — okay.  I think we were both a little shy of each other.  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening, so after about a week, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “No, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.”  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
 
I had no idea that she would call his brother.  I am told they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends.  He was divorced.  I was divorced.  We could do things together.  (Mind you, he was also very good-looking.)  So I accepted.
 
Goodness!  Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, this was quite a kiss.  He meant it. And I became very aware of that.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world were spinning — but in a good way. 
 
Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man?  This man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
 
Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him.  He proposed to me in March and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
 
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing this book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course this love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.

 
Did I mention that one of my earrings (the night of that first kiss) fell off during the kiss — and I have pierced ears…!
 
In May of this year, we will have been married 25 years.  Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 25 years more or less have gone by now.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.
I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with a kiss.
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message.  I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
 
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift?  You bet I will.  I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.  Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Welcome Laura Ashwood and a Give Away!

Hi Everyone! My name is Laura Ashwood and I’m writing to you from the chilly state of Minnesota. Having grown up in North Dakota/Minnesota I am no stranger to the occasional winter blizzard, but I’ve thankfully never been through anything like the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888.

In January, 1888, a massive cold air mass with a spread of over 780 miles, moved into the United States from Canada. The temperature on the front end of the cold front in some places dropped from above freezing to -20°F in just hours. The storm was extremely fast moving. It entered Montana in the early morning hours of January 12, swept through Dakota Territory and was in Nebraska by mid-afternoon of that same day. Because of the warm spell preceding the storm and the swiftness with which it moved, most people were ill prepared. In just minutes, the strong winds and powdery snow made for zero visibility. The combination of bitter cold temperatures and high winds resulted in a death toll of 235. 

Another massive blizzard struck Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, which began as a pleasant day in southeast Nebraska. That afternoon, rain moved in and temperatures began to drop. During the night, the wind picked up and by morning eighteen inches of heavy, wet snow had fallen. The storm raged for two more days, finally abating on Wednesday, April 17. Drifts as high as 20 feet had accumulated in some areas. Many people perished, including a woman with an infant that died just feet from her home, along with thousands of head of livestock.

So, why am I telling you about blizzards that happened over one hundred years ago? It’s because I’m part of a multi-author series called The Blizzard Brides. This series is loosely based on both of those blizzards. What happens when nearly all the men in town get killed during a blizzard? What are the women to do? This group of talented authors takes that question to task, each story following the journey of one of the women as she begins to rebuild her life.

This is my second historical romance. One of the things I strive for when I write historical is to make sure that I get as much accurate detail for the time period as I can. In my story, A Groom for Ruby, Cullen Parker has a dark past before he ends up in Last Chance. I got to research such things as train robberies, stagecoach robberies, gold mines, and place like Dodge City and San Francisco. Much of that research doesn’t make it into the book, but I love being able to work in some of that information.

In this book, Cullen is making his way back to Dakota Territory, hoping to get a job at the Homestake Mine in Lead. The Homestake Mine was a real working gold mine during that time period. It was actually the largest, deepest mine of its type in the United States. It was operational until 2001, and two of my uncles worked there in 1950’s and 1960s. So, not only did I get to add a bit of reality to my fiction – I was able to make it personal.

Do you like it when authors do little things like that? Do you want to know about it?

I’d love to give away a copy of A Groom for Ruby, as well as a copy of my first historical, An Agent for Clarissa, which is part of the Pinkerton Matchmaker series.

Please stop by my website, and if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of Snowflakes & Second Chances, a contemporary novelette. I’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram, and you can find inspiration boards for all my books on my Pinterest.

 

Buy A Groom for Ruby on AMAZON

Those Hunky Colorado Cowboys! (And a Giveaway!) with Jody Hedlund

Most readers know me for my historical romances about lighthouses, orphan trains, and bride ships. But a western? Whoa! What’s that all about?

No, I’m not switching genres. My friends here on Petticoat and Pistols have the western genre well covered! But I am delving into a five-book family saga set in the high country of Colorado in the ranching area of South Park.

The Colorado Cowboys Series has all my usual trademarks—deeply emotional characters, fun plot twists, and sizzling romance. But this time the package includes hunky cowboys!

Most of the time when we think about cowboys in Colorado, we think of the ranches on the eastern plains, not the mountainous high country. But believe it or not, ranches started popping up in the mountains very early in Colorado’s history.

One of the first ranches in South Park (near Fairplay), was Hartsel Springs Ranch, founded as a homestead in 1862 by Samuel Hartsel. He started his ranch by buying oxen brought into the mountains by men arriving to mine for gold. The oxen were often worn out and worth little after making the long trek to the West. But Samuel fattened them and then turned around and sold them as beef to the mining community.

By 1864 Hartsel decided to branch out and diversify his livestock. He went to Missouri and purchased a herd of shorthorns that he then drove to Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a tough trip, but he eventually completed the cattle drive and made it back to his ranch with 150 head of short-horned cattle. 

Figure 1 Picture in South Park that I took of a cattle ranch during my research trip

Hartsel went on to become a very successful rancher, capitalizing on the rich grassland in South Park that fed his cattle. He also took advantage of a natural hot spring near his land that he developed and used for tourists who wanted a chance to bathe in the “healing waters.”

A Cowboy for Keeps, the first book in the series, is inspired by this real life cowboy and ranch. The hero, Wyatt McQuaid, is attempting to make a go of homesteading and ranching. But with all the obstacles he faces, he’s having a hard time making a new home. When Fairplay’s mayor offers him a deal, one that involves taking a bride in exchange for cattle, Wyatt can’t resist.

If you like hunky cowboys, mail-order brides, and marriages of convenience, then I invite you to give A Cowboy for Keeps a chance!

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on January 16.

What’s your favorite thing about cowboy stories?

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com

Guest Julie Lessman and a Give Away!

Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Bonanza!

Howdy, Everybody! My name is Julie Lessman, and I’m wondering if anybody remembers the above musical intro to the hit Western TV series back in the day, Bonanza? Probably not, because I’m pretty old, but it was a staple in our household growing up and not just in ours either. Bonanza is ranked No. 43 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and the 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time, still in syndication today.

So … why am I talking about an almost 60-year-old TV show? Well, despite the fact I’m primarily known as an Irish family saga author with novels set during the early 1900s on both coasts, one day I had this Western series percolating in my brain so strong I could smell the chicory coffee. Next I know, the dad-burned thing caught on fire like the Ponderosa map at the beginning of every Bonanza episode.

It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch Series, and it’s the story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers in Virginia City, Nevada (where Bonanza was set) from 1868 till the 1890s. This is an absolutely fascinating era on the heels of the transcontinental railroad and the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built. 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that writing a Western scared the pejeebers outta me because, well, to be honest, I was intimidated by so many wonderful Western authors I love like Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Winnie Griggs, Kit Morgan, and Margaret Brownley, most of which—gulp—are part of this amazing blog!

But once I got into the fascinating research—like the Transcontinental Railroad, which lots of Irish workers helped build (YAY!) and Virginia City, which numbered as many as 115 saloons in its heyday (BOO!), I knew I found a home in the Wild West!

So I’m a-lookin’ to give away some books today, including my latest Western release, Love’s Silver Bullet, which is book 2 in the Silver Lining Ranch Series. Now, to give you the flavor of this novel, my talented artist hubby created a realllllly cool VIDEO/TRAILER that also features pix of my grandchildren, so I hope you check it out.

And if you do and send me an email via my Contact Julie tab on my website telling me where the heroine, Sheridan Donovon, went to school, I will send you a FREE E-COPY of the prequel novel to this series, For Love of Liberty

Have you ever run across some interesting tidbit in history that you wanted to learn more about?

Here’s a sneak peek of my series:

A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.

 

 

Next, here’s a gander at book 1 in the series, Love’s Silver Lining:

She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, my new release, Love’s Silver Bullet:

She’s targeting his love.
He’s aiming to steer clear.
Till true love picks them off
in a bull’s-eye of the heart

 

GIVEAWAY!

In addition to my video/trailer giveaway mentioned above, I am ALSO giving away winner’s choice of the entire Silver Lining Ranch series in e-book OR a signed paperback of her choice of one of the novels in the series. So leave a comment, and you’re automatically in the draw!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

Julie