Dickens in Texas

The two most powerful words in a writer’s vocabulary are: What if? When it came time for me to brainstorm a new Christmas novella idea, my mind turned to the classics and those powerful two words – what if . . .

What if . . . the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol took place in 1890’s Texas instead of early 1800’s London?

What if . . . Scrooge’s transformation story was a romance?

What if . . . there was a London, TX? Oh, wait. There is!

What happened next was a whirlwind of fun that is now available as A Texas Christmas Carol the first story in the new collection – Under the Texas Mistletoe.

I had so much fun with names of all my characters, paying homage to the classic tale. There’s even a dog named Humbug.

Meet Evan Beazer and Felicity Wiggins (named in honor of the cheerful Fezziwig).

Our Scrooge never stood a chance when the tenderhearted, cheerful Felicity set her sights on him.

~Excerpt~

“Don’t worry,” Felicity said with a soft chuckle, “I won’t let Mr. Beazer trample over me. My backbone is strong enough to withstand a few snaps and growls.”

Margaret led the way to the stairs leading out of the church basement, tossing a frown over her shoulder. “It’s your time, I suppose. If you choose to waste it, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Evan Beazer might be the wealthiest man in town, but he’s a Scrooge of the worst order. Not only does he refuse to donate to any of our causes, but he insults anyone with the temerity to approach him.”

She paused at the top of the stairway and braced a hand against the wall as she turned to face Felicity. “He called me a blood-sucking leech and threatened to have me brought up on trespassing charges should I ever darken his door again.” Margaret, her face usually placid and lovely, scrunched her nose as if the memory were so rancid she could smell it. “The gall of him. He might dutifully leave his tithe in the collection plate every Sunday to keep his conscience clean, but he refuses to donate so much as a penny to any cause beyond that obligation, no matter how worthy. He’s a tight-fisted, coldhearted man. Completely void of compassion. Why, you could wring him like a dishrag, and not a single drop of Christian charity would fall out. His soul is as dry as a bone.”

Mrs. Talley was a dynamo when it came to getting things done, a blessing to any committee she served upon, but she had definite opinions about how things should go and didn’t react well when thwarted.

Felicity patted her arm. “There is nothing the least bit leech-like about you, Margaret. You probably just caught him on a bad day.”

The deacon’s wife arched a brow. “Every day is a bad day for Evan Beazer.”

Not every day. Felicity ducked her head, recalling one day in particular where Mr. Beazer had been in rare, heroic form.

Pushing the distracting thought aside, Felicity winked at her friend as she marched past. “I recognize the challenge he presents, but I’m determined to try anyway. With the passing of dear Mrs. Humbolt this year, our donation total is down by a third. I can suffer through a few insults if it means more shoes and winter coats for the children. Besides, forewarned is forearmed. Thanks to you, I know what kind of reception to expect, so I can plan accordingly. And believe it or not, I can be rather devious when I put my mind to it.”

“You? Devious?” Margaret shook her head, a huff of a laugh escaping. “Felicity, you don’t have a dishonest bone in your body.”

“Oh, I don’t plan any trickery,” Felicity said, turning to face Margaret while continuing to walk backward down the hall leading to the main sanctuary. “In fact, my strategy comes straight from scripture itself.”

“Really?”

Felicity nodded, a grin spreading across her face. “Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who kept knocking on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night asking for bread in Luke 11? The neighbor kept trying to turn him away, but the man persisted, and eventually he got his bread. I plan to employ the same technique.” Mischief swirled in her belly, stirring up an excitement she couldn’t quite contain. “I’m going to pester him into cooperation.”

Margaret let out a full laugh. “If anyone can do it, it’s you.”

Felicity prayed she was right. Not just for the children’s sake, but for Mr. Beazer himself. The man never smiled. How awful it must be to be so miserable! She couldn’t imagine a world void of happiness. But then, she’d been blessed with a cheerful family who laughed and teased and actively looked for reasons to celebrate. Mr. Beazer had no one meaningful in his life beyond a handful of local staff and a conglomeration of distant employees. The man needed a strong dose of joy in his life, and she was prepared to hold his nose and force a spoonful of medicinal Christmas cheer down his throat, if necessary.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook
(Christian Book version contains exclusive bonus short story!)

What are your favorite classic Christmas stories?
If you could change the setting or characters in one of them, how would you change it?

What’s In A Name?

 

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I’m at that fun (and slightly terrifying) place where I’m starting a brand new book. This will be the third book in my Hope’s Haven series and will feature the third and oldest of the three Eicher sisters, Martha.

One of the key things I need to do before I get started with the actual writing, besides having at least a high level idea of my plot and character goals and motivations, is to nail down the names. And I don’t mean just the protagonists and key players. Just as important to me are the place names and names of pets/animals. In fact I will sometimes spend days trying to come up with something that I feel evokes just the right tone I’m looking for.

I draw on several sources for inspiration. For instance when coming up with town names I’ve used vegetation—names like Dewberry, Whistling Oak, Foxberry, Knotty Pine, Clover Ridge, Sweetgum, Sweetgrass and Nettlesford.  Sometimes they’re based on theme, like my ten-book series set in Turnabout or my current series set in Hope’s Haven.

Other times I draw from things around me. For instance a city right next door to where I grew up was called Westwego. As a kid I never thought of it as anything but one word, it was only later that I realized it was made up of the three words west-we-go. Was it perhaps a rallying cry for folks heading west? After all it is located on the west bank of the Mississippi, across from New Orleans. Thinking about that I came up with the town name of Far Enough, sort of the other end of the journey. And another time I spotted a large flock of blackbirds rise up out of a field and circle overhead as a group.  That inspired the town name of Pepper Cloud. Sometimes they just come out of left field, like Frog Swallow and Minnow Creek.

Of course there are other things that need naming in a book, most significantly, the animals. Whether it’s pets, horses or other livestock, finding just the right name can prove an elusive task at times. In the past, for cats and dogs) I’ve used names like Smudge, Taffy, Buttons, Poppy, Rufus, Daffy (short for Daffodil), Cookie, Kip and Mustard among others. For horses I’ve used Titan, Monarch, Fletch, Scout, Trib (short for Retribution), Cocoa, Buttermilk and Amber among others. I’ve had a couple of mules named Jubal and Moses. There have also been pet birds I’ve named Cricket, Sweetie Pie and Sundar.

As I said, at the moment I’m in the early stages of my third Hope’s Haven book. I’m currently thinking I will need names for 4 horses (two draft horses and two buggy horses), a dog, a cat and perhaps a goat. I’d love to hear any suggestions for names you might have.

And for those who leave a comment, you’ll be entered in a giveaway of any book on my backlist.

 

And have you seen what’s coming up on Friday?

Are you ready to party?

Because we are!

We’re celebrating our 14th birthday!

Please Join us because not only will it be fun but

14 winners will each win a $14 Amazon gift card!

Howdy, Everyone!

I’m here! My first official post for Petticoats and Pistols, and I have to say, I’m a bit nervous. The lovely, talented, and sweet Margaret Brownley has left some big shoes for me to fill. She will be truly missed, but, like all of you, I wish her love and happiness in her exciting new life.

I’m also thrilled to be joining this amazing group of ladies. I’ve known some of them for years and am becoming fast friends with the other “fillies”. To stand here beside them is…aw, heck. For a writer, I’m at a loss for words. I’m also excited to get to know all of the readers. I promise to do my best responding to comments and answering any questions ?

I thought I should probably tell you a little about myself. I’ve been at this writing business a long time. It took a while to figure out what kind of stories I loved writing the best. As a result, I tried suspense, historicals, rom com, paranormal, you name it. Finally, I took to heart the old saying, write what you know, and sold my first Western/small town book to Harlequin in 2005 for the then American line. It’s been full steam ahead ever since. The American line eventually became the Western line, which sadly folded several years ago. I now write for Harlequin Heartwarming and, starting in 2022, Love Inspired Mountain Rescue Suspense.

My promo material says, “Who Doesn’t Love a Cowboy Romance?” and that sums up exactly how I feel. I’ve lived the country/western lifestyle for as long as I can remember, getting my first horse when I was just a kid. We once owned over fifty “pets” that included chickens, ducks, goats, a donkey, mules, and horses — besides the usual cats and dogs. There wasn’t a day I didn’t pet a velvety nose, smell the sweet scent of hay, collect fresh eggs, and wash out a water trough. I once rode in a mule-drawn wagon for three days from north Cave Creek, Arizona to Young (the state’s most remote town located on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon). In my younger days, I competed in horse shows. And while I have a great love of rodeo and watch it whenever possible, I’ve never participated beyond riding a mechanical bull or attempting to rope a practice dummy (plastic calf). While I, sadly, no longer own any horses, I have friends who let me visit whenever the mood strikes. Yes, that picture below is me with a baby mule taken about six months ago when she was just a few days old.

I pour that love of all things cowboy into my contemporary Western stories, trying to make them as realistic as possible. What a great gig, right? I couldn’t be luckier. I get to wake up every day and do what I enjoy best of all — write books about the life I love.

I can’t wait to get to know all of you and share my stories with you.

Warmest wishes to you and yours,

Cathy McDavid

https://www.facebook.com/cathymcdavidbooks

https://cathymcdavid.com/

 

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!