Misty Beller Finds Inspiration

The Fillies are so happy to welcome Misty Beller back with another new book! Scroll down for a giveaway.

Hey, y’all! I’m so excited to visit again! The Petticoats and Pistols reader family is one of my favorite groups to hang out with.

One of the things I love about writing stories set in the 1830s Rocky Mountains is that Eastern civilization hadn’t yet touched the frontier. The only people who lived in or visited the Rockies during that were Native Americans and mountain men (usually trappers, but sometimes just explorers).

One of my favorite stories from that time inspired part of my latest release, Calm in the Mountain Storm. Wanna hear the fun, real-life details?

From their limited experience with white people, two of the native tribes realized they wanted to learn more about the white man’s God and his “Book of Heaven” (the Bible). In 1831, a delegation of four Native Americans—two Nez Perce and two Flathead—showed up in St. Louis, Missouri, asking for someone to come and teach their people about God.

Over the next several years, a number of people went west as missionaries, including Samuel Parker and Marcus Whitman, two well-known missionaries who settled in what would later become Oregon. Their story is fascinating too (and tragic), but is a whole post in itself.

From the first time I heard the story of the Indians showing up in St. Louis to learn about God, my writer mind started What if’s. What if a woman decided went west to share her faith with the natives. She couldn’t travel alone, so who would go with her? How would the tribes respond?  Gradually, the characters and storyline of Calm in the Mountain Storm developed in my head. Though the characters in this book are fictional, the events certainly could have happened!

When the heroine, Elise Lane, heard that the Indians wanted to learn about God and simply needed someone to come tell them, she knew she had to answer that call. Of course, her brother Benjamin couldn’t let her go into that danger alone, so together, they set out on an expedition they knew would likely change them forever. Elise doesn’t have any idea exactly how much!

I pray you enjoy reading the story of Elise and Goes Ahead, the Indian brave she meets who’s desperate for help getting his young children across the mountains. As with our hero and heroine in the story, I pray your faith is inspired!

About the Book:

This epic journey will test his ability to protect his children—and they’re all he has left.

Missionary Elise Lane returns with her team to the Rocky Mountain native tribe they serve to discover the entire village—including the children she’s come to love—has been massacred. A fierce brave standing at the edge of the devastation has taken the only surviving child.

Goes Ahead returns home with his son to find his worst fears have come true—his entire village has been slaughtered, including his wife. Only their infant daughter has survived. But there’s no time for grief or vengeance. He must get his children across the mountains to the protection of his family.

The last thing he wants is help from the white people who’ve brought this disaster on his village, but his babe is not yet four moons old. Her hungry cries prove he can’t make this journey without the white woman already nursing a babe of her own. But she refuses to come without the rest of her group, including the opinionated missionary who thinks she knows best for his children. As winter closes in and the mountains prove treacherous beyond anything Goes Ahead can control, only a strength and love greater than his own can save his children—and the woman he’s come to love.

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

BUY LINK

 

Today, I’m excited to give away a copy of Book 1 in the series, Freedom in the Mountain Wind.

I’d love to hear from you, what are some of your favorite book settings?

Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love. Raised on a farm and surrounded by family, Misty developed her love for horses, history, and adventure. These days, her husband and children provide fresh adventure every day, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

Misty’s passion is to create inspiring Christian fiction infused with the grandeur of the mountains, writing historical romance that displays God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters. Sharing her stories with readers is a dream come true for Misty. She writes from her country home in South Carolina and escapes to the mountains any chance she gets.

WEBSITE | AMAZON | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

Kaitlene Dee: Apples and Gold in California

The Fillies welcome Kaitlene Dee to our little neck of the woods. She has some fascinating history of an old mining town that she built a story around. Scroll down for her giveaway.

Thank you for having me. I have always been fascinated with small towns, especially ones with a place in history and one such town is Julian, California, which is an official California Historical Landmark. This small mountain town was the only place in San Diego County to have its own gold rush in the late 1860s, early 1870s.

Julian started as a small mining camp that was set up virtually overnight, shortly after Fred Coleman discovered placer gold at a creek in the area in 1869. Many miners rushed to stake their claim at the creek. The summer of 1872 would’ve seen the miner population grow to about 300, the tented mining camp had grown into a bustling town of 50 houses, 4 stores, a couple of restaurants, a schoolhouse, and nearly a dozen saloons.

Later, when the placer gold dried up, the town still survived because of hard rock mines that continued on and yielded nearly $5 million dollars in gold ore.

Julian’s climate also made it ideal for growing orchards, specifically apples. Mr. James T. Madison first brought apple trees to Julian in the early 1870s. Eventually, ranchers moved cattle onto the rolling hills and ranched in the mountain area.

Today, Julian is known for its apple pie festival in the fall (and the aroma of baked apple pie fills the air throughout the town), as well as the numerous cozy, romantic bed & breakfast inns dotting the outskirts of the town.

Currently, a couple of the hard rock mines can still be toured, and the town boasts the fascinating Julian Pioneer Museum with many incredible pieces from history.

Is it obvious that I absolutely love this town? What I haven’t touched on is how amazing the people who made Julian were—and they made it rich in history. These founders and citizens are the true treasure of Julian. For instance, Julian’s first mayor, was in trouble with the residents after a dance at the town hall. During the dimly lit evening dance, the babies were all sleeping in a very dark room, where the mayor went in and switched all the babies around, so the families of the town didn’t discover, until the next morning, that they’d each brought home the wrong baby. Silly mayor!

There is too little space here to share more about them, but they have inspired my heart to write an entire series called the Brides of Willow Creek series (currently, 8 of 10 novels are either written in rough draft or heavily plotted). Originally, the series was to be called the Brides of Julian Creek, but I had to change the name with my new penname for historicals (vs the contemporary westerns I write). The first book, Josina, will release in December 2022 (though the pre-order will have a temporary release date of 3/2023).

As the first book in Brides of Willow Creek series, Josina is about a young lady who is helping friends run their store while the owner’s wife is bedridden. A miner places an order for a rocker cradle for his placer mining work and she mistakenly orders a baby cradle. The encounter between them, when she goes to right the wrong, is hilarious and full of growing romantic tension.

Josina has only a sister, who is currently serving time at a women’s prison for cattle rustling, which has left Josina to fend for herself. When help arrives from the store owner’s family, Josina sets off for adventure and to make things right with the customer, Henry. He turns out to be a handsome grump with an old prospector sidekick who befriends Josina and seems bent on helping her find the adventure her heart’s looking for by way of matchmaking her to the handsome but cranky Henry.

A lighthearted, Christian mail-order bride romance set in gold mining town of Willow Creek, Josina is part of the Brides of Willow Creek series. All books in this historical Christian romance series are stand-alone novels and can be read in any order.

For a chance to win a signed paperback of Josina, please leave a comment

on the trope you love best in historical fiction.

Order your copy of Josina and read how a gold miner discovers a treasure worth more than her weight in gold—the zany lady with her blonde curls and uncontainable adventurous spirit! Pre-order your copy of Josina, available at the special pre-order price of 99 cents for a very limited time only! Order HERE

* * *

Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, not far from Julian CA, and writes contemporary Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

Please join my newsletter at: Kaitlene & Tina Dee’s Newsletter

As a thank you, you’ll receive a sampler containing the first couple of chapters for the first 4 books in the series—yes, it’s just a teaser but I hope it will whet your whistle to give my new series a chance for a place in your reading stack.

CHRISTMAS WISHES AND COWBOY KISSES–AND A GIVEAWAY!–by Lacy Williams

It is fantastically hot here in Oklahoma. We’ve had several days in with temps over 100 lately with more to come.

So what better time than to chat about a Christmas book, right?

Have you ever experienced a moment of mistaken identity? Maybe you have a doppelgänger out there somewhere or maybe you look a little bit like a famous movie star. I have never been mistaken for anyone else, but I do you have a bit of an identity crisis that happens every once in a while. (Crisis might be a strong descriptor…)

It started when I was a junior or senior in high school. I would meet people and tell them my name and they would immediately say, “Oh. You’re Sean’s sister.”

My brother was/is a social butterfly and it became a running family joke that even though I was older, I would frequently get recognized as being his sister.

Fast forward twenty years, and it still happens. About three years ago, we moved into a neighborhood about half a mile from my brother. Our kids go to the same elementary school and they love being able to see their cousins in the hallway during the day (none of them are in the same grade). It wasn’t long before I started hearing from other parents, “Oh. You’re Sean’s sister.”

It used to bug me. But now I’m able to laugh about it. I am even thinking about having a T-shirt made for myself with “Sean’s sister” on it for next time we take a trip together.

The hero of my October release in the Christmas Wishes and Cowboy Kisses anthology happens to be a twin. And he gets mistaken for his brother by the one woman he never got over.

Giveaway!

I would love to give away a $10 Amazon gift card and an early copy of my novella from this anthology (ready in about two weeks via ebook). Leave me a comment and let me know whether you’ve ever been mistaken for someone else or maybe you’ve been the one who was mixed up.

Thanks for chatting today!

-Lacy

ABOUT MY BOOK

Cora didn’t know the inheritance that changed her life came with conditions. She needs money, fast, and the only way to get it is by partnering up with her high school boyfriend to run a Christmas tree farm. Working together brings back memories she’s powerless against…

ABOUT THE ANTHOLOGY, releasing October 25.

Ring in the holiday season with 23 heartwarming sweet contemporary romances from USA Today and Top 100 Kindle Unlimited All-Star bestselling authors!

Discover second chance romance, love at first sight, small-town Christmas cheer, swoony single dads, enemies to lovers, snowed-in with the cowboy, and many more stories featuring the cowboy next door. Fall in love with the hunky heroes of this limited-edition Christmas cowboy romance collection.

Pre-order now from your favorite retailer.

***

Lacy Williams wishes her writing career was more like what you see on Hallmark movies: dreamy brainstorming from a French chateau or a few minutes at the computer in a million-dollar New York City penthouse. In reality, she’s up before the sun, putting words on the page before her kids wake up for the day. Those early-morning and late-night writing sessions add up, and Lacy has published fifty books in almost a decade, first with a big five publisher and then as an indie author. When she needs to refill the well, you can find Lacy birdwatching, gardening, biking with the kiddos, or walking the dog. Find tons of bonus scenes and reader extras by becoming a VIP reader at http://www.lacywilliams.net/vip .

Author links:

Regina Walker Insists Genealogy Isn’t Such a Bore After All!

The Fillies give a big welcome to Regina Walker. Regina crafts interesting characters facing some of life’s hardest challenges. Her heart’s desire is to always point toward Jesus through the way her characters face challenges, relationships, and adversity.

Regina is an Oklahoma import, although she was born and raised in the beautiful state of Colorado. She likes to curl up on the couch and binge-watch crime shows with her hard-working husband. When she’s not wrestling with a writing project, she can be found wrangling their children, riding their horses, or working around their small hobby farm.

Before I get started, I want to take a moment and thank Karen Witemeyer for so graciously inviting me to write a post for Petticoats and Pistols. I appreciate all of the ladies that run this fun site, and I’m thankful you are here to read this post and the others!

For as long as I can recall, my mother has traced our family history. Sometimes she makes slow progress, occasionally great leaps, but it’s something she has built for years. While her dedication and commitment have always inspired me, I must admit that I thought it was such a boring pursuit.

I listened with half-hearted attention, my mind always wandering to something else. When I decided to take my writing seriously, I swore I would never write historical anything.

See, not only did genealogy bore me endlessly, but history, in general, made my eyes bug out of my head. I know it is important to understand certain aspects of history, but it was never my thing.

When I received a message asking me to join the Mail-Order Mama series, I wrinkled my nose. Historicals and I don’t mix! But I read the premise, and immediately, Mary Ann came to life and started whispering her story to me.

The way she respected and loved her father, the way he cared for their family, and the struggles with her mama all blossomed in my mind.

How could I say no to a story that was writing itself with no help from me?

I did end up helping sort out a few things in this story. I started my research on my mom’s website, reading about real-life people in our family. I selected Wyoming because my great-great-grandfather homesteaded there. The old house, although in terrible disrepair, still stands near Lake De Smet.

I chose to give Mason the last name Barkey to honor my heritage. Although my great-great-grandfather did not order a bride via the mail, it was my way of honoring where I came from to include the last name in this story.

Now, don’t let me fool you. I didn’t become a history buff and I’m not going to take up genealogy the way my sweet mom has. I did gain an appreciation for both history and genealogy that I did not have before.

 

Now that you know a little bit about how I came to write Mary Ann’s story – A Maid for Masonhow about a chance to win an e-book copy of my book? Three lucky winners will be drawn at random for this giveaway. To be entered, leave a comment on whether you’ve ever developed an appreciation for something because of a book you’ve read. 

Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for spending a little time with me today.

My Latest Release is Out!

It’s an exciting week for me – the release of my first Love Inspired Suspense – WILDFIRE THREAT was the 24th. Whoo, hoo! I loved every moment of writing this book, and I realized why when I recently gave an interview. So many things about Wildfire Threat are very personal and special for me, and not just because it’s my first Love Inspired Suspense.

I’ve been writing for Harlequin a long time. I admit it, I sometimes don’t have to work as hard as other authors to land a new contract. My editor knows me and can depend on me to deliver a book in good shape and on time. But when this opportunity came around, I had to work hard for it and go up against a lot of other authors. There was no golden ticket or cutting to the head of the line. When I got the call, I felt really good. My hard work paid off.

Purchase Wildfire Threat

As you can guess from the title, the story is about a wildfire. In this case, it’s headed straight for the fictional Arizona small town of Happenstance. For many, many years, we owned a small vacation home in Young, Arizona, a place that’s considered the most remote town in the state. One year, a wildfire came close enough we could watch it from our front porch. That inspired the book that became my first Harlequin sale about a Hotshot. About ten years ago, the Young fire came “this” close to destroying the town. Yes, it was the inspiration for Wildfire Threat.

My son, an avid outdoor enthusiast, helped me brainstorm the book. We had several long sessions where we tossed ideas back and forth. Okay, I tossed ideas out there, and he told me why they wouldn’t work. He is the source for much of my information about herding cattle and driving trucks and ATV through the burning wilderness.

Lastly, the heroine’s grandfather suffers from dementia. My own sweet mother, who I lost last year, suffered greatly from this terrible disease. It did my heart good to write about the love and devotion my heroine has for her grandfather, the tender, kind and respectful way my hero treats the older man, and how the family copes — which isn’t always easily. Writing the grandfather allowed me to honor my mother in a small but meaningful way.

To celebrate the release, I’m having a giveaway — one of my coffee mugs, a Starbucks gift card, some author bling and couple of previous books. To enter, you just have to make a comment. That’s all.

For anyone interested joining my newsletter, you can email me at: cathymcdavid@yahoo.com It’s not necessary for entering this giveaway. Just if you’d like to keep up on the latest news about me.

Thank you for letting me share my good news with you and tell you about my newest book.

Hugs,

Cathy McDavid

Old Fashioned Treats with a Modern Twists – Malory Ford

I don’t know about you, but I love a good old-fashioned treat. Give me an icebox cake or a gorgeous loaf of sourdough any day of the week. Sometimes, if I have a minute to myself to enjoy it with a cup of coffee before my children wake up, I’ll imagine what it must have been like for my great grandmother and the women who went before her. Did they have the same concerns I do? Did they relish the quiet before the chaos too?

I feel certain they did. Whether it’s a breakfast dish passed down through the generations or a slice of buttered bread enjoyed in the evening, recipes have the power to connect us to our past.

Still, I do love the modern convenience of my stand mixer and electric oven. This is where old fashioned bakes with a twist come in. Some of them are shortcuts to achieve something similar to what has been done for generations, others are simply a new way of enjoying an old favorite. Step into my kitchen with me, and let’s see what we come up with.

Shortcut Sourdough

Show of hands – who started making bread during the pandemic? It’s all right, I see you. Unfortunately, many have abandoned their starters in exchange for something a little easier. This wouldn’t be a problem except that sourdough in and of itself is an experience that should not be missed.

Enter: Shortcut Sourdough. (https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/277983/mock-sourdough-bread/)

This recipe is not only delicious, but it utilizes active dry yeast and yogurt in place of that sourdough starter that died on your counter a year ago.

You can find different variations of this dish, but they all mostly follow the same format. Enjoy the flavor, tang, and texture of sourdough without babysitting your starter – I won’t tell if you won’t.

Oreo Icebox Cake

My mom talks about how delicious my great-grandmother’s lemon icebox cake was. I’m sure that’s true, but I have to admit I’m partial to a delicious chocolate cookie sandwich with cream in the middle. Icebox cakes became popular in the 1920’s, and were more or less a descendant of trifles and similar layered desserts.

This oreo icebox cake (https://chocolatechocolateandmore.com/oreo-icebox-cake/) is a modern take on the classic recipe and makes the process even easier than it would’ve been nearly a hundred years ago. You could also adapt this recipe into miniatures by utilizing a muffin tin and placing the single oreo on the bottom. If you try this, make sure you allow a little extra time for the cake to set or you’ll end up with a dozen tiny (but still delicious) messes. One of the best parts of this recipe is that any little hands you might find in your kitchen can absolutely help you with it. My three year old was delighted to help me lay down the cookies, pipe the cream, and sprinkle the oreos on top. The newborn was decidedly less help, but give him a few years.

No-Churn Ice Cream

Did you know that the earliest renditions of ice cream date back thousands of years? Granted, the versions they enjoyed weren’t the sweet, creamy goodness we enjoy today. Those are a bit more modern but still something 18th century Americans would’ve enjoyed. Still, while homemade ice cream is infinitely worth the trouble, it does take a bit of work and some bulky equipment.

 

No-churn ice cream (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/no-churn-vanilla-ice-cream-3364776)  saves the day. With just four ingredients and some time in the freezer, this recipe would certainly make our foremothers jealous. Of course, you can add in any of your favorite toppings, and if those toppings weren’t around when the first ice cream sundaes were popularized? Well, that’ll be just fine.

 

Malory Ford is giving away one copy of her book

Do you have a favorite recipe that might’ve been made in the 1800s? Leave a comment for a chance to win.

 

The Way to Hope

Simon Carson is a self-declared lifelong bachelor interested in three things: ranching, woodworking, and staying as far from the responsibility of a family as he can. Plenty of young ladies catch his eye, but they all want something he’s just not interested in giving.

Samantha Paulson is a trick-riding, back-talking cowgirl who has made a life for herself riding in Jed Harper’s Wild West Show. She’s tough, smart, and if her fans are to be believed, a little crazy.

Samantha’s life is exactly as she wants it, thank you very much. That is, until someone starts sabotaging her act in the show and putting her in grave danger. The bosses send her out to a friend’s ranch to hide out while they find the perpetrator, but her single cowboy father didn’t exactly teach her to act like the other ladies in town. No, she knows horses better than she does people, and she’ll earn her keep if she can.

When Simon and Samantha meet, sparks fly and Simon starts to reevaluate everything he knows. That is, until Samantha’s attacker goes on the hunt and may just be closer than they think. It’ll be up to the Lord whether they have any hope for a future, or if they’re doomed before they even start.

 

Find Malory online at : Malory Ford Books – Author of Historical Christian Romance (wordpress.com)

Malory is a wife and mother, avid gardener, aspiring baker, and a voracious reader. She is a believer inspired by everyday encounters with the Lord, interactions with her friends and family, and the occasional trip into a history book.

Henley Releases!

I’m incredibly excited about my new release that just came out on Friday!

Henley is a sweet historical western romance that is part of the new Love Train series. You’ll see several of our Fillies in the series. In fact, Pam Crooks released Book 1 just a few weeks ago. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read Christiana.

The books can be read in any order. The common thread between them all is that each heroine has a secret, and they all meet their hunky hero on the same train. You’ll see the conductor Henry, a baggage handler Willie, and a cute little pup named Scruffy in each story too.

Henley Jones and Doctor Evan Holt connect when they board the train in Omaha.

Love is a gamble, and heartbreak is a risk she’s willing to take.

Despite her dreams to set down roots, Henley Jones has never had a place to call home. She’s spent her life on riverboats and railroad cars, tagging along with her gambling father. A shoot-out during a card game results in his death, leaving Henley alone and nearly penniless. Out of luck and options, Henley agrees to travel across the country to the newly established town of Holiday, Oregon, to marry a stranger.

A demanding practice in a town clawing its way to respectability keeps Doctor Evan Holt rushing at a hectic pace. He’s far too busy to see to pressing matters like hiring competent help or finding a wife. When one of his patients orders a mail-order bride, Evan can’t decide if the man is crazy or brilliant. From the moment he meets her, Evan battles an unreasonable attraction to the beautiful, charming woman who seems to be hiding something from her past.

In a town flush with possibilities, will taking a chance on love end with heartache or a winning hand? Find out in this sweet western romance full of humor, hope, and love.

~*~

I thought it might be fun to share some quotes from the book.

 

The West was overflowing with gamblers.

They gambled on their dreams, and hopes, and families.

They gambled on opportunities to create better lives, or become better versions of themselves.

Most importantly, they gambled in the high-stakes game of love,

putting their hearts on the line, with no idea if they’d win or lose.

 

~*~

The child was as cooperative as a drunken donkey in a dynamite shack.

~*~

I’m starting to think there are rocks and tree stumps

smarter than Evan Holt.

~*~

Love might be the toughest gamble you’ll make, but it’s worth the risk.

 

Order your copy of Henley today!

It’s available on Amazon in digital and paperback formats, and you can read it in Kindle Unlimited!

 

What about you?

What do you think would be a neat secret for a heroine to keep from the hero? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a copy of Henley!

Laura Ashwood Adds Fact to Fiction

Hi, I’m Laura Ashwood and I’m honored to be guest blogging here today. I write sweet historical western romance, contemporary small town romance and women’s fiction. Something for everyone, LOL. Today though, I’d like to talk about one of my historical western romances.

One of my favorite things about being an author is having a reason to research and a place to use that information. But that doesn’t come without its own challenges either. Too little research will upset readers familiar with a time period, and too much research can take readers out of your story. It’s a delicate balance.

So, where does one start? When I write a story, I generally have a location in mind. It might be a specific location or it might be as general as simply knowing what state I want it to be set in. Once I know that, I’ll spend some time looking at the location. The topography, the average weather – if it’s a historical book, I’ll look at the averages and topography from the year I am setting the story.

Courting Danger is a historical western suspense that starts in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1873. I knew my character, Clarissa, came from a wealthy family, that she was an only child, and that her parents (her mother in particular) wanted her to marry “up” to help further cement their place in society. Very common practices during that time period.  Clarissa didn’t want to have anything to do with it though. My research told me that the suffragette movement was strong at that time and she was a well-read young lady. She wanted to make her own way.

During that time frame, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was in its prime – solving crimes across the nation and had even started taking on female agents. The first official female Pinkerton agent was Kate Warne. So I did come research about Kate and some of the cases she worked on. So, I had Clarissa find an advertisement from the Pinkerton Agency in the newspaper – looking for female agents. She immediately replied and was chosen to work a case in St. Louis, Missouri. This case was modeled after one of Kate Warne’s cases. I used several of the details of the actual case, but added my own twists to make it original.

So because a great deal of the story was set in St. Louis, I wanted to incorporate as much “fact” into it as I could. The first thing I looked for was a City Directory. Think of it as a phone book before there were phones. The City Directory gave me names of stores, hotels, even characters. The names of the nurse, the undertaker, and the Chief of Police in my story were taken from this directory as the actual undertaker, nurse and Chief of Police in St. Louis in 1873.

The hotel Clarissa stays in while she’s in St. Louis, The Planter’s House Hotel, was an actual hotel in 1873. Because it actually existed in 1873, I was able to find photographs of it and that helped me describe it as though I was actually there, including the famed Turkish Lounge.

St. Louis is famous for its Eads Bridge and Gateway Arch, but through my research, I discovered that the construction on the Eads Bridge wasn’t completed until 1874 and the Arch wasn’t constructed until the 1960s. So, when Clarissa saw the bridge at one point in her adventure, I made sure to mention it was under construction. I also consulted a city map of St. Louis when determining what to name my streets and neighborhoods my characters visited. They were all authentic to that time.

How important is all of this? Will my readers know this? The answer to both of those questions is probably no. Those details will not make or break my story. But they’re Easter Eggs I’ve sprinkled throughout and they make the story come alive for me because I know Clarissa is seeing the actual things she’d see if she were alive and in St. Louis in 1873. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

If you’d like to read about Clarissa’s adventure as a Pinkerton Detective in training, you can find it on Amazon, both in paperback and ebook. (buy link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09TJTSVFZ?tag=pettpist-20)  It’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

I’d also love to give away three copies (ebook only) of Courting Danger – Just answer the question “how much does historical accuracy and detail mean to you when reading a book?” in the comments below. Three random winners will be announced on Sunday.

Laura is giving away 3 e-book copies of Courting Danger

Courting Danger

She thought the biggest danger would be to her reputation. She didn’t realize it would be to her life and her heart.

Clarissa Ferguson craves a life of adventure. The last thing she wants is to become a socialite and marry a curmudgeon to appease her mother. When she sees an advertisement for female Pinkerton Agents, she leaves on the next available train to Denver Colorado. What she doesn’t expect is the handsome man she meets on the train to be her new trainer.

Noah Harding, recovering from the loss of his wife and family, vows never to marry again. Throwing himself into his work as a Pinkerton agent, he has finally found a sense of purpose. He prides himself on being able to read people, until he observes a peculiar woman on a train headed west. He soon discovers she’s his new trainee, and he must temporarily wed her while they solve a murder, or he’ll jeopardize his career.

Will Noah be able to stay focused on the case with Clarissa distracting him? When the case forces them to pretend to be something they aren’t, what happens when their feelings become real?

* * * *

ABOUT LAURA……

Laura and her husband live in northeast Minnesota. She works a full time day job, and in her spare time, she likes to read, cook and spend time with her husband. She is a devoted grandmother and chihuahua lover.

In her novels, Laura brings to life characters and relationships that will warm your heart and fill you with hope. Her stories often have themes involving redemption, forgiveness, and family.

Laura’s website: https://www.lauraashwood.com 

 

The Element of Love–a Giveaway!!!

The Element of Love

Coming March 1

Click to Pre-order

Click to Enter the Goodreads Giveaway

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing here

Excerpt

Another gully ahead and Laura felt like she was flying through midair. No ground beneath her for a hundred feet down. Then she swooped around a mountainside and splashed herself as the barrel careened from one side of the flume to another.

And that’s when the rain began falling. Sprinkling at first but they’d planned to stay as dry as possible and she’d forgotten.

Her movements cautious to keep from tipping, Laura got out the oil cloth packed in her satchel. She wrapped it around herself. She kept her arms out, but her satchel, the lantern, the money, all were protected. She couldn’t wrap it around her shoulders, even if they ended up soaked, because this ride would most likely end with her taking a swim. She’d need her arms free.

            Then the curve went away from the mountain, then veered back and for a sickening second she saw she’d be slammed right into the face of a cliff. And then she saw the hole. The tunnel.

            She blasted into the dark.

            The roar of the water and the echo of this tight tunnel made her dizzy. All she knew was noise and motion, no vision. Blindness while the world exploded around her.

            She couldn’t breathe. A scream built in her chest. She fought a violent urge to throw herself out of her barrel, to make contact with something that wasn’t moving, wasn’t roaring. It was irrational and she knew it.

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But still, every second she endured was a battle.

Fighting it, she remembered the need for quiet. She had to be quiet. But surely they were far enough from anyone that a single scream, which pushed to tear free from her throat, wouldn’t be noticed. She swallowed it down. Clutched the sides of the barrel, fought the dizzying fear she’d tip over, or be crushed by the dark and speed and roar.

            Then out.

            Flying. Gasping for breath, she went into a sudden descent that was almost a straight drop. And the sky had opened up while she’d been in the tunnel. Rain poured down and hit like needles. She lifted the oil cloth up to cover her face so she could breathe and had to keep her head ducked low because her hands were busy clinging to the barrel.

          The flume gradually leveled a bit to a less terrifying fall. The flume carried logs for nine miles. She knew that. She had to ride nine miles from the mountaintop to the river below. Nine miles and there was no way to figure time because there was no way to figure speed. She’d heard once it took the logs an hour to get from top to bottom. Another time she’d heard half that.

            It all depended on the force of the water. Had they opened it full blast? She wasn’t sure. It was science, force times distance times descent patterns. She should be able to do the math in her head while she careened downward but she was missing key numbers.

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            Mathematical calculations were more Jilly’s thing. In fact, Laura wouldn’t be surprised if Jilly was keeping herself calm by counting in prime numbers or doing calculus problems. Laura did science—her favorite was chemistry. And she’d love like mad to use her smuggled chemicals to blow this flume into a million pieces.

            She couldn’t blow it up. She couldn’t do the mathematical calculations. So, she played guessing games about what would happen when the men discovered the flume running. She ripped around a curve in the flume again, clinging to the barrel sides.

The men, think of the men.

They’d be coming to work in the morning, early, their day started at sunrise. Or the day after if the thunderstorm held on. No one logged mountaintop woodlands if there was lightning. Whenever they came back to work, their men would see the flume open.

            Would they wonder if it hadn’t been turned off at the end of the last shift? She knew one thing, they wouldn’t report it to Edgar. His punishment was always as rapid as the blade of a guillotine. His wrath would fall on the neck of whoever reported it. And they’d be fired.

            No, Edgar would never hear about it. And all of the hard-working lumberjacks were loyal to the Stiles family and held Edgar Beaumont in contempt. So between fear of Edgar’s wrath and disgust with the man, even if he tore the mountain apart looking for runaway daughters, which he just might do, he’d never hear about a flume found running overnight or any suspicions about the mad decision to use that flume to escape.

By the time he quit looking close to home, they would be miles away, and putting more space between them with every minute they were free.

Was she a heroine, a villainess, or just a fool?

By Heather Blanton

 The life of Ellen Watson, aka Cattle Kate, was defined for us by greedy cattle barons, and dutifully reported by a cowardly, boot-licking press. According to these men, Ellen was a prostitute, a cattle thief, and a fornicator. She traded sex for cows and had no compunctions about doing a little cattle rustling on the side.

All that was a smear campaign to protect the cattle barons.

So, what was the truth about Ellen Watson? For one thing, she was a woman with a brain in her head and a fire in her eye.

At 18, Ellen married an abusive drunk who beat her with a horse whip. She put it up with it for a couple of years, then left the loser and filed for divorce. Truly a rare thing in 1883. Strong-willed and stubborn, she moved away to escape the ex. Life took her from Nebraska, to Denver, to, finally, fatefully, Wyoming. She made her living alternately as a seamstress and cook. There is no evidence she ever worked as a prostitute at any time in her life. She did drink, smoke, and cuss, though.

She met Jim Averill while she was cooking at the Rawlins House. Jim had a road ranch on his homestead, catering to travelers and cowboys. Ellen worked as his cook and was paid for her time. She eventually bought her own land—adjacent to Jim’s—started her own ranch and acquired her own legally registered brand. All while she and Jim were courting.

The couple applied for a marriage license in 1886, but never filed it. Homesteads were limited in size per family so it would have been to their benefit to keep the marriage a secret. Ellen also took in two young boys who came from abusive homes and they, in turn, worked her ranch.

Ellen’s independent ways brought her into direct conflict with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and a neighboring rancher named Bothwell. Still big on the open range way of ranching, he despised Ellen and Jim’s piddly ranches. For nearly two years, Bothwell saw to it that the couple were threatened, harassed, and watched incessantly by riders from the WSGA.

Not interested in kowtowing to the cattle barons, Jim wrote fiery letters to the newspapers, decrying the men’s greed and tyranny. Ellen just kept on ranching, and to the devil with anyone who didn’t like it. Eventually, Bothwell ran out of patience.

On July 20, 1889, Ellen and Jim were accused of rustling cattle from his ranch. He and some his riders took the couple to a gulch and hung them from a stunted pine, not more than two feet off the ground. Witnesses said Jim begged for mercy, but Ellen went down cussing and swinging.

At the time of her death, 28-year-old Ellen had 41 head of cattle, a little over 300 acres, and a tenacious fighting 

spirit that burnt bright right up to the last second of her life. If there is any justice here, it is that we remember her to this day, not the cowards who hung her.

My book, Grace be a Lady, is set during the Johnson County War, in the aftermath of Ellen’s murder. I’ll give two winners paperback versions of the book. Just comment on Ellen and tell me what you think of her life and death. Was she a heroine or a fool? Did she bring this on herself? Should she have sold out and left Wyoming?

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for one of the 2 print copies of Grace be a Lady.

Buy Grace be a Lady on Amazon.

Find Heather online at Heather Blanton