Kaitlene Dee Tells About Traveling Food, Covered Wagons, and Romance!

Get ready for a fun time. This week, the Fillies are entertaining Kaitlene Dee aka Tina Dee and she’ll talk about covered wagons, the food they prepared on the trail, and some romance. She mentions a giveaway so don’t miss that.

In my new story, Grace, which is part of the Prairie Roses Collection, nineteen-year-old Grace loses her best friend and inherits her three-year-old daughter, Emma. It was her friend’s dying wish that Grace would raise Emma because the little girl is without any other family.

Adam begrudgingly comes to the rescue of Grace and Emma with a marriage of convenience proposal—and together, they set out to help an elderly couple of sisters move their tea shop business from one town to another in a covered wagon to carry the sisters’ precious bone china and heirloom cabinet. They head from northern California to southern California. What should only take two to three weeks travel time turns out to be a much longer trip, ripe with danger and disaster. In all this, Grace and Adam find out how much they must trust in God as He guides them into discovering that they truly need one another.

Personally, I love outdoor cooking, and writing this story was fun with all the cooking that goes on in it. I enjoyed researching foods pioneers packed and ate for their journeys. Guidebooks made suggestions to hopeful travelers on things to pack in their provisions.

But most interesting to me, was the spices. Some were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for flavoring. Some curatives that were packed were: Cinnamon bark for the relief of diarrhea and nausea and to aid against digestive issues, cloves for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and nutmeg or mace, which were used for tonics. (FoodTimeline.org –an awesome and fun resource! They refer to Randolph B. Marcy’s A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, a valuable resource manual for those traveling west).

Some folks also packed potable meat (cooked meat packed tightly into a jar, then covered with some sort of fat such as butter, lard, or maybe tallow and then sealed), and portable soups, desiccated dried or canned vegetables, powdered pumpkin, and dried fruits. These were a surprise to me since, prior to research, I pretty much thought their only options were beans, cornmeal mush, biscuits, bacon, flour, milk if they had a cow, and eggs.

On their journey, Adam used oxen to pull the covered wagon because they were strong, dependable, and able to do well on less abundant food sources. It was fun researching about wagons as well. I didn’t know the wagons carried a pail of pitch under the wagon bed. But discussing covered wagons is for a future post.

The story of Grace is a Christian marriage of convenience, pioneer romance set in the western frontier and is part of the multi-author Prairie Roses Collection. All books in the series are stand-alone stories and can be read in any order. Not all of the stories are set on the Oregon Trail, some travel across state or from one state to another, but all of the stories are romances that occur while on their covered wagon journeys. They are in Kindle Unlimited and are also available for ebook purchase on Amazon.

Next spring, I’ll be contributing two more stories to the Prairie Rose Collection. The stories will be ripe with adventure, romance, and food and I’ll make sure they satisfy your Old West reading cravings.

What kind of food would you pack to bring on a journey like this? Anything special?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an ebook copy of GRACE

Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, enjoys outings along the coast and in the nearby mountains, hiking, supporting dog rescues and outdoor cooking and camping. She also writes contemporary western Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

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Rodeo Cowboys–Competitors, Friends, and Even Family

Today we welcome Danica Favorite to the Petticoats and Pistols corral.

One of my favorite parts of the rodeo is the bronc riding. It’s such a great combo of talent, skill and a little bit of luck. The announcer at a rodeo series I often watch has always been good about sharing some of the inside stories of the cowboys, and one of the things I fell in love with was how many times he’d talk about how cowboys competing against each other were often close friends and traveling buddies. You think about rodeos as competitions, but it reminded me of my life growing up in the rodeo scene. The people do become like family, even if you spend all season vying for the top spots.

So when I came up with this series, I thought a lot about that sense of family, not just in my Shepherd’s Creek community, but also among these rodeo cowboys. That became the heart of The Bronc Rider’s Twins. What do you do when someone in that found family dies, leaving behind a mess? For Wyatt Nelson, that meant stepping up and being the husband and father his best friend couldn’t be.

Family is equally important to Laura Fisher. For those who read the first book in the series, Journey to Forgiveness, you know that the Shepherd’s Creek family is working through a very painful past. You don’t have to have read it to read The Bronc Rider’s Twins, but for me, this series isn’t just about each of the family members, but about the way they’ve found their way back to each other after being estranged for so long.

Though there is, of course, a happy ending, what I love about this book, and this series, is that we see how messy families can be, and how sometimes working through these issues can take a lot of time, patience, and love. And, even though we have a picture in our heads of what a family is supposed to look like, the family in this series isn’t your traditional family. But together, they find healing and hope.

About The Bronc Rider’s Twins:
A family he doesn’t expect…

But will protect at all costs.

Convinced he caused his best friend’s death, rodeo cowboy Wyatt Nelson will do whatever it takes to look after widow Laura Fisher and her infant twins—even propose to her. A marriage of convenience is the perfect solution to keep custody from Laura’s overbearing in-laws. But as Wyatt begins to fall for the little family, will he let guilt get in the way of his heart?

About Danica Favorite:
Danica Favorite has spent her life in love with good books.  Never did she imagine that the people who took her to far away places would someday be the same folks she now calls friends.

A mountain girl at heart, she lives in the Denver area with her family and ever-changing menagerie of animals.

Put it all together, and you find an adventurous writer who likes to explore what it means to be human and follow people on the journey to happily ever after.

Giveaway:
Danica will be giving away a copy of The Bronc Rider’s Twins. To be entered in the random drawing, leave a comment about someone you’re not technically related to, but you consider family, and how has that person helped you in your life?

 

Pendleton Petticoats Get a Makeover

The past six weeks or so I’ve been working on a big project.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t involve writing, at least not directly.

Like clothes that get worn out or a house that needs painted, sometimes book covers need a makeover.

Then multiply that times ten because instead of giving one book a makeover, I gave a whole 10-book series a brand new look.

I’m excited to share these new Pendleton Petticoats covers with you today. In fact, you are the first to get to see them!

Before I share them though, I thought I’d walk you through some of the changes one or two of the covers have gone through since I first published the books.

When I originally released  Aundy, the first book in the series, I had zero budget for hiring someone to design covers or buying high quality images.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? This desperate measure was for me to pull on a blue calico wrapper my mom had made eons ago, pin eyelet lace inside it so it looked like a petticoat hanging out, and lace up a pair of reproduction Edwardian era boots (talk about pinched toes!) I’d had since high school days. I enlisted Captain Cavedweller to take the photo, then I added in the sheep and the wheat field in the background. I try not to cringe when I see it now. At the time, it filled a need!

Fast forward to 2017 when I had a subscription to a stock image website. By then, I’d picked up a few design skills (not nearly enough, but a few!).

This was the original graphic I used for the new Aundy cover. It had some great elements.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of “dressing” models in photos. It’s a lot harder than it might seem when the model is in a reclined position like this. Again, it filled a need when I wanted an upgrade.

 

What do you think of the new and improved Aundy?

I love this so much, mostly because this is exactly how I picture Aundy, from the braided hair to the peach-hued gown, to her sheep grazing in the distance. I really did have a lot of fun designing this cover.

Here’s another makeover example.

 

 

It was impossible when I was working on Millie’s story to find any appropriate artwork for the cover. You see, Millie is strongly against alcohol being sold in town and becomes one of the leaders of the local temperance union. How to convey that in a cover shot?

Well, yours truly may or may not have ordered a corset, cinched it so tight I could barely breathe, and assembled a costume from things I had buried in the back of the closet (minus the axe, that was CC’s contribution to the photo). I photoshopped in the house in the background and the whiskey barrel.

When I changed the cover in 2017, I decided to ditch the whole temperance idea for the cover and focus on Millie’s job as a telephone operator.

This cover was better, but still not quite right.

 

The new and improved Millie makes my heart so happy. I adore the colors and the fact she’s sitting on a bench reading. It makes me want to sit with her and peek over her shoulder to see what story has her so enthralled.

 

Here they are! All 10 books with shiny new covers!

Set in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, at the turn of the 20th century, each book in this series bears the name of the heroine, all brave yet very different.

Aundy (Book 1) — Aundy Thorsen, a stubborn mail-order bride, finds the courage to carry on when she’s widowed before ever truly becoming a wife, but opening her heart to love again may be more than she can bear.

Caterina (Book 2) — Running from a man intent on marrying her, Caterina Campanelli starts a new life in Pendleton, completely unprepared for the passionate feelings stirred in her by the town’s incredibly handsome deputy sheriff.

Ilsa (Book 3) — Desperate to escape her wicked aunt and an unthinkable future, Ilsa Thorsen finds herself on her sister’s ranch in Pendleton. Not only are the dust and smells more than she can bear, but Tony Campanelli seems bent on making her his special project.

Marnie (Book 4) — Beyond all hope for a happy future, Marnie Jones struggles to deal with her roiling emotions when U.S. Marshal Lars Thorsen rides into town, tearing down the walls she’s erected around her heart.

Lacy (Book 5) —  Bound by tradition and responsibilities, Lacy has to choose between the ties that bind her to the past and the unexpected love that will carry her into the future.

Bertie (Book 6) — Haunted by the trauma of her past, Bertie Hawkins must open her heart to love if she has any hope for the future.

Millie (Book 7) — Determined to bring prohibition to town, the last thing Millie Matlock expects is to fall for the charming owner of the Second Chance Saloon.

Dally (Book 8) — Eager to return home and begin his career, Doctor Nik Nash is caught by surprise when the spirited Dally Douglas captures his heart.

Quinn (Book 9) — Full of opinions and plans to help women, Quinn Fairfield has no time for such nonsense as falling in love.

Evie (Book 10) — Will a man focused on his work notice the love of a lifetime in his client’s effervescent nanny?

 

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but I think it might just be Aundy. Or maybe Evie. Or Quinn. Or…

Which one is your favorite? 

Post your answer for a chance to win the Pendleton Petticoats boxed set which includes three Pendleton stories!

 

Arranged Marriages and a Give Away!

In my latest book, my heroine, despite watching some of her friends find love matches, is resigned to the fact that she should marry well and within her class. She’s been raised to do it, and it’s hard for her to go against this. And no wonder. Families back in the day had a lot of say when it came to marriage of one of their own. If you were part of high society, such as my heroine, you came with a generous dowery that was incentive for a prospective groom to propose. When it came to money and marriage, the finances were discussed by both parties and many had to have a prenuptial agreement.

My heroine’s other dilemma was the fact her friends found love matches with those below their social class. This was a hard pill for her to swallow as marriage was encouraged only within one’s class. If you wanted to move up the social ladder, you were called an upstart. Too far up and you were a gold digger. On the other hand, to marry someone in a lower social class was considered marrying beneath oneself. In some cases, you could wind up a laughingstock. Love had to be stronger than one’s bank account to warrant such a move.

In the east arranged marriages were more common, and quite often the couple only met a few times, or not at all, prior to the wedding. Meanwhile out west, where arranged marriages were becoming a thing of the past, the mail-order bride took over. Once again two people were getting married without knowing each other. They got hitched then hoped for the best!

Through history and into modern times, the practice of arranged marriages has been encouraged by a combination of factors. In some countries there’s the practice of child marriage, two people betrothed at birth. When they come of age, they marry. There are also late marriages, tradition, culture, religion, poverty and limited choice. There were also things like disabilities, wealth and inheritance issues and political, social and ethnic conflicts

Arranged marriages began as a way of uniting and maintaining upper class families. Eventually, the system spread to the lower classes where it was used for the same purpose. Remember that rule about marrying in one’s own class?

Back in Victorian society, women had one main role in life. Get married and take part in their husbands’ dealings, interests, and business. Before marriage, they would learn domestic skills such as cooking, washing, and cleaning, unless they were from a wealthy family. Is it any wonder my heroine is fighting between finding true love and marrying the man her parents found for her? He’s wealthy, his family powerful. He’s even not bad to look at. Unfortunately, he also has terrible allergies and the personality of a door stop. What’s a debutante to do?


I’m giving away one free e-copy of my yet to be released, A Match for the Debutante, to one person from the comments below. Most of us don’t know anyone who had an arranged marriage or was a mail-order bride, but it’s fun to ask ourselves the question, could we marry someone we barely knew? To ask ourselves this question living in the 21st century, most of us would say nope! But if you lived in the Victorian era, could you do it?

Marriage of Convenience Stories – What’s The Draw?

 

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I want to admit right off the bat that I’m a sucker for a good marriage of convenience story, as both a reader and a writer.  In fact, off-the-top-of-my-head I can come up with the titles of nine of my own novels that have some form of that trope included.

The other day I was trying to analyze why I’m so drawn to these stories, in both my writing and my reading.    I came up with the following three reasons

  • First and foremost, there’s so much built in conflict and room for growth when two people are forced to get to know each other after they’re married rather than before.  And strong emotional conflict, of course, is what makes a story really snap, crackle and pop.
  • Then there’s the fact that the now married pair can’t really get away from each other as they work through their differences and try to deal with the inevitable attraction that results – a recipe for a potential page turner.

  • And of course, as a writer, there’s the fun of coming up with unique but totally creditable reasons for said marriage of convenience. Some of the twists I’ve come up with in the past:
    • In THE HAND-ME-DOWN FAMILY, the heroine, Callie, is a woman who has a lot of love to give but, because of her appearance, is certain she will never marry.  Then, in less than one month’s time, she enters into not one but two marriages of convenience and in the process becomes the mother figure to three orphaned children.   Jack, the hero, is a man who has very carefully built a life where he is footloose and fancy free and is determined not to let his unlooked for marriage change his life.
    • In THE HANDPICKED HUSBAND, the heroine is forced to select one of three possible contenders to be her husband, and the stakes are dire if she refuses.
    • In THE BRIDE NEXT DOOR and THE PROPER WIFE the couples are caught in compromising situations and are forced into marriage to salvage their reputations. While this is a fairly common device, it’s coming up with the specifics of the ‘compromising situation’ that’s fun
    • In HER AMISH WEDDING QUILT the widowed hero is searching for a new wife to help him raise his two children. Again, this one is a fairly common device, but it’s common for a reason – it works.

So how do you feel about marriage of convenience stories and why? And can you come up with some unique twists or do you have a favorite type of MOC story?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for winners’ choice of any book in my backlist