Hey everyone! Today I’m talking about beaverslides, which are not fun devices located on playgrounds for flat-tailed furry mammals, I’m sorry to say. A beaverslide is a way to stack loose hay.
In the eastern part of the United States, it wasn’t necessary to store as much winter forage/hay as it was in the west. Due to the long, harsh winters, western ranchers often needed to store more hay than the average hayloft could hold. Thankfully, due to the low humidity, hay could be stacked outside, rather than under a barn roof, without rotting as it would do in the east.
When my mom was a kid, the field hands pitched loose hay from the fields into wagons, where people (kids) would stamp down the hay to make room for more. The trick, she said, was to not get a pitchfork in the leg. Having once had a pitchfork in my leg, I think about that often. The wagon of loose hay was then pitched into haylofts where it was protected from the weather, or it was stored in stacks. In the early 1900s, however, two ranchers in the Big Hole country of Montana, very close to where I now live, invented the Beaverhead County Slide Stacker, soon to be known simply as a beaverslide, which provided a quicker and more efficient way to stack loose hay.
Now I saw these contraptions in hay fields as a kid, most of them falling apart from lack of use, and while I knew they had something to do with haying, I didn’t know how they worked. Here’s how:
I’m happy to say that while most farmers and ranchers bale hay, the beaverslide is still being used today. Here’ a beaverslide in use close to where I live:
How cool is that? Using a beaverslide today might be more labor intensive than using a baler, requiring a crew of 6 to 8 people, but it saves on fuel, which is huge. A beaverslide can stack hay up to 30 feet high. They are usually made of lodge pole pine and wooden boards, but some have metal components.
About 24 tons of hay can be stacked before the beaverslide is moved to make a new stack in a new area. An average size cow consumes 24 pounds of hay a day, so one stack will feed 2000 cows for one day, or 500 cows for 4 days. We have 50 cows on our place, so a 24 ton stack would last us for about 5 weeks.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our adventure in loose hay today!
Good mornin’ all y’all! Thank you for inviting me back to Petticoats and Pistols to talk about Cowboy Rebel. I’m so excited about this book, and can’t wait to begin to get reviews from the readers. It’s the fourth book in the Longhorn Canyon series. Don’t you just love looking at Tag Baker with his clear blue eyes on the cover?
I thought maybe I’d let all y’all hang out with him a little today, and get to know him. So I have him here with me to answer questions. He’s got a glass of sweet tea in his hand and has motioned that he’s ready so fire away.
Question: Why did you leave the huge ranch out in the Texas panhandle and come to the hill country in the north central part of the state?
Tag: Well, darlin’, it’s like this. My twin brother, Hud, and I’ve always wanted to buy a place that we could call our very own. We wanted something just like Canyon Creek Ranch with the potential of building it into a dynasty like our folks did with the Rockin’ B Ranch. Besides all that, our sister, Emily, married Justin Maguire over on the neighbor ranch a few months ago. We missed her when she left the panhandle a few years ago, and now we get to live close to her.
Question: What did you think of Nikki the first time you met her?
Tag: I met her at Emily’s wedding a few months before we moved out here to Sunset, Texas. She struck me then as a little independent and a whole lot sassy. My opinion didn’t change when I met her the second time in the hospital emergency room—but that time there were sparks between us, and I just had to get to know her better.
Question: So what did you do to get her to consider going out with you?
Tag: (With a chuckle) I bought her a gold fish.
Question: Why would you do that?
Tag: She said she’d always wanted a pet, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave it alone so many hours while she worked as a nurse at the hospital.
Question: I heard you were considered a bad boy before you came to Sunset. Is that right?
Tag: (Ducks his head) I’m afraid that’s the truth. I’m tryin’ to change my ways and be more responsible.
Question: Who all works on the ranch with you and your brother?
Tag: We hired two of our friends, Maverick and Paxton, and they’ve joined us on the ranch now. We’ve pretty much known them our whole lives, and we’ve worked right along beside them since we all got out of high school.
Carolyn: We’ve only got time for one more question, so that little lady in the back wearing a pink cowboy hat…what would you like to know?
Question: Will Hud’s story get told?
Tag: (With that brilliant smile that makes a woman’s bloomers begin to crawl down to her ankles) I believe that’s in the works, but first Maverick’s story, Christmas With a Cowboy, will come out in September.
Carolyn: Thank you all for letting Tag and I pop by today. I’m giving away a signed copy of CowboyRebel. Just tell me in the comments what it is about a good cowboy book that draws you to it? Cover, back copy, first paragraph, part of a series? Talk to me, folks!!
Just released and on shelves nationwide right now…
I’m hoping this story touches hearts and souls across the U.S. of A. and not for the obvious, that it’s a biracial romance although I’m thrilled to be able to use this kind of reality in my stories….
It will touch hearts and souls because the characters win you from the get-go.
All Jace Middleton wanted was to be able to make a solid living in his hometown of Shepherd’s Crossing, the town his ancestors helped settle after some very long cattle drives out of Texas…
But the town has fallen on hard times, there’s no work for a talented contractor/carpenter/cowboy like Jace and even though he likes working on his friend’s ranch, that’s not his dream. His dream is to build and run his own spread but that option has withered away the past few years. So now– it’s time to go.
Until a grumpy, crotchety, eccentric old white woman shows up, claiming she’s his grandmother. Of course she’s bonkers.
But when she produces his birth certificate–his REAL one–he realizes that he’s spent 30 years living a lie. And toss in two baby nieces with blond hair and blue eyes, abandoned by their mother, a half-sister he never knew he had and Jace’s life hasn’t just taken a hit. It’s done a full 180. And when his eccentric and wealthy grandmother asks him to renovate her falling down ranch house, Jace realizes he can stay if he takes the job but at what cost to his self-respect? The thought that well-kept secrets secured a phony life for him rankles…
And when his biological grandmother wants Melonie Fitzgerald, one of the new co-owners of Pine Ridge Ranch, to design the home makeover, Jace almost wishes he’d been nice to her when she treated him like pond scum a few days before.
He’s roped tighter than a calf in a rodeo, and just as angry, but as old truths make their way to the surface, and Jace sees the innocence of two little lives, he begins to realize that maybe– just maybe– there’s a reason for all of this. And when he realizes that he’s falling for Melonie, and that she’s a ridiculously talented designer, he starts to see new possibilities….
But Melonie has a healthy fear of horses and no great love of ranching and her dream of having a Fixer-Upper type cable show means she won’t be staying in their sleepy little town any longer than she absolutely has to and Jace had his heart broken in a public display a few years back… he’s got no interest in running that route again.
But it’s no accident that Jace and Melonie have been thrown together, and when God sets a plan in motion, eventually the people get a clue, right?
I had so much fun writing this story. A few tears, lots of smiles, and as a mom and grandma, I know lots of families where children aren’t necessarily being raised by moms and dads… and to take this very real situation and weave it into the threads of a romance gave me the depth of realism that I wanted.
In proper cowboy fashion– when the chips are down– Jace comes to his senses but only after he realizes that Melonie Fitzgerald isn’t the retiring Southern Belle he thought she was, but a hard-working, talented woman that isn’t afraid to stand her ground with tough old women, teething babies or stubborn cowboys. Exactly the kind of woman he needs.
I’ve got a copy of this wonderful book to give away today, and yes, I hope the winner loves it! So tell me…
Do you know families that have had to shift custody of little ones around for whatever reason?
And how hard would it be to step into the role of parent when you least expect it?
Give me a shout below and wishing you all the happiest of New Year’s blessings!
I know it’s only November first, but I am in that Christmas spirit because that’s kind of how publishing rolls, my friends and as the publishers roll… Well, so do the authors! And this author has some fun stuff to celebrate this fall…
First, my just released (non-cowboy!) book “At Home in Wishing Bridge“, the second book of my “Wishing Bridge” series, has been on the Amazon bestseller list for weeks and spent a lot of time at #1 so there is a reason to celebrate right there… and readers are loving it. And that makes authors the happiest of all.
And Love Inspired has re-issued this beautiful story from my “Kirkwood Lake” series. “The Lawman’s Holiday Wish is a story of old wrongs, quick judgments and slow healing… but when God gives us a whole new beginning… a beginning with three precocious five-year-olds… well, that’s the kind of Christmas dream we all love to see! Love Inspired doubled the fun by pairing me with Gail Martin and her book “The Christmas Kite”. You can find this on AMAZON, and in Walmart now!
But being a Western blog, let’s see if I can pull something out of my Christmas Stetson!
First, we’ve got an amazingly fun duo with my good Western buddy Linda Goodnight. I was blessed to be part of a novella duo with her… Western-and-cowboy-themed…. and so I was able to add a “Shepherd’s Crossing” novella to my series set in Western Idaho. The “Shepherd’s Crossing” series brings three Southern beauties… real Steel Magnolias… to a sheep ranch left to them by a benevolent uncle. And there just may be some rugged cowboys who know a good thing when they see it and have the brains enough to keep these girls well above the Mason-Dixon line… despite the cold and wind and snow. Shepherd’s Crossing… where love conquers all. Eventually. 🙂
This beautiful story pairs a single mother with a cowboy who’s spent a bunch of years alone… but Christmas isn’t just a season of miracles. It’s a season of family… friends… and second chances. And Ty Carrington gets his second chance in “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” my half “A Cowboy Christmas”! And today I’ve got two copies of “A Cowboy Christmas” to send out this week (it’s catch up week on the farm now that pumpkin season is over!)… so you can win it before you can buy it! This book hits stores in two weeks… and on sale for Kindle December 1st!!! PREORDER HERE! (I can’t make it much plainer than that, can I, darlings???)
And then, for the historical lovers among us (of which I am one!) here is my historical novella Christmas collection “Christmas on the Frontier”.
Three great pioneer Christmas stories bring us back to a simpler time… maybe a holier time… a time before Christmas became synonymous with commercialism. A time when a baby in the manger was enough to make us bow our heads… take a knee… pray as one. A time to be grateful for the little things. A time when little was taken for granted because our very hold on life and liberty was tenuous back then and no one had the luxury to be jaded.
“Her Christmas Cowboy”, “A Town Called Christmas” and “His Beloved Bride” make up a wonderful collection from my heart… to yours.
I’m also giving away two Kindle copies of “Christmas on the Frontier” today…. to start your November off right.
Leave a comment about holidays below… what you love? What you don’t love! What makes you laugh or cry? Are you a Hallmark binge watcher? Or a binge reader? Are you Pinterest crazy? Or do you wing it with cookies from Wegmans or Harris Teeter and a Stouffer’s lasagna in the oven?
Because there’s value and joy in both ways!
Four winners today to kick off our Christmas season, then rejoin me in a month when we celebrate Christmas novellas here with the fillies… and I’ll be giving away copies again. Keepin’ it simple. Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it prayerful in times of trouble…
“For unto you is born this day a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you. You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Luke 2, 11-12
Oh, those shepherds! Those angels!
Can you even imagine what that must have been like?
And today I get to kick of this holy and happy season with you! Bring on the eggnog, my friends! And the cookies. (Who doesn’t love cookies?) And let us rejoice together!
Some ranches have the strangest names but probably all mean something personal to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all reflect the owner’s state of mind or what they value. Some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head though. Like the Dime Box and Hoof Prints ranches.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in mine and Phyliss Miranda’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. I thought it was perfect.
Here are others I’ve used:
Sullivan – A Texas Christmas
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Aces ’n Eights – Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star
Each one tells a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains and To Catch a Texas Star named his ranch for the poker hand he won Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget the miracle of how she changed his life.
To Catch a Texas Star is a story of hope, forgiveness, self-discovery, and vanquishing evil. Marley Rose is on her way into town when she finds a man bleeding and unconscious by the side of the road. Roan Penny has seen the worst of humanity, but Marley and the McClain family restores his faith. As he recovers he falls in love with the dark beauty he calls his Texas Star and longs to make a life with her. But evil from the past finds them. Will it destroy the happiness Roan and Marley have found?
The book released on July 3 and is available everywhere in bookstores and online.
Here are a few of the old Texas ranches still in operation not far from me:
Tongue River Ranch
Matador Land and Cattle
Yellow House Ranch
How about you? Can you name a ranch either in books/TV shows/movies, or that you’ve seen or heard about? I’m giving away one copy (winner’s choice of format.) Comment to enter the drawing to be held on Saturday, August 4. Giveaway Guidelines.
I have a brand new series starting with Love Inspired on July 17th, 2018.
I LOVE THIS SERIES.
It’s sweet. It’s poignant. It’s fun. It’s diverse. But more than anything else, it’s based on great stories from a solid premise that’s got some wide-open doors for twists:
MAJOR PUBLISHER INDICTED, BILKS FORTUNE FROM COMPANY, BANKRUPTS FAMILY. PRESTIGIOUS KENTUCKY HORSE FARM LIQUIDATED!
Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald grew up with horses, but their illustrious Kentucky farm was geared for big stakes racing and gilded dressage. When their father sank the three generation publishing ship that made the Fitzgeralds crazy rich, the three women were left with nothing but one car each and college loans. Big college loans. Their Uncle Sean realizes what his good-for-nothing brother has done about the same time his final cancer treatment fails. He wills a 25% share of his sprawling Idaho ranch to each of the girls… and the final 25% to Heath Caufield, a man who came on board when he was thrown off the Kentucky horse farm a dozen years before. Why? Because he had the audacity to fall in love with Lizzie Fitzgerald.
Lizzie and Heath share a past. There’s no way in this world they can share a future, but when those old feelings come to fore, can they look beyond their history to embrace the future God’s laid out for them?
The fun of this story is that it bridges the techno gap of a decade. Ten years ago, it was tough to get cell reception in a lot of out-of-the way places. Now we’re spoiled (or RUINED, but that’s another blog post, right???) because it’s rare that we can’t get coverage in most places.
But that’s a recent change and when big money wants someone G-O-N-E, they generally manage to get it done.
Lizzie comes to the ranch, unaware that Heath is the ranch manager following her uncle’s death… and a co-owner. Her uncle laid out a caveat: The women had to give it a year on the ranch.
For Lizzie this is a no-brainer. She’s got a head for business, a love and skill for horses, and heading up the equine breeding side of Pine Ridge Ranch is an amazing opportunity… right up until she sees Heath Caufield coming her way.
And so it begins….
A story filled with love, with ego, with anger, with emotion and attraction… and a motherless bi-racial little boy named Zeke who can’t help but win hearts wherever he goes.
Sheep ranching has a great history in the hills and mountains of Idaho, so setting this ranch… and others… here fit the storyline and the Western flair.
And bringing three Southern magnolias who are true Steel Magnolias to Idaho was just too much fun. Each girl has her own history, tainted by the loss of their mother as small children, the selfishness of a spoiled, rich father, and the love of a black surrogate mother, a woman who raised these delicate blossoms to be the strong women they are today, a woman who has stayed with them long after the money ran out because raising children isn’t about making money… sometimes it’s just absolutely about love. Corrie Satterly loves these girls like they were her own. And for nearly thirty years, they have been.
But money doesn’t buy happiness and each woman comes west as an individual with her own past, hopes and dreams and goals. All are determined that they’ll earn their inheritance, then sell it back to Heath Caufield, wish him well with his sheep and hay and straw and lambs and dogs and horses… and make their way in the world.
When the good Lord has other plans…. and offers other options…. are they gutsy enough to claim a future in the still somewhat wild West? Or will old-fashioned stubbornness trip them up?
Book one releases in six weeks… and then I was invited to do a novella combo with the amazing and wonderful Linda Goodnight… and so readers will get the second bonus story in December, a beautiful story of a widowed Native American woman with her endearing daughter and a rancher whose sad past colors his present and his future… “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” in the duo called “A Cowboy Christmas”! (And I love, love, love Linda Goodnight!)
And then in February the third book releases
Today we’re celebrating this upcoming release with TWO COPIES to give away!
Leave a comment below and tell me what grabs you about reunion romance? Those star-crossed lovers that are pulled apart…. and what bridges the gap to bring them back together?
Not like Romeo and Juliet because they were kind of too dumb for words, weren’t they?
(Sorry, I should not give out negative personal opinions on a world-famous blog… except I did kind of wanna slap ’em both. And their families…)
Clearly this is why I love writing inspirational romance and women’s fiction.
I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS!
Life comes with its own set of sad moments, and while I’m okay with sadness in a book… I long for the couple’s happy ending!
First, I am in love with historic farming and ranching stuff…
And spinning wheels.
I love seeing the ingenuity that went into these early machines before the Industrial Revolution went BERSERK and changed the face of the world as we know it with manufacturing, mass production, electricity, light bulbs and trains… Oh mylanta, that was a busy century!!! And the next one? The one we just packed away?
Pretty busy, too!!!
My upcoming contemporary Western series for Love Inspired is set in Idaho… because I love Northern cowboys and the world has so many of them thar Texas cowboys… So I like to give my northern folk a shout-out… a chance to show what it’s like to deal with animals and births and deaths all four seasons because the rigors of a ranch winter are pretty rugged. The first book comes out mid-July: “Her Cowboy Reunion”. This series is all about what happens when three Steel Magnolias inherit 75% of a mega ranch in Western Idaho… while the oldest sister’s first love owns the other 25%. It’s a perfect set up for a poignant reunion romance…. one that I love!
And then we follow this up with a surprise Christmas novella with my friend Linda Goodnight… and who wouldn’t want to work with Goodnight? She’s totally adorable which does not stop me from making fun of her… That Western novella (also part of the Shepherd’s Crossing series) hits the shelves in mid-late November…. and then the second sister’s story is being released in February 2019… And that gets us off and running with “Shepherd’s Crossing”!
I’ve probably mentioned this before, the “Last American Cowboy” series, a look inside three Montana ranches… I’ve used this video presentation for some background research (and I use Mary Connealy and her cowboy husband for research, too, because life in Nebraska with cows is pretty close to what I’m playing with… sans a mountain or two!)
But now we’ve got the hope of spring. Around here the hope of spring means one thing. Mud.
A lot of mud.
And mud with big animals becomes, well… mud and cow manure. Or mud and horse manure. And if fields get too wet, animals can ingest nasty little bugs or worms that make them sick…. but while you might get a mention of this in a book, you won’t get too much of the details because there is little romance in smelly mud!
Writers sometimes have to gloss over the down-and-dirty parts of farm and ranch life because they’re not reader-friendly, and that’s okay… but then we have to make sure that we keep the rest of life “real” with asides to the problems of weather and seasonal change, and we can do that with calves getting caught up in mud and needing a rescue.
Cue the hero or heroine!
Or kids tripping and falling into mud and needing a complete hosing… before the bath. 🙂
Authors love dogs!!!
Dogs are great at demonstrating the changing conditions of weather and ground conditions… a wet dog that shakes and soaks people nearby… The smell of wet dog…. a snow-covered dog, or a dog (like mine!) that gets little snowballs along the feathery hairs on her legs… a hot dog, slumped in the shade and unmoving in the heat of summer could be the same muddy dog that won’t be allowed in the house before he gets the hose… Not too many ranch dogs are carted to the dog wash in the suburbs. Making the elements and setting fit the story… and the genre… is part of my job. And you know I love my job!
I’ve got a shameless plug coming below for my current Love Inspired, but right now we’re talking the essence of seasons and how that gets woven through your stories without just stating the season…
The dog barometer and the cattle and horse barometers are really good at this. Kids, too… kids in shorts with dirt-smeared sweaty faces… whiny kids…. cooped up kids…. So many ways you can show the perils of the season via activity… or slop.
But I don’t like to linger too long in the “slop” unless it’s something causing grave harm to the farm or ranch and in that case…
The mud sometimes takes center stage.
Right now I’ve got this absolutely beautiful Love Inspired story in stores and online. It’s a great story of a mother’s sacrificial love and God’s perfect timing…. And while I’m chompin’ at the bit for that next Western,. I gotta confess… I am over-the-moon in love with this sweet story set in the hills and lakes of Western New York… 🙂
So how do you battle or slog through the muddy times of life? Do you bear up? Or want to lash out irrationally? And aren’t we so blessed to have washers and dryers???? Tell us about your taxing season… and it can be emotional, physical or just a pain in the part that sits the saddle… What do you do to make it work?
Josie Gallagher has plenty of reasons to be wary of Jacob Weatherly—considering he’s working for the hotel chain that’s forcing her restaurant to close. But when he shows up there with a little girl by his side—her little girl—she’s dismayed. How has this bachelor wound up with custody of the baby Josie placed with a married couple six years ago? The handsome hotel executive has no idea that Addie is Josie’s biological child, and Josie can’t afford to tell him. As he helps save her business, Josie and Jacob unexpectedly grow closer. But will her secret stand in the way of their happily-ever-after?
Weaving creates an image, doesn’t it? No matter how you apply the word, we envision yarn or threads being moved in lock-stitch by hand or machine. We see the flash of success as the weft threads pass through the warp threads, and a foot treadle bounces the threads up and down in clockwork precision.
That’s kind of what it’s like when we write a story.
Umm… NOT THE PRECISION PART!!!!
I’m a pantser, a writer who begins with the idea of how I see the story and characters and then I create… and I add and subtract as I go. Not all writers work like this, some like notes, charts, timelines, etc… I do better by avoiding all that as completely as I can. But what all authors have in common is the weaving of the word… and when I’m writing a Western (like my upcoming Shepherd’s Crossing series with Love Inspired or my Double S Ranch series with Waterbrook) I weave with a different set of threads. Some are coarser. Some are thicker. Some are rugged because carving a living off the land requires not only skill but fortitude. And I love folks with fortitude! (I just listened to the full recording of Peace in the Valley this weekend… Barbara McCullch did a great job with this Western and the character voices!)
I want my Westerns to sound authentic. Not contrived. Not over-done. If a rancher is educated, I want them to sound that way with a distinct twang as needed. 🙂 There’s nothing like an Ivy League educated cowboy (Colt Stafford “Back in the Saddle”) that comes across when he faces the heroine and does nothing more that touch the tip of his index finger to the brim of his hat.
No words needed.
He said it all with one gesture, a gesture he wouldn’t have used in Lower Manhattan but one that is quite effective in Central Washington. Colt’s a coming home character, a man returning to his roots out of necessity, a man surprised to find he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be… at last.
Mary Connealy taught me years ago that cowboys aren’t generally the talkative type. She’s right.
Like so many hard-working men, they grunt a lot, and then they’re surprised when those around them are at a loss to read their feelings. And then you go and read a Paul Harvey poem “So God Made a Farmer” and you realize you need to go beyond words, to actions.
There’s a book that talks about love languages, and it’s so stinkin’ true in many ways… not all people speak in poetic license.
A lot of men have to choke out “I’m sorry” or “I love you”… the dolts! 🙂
But sometimes those same men will go the distance to make sure the wagon seat is smooth enough to not snag a pretty dress…
Or extra warm potatoes to keep a historical heroine’s feet from taking a chill…
Or run to school to pick up a sick child of a single mother so she doesn’t lose her job at the diner…
Or dig the grave for his daddy’s old Golden Lab, gone home to heaven. I love that scene in “Saint Maybe” and used a similar scene in one of my first books “Waiting Out the Storm”… because acts of sacrifice transcend genre and touch a reader’s heart and soul.
There are so many ways to show emotion as we write. Some require few words. Some require a pause in the action. A long moment. Unshed tears. Or gut-wrenching sobs…
While others show the frontier or pure country joy… a single flower, tucked in a Mason jar on the heroine’s table. A pair of pumpkins, set on a porch with a tuft of corn by their side. A walk with a calf, or a foal, or to bottle feed lambs…
Love on the ranch or the farm or in the country isn’t always shown the same way as on the coasts. Fancy meals and pricey nights out are usually not the norm. And while those are good in their place, there’s something more soul stirring about a pot of stew and fresh bread. A homemade pie. A pretty scarf that the hero buys because it matches the heroine’s eyes…
When I’m writing Westerns, I make sure my mindset is on animals and kids first, because honestly, when dealing with a farm or ranch and animals, they have to come first. They can’t fend for themselves… That simple admission leads the reader into the heart of the rancher, the devotion of the hero and/or heroine. The words I choose to set the scene or ride the wave of emotions have to ring true to the reader, no matter where he or she lives… or what they do for a living.
Word weaving… it’s what makes an authors voice distinctive, and what makes a story memorable or forgettable. Those words create and follow the rise and fall of emotion and that roller coaster ride should be as real as we can make it… so the reader gets the full price of their ticket!
Do you have favorite book scenes that have stuck with you over years? I’d love to hear about them… comment today because I have a beautiful copy of my newest Love Inspired book “The Lawman’s Yuletide Baby” as a giveaway… and I think you’ll love this beautiful story of healing and hope and sacrificial love.
Of course the fact that it’s my 20th LOVE INSPIRED STORY is a wonderful milestone!!! 🙂 I brought coffee and hot chocolate because things are cooling down here in Western New York… and some homemade double chocolate chip cookies, because while Pumpkin Spice everything is fun… nothing beats double chocolate chip. And it don’t pay to argue with me, because I’m armed… and dangerous, my friends!
No, that post title isn’t also the title of an upcoming book. After all, I’m not sure it’d be flying off the shelves if it were. Instead, it’s a clue to today’s topic, that of farriers.
As you might expect from a long-running western series, many of my heroes in my Blue Falls, Texas series are ranchers and/or rodeo cowboys. Every now and then, I throw in a little something extra, too. That was the case for A Rancher to Love, which was book eight in the series. Tyler Lowe not only has a ranch, but he’s the local farrier — or the man you call when your horse needs a hoof trim or new shoes. When you think about it, farrier seems an odd word for such a profession. But not surprisingly, it’s because the term has its roots in other languages — this time French and Latin. It’s comes from the Middle French word ferrier,
meaning blacksmith, and the Latin word for iron, ferrum.
Although in the past, farriers did blacksmithing work as well, today the two professions are more distinct. Unlike podiatrists, farriers in the United States don’t have to have any formal education or certification. In fact, scary as it might seem, farriery is not regulated at all in the U.S. There are voluntary certification programs through three organizations — the American Farrier’s Association, the Guild of Professional Farriers, and the Brotherhood of Working Farriers.
By contrast, in the UK it is illegal for anyone to call themselves a farrier or to carry out any farriery work. This is so that no harm or suffering are endured by horses through the unskilled efforts of someone who isn’t qualified. They are organized as the Worshipful Company of Farriers and have been around since 1356!
While trimming hooves and shoeing (including for such special purposes such as racing) are the farrier’s main duties, they also take care of damaged or diseased hooves.
It was fun to write a different aspect of life surrounding ranching and the cowboy life, but next month I’m back to rodeo cowboys with the release of book number 12 in the Blue Falls, Texas series — Her Texas Rodeo Cowboy. Hero Jason Till is in hot pursuit of a national championship in steer wrestling.
I’ve always been a girl… And then a woman/sister/mom/wife/daughter/sister-in-law/grandma….
But now I’m officially a Petticoats and Pistols filly and do you know why?
I write Westerns.
It’s not my fault.
IT’S NEVER MY FAULT! (Just had to get that out of my system.)
But this time it’s true… Love Inspired asked me to be part of a Western continuity a few years ago and I was hooked.
I am over the moon and if that sounds overdone, trust me: it’s not. It’s facts, ma’ams, simply facts. And huge thanks to the wonderful writers/cowgirls of Petticoats & Pistols for bringing me ’round the campfire. But how is writing a Western novel different from writing my typical novels?
That’s Colt Stafford on the cover. And that cover is a clue. Western heroes are larger than life, regardless of size… Because it’s not the size of the man. It’s the size of the heart.
Real cowboys are strong enough to be gentle… They’re man enough to put others needs, including the horse, the stock, the wife, the kids… before theirs. They’re tough enough to find faith, even if it’s not for the first time. They practice “Cowboy code” and they’re proud of it. Whether you’re the oldest brother Colt, pictured above…
Westerns are different in lots of ways. The obvious distinction is setting, and that’s a big difference because the West prides itself on being The West… Movies and books chronicle the push west, Ken Burns did a whole documentary about Westward expansion, Western movies and television shows abound and there are high school and college courses done on the positives and negatives of that westward push. History books cleaned up some stories, while scholars re-painted those same stories with dark intent that sometimes went to opposite extremes.
In the midst of it all, a region was built, bought, separated, fought for, fought over, divided and maintained. The heartland became the opening segue into the American We. With land spreading west, north and south, new states, cities, towns, villages and ranches were born. People moved west, moved back east, and moved west again, pushing that invisible wall of separation until they hit the Pacific Ocean.
I’ve delved into the history of it to create a fictional town set in South Dakota, one in Idaho and one… romance in a soddy!… in eastern Nebraska.
I’ve written an award-winning, bestselling series about the contemporary west, and loved it.
Whether my stories are set in modern times or historical venues, they have one thing in common: Love. And strong, strong women.
I love strong women.
I love empowering women.
Women are the unsung heroes in so many roles in life, but not in a Ruthy book. A memorable hero is a wonderful thing. But I love a book that celebrates the strong overcomer in a woman. A book that champions HER as much as it does him…
Because I believe women are blessed with an amazing strength that gets overlooked too often. Hey, I’ve been in a labor bed… and at a bedside, holding a dying hand. I’ve been in an emergency room, watching skilled professionals try to save a life… and at a graveside, mourning when life succumbs.
A great Western is a story of strength… of hope… of love.
My joy in writing gets polished in all of my books, but my cowboy books grab a piece of my heart and don’t let go… Maybe it’s the hat.
Maybe it’s the setting.
Or maybe… just maybe… it’s that pioneer-loving side of me that will never take the American West for granted.
Hey, I brought some home-made ice cream and chocolate dipped cones… and strong coffee. Join me inside and if you leave a comment, I’ll toss your cute name into a hat for the first Double S Ranch book “Back in the Saddle”. Let’s talk why we love romance