Natalie Bright: The Legacy of Ranching Traditions

We’re very thrilled to have author and rancher Natalie Bright visit and tell us of her observations about the cowboys of yesterday and today. There’s little difference it seems. She has a new cookbook out full of recipes they serve to the men on the Sanford Ranch. Nobody appreciates good food like cowboys! She’s also giving away a copy.

Thank you all for having me. It’s great to be back. Over a year and a half of research went into my most recent book about the history of the cattle driving era and the food of the chuck wagon. As I searched through countless archived images, I realized that the work cowboys did over 150 years ago continues today. My photos of the Sanford Ranch cowboys are almost identical. The traditions established then are still practiced.

In the early days, fences did not block the route from pastures to the railheads north. Neighboring outfits drove their combined herds to central locations and the trail drives usually consisted of thousands of head. Livestock was rounded up in early spring and branded to establish ownership. Charles Goodnight is credited as inventor of the chuck wagon used to feed cowboys during the months long drive to market.

On the Sanford Ranch we hold spring branding and the tradition of feeding the branding crews continues. These crews consist of seasonal dayworkers, skilled cowboys who travel from ranch to ranch providing extra labor during the busy times of spring and fall workings. A rope, a saddle, and a good ‘cowey’ horse remain the primary tools of the trade. Some ranches treat the cowboys at a local café, while others utilize an SUV or cook trailer to carry food to the pasture. We have an actual cookhouse on our ranch, and we employ a cook who relies on friends and volunteers who enjoy being a part of branding every year. Here are some pictures I took of our cookhouse and branding season.

   

After breakfast, everyone is saddled and ready to go before first light. Instead of the grit and grime of a trail drive over thousands of miles, horses and riders are transported by pickup truck and trailer. The Ranch foreman makes assignments and explains the route, just as the trail boss did long ago.

A cow’s way of thinking hasn’t changed much in 150 years, and the necessary work of a cowboy remains. The most efficient positioning of driving a herd of cattle is still in practice today. The point man rides in front of the few older cows who naturally become leaders, flankers are on either side and the drag riders follow behind in ‘the dust of the drag’, as it’s called.

Ownership of livestock and land was respected and held in high esteem then as it is now. Our pastures are large, several sections in size (a section equals 640 acres) and the fence line neighbor is notified when we gather. If we have any of their strays, then they can pick them up or we deliver them back home.

I’m the photographer on the ranch and you’ll see me with a camera when I’m out. I love this ranch life and the way I see it I’m recording history and trying to make sure it doesn’t get lost.

My newest book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, is classified as cookbook but it contains so much more. Along with history and photos, the book includes over 100 recipes from authentic cow camp meals to modern recipes from our own cookhouse. You don’t need a fire pit or a chuck wagon. You can prepare these dishes in your own kitchen…and you can bet they’re all cowboy approved. (Click on the cover to go to Amazon.)

In my new western romance series, THE WILD COW RANCH, my co-author Denise and I include some of these long-held traditions of cattle ranching as well as the small-town sense of community and faith. Elements that are very much alive today. (Click on the picture and it’ll take you to Amazon.)

What interests you the most about the American cowboy and the cattle ranching legacy?

For a chance to win a FREE copy of my cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, please leave a comment below. And if you enjoy pictures of cows and the Texas sky, follow me on Instagram @natsgrams #sanfordranch and Pinterest.

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Animal Rescue, Ranching, and Coming Home

Tina Dee

Thank you all for welcoming me to Petticoats & Pistols today. I’m very excited to spend time with you once again.

I would love to share about my contemporary western romance set on a Rescue Ranch in the beautiful state of Wyoming. The idea for a Rescue Ranch came from a local pet rescue in my neighboring city, near my home. This place provides foster care and finds forever homes for animals, as well as provides education and equine therapy for children and adults. The place that inspired the idea is the Helen Woodward Animal Center, where all of these wonderful things happen.

In my story, The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch, both young adult sons left the aunt who had raised them to run away from the pain of their broken past. One of the brothers (Tripp) returns, though, after receiving a letter from his aunt when she suffers a back injury—she needs his help. In The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch, the lost come to the ranch to find themselves, and the injured come for healing. This is what Tripp (our hero) finds when he returns home to the ranch—it’s no longer the old farm he left; it’s now a thriving place with vegetable crops, an heirloom orchard that’s abundant with fruit, and quirky animals—there are even activities going on there that are benefitting the families of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. All this is due to the hard work of his aunt—and Shelby, his former girlfriend.

Also, I could not resist putting my little black and silver Yorkie (Molly) in the story—her likeness is on the cover as well. Molly is a rescue herself. She sits with me, in my grandmother’s rocking chair, while I write. She’s been my own therapy pup and brings calm to me when life gets stressful. She’s such a blessing and gift from God.  It just felt right to put her in the story.

The other brother in the series, Ty (still a work in progress—both the story and Ty) will receive his own story in another series of mine. In his story, he will run into a therapeutic equestrian riding manager who, herself, has been through the therapy, as she’s a veteran who suffered injury while serving in the United States Air Force.

The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch is part of a multi-author series and each of the books in the series can be read as standalones, and read in any order. All books in the series are in—or spend time in—Wyoming on ranches, around horses and cowboys, and sometimes even cowgirls and rodeos, as the series is western romance, though some may include other locations as well. Each book brings the importance of home and heritage to the story and some of the contemporary characters even connect with other series through ancestors.

Today, I’m excited to have a giveaway where two random commenters will win an ebook of The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch. To be entered leave a comment on…If you could have a ranch in any state what one would you choose and why?

Want to read The Bonnets of Rescue Ranch? You can purchase the book here for a special price of 99 cents for the next three days only. The original price goes back to $2.99 on Monday. CLICK HERE.

Fall Traditions

Although the official date for the beginning of autumn is September 22nd, Americans traditionally mark the fall season from Labor Day through Thanksgiving Day in November.

I was born and raised in Texas, so my experience is based on the wild and wooly weather of the Texas Panhandle.  We can have triple digit days and snow the next.  Trust me, it’s the truth because it happened this year in late spring.  Weird but true.  We broke two weather records just last week with triple digits that went back to the 1930’s.

Now for the first thing we must do to get ready for next Monday. We’ve got to wear our patent shoes all we can because effective Labor Day they, along with our matching purses, have to go up on the shelves until Easter when they can come down for Spring.

I’m showing my age here, but although this year is different than a regular school year beginning, when I was growing up we always began in mid-September.  The reason was simple.  We had no air conditioning and had to wait until Fall set in to begin.  Now with A/C, school begins here in mid-August, under typical circumstances.

I grew up with a true Southern Grannie and I love sweet potatoes.  Any way, any how … but a Sweet Potato Pie is my favorite with real whipping cream on top.

My second favorite “turning to autumn” food is my first pot of homemade chili.  It’s always so good and easy to fix.

Centuries ago, farmers, ranchers, and other folks noticed animal behavior and habits that predicted the weather. Some of these are from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Here’s a few ol’ wives tales involving animals that I found interesting.

Expect rain when dogs eat grass, cats purr and wash themselves.  I found this interesting because my cat purrs when she’s in my lap or happy.  She washes herself continually, regardless of the season, and our dogs eat grass.  We’ve been in a drouth, so I’m thinking these aren’t indicative of rain.  Just my opinion.

Can Cows Forecast Weather?  Many weather adages involve cows because they were common animals on farms, as they are today on ranches.

  • If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather is said to be fair.
  • If a cow grazes with its tail to the east, the weather is likely to turn sour.
  • If the bull leads the cows to pasture, expect rain; if the cows precede the bull, the weather will be uncertain

There is some truth here. Animals graze with their tail toward the wind so that if a predator sneaks up behind them, the wind will help catch the scent of the predator and prevent an attack.  So, see there is still today some proof that animal habits tell a story. 

I selected this picture of a herd of cattle because they seem to be confused as to what is expected of them.

I’ve spent time on a couple of ranches and even worked cattle, but truthfully, I’m no cowgirl and sure don’t know anything about how cattle stand because I’ve seen them in every position … and I do mean every position. There is one thing I learned, and it truly stuck with me, when you’re working the gate while cattle are being inoculated, do not wear a white t-shirt. You’ll never get the bull…you know what… out of the it and you have to wash your hair a dozen times.

I’m truly interested in knowing what you readers who own cattle ranches have to say about the ol’ wives’ tales.

When do you consider autumn beginning? What is your favorite fall tradition?  Also, don’t forget to wear those patent shoes because you don’t have many days left.

To one lucky winner I will give you your choice of any eBook of mine

or any short story collection I’m in from Amazon.

Just a note, I found patent shoes spelled patten, patton,

and a couple of other ways, so I had to punt!

Beaverslides

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!

Best,

Jeannie

 

An Interview With Tag Baker

Carolyn Brown Headshot
Author Carolyn Brown

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 Cowboy Rebel. 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!!

 

Not Just Another Cowboy Romance

A great follow-up to “Her Cowboy Reunion”…

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.

Isn’t she?

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.

Oops.

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!

A Merry Cowboy Christmas!

Yes, I know we just had Halloween…

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!

Yes!

🙂

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???)

On sale nationwide in two weeks!

And then, for the historical lovers among us (of which I am one!) here is my historical novella Christmas collection “Christmas on the Frontier”.

This three-novella book takes you back to a simpler time… but faith, hope and love still ruled the day as we built this great nation.

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!

 

 

 

It’s All in a Name

 

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:

Sanford Ranch

Tongue River Ranch

Pitchfork

Four Sixes

Waggoner Ranch

Matador Land and Cattle

Yellow House Ranch

Spade 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.

Star-crossed Cowboy Romance: #mustlovecowboys

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!

Looking forward to chatting with you all today!

 

 

 

Spring in My Step! (But Watch Where You’re Walking!)

A wheel changes everything….

First, I am in love with historic farming and ranching stuff…

And spinning wheels.

And mills….

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!)

 

No matter what the season, Cowboy church and Western faith have always drawn me…

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?

 “Her Secret Daughter Link to Amazon”

Her Secret Daughter, a story ripped from the headlines before there were headlines.

 

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?