Bachelors & Babies 99¢ Sale Comin’ Up! ~ Pam Crooks

Howdy!  I’m stepping in for Winnie Griggs today since she’s having Internet issues and couldn’t get a blog done.

But it’s actually a great day to share with y’all a new sale coming up, and it just so happens both Winnie and I have a book in this series.

 

I would say TRACE has been my bestselling book ever.  There’s just something about a bachelor and a baby and all the different scenarios that can happen when we pull a man out of his comfort zone, isn’t there?  Every book in the series has the same premise – a baby unexpectedly shows up in our hero’s life and turns his world upside down.

Of course, he always needs a woman’s help, and you can bet there will be a little falling in love happenin’ when he does.

 

Trace McQuade has lost everything–his ranch, his brother, the woman he wanted to marry. When his quest for justice fails, he leaves Texas to head north, but he never expects an outlaw’s baby along the way.

Morgana Goldwater needs to be needed. After she endured a terrible tragedy, she lives in a narrow, protected world. When Trace needs help caring for the baby girl, she is quick to take them both into her heart and into her life.

But their troubles return, and Trace and Morgana must face their past to keep loving the little girl–and each other–in their future.

#kindleunlimited

Here’s Winnie’s book, SAWYER:

Sawyer Flynn vows to see that the man who murdered his brother pays for his crimes, but becoming the sole caretaker of an orphaned infant sidetracks him from the mission. Sawyer can’t do it all—run his mercantile, care for the baby, and find justice for his brother. He needs help. But not from Emma Jean Gilley.

When her father flees town after killing a man, Emma Jean is left alone to care for her kid brother, but her father’s crime has made her a pariah and no one will give her a job. Learning of Sawyer’s need, Emma Jean makes her case to step in as nanny.

Sawyer is outraged by Emma Jean’s offer, but he’s also desperate and he reluctantly agrees to a temporary trial. Working together brings understanding, and maybe something more. But just when things heat up between Sawyer and Emma Jean, the specter of her father’s crimes threatens to drive them apart forever.

#kindleunlimited

Every book in the series will be reduced to 99¢ starting this Friday through Sunday, Father’s Day!  Three days isn’t very long, so you’ll have to hurry to take advantage of our sale! 

To see every book in our series, click the Bachelors & Babies Series Link on Amazon

Would you say you pay full price for most of your book purchases?  Or a sale price for most of your book purchases?

Are you willing to pay full price for your favorite author’s books as soon as it comes out?  Does price matter?  Or are you a bargain hunter?  Do you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited?

Musical Inspiration

Today I’m giving you an insight on how music occasionally influences my writing. But it’s not how you might expect. I don’t write with music on because if I like a song, then I start singing along. Then my train of thought is shattered. Like now. I’m sitting in Starbucks writing and “Defy Gravity” from the musical Wicked has come on. Excuse me while I sing under my breath…

Okay, I’m back. However, occasionally songs play a big part in my stories. In To Marry A Texas Cowboy, George Strait’s “Here For A Good Time” became my hero’s theme song. Despite knowing Zane’s backstory and him almost taking over a couple books in the series, when I started his story, I couldn’t grasp him. He put up a good front, even from me. But when I heard “Here For A Good Time” Zane’s personality and fears fell into place.

Zane had a rough past. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read To Marry A Texas Cowboy, but Zane’s dad was a piece of work and his mom wasn’t a winner either. To cope or survive really, he lived in the moment. Everything was about having a good time. That drove his actions and his life.

Here For A Good Time

Source: Musixmatch  Songwriters: Bubba Straight / Dillon Dean / George H Strait

I’m not gonna lay around
And whine and moan for somebody that done me wrong
Don’t think for a minute
That I’m gonna sit around and sing some old sad song
I believe it’s half-full not a half-empty glass
Every day I wake up knowing it could be my last

I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time
So bring on the sunshine, to hell with the red wine
Pour me some moonshine
When I’m gone, put it in stone “He left nothing behind”
I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time

Folks are always dreaming about what they like to do
But I like to do just what I like
I’ll take the chance, dance the dance
It might be wrong but then again it might be right
There’s no way of knowing what tomorrow brings
Life’s too short to waste it, I say bring on anything

I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time
So bring on the sunshine, to hell with the red wine
Pour me some moonshine
When I’m gone, put it in stone “He left nothing behind”
I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time
I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time

 

And speaking of Wicked, when attending that musical, the solution to the same problem with my heroine, Maggie in Bet On A Cowboy hit me. When Elphaba sang “I’m Not That Girl” I instantly knew everything about Maggie. I even whispered, “she’s Elphaba” right there in my Broadway seat.

Maggie believed love wasn’t in her future. She was just too plain, too average in every way to attract a man’s notice. As the director of a Bachelor type reality show, she’s surrounded by beautiful, outgoing, extraordinary women and is constantly reminded she doesn’t measure up. The mindset Elphaba shows in “I’m Not That Girl” guided Maggie’s actions and interactions in life.

 

I’m Not That Girl

Source: Musixmatch  Songwriters: Schwartz Stephen Laurence / Sandford Steve

Hands touch, eyes meet
Sudden silence, sudden heat
Hearts leap in a giddy whirl
He could be that boy
But I’m not that girl

Don’t dream too far
Don’t lose sight of who you are
Don’t remember that rush of joy
He could be that boy
I’m not that girl

Every so often we long to steal
To the land of what-might-have-been
But that doesn’t soften the ache we feel
When reality sets back in

Blithe smile, lithe limb
She who’s winsome, she wins him
Gold hair with a gentle curl
That’s the girl he chose
And Heaven knows
I’m not that girl

Don’t wish, don’t start
Wishing only wounds the heart
I wasn’t born for the rose and the pearl
There’s a girl I know
He loves her so
I’m not that girl

I shouldn’t be surprised songs have helped me grasp my characters and their relationships. Songs have always spoken to me and helped me make sense out of life. Why shouldn’t they do the same with my writing?

To be entered in today’s random giveaway for the car coasters, air freshener, and signed copy of Family Ties leave a comment on what song has or could serve as a theme for you?

Charlene Raddon Talks About Mules and Her Latest Release

I’m used to doing research for things like ladies’ cleaning methods, pioneer recipes, Pullman trains, the history of forts and towns, how to raise sheep, 19th century automobiles, and steamships. Things like that. My latest book, Lula Mae, Love Train Series Book 4, sent me in another direction—mules. I’d never considered needing to learn how to handle a mule.

My heroine, Lula Mae Rivers, known as Snapper Lou, is a gold-shipment driver, muleskinner, crack shot, and ace card player. She’s proud to say she’s not a thief, liar, cheat, blasphemer, or train robber. A robbery left her broke and she needs to get to Cheyenne, Wyoming to pick up her motherless niece. Dressed as a boy, as is her custom, she stows away in the Union Pacific Railway baggage car headed there. Unfortunately, she’s discovered by U.S. Marshal Gannon Calloway, who has no idea she’s a woman at first.

Later, they ride off together from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to chase down a killer who has kidnapped Lula Mae’s niece. Do they go by horseback? Well, the marshal does, but Lula Mae only rides mules, so, naturally, I had to learn about them.

Who’d have thought there would be much to know about mules? They’re just like horses, right? Wrong.

 

A mule is a hybrid cross between a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Because the mule most often demonstrates the best traits from each parent, he possesses what’s known as hybrid vigor. The mule inherits from the donkey his incredible strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, endurance and surefootedness. He gets his equine beauty, athletic ability and speed from the horse.

One type of mule is a hinny, or hinney. This is a cross between a male horse (stallion) and a female donkey (jenny, or jennet). The hinny differs from a mule in subtle ways. One example is the hinny’s slowness and meticulous say of moving. He gets this from the jennet as does the mule, which tends to be a little faster, more energetic and more agile, like the mare. The hinny, because of his meticulous way of going, is actually better in very steep, rocky terrain and, especially, in loose rock, and will not tire a quickly as a mule. Gaited hinnies are preferable in this kind of terrain where there is little opportunity to gallop because they have a smooth, more ground-covering gait.

The hooves of a hinny tend to be more donkey-like—narrow, oval and more upright—whereas the hooves of a mule will look more horse-like; a little rounder (although still oval) with slightly more angle than the donkey hoof, but not as flat, round and angled as a horse’s hoof. The hooves of both mules and hinnies should be trimmed more upright and the heels left longer than a horse’s hooves.

Got all that? Now, you have to learn how to approach a mule because you don’t do it like you would a horse. Mules are more sensitive; they can become upset easier. You know the saying, stubborn as a mule. This won’t necessarily be true if you know how to handle a mule. You don’t just stalk up to one. You watch her and take your cues from her body language. If her tail is swishing, she’s upset. Wait until she, and the tail, calms down. She’ll look at you, tip her ear toward you, to check you out. If her head goes up, she turns away or starts her tail swishing, back off and wait for her to calm. When she relaxes and drops her head, it means she’s accepted you.

Don’t yell at a mule. Use your body to communicate with her. Stomp your feet to get her attention, stop her moving around. Back up to tell her to stay put. When she’s calm, you can approach. Don’t pat a mule; stroke or scratch her instead. You build a relationship with a mule; then you can handle her easily.

A mule can make a great companion and even an equine competitor. They can be used for steer roping, and penning events as well as working hunter, jumping and even dressage competitions. Draft mules are excellent for farm work.

The mule, much like the camel, is at home in a desert like climate, able to leverage scarce water rations far more effectively than horses. It is rare for a mule to become dehydrated. Mules live longer than horses, on average. The median lifespan of a horse is 15 years whereas, it is 18 years for a mule. Some mules have been known to live well past 40 years of age. Mules have super strong hooves. While their feet are small, they are far more robust and much less brittle than those of the horse. Fairly resistant to hoof problems, their feet can be kept in great condition simply with regular trimming. They are very surefooted and careful due to their small, narrow hoof structure.

Mules have very few feeding problems; they do not get colic and laminitis as easily as horses and require very little grain feed, subsisting beautifully just on forage. Their hay does not need to be top range, often second cut or older hay is fine. Mules are calm, reliable animals.

Lula Mae is an expert on handling mules. She’s a muleteer, which makes her an unusual and fun character to work with. She’s also an expert on handling a whip, which means I had to learn that as well. Maybe I’ll write about that next time. I had a blast writing Lula Mae’s story. I hope you’ll hop aboard the Love Train, ride along with her and Marshal Calloway, and watch them fall in love.

Giveaway!

Charlene is giving away a copy of Lula Mae to one winner, and a second winner will win a book from her backlist. So exciting! Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Have you ever ridden or known a mule?

Charlene Raddon likes to claim that her fiction career began in the third grade when she told her class she’d had a nonexistent baby sister killed by a black widow spider. Her first serious attempt at writing came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. She’s been writing ever since. She grew up certain she’d been born in the wrong era and truly belonged in the Old West. Her genre is, of course, historical romance set in the American West. At present, she has five books, originally published in paperback by Kensington Books, two anthologies and a novella available on Amazon. Now an indie author, Charlene is busy on her next novel. She also designs book covers and other graphic materials for authors, specializing in western, at http://silversagebookcovers.com.

 

Website: http://charleneraddon.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Charlene-Raddon/e/B000APG1P8?tag=pettpist-20/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharleneRaddon/

Buy LULA MAE on Amazon

Why are Barns Red? by Pam Crooks

 

Who hasn’t seen a red barn before? They’re traditional, they stand out, and the color is practical.

But there’s history as to how the red evolved on barns. Back in the 1700s, in the northeast part of the country, farmers covered them with thick vertical boards, allowing them to weather gray over time.

Later, in the mid-1800s, farmers went horizontal with the boards to close up drafts and improve warmth and efficiency for their animals. These horizontal boards, clapboards as we know them, were sawed thin. Because of their thinness, they needed paint for protection to lengthen their longevity, in addition to improving their appearance.

During that time, people mixed their own paint with a pigment combination of linseed oil, flax seeds, and other ingredients. Pigment, of course, adds color, and the favorite of the time was called “Venetian Red,” so called because the pigment was made from natural clays found near Venice, Italy, and contained an iron oxide compound that made the red color.

This red pigment penetrated well into barn boards, resisted fading in the sun, and aged well for generations. Although later in the 1800s, farmers turned to other colors of paint like yellows, greens, browns, and of course white, red remained popular, mainly because it was so affordable.

In my copy of the 1927 Sears Roebuck catalogue, a 5 gallon can of red barn paint was $1.30/gallon.

They offered 35 other colors of paint in 5 gallon cans for $2.20/gallon.

You can see the savings, and who could blame a farmer? He’d save almost twice as much going with the traditional barn red.

Fast forward to today, barns have gotten quite large. Large enough to hold hundreds of cows, chickens, or pigs, in fact. That large, they can come pre-fabricated, built out of metal and resemble warehouses or even an airplane hangar, and thank goodness, no one would have to paint one of those, right?

Still, the traditional red barn endures for smaller structures and remain so beloved the US Postal Service celebrated them on postage stamps.

Driving down the interstate or highway, you might see a big American flag on a barn’s roof. Or a political candidate’s name.  These quilt barns are especially popular!

What is the most unusually painted barn you’ve seen?

Starting TODAY, Tule Publishing has set the first book in my Blackstone Ranch series, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, to Free!

I’m fortunate to land a BookBub deal that will arrive in email boxes on Thursday. My book will remain FREE for a limited time, so if you haven’t read the series yet, now is the time to grab the book that started it all!

Tule Bookstore

Series Link at Tule Bookstore

A Whole New Year of Western Romance

 

Over the last week, I took a good long look at my schedule for 2022. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that’s an undertaking. I publish about 20 titles per year from 350 page novels to 100 page novellas. I like to keep as many readers happy as I can.

However, that kind of pace is not sustainable (there’s a reason the Pony Express doesn’t run anymore, it’s not healthy to keep up that kind of pace). Louis L’Amour, I am not. I know that the majority of my readers are happy with western novels, though. Those you can look forward to in 2022.

I’m currently working with my cover designer on a four book series set in Belle Fourche, SD. The premise of the series is two families feuding over one fertile valley. While the Douglas and Johlman families do exist in Belle Fourche, my stories are not based on actual history or people.

Both cattle and sheep were and are big business in Belle Fourche and land is arguably the most precious resource. It is finite and both sheep and cattle need great quantities of land for proper grazing. I’ve never written a family feud before, but it’s been interesting, fun, and very educational.

In 2018, I wrote my first series set in Belle Fourche. That series is to this day one of my most popular. This new series, The Belle Fourche Chronicles, will feature appearances from some of my other Belle Fourche characters and they can be read congruently.

I was hoping to have a cover reveal for you this month, but alas, I don’t have one quite yet. In the meantime, if you’d like to catch up with the old series so you’re ready to go when the new books come out (the first will be released at the end of February).

When I return next month, I’ll have a new cover reveal for you and more to share with you (perhaps even an exclusive snippet). These books are novellas, but the new series will be novel length.

 

Belle Fourche is a fairly unique location for western romance. What are some fun, unique locations for western romance that you really enjoy? I’ll send a free copy of Teach Me to Love to one lucky commenter.

A Little About Wedding Traditions

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE! If you’ve found a moment to stop by today (or even a day or two later), I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with friends, family, good cheer, and delicious food. One of things I’m most thankful for this year is to have become a part of Petticoats and Pistols. I feel like I found my second family and am so delighted to have met you, the many wonderful readers.

I had the delight and honor recently of being interviewed by The Categorically Romance Podcast (here’s a link in case anyone is interested in having a listen:    Cathy McDaivd’s Podcast  – I’m episode #78).

So, one of the questions my lovely hosts asked me was about my current and upcoming writing projects. I mentioned that, after the book I’m working on now (an inspirational suspense), I’d be finishing the last book in my Wishing Well series for Harlequin Heartwarming. I then laughingly admitted it was my eight wedding-themed book in a row for Heartwarming and would be my last for a while as I’d grown a little tired of writing about weddings.

That said, I’ve had such fun with the books. I spent a lot of time researching weddings and learned about some lovely, quaint, and, okay, a little crazy, traditions. Everyrone knows about throwing rice, of course – which is now the more feathered friend friendly version of throwing bird seed. It’s a way of wishing the newlyweds good luck, prosperity and fertility. But here’s the scoop on just a few common American wedding traditions you may not have known:

1) Nowadays, brides often carry bouquets of flowers. In ancient Greece and Rome, she carried a bouquet of herbs and spices to ward off evil spirits.

 

2) Queen Victoria is said to have started the fashion trend of brides wearing white dresses. In ancient cultures, blue was more often considered the color of purity.

3) Also, Roman times is when the practice started of attendants wearing matching dresses, again for good luck. Not only each other, their dresses matched those of the bride in order to confuse evil spirits. Roman brides wore a veil for the same reason – to protect her and hide her from the pesky evil spirits who might steal her away. As you can see, superstitions played a large role in the origins of some modern traditions.

4) The reason for wedding rings being worn on the third finger of the left hand dates back to Egyptians (well, some also say Romans, again) who believed there is a vein that runs from that finger directly to the heart.

5) If you receive a wedding invitation with the wording “the honour of your presence”, the ”u” in the word honour is to let guests know the ceremony will take place in a church or place of worship.

6) Giving away the bride stems back to the times when marriages were arranged and the bride was “transferred” from her father to her husband. Yes, like property. These days, the gesture is more often a sign of affection.

7) Bridal showers started out as a way to raise money for the bride’s dowry.

Tell me, what traditions did you have in your wedding or want to have in your wedding? I wore something old (leave the past behind), something new (embrace the future), something borrowed (good luck) and something blue (purity and warding off that evil spirit again). Maybe you had an unusual tradition or one with a special meaning for your family or culture? I’d love to hear about it. I do have that last wedding book to write!

P.S. – Don’t forget to join us on November 29th for Cowboys and Mistletoes – a super fun story and game for our readers and plenty of chances to win a nifty prize!

Holiday Express

One questions authors are frequently asked is “where do you get your inspiration?”

My typical answer is “EVERYWHERE!”

It’s true. I find ideas for stories while flipping through magazine ads, standing in line at the grocery store, wandering through the mall (when we used to wander through the mall), even when I’m doing super exciting things like folding laundry.

But my favorite place to dream up new story ideas is when I’m on vacation with Captain Cavedweller. Ideas for some of my favorite stories have popped into my head while we were driving, exploring, or at a museum.

Such was the case two years ago when Captain Cavedweller and I were making the long, long drive all the way through Nevada.

On a whim, we decided to stop at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely, Nevada.

The museum is a national historic landmark, but it’s also an operating historical railroad. The brochure you’re given when you pay your admission says: “It’s gritty. It’s dirty. It smells of coal smoke, creosote, and sweat…” It is not an exaggeration.

But the museum complex consists of a full-service rail yard encompassing 56 acres with 63 buildings, shops, and structures that served the historic copper mining region of Central Nevada for more than a century. Original railway locomotives, rolling stock, track, a passenger station includes three steam locomotives (two that are operational), six diesel locomotives, and more than 60 pieces of historic equipment.

I loved it! You can walk into the engine house and watch the mechanics working on train repairs. Right after I snapped this photo, a guy popped up in the smokestack. It’s was fascinating to wander around and see everything up close. It really put everything into perspective.

Several trains on display. Some of them were open for guests to climb on and look around.

I loved this train. It made me think of the Polar Express.

In 1910, the railroad needed a new locomotive to pull the passenger train on a daily round-trip from Ely to Cobre, hauling passengers, mail, and express shipments. Number 40 was purchased from the Baldwin Locomotive Works for a cost of $13,139. The train entered scheduled service with a speed of 40 miles per hour pulling a railway post office/baggage car and a first-class coach, both of which are still in service at the museum. When the locomotive was no longer needed after World War II, #40 was put on the list to be scrapped. Because the crews loved the engine, it mysteriously disappeared whenever someone in authority came looking for it. Because of the ghost-like movements of the engine, it became known as “The Ghost Train.”  Thanks to the efforts of the crews, the train survived and still operates today, pulling passengers along the track.

And this train became the inspiration for Hope, a steam engine that travels though a whole new holiday series I’m releasing soon!

 

 

Another fun thing to see was this rotary snow plow. After a massive snow storm halted operations in 1907, the railway purchase a snow plow. The rotary blade could slice through drifts of snow and keep the track operation. A steam boiler resides inside a wooden body, but instead of turning the wheels on tracks like a regular locomotive, this one turns the massive blade. It could take up to three engines to push the plow through the snow.

 

In addition to seeing the locomotives, there were several displays with interesting historical items and information. The velocipede was invented by George S. Scheffield in 1877. This particular one was used to inspect the track from Ely to Kimberly and McGill daily. It is operated by pushing and pulling the handles while pushing on the pedals. Weighing only 140 pounds, it could be moved off the track by one person. This velocipede was rebuilt by Rick’s Restoration and featured on the History Channel program American Restoration. There were several pieces of equipment Rick’s Restoration had restored.

There’s also a great gift shop at the museum. They had dirty cat ornaments. I wish I’d taken a photo of the cat, but somehow failed to snag one. When we were in the engine house looking at the trains, a cat that was absolutely filthy wandered up to us and started rubbing on CC’s legs and purring. He kept the cat happy and purring for a while with some good scratches behind the ears then we went back to exploring. When we went to the gift shop and saw the ornaments, we mentioned meeting the cat. The volunteer working in the gift shop gave us a surprised look, then explained that most people don’t see the cat because it usually hides from visitors. We felt pretty special to have received personalized attention from their resident star feline.

Back to the inspiration: Within moments of arriving at the depot, I started thinking about an idea for a mail-order bride story. The more we saw at the museum, the more ideas that popped around in my head. By the time we left, I knew it wasn’t going to be just one book, but an entire series. One that involved a steam engine named Hope, a family tied to the railroad, and a series that spanned many generations. As we drove onward on our trip, we spent the next several hours brainstorming and jotting down pages and pages of notes which have turned into four full-length sweet romances that start in 1884 and conclude with a modern day romance.

The first book in my Holiday Express series will release November 30! I can’t wait for you to read it! And right now, I have it on sale for a special pre-order price of just 99 cents!

 

Holiday Express

Four generations discover the wonder of the season and the magic of one very special train in these sweet holiday romances.

Available on Amazon

Aren’t the covers glorious? The amazing Josephine Blake from Covers and Cupcakes waved her magic wand and created them for me.

 

Holiday Hope

Release Date: November 30

Pre-order Price: 99 cents

 Infuse your holidays with hope and humor in this sweet western romance 

Left alone in the world after losing her parents, Cora Lee Schuster travels across the country to the newly-established town of Holiday, Oregon, to become a mail-order bride. She arrives in town to be greeted by her future father-in-law with her betrothed nowhere to be found. When it becomes obvious her reluctant groom-to-be has no intention of showing up at the family ranch where she’s staying, Cora Lee must decide if she’ll follow her head or heart.

Jace Coleman has loved trains since the first time he rode on one as a boy. Now, he spends his days as an engineer driving the Holiday Express line on a new engine named Hope. When a mail-order bride turns up at his father’s ranch to wed his brother, Jace has an idea his meddling father has tried his hand at matchmaking. The longer Cora Lee stays at the ranch, the harder Jace works to keep from falling for his brother’s intended bride.

Will Jace and Cora Lee discover the gift of hope? Find out in this sweet holiday romance full of memorable characters, warmth, and Christmas cheer.

Holiday Hope is the first book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.

 

Holiday Heart

Release Date: December 7

Pre-order Price: $3.99

 Hearts and humor collide in this sweet holiday romance

Zach Coleman spent his childhood dreaming about trains, and now he’s one of the repairmen at the Holiday engine house who keeps them chugging down the tracks. Life couldn’t get any sweeter, or so he convinces himself, until he’s on his way home from work and saves a woman from getting hit by a wagon. How was he to know that one, brief encounter would upend his world?

Lorna Lennox grew up with the best of everything in life. Her father, a railroad tycoon, has made sure of it. Now that he’s moved her into a new house in a remote Oregon location, Lorna wonders if she’ll fit into the small community. She’s barely arrived in the town of Holiday when an adventure leaves her at the mercy of a handsome stranger. One she finds impossible to forget.

Will the holidays present a chance for hearts to entwine? Find out in this sweet holiday romance rich with history, humor, and the joys of Christmas

Holiday Heart is the second book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.

 

Holiday Home

Release Date: December 14

Pre-order Price: $3.99

 A winning combination of romance, humor, and history

 Widow Britta Webster can hardly remember life before her village was overrun with German soldiers during World War II. All she wants is to live a peaceful existence and raise her child. But she will do anything to protect Joshua, even if it means begging a stranger to take her to America where her son will have a safe place to call home.

Honor, grace, and duty are the driving forces behind Bryce Coleman’s approach to life, even as he strives to survive in war-torn France. Severely wounded, he’s left by his comrade in the cellar of a woman who clearly wants nothing to do with him. When she pleads with him for her son’s future, Bryce feels bound by an obligation to the widow for saving his life.

Will a burdensome agreement turn to love when hearts come home to Holiday? Find out in his sweet historical romance packed with vintage charm, nostalgia, and the wonder of Christmas.

Holiday Home is the third book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.

 

Holiday Love

Release Date: December 21

Pre-order Price: $3.99

 Will delving into the past kindle a forever love?

Kali Hoyt loves old things. Old books. Old dishes. Old cars. Old love stories. Hired as the director of the newly-formed preservation society for the town of Holiday, she can’t wait to begin digging into the history of a place she enjoyed visiting during her childhood summers. When her cousin introduces her to his best friend, Kali has no idea the grease-covered redneck will have such a monumental influence on her future.

Trace Coleman has spent his life being groomed to take over his family’s vast Lennox Enterprises empire. Astute at running the company, he much prefers to spend his days tinkering with the old steam engine that his great-great-grandfather worked on as a mechanic in the Holiday engine house. When he encounters the newly hired director for the preservation society he founded, he knows her presence in Holiday is going to change his life in ways he can’t begin to imagine.

Will two reluctant hearts succumb to the magic of the holidays? Find out in this sweet holiday romance filled with humor, heart, and love.

Holiday Love is the fourth book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.

I am so excited about sharing these books with you and hope my readers will fall in love with the Coleman family like I have. There’s even a man named Nick who suspiciously looks a lot like a Victorian Santa making an appearance in all four stories!

 

What inspires you? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a mystery gift from me! 

 

 

American Literature in the 1800’s – Why My Characters Read by Sally Britton

In my latest novel, Copper for the Countess, I revisit characters and places from my first foray into the world of writing Historical Western Romance. This time, because I’ve established this fictional place in a time long ago, I concentrated more on what made the houses on this ranch true homes. One of the first things I did for my hero, a foreman on a cattle ranch, was give him a personal library in his house. While only a few shelves exist in his main room, they tell a story about literature and its impact during the expansion westward.

Long ago, when I read an article about Louis L’Amour, he mentioned that some of his cowboys had expansive vocabularies. I remember he said he’d never met a cowboy who hadn’t read Shakespeare, or couldn’t rattle off favorite poems or snatches of great literature. L’Amour postulated that life on the open range left a man a lot of empty time on his hands. Time when he could read a book, and swap books with his friends. Doing a little research of my own, I discovered that many people in the west were better read than we’d guess. We had our own authors Americans loved, but we spent a fair amount of time reading books from across the pond, too.

So my cowboy is a literary cowboy. He loves a good book. On his shelves, you’d find a battered copy of Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. That particular title gained notoriety in America during the Civil War. Soldiers on both sides of the war took copies of that book into battle. So much so that the book earned the nickname “Lee’s Miserables,” after a confederate general. (Source, Opinionator, NYT.)

Collections of Shakespeare’s work was greatly revered. Of Shakespeare, a cowboy is said to have said, “That fellow Shakespeare could sure spill the real stuff. He’s the only poet I ever seen what fed on raw meat.” (Source, The Washington Free Beacon.)

Jules Verne, a founder of science fiction, was popular in the late nineteenth century, too. We don’t often consider that he was publishing tales about journeying to the center of the earth or Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea when drifters went from one dusty town to another.

By the 1890’s, when my most recent book takes place, books were available at low costs. MacMillan’s Pocket Classics were widely available – I’ve come across several in used bookstores and antique shops in the west, with penciled in names of men and women who lived in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Idaho. A cowboy might have Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe in his saddle bag and trade it with a friend for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The love of literature is older than the printing press, and putting beloved books into the hands of my cowboys makes them that much more real, and tangible, to my readers.

In this newest book, Copper for the Countess, my heroine comes upon my cowboy’s library in this way: Evelyn volunteered to dust the bookshelves, and she took extra time to examine the titles of the books […]. The book titles were rather surprising. Many of them she had heard of or seen in London bookshops and libraries. Though none of the volumes she’d seen before looked as worn or weather-beaten as the books in Mr. Morgan’s care. He had a shelf with several volumes of poetry, including Tennyson—England’s poet laureate. He had Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and the Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. American titles and authors greeted her, too. Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sat together, as the two friends ought. – Copper for the Countess: An American Victorian Romance 

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In my story, a Victorian countess – widowed and with a child – makes her way to the west. When she meets a ranch foreman with a heart of gold and a love of the written word, she takes a chance on him and his own adopted children. I hope you’ll take a peek at my book, and maybe grab a copy for yourself.

I’m giving away signed paperbacks for two winners. One copy of Cooper for the Countess. One copy of the first book in the series, Silver Dollar Duke.

What are some of your favorite books mentioned in the stories you read?

What is your favorite classic novel?

Frontier, Folklore, and Feuds: Harnessing the Best of the West to Create a Fictional Town By Janine Rosche

There was a time in my childhood when I stumbled into the world of soap operas. I loved the angst, romance, and the evil twins! But one detail really caught my attention. There were catacombs beneath General Hospital! What?! Even at nine years old I understood that catacombs weren’t exactly common, but that didn’t matter. Since Port Charles was a fictional city, all the writers had to say was, “Let there be catacombs,” and there were.

When I decided to set my new series in a fictional Colorado town, I didn’t realize how much fun I would have. Picture creating a world with every cool thing you could imagine!

Now, I didn’t go crazy. I still needed my town to be somewhat realistic so I based all of Whisper Canyon’s eccentricities on other cities and towns in the west. Here are some of the TRUE places and stories that inspired my town in Aspen Crossroads:

 

The Feud

There’s nothing like a good old feud to liven up a town! Take it from me—my brother-in-law is a Hatfield. Luckily, my sister is not a McCoy. In my series, the canyon was discovered by Alva Haviland who fled the south after he burned down a pro-slavery newspaper office, leaving behind a heartbroken fiancée. To avenge her heartache, her uncle Prescott Garrison chased Alva across the prairie and into the mountains. When he laid eyes on Whisper Canyon, he saw the potential for wealth and took more than his fair share of land. The Haviland/Garrison feud has been brewing ever since, nearly destroying the town in the process.

The Caverns

Three hours west of Denver, the quaint mountain town of Glenwood Springs hosts tourists looking for both relaxation in their natural hot springs and adventure in their caverns. Aren’t caverns amazing? There’s something magical about seeing the awe-inspiring tunnels and caves while knowing you could die any minute, am I right? Talk about angst!! This is why in Aspen Crossroads, Haven and Jace go spelunking in Whisper Canyon Caverns, where they are forced to confront their fears and their feelings for each other.

My children and I at Glenwood Springs Caverns
My children and I at Glenwood Springs Caverns

The Mill

My favorite restaurant west of the Mississippi is in a little tourist town known for river tubing. The town is Gruene, Texas, and the restaurant is The Gristmill.  An 1878 water-powered mill was turned into a restaurant ninety-nine years after it first opened. The food ranges from casual lunches to the delicious peppercorn steak that I’ve been craving since I moved from Texas fifteen years ago. And because you can eat outside overlooking the Guadalupe River, in the beer garden, or on one of three floors inside the restaurant, every dining experience feels new. It’s simply cinematic. So when I needed to give my characters a new life (after being rescued from sex work), I created a mill-to-restaurant renovation that these women could be proud of!

The Gristmill, Gruene, Texas
Photo courtesy of @gristmillriverrestaurant on Instagram

A Legend

What good is a town without a local legend? In Whisper Canyon, that legend is Ol’ Six Claw, a bear with, you guessed it, six claws on one paw. His ghostly form has been spotted in the canyon for more than one hundred and fifty years, and it’s believed he started the fire that turned Whisper Canyon into a ghost town in 1885. This troublesome bear was inspired by West Yellowstone, Montana’s Snaggletooth—a grizzly bear that was known to forage in the town dump in the 60s and 70s and is now stuffed and on display in the town’s museum.

Old Snaggletooth, West Yellowstone Historic Center

Now that you know a little bit about the making of Whisper Canyon, I’d love for you to visit by picking up the first book in the series, Aspen Crossroads.

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GIVEAWAY: It’s your turn! If you were to create a town, what would you be inspired to include? One commenter will win a Love Wander Read sweatshirt from my new LWR Apparel collection. Winner to choose size and color. Winner must be 18 and, due to shipping costs, must have a US mailing address. Contest runs October 1-4th. Winner will be notified by email.

Bio: Prone to wander, Janine Rosche finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance and Whisper Canyon series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades. Her latest story, Dreams in Toyland, can be found in the Christmas in Mistletoe Square novella collection, available now.  http://www.janinerosche.com

The Thermos that Saved the Day

First, this is my inaugural post. I’m so glad to be here. I’ve posted as a guest a few times, but to be included as a Filly has been humbling and I’m grateful and thankful.

In case we’ve never met, I write a whole host of things including historical Christian westerns, contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and women’s fiction under the name Teri Blake. I look forward to getting to know you all better.

Great Lakes Light book cover

On Friday, my new book Great Lakes Light will release in the same series as 2 other Fillies, Kit Morgan and Shanna Hatfield. I don’t want to give away too much of this story, but this is a fictionalized account of how the Split Rock Lighthouse came to be. Some aspects of the story are complete fiction, others are drawn from resources (and I offer a complete source list in the back of the book). You’ll want to preorder it before Friday, as the preorder price will go away when it publishes. I just LOVE that my designer was able to use a real image of the lighthouse.

Have you ever read a bit of history and been completely blown away? Such was the case for me. I love my insulated water and coffee tumblers, those metal mugs used to keep drinks warm or cold for hours. Did you know that the first one was created in 1892!! I didn’t either! Even though this is the period I write most often, I’m always blown away by their inventiveness and ingenuity.

Because I was so amazed, I absolutely had to include a Thermos (though it went by various names before settling on that one, as things often do) in this story. And it was perfect because at the time of my story, there was only one store that sold the illustrious thermos and it was in New York. Since the entire middle of the book actually takes place in Washington D.C… a congressman would certainly have access to one…and it just might save him. But you’ll have to read the story to find out how.

Image of original thermos

Interestingly, these containers didn’t come into existence to keep coffee warm for the men working on the huge skyscrapers being built at the time in New York. They were originally created by a mortician who realized he needed to keep chemicals at a stable temperature. The original (used for embalming) thermos, was glass with a vacuum between the two layers. It was his glassblower who realized the commercial prospects, created a patent, and sold it to three US companies.

Do you use a thermos? I have two different one, one for the water I drink all day and one I bought on my last trip to Deadwood, SD that keeps my morning coffee hot. Drop your answer below and I’ll ship out a print copy of Great Lakes Light to one lucky commenter.