Enjoy the Journey with Jodi Thomas

A big welcome to Jodi Thomas today! We’re so pleased to have her join us again!

The Wild Lavender Bookshop is my second book in the Someday Valley series, a spin off of my Honey Creek series. The Wild Lavender Bookshop will be out in April of 2024. I enjoyed writing this book for two reasons. One, I love bookstores. When I was writing about the bookshop it was fun to describe the people I see in bookstores and libraries every day. Two, I enjoyed writing a character who had no idea where he was going in life.  

It seemed when I was young I could never decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was working in high school and I was in the bottom fourth of my class, but I decided I should go to college because Tom (my then future husband) was going to college, and I was crazy about him my senior year. Of course, he never even talked to me. But he was going so I decided to go too. The only thing was I had no idea what to major in. I wanted to be a writer, but I can’t spell. And my mother told me to major in home economics because it was a course that would always be there. I went to Amarillo College and then Texas Tech and got a degree in family studies and became a marriage counselor. I hated it. People came in and yelled all the time, so I went back and got a degree in counseling, majoring in grief. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I was happy.  

When I started this book, I had a character in mind who was drifting too, just like I had. Sometimes, you’re not looking for a thing; you’re looking for a person. My character, Noah, wanted to be a writer, so I began to think about how most writers stumble into their careers. I think most people through life look for their place in the world, and some of them spend their whole lives looking. While a rare few actually find what they’re searching for.  

As always, when I write small towns, I met many interesting characters. And I brought back a few characters from Strawberry Lane that I loved. I hope you’ll join me in Honey Creek again in The Wild Lavender Bookshop and enjoy the journey as much as I did.  


For a chance to win a free autographed copy of Strawberry Lane,
just share about a dream you had of going somewhere for years.
Was it as exciting as you expected when you got there?
I had always dreamed of going to Paris, and when I got there it was beautiful, but I was ready to come home.
I find when I’m driving alone between Amarillo and Lubbock, that is a most beautiful prairie drive.

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 60 novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

 In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

 Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas also served as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. Jodi was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame in 2022.

 When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling, renovating a historic home, and “checking on” two grown sons and four grandchildren.


Cover Reveal and a Giveaway!

“Stone Landry stared into the green depth of her eyes and brushed a knuckle across Emma’s soft cheek. “One day.” He dragged air into his lungs. “One day I intend to court you, lady. That’s a promise. Hangman’s daughter or not.”

Courting Miss Emma, Book 2 of the Hangman’s Daughters series, will soon come your way and I want to share this gorgeous cover. The colors and fonts are really nice. I wish her skirt was a bit slimmer but maybe the wind got under it and ballooned it out. After all, we have a LOT of wind in Texas! I also love Emma’s hair and think it’s perfect. With sixteen orphans to keep track of, she wouldn’t have had a lot of time for her hair.

As with her sister Maura in Book 1, she’s never been courted, kissed, or even come close. At 26 years old, she would’ve been considered an old maid back in 1868. But when Stone Landry bought the property next door, Emma began to see herself as a woman with something left to give.

Stone gets her dander up right away after one of the orphan boys wanders over onto his property. He brings the kid back—along with a sharp rebuke for Emma to watch the children better. She sees red of course.

So, that’s how their relationship starts. They mix like oil and water. It isn’t that he doesn’t like kids, he was just never around any.

Add in a couple of adult camels and their baby and you get the idea. The kids weren’t going to stay on their side of the property line and that was that.

It’s a fun story with a group of unscrupulous bad guys trying to take both Emma’s and Stone’s land and shut down the orphanage. It leads to a land war with the couple fighting tooth and nail to stop them.

Wars have been fought over land since the beginning of time. Someone big and powerful always thinks they can take what they want and no one can stop them. It’s a familiar theme in westerns and it happens today all over the world. Sometimes the little guy wins.

This is a sweet romance with lots of action and a mix of humor thrown in. I think you’ll like this story that shows the depth of Emma’s and Stone’s hearts and their commitment to keeping Heaven’s Door open. No matter the cost.

Ever since I wrote Knight on the Texas Plains, I’ve always put children in my stories. They make the stories richer. Animals are another constant and I’ve had a variety—horses, dogs, cats, a monkey, a talking parrot, and now camels. You never know what’s coming next.

I’m giving away an ebook copy of the first book, Winning Maura’s Heart. To enter, tell me the one-word name of Maura’s love interest.

Debra Holt – Celebrating Texas Heritage and a giveaway!

Debra Holt

The Lone Star State of Love: Celebrating Texas Heritage

Texas heritage is a rich tapestry woven with threads of vibrant cultures, gritty resilience, and larger-than-life legends. From its early beginnings under Spanish and Mexican rule to the Battle of the Alamo and its vital role in the Civil War, Texas has consistently been at the crossroads of defining moments in history.

The Echo of the Cowboy

If you listen close enough, you can still hear the echo of the cowboy through the ages, a testament to our enduring ranching culture. Imagine the silhouette of a lone rider against the setting sun, the vast expanses of untamed land stretching as far as the eye can see, and the camaraderie around a campfire under the star-spangled sky. It’s a heritage we wear with pride, like a pair of well-worn boots or a trusty Stetson hat, reminders of a legacy that’s as timeless as the Texas soil itself.

The Power of the Pigskin

The spirit of Texas isn’t confined to ranches and prairies; it also roars to life on the football field. Our love for football, whether it’s the Friday night lights of high school games or the big leagues of the Dallas Cowboys, is as fiery as a summer scorcher. It’s more than just a sport, y’all; it’s a testament to the grit, teamwork, and resilience that’s deep in the heart of every Texan.

The Thrill of the Rodeo

And, let’s not forget the thrill of the rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in particular. From the heart-stopping rodeo events to the celebration of our agricultural roots, it’s a spectacle that brings to life the unbroken connection between the Texas of yesteryears and the Texas of today.

The Song of Our Soil

Speaking of traditions, our land itself sings the songs of our heritage. The state’s varied landscapes, from the Piney Woods in the east to the desert mountains in the west, are each a testament to our rich culture and history. They whisper the tales of the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and pioneers who traversed and tamed these lands.


Texas’s musical heritage is a symphony that resonates far beyond its borders. Home to legends like Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, and Beyoncé, the state’s music encompasses a broad spectrum from country and blues to Tejano, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop. The city of Austin, dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World,” embodies this rich musical tradition.

The Heat and Heart of Texas Cuisine

Food culture in Texas is a tantalizing fusion of flavors, showcasing its multicultural heritage. The state is famous for its mouth-watering barbecues, sizzling Tex-Mex, spicy chili, and delicate Gulf Coast seafood. And who can resist the allure of the State Fair of Texas, home to a cornucopia of unique treats?

The Texas Cowboy’s Rescue

Now, I’m here to share with y’all the third installment of my Texas Heritage Series, “The Texas Cowboy’s Rescue,” which is more than just a love story. It’s a celebration of our Texas heritage. You’ll journey into the heart of our state, from the sprawling cattle ranches to the rustic charm of our small towns.

I’m giving away an ebook copy of this book to one lucky person who comments below.

Texas isn’t just a backdrop for our story; it’s a character, a living, breathing entity that shapes our lovers and their destiny. It’s the beating heart of our Texas heritage and a testament to the magic that can happen when we honor where we’ve come from.

What’s your favorite part of Texas history?

Drop by and chat! I can’t wait to talk to you!

The Age Old Holiday Question–Fruitcake Treat or Door Stop?

When I look back on my books, I can often tell something about what was going on with me. When I wrote To Tame a Texas Cowboy, transporting a lot of dogs from Corsicana, Texas. (For those who don’t know, my family fosters and transports dogs for Cody’s Friends Rescue.) I say that because of my heroine, Cheyenne’s comment describing her overprotective Mom. Despite the serious nature that brought about the scene (the mother reports her missing), I had a blast writing it. Here’s an excerpt.

“I’ve got to do something about Mom. I don’t care how worried she is, when she hurts other people she’s gone too far.” Cheyenne collapsed on the couch beside Aubrey.

If this was a sample of what Cheyenne was dealing with, no wonder she was desperate to move out. If a service dog could help her with that goal, how could he refuse to help? Wasn’t easing burdens like Cheyenne’s why he’d taken up Olivia’s cause with the SeizureReader?

Dog nails scraping against the glass patio door drew Cooper’s attention. After he let the dogs in, Penny trotted over to Cheyenne and curled up by her feet.

The wild idea that sprouted last night when he saw Penny with Cheyenne expanded. The idea could work.

“We should leave. I’ve caused Cooper enough trouble, and who knows what else will happen if I stay longer,” Cheyenne said to Aubrey.

Her friend shook her head. “Girl, I slept in my clothes and the officer showing up scared me so much I’m as sweaty as a teenager sneaking into the house after curfew. No way am I crawling in the car without a shower. Cooper, mind if I use yours?”

“Go ahead. That’ll give me time to talk to Cheyenne.”

After Aubrey left, Cheyenne stared at him wide-eyed. “Why would you want to talk to me? If I were you, I’d figure out how to get a restraining order.”

He smiled at her attempt at humor as he sank into his recliner. The woman had grit. Despite everything, she hadn’t buckled. “On your mom maybe, but this wasn’t your fault.”

Fatigue and vulnerability flashed in her green eyes, overwhelming the courage and toughness he admired a minute ago. “You’re wrong. This is my fault. I didn’t rein Mom in before this happened.”

“Has your mom always been so,” he paused. Would it be completely out of line to call her mom a nut case?

“Go ahead and say it. Crazy, wacko. Nuttier than a Collin Street Bakery fruitcake. Take your pick.”

He chuckled at her plain speaking. “I was trying to find a better way to phrase it.”

“That’s sweet, but unnecessary.” Cheyenne sighed. “She wasn’t as bad when my dad was alive.”

“You don’t have to talk about this.”

She shrugged. “You’ve seen my dirtiest laundry. Might as well know how it got so bad. My dad died in a freak rodeo accident when I was fifteen. A bull threw him and before the rodeo clowns got there, the bull stepped on his—” She shuddered, and horror flashed across her face. “There was nothing anyone could do. He was gone.”

“Saying I’m sorry is inadequate, but I am sorry.”

Cheyenne picked at the couch cushion. “That’s what started Mom’s overprotectiveness. Most people think things like that won’t happen to them or someone they love, but she knows they do. My diagnosis has dredged up that pain, along with her fear, and helplessness. She’s doing the only thing she can think of, trying to control everything, but she can’t fix this for me.”


I know a lot of folks outside of Texas won’t get Cheyenne’s comment “nuttier than a Collin Street Bakery fruitcake” but I had a good laugh writing with it. Her comment refers to the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, famous for the fruitcake it’s made for over 125 years. I can see the looks of disbelief on your faces now. Hey, I’ve heard all the fruitcake jokes that abound this time of year, but the Collin Street Bakery’s been featured on a popular shows like Good Morning America.

I thought the same thing the first time I went to Corsicana to transport a dog. But when I saw the Collin Street Bakery on my way to the city shelter, I had to stop. After that, every time I drove to Corsicana, I stopped at the bakery first. I would get a cherry turnover to devour on the way home, peanut brittle for my hubby, cupcakes, and a sample of their fruitcake, which is by the way, pretty good.

While we don’t buy fruitcakes, every year at the holidays, my husband craves our family’s version which is more like a pound cake. It’s so good that if I don’t have time to bake it, he does! Today I’m sharing that recipe with you.


Philly Christmas Cake



1 8 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 1/2 C sugar

1 C butter

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

2 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 C each of candied red, green cherries, and pineapple

1 C chopped walnuts or pecans


Place 1/4 C chopped walnuts in each of two loaf pans. Place 1/4 C of the flour in a small bowl. Add cut candied fruit and remaining nuts. Mix and set aside.

Cream softened cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla until combined well. Add eggs one a time. Mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour (2C) and baking powder. Combine. Add remaining walnuts (1/2) and candied (now floured) fruit. Mix. Pour into loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour 20 min.

Giveaway–Today I have two holiday T-shirts to give away. Each one comes with a signed copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. To be entered in the giveaways, leave me a comment on your thoughts regarding fruitcake.


Texas Ranching History – by Debra Holt

“Other states are carved or born;

Texas grew from hide and horn.”

                                            — Bertha Hart Nance, 1932


Texas ranching has a long and storied history. Its roots go back to 1493 when Christopher Columbus made his second visit to Hispaniola. He brought with him several head of cattle, who were the ancestors of the Texas Longhorns bred throughout the state today.

The 16th and 17th centuries saw cattle ranching advance through Mexico and into modern-day Texas. The first cattle ranch was found in the El Paso region, where several thousand cattle were raised. These early ranches were formed by Spanish missionaries; private ranches would arise in the mid-18th century.

The Mexican War of Independence destroyed the Spanish missionary ranches. The Austin colony was formed at the end of the war, attracting Anglos to come stake a claim on the land and the cattle on it. They brought their eastern cattle to breed with the Spanish cattle, and the result was the Texas Longhorn.

The U.S. annexed Texas in 1845, and it spread out land for railways and new settlements. There was plenty of land to go around, and the demand grew high for beef. The cowboy system we’ve come to hold so dear began around this time.

It wasn’t just men who worked on the ranches; women were important to ranch operations, too. One woman, a former slave named Julia Blanks, helped with roundups, planted crops, raised up animals, and helped with the cooking during roundups on the Adams Ranch.

Her daughters followed in her footsteps — “My oldest girl used to take the place of a cowboy, and put her hair up in her hat. And ride! My goodness, she loved to ride.”

The first woman who led a cattle drive was Margaret Borland. After her husband passed, she became the sole owner of the Victoria ranch and 8,000 longhorns. Six years later, she had 10,000 cattle in her care. In 1873, she became the first female trail boss, leading 2,500 longhorns, her three children, and several cowboys up the Chisholm Trail into Kansas.

In recent years, ranches have had to adopt newer ways of bringing income, as the cost of cattle and maintaining the land has risen. The historic YO Ranch let its land for hunting and outdoor recreation. The Matador Ranch soon followed suit.

This past spring, the last ‘grande dame’ of the Texas ranching world was laid to rest. And last month, one of the few remaining ranching ‘empires’ went on the chopping block.

I call it a chopping block because here in Texas, far too many of our great and historic ranches have been sold to the highest bidder (usually someone residing outside the country, let alone the state) and chopped up into smaller pieces, the land and its resources plumbed until nothing worth anything remains, and a vital chapter of our Texas heritage and history has been wiped clean.

This sad fate of a place I consider to be a bit of Texas heaven inspired this story and this series — the Texas Heritage series.

In the first book, The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal, we meet the two granddaughters of Sarah McNamara Burkitt…Laurel Annabella and Samantha Josefina. The heroine of this first book will be Samantha, aka Sammi Jo. She has just been handed a hard blow when her older sister shares the finer points of their grandmother’s will.


Stop a minute and comment about a piece of your heritage that still impacts your life today.

One lucky commenter will receive a free copy of The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal!

Purchase The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal here

Find Debra online at her website here

Stories from My Winery Visit

Photo: Kiepersol

My husband and I recently visited Kiepersol Winery and Bed and Breakfast in Tyler. Our room at the Bed and Breakfast was in the building with the restaurant. Not only were the surroundings quiet, calm, and serene, the wine was wonderful, our room beautiful, and the restaurant defied description. They feature great steaks and seafood, with incredible sides. My favorites were the sauteed mushrooms and garlic potatoes. And the desserts…I had cherries jubilee, and I swear I gain a pound thinking about it, but it was worth every calorie.

But the stories of the winery’s history our wine tour guide, Ron shared captured my writer’s sentimental heart. Founder Pierre de Wet’s story would do any hero proud. Born in South Africa, in 1984 after the death of his wife from skin cancer, he and his young daughters, age two and four, moved to America. Pierre worked as a farm laborer until he could buy acres in Tyler, Texas. Though in 1996 there were no wineries from Austin to Florida, Pierre was sure he could make a winery work.

The winery’s name comes from the Kiepersol farm where Pierre grew up. Legend has it soldiers running from a lion toward a lone tree, shouted, “Kiepersol! Kiepersol” as they sought safety in the tree. (Later it was learned the soldiers yelled, “We hope this tree will keep us all!” Pierre named his winery after that Kiepersol tree, hoping everyone who visited the winery would find that same comfort.

Pierre’s determination and frugality when he started his winery served him well. To lower startup costs, he purchased used equipment. In tough times he sold residential lots, eventually creating one of two wine estates in the U.S. In 2000, he harvested his first grapes. To sell his wine, he hired teenagers with signs and obtained retired Clydesdales for carriages rides that ended at the winery.

Photo: Kiepersol

I can’t share all the winery’s stories today, but I want to share one behind Flight sparkling wine. Guinea fowl have roamed the area for over 20 years as vineyard stewards. Their chatter safekeeps the grapes from deer and birds. They eat bugs serving as nature’s pesticide. Guinea fowl spotted feathers are believed to be good luck charms. Now to the name. The winery says, “We believe each spotted feather found represents a releasing of the past. Flight is grown in a place where one can feel soulfully grounded while also letting dreams soar. So. Take Flight my friends.” That sentiment makes me shiver.

I love visiting Texas wineries and hearing their stories. The minute I heard Pierre de Wet’s, I thought how I would’ve loved to create such a hero. The courage, strength, and determination he possessed to come to America with two young daughters when the only person he knew was a Texas A&M professor, astounds me. He created a winery, a bed and breakfast with fifteen rooms, an incredible restaurant, a distillery, and an RV park! But most importantly, he raised two strong women who carry on his legacy.

Pierre de Wet and his daughters
Photo: Kiepersol

I may have found a retirement-keep-busy-and-involved career. What could be better than telling a winery’s stories, meeting fabulous people, especially if I could be paid with an occasional bottle of wine and dinner?

Today I’m giving away this horseshoe decoration and a signed copy of To Tame a Texas Cowboy. To be entered in my random drawing, leave a comment to this question. What is the best story you’ve heard or best/most interesting fact you’ve learned on a trip? Or, if you don’t have a story to share, just stop by to say hello or tell me about a real life hero in your life.


To Invite Parents Into A Story or Not

Many of my books deal with the theme of family of choice. There are a couple reasons why. I’ve always been geographically separated from family and then later, I became estranged from my parents. This changed my writing and my definition of family.

Another reason I turned to this theme is because having parents–ones who have a solid relationship with their children, offer advice when asked without dictating, forgive their children, are mentally healthy, and set good examples–is tough. At least for me, they muck up a story. They often keep their children from making bonehead mistakes that drive a story and create conflict. Why? Partly because they’ve raised children to consider options before acting, gave them a solid moral base, and are present during rough times.

That’s why either my hero or heroine often have past issues from with one or both parents. Let’s face it. Anyone who’s a parent has worried about screwing up their kid. I often joked I hoped I wouldn’t botch parenting so bad my kids spent spent in a therapist’s office. But in romance novels, emotionally damaged characters make for create conflict and character growth. How we’re raised, our emotional baggage and wounds, taint how we see the world and influence our every relationship. For example, Zane in To Marry a Texas Cowboy has major family baggage. Like two  large suitcases and a trunk’s worth.


Here’s an excerpt that shows how two relationships shaped Zane’s life.

“Why isn’t your old man helping out?”

“He’s in Europe trying to patch up marriage number three. Good thing, too, because he’d be a worse choice than her assistant.” How could folks as wonderful as his grandparents have raised such a shit for a son? Someone who would lead two completely separate lives with two families?

“I’m thinking a man who breaks out in hives when he hears the word wedding has no business managing a wedding planning company,” Cooper said. “If you ask me, that’s looking for trouble.”

Zane wouldn’t let  Grandma Ginny, the one person who’d been there for him his entire life, loving him unconditionally and acting as a guiding force, put her future at risk. He’d do anything this side of legal for her.

Even run Lucky Stars Weddings.


Another thing I like about parental absence in my stories is it allows friends to occupy a prominent role. I love creating banter between good friends, who as Elbert Hubbard says, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” That kind of friend will also tell you when you’re being an ass, and often do in my books.


Here’s an example of the heroes in To Tame a Texas Cowboy, who view themselves as family.

“What did this one do? Is she another one with a hyena in heat laugh?” Ty asked, pulling Cooper back to the conversation.

AJ dug his wallet out of his back pocket. “Nah, can’t be that. Not even Coop could find two of those. Ten bucks says this one talked too much.”

“I’m still here, guys, and I’d rather skip the psychoanalyzing session. If you’re interested, I think I can scrounge tickets to the Alabama game. If we can beat them, we’ve got a real shot at the national title,” Cooper said, hoping to channel the conversation onto football and off his love life, or lack thereof.

“I say Coop connected with this one on Facebook, and she posts pictures of her food all the time.” Ty tossed a ten on top of AJ’s, completely ignoring Cooper’s change of subject.

Damn. He was in trouble if tickets to the A&M Alabama game failed to divert his buddies.

Zane tossed a bill on the stack and rubbed his chin while he flashed a perfect white smile at the women two tables over who’d been giving him the eye.

When he glanced back at his friends, he said, “I peg her as the strong, assertive type who’s recently divorced and is still in her angry phase. I say she complained about her ex.”

His friends stared, waiting for him to declare the winner. Betting wasn’t much fun when he was the topic. While AJ and Ty weren’t correct now, in the past, he’d lost interest in women for both the reasons they predicted. Tonight, Zane came damn close. Too close.

“Zane, sometimes you’re damn scary when it comes to women. How do you do it?”

“Years of extensive research.” Zane grinned as he scooped up the cash.


So, that’s why I often don’t include a parent or parents in my stories. Another time I’ll chat about the couple times I have had a parent be a prominent character.


To be entered in my random giveaway for the cactus T-shirt, coozie, and a signed copy of Family Ties, leave a comment telling me what you think about having the hero or heroine’s parent(s) as main characters in a story.

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?

More Outdated, Strange, or Downright Dumb Texas Laws

A while back I had so much fun discussing odd/weird/crazy Texas laws still on the books, and while I’ve tried to find the reasons behind these laws, so far I haven’t had much luck. However, I have come across more unusual laws still on the Texas books. Unable to resist a good laugh, (I mean can’t we all use one?) I’m sharing these new oddities with you.

  • It’s illegal to own a set of Encyclopedia Britannica in Texas. Apparently, lawmakers were upset it contained a recipe for beer and didn’t want to deal with home breweries. If you have an old set around somewhere better hide it now!
  • In LeFors, Texas, taking more than three drinks, sips, or swallows of beer while standing is illegal. But that makes me ask what about wine or mixed drinks? Is it okay to drink more of those standing?
  • In Houston it’s illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday. Apparently, other cheeses are okay because they’re not specified. This begs the question what do lawmakers have against Limburger cheese and why is it illegal only on Sundays?
  • If you’re planning on committing a crime in Texas, you’re required by law to give your victim 24 hour written or verbal notice. It’s hard to believe someone possessed the nerve to stand in the state legislature and propose this law. Not only that, but the person suggested the law in hopes of reducing crime! (Because people wanting to commit a crime wouldn’t dream of breaking this law!) I’m laughing thinking of a burglar slipping a note in my mailbox. Planning on robbing you Tuesday night. Is that good for you or do I need to reschedule?
  • Don’t eat your neighbor’s garbage…without permission. Major yuck factor with this one because well, garbage. If caught, this law will get you in trouble for trespassing and property theft. Who knew garbage was property? I thought it was fair game once it was put out, but I guess not.

  • Flirting with the “eyes or hands” is illegal in San Antonio, for both men and women. Seriously. If police enforced this one, they could almost empty the Riverwalk daily. Now that would clog up the court system.
  • In Texas your vehicle doesn’t need to have a windshield to be driven on the road. However, it does need to possess windshield wipers! I’m trying to imagine where those wipers could be affixed if there isn’t a windshield. Or maybe they don’t need to be attached but could be tossed in the back seat or in the glove box? Boggles the mind to think the person writing this one and the lawmakers who passed it didn’t see the irony.
  • Another ironic one that lawmakers didn’t think through is when two trains meet at a crossing, both must fully stop, and neither can move until the other has left the crossing. How could this miss this problem and realize it would make for looooong waits at train crossings?
  • In Dennison and Bristol you can land in jail for up to a year for showing your stockings. I’m laughing thinking of some poor old man being tossed in jail for wearing socks with his sandals. Or are socks considered in stockings? Good thing most of us women have given up wearing hose and stockings.
  • Since Texas is a common state, if two willing, single, over 18 parties announce three times they’re married, bam, they are legally married. Wow, talk about lying having major and lasting consequences.
  • In a holdover from the old west, when one rancher would cut another’s fence, it is illegal to carry wire cutters in your pocket.

I hope these laws gave you a chuckle. To be entered in my random drawing for the Cowboy Take Me Away T-shirt and signed copy of Cowboy in the Making leave a comment about what the craziest or silliest law you’ve heard about that is still on the books.


Guest Author Amanda Cabot – Did You Know?

Research. Authors tend to be in two camps where it’s concerned: those who love it and those who hate it. I’m firmly in the first category. I love learning new things about the time period and location I’ve chosen for my books, but – and this is a big but – there’s a problem. All too often I uncover tidbits that I find fascinating but that won’t fit into my stories. Since I hate to have them languish in my research folder, I thought I’d share ten of them with you today.

The first five come from The Texans, part of Time-Life’s The Old West series. 

  1. Although there’s no denying Stephen Austin’s importance in Texas history, colonizing the area wasn’t his dream. It was his father, Moses’s. In fact, Stephen was less than enthusiastic about the idea. But when Stephen learned that his father’s dying wish was that he ensure that Moses’s plans for Texas were realized, the dutiful son agreed. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.


  1. One of the terms of the land grant Austin (Stephen, that is) received was that he’d bring 300 families to settle on that land. Though he’d expected that to be relatively easy to accomplish, he was only able to recruit 297. No one seemed too distressed by that breach of contract, and those families were soon referred to as the Old Three Hundred.


  1. The Mexican government had two stipulations for land ownership: settlers must become both Mexican citizens and Roman Catholics. Since most of the immigrants were Protestants, it was generally understood that Catholic rites would not be strictly enforced.


  1. Because not all communities had priests, couples who wanted to marry but didn’t want to wait for the priest to reach their town would often have a civil ceremony. That ceremony included signing a bond that they’d have their marriage confirmed by a priest as soon as possible. In theory, the bond was legally enforceable, but unhappy couples who wanted to dissolve their marriage simply destroyed the bond and declared themselves once more single.


  1. Speaking of marriage, Sam Houston, another legendary figure in early Texas history, had a disastrous one. Within three months of marrying the much younger Eliza Allen in 1829, they were separated, perhaps because of his drunkenness. Fortunately for him, when he married again in 1840, also to a considerably younger woman, the marriage was a longer and presumably happier one that resulted in eight children.


My second source of tidbits is T.R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star.

  1. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the term hidalgo, but did you know that it’s derived from the old Spanish term Fijo d’Algo, meaning “son of someone important”?


  1. When Texas became a state, its constitution included some unusual (at least for the time) provisions. (1) No minister could serve in the legislature. (2) Married women were guaranteed property rights. (3) Private households were exempt from foreclosure. (4) Banks could not incorporate.


  1. In 1838 Texas became the first part of America to enact homestead legislation.


  1. Immigrants, particularly from Europe, formed a large part of the population. In fact, by 1850 European – mostly German – immigrants outnumbered Mexicans and Anglos in San Antonio.


  1. Among the immigrants who settled in the Hill Country were a number of intellectuals who formed utopian colonies referred to as “Latin Colonies” because they conducted weekly meetings where they discussed topics ranging from politics to literature to music in Latin. While there was no doubting the founders’ education, their lack of farming experience led to a predictable decline in the towns’ fortunes.


And there you have it: ten tidbits that intrigued me. Were you surprised by any of them? Which did you find the most interesting? Can you envision a story with one of these as its basis? If so, which?

Amanda is graciously giving away a print copy of The Spark of love to one lucky commenter.


The Spark of Love



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She’s determined to start a new life in the West . . . if only the old one will leave her alone


When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach.


But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler.


With so much to lose—and hide from one another—Alexandra and Gabe will have to come together if they are ever to discover whether  the sparks they’ve felt from the beginning can kindle the fire of true love.



Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than forty books and a variety of novellas. Her books have been honored with a starred review from Publishers Weekly and have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best.



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