When I got the idea for my Widows of Wildcat Ridge series, I had no idea what I was doing. The notion popped into my head; I became excited and jumped in with both feet. I think I left my head behind.

The first thing I did was contact a couple of writers I highly respected and ask them their opinions and if they’d be interested in joining me. They said yes. I wonder if they’re glad they did. At this point, we’re about to complete our second multi-author series.

That done, I did some research on locations. I wanted an isolated gold mining town in the mountains where I could destroy the mine and kill most of the miners. Had I seen Godless at the time? No, I didn’t know that TV series existed. Since I live in Utah, a state not often used in romance novels, that’s the location I chose. I avoided the Wasatch mountains where several mines had existed (think Park City and Alta; ski towns now). I decided to set the series In a mountain range a little farther south, the Manti-La Sals. I picked a spot for my mine to sit, with the town nearby. I wrote to several good authors to invite them to join in, and most accepted—a thrilling surprise.

I researched the flora and fauna of the area, which I already knew, but double-checked my facts. I shared this information with the authors, and, with their fertile minds, they quickly came up with ideas. And we were off and running.

Unfortunately, we soon ran into difficulties. What happened to destroy the mine and kill most of the miners? More research. The deeper I dug, the more problems I encountered. The main roadblock was the fact that there had never been a gold mine in those mountains. There were coal mines, and one had suffered a devastating explosion. Two hundred miners killed. Only a ghost town remains.

I decided to base the series there. It didn’t work. Too many differences between coal mining and gold mining. And other problems. So, I kicked the Manti-La Sals into the round bin and went back to work. I settled on the Unita mountain range, where a gold mine had existed in the 1800s. Not only that, but the Spaniards had established mines in the area in the 1600s. Mines no one’s ever found.

We opened our town, destroyed our mine, producing lots of widows to feature in our stories. Our next dilemma? Learning to share, communicate, and weave all our tales together. Now, that was phenomenally painstaking.

You see, we wanted a town and stories that blended, clashed, and intermingled.

We succeeded.

By “we” I mean myself and the other nine authors in the series: Pam Crooks, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbott, Christine Sterling, Kit Morgan, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Tracy Garrett, and Kristy McCaffrey. Some of us did more than one book, producing a total of sixteen.

We had maps of the area and town. We had lists of flora and fauna. Weather, travel routes and modes, what towns and cities existed at the time, what Native Americans lived in the territory? At first, we posted our research data on DropBox, but not everyone liked DropBox, so we switched to Google Docs. We formed a Facebook page for the series open to readers and another for the authors to communicate among ourselves. Believe me, tons of emails and posts went back and forth. So many that some of us thought we’d go crazy trying to keep up with everything. Three authors dropped out and were replaced. Our lives breathed, ate, slept, and dreamed of this series from the summer of 2019 to May 2020.  

To achieve our goal, we had to read each story published. We had to keep charts of characters, names, dates, characteristics, minor characters, plots, premises, and on and on. Trying to meld our stories together wasn’t easy. Inevitably, someone used a character from someone else’s story and accidentally gave them the wrong color hair or name. A nightmare in the making. The decisions to be made seemed endless. How often should we publish? What promotions should we do? Who should handle what? You might call the series a co-op.

Then there were the covers, all of which I created, according to the wishes and descriptions of the authors. We made memes for announcements and promos. We arranged launch parties. We worked, and we worked hard.

Despite all that (or because of it), the Widows of Wildcat Ridge (not the first name we came up with) proved a huge success.

I told my friends, if I ever mentioned starting a new series, to shoot me. Amazingly, they didn’t. Nor did I shoot myself. I endured and my fantastic authors along with me. I have come to love each of them.

As you know, in June 2020, we did start another series, just not an interconnected one. The idea for Bachelors & Babies bounced around in my head for a few years. I decided that when Widows of Wildcat Ridge ended, that’s what I would write. It would be a trilogy about three brothers who ran a Montana ranch together and a girl who arrives on their doorstep one night, pregnant and terrified. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a good series it would make, and so, I jumped into the fire again, taking most of my fellow authors with me.

Those of you familiar with Bachelors & Babies will know how well that series has done. Will I ever do another one? Well, maybe. Keep watching and find out.

And if any of you get any notions about doing your own interconnected series, give me a ring. I might be able to save you a few headaches.

Today I’ll give away a free ebook of Priscilla, book 1 of Widows of Wildcat Ridge, and an audio copy of Barclay, Bachelors and Babies book 4. Be sure to leave a comment!

ABOUT CHARLENE:  Charlene Raddon fell in love with the wild west as a child, listening to western music with her dad and sitting in his lap while he read Zane Gray books. She never intended to become a writer. Charlene was an artist. She majored in fine art in college.

In 1971, she moved to Utah, excited for the opportunity to paint landscapes. Then her sister introduced her to romance novels. She never picked up a paintbrush again. One morning she awoke to a vivid dream she knew must go into a book, so she took out a typewriter and began writing. She’s been writing ever since.

Instead of painting pictures with a brush, Charlene uses words.


Char’s Links:


They’re b-a-a-ck. Those Ten Cent Thrills Known as Dime Novels.

Your Victorian ancestor may have had one shocking vice up her leg of mutton sleeve. She probably read dime novels.

The dime novel craze began in 1860 with the publication of Ann S. Stephens’ book Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter. The success of the book resulted in publishers and writers jumping on the bandwagon.

Critics called the popular books immoral and blamed them for society’s ills. Nevertheless, dime novels sold millions, and Civil War soldiers were the prime audience. Confederates and Union soldiers were on opposing sides politically, but both camps shared the same passion for pirates, mountain men, adventurers, and detectives. The melodramatic books with the lurid covers and purple prose helped them fight the boredom of camp life.

Now, these same books can help Pandemic stay-at-homes combat monotony. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a grant of $350,000 to Northern Illinois University to catalog and digitize its collection of more than 4,400 dime novels and story papers. Stanford and other universities are also participating, and books are available at

With millions of books to choose from on Amazon, why would anyone want to read books written more than 150 years ago with no known literary value?

The answer is that these books are a treasure trove of cultural heritage and social history.  These stories also reveal the political attitudes of the past and gender stereotypes.

The depiction of Indian women was criticized by the Toronto Times in 1892. “It is a deplorable fact. She is always named Winona, the daughter of a chief, and, inevitably, her ill-fated love for a white man drives her to suicide or death; and, in these stories, the Indian maiden always dies.”

With all their faults, the books did society a favor; they established a new social order in which males were judged by deeds rather than social status. For this reason, the western hero became the symbol of the ideal man.

Books featuring real people like Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and Jesse James were especially popular. One dime novel featuring Kit Carson had an unexpected impact on him. According to the story, Carson chased down a group of Apaches to rescue a kidnapped white woman only to discover her dead. In her belongings was a copy of the book Kit Carson, the Happy Warrior.

He later told the story in his autobiography: “We found a book in the camp, the first of the kind I had ever seen, in which I was represented as a great hero, slaying Indians by the hundred. I have often thought that Mrs. White must have read it and, knowing that I lived nearby, must have prayed for my appearance in order that she might be saved. I did come, but I lacked the power to persuade those that were in command over me to follow my plan for her rescue.”‘

Even though a woman started the dime novel craze, female writers were not taken seriously and were even resented. That didn’t stop readers from scooping up their books. By 1872, an astounding seventy-five percent of published books were written by women.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of many male writers who lamented the popularity of female fiction. In a letter to a friend, Hawthorne wrote: “America is now wholly given over to a dammed mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash–and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed.”

Now, thanks to the National Endowment for Humanities, the works of those early “scribbling women” will now be given a second chance.

Would you be interested in reading one of these books?  Why or why not?



The National Cowboy Museum

Meet Tim …

Who doesn’t love a cowboy? And what better place to learn about them than The National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

During these trying times, people began looking for bright spots on the Internet and lo and behold they discovered Tim! He’d been asked by the museum to take over their social media while the museum was closed because of the pandemic. The result was hilarious, not to mention endearing. The man became famous almost overnight and all because he was inept at social media.


 But just because Tim was social media impaired, didn’t mean that people read his tweets and Instagram and made fun of him or hit him with rude comments, quite the opposite. His personality and love of the cowboy come through his trial and error attempts, and because of Tim, the museum’s Instagram followers increased by the thousands within days after he took over their social media. In fact, he became so popular so fast, CNN tracked him down for a phone interview. The result has been great for the museum and not only that, thousands of people have learned about the cowboy and other aspects of life in the old west. Soon other staff members were helping Tim out and creating different snippets of information to educate the public on the life of our beloved Cowboys.


 I myself hope to visit the National Cowboy Museum one day where I’m sure to meet Tim the security guard, Seth from marketing, and Michael Grauer, the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture/Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art.


 In the meantime, you can visit the museum’s website and take a virtual tour. Thanks to Tim, I’ve learned that it’s a fascinating place. I can also relate to his learning curve of tweeting, Instagram use, and other social media! Those of you who participated in Game Day yesterday can relate too I bet! If you’d like to check out the museum’s Instagram, you can find it here.

Just click on the photos to read what Tim and his cohorts have to say about them! There are video demonstrations of various aspects of cowboy life too!

 Have any of you been to a cowboy museum before? The closest I’ve come is the High Desert Museum outside of Bend, Oregon. Tell me what sort of old West or cowboy museums you’ve visited. If you haven’t, which ones would you like to?





Several years ago, after Hurricane Sandy devastated so much of the East Coast, help began to pour in immediately. But here in the farther inland parts of the U.S., we were left wondering what we could do, other than donate money?

In times of disaster, we all wish we were able to do more. Many people don’t want to give to a nebulous charity, fearing scams of all sorts.

One of my publishers friends, Rebecca Vickery, came up with the idea of a recipe book. The authors that wrote for her three imprints were asked if they wanted to contribute recipes to go in the book. The proceeds from the sales of the book would go to one of two charities, which we voted on. By a large margin, Save the Children was our choice.

The book was a work of love that we all participated in, some with more than one recipe. It was filled with quite a variety, and even though on the cover it says, “Featuring favorite holiday recipes by various authors”, there are several in this book that I have made all through the year.  Who can wait for the holidays to have some of these scrumptious treats–especially now when we are at home more and more?

I’m sharing my contributions with you today, but there are plenty more where this came from in this little gem of a book—many of them easy and geared for our hectic lifestyles. I’ve been cooking a lot more lately with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, so I’m always on the lookout for new and different recipes!

I can certainly vouch for the two below—Blonde Brownies has been a staple in our family since I was born. It was on a “Brownie” recipe sheet when both of my sisters belonged to a troop, and my mom was a leader. This recipe is one of those that doesn’t last long around our house—the ingredients are items you usually keep stocked, and it’s easy to make. Same with the Hello Dolly Bars.

Though the book is out of print, it’s still available in limited quantities on Amazon from 3rd party sellers. 



4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.



½ cup butter

1 ½  cup graham cracker crumbs

1 six oz. package chocolate chips (I always add extra!)

1 can Eagle Brand milk (sweetened condensed milk)

1 1/3  cups shredded coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

Pour melted butter into a 9×13 pan. Cover evenly with the following: graham cracker crumbs (press down to soak up the butter), nuts, chocolate chips, coconut. Pour milk on top. Bake at 350 F. until lightly brown or chips have melted (about 25 minutes). Cool before cutting.

(You can also add some butterscotch chips along with the chocolate chips for variation.)

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

Blonde brownies are my go-to comfort food! I can eat them any time of the day or night!  Do you have a favorite recipe you love to make? PLEASE SHARE!



If you’ve read much about travel in the Old West—or banking—you’ll know the name Wells Fargo & Co. Private citizens, small businesses, and major industries all trusted Wells Fargo with their valuables. For example, between 1858 and 1861, Wells Fargo shipped 15 tons of gold from the Sonora, California office alone. But where there are valuables, there are evil people bent on stealing them, and there were times that those evil men were successful. So how did Wells Fargo protect against thefts—or recover stolen property they’d been entrusted with?


They employed their own detectives, of course. These were men hired as private detectives, not official law enforcement or peace officers. However, the very first and most famous of the Wells Fargo detectives, one Mr. James B. Hume, was afforded many of the perks for law enforcement of that time. A former peace officer, Hume had more than a decade of experience in the field when he was hired by Wells Fargo as their first detective in 1871. It’s safe to assume many of the others who filled out the detective force were, as well.


When a shipment was robbed, the detective nearest the scene of the crime would be contacted. He would go to the scene, take stock of what was missing based on the waybills detailing what was in the shipment, then report to W. F., & Co. about the theft. From this point, he would enlist local law enforcement’s help, interview any witnesses, and begin pursuit.


Unlike a local police officer or sheriff who was confined to a specific town or county, the Wells Fargo detectives’ jurisdiction allowed them to cross borders and pursue wherever the trail led. They were more like today’s FBI than a localized law enforcement officer. And they were graciously afforded arrest powers, so long as they kept those arrests limited to only those men and women related to robberies of Wells Fargo shipments. However, just because they could arrest someone didn’t mean they always did. Often, Wells Fargo detectives were deputized by the local agency, and when possible, they let the local authorities handle the official apprehensions.


The Wells Fargo detectives had a great example of some early “cutting edge” techniques set by their leader, Jim Hume. For instance, rather than having to keep stacks of wanted posters, Hume kept a “mugbook”—a leather-bound journal that included hand-drawn or photographic pictures of suspected robbers, where he detailed copious notes on aliases and other information for each outlaw. And, Hume also employed some rudimentary ballistics when he removed the bullet from a dead horse, which he compared with the markings on a bullet from a different case. Through these early versions of our modern-day ballistics, he linked the two bullets back to the same perpetrator and captured his man.


However, no ahead-of-its-time technique beat good, old-fashioned legwork. In his most well-known case, Hume pursued Black Bart, a gentlemanly thief who robbed at least twenty-five Wells Fargo stagecoaches across eight years, to the tune of about $18,000 (or $1-2 million in today’s dollars). The robber was finally captured when he dropped a bloody handkerchief with a launderer’s identification mark, which Hume tracked down by going door-to-door to one hundred laundries in San Francisco. At the one-hundredth place, they linked the particular mark to the account of one C. E. Boles, arrested the man, interrogated him, elicited a confession, and garnered a conviction. Black Bart served four years in San Quentin for his crimes. So through dogged determination, some tried and true procedures, as well as new and innovative techniques, the Wells Fargo detectives recovered many of the stolen shipments entrusted to Wells Fargo & Co. for shipping.


It’s your turn: Were you aware that Wells, Fargo, & Co. employed their own detectives? If so, did you realize they had the types of authority detailed above? Leave your answers to be entered in a drawing for a signed paperback copy of Courting Calamity, which includes my Wells Fargo detective hero, Jake Hicken!

COURTING CALAMITY ( href=” rel=”>)/p?tag=pettpist-20


Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress
Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero. On the journey to California, the deed to Mattie’s hopes and dreams is stolen. Elizabeth has been saddled with too many responsibilities at the family mercantile. Unexpectedly married, Sofia is ill-prepared for a husband and the society she is thrust into. When her sister is accosted, Aileen will do almost anything to support her. Accepting help isn’t easy when these women don’t want to show weakness, but it is more appealing when it comes with a handsome face.



Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

City Girl > Country Girl

I’m Laura Drake, the newest Filly in the stable, and proud to be here! 

I wanted to introduce myself and let you know what you’re getting into with me (cue evil laugh).

My twelfth Western releases on the 28th (pause for a loud squee!). I’m probably a horse of a different color here, in that I came at this western thing later in life. 

See, I was born in the Northwest suburbs of Detroit – Yeah, city-girl AND a Yankee. When the job market died there, and I got sick of the snow, my sister and I moved, sight unseen, to Southern California (they really shouldn’t televise the Rose Bowl to the frozen Midwest). 

Closer to the west, but certainly not country. But that changed fast. See, I met an ex-pat bleed-maroon, Texas Aggie there. We fell in love, and that first Christmas, he took me home to momma – Midland, Texas.

That first Christmas – yeah, we haven’t changed much

There were a lot of eye-opening experiences that Christmas, but the best was, he took me to my first RODEO! It turns out the rodeo season kicks off every year twenty miles down the road in Odessa. 

I fell in love with it all, but especially with the bull riding. Then I discovered that bull riding was televised EVERY weekend! I was hooked.

I also discovered that the PBR came to a venue seven miles from our house in Southern California every January! 

Brendan Clark – cute, talented bull rider, AND a sexy Aussie accent!

I’d been writing small town series, but I switched to contemporary westerns, featuring, you guessed it, bull riders. Yeah, I’m a little obsessed – I’ve been to at least ten events, and five world finals – the most recent, last November in Las Vegas.

A broken leg (freak fly fishing accident) wasn’t going to keep me from the Finals!

Why bull riding? To me, it’s like a dangerous ballet. The riders are more like gymnasts than wrestlers. After all, you’re never going to out-muscle a 2,000 lb. bull, so it’s about staying balanced in the middle of a tornado. When it’s done right, and the stars align, it’s a beautiful dance.

But it’s also about the animal athletes – the bulls. They are bred to buck like thoroughbreds are bred to run, and it’s been a thrill to see the buckers improve the past decade.

We finally retired, left So Cal behind, and moved to Midland, Texas in 2014. 

So that’s my long winding road, from city-girl to country girl. It took me a long time, but I got here as soon as I could! 

Bullrider Jory Markiss with my RITA winner, The Sweet Spot!

I’m so looking forward to blogging and chatting with Y’all! 

To kick this off, I’d like to give away a copy of my July release, Cowboy for Keeps, to a random commenter. All you need to do is tell me,

What’s your favorite rodeo event? 


Here’s a bit about the book:


Julie Benson’s Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk about how men and women communicate differently. I appreciate all your wonderful comments. The laughs you gave me were priceless, and as we all know, laughter is the best medicine.

The winner of the Warrior Not Worrier cozy and Home On the Ranch:  Colorado Rescue is:

Diana Hardt

Congratulations! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you everyone who spent part of your day with me. Remember—Don’t go jumping any barbed wire naked, and everyone take care and stay safe!

Secondary Characters and a Giveaway!

What’s a story about a small town without those wonderful secondary characters? Especially when they have a vice? I have several well-established town gossips in my different series. Some of which do things that make the entire book!

Most of my gossips are women but I have some men too. In my town of Clear Creek, we have Fanny Fig. A classic gossip in every sense of the word. But then we also have Wilfred Dunnigan, who owns Dunnigan’s Mercantile. A hopeless romantic, he tries using gossip to bring people together.

In my town of Nowhere, in the Washington Territory, we have Nellie Davis, an ex-southern belle who isn’t happy about having to leave the South to come West. Stuck in a small town and with nothing better to do, she stirs up trouble by letting her tongue wag. Unfortunately, her gossiping ways get her into a lot of trouble, especially in my Mail-Order Bride Ink Series. In the first book in the series, Dear Mr. Weaver, she ends up having to perform community service after a judge deems her gossiping ways a crime

In my town of Independence, the worst gossip is the mayor, Horace Vander. With his booming voice, the man spreads news faster than the wind. Everyone in Independence knows that if you want to find out anything, just ask the mayor.

Stories of small towns, be they historical or contemporary, have certain types of characters authors use to add conflict to the story. Writers can give these secondary characters different vices and gossip is just one of the many.

One favorite such character, is Lady Whistledown, from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series. The books are set in the Regency era and Lady Whistledown publishes a gossip sheet that talks about everyone having attended a ball or party that’s just been held. No one knows who she is, but she’s talking about everyone! Soon to be a show on Netflix, Julie Andrews will play the voice of Lady Whistledown.

Is there a secondary character in a book you’ve read whose habits have caused a ruckus for the hero or heroine? Tell me for a chance to win an ebook of mine of your choice!