When I’ve talked about that book, I’ve mostly focused on the hero, Falcon Hunt.
The hero in this one is extra fun in two ways.
One, to me, the big one, Amnesia. Very interesting and tricky to write.
Two, he’s a Tennessee Mountain Man in 1870.
I played around a LOT with his accent, trying to catch that southern and mountain cadence that’s not really a western cowboy voice.
So anyway, those two things made writing Falcon Hunt really fun. But I haven’t spent nearly as much time talking about Cheyenne. The heroine. And I should because Cheyenne is the kind of character I just love to write. Tough western women who take care of themselves and everyone around them.
That’s Sophie McClellen from Petticoat Ranch. That’s Belle Tanner from The Husband Tree. That’s allllllllllllllll of Sophie’s Daughters. That’s Callie Kincaid from Over the Edge. That’s Ruthy MacNeil from Swept Away. That’s Mel (Don’t call me Melanie) Blake from Too Far Down, Bailey Wilde from Fire and Ice. Oh I could go on and on. In every three book series I can’t seem to control myself from making at least one of my hero a feisty lady rancher.
In the Brothers in Arms series, book #1, Braced for Love, the heroine. Win. is a sweet natured school marm with a fancy finishing school education. And in book #3 Love on the Range the heroine Molly, is a smart, quiet, intense little fairy princess. But book #2, A Man with a Past, Cheyenne Brewster, is a feisty lady rancher.
I really believe that probably, most women of the west were like this. I think when you lived a long way out, a lot of the rules and behaviors expected of women got shoved aside for the practical. Side-saddles? Maybe sometimes, mostly not. Hoop skirts? No, more like riding skirts if they didn’t just outright wear pants. I’ll bet those women were wearing long woolen underwear and had their hair tied back in a no nonsense braid…if they didn’t just plain cut it short.
So here comes Cheyenne Brewster, the toughest lady yet. And why does she fall for the guy who’s inherited her ranch right out from under her? How does this tough lady face off against a very tough man she can’t steamroll?
Well, she admires strength. She admires his tracking ability. She ultimately trusts him and that is huge for Cheyenne who was so badly betrayed by her stepfather, not just in his will, but all of his life.
Cheyenne Brewster has been wandering in the wilderness trying to get over her killing fury since the beginning of book #1. She vanished from that story–I’m hoping that story was interesting enough that no one paid much attention to the fact that both Cheyenne and Falcon vanished. Now, she’s met up with her friend in the woods and both of the invading ‘surprise’ Hunt brothers, Kevin and Falcon. Cheyenne has some catching up to do.
She was honestly shocked to see Kevin holding Win’s hand and pulling her away from all this death.
“What is going on with you two?” Cheyenne stood, her eyes shifting between the two of them and their clasped hands.
“Uh…” Win looked at Kevin, then smiled. “We’re married.”
“What?” Cheyenne shoved the hood all the way off her head.
The rain had stopped and that was a shame. She could use a solid dousing to clear her muddled thoughts.
“Yep, well and truly married.” Kevin put his arm around Win.
Cheyenne considered knocking the arm off. Especially when Kevin smiled. Then Win snuggled closer like a brainless sheep, and Cheyenne figured attacking Kevin wasn’t going to go well with her friend.
“You’re married. Falcon here has been wandering in the woods for days. Armed gunmen hunting you.” Cheyenne flung her arms wide, “I can’t leave any of you alone for a minute or trouble comes flooding.
“This one’s dead, too.” Falcon knelt by the man he’d killed. He tossed him onto his stomach and retrieved his knife.
Win said, “We were going to be kicked out of the ramrod’s house with Baker coming home. I guess we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“What in tarnation is a ramrod?” Falcon wiped the blood off his knife and stuck it in his sheath.
Cheyenne couldn’t help but admire the man’s style.
Cheyenne led the way home.
She had a lot of questions and mostly they were answered. Win being married, that just didn’t make a lick of sense. But what about Cheyenne’s life did?
And Falcon Hunt. That’s who she’d been tracking. Despite hating these two men fiercely, she had to admit a deep respect for Falcon.
They hiked for hours. She was the only one in good shape. And the only one who knew where they were going.
Do you have a favorite character type in a book? Do you like tough women? Damsels in Distress? Spies with near superpowers? Cowboys of any type, any time?
Leave a comment about a favorite character type to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of A Man with a Past.
I’m honored to present my first blog for PETTICOATS & PISTOLS! I’m friends with several of the “fillies” and have loved reading P&P posts over the years. Now, I’m not known as a romance writer, but you know how it goes. Romance sneaks into most stories, whether it’s happily-ever-after, unrequited, reunited, or any other brand of amour.
I just returned from a trip to Colorado for a convention and spent a few days on each end of it knocking around the gorgeous Centennial State. I passed through time-capsule mining towns, the Mile-High City, curvy mountain passes, aspen groves … and I hit a killer jewelry sale in a little shop in Estes Park. It got me thinking about road trips.
I once dated a guy who said that taking a road trip together was the true test of a relationship. Come to think of it, he and I never took a road trip together … and, all these years later, we’re still friends. Perhaps it was best that we never tested the limits of a perfectly good relationship!
There have been many tandem excursions over the years – most pleasant, some spectacularly bumpy – but I’ve always been especially fond of hitting the road solo for relaxation, research, or seeing friends and family in other states.
As a writer, I get tons of inspiration when I’m riding alone in my SUV, also known as “Bluesy.” Sometimes it’s a song or short story idea, or I’ll see something that relates to a novel WIP. Several years ago, I was driving with my mom through northern Iowa and we passed a two-story white farmhouse with a corner tower, set back from the road on a bit of a hill (similar to the one in the photo). I can’t tell you why, but a story idea suddenly whooshed into my head. I could imagine a woman looking out from the tower’s top floor window at a man riding toward the house. I sensed that the woman mistook the approaching rider for an old lover.
It took a while for me to get around to writing the short story, “Wren’s Perch,” about a goodhearted Iowa man who marries a broken-hearted woman. It turned out to be a personal favorite of mine and was a 2019 finalist for Western Writers of America’s Spur Award. It still gives me a little shiver when I remember passing that farmhouse and having the elements of Albert and Lydia’s story rush into my conscience … as if they were waiting for me to drive by.
I often tell friends and family members who are about to embark on road trips to “look for something you’ve never seen before,” even if the route is familiar. After all, I had driven past that Iowa farmhouse dozens of times, taking my parents to their lake cabin in Minnesota. But one day, it told me a story.
Because I’m so thrilled to be with you all today, I’d love to give away TWO books. The story I just talked about, “Wren’s Perch,” is included in Five Star Publishing’s anthology, The Trading Post and Other Frontier Stories (with other fine short fiction from heavy-hitter Western writers like Michael Zimmer, Johnny D. Boggs and Matthew P. Mayo). Also, I’ve released a collection of all Vonn McKee stories called Comanche Winter and Other Stories of the West.
If you don’t happen to win a copy of either book, here’s are links to purchase:
I’m writing my blog post this month from Aladdin, Wyoming. Population 15. Yep, 15. My daughter, myself, and two fellow authors bumped the population up when we arrived last Wednesday. So far, we’ve met over half the town! There’s a hundred year old general store and a little cafe where we had breakfast, visited with the locals, and got some good inspiration for future stories. We’re in this neck of the woods for the fourth annual Wild Deadwood Reads in Deadwood, South Dakota. It’s a fun-filled book event held at the same time as Wild Bill Days in the famous town. It also fills up the local hotels which is why we’re staying 45 minutes away in Aladdin.
But I know what you’re thinking. “What about the fork?” Well, as some of you know, I spent the month of May and part of June taking care of my little sister who had a hip replacement. The poor thing had a tussle of a time for a while but is now pleasantly on the mend.
I have two sisters, one older, one younger. My younger sis, Marijo, and I share a house and so, as sisters do, we tend to play jokes on one another. One on-going joke involves one of her son’s old plastic cowboys. Black Bart. I think he once had a parachute judging from some funny little plastic do-dads attached to his sides. Who knows? All I know is he shows up in the darnedest places! My shoes are a popular hiding place for Bart, and he likes to find himself in my sister’s pillow case. Sometimes he’s in the medicine cabinet or hiding behind Marijo’s shampoo in the shower. But lately, Bart has ventured further.
He was seen studying a bank in Spokane! Oh no! And then he found his way to Mount Rushmore with a few Western Romance authors! He had coffee here in Aladdin with some real cowboys and even showed up at the book signing in Deadwood! My how the little fellow gets around. I wonder if my sister has noticed that he’s missing? She will once a few pictures start getting posted!
But what does this all have to do with a silly fork? Well, my sister has a favorite. It’s one of the few pieces left from our mother’s original sterling sliver flatware set she got shortly after she and our father were married. Marijo’s been looking for that fork and can’t figure out how it could be missing. Little does she know Frankie the Fork (my daughter and I named him) has been traveling with Bart and being led into a life of crime! Oh no!
When your daughter is in film, you can do things like this. We’ve been taking shots of Bart for days and are just now filming Frankie the Fork’s scenes. It’s silly, I know, but this is something that will be laughed about for years. By the time Frankie and Bart make it home to Oregon, who knows what adventures they will have shared?
These bits of silliness were all some folks had back in the day. Some jokes were elaborate, some simple and cute, but cowboys, businessmen, ranchers, lawmen, you name it, all loved a good joke when they heard one. And some loved pulling them on others. Makes you wonder what a good prank consisted of between cowboys, doesn’t it? Here are just a few jokes from back in the day:
1870: While passing a house on the road, two Virginia salesmen spotted a “very peculiar chimney, unfinished, and it attracting their attention, they asked a flaxen-haired urchin standing near the house if it ‘drawed well’ whereupon the aforementioned urchin gave them the stinging retort: ‘Yes, it draws all the attention of all the d***** fools that pass this road.’ ” Daily Milwaukee News, May 21, 1870
1872: A man said to a preacher, “That was an excellent sermon, but it was not original.” The preacher was taken aback. The man said he had a book at home containing every word the preacher used. The next day the man brought the preacher a dictionary. Daily Phoenix, April 4, 1872
1888: There was a man whose last name was Rose. As a lark, he named his daughter Wild, “with the happy conceit of having her called Wild Rose.” But that sentiment was “knocked out” when the woman grew up to marry a man whose last name was Bull. Weekly Journal-Miner in Prescott, Ariz., May 23, 1888
1899: A man got up one morning and couldn’t find his alarm clock, so he asked his wife what had become of it. She said, “It went off at 6 o’clock.” Salt Lake Herald, April 27, 1899
Have you played jokes on a sibling or friend? Have you a favorite joke? We’ve been having a great time with Bart and when he and Frankie have their film debut I’ll try to post it on my Facebook for all to see. I’ll also give a free e-book of mine of choice to one of the commenters below! I’ll be on the road when this posts but will drop in and comment when I can!
Summer seems like the most patriotic time of the year in general, doesn’t it? We kick off the summer months with Memorial Day in May. Poppies are worn in remembrance of veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day in November.
On June 6, we are reminded of the sacrifices made on a faraway beach in Normandy that resulted in many deaths in WWII, but turned the tide for the Allies and helped us gain victory. June 14th is Flag Day, a fine “tune up” for our huge 4th of July celebration that’s right around the corner.
Is anyone more patriotic than a cowboy? I don’t think so! So many country and western songs have been written through the years that are a tribute to not only our troops, but to first responders, and to all the “regular” American people who love our country.
Here is my list of top country and western patriotic songs, compiled from several on the internet—all different, but all wonderful—and all with one thing in common: our love for our country. These are in no particular order. I don’t know how anyone could choose one over the other since they all are products of excellent songwriting and musicianship—and heartfelt sentiments about America! And goodness knows, I didn’t list them all here—no room! Like I said, there are a lot of patriots in the country music field, and a huge number of songs to listen to in order to get in the patriotic spirit of things! I’ve included the youtube links in case you want to pop over and give these a listen!
This first one is an odd one, but I just love it. It was recorded by David Ball, who didn’t have that many hits, but this one will stay in your memory when you hear it for the very first time. I get chills every single time I hear it. A young man buys a ’66 Corvette and discovers a letter in the glove box “My name is Private Andrew Malone, and if you’re reading this I didn’t make it home…” Which always makes me think about so many young men who could have written this following line…“For every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true…” It’s called RIDING WITH PRIVATE MALONE and it has a very twisty ending you’re sure to love!
Probably the most recognized country song that many call our “unofficial” American anthem was written and performed by Lee Greenwood—GOD BLESS THE U.S.A. Written in 1983, it’s become synonymous with patriotism, and is loved by countless Americans, whether they are typical country and western fans or not. Its simple message is one that grabs you and holds on, and I have to admit, that even after nearly 40 years of hearing it, I still get teary! “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me—so I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, for there ain’t no doubt I love this land—God Bless the U.S.A.!”
Another “oldie but goodie” is Merle Haggard’sTHE FIGHTIN’ SIDE OF ME, written in 1970. Oh, goodness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my husband play and sing that back when we used to have our band…fond memories, and it was a song that was a frequent request, whether we lived in West Virginia or here in Oklahoma. “If you don’t love it, leave it, let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’—when you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me…” I love the sentiment of this song. In true “Merle” fashion, he’s saying that we can disagree on things without trashing our country. I think everyone in the audiences we played to knew the words to this song!
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? is not a “patriotic” song in the way we’d normally think of one, but it was not written during normal times. Penned by Alan Jackson in 2002 after the horrific events of 9/11/01, this song is packed with emotion and validates the many thoughts and feelings that Americans went through during the aftermath of that day. Each chorus of this song ends with the reminder that God’s greatest gift to us is love—even though we were going through some horrendous times. This song was nothing short of a masterpiece that drew Americans together, gave us hope, and let us know we were not alone in our feelings.
In 1974, Johnny Cash wrote RAGGED OLD FLAG, a recitation about all the incidents that happened to “the ragged old flag” that hangs in a little town’s courthouse square as told to a town newcomer by one of the old men who lives there. “She’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…on second thought, I guess I do like to brag, cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag!”
8TH OF NOVEMBER, another patriotic song written about the Vietnam war, is performed by Big and Rich. It is the true story of a terrible battle in which the 173rd Airborne was engaged. That day, 48 Americans died with very few survivors when they were ambushed by 1200 Viet Cong. “With the fire rainin’ down and the hell all around there were few men left standin’ that day…”
There are countless others, in case you want to put together a country and western playlist for your big Independence Day shindig! Take a look!
SOME GAVE ALL by Billy Ray Cyrus
LETTERS FROM HOME by John Michael Montgomery
HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? by Darryl Worley
IF YOU’RE READING THIS by Tim McGraw
HOME by Dierks Bentley
I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK by Lee Brice
FOR YOU by Keith Urban
IT’S AMERICA by Rodney Atkins
FLYOVER STATES by Jason Aldean
COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN) by Toby Keith
WHERE THE STARS AND STRIPES AND THE EAGLE FLY by Aaron Tippin
AMERICAN SOLDIER by Toby Keith
THE BALLAD OF IRA HAYES by Johnny Cash
This isn’t all of them, either! Hope you all have a very happy upcoming 4th of July with family, friends, and loved ones. What’s your favorite country and western patriotic song, and why? It’s hard to pick just one!
He and another brother, Kevin, showed up to claim their inheritance left them by a father they’d believed died twenty years ago.
Naturally they’re confused and angry.
They arrive to find a third brother who was supposed to inherit half his mother’s ranch–but his no account father inherits it when their ma dies, but never makes any use of it. Let’s Wyatt and sister Cheyenne do all the work while he lazes away and wanders near and far.
Wyatt was supposed to split the ranch with Cheyenne. Instead his older half-sister is cut out completely and this two ‘surprise’ brothers get a third along with Wyatt.
Cheyenne is so mad she’s dangerous to be around.
And even so, she’s drawn to Falcon and he to her.
But Falcon has amnesia. Every time he tries to remember his head hurts until it almost knocks him down. But he’d fighting to remember and flashes of memory make him worried he’s abandoned a wife just like his father. Too bad he got that flash of a wife while he held Cheyenne in his arms…and called her Patsy.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been hunkered down there when a movement to his right brought his head up, his eyes were almost blurred through the pain.
“Are you bad off?” Kevin rushed to his side and dropped to one knee.
Falcon’s wavering memories slammed shut. Falcon wanted to swing a fist into Kevin’s face and tell him to go away.
Then he thought of what Kevin had just said, and the voice he’d said it in.
“Did you say, uh, once-once s-say,” his memory waivered, “Did you ever say ‘Pa is that you?’ I mean say it to me…ever?”
Kevin’s cheeks turned a ruddy color. One corner of his mouth turned up in an embarrassed smile. For some reason the expression helped Falcon push aside the pain in his head.
“Yep, when you stepped off the train.” Kevin gave Falcon a sharp look, worried, checking him over. Then he rose to his feet. “For just that one second, with you turned mostly away from me, you looked so much like my pa. Uh, our pa, a man I hadn’t seen for twenty years, that I let those words loose. I knew even as they left my mouth you were too young.”
“And you knew Pa was dead, the will and such.”
Kevin gave a little one-shouldered shrug. “Considering I’d known pa was dead for most of those twenty years, and I’d just found out he was dead again. Seeing you and not being all that sure he was dead was easy to flicker though my mind.”
“Is your head still sore? Is it worse? You’ve been moving and acting like you’re feeling fine—except for losing your memory—”
“Yeah,” Falcon interrupted, “Except for that.”
Kevin smirked. “Anyhow, except for that, I thought you were pretty well off. But now you look like you’re hurting bad.”
Falcon didn’t like talking about how weak he felt when he was hunting inside his head. A man needed to hide if he was weak. The weak were prey. Supper. Animals and people were both dangerous. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the kitchen arguing?”
“I reckon. But I can’t add much to it, and they’re yelling just fine without my help.” Kevin reached a hand down to Falcon, who, after thinkin’ it over a bit, took the hand and let Kevin haul him to his feet.
It was a good strong yank. Falcon was eye-to-eye with his brother. Their eyes matched. They both had a little dip in the center of their chin. Beyond that, they didn’t look much alike. Falcon was an inch or so taller than Kevin. Probably broader. They both had brown hair but Falcon’s was darker, straighter.
“When you went missing,” Kevin swallowed hard, “when we thought you were dead, it made me sad to think a brother I never knew, was now a brother I never would know.”
Kevin clapped him on the shoulder and it was a gentle slap. Kevin was acting like Falcon was fragile. Prey. Though Kevin didn’t seem to be hunting.
Falcon met his gaze. “A brother. And you had a little sister and brother. I-I don’t think I had anyone else. Except, I think…a wife.”
“A wife?” Kevin’s brows arched.
“I had a flash of memory. Patsy. I can see her face and a cabin. We were married I think. Were or are married.”
“You don’t remember anything else?”
“I remember I had a mule named Harvey, and I remembered a man’s voice, you I guess, sayin’, ‘Pa, is that you?’”
“That was when you stepped off the train in Bear Claw Pass. You came out here on the train, and arrived the same morning I came riding in with my family. And you heard what Tuttle said about Independence. So you had a run-in with him back there.”
“And then I went missing later that day I got off the train?”
“Did I say anything else?”
Kevin stood quiet, thinking. “When I said, Pa, is that you. You said, “Ain’t no one’s pa, Mister.”
Falcon straightened. “I said that?”
“So, I didn’t abandon my children?”
That struck Kevin into a dead quiet. All there in his eyes. That their pa had abandoned them. That Falcon didn’t want to be that kind of man. “Have you been worrying that you might’ve done that?”
Falcon shrugged, but he was feeling better. The pain lessening in his head and his heart. “I thought of Patsy’s name when I was—was—” He snapped his mouth shut. He must’ve taken a beaten on his head to’ve almost blurted that out.
Falcon didn’t know what he must look like but it had to be tellin’ Kevin something. And suddenly Falcon was glad he had a brother, because maybe talking to a brother would help him a little.
He looked at the door to the hallway which led to the kitchen. Plenty of squabbling in there still. Dropping his voice, looking between the door and Kevin, he said, “I thought of Patsy’s name, said it out loud, when I-I,” he cleared his throat ’cuz it was clogging shut. “When I had my arms around…Cheyenne.”
Kevin staggered back, caught himself, his eyes round as twenty-dollar gold pieces. Whispering didn’t hide the shock. “You and Cheyenne?”
Falcon nodded. Afraid now she’d somehow heard and would come charging into this room looking to pound on him worse than the rocks in that stream had. He’d already lost his whole past. What else did he have to lose?
“And called out another woman’s name after?”
Honest, it was more during, but Falcon didn’t see any reason to mention that. Bad enough he’d thought of another woman, but to have said her name out loud—and now Kevin saying it out loud, it all helped him feel even worse. Which surprised him because he wouldn’t’ve believed he could feel much worse.
“And you’re still alive?”
Falcon was alive. He was standing right there. And still… “I’m a little surprised myself.”
Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.
Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future.
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