Creating A Town Map

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Those of you who are familiar with my Texas Grooms books know that it’s a 10 book series. But it wasn’t always conceived to contain so many books. I originally wrote the first book under the title Lady’s Choice for Leisure Books, an imprint of the now defunct Dorchester Publishing Company.

Several years later my editor at Love Inspired Historicals somehow got hold of a copy and loved it. When she learned I’d reacquired the rights she asked if I’d be willing to rewrite it to fit within LIH guidelines. Since I really love the characters in this book it was a no brainer – of course I said yes.

Once I turned that one in, with the new title Handpicked Husband, she asked what I thought about developing stories for each of the three strong secondary characters that appeared in the book. I gave her an excited YES! response and the Turnabout Grooms series was born. At that point it was supposed to be a four book series. But as I wrote those other three books the community of Turnabout really came alive for me and my imagination kept weaving stories for other characters who lived there. And my editor agreed to let me explore the possibilities. So I happily wrote additional stories set in Turnabout right up until the time Love Inspired closed the Historical line.


But all of that is backstory.  What I wanted to talk about today was some of the things that go into tracking the details for a multi-book series. Since this one wasn’t originally conceived as a series going in, I was a little behind the curve  putting my series bible together.

Of course, I’ve always tracked information within a book – I document all the secondary characters who pop up in any of the books, no matter how minor a role they play.  This also includes animals – pets, horses, etc. And I have a spreadsheet that lists backstory events and milestones for my key characters. So it wasn’t to difficult to put all of the info from the books written to date together into one comprehensive series bible.

However, the deeper I got into this series the more I realized I’d need an additional document to keep track of the world I was building.  Because I found myself losing track of where the different residences and businesses were in relation to each other.  So after I finished the first draft of book three (A Family For Christmas) I finally bit the bullet and decided to draw up a town map.  I had to dig into all three books to get things laid out properly, and I found one or two inconsistencies that I had to take care of in the edit stage of the third book but I finally had a good working copy in hand. I initially drew it up by hand, but the nerd in me wanted to have it on the computer so I wouldn’t have to keep up with a piece of paper.

Since I already had an image creating/editing software package I pulled it out and went to work. I decided to keep it simple and use straight lines for the streets even though I pictured some of them as being more of the winding variety. Then I found some clipart I could use for the buildings and plugged them in.

Once I finally had it set I was not only able to use it as a visual reference as I wrote new books set in Turnabout, but it was easy to update as I described additional residences and business/landmarks in those other books.

It’s not fancy and it’s by no means drawn to scale, but it helped me keep the relative positions of everything straight.

If you’re interested in taking a peek at my map, you can find it at this link:

And speaking of my Texas Grooms series, Harlequin has been gradually reverting the rights to some of those books back to me and I’m repackaging and reissuing them as I can. I’ve also renamed the series from Texas Grooms to Turnabout Hearts.

In December I released His Christmas Matchmaker (formerly titled The Holiday Courtship) and just last week I released Her Tailor-Made Husband (formerly titled A Tailor-Made Husband).

I still have several copies of these books under the old titles that I’d like to find a home for. So leave a comment – let me know how important it is to you that the author is consistent in those sort of details from book to book or if you really don’t notice.

His Christmas Matchmaker

A guilty secret…   Vowing to put her past behind her, schoolteacher Janell Whitman has resigned herself to spinsterhood and she’s erected walls to guard her heart from all but her pupils.

A solitary heart…   Hank Chandler is quite comfortable with his uncomplicated bachelor life. But when he suddenly finds himself the guardian of his orphaned niece and nephew he knows all that that will have to change. Not only do the children need a mother’s love, but he’s not fit to be a single parent. So he’ll need to marry quickly, whether he wants to or not.

A Christmas bargain…   Seeing their need, Janell impulsively reaches out to help the hurting Chandler family. But when Hank proposes a businesslike marriage she draws the line at becoming his wife. She softens her refusal, however, with a counteroffer – she’ll take care of the children after school and help him find an appropriate wife in time for Christmas. After all, how hard can it be?



Her Tailor-Made Husband

What she needed was a clean break. what she got was a fake engagement.

Hazel Andrews has been in love with Ward Gleason since she was an adolescent. Her admiration and attraction for him have only grown over the years as she sees his dedication and integrity in action. Ward, however, continues to see her as only a friend. Frustrated, Hazel decides it’s time for a change and accepts her aunt’s invitation to join her in New York. But fate has other plans…

Ward Gleason had to grow up quickly. Man of the house by age ten, he took on all the responsibilities of a grown-up, including guilt over a family tragedy. Now serving as sheriff, Ward is determined to do the people of Turnabout proud. When he finds an abandoned child, he knows he’ll need help caring for the five-year-old until her situation is resolved. Hazel seems the perfect person to watch little Meg during the day, but when he learns of Hazel’s plans to leave Texas, it’s more than disappointment that settles in Ward’s gut. Could his feelings toward Hazel have deepened without him realizing it?



Winnie’s Winner!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment on my Favorite Christmas Candy post – loved reading all of your responses! Sorry I’m so late selecting a winner but the birth of a new grandson had me a bit distracted 🙂

Anyway, I threw all the names in a cyber hat and randomly selected


Congratulations Nicole. Just let me know which backlist title you’d like to have along with your mailing address and I’ll get it on out to you.

And since I’m late getting this out and the ornament may not arrive in time for Christmas, if you’d prefer to have a $5 Amazon gift card instead, just let me know.

My Favorite Christmas Candy

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Whenever my BIG South Louisiana family gets together there is always, among other things, lots of amazing food. And that includes sweets. There are pecan pralines, coconut pralines, divinity, cookies, bars, fudge, fruit candies, brittles and novelty treats for the little ones like these gnomes and reindeers.

But one of my personal favorites is just plain old fashioned peanut butter fudge. Partly because it brings back such great memories for me. It is one of the first things my mom taught me to cook.  I remember her standing over me and my younger sister as we made batches of this sweet treat.  Sometimes it didn’t turn out quite right and we had to eat it with a spoon. And I’ll let you in on a secret – I actually enjoyed eating it this way and on a few occasions I deliberately sabotaged the batch so that it wouldn’t harden properly.  🙂

Anyway, here is the recipe – it’s very sweet so unfortunately I can’t eat it with as much abandon as I once did. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.


Shirley’s Peanut Butter Fudge


  • 3 cups sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 cups milk
  • 5 cups peanut butter (either creamy or chunky)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • In a heavy 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar and salt
  • Stir in milk
  • Over a medium heat, stir constantly until mixture reaches a bubbly boil.
  • Continue to boil without stirring until mixture reaches a soft ball stage or 234 degrees.
  • Quickly stir in peanut butter until well mixed.
  • Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla – DO NOT STIR
  • Cool to 110 degrees.
  • Beat until fudge thickens and shine fades.
  • Quickly spread in a buttered 8” or 9” square pan.
  • Cool completely and then cut into squares.

So do you have a special treat that brings back memories for you?

I have several copies of The Holiday Courtship that I’d like to giveaway since I’m reissuing it under a new title and with a new cover so leave a comment and you just might end up with one of these.


Winnie’s Winners

Winnie Griggs here. I’m so sorry to be soooooo late getting the winners selected – I had internet problems then went out of town for a few days.

Thanks to everyone who dropped in to help me figure out what to name the twins in my new book. Y’all gave me a lot of good suggestions and a lot of thing to think about. Stay tuned for what I end up naming them.

But I threw all the names in a cyber hat and selected the following names:

Diana Hardt
Elaine Kiefer
Kathy Bailey

Congratulations to all of you.  You’ve won your choice of any of my books along with your pick of the ornaments pictured below.  Note – the ornaments will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, so list them in your order of preference.

Once you’ve selected your book and ornament, send the info, along with your mailing address, to me via my website or PM me on facebook.

Character Names

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. As I write this blog I’m getting ready to start work on a new book. I’ve done some pre-writing – thinking about my characters backstory, what’s hurt them in their pasts and what motivates them in the present and touched on what their goals are, but now I’m ready to put pen to paper, start the story, and really figure out who they are.

That is both a very exciting thing and a scary thing for me. Exciting because at this point there are so many fun and adventurous new possibilities stretching out in front of me. Scary because there is always that little niggling worry that I won’t be able to do justice to the story as I try to translate what’s in my head to the actual manuscript.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. This book will feature twin sisters – one will be the heroine of this book and one will be the heroine of a future book. I’ve been trying to name these two ladies and I’m finding it a bit more difficult than usual.

Do I give them similar sounding names like Amanda and Miranda, Hilda and Wilda, Annabel and Isabel, Connie and Bonnie.  Or maybe I should go with themed names like Ruby and Opal, Summer and Autumn, Daisy and Lily, Iris and Rose, Fern and Ivy, Flora and Fauna, Scarlet and Violet? Or just name them like I would any other siblings? After all I have twin daughters of my own and deliberately didn’t chose matchy-matchy names – they are Lydia and Melissa.

There are other people as well as places and things I’ll need to name in these books of course.

There are the heroes naturally. Right now I am thinking I’ll name them Wyatt Hayes (a ranch hand) and Gavin Burns (a small town lawyer) but that may change as I figure out who they really are.  For the town name, I’m waffling between Larkin and Crossvine.  And one of them owns a dress shop – should I name it after her (Miss such-and-such’s Dress Shop) or after the town (Crossvine’s Fashion Emporium) or something altogether original (Purple Plume Fashions)?

But back to my dilemma over naming my twin heroines – what do you think, which approach should I take? And based on your answer, do you have any suggestions for actual names?

Give me your thoughts in the comments below and you’ll get your name in the hat to win a copy of one of my backlist books AND a fun Christmas ornament.

Fall Fun Facts and a Recipe

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today is the official first day of Autumn. That means the weather gets crisper, the days get shorter, the foliage gets more colorful and pumpkin spice can be found creatively added to any number of beverages and dishes.

Shanna’s post yesterday gave you lots of fabulous information on how to entertain and decorate with Autumn in mind (and if you missed it you really ought to go back and read it!) So today I thought I’d share some fun facts about Autumn and also provide a coy of one of my favorite recipes.

Autumn Fun Facts 

There have been some interesting statistics gathered about kids born in Autumn

  • They might live longer. This comes from a study conducted by the University of Essex in Great Britain. In fact they are statistically more likely to live to be 100 than those born in any other season
  • They are more likely to do better in school according to a Department for Education report that looked at the 2012-2013 school year.
  • They are also more likely to be taller and to excel at athletics. One explanation for this is that their mothers probably had much more exposure to sun when pregnant, which helped them produce more vitamin D, which in turn helped give their kids stronger bones.
  • But the news isn’t all good.
    One study conducted by National Jewish Health found that those born in Autumn have a higher risk of developing eczema, food allergies, hay fever and asthma in later years that those born during other seasons of the year.

One of the things people often mention  when speaking of why they like Autumn is the spectacular foliage. Here are some things related to that you may not know

  • Leaves don’t really ‘change colors’. The fall colors are actually always there, but their appearance is based on the amount of sunshine they get (or don’t get). Sunshine enhances the chlorophyll inherent in leaves, which is a natural chemical that makes them green. But with shorter days and less sunshine, chlorophyll isn’t produced as much, making the green fade and allowing the other colors to push through.
  • The depth of color you see in the Autumn is based on how much sugar and sap is trapped in the leaves – that’s why maple leaves are such a vibrant red.
  • Evergreen trees remain green throughout the winter because their leaves and needles are coated with a thick waxy substance and they contain materials that prevent them from freezing
  • Leaves fall from trees in the Autumn because of a hormone. As they are exposed to less and less sunlight they begin to produce a hormone that encourages the growth of a cell between the leaf and the stem. This basically forces the leaf to push away from the stem and fall off. And whatever doesn’t fall before winter arrives freezes and dies.

Okay, enough trivia. On to the recipe I promised you. Confession time – I LOVE soups. I can (and often do!) eat them several times a week year round. But soups are especially yummy and comforting as the weather turns crisper.  Below is a very hearty cold weather soup that I just love.

Taco Soup   


  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans whole kernel corn
  • 2 cans Rotel w/chilies
  • 2 cans pinto or kidney beans
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 pkg dry hidden valley ranch salad dressing


  • Brown meat with onion. Drain and return to pot
  • Add everything else to meat without draining vegetables
  • Simmer for at least one hour. Add water as needed


  • If salt is a concern you can find NO or LOW Sodium options for most of these ingredients
  • When serving you can  top with cheese, tortilla chips and/or avocado if desired
  • Leftovers can be frozen.

So did any of my Autumn fun facts surprise you? Do you have a favorite fall recipe you’d like to share? Leave a comment to be interested in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist as well as a fun surprise.


And you’re also invited to join me and the rest of the Love Train authors for a “welcome autumn” celebration today at The fun begins at 8 a.m. Pacific Time (9 Mountain, 10 Central, 11 Eastern). It will be a day full of fun, games, giveaways, and more!

It’s Game Day!

Hi all, Winnie Griggs here and I’m this month’s host for Game Day.  So I thought we’d play a little game of Caption This.

Simply select one (or more!) of the pictures below and create a caption for it.  Have fun with it – let your imagination run wild. There are no wrong answers – just be sure you indicate which picture your caption goes with  🙂

I’ll be picking 4 winners – each will get a $5 Amazon gift card and their choice of any of my books.

So Ready, Set, CAPTION!!






















































Winnie’s Winners!!


Thanks to everyone who stopped by this week to discuss favorite vacation memories with me – it was fun to read all your responses. I tossed all the names in a hat and pulled out these three:

Kathy Rader

Kia B

Teresa F

Congratulations to each of you – you’ve won your choice of any book from my backlist. Once you’ve decided which one you’d like to have, send the title along with your mailing info to me via the contact page on my website –

Jewelry Art and a Giveaway

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today I thought I’d do a post on one of my more recent hobbies – jewelry art.

I first stumbled on this when visiting a small town Texas festival. I walked inside one of the vendor booths and saw all of this beautiful metallic and bejeweled artwork everywhere. There were Christmas pictures that featured trees, wreaths and angels. There were romantic pictures that featured hearts, flowers and gowns. There were message pictures that featured names, occupations and short sayings. Everywhere I looked there was something new to delight the eye and each of them were entirely unique. And what made it even more fun was when I looked closer I could see that each picture was made up of dozens of pieces of jewelry.

I didn’t take pictures that day (and kicked myself for that later!), but if you want to see some examples, you can look HERE and HERE.

My mind immediately went to the box in my dresser where I tossed all of my broken jewelry, the earrings that no longer had matches and the beads and rhinestones that had fallen from their settings. At last! Justification for holding on to all those seemingly useless bits and bobs. And for the costume jewelry I no longer wanted.

The first thing I tried my hand at was a Christmas tree. While it didn’t come out as polished as some of the ones I saw at the festival I think it looks pretty good ?.

I’ve made several others since then but have given them away and don’t have pictures. But I also tried my hand at forming words which resulted in this Book Lover one.

I eventually ran out of jewelry and put the hobby aside. But I still look for inexpensive pieces when I’m in thrift stores or at garage sales and estate sales and am gradually rebuilding my stores. So who knows, I may give it another go soon.

So what do you think? Have you seen examples of this particular craft before? Have you tried it yourself? Would you like to?

I’ll select one person from among those who leave comments to send the Book Lover picture to. (And in the interest of full disclosure there are several glue stains on the backboard)


Winnie’s Winners


Okay, I admit it, I’m a doofus! I created and posted this winner notification then didn’t think anything more about it. Then a reader contacted me today and gently inquired as to whether I’d ever picked my winners. When I went back and looked I’d somehow future dated it so that it never actually showed up and wouldn’t have for quite some time.  So here it is, several weeks late, along with my sincere apologies

Hello y’all.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by Monday to comment on the excerpt of Texas Cinderella.  I tossed the names in the hat and drew out the following:


Nanci Katz


Vicki B

Congratulations!  Each of you have won your choice of any book from my backlist. You can find a list of them HERE.  (Or you can select the Texas Cinderella 2-in-1 volume)
Once you make your selection, use the contact button to send me the title and your mailing info.