Hope your day has been lovely and filled with all good things.
Well, we do have a winner for the free e-book, but before I announce the winner, let me tell you that the book is on sale at Barnes & Noble for a short time (September 7th) at a 25% discount. You would need a coupon and that coupon code is: BNP1892
So, even if you didn’t win this time, there’s still a way to get the book discounted.
A drawing was done and the winner is:
Congratulations, Lana. If you could please email me privately at karenkay(at)startmail(dot)com — we can get that book to you.
Many thanks for coming to the blog yesterday and leaving all your terrific thoughts. I so enjoy getting to know you all.
After I sold my first two books to Harlequin, I started seeing cool horseshoe stuff on Pinterest. Crosses, Christmas trees, reindeer, wine racks, even tables, benches, and chandeliers! I couldn’t do those things because they required welding. ? But there were other items that I thought, heck, I’m crafty. I can do that. Like the cross here that hangs on my patio. For my I “free choice” day, I’m going to walk you through how to decorate a horseshoe like the first simple one I made for my office.
The cool thing about this craft is you can make it simple like my first one or as elaborate as you want. It’s all up to you and your imagination. The other great thing is you can use those single beads you don’t know what to do with.
What you’ll need:
Horseshoe (old or new depending on your preference) nails removed
Feathers, pendants, charms or anything else you’d like to add
Ribbon (if you want a bow)
If I’m adding a bigger item in the center, like the cross and other dangle above, I select beads that coordinate with those. I found these at a local craft store for three or four dollars. I usually prefer a copper or dull gold wire that doesn’t stand out unless my embellishments are silver. I 20-gauge wire, but use whatever fits through your beads or what you have on hand.
Slip the wire through a nail hole and bend it to secure as in the above picture. Then just start playing with the wire and beads. To get the curls I wrap the wire around a regular pencil. (See below) For smaller curls, I’ve used those tiny screwdrivers. Keep adding bead, wrapping, and twisting until you get what you like. Add charms or feathers, and twine or wire in the center. Whatever you envision. It’s easy to undo something if you decide you don’t like the look.
Here’s how my demonstration has turned out so far. I can’t decide if it needs something else or not, but not bad for less than a thirty minutes working on it. You can either add twine, chain, or ribbon to hang your horseshoe. Or you can mount it on a board the way I did with the courage, strength, and hope one. I’ve seen horseshoes put on boards with great sayings such as “Ride…as far as your dreams will take you” or my favorite “Live like someone left the gate open.” I think that may be my next quick project. Just remember to hang your horseshoe with the open end up to keep the luck from running out and to allow it to be refilled!
To see the cool horseshoe designs and items I’ve found on Pinterest, click here.
If it’s a fortune to mail the horseshoe above for the giveaway, I’ll send the beads I wired, plus more wire and beads, the dream catcher and twine. You supply the horseshoe. Whichever, it will come with a copy of Roping the Rancher, my story set on an equestrian therapy ranch. To be entered in today’s random giveaway, comment on what you think of items made from horseshoes or what’s your favorite? Or, ask me a question about my directions if something wasn’t clear.
Now I’m off to see who offers a welding class. A horseshoe end table would be fantastic…
Hope your weekend was great! I must admit that with a new release, there is so much to do, I feel slightly scatterbrained. So please bear with me, if you please.
I will be giving a free e-book of my new release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, to one of the bloggers here today. I hope you’ll leave me your thoughts on the excerpt I’m about to give.
So, without too much fanfare, let me leave you the short blurb of the book and an excerpt.
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER
He rescued her from danger. Then she stole his heart.
Working as a trick rider for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Blue Thunder of the Lakota Nation joins forces with two Assiniboine warriors in their mission to stop a hidden enemy who means to destroy the American Indian people. As a child, he’d witnessed the massacre of his friends and family, including the girl, Sweet Flower, whom he’d vowed to marry. The loss has left him with a burning ache and a prejudice against the white man. So how can he fall for a woman like Marci Fox?
Something terrible happened to Marci when she was a child; something that keeps her from remembering her early life. She jumps at the chance to travel from England to New York with her friends working with the Wild West show. But a last minute hitch means the only way to get there is to pretend she’s married to Blue Thunder. Her attraction to him is deep, yet something stands in the way of true happiness—the ghosts from his past and his commitment to a mission that could get him killed.
But soon, Blue Thunder and his friends must discover who the true enemy is and stop his evil plans before he can harm more of their people. Could uncovering the treachery get Blue Thunder killed? And, even if he survives the threat, can Blue Thunder and Marci overcome their past and discover the sweet flower of true love?
Warning: A sensuous romance that might stir one’s heart to look for, discover and ignite a soul-stirring, forever love.
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER
It was around ten o’clock in the evening, and the show’s last performance of the day was over for the night, although the arena was still lit. It was interesting to see how the new electric lightbulbs could throw such a glow over the performance area. Looking outward and up, Marci could barely see any stars, for the reflection of the light dimmed the brilliance of the stars and moon.
It was a cool, clear evening, though it was also humid, and, as Marci sat on the bleaching boards which were sheltered under the canvas tarp, she thought back to their performance this evening. Her own and Blue Thunder’s performance had, once again, gone over well with the audience. And, this time both she and Blue Thunder had stayed behind after the others in order to accept the applause from the crowd.
At present, however, Marci was looking out upon the arena, and she was not pleased. She was seated in the southeastern section of the stands, in the third row up, watching as Blue Thunder and his friends performed an American Indian–style song. Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing while Iron Wolf accompanied them with his flute. Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder also appeared to be the ones who were setting the rhythm for the song, Wind Eagle utilizing a handheld drum and Blue Thunder shaking rattles.
But, it wasn’t their singing that bothered Marci. Indeed not. Rather, it was the usual crowd of women surrounding them who were causing her displeasure. Was the young lady whom Blue Thunder had “rescued” last night one of those girls?
Soon their song ended, and the young ladies stepped into the arena and flocked toward the three young men. Holding up their programs for an autograph, the women’s giggling and laughter sounded gay and free and could be heard all the way up to where Marci sat. However, their enthusiasm was causing the opposite sentiment within her. Worse, Blue Thunder and his two friends looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying the feminine attention.
As Marci sat on the sidelines frowning at them, she was engrossed in her own thoughts. Neither Luci nor Jane was here with her. Both of them were attending to and watching their children, and, although Luci also performed with the show, since she had given birth to her son, she had taken to hurrying home as soon as the show ended, leaving her husband to attend to their horses.
“They are most popular, are they not?”
So engrossed was Marci in her thoughts, she jumped at the sound of Shooting Star’s voice. She had almost forgotten that the pretty, young maiden had come to sit down beside her.
Glancing to the side, Marci smiled at the girl who had already become a good friend. Marci answered her question, saying, “Yes, they are quite popular.”
Astutely, Shooting Star stated, “But, it is easy to see they love their wives, and so there should not be jealousy.”
“No, there shouldn’t be,” agreed Marci as she glanced away from her friend. “But, sometimes I simply can’t help it.”
“I think it would be difficult for me to see all the girls around them, too, if it were my husband down there.”
“Yes, and look at the blonde woman.” Marci’s voice sounded hard, even to her own ears. “Do you see she is putting her hands all over my husband’s chest? She’s touching him everywhere as though she were making love to him in front of everyone.”
“Yet, he does not seem to like it.”
“Doesn’t he? I don’t see him shooing her away, and he is, after all, a man.”
“But, he knows he is your husband, and he has been brought up traditionally, and in the old ways. He loves you very much. A woman has only to witness the way he looks at you to know you are in his heart.”
Marci was silent. Yes, she was in his heart…in second place. True, he had confessed this almost from the beginning and without much fanfare, but this didn’t mean her heart was not now a little grieved over it.
But, she wasn’t about to tell this story to another person, even if Shooting Star might understand. He wasn’t to blame for feeling the way he did about Sweet Flower, anyway. He had loved and lost her, and it had happened in as terrible a manner as possible. She understood why he would still love the young girl from his past.
What she still didn’t understand was why he had escorted another woman home last night. Although he claimed his action was innocent and that he was only helping the woman and her escort, Marci still didn’t know what she was going to do about it…or about him.
As she glanced down into the arena, she could see the young lady—a pretty blonde—still touching Blue Thunder, and, although he wasn’t acting in a return fashion, he also wasn’t putting her away from him or turning his back upon her.
Marci could no longer watch this without feeling a seed of revolt rising up within her. And, when the blonde began to touch him in a downward fashion, her fingers moving toward his breechcloth, Marci stood up, ready to leave. She couldn’t stay here and watch this; she also couldn’t interfere down there without causing a scene.
Or could she? Why shouldn’t she create a stir? Indeed, why shouldn’t she let all these women know she had a rightful claim upon this man? She wouldn’t be spiteful or mean about it. She would simply let it be known.
“Are you going somewhere?” asked Shooting Star, looking up at her.
“I am,” answered Marci. “I’m going down there to stand next to my husband.”
Shooting Star giggled. “This is an excellent idea. If I were the one having to endure this, I think I would do the same. Indeed, I think I will sit here and watch. I might learn something.”
Marci laughed. “Unless you’d like to come with me.”
“Thank you, but no. I will enjoy looking on as the other girls come to understand he is not free to give his love.”
Marci grinned at her friend, then, looking forward, she stepped toward the stairs which led down into the main arena.
It didn’t take Marci long to find her way onto the field and become part of the crowd of girls surrounding the three men. Threading her way through the throng toward Blue Thunder, she eventually came to his side, and, with the blonde on one side of him and she on his other, Marci stepped in toward him as closely as possible and said loudly, “Do you see how they ooze all over you?”
He looked down at her and grinned. “I am glad you have come here, my wife.”
“Wife?” The word echoed on the air around these young women.
Marci placed her hand upon Blue Thunder’s arm and murmured in as husky a voice as she could manage, “I am tired of hearing these people talk about how handsome you are, and oh-so strong.” Marci looked up at him, fluttered her eyelashes and frowned. “And the gifts they bring you. ‘I will have to bake you a cake so you will notice me…or maybe I’ll make you an apple pie.’ And then they hug you like this.” She cuddled up to him.
Although Blue Thunder was still signing the programs from the young women around him, he broke out with laughter. “How could I not notice you, my wife?”
“I don’t know,” she replied in a smooth voice. Looking toward the other side of him, she noticed the young and pretty blonde had ceased to caress him and had even backed away. “You seem to be able to do it well, my husband.”
“Indeed, this is not so.” He was still laughing, although, after a moment, his chuckling turned to a smile.
“It is how I see it,” said Marci.
“Then let me show you how I see it.”
These words, however, did not prepare her for what happened next. After Blue Thunder finished signing a program, he turned to Marci, took her in his arms and swung her around and around, even within the crowded space.
Settling her down in front of him, he murmured, “Tell me now that I take no notice of you.”
“I cannot do it now, my husband.”
“I am glad to hear it,” he said. “But”—he smiled at her suggestively—”I think we should leave here at once and attend to other ‘things.'”
“No,” she replied easily as she scooted out of his arms. “Not tonight. Maybe not tomorrow night, either. But, there are others here who seek your attention, if you dare to challenge the convictions of my Faith again this night and accompany one of these women home….”
Again, her comment was met with a round of Blue Thunder’s laughter, which appeared to be contagious, for she heard other masculine hilarity, as well. Marci looked quickly around the crowd and could see that both Wind Eagle and Iron Wolf were trying without much success to contain their own good humor.
“Do not bother coming home,” she warned Blue Thunder, “unless you intend to sleep outside our lodge…again.”
Although she knew she was teasing him relentlessly, she was yet surprised when he gave her highly-padded rear end a quick whack with one of the programs he held. When she turned around to scold him, she was met with his much-too-handsome and crooked smile. Indeed, so caught up was she with his good looks, she forgot what she had been about to say, and, instead of speaking at all, she turned her back on him and gave her long hair a quick shake as she walked away, ensuring her hips were properly wiggling.
His laughter was like music to her ears.
Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Please do leave me your thoughts and please do come on back tomorrow evening to see if you have won the free e-book.
On sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, ITunes and Google Play.
We’re very thrilled to have author and rancher Natalie Bright visit and tell us of her observations about the cowboys of yesterday and today. There’s little difference it seems. She has a new cookbook out full of recipes they serve to the men on the Sanford Ranch. Nobody appreciates good food like cowboys! She’s also giving away a copy.
Thank you all for having me. It’s great to be back. Over a year and a half of research went into my most recent book about the history of the cattle driving era and the food of the chuck wagon. As I searched through countless archived images, I realized that the work cowboys did over 150 years ago continues today. My photos of the Sanford Ranch cowboys are almost identical. The traditions established then are still practiced.
In the early days, fences did not block the route from pastures to the railheads north. Neighboring outfits drove their combined herds to central locations and the trail drives usually consisted of thousands of head. Livestock was rounded up in early spring and branded to establish ownership. Charles Goodnight is credited as inventor of the chuck wagon used to feed cowboys during the months long drive to market.
On the Sanford Ranch we hold spring branding and the tradition of feeding the branding crews continues. These crews consist of seasonal dayworkers, skilled cowboys who travel from ranch to ranch providing extra labor during the busy times of spring and fall workings. A rope, a saddle, and a good ‘cowey’ horse remain the primary tools of the trade. Some ranches treat the cowboys at a local café, while others utilize an SUV or cook trailer to carry food to the pasture. We have an actual cookhouse on our ranch, and we employ a cook who relies on friends and volunteers who enjoy being a part of branding every year. Here are some pictures I took of our cookhouse and branding season.
After breakfast, everyone is saddled and ready to go before first light. Instead of the grit and grime of a trail drive over thousands of miles, horses and riders are transported by pickup truck and trailer. The Ranch foreman makes assignments and explains the route, just as the trail boss did long ago.
A cow’s way of thinking hasn’t changed much in 150 years, and the necessary work of a cowboy remains. The most efficient positioning of driving a herd of cattle is still in practice today. The point man rides in front of the few older cows who naturally become leaders, flankers are on either side and the drag riders follow behind in ‘the dust of the drag’, as it’s called.
Ownership of livestock and land was respected and held in high esteem then as it is now. Our pastures are large, several sections in size (a section equals 640 acres) and the fence line neighbor is notified when we gather. If we have any of their strays, then they can pick them up or we deliver them back home.
I’m the photographer on the ranch and you’ll see me with a camera when I’m out. I love this ranch life and the way I see it I’m recording history and trying to make sure it doesn’t get lost.
My newest book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, is classified as cookbook but it contains so much more. Along with history and photos, the book includes over 100 recipes from authentic cow camp meals to modern recipes from our own cookhouse. You don’t need a fire pit or a chuck wagon. You can prepare these dishes in your own kitchen…and you can bet they’re all cowboy approved. (Click on the cover to go to Amazon.)
In my new western romance series, THE WILD COW RANCH, my co-author Denise and I include some of these long-held traditions of cattle ranching as well as the small-town sense of community and faith. Elements that are very much alive today. (Click on the picture and it’ll take you to Amazon.)
What interests you the most about the American cowboy and the cattle ranching legacy?
For a chance to win a FREE copy of my cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, please leave a comment below. And if you enjoy pictures of cows and the Texas sky, follow me on Instagram @natsgrams #sanfordranch and Pinterest.
One question authors get asked all the time is where do you get ideas for your stories. No, you don’t have to worry that if you tell me about running into your old high school crush I’m going to use it in my book. Unless, well, if it’s a really good meet cute …
Never mind. Just kidding. I actually get a lot of my ideas from news articles or human interest pieces I read online. Sometimes, however, inspiration comes from a place I’ve visited.
Many years ago, when my kids were young, we took a trip to Bisbee, Arizona and toured the Queen Silver Mine. While there, I saw an old photo of a mule being lowered down into the shaft (mules were used to haul ore carts and often spent their entire lives in the mines). From that tour and photo came the inspiration for Her Heart’s Treasure. While researching that book, I came across an article about a horrific mining accident in Denver and that became the inspiration for my book, The Gate to Eden. Note: this was back in the days when I wrote Western historicals.
A few years after that, we were vacationing at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. One day, we took a tour of the (replica) Ponderosa Ranch and Western town TV set from the show Bonanza. The scenery was incredible, and my mind raced with ideas. Eventually, I wrote a three book series for Harlequin American titled Sweetheart, Nevada.
When I was a teenager, we used to stay at a Western-themed resort outside of Payson, Arizona called Kohl’s Ranch. As an adult, I frequently visit Payson and have returned to Kohl’s Ranch just to check it out. Of course, a story popped into my head. That story eventually became a four-book series called Bear Creek Ranch that was so thinly disguised I actually had readers email me to say they knew I’d used Kohl’s Ranch for my inspiration.
I could go one and on, but I think I’ll end with the McDowell Mountains. I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and lived for many, many years not far from the Sonoran Mountain Preserve. Once, while walking my dogs, I found myself gazing up at the mountains and wondering if any wild horses still lived there. Turns out, they do! That question launched a thirteen book series, the first one about a cowboy trying to save his ranch by capturing the last wild mustang roaming free in the mountains near my fictional town, Mustang Valley.
Wow. All this talk about places I’ve visited makes me want to travel again. It’s been too long. Wherever I wind up going, I’ll be sure to take my imagination. Who knows? I could be inspired with a story.
Now, what were you telling me about your old high school crush ?
Windbreaks are very important in our part of the country. We live on a bench where the wind can be relentless. Small buildings need to be anchored to the ground, or they blow away. Sometimes our house sounds like a wooden ship in high seas. Personally, I love it. Must be the Viking in me. My husband hates it.
Ranch animals spend the winters out in the open, and when the wind blows they take refuge behind a windbreak, be it natural or manmade. We have windbreaks in all of our pastures.
The picture below is of my horses and ponies during a January storm, taking advantage of the shelter.
They also enjoy the windbreak during the summer. I think of it as their bedroom.
It really is the new calves’ bedroom. When the weather turns, all the moms and babies bed down in the straw behind the windbreak and everyone is toasty warm.
But sometimes, the wind is too much. During our last storm, part of the calve pen windbreak went down. The railroad ties had deteriorated to the point that they broke off, which led to a full and rich Monday for my husband and me.
The first order of business is to assess damage. Yep. There’s a problem here.
Next we have to fetch new ties from the laydown yard, then use the auger to drill new holes. My job is to make sure the auger is straight and that it doesn’t wander while it’s going down.
After that, we take turns cleaning the dirt out of the hole. The auger only lifts out so much. The rest has to be removed by hand. If it’s dry, we have to pour water down the hole so that we can get a “grip” on the soil with the posthole digger.
Then the new tie is set in place. We use a level on two sides as we fill the hole and tamp in dirt to make sure it’s true. On a good day, we don’t have to go back to the house to get the level that we forgot.
After that, it’s a matter of re-attaching the boards to the new post, and then the windbreak is ready for another season of keeping the livestock safe and warm.
Do you want to know how happy I am that the windbreak blew down in August instead of February?
I’m having a give away today for a $15 Amazon gift card. To enter tell me about a your most recent unexpected repair. The winner, chosen by random drawing, will be announced on Saturday. Good luck everyone!