Ever have one of those weeks where every big project you could possibly be involved in falls into your lap at the exact same time? Yep. That’s where I’m at this week. Slammed at the day job, just got handed rewrites on the novel I turned in in August, have a deadline coming for a novella I’m about halfway through writing, and a proposal to refine for a new book contract. Not to mention all the other responsibilities that go along with kids starting school and soccer and marching band and . . .
I know I’m not the only one. We all have crazy weeks like this from time to time. And since my flood is merely metaphorical and nothing compared to what my fellow Texans along the gulf coast are experiencing, I have absolutely no room to complain. So instead of whining, I’m going to celebrate the fact that I have the privilege of being gainfully employed in two different spheres and have a house that is not buried underwater.
And since my favorite way to relieve stress and forget my responsibilities for a little while is to read, I thought I’d giveaway a handful of western romance books that I picked up at the RWA conference back in July. Many of these are autographed copies, so I know you’re gonna love ’em.
Also, for those of you who haven’t heard, I’ve started up a private Facebook group for my fans. I call it The Posse. This is not a promo group, so there are no requirements for joining beyond being a fan of my books. I picture it as a place where you can help me brainstorm characters and plots, where we can swap favorite reads, and discuss the pros and cons of corsets. (Just kidding on that last one, though I have tried one on as part of a historical workshop, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Ha!)
So here is what I’m giving away. Two winners will be drawn from those who leave comments. One winner will receive a pair of Joan Johnston novels and the other winner will receive three signed copies of great stories from authors Carolyn Brown, Lynette Austin, and Delores Fossen.
For a chance to win, tell me about your favorite way to de-stress.
The opening lines for The Two of Us go like this: “Mia Robinson couldn’t take her eyes off the man in a cowboy hat working a claw machine game, the kind where a child—or a boyfriend or father—put in a dollar and tried to grab a toy in thirty seconds or less.”
The picture of that cowboy has been in my head ever since my family and I drove cross-country from Los Angeles to Washington DC back in 1996. It was late when we stopped at a motel in Oklahoma and decided to grab dinner at a local coffee shop. You know the kind of place—slightly rundown, orange vinyl booths, paneled walls, and a row of games and candy machines by the front door.
The cowboy who strode in was tall, dressed in a black duster, and sporting a mustache that would have done Sam Elliot proud. Swaggering in dusty boots, he went straight to the claw machine game, cleaned out the toys, and passed out stuffed animals to all the kids in the restaurant.
I’ve tried to put this scene in a book several times, but it just didn’t work until I started The Two Of Us, a contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Echo Falls, Colorado.
The story opens in a coffee shop in Las Vegas, where Mia Robinson is worried sick about her eighteen-year-old sister. Lucy is pregnant and about to marry Sam Waters, a decision Mia finds questionable at best and disastrous at worst.
Mia, a nurse practitioner, is ten years older than Lucy and practically raised her. Mia is the responsible sister. She gets things done, saves lives, and is the person you’d want in any crisis. Lucy is . . . well, Lucy. She’s impulsive, fun loving, and generous to a fault.
Jake Tanner strides into that coffee shop just like my real life cowboy, except he’s a retired Denver cop who suffered a devastating loss. The bomb blast that left him hearing impaired also killed his female partner and left Jake to be a friend and big brother to her son, Sam. Sam is now 21, a college senior on an ROTC scholarship, and about to marry Lucy.
Jake supports the marriage. Mia? Well, not so much. Of course they don’t know about their connection when they meet and Jake charms Mia with a stuffed mother hen.
And so the story begins . . . I’m so glad I could finally give that Oklahoma cowboy a place in one of my books. He’s lived in my imagination for a lot of years. Wherever he is, I hope he’s still cleaning out claw machine games and putting smiles on the faces of children, their parents, and maybe a special lady of his own.
To celebrate cowboys and romance, let’s give away three copies of The Two Of Us.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below.
Have you ever seen anyone actually pull a toy out of the claw machine game?
What games do you enjoy?
I admit to being addicted to Cookie Jam!
And last, a big thank you to the Fillies for inviting me hang out today.
It’s always a pleasure to visit one of the best western blogs online!
Victoria Bylin is known for tackling tough subjects with great compassion. In 2016, Together With You won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary Romance.
Her other faith-based stories include historical westerns and
Learn more about Victoria and her books at http://www.victoriabylin.com
The rest o’ you ought not give up hope. Miss Jodi will be at the Junction the next 4 Sundays, giving away copies of each of her books in the series. Head on back, leave a comment, and your name just might be the next one drawn from my lucky Stetson. Yehaw!
Happy Monday! I am gearing up for the release of Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff in November. This book will wrap up my Heroes of San Diego Series. It will be hard to leave my friends, but new stories are waiting to be written. I thought I’d go back to the beginning and post a bit about the story-lines and how they are connected because at the end of my post I have a question for you…
The Angel and the Outlawwas my debut story, the “book of my heart,” that just begged to be written. When young, I loved the peninsula on Pt. Loma in San Diego where the old 1854 lighthouse stands. At that time, visitors could climb up the narrow circular stairs and walk around the catwalk. Not so anymore. In that story, a young woman from town dares to tutor the light keeper’s daughter who happens to be mute from a traumatic event in her past. Stuart is hiding out from the law and every bit a taciturn hero, but Rachel sees through his gruff exterior in the way he treats his daughter. When the law starts to close in on him, things get heated! (This book is NOT SWEET.)
The Gunslinger and the Heiress takes place fifteen years later and is the story of Caleb and Hannah ~ the two children from my first book. I had many readers write in and ask if Hannah ever got over her muteness. I loved writing this story which has a dash of adventure and piracy in the mix. Who knew there were pirates off the coast of California? I learned that fact while researching and just had to include it in my story. The story takes place as the Hotel Del Coronado is being finished. Caleb is a scrapper and a reluctant bodyguard for Hannah. He’s always loved her…but she is as far removed from him as the moon now that they’ve grown up.
Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs starts out in La Playa ~ a town on the harbor that is closest to the lighthouse (and where Rachel of Book #1 taught school.) Elizabeth is Rachel’s good friend and heading into spinsterhood. She runs the family mercantile and has all but given up on love since a soldier from the nearby Fort Rosecrans left her without a word. Four years later, he suddenly shows up again and twists her heart into a tangle. Of course, she does the same to him! This story follows them into the back country where Tom has been sent to make sure the gold shipment from the mines gets through to the bank safely. Only trouble is, Elizabeth is smack dab in the middle of the fray!
Christmas Kiss from the Sheriffwill be released on November 22nd! Gemma is Elizabeth’s good friend from La Playa who is the new school teacher in Clear Springs. Unbeknownst to the people of the mining town, Gemma is running from her past and has never taught a class in her life. When she skirts around a few questions and gets herself into a muddle at school, Sheriff Craig Parker becomes suspicious—so many things don’t add up about the beautiful new teacher. But she’s smart and independent and he is drawn to her!
As I write my stories, it always amazes me how the characters become “real” to me. I think of all these heroes and heroines as friends and wish I could meet them face to face. Weird, isn’t it? I guess it’s a writer’s mind…
My publisher, Harlequin, is having a big ebook sale (ending tomorrow the 25th of Oct.)
This is only the second time I have ever heard of Harlequin doing this, so it is a
My entire back-list is on sale for $1.99! I’ll leave you with a few links…
For a chance to win one of my back-list books just let me know which one sounds like the story you would most like to read!
Feel free to go to my website’s Books Page and read the summaries and excerpts.
Hello and Happy Wednesday! Today I’m in Florida, attending a writing conference and hanging out with my fellow authors. My husband is home packing the house for our move to Montana, which earns him a Great Guy Award.
Today I’m posting an excerpt from Catch Me Cowboy — Book 1 of Tule Publishing’s 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo series. For a chance to win a digital copy, leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about western romances. My favorite thing is the challenges rural people face in the course of their everyday lives and how they overcome.
CATCH ME, COWBOY
Shelby O’Connor heard gravel crunch under tires on the opposite side of the barn, but didn’t take her eyes off the horse circling her in the round pen. If she broke focus, so would the young gelding, and now that she’d made a small amount of headway in the respect department, she wasn’t stopping. She gently slapped the coils of rope she held against her thigh and waved a hand to urge the horse to trot faster. A truck door slammed and boots hit the ground.
Please be UPS.
If it wasn’t, she could handle it.
The round pen was set up behind the barn, to keep the horses from being distracted while Shelby worked them, but unfortunately that also kept her from seeing who’d just driven in to the Forty-Six Ranch. Just because she’d gotten a couple of heads up texts early that morning informing her Ty Harding was back in town, it didn’t mean he’d come to see her. Why would he? She’d made her feelings clear as glass when he’d left four years ago. Shelby raised her hand and the gelding flicked an ear and shot a look at her out of one eye as he trotted around the perimeter of the pen, a sign he was starting to focus on her instead of escape. Finally.
She slowly walked up to the horse, extending a hand and waiting until the horse bumped it with his nose. “You did good.”
She rubbed the gelding’s forehead before snapping the lead rope onto the halter and starting toward the gate, her heart thumping just a little harder as she crossed the sandy pen. Moment of reckoning. Who is our mystery guest today? Package delivery guy? Some lost soul looking for the nearly invisible turn-off to the River Road?
Her heart slammed against her ribs at the sight of the man who’d once been her whole world, leaning against his truck, the late morning sun behind him, looking every inch the cowboy he was. Dark hair escaped from beneath his Resistol and, even though the brim shaded his face, she could see his features were harder, more sculpted than before. Four years had changed him, but it had not dulled her reaction to him. Part of her wanted to rush into his arms, as she would have done before he’d so easily abandoned her, and another part wanted to smack him. Hard. Fortunately for both of them, the sane part of her prevailed, although it was a battle, and she kept her expression carefully distant as she crossed the drive.
She spoke on a flat note, as if her heart wasn’t beating a mile a minute— which it shouldn’t be. They’d tried to make a go of it once. Failed. If he was back to make nice so they could live together in the same community…fine. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but, hey…free country and all that.
“I am.” He shifted his weight, hooking a thumb in his belt, a sure sign he wasn’t as certain of himself as he appeared. But even when Ty wasn’t sure of himself, he was a formidable opponent. She knew from the confrontations they’d had when he’d asked her to come with him on the road. As if she could just leave grad school, her grandfather, and go. Right. It would have been easier for him to give up saddle bronc, or to ride only in the Montana Circuit instead of chasing the big titles. But no.
“And…?” Again she tried to sound polite, yet distant, as if he were an acquaintance who’d stopped by for an unknown reason. As if he hadn’t knocked her heart around, but good. He shrugged, those gray-blue eyes of his holding her, causing her to lift her chin as she came closer. Ty was tall for a bronc rider. Long and lean. Cowboy tough. And that had been the problem. He was cowboy tough and cowboy stubborn.
The gelding took a couple sideways steps when she came to a stop and Shelby automatically adjusted the lead, bringing the horse back to where he was supposed to be, standing with his head at her shoulder. She brought her attention back to the man in front of her… the man who wasn’t exactly bursting with explanations.
“Why are you here, Ty?”
“I’m back in Marietta for a while. I wanted to see you.” Direct. To the point. As Ty always was—when he talked about stuff. Good, because she was in no mood for polite games. She wanted him gone before her grandfather realized he was there.
“We have unfinished business, Shelby.”
The laugh burst out of her lips before she could stop it, startling the horse, who danced a few steps before stilling. “The business between us is long finished.”
Good luck! I’ll post the winner on Saturday, September 24th. Stay tuned.
It’s time for some more Filly Fun Facts. Are you ready???? Here we go…
Top 10 Things You Might Not Know About Me
I live next door to my in-laws . . . and LOVE it! From built-in day care for the kids when they were smaller to easy family meals together, to shared grills and shared newspaper subscriptions, having my husband’s family move in next door a decade ago was an unexpected blessing.
I once lost the diamond out of my wedding ring only to find it a day later (after searching everywhere at home and at work) when I pulled a tissue out of my bathroom tissue box. Somehow the stone had fallen into the box and when I pulled out a new tissue, I heard a tinkling sound and found the diamond on the counter. Never have I thanked God more for a runny nose!
My oldest child (my only daughter) is graduating from high school this year and she graduates on my 45th birthday. No, I won’t be feeling old or anything. I’ll be too proud of her as she gives her valedictorian speech. Smart and sassy, just the way I like my heroines.
Whenever I have free time (a very RARE commodity), I love to cross stitch. Here’s a set of simple cameo silhouettes I made for my editors a couple years ago for Christmas.
After 13 years of carrying around the extra pounds I gained with my last baby, I finally lost n 27 pounds last year, and so far have kept it off. Even with my frequent forays into the bowl of dark chocolate that resides in my living room.
I’ve ridden a mule in Bryce Canyon, swum with sea turtles in Maui, and when I was young and stupid, held a 13 pound boa constrictor around my neck. I recommend the first two but not the third.
I was a band nerd all through junior high and high school but switched to choir in college because of the boy I was dating. Ended up marrying that fella, and now we have our own harmonizing quintet on the church pew every Sunday. Love it! (Though, I’m raising band nerds at the same time. My daughter plays my old flute, my older son plays the French horn, and my youngest plays the trumpet.)
I don’t drink coffee. Ever. I know, I know. It’s shameful. Coffee’s supposed to be the elixir of life, right? Especially for writers. But I never developed a taste for it. I prefer a simple cup of Lipton hot tea sweetened with honey. Mmmmm.
I have a black thumb. Well, not literally. In respect to plants. I have a tendency to kill the majority of plants that have had the misfortune to come home with me. A few hearty ones have survived, like the aloe vera plant in the kitchen window that continues to survive despite my best efforts to do it in. And the roses on the side of the house have managed to pull through despite a run in with some sort of blight last year. I should post a sign on my back door that says, “If you contain chlorophyll, enter at your own risk.”
Even though I write historical romance, I hated history classes in school. Math was more my style. Maybe it was because my teachers always seemed to be coaches that got stuck in the history classroom, or maybe it was because all the textbooks emphasized wars and politics. Boring. Yet I loved historical novels. Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, THAT was the history I feel in love with. So when you read one of my novels today, you won’t find a plot that centers around war or political intrigue or even key historical events. No, my books are focused on people and the lesser known, yet meaningful aspects of life in 19th century that shaped their lives and their loves.
In fact, I’m giving one of those books away today. This story incorporates a lot of true facts from history, from the opening scene where the hero finds himself on a real-from-history steamboat that exploded in New Orleans to the epilogue where the hero and heroine honeymoon in England with a trip to the Great Exhibition where they make another real-life discovery. Mixing among these facts is a healthy dose of pirate lore, romance, and author imagination.
For a chance to win an autographed copy of Full Steam Ahead simply leave a comment and tell me which item from my top ten list surprised you the most. (Winner will be announced at the end of the week. US residents only.)
Please join us in welcoming Debbie Costello to the Junction today! Debbie will give away a copy of one of her books–Shattered Memories or Sword of Forgiveness–to one lucky reader. (Signed print book in continental US; ebook in other locations.) Let’s all say howdy to Debbie!
Thank you for having me on your blog today! I’m excited to be here. And though I haven’t published any westerns (yet) all of my stories whether medieval or 19th century have horses in them. I love horses. They are my passion as well as my husbands. So since I don’t have any westerns published I thought I’d share some things about horses today.
Have you ever been reading a book and the writer gives you a description of a horse that means absolutely nothing to you because you don’t own a horse or have ridden one? Sometimes we as authors have done so much research on a subject we talk about horses like everyone should know what we mean. Before my husband and I owned horses, much of the equine talk meant absolutely nothing to me. I’m still far from an expert! I learn things every time we are around our trainer or friends who were brought up on horses. Today I thought to give you a quick lesson on horse colors, facial markings, saddle equipment, and age terminologies.
Something that I didn’t know until I started searching for pictures is that according to geneticists every horse starts out either a chestnut or black which are the two base colors. The Bay color is when the Agouti gene (it can produce the black pigment on the mane, tail, lower legs, and ear tips) works on the black. The large range of all the other coat colors are created by additional genes’ action upon one of these three coat colors. This is a bit over my head since science is not my strong point.
I’ll start with the base horses. The first picture is a Black (obviously). And if you’re interested in breeds, this is a Friesian—beautiful horses.
And the colors go on and on.
Facial markings are another description often put in books. I’m only going to use the ones that are frequently used.
Moving on to saddle and riding apparatus. I had to use my boy Trigger again for an example. He’s such a good boy!
Bit – metal piece that goes in horse’s mouth. There are several kinds. Snaffle, curb, straight, etc.
Blanket- This goes under the saddle and gives cushion between the horse and saddle.
Bridle- Head gear that holds the bit in the horse’s mouth.
Cantle- back roll of the saddle seat. Nice to hold on to in a gallop!
Girth- This is the thick strap that goes under the horse and holds the saddle onto the horse.
Gullet- The area under the pommel.
Halter- There is no halter on Trigger but a halter looks much like the bridle except it doesn’t hold a bit. It is used a lot when doing ground work with a horse.
Horn- The knob that rises on the front of the saddle. (Another great thing to hold on to!)
Pommel- The roll on the front of the saddle that the horn is attached to.
Reins- The long ropes/leather straps hooked to the bridle and used for steering the horse.
Seat- The place where you sit.
Stirrup- The place to rest your feet and they do help keep you in the saddle.
Tack- Equipment used for horses.
Riding a horse bareback truly takes skill. You have nothing to keep you on the horses back except for your leg muscles, stomach muscles and balance.
And last is the termonology for the different ages of horses.
Colt- A male horse under the age of 4.
Filly- A female horse under the age of 4.
Foal- A male or female horse less than a year of age.
Gelding- A male horse of any age that has been castrated.
Mare- A female horse four years or older.
Stallion- A male horse four years old or older that has not been casterated.
Suckling- A nursing foal.
Weanling- A foal tht has been weaned.
Yearling- A male or female horse that is between the age of one and two years old.
Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children’s director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, She and her husband enjoy camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Visit Debbie Lynne at her website, Blog, Facebook , Google + and Twitter
Olivia Macqueen wakes in a makeshift hospital, recovering from a head injury. With amnesia stealing a year of her memories, she has trouble discerning between lies and truth. When her memories start returning in bits and pieces, she must keep up the charade of amnesia until she can find out the truth behind the embezzlement of her family’s business while evading the danger lurking around her.
Doctor Drew Warwick frantically searches through the rubble left by the Charleston earthquake for the lady who owns his heart. He finds her injured and lifeless. When she regains consciousness, the doctor’s hopes are dashed as he realizes she doesn’t remember him. But things only get worse after he discovers she believes she’s still engaged to the abusive scoundrel, Lloyd Pratt. Now Drew is on a race with the wedding clock to either help her remember or win her heart again before she marries the wrong man. Amazon
In the 1800s, I have a feeling spring weddings had something to do with the availability of beautiful flowers, and the (ahem) need for a wedding after the long, cold winter. Tomorrow is release day for Western Spring Weddingsof which my story,His Springtime Bride ,is roped with two other novellas, each involving a spring wedding. I am offering a print copy (or Kindle copy) to one lucky person leaving a comment today. (See guidelines on upper right of this page!) Here’s a little bit about the plot and an excerpt that occurs near the beginning of the story.
Released from prison, half-breed Gabe Coulter must work for his enemy to earn back the deed to his own ranch. But when his boss’s daughter, Riley Rawlins, returns home with a rebellious son after years away in the east, nothing will stop him from discovering the truth.
Riley no longer trust the man she once loved so completely. Years of old hurts and his violent past make it impossible to forgive and allow him back into her life or that of her son.
But one thing Gabe has is pure cowboy grit. Will it be enough to make Riley see that she and her son should a part of his future?
Excerpt ~ His Springtime Bride
“Name is Coulter. I want to talk to Frank Rawlins.”
“Johnson. Foreman.” His gaze narrowed and he scratched his scruffy dirt-colored beard. “Coulter? From around these parts?”
Gabe lifted his chin in acknowledgment.
“Most Injuns never make it to prison if they kill a white man. And if they do—they don’t make it out.”
Gabe stiffened. He’d heard the same thing before from guards at the prison—their tone much uglier. It wasn’t the only time his father’s blood had saved him, but it was the most important time. In a world where both whites and Indians looked upon him with suspicion, he had quickly learned to trust no one. He had fought it when he was young, trying to fit in, but it did no good. Now all he wanted was to be left in peace. Obviously, Johnson had heard of him and didn’t care about that.
“Then it’s a good thing I’m half-white. Tell him I’m here,” Gabe said. By his tone, he made it clear he wasn’t asking.
The foreman eyed him for a moment longer and then clomped up the steps and, after a sharp rap on the door, let himself into the house.
Three minutes later, Johnson ushered him inside.
Gabe had been in the house a few times when he was young. His folks had been invited to a ten-year wedding anniversary party for Rawlins and his wife. That’s when he’d first met Riley. He had been quiet and she had been all gangly tomboy arms and legs and talked up a storm. He remembered swinging on the rope swing that hung from the old oak in the side yard with her and a few other children. He had never seen blond hair before that, and each time he tried to touch her braids, she would whip them around just out of his reach to tease him. She laughed and the other kids laughed right along with her, which made him mad—mostly at his own awkwardness.
Had Riley ever come back to visit her father? Once she had loved the ranch and vowed never to leave, despite her mother’s schemes to position her for a rich husband back east. By now she probably had that rich husband along with a baby or two. With effort, he pushed his memories of Riley to the back of his mind. Thoughts of her would only complicate the confrontation ahead with Rawlins.
He squared his shoulders and followed Johnson. The foreman stopped in the hallway before the study and indicated Gabe was to enter. “No such thing as a half Injun,” he said, his eyes cold as Gabe passed by. “Bad blood taints the good.”
Rawlins sat behind a massive cherrywood desk, his expression inscrutable. He had to be in his early fifties now, with silver-streaked hair and black hawkish brows over striking blue eyes. A small amount of paunch around his middle where there hadn’t been any before spoke to his more sedentary days of late. As Gabe stepped farther into the study, Rawlins walked slowly around from behind his desk and hiked one hip onto the corner to sit. “So you are out.”
Gabe wasn’t here for small talk. “I was down to my land today. Saw the sign. Looked new.”
Rawlins nodded…watching him carefully. “The sheriff in Nuevo mentioned your release. I thought you might head this way. I also thought you should be clear about the situation here.”
“You mean the part about not owning my own land?”
In the doorway, Johnson straightened, alert to the underlying tension in the room. He rested his hand lightly on his gun handle.
“Taxes hadn’t been paid in three years,” Rawlins said. “I paid them.”
“Stole the place, you mean. And you know why I couldn’t get them paid.”
He nodded again. “Your incarceration was mentioned in the newspaper. I had my eye on that property a long time, Coulter. Has a nice little stream running through it down from the mountain this time of year.”
“I noticed your cattle were enjoying it.”
“Hasn’t been grazed in years. There is a nice thick carpet.”
Of course it hadn’t been grazed. After his father’s death by the cougar, Gabe’s mother had had to slowly sell off the stock to make ends meet. Few would do business with a Kumeyaay woman and her kid. He blew out a breath, unused to having to ask for anything and not liking that he was going to now. He’d best keep calm. “What will it take to get it back?”
Rawlins tilted his head. “Who says I’m interested in selling?”