‘Twas the Night B’fore Christmas, Filly Style!















‘Twas the night before Christmas in this Junction of ours;

The sky over the prairie was ablaze with bright stars;

Our boots were lined up by the fire with care,

In hopes that Old Santa Claus soon would be there;


Felicia’s ornery mule napped snug there in the barn,

Whilst our visiting guest was spinning a yarn;

O’course JEANNIE in her wool socks and CHERYL in her cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,


When out in the corral there arose such a ruckus,

MARY sprang her from bed to see what the heck was…

…outside the window, there on the barn roof,

She banged open the shutters and near busted a tooth!


The moon was so bright it near blinded our eyes

And the snow landed like whippin’ cream coverin’ a pie,

When, what to our hornswaggled sight should appear,

But a covered wagon and eight dusty reindeer!


When she saw the little old driver with red cheeks and nose,

LINDA flew right to work sweeping dust from his clothes.

He was cheery and bright, a right jolly cowpoke,

TRACY  laughed when she saw him; he was her kind of  folk.


Those reindeers, they ain’t docile. What a hissy they threw!

Nearly toppled the wagon, and Old Santa Claus too.

Quicker’n a youngin’ off to play hookie,

That old geezer came in and asked PAM for a cookie;


KAREN K. found one and he ate it, so KATHLEEN got milk

Then TANYA presented him with a scarf made of silk.

But CHARLENE, she hung back, we think she was a’feared

‘Cause all night she trembled and her eyes how they teared


No worry, KAREN W. told her, the fat guy’s a friend.

To us in the Junction and those ’round the bend,

Sure ’nuff Santa left a package in each Fillies’ boot,

Didn’t matter none to him, they was dusted with soot.


Then somethin’ happened, caught us all by surprise,

WINNIE, she showed up with an armload of pies.

We sat down to eat ‘em, and they tasted fine,

Thanks! With all of our deadlines, we hadn’t had time;


Old Santa asked for seconds; Bet that’s why he’s merry.

He tried pumpkin and apple, even pe-can and cherry.

PHYLISS heaped on whipped cream, and still he ate more.

His belly how it swelled! Would he fit out the door?


“It’s my big night,” he declared.  “Only comes once a year.”

Good thing for that, too, or he’d burst, we do fear.

He stifled a burp, and a pipe out it came;

“Smoking’s not good for you,”  MARGARET did loudly exclaim.


“All that sugar too,” KATHRYN hollered. “Think of your health.

FELICIA reminded. “Think of the children counting on your jolly old self!”

He listened real close and even nodded his head,

Took right to his heart everything they all said.


He tossed that old pipe in the fire with a pop,

“The Missus, she’s been tryin’ to get me to stop,”

With a hearty laugh and a promise to come back

The Fillies watched that old fella leap up the smokestack.


He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yee-haw,

And away they all flew, like twister-flung straw.

And we heard him exclaim as that team took flight,

“Merry Christmas, you bloggers, and to all a good-night.”

 *****************************************************************************************************************************************JEFFREY KOTERBA’S ARTWORK USED WITH PERMISSION

VISIT HIS WEBSITE: http://www.jeffreykoterba.com

And with much love and thanks to our dear friend and former filly Cheryl St. John, for incepting this filly poem.

Writing with Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Cheryl St.John

Sherri here today, and I have a special giveaway. This is what I”m reading this week! Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Cheryl is a good friend and was kind enough to include an excerpt from one of my books on page 228. This is an incredible tool for either the beginner or the experienced writer.

Here”s the back cover blurb:

Today”s highly competitive fiction market requires writers to imbue their novels with that special something – an element that captures readers” hearts and minds. In Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict, writers will learn vital techniques for writing emotion into their characters, plots and dialogue in order to instill that special something into every page.

I believe in this book so much, I”m giving away a copy to one lucky person who comments. If you”re a writer, or if  you know a writer in your life, this book is a must have!

Here is Cheryl”s impressive biography:

Cheryl St.John is the author of nearly fifty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, Rain Shadow was nominated for Romance Writers of America”s Rita® Award for Best First Book, by Romantic Times Magazine for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance. Since then she has received three more RITA nominations, a Writer”s Digest award for a feature article, and several Romantic Times Reviewers Choice awards. Many of her books made the Waldenbooks Top Ten lists, USA Today, and Big Sky Brides climbed to #35 on the NYT list.

Cheryl St.John

Rain_Shadow_AmazonIn 2007 I was one of the original Fillies here at Petticoats and Pistols when we kicked off the site and made plans for the future. I’m proud of what Wildflower Junction has accomplished and the impact it’s had on fans of western romance. I have made wonderful friends here among the other authors, and I’ve gained faithful readers as well. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my association with each one of you.


As writers, everything we do is a balancing act while we juggle writing, promotion, social media, family, friends, health and everyday life.  At P&P there is every bit as much going on behind the scenes as what is visible here, what with scheduling and guests and holiday events and drawings. It’s one busy place, I can assure you. You have probably guessed by now what I’m leading up to. I’m not calling it a farewell by any means. I’m searching out some new directions in my life and career and making changes in where and how I can stretch my time. I will still be a devoted fan of P&P. These Fillies are my sweetest friends. You dear readers are what it’s all about. I will still be writing books and I’ve been assured there will be a guest spot open for me whenever I want to come calling.


For nostalgia’s sake I thought it would be fun to link to a few of my favorite posts today.






So while this is my last regularly scheduled post with the Fillies, I will be back. Thank you for the past six years! Smooches! XOXO

FREE BOOK & Celebrating Independence Day, American Style!

Happy Independence Day! In 1776 the United States declared its independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Here it’s a federal holiday celebrated with fireworks, parades, picnics and BBQs. In my home state the community of Seward, Nebraska has held a celebration on the same town square since 1868. In 1979 Seward was designated “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to 40,000+ during the July 4 celebrations.


I’ve written about Independence Day celebrations, parades and speeches in a few of my stories over the years. It’s usually a family day and a day to appreciate time away from the day job. My husband’s been busy repainting all of our lawn furniture, buying new cushions, planting flowers and getting the back yard ready. We’ll be grilling hamburgers and hotdogs and will enjoy them with slow cooked baked beans and corn on the cob. Now that’s a traditional meal.


This year I’m also celebrating the 4th by offering my newly revised, edited and published for Kindle book, Rain Shadow for free.


My friend Deborah Hale and I share anniversaries this month and we also love American set stories of adventure and romance.


So settle back with a good book and enjoy a few hours of relaxation before the rest of summer gets underway.



Wed to the Enemy! The War left Caddie Marsh a widow with only a rundown plantation, her children and Southern pride to sustain her. She would do anything to salvage Sabbath Hollow for the sake of her son and daughter, even wed one of the Yankees against whom she’s so bitter. The fact that Manning Forbes bears a disturbing resemblance to her late husband only makes matters worse. It would be easier if her new husband’s integrity and kindness didn’t stir up feelings he claims not to want from her…

Sworn to Protect… Manning Forbes has his own reasons for wanting to protect and provide for the Marsh family. Reasons he is desperate to keep from Caddie. If his beautiful, inquisitive bride discovers his true identity, Manning fears he would lose the family who has captured his heavily-guarded heart!




Raised by the Lakota Sioux and having traveled with the Wild West Show for many years, Rain Shadow is unprepared for a forced stay at the home of Anton Neubauer while her son recuperates. He is a rock, a man who has lived on and farmed the same several hundred acres since he was young.

Anton needs a mother for his son, but he needs someone domestic and ladylike, not the Smith & Wesson toting female who sets up her teepee in his front yard and whose target practice wakes him at the crack of dawn. But fate, two little boys and two old men conspire to keep them together, and it’s too late to deny their passion once love is part of the equation.

Click here: RAIN SHADOW

Cheryl St.John: Mail Order Merchandise

montgomery-ward-catalogThe Montgomery Ward catalog has been called one of the most influential American books ever published. One such nominating committee, the Grolier Club, stated: “The mail order catalogue has been perhaps the greatest single influence in increasing the standard of American living. It brought the benefit of wholesale prices to city and hamlet, to the crossroads and prairie.”

Aaron Montgomery Ward was born in Chatham, New Jersey in 1844 and his family went west to Niles, Michigan in 1853 where his father took up the cobbler”s trade. Aaron left school at 14 to work in brickyards and a barrel factory where he learned his most valuable lesson: “I learned I was not physically or mentally suited for brick or barrel making.”

After clerking at a shoe store and then a country store, earning $6 a month,
plus board, Ward was then ready to go to the big city. At that time Chicago was home to 30,000 people and known, none too affectionately, as “The Mudhole of the Prairies.” The streets were barely above the level of Lake Michigan and covered with bottomless muck.

ward-picBut by the late 1860s, Chicago was teeming with post-Civil War energy. Fifteen railroad lines moved 150 trains a day out of the busy terminals. Like thousands of other young men Ward arrived in Chicago in 1866 and began work in various dry goods firms, including one operated by Marshall Field. He became a salesman, his income rising to a whopping $12 a week.

As he made tedious rounds through the mud in his horse and buggy, he took particular notice of the country stores along his route. They were gathering places with potbelly stoves and moonlighted as meeting places for local farmers. However these outlets were far from helpful when the farmers had to actually buy something. Selections were small and prices high. Storekeepers were at the mercy of big-city wholesalers.

After considering how he could help the disadvantaged farmer, Ward decided on a mail order store. He planned to set up in the big city where he could easily reach suppliers and buy in quantity to get the best prices. He could send a catalog listing his prices to farmers who could order and receive their items by mail, cash on delivery. It was not a new idea but the few direct mail firms at the time sold only one or two items. Ward was going to bring the whole store to the farmer.

ward-catalogueWard worked and saved. He talked about his idea with friends and associates. They all agreed he would go broke trying to sell goods sight-unseen to back country folk. He was not dissuaded. By 1871 he finally saved enough money to buy a small amount of goods at wholesale prices. On October 8, 1871 the Great Chicago Fire engulfed the city for 30 hours. Every building in a 4-square mile area was destroyed. So was Ward”s inventory.

Ward went back to work. By August 1872 he scraped up money and convinced a few people to join him, raising $1600 in working capital. He printed up a one-page price list and hand-addressed the first circulars to the Grangers, a co-operative farm supply organization. One of his earliest price lists contained 163 items under the banner Supplied By The Cheapest Cash House In America. Most of the items cost one dollar, including clothing, a 6-view stereoscope, and a backgammon set.

wards-corsetFor most of 1873, Ward”s mailbox was bare. His partners wanted out and Ward—who still had his sales job—managed to buy them out of their small investments. The Panic of 1873 quickly sunk even the established traditional retailers.

His business was ridiculed by the Chicago Tribune as a disreputable firm “hidden from public gaze with no merchandise displayed and reachable only through the post office.” Under threat of a lawsuit, the Tribune printed a retraction. The retraction was added to the next flyer and sales increased!

About this time, ready-made clothing began appearing. The accepted belief was that no two people had the same measurements; therefore tailors were needed to make quality garments. But the crunch for uniforms in the Civil War had demonstrated that certain combinations of measurements could be standardized. Ward told his faraway customers: “Give your age and describe your general build and we will nine times out of ten give you a fit.”

Ward wrote all the early copy. He always included a message in his catalogs, often giving money-saving tips. “It is best to make your order around five dollars. Shipping charges on small orders will eat up your savings. Consider joining a buying club with your neighbors.”

wards-hatsConsumers came to trust Ward”s unseen store, and business grew rapidly. He bound his first catalog in 1874, and in 1875 the book expanded to seventy-two pages. Worrying that he might become too big, Ward took an ad in Farmers Voice just to reassure his customers he had not lost touch with their needs.

In 1893 Ward sold controlling interest to George R. Thorne who had come on as a partner late in 1873. Ward remained president, but after a while he stopped attending board meetings. The last twenty years of his life were spent preserving the Chicago waterfront as a park for the people. He spent over two hundred thousand dollars of his own money to defend the public”s right to open space.

His long-time efforts to prevent the erection of buildings along Lake Michigan won him the title of The Watch Dog of the Lake Front. At one time there were forty-six building projects planned in the park, and he fought them all successfully, losing many influential friends along the way. Finally, just before his death in 1913 he won his final legal battle to forever keep the waterfront an open area.

ward1892The Tribune, no friend of Montgomery Ward, wrote: “We know now that Mr. Ward was right, was farsighted, was public spirited. That he was unjustly criticized as a selfish obstructionist or as a fanatic. Before he died, it is pleasant to think Mr. Ward knew that the community had swung round to his side and was grateful for the service he had performed in spite of misunderstanding and injustice.”


It’s amazing to think he was the forerunner for all the mail order catalogues that would follow, and that shopping by mail would become commonplace. Imagine what Mr. Ward would think of telemarketing or the incredible world of ebay!


Quite honestly, I make most of my book purchases online, plus a great many other things, from toys to cabinet hardware. The most awesome things I’ve purchased online recently are reproduction Jadeite cabinet knobs and glass handles and a really cool neck and shoulder heating pad stuffed with flaxseed. Received any interesting deliveries in the mail lately?stjohn.jpg



Romantic Times Booklover's Convention

Am in Kansas City, enjoying meeting readers and attending events with my critique group members and friends. RT is one party after another. Below

Sherri Shackelford and Cheryl at the RT Disco party

Sherri”s Shoe Warehouse

are pics from today. At Rosie”s Gulch party here”s me with the awesome Janelle Taylor, me with the amazing Bobbi Smith and Winnie and I when we found each other. Sherri Shackelford and I at the disco party and Sherri”s shoes. There is a pic that is only – Sherri”s shoes! These are in no order–sorry–because I”m using an unfamiliar laptop in our hotel room.

Janelle Taylor

Winnie and Cheryl



Reality or Ridiculous? What Do You Watch When You're Not Reading?

Just when we think we couldn’t possibly see any more reality shows, more pop up every season. And some of them have lasted for years. Because I sometimes wonder about really weird and often pointless things, I recently googled the most-watched reality shows.  I shouldn”t have been surprised to see Judge Judy on the list. She’s had a daily afternoon slot since 1996.

I had no idea what several of these shows were even about. If you know, please fill us in. I didn’t see one of my husband’s faves on the list: Ice Road Truckers. My daughter likes The Bachelor. I used to watch Dog The Bounty Hunter.

I had a good laugh when I encapsulated each show into a one sentence description. I think you’ll laugh too, and you’ll wonder why we get sucked into some of these shows.


I admit to being an American Idol fan. I also enjoy So You Think You Can Dance. Sometimes I catch The Voice if it’s on. I’ve seen Pawn Stars, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it. I’ve watched Abbey Lee on Dance Moms on occasion. And when they show the entire season of Face Off before the season finale, I record it, because I get a kick out of the costume creation.


So here are the top 50 reality shows.


1.   Duck Dynasty (2012 TV Series)

a Louisiana bayou family living the American dream


2.   Amazing Race (2001 TV series)

multiple teams race around the globe to amazing locations to win a million dollars


3.   American Idol (2002 TV Series)

twelve finalists and future singers selected from America compete


4.   Dancing with the Stars (2005 TV Series)

celebrities partner with professional dancers and compete in weekly elimination rounds


5.   The Voice (2011 TV Series)

four famous musicians search for and mentor singers to become artists


6.   Splash (2013 TV Series)

entertainers jumping into a swimming pool


7.   Survivor (2000 TV Series)

group of contestants stranded in a remote location


8.   Cops (1989 TV Series)

police show follows real-life law enforcement officers

9.   The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010 TV Series)

peek into the lives of the fabulously wealthy


10.               The Real World (1992 TV Series)

seven – eight late teens to mid-20s to live together in a major city


11.               Pawn Stars (2009 TV Series)

Harrison family runs a pawn shop on the Las Vegas strip


12.               The Apprentice (2004 TV Series)

contestants compete to be apprenticed to billionaire Donald Trump


13.               Storage Wars (2010 TV Series)

People bid against each other for storage units


  14.  America”s Next Top Model (2003 TV Series)

U.S. women compete to be next “it girl” in the modeling world


15. Kitchen Nightmares (2007 TV Series)

Famous chef helps struggling restaurants


16. Hell”s Kitchen (2005 TV Series)

Famous chef puts aspiring young chefs through rigorous and devastating challenges


17. Project Runway (2004 TV Series)

aspiring fashion designers compete to break into the industry


18. Face Off (2011 TV Series)

competition between aspiring special-effects make-up artists


19. The Devil”s Ride (2012 TV Series)

Wannabe-tough biker guys ride around

20.  Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2007 TV Series)

exploits of Kardashian-Jenner family


21. The Real Housewives of Atlanta (2008 TV Series)


22.  Real Husbands of Hollywood (2013 TV Series )


23. Hardcore Pawn (2009 TV Series)

Les Gold and two children operatea  Detroit”s pawnshop.


24. Fashion Star (2012 TV Series)


25. The Face (2013 TV Series)

contestants are guided through weekly assignments


26. Snooki & JWOWW (2012 TV Series)


27. Dance Moms (2011 TV Series)

notoriously demanding dance instructor clashes with moms


28. Ridiculousness (2011 TV Series)


29. Jersey Shore (2009 TV Series)

New Jersey 20-somethings and their hook-ups.


30. Comic Book Men (2012 TV Series)

neighborhood comic book store and fanboy culture


31. Judge Judy (1996 TV Series)

former judge tackles real-life small claims cases

32. Fast N” Loud (2012 TV Series)

guys cruise for the classic cars


33. Monster Man (2011 TV Series)

Man makes monster and alien props


34. Shark Tank (2009 TV Series)

entrepreneurs compete


35.Stranded (2013 TV Series)

paranormal and psychological experiments


36. The Ultimate Fighter (2005 TV Series)

martial arts fighters compete for a UFC contract


37. Ax Men (2008 TV Series)

logging crews battle the elements to make a living


38. King of the Nerds (2013 TV Series)


39. The Biggest Loser (2004 TV Series)

contestants compete to lose the most weight


40. Kourtney & Kim Take Miami (2009 TV Series)

Two Kardashian sisters open a boutique and party



Teen Mom 2 (2011 TV Series)

challenges teen moms face


42. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (2012 TV Series)

Crew follows mom and daughter from Toddlers & Tiaras


43. Lizard Lick Towing (2011 TV Series)


44. The Bachelor (2002 TV Series)

single women compete to marry a stranger

45. Dog the Bounty Hunter (2003 TV Series)

real-life bounty hunter  and family chase fugitives in the Hawaiian Islands


46. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (2006 TV Series)

Food Network”s Guy Fieri visits America”s favorite diners


47. The Taste (2013 TV Series)


48. Geordie Shore (2011 TV Series)


49. 16 and Pregnant (2009 TV Series)


50. The Rachel Zoe Project (2008 TV Series)

celebrity stylist takes her business to the next level


All right, time to confess which ones you’ve seen and which ones you make it a point to watch.



An Epic Western Classic: Lonesome Dove

call and mcrae

Recently Lonesome Dove was on television in its entirely, and even though I’ve seen it a dozen times or more, I watched a lot of it. It’s available on Netflix – and I have a DVD. What is it about these characters and their plight that draws us back again and again? Three-dimensional, well-drawn characters, backstories of Texas Ranger heroes and lost loves, a yearning for times long past and future hopes suck us right in. I’m still as mad today as the first time that Captain Call wouldn’t acknowledge Newt as his son.

Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning western novel and the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series. Can you imagine the daunting task that native Texan and screenwriter Bill Wittliff took on when he adapted Larry McMurtry’s novel to film? First, he needed to rein in the sprawling 843 page story while still retaining its majestic essence. Wittliff’s work was also made more difficult because, in the novel, McMurtry uses the narrator’s voice to reveal information about characters and to describe events. To provide the same information in the film, Wittliff needed to create dialogue and provide visual cues that did not exist in the novel.

See an original costume sketch below:

costume sketch

A Southwestern Writers Collection is housed at Texas State and many of the original documents he used while creating this western classic can be viewed online at:


The web exhibit features storyboards, costumes, including Gus’s boots, and even Gus’s dead wrapped body.

The epic four-part six-hour mini-series focuses on the relationship of retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana. McMurtry originally developed the tale in 1972 for a feature film entitled The Streets of Laredo (a title later used for the sequel), which was to have starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart. That didn’t happen, but thank goodness, McMurtry later resurrected the screenplay as a full-length novel. It deservingly became a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The mini-series won six Emmy Awards and was nominated for 13 others.

Casting for this epic was pure genius. Who better to portray these multi-faceted aging Texas Rangers who to this day represent the epitome of courage, loyalty and everything we think of when we think “American West?”

Robert Duvall is Captain Augustus McCrae, co-owner of the Hat Creek Cattle Company, and considers himself the brains of the outfit. Generous, humorous, and lazy to the point of eccentricity, he serves as a foil to the more serious, practical Call. When not working, which he does as little as possible, Gus pursues his three chief interests in life: women, alcohol and cards. He is well known in the territory for his loud voice, superior eyesight and accuracy with a revolver.


Tommy Lee Jones is Captain Woodrow F. Call, Gus’s partner in the company. Less verbose and chatty than McCrae, Call works long and hard and sees no reason why others should not do the same. A former Texas Ranger, he served with Gus when both were young men. Though Call has utter disdain for lazy men who drink, gamble and whore their lives away, he has his own secret shame, which he hides carefully from his comrade. Call’s ability to manage unmanageable horses is also well known.

Danny Glover plays a magnificent role as Joshua Deets, an ex-slave and former Ranger. When the story starts he’s a ranch hand at the company. On the drive, he serves as scout. A remarkable tracker and morally upright man, he is one of the few men whom Call respects and trusts.

Before he hit the NY streets as a cop, Rick Shroder played Newt Dobbs, young orphan raised by Gus and Call. His mother was a prostitute named Maggie Tilton, who died when he was a child. He knows his mother was a prostitute, and has no idea who his father might be. Most other observers, notably Gus and Clara Allen, are quite certain that Call is his father. Call eventually comes to this realization privately, but is never able to admit it explicitly.


After watching her on the hit series SMASH, I love seeing the beautiful Anjelica Houston as Clara Allen, a former love of Gus’s. She declined his marriage proposals years ago, and now lives in Nebraska, married to a horse trader who is comatose, having been kicked in the head by a horse. They have two girls, though she is afflicted deeply by the death of her sons. Though separated from Gus by many miles and years, she still holds him fondly in her heart. In contrast, she has utter contempt for Call. When Gus arrives at her ranch their reunion is bitter-sweet.


gus and clara


Diane Lane is the lovely young Lorena Wood, a kind-hearted young woman who was forced into prostitution by her lover, then abandoned in Lonesome Dove. Lorena is silent, strong willed, and intimidating, refusing to submit meekly to her various admirers. Discontent with her line of work, “Lorie” hopes to leave the dead town and find her way to San Francisco. Gus is her champion, and who could ask for a better one?

Secondary threads with characters of July and Almira Johnson and Blue Duck are intricately woven into the plot and throughout the journey of the cattle drive. You can’t help but be enamored by the characters and caught up in their adventures. Watching the story unfold brings laughter and tears every time. The music that accompanies the panoramic scenes does a beautiful job of enhancing the grandeur of the vast landscape and feel of the untamed west. I often listen to the original soundtrack, composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris. Lonesome Dove spawned the follow-up miniseries, Return to Lonesome Dove.



Trivia facts about Lonesome Dove:

* Robert Duvall, who has appeared in over 80 movies, told CBS that Augustus McCrae, the character he played in Lonesome Dove, was his all time favorite role. We can see why.

* The characters of July Johnson and Roscoe bear the same names as the sheriff and his sidekick who track James Stewart and Dean Martin in the movie Bandolero! (1968). Also, the sequence where Stewart and Martin discuss Montana resembles a similar scene in Lonesome Dove.

* The book, and the character Gus, is mentioned in country singer George Strait’s song “That’s My Kind Of Woman.”

So, fess up. How many times have you watched Lonesome Dove? Did you think return to Lonesome Dove lived up to the first? Have you watched Streets of Laredo or Deadman’s Walk which precede the story?

If you’re a western lover and you’ve never seen this movie, well, I’m just sad for you. But your situation is subject to change. Head for Blockbuster or put it in your Netflix cue!

Leave a comment today for a chance to win a $15 e-Amazon card from Tanya Hanson.

Interview With Cheryl St.John

 Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?

The defining year for me was the year my youngest daughter went to first grade. I had been at home raising four children spread out over several years and felt the void of sending the youngest to school all day. Until then I’d

been playing at writing, keeping handwritten notebooks and dallying with the stories like a hobby. Then and there I decided that I was going to actually do what I’d always dreamed

of doing and write an entire book. I started it in October and finished it during that school year. I had the time of my life. I had no idea what I was doing, so the story had no plot or conflict and the villain was wishy washy, but the characters were fun and I enjoyed creating a romance. I even submitted the manuscript to every publisher and agent I could find. Only years later did I understand how embarrassing that was. I did everything you’re not supposed to do. Who knew the time period was unmarketable? Who knew you weren’t supposed to bind your submission in a pretty folder? The story is as yet unpublished, though some day I might like to rework it.


How long after you first started submitting did it take for you to have your first book accepted?

A lo-o-o-ong time. As I said, I started submitting before I was ready, before I’d discovered a writing group or Dwight Swain”s Techniques of the Selling Writer. I was writing for about four years before I found a local writers group. I was fortunate. I generous lady and talented Avon author named Diane Wicker Davis started my local chapter. She read my stuff and showed me how to make the stories better and the writing stronger. I lucked into a critique group with another published author, Barbara Andrews, who now writes with her daughter, Pam Hansen. Together and she and the group encouraged me. Once I learned the techniques to write to sell, it took about another three years.


Picture I drew as a kid

What attracts you to your time period?

For me the appeal of Americana and westerns is the simplicity of the time and the durability of the men and women. Life was difficult. People were determined and resilient. I watched westerns from the time I was a kid and learned to appreciate the charm and strength of a cowboy. The ever-present themes of good verses evil are the foundations of those universally appealing types of stories. Who doesn’t love to root for an underdog? Who doesn’t want to see the bad guy get his comeuppance?The rancher/farmer’s sweat and blood are imbedded in his land–as deeply as the riverbeds and the roots of the ancient trees. It may have been his father’s before him, or he could have broken his back to earn it. In any case he will die to keep it. Solidarity. And any man who would pour this much passion into his land, will love his woman even more ardently.

To nearly all women I’ve spoken to on the subject of cowboys, physical appearance plays a major part in the attraction. The reality was that dungarees or Levis were not exactly ‘slim cut’ or sexy; they were stiff and probably dirty, and few real cowboys fit the image of the Marlboro man, but our fantasy cowboy has a lean backside in a pair of tight-fitting jeans, long legs, and that ever-present Stetson pulled low over his eyes. Ever notice how a pair of chaps invariably draws the eyes to the uncovered sections of denim?

Our man wears his Colt strapped to his thigh, the holster rides his lean hips, his spurs jangle–this dangerous guy exudes sex appeal. The western hero is a hard body due to demanding work on the range, riding and roping, chasing outlaws, stopping the runaway stage, and sleeping on the ground. He’s untamed, a little wild, and a lot sexy. He doesn’t need a gym membership or a treadmill.


Angel Cheeks

What does your writing cave look like?

Messy. Papers everywhere. Books all over. I’m known far and wide as a collector and my office reflects that particular gene as much as any room in my house. In my office have a curio full of old and new dolls: Barbies, some recently wearing dresses made of vintage hankies, Ginnys, Disneys, Madame Alexanders, and any others I can’t resist.There are framed writing awards on the few visible walls—most of the wall space is taken up by bookcases. The color of the walls is called Strawberry Pot, it’s a soothing and inspiring teal, my favorite color. I have copiers, printers and two computers on the wrap-around desktop.

My book covers are thumbtacked to the bulletin boards that back my desk area on three walls, along with pics that readers have sent. I have oil lamps, a row of Angel Cheeks, framed photographs of the cutest kids ever, a jeweled tiara and paperweights. A vintage globe that belonged to my grandmother sits atop one of my cabinets. There are many things I love about my space, and one of them is that it’s sound proof. You can actually hear the difference when you come into the room—the effect created by four walls of books.


When you are not writing what do you do?

Probably not sleeping, LOL My husband and I like to garden together, so many of our summer weekends are spent creating arbors and gardens and soon ponds. We love to shop flea markets and browse antique malls, and I”m a vendor at my local Brass Armadillo, antique mall–in my spare time. 🙂 More often than not you might find me selecting paint, then watching him roll it on or arranging a spot in the house just so. My son is amazingly talented and helps with remodeling projects.

I like to make interesting displays of vintage collections and have so many I have to change them out to enjoy them. I’m a movie junkie, so late night I watch movies (and take plotting notes—it makes me feel like I’m working). I recently wrote my first non-fiction book in which I use movies to explain plotting, characters and emotion. It”s called Writing With Emotion, tension & Conflict, and it will be a November release from Writers Digest.It”s up for pre-order at amazon.

What else is new?

I recently revised and edited three of my early books and have published them as digital books at the major retailers. I”m working on completing a Harlequin Historical and have my next project planned.


Please leave your email address to be entered to win one of my Kindle books!

If you have a Kindle or Nook, you can start reading any or all of them within minutes by clicking on one of these links. If you”ve already read them or plan to, I would appreciate all reviews.

Land of Dreams

For Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/awe75qd

On Nook: http://tinyurl.com/9wctgtc


In this tale of hope and love, too-tall spinster Thea Coulson wants to be a mother to a child who arrives in Nebraska on an orphan train. When Booker Hayes shows up to take his niece, a marriage of convenience suits them both. Thea’s dreams are filled with the tall, dark army major, but she guards her heart. Booker’s first taste of home and hearth has him longing for more, but first he must win the hearts of both of the females in his life.




Saint or Sinner

For Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/b2rvcvp

On Nook: http://tinyurl.com/ajwb3p7


Joshua McBride returns from the war a changed man, ready to put down roots and plant his feet in the community. Prim and uptight Miss Adelaide Stapleton, leader of the Dorcas Society, doesn’t believe he’s changed—people are never what they seem. But she has plenty of secrets of her own—among them the inescapable fact that Joshua sets her heart to pounding and makes her long for his disturbing kisses. How long can she keep her own past hidden—and resist temptation?



Heaven Can Wait

For Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/atmqnbz

On Nook: http://tinyurl.com/avm23y6

Raised within the confines of a strict religious community, Lydia Beker longs for a simple touch, dreams of seeing more of the world. When handsome farmer, Jakob Neubauer and his family visit the bakery where she works, she is fascinated, but Outsiders are forbidden to her. Jakob is attracted to Lydia, as well, and she makes the difficult decision to leave everything she knows behind to marry him. He offers love and passion, but will she ever fit into his world?

Heaven Can Wait is one of the top ten January covers at http://ebookindiecovers.com/ in the Indie Cover Awards.

Cheryl St.John: 19th Century Dollhouses

Little girls have enjoyed playing house throughout the years, and doll houses have always been a favorite.

R. Bliss Manufacturing Company of Pawtucket,  Rhode Island made doll houses in the late nineteenth century. Rufus Bliss started out making wooden screws

and clamps for piano and cabinet makers, and later adopted modern technology to produce inexpensive miniature houses.







Made of wood and lithographed paper, the houses were affordable for middle-class parents to purchase for their children. Bliss printed its name on the lithographed bricks or wood either on the front or back of the house.


Designed in the Victorian style, the houses were simple in their construction, with no embellishments like working windows or shutters. All the trimmings were in the lovely lithographs.


The house opened to expose two to

four rooms. Larger models had an attic as well. Firehouses, garages and stables were also popular.


Bliss houses are highly collectable and can be seen in museums across the country. Occasionally one comes up for sale on ebay. There is a company making reproductions, which are lovely.



The house at the right measures 18x12x20 This one would go for about $1,400 today.


Did you have a dollhouse when you were a girl? I had a colorful metal one.