Starting a New Project

There is something exciting and a bit daunting about starting a new writing project. There are new characters to shape and flesh out, a setting to be explored, and a pile of historical research to dig into to help inspire the plot and breathe authenticity into the story.

On New Year’s Day, I turned in the completed manuscript for Book 3 in my Texas Ever After series. It felt so good to finish that one up over the holidays and get it sent to my publisher. But there was no time to rest. I have a contracted novella that I need to start on. One that is bringing out my nerdy side.

This story is to be a fun, quirky holiday read that will be part of a Christmas novella collection. Since Christmas is fresh on my mind, and a bit of holiday spirit still lingers in the air (since I haven’t gotten around to putting up my Christmas decorations yet), it seemed like the right time to start developing this story.

The first sentence of the story is a newspaper headline:

THREE WISE MEN FROM THE EAST TO ARRIVE TOMORROW

No, this isn’t a Bethleham tale. Our three wise men are mathematics professors from Harvard who are coming to Waco, Texas for an academic symposium sponsored by Baylor University. And one of those “wise men” just happens to be our Christmas hero.

Meet Frank Stentz (middle initial N, if you were wondering 😉 ). Age thirty and one of the most promising young mathematicians Harvard has ever produced. Over the Christmas break, I happened to watch bits and pieces of the Fantastic Beasts series, so Frank bears a striking ressemblance to Newt Scamander.

Our heroine is Stella Barrington, named for the Sirius B star that was discovered in the year of her birth 1862. Her father is a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Baylor. I’d already planned to name her after a star since that fit well with my three wise men, but when I learned about the discovery that just happened to have taken place in the same year she would have been born–well, it was just too good not to use. Research rabbit trails can turn up some great ideas!

Stella is a plain woman with a large nose and oversized feet and has never turned the head of any marriagable mister. She’s content to tend house for her widowed father until a certain scientific gentleman shows up in town.

During my research, I uncovered some fascinating history about Baylor as well. Baylor University is the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas, chartered by the Texas Baptist Education Society in 1844 while Texas was still a Republic. Baylor was also a strong proponent of educating women and boasted the highest female graduation rates west of the Mississippi. They offered literary societies, and my heroine serves as a volunteer sponsor for one of them.

I look forward to weaving the lives of these two intellectual characters together beneath a Texas sky. And who knows? Maybe I’ll run down another research rabbit trail that will inspire more plot ideas.

Frank is a math expert. Stella prefers literature. What was your favorite subject in school?

A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES by CHERYL PIERSON (THERE’S A GIVEAWAY TODAY!)

Christmas has always been a miraculous time for me. It still is. When I was younger, it was because of the presents, and the anticipation that came with the season. My parents were not wealthy, but we had the necessities and a few of the luxuries. My mom was a great manager. She could make the smallest thing seem of the greatest value. She could transform our house into a marvelous Christmas haven with her decorations, wonderful cooking and a few well-wrapped packages. When I became an adult, the torch was passed, but the anticipation merely shifted. The excitement I felt was not for myself, but for my children–the joy I could bring to them.

 

 

 

Once I had written A Night for Miracles, I began to think about my heroine, Angela Bentley, and how I might have reacted had I been in her place. I would like to think that I would have done what she did–transformed her small cabin into a memorable Christmas castle that none of the children would ever forget, simply through a good meal, a warm fire, and a gift. But it was all of these things that made Angela’s “gift” — the gift of her heart — special. She put herself out on a limb, having been emotionally wounded before.

I thought about the old legend–that Christmas Eve is a “night for miracles” to happen. Angela was not a rich person by any means, but she gave what she had, freely. She took in the stranger and the three children from the cold, gave them warm beds and fed them. But then she went even further. She gave her heart to them, although it was a huge risk. She comes through with physical gifts, but the true giving was in her spirit. And that leads to a miracle.

A Night For Miracles is one of those short stories that I didn’t want to end. I love a happy ending, and this is one of the happiest of all, for everyone in the story.

Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe! Available now with PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS!

A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS is a collection of Christmas novellas that you are sure to love! These are all my own stories, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES being the first of the bunch.

 

EXCERPT FROM A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES:

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

Have you ever had something unexpected happen around Christmas? What was it? 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS!

AMAZON LINK FOR A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS

AMAZON LINK FOR ALL CHERYL’S BOOKS

 

Christmas Cowboys on Sale

I don’t know about you, but I love a good Christmas novella. The holiday season is so busy, that quick reads are about all I have time to squeeze in around all the cooking, wrapping, and decorating.

I’m excited to share two collections of mine that are currently on sale.

The first is a collection of four novellas that follow a family heirloom that is handed down at Christmas time from mother to daughter across the years. It starts in 1820’s England then moves to 1890’s Texas then 1950’s Appalachia then finally to modern day Washington.

If you love sweet Christmas romance with a variety of settings and time periods, this is a great collection.

And even better, the e-book version is on sale for only $1.99!

In my story, “Gift of the Heart,” a widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs, TX for a fresh start, but with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love?

This story is a western Christmas re-imagining of the Ruth and Boaz story from the Bible.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

(Sale runs through December 31, 2020.)

 

The second collection is western through and through. This is a two-in-one novella collection that contains my story from The Christmas Heirloom, “Gift of the Heart” along with a separate novella that carries on the legacy of my all-time best-selling Archer Brother series – “An Archer Family Christmas”.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1893, and the entire Archer family has gathered to celebrate the holiday. While the men are off chopping down the perfect Christmas tree, an unexpected request for help leaves Cassandra Archer directly in the path of a dangerous outlaw. Desperate to protect the woman he loves, Jim Archer races to the rescue, only to find that Cassie’s life is not the only one in peril. It will take a Christmas miracle—and the entire Archer clan— to keep a second Archer Christmas from ending in disaster.

This 2-in-1 collection is on sale for only $0.99!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

(Sale runs through December 31, 2020.)

 

Do you prefer Christmas novella or full-length Christmas stories?

Do you read Christmas stories only during the holiday season, or year round?

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE – Only 8 More Days!

 

 

We all know the fillies are some of the best loved and bestselling authors in the western romance genre, right?

And we all know Christmas is coming, right?

And we all love holiday stories that warm our hearts with romance and happy endings, right?

RIGHT!

We’re thrilled to offer you our best collection ever of

Christmas Romances!

Be sure to stop by every day from November 26 through 29th when we present our Christmas novellas and books for each of you to enjoy.

We’ll make you fall in love with falling in love during Christmas.

We’re giving away lots of $10 Amazon gift cards, too.

Because it’s Christmas, and because we love each of you, we’re going to make it easy to WIN!

(Want a sneak peek?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND MORE!

Don’t forget – November 26 – 29.

Ho-Ho-Ho!

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE – Coming 11/26 thru 11/29!

 

 

We all know the fillies are some of the best loved and bestselling authors in the western romance genre, right?

And we all know Christmas is coming, right?

And we all love holiday stories that warm our hearts with romance and happy endings, right?

RIGHT!

We’re thrilled to offer you our best collection ever of

Christmas Romances!

Be sure to stop by every day from November 26 through 29th when we present our Christmas novellas and books for each of you to enjoy.

We’ll make you fall in love with falling in love during Christmas.

We’re giving away lots of $10 Amazon gift cards, too.

Because it’s Christmas, and because we love each of you, we’re going to make it easy to WIN!

Don’t forget – November 26 – 29.

Ho-Ho-Ho!

Man, I’ve been BUSY!

 

No one ever said a successful author was lazy.  No one ever said being a writer was easy, either. Since I last visited with y’all a month ago, I have learned (once again) truer words were never spoken.

For an author to succeed, she has to put herself out there. Take part in promotions and opportunities with her sister authors. She has to put time into social media, emails, writing groups. Marketing is a full time job, and in order to have something to market, you have to write it. And then there’s that crazy thing called LIFE that gets in the way. 

Let me give you a peek into my month, in no particular order:

  1. I’ve taken 3 classes – one on Pinterest and one on Google apps at one of the local colleges. I’ve also taken a month-long online class on Goodreads through KOD chapter.
  2. I’ve re-formatted my historical western romance, WANTED! and uploaded it to Amazon as an ebook. It had been a few years since I’d done it, and it took a little refreshing.  But the end result was very satisfying.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  3. I’ve gotten deep into my latest work, another historical western romance entitled ELEANORA, which is Book #8 in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series I’m doing with a group of authors. The book will be released on January 1.
    AMAZON
  4. Once I got WANTED! up, I knew I had to get my Christmas novellas uploaded. It’s the time of year when the novellas are super popular. First came ONE MAGIC EVE. Since it was a novella, it went much faster. Since it was my second upload in a couple of weeks, and the process was still fresh in my mind, it went even faster.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  5. Then I got this idea that the fillies should have a big promotion to celebrate our Christmas books. We hammered out the details, I came up with some festive memes, and the blogs are coming together. Stay tuned! We’re super excited for this one.  November 26-29.
  6. My husband was diagnosed with a detached retina, which meant not one but two urgent surgeries. Dang. It’s been an ordeal. He developed complications, and that meant extra trips to the pharmacy, the doctor’s office and me doing most of the chores he used to do because, darn it, the eye just wasn’t cooperating, and it HURT.
  7. I uploaded THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE to Amazon. Third time, the novella went pretty smooth. Again, satisfying.  I love the book.  #kindleunlimited
    AMAZON
  8. Halloween rolled around. Time to plan our family’s annual Halloween Bash complete with costumes and Halloween-themed food. Can you say Guacamole Ghouls?
  9. My new grandson was born. Theodore Samuel is our 10th grandchild, and oh, my, we are so in love with this little boy-angel.
  10. I was honored to be asked by my sister filly, Shanna Hatfield, to help in her 5th Annual Cowboys and Christmas Facebook Party to raise funds for cowboys who have suffered catastrophic injuries. You think I’m busy? That girl is something—she’s super organized for a big project like this one, with lots of readers and authors and enthusiasm.  There’ll be games, giveaways and FUN. That’s today—and I’m up at 3:20 this afternoon CT. Looking forward to that a whole bunch. PLEASE JOIN US!  The party starts at Noon CT.  Just click on the Facebook link!

    FACEBOOK

  11. Did I say I have to write ELEANORA? And time is ticking.

Ah, well.  They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. I happen to be one of those people that thrive on deadlines. They make me focused and a little stressed (okay, A LOT stressed) but it all seems to get done.

That’s what I love about being a writer.  Busy is good.

Tell me about your month.  Have you been busy, too?  Did anything unexpected happen to throw your month off kilter—like a detached retina or a new baby in the family?

Tell us about it, and you’ll be eligible to win your choice of ONE MAGIC EVE, THE CATTLEMAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE OR WANTED! ebook!