My latest novella collection hit the shelves yesterday, and I can’t wait to share Barnabas and Phoebe’s story with you!
The Kissing Tree is a multi-generational collection of stories that center around a giant oak in Texas where couples carve their initials through the years.
The tree that inspired our giant oak was The Century Tree on the Texas A&M campus. In fact, my daughter (who is now at A&M working on a PhD) was kind enough to ask the tour guide to take them by the tree so she could get her nerdy mom a photo during her college visit last spring.
They don’t allow initial carving in this glorious tree, but there is a tradition for proposals happening beneath these branches.
In my story – Inn for a Surprise – Phoebe Woodward and Barnabas Ackerly are forced to work together to design a romantic retreat for couples. The Kissing Tree Inn is Phoebe’s brainchild, and she has definite ideas about how to make the place romantic.
For example, she starts off by having it painted the color of love – a shockingly vivid shade of pink. Barnabas does his best to hide his shock when he sees the inn for the first time, but his professional life flashes before his eyes – and not in a rose-colored glasses type of way.
The two definitely don’t see eye-to-eye on inn design, but as they work together to make the inn a success, they come to see that practicality and sentimentality can coexist and can even lead to love.
To celebrate the release of The Kissing Tree, I’m giving away autographed copies to two readers chosen from the comments.
To enter, leave a comment about which character you most resemble:
Good morning, everyone! Thank you so much for inviting me back to visit with the fillies! I always love making a stop here and having a glass of sweet tea with all y’all.
I’ve got Alana Carey with me today and I’ve got some questions about this fake engagement that she’s roped Paxton Callahan into. She stands six feet tall in her cowboy boots. She has blonde hair and big blue eyes and she can out rope, out-ride, and out-do most cowboys in the state of Texas whether it’s on the dance floor, having shots of whiskey or riding broncs. Her two soft spots are her father, since he’s raised her alone when her mother died, and Paxton Callahan.
First question: What made you decide to ask Paxton to enter into this fake engagement with you?
Alana: My dad, Matt, told me that he’d been diagnosed with untreatable cancer and he only had six weeks to live. The only thing that he wished he had lived long enough to see was me married and settled. He had done so much for me that I had to give him his dying wish. I lied. I told him that Pax and I had been secretly dating for several months, that we hadn’t told anyone because we wanted to be sure that it was real, but that he had proposed to me. I thought that would make him happy, but oh, no, he wanted to walk me down the aisle. Since Pax was my best friend, he went along with the idea—thank goodness, since I didn’t ask him before I told Daddy.
Carolyn: What happened then?
Alana: Well, the whole town got behind the engagement, and suddenly we were all knee deep in wedding dress shopping, and wedding showers. One little lie to make him die a happy man turned into a huge thing, and there was no way I could back out of it since Daddy wanted me to have the biggest wedding ever seen in our part of Texas.
Carolyn (gasping): Keep going. We’re hanging on every word.
Alana: Then Daddy began to talk about the honeymoon and flying us anywhere in the world that I wanted to go. I didn’t want to waste weeks or even days off on a fake honeymoon. I wanted to spend every minute I could with him.
Carolyn: Even in the midst of the sadness, did you enjoy all the wedding plans?
Alana (with a smile): Of course. I had the wedding every woman dreams about, and Daddy was happy, but the crazy thing was that soon I didn’t know what was fake and what was real. I’d loved Pax in secret for years, and now I got to be engaged to him. But I have to admit, I wondered if he felt the same about me. That’s all for today or else I’ll be giving away spoilers.
Carolyn: Guess that’s all we can get her to talk about today, but I would like to add that Sunrise Ranch will be a bonus novella included in Cowboy Strong, and then will be available to order on July 7 in both ebook and paper book. Sunrise Ranch is the last story from Daisies in the Canyon.
And so, there you have it folks. Would you buy this book on the basis of that interview? I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Cowboy Strong, the last book in the Longhorn Canyon Series to one lucky person. A little note: There is one more little novella on the way tucked into the A Little Country Christmas anthology that will actually end the series. It’s titled The Perfect Christmas.
The title may sound like a odd mix of people-types in the title, but think about it. The cowboys of old were a rare breed as they engaged in cattle drives while moving their herds to market. In the old west they had to deal with wild animals and attacks made by the area’s first dwellers, the American Indians. Today’s cowboys who rodeo (it’s used as a verb in the rodeo world) have to possess a lot of tenacity in all the events, but most of all, bull riding. They get on a 2,000-pound animal with nothing to hold onto but a loose rope tied around the bull. They have no idea if they will end the 8-second ride still astride the wild brute, or on the ground in one piece. And even if they are injured, they get back on a new bull the next week. I’ve seen cowboys ride with casted legs and arms. Tenacity at its best.
I can’t imagine the strength and tenacity that the pioneers of the past had to have to load their meager belongings in a covered wagon and travel west to begin a new life in a part of our country they had never experienced. Like the cowboys who drove their herds across the land, the pioneers had to face possible attacks along with bad weather that could delay them for days.
I’m currently writing historical stories set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that used to bear the nickname “Newport of the West.” It sounds strange today to think of a small town and lake in southeastern Wisconsin as “the west,” but back in the late 19th Century it was considered our country’s west. At that time, only the bravest souls had moved on past the Mississippi to the far-flung actual west
My four-book series called The Newport of the West, follows a fictional family who is displaced by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 as they move north to Lake Geneva, the same way many of Chicago’s wealthy did in real life after the fire.
Each book focuses on the daughter of the fictional couple in the previous book. Each heroine, beginning with Anna Hartwell in Safe Refuge (Book 1) possesses tenacity as they face obstacles, some real and solid ones as well as emotional ones. And along the way they come to lean on the Lord’s strength more than their tenacity to get them through. Anna had to deal with not only her family losing everything in the fire and having to start over in Wisconsin, but also faces the will of her parents when she was set to marry a terrible man in an arranged marriage.
The urgency of dissolving the arrangement before the nuptials take place is heightened by her falling in love with a wonderful God-fearing Irish immigrant. A totally unsuitable match in her mother’s estimation.
Is tenaciousness a trait you like to see in the heroines of the books you read? Can you share about a favorite fictional character that exhibits this trait in a way that has kept you turning the pages? Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for either “Safe Refuge” or “Shelter Bay”– I am absolutely delighted to hear what you think!
Pam Meyers has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Her novels, set in and around her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, along with Safe Refuge, and Shelter Bay.(Books One and Two in the Newport of the West Series.) Tranquility Point, Book Three, will publish in April 2020.
Pam resides in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats, only an hour or so away from Lake Geneva where she often is found nosing around for new story ideas.
I spent my growing up years in an area where row crops were every bit as prevalent as wheat and hay fields.
One of the most popular row crops (next to onions) happens to be potatoes. Some of our neighbors grew acres and acres of them. One year, as a fundraising project for our senior class, we went and picked up all the “cull” potatoes from their field and sold them for something like a $1 per bag by going door to door in our small town. That was not the most fun any 17-year-old ever had.
I also just happened to grow up in the same valley where one famous potato company started and continues today, known as Ore-Ida.
If you’ve ever stood in the freezer section at your grocery store and looked at the selection of frozen tater tots, French fries, or hash browns, you’ve probably seen Ore-Ida potatoes with their trademark red bag and distinctive logo.
Ore-Ida is currently produced and distributed by the H.J. Heinz Company, now part of Kraft Heinz. The primary production facility for Ore-Ida is located in the community of Ontario, Oregon, that sits right on the border between Oregon and Idaho. The company once employed more than 1,000 people, but today has around 600 employees.
Back in the mid-1930s, entrepreneurs and brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg began growing sweet corn in eastern Oregon. Their first company, Grigg Brothers, became one of the largest distributors of sweet corn in the United States.
Then, in 1949, with financial backing from their brother-in-law Otis Williams, the brothers rented a frozen food plant located in Ontario, at the border with Idaho, and converted it into a potato-processing facility. The three men purchased the facility in the early 1950s. In 1952, Oregon Frozen Foods Company was founded.
Initially, the company produced and sold frozen corn and French fries. In 1953, Tater Tots were invented and patented by Ore-Ida. The tots were made from seasoned slivers of potatoes left over from the French fry production. (Oddly enough, Tater Tots are the brand’s most popular product).
The company went on to build a second plant in Burley, Idaho, where many of their potato fields were located. The company’s name became a syllabic abbreviation of the two states where they ran the companies and the original logo consisted of outlines of Oregon and Idaho with Ore-Ida superimposed in italicized letters.
Ore-Ida was acquired by the H.J. Heinz Company in 1965. Ore-Ida’s headquarters were located in Boise, Idaho, until 1999 when a new frozen foods division was created at Heinz’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
So the next time you reach into the freeze for a bag of fries or tots, you’ll know a little history of the company of you bought the Ore-Ida brand.
Of course, I have to share a recipe with you today. This one includes Tater Tots and is easy to whip together for a fast meal.
Tater Tot Casserole
2 pounds of ground beef
1 package of Ore-Ida Tater Tots
1 cup shredded colby-jack cheese (or cheddar)
1 tsp. onion flakes (or grated fresh onion)
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place tater tots into a 9 x 13 casserole pan (I lightly spray mine with non-stick spray first) and set in the oven while you brown the ground beef. I add the onion flakes, seasoning and salt and pepper to the ground beef. When the hamburger is browned, mix it with the cream of mushroom soup and spoon over the top of the tater tots. Layer on cheese and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soup is hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for a few more minutes until cheese is a melted layer of luscious gooey-ness. Remove from oven and serve. I like to sprinkle the top of my casserole with a bit of chopped fresh parsley. Captain Cavedweller likes his straight up “without any of that weird green stuff on there.”
What is your favorite fast or easy dinner recipe using potatoes?
Stop in later to see if your name has been added to the list of semi-finalists!
According to a recent AAA Travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans are planning to take a family vacation in 2019. How about you? Will you be hitting the road this summer?
Nothing makes time in the car pass more quickly and pleasantly than getting lost in a great book. Whether you are driver or passenger, the Fillies have you covered — because for this month’s giant giveaway, we are including audio books as well as print and e-books in our prize package. Hooray!
All the books the Fillies are giving away have a tie-in to the road trip theme with some aspect of the plot taking place on the road.
Check out the fabulous collection of audio, print, and e-books you could win!
Not only that, but what’s a road trip without car games, snacks, and DVDs to watch? Our winner for July will also win all of these fun goodies!
To enter for a chance to win all these amazing prizes, use the form below.
Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 14.
Book lovers look forward to summer all year long. Why? Because we finally have time to read all those books that have been patiently waiting on the TBR pile! Summer is all about relaxation, vacations, and mental escapes with your favorite cowboy hero.
The Petticoats & Pistols Fillies love our readers, and we want to help you get the most out of your summertime experience. So we decided to offer three giant giveaways — one in June, July, and August on the first Sunday of the month. Each will have a different theme. All will feature fun gifts and fabulous summer reads.
Our theme for June is Take a Cowboy to the Beach. Whether you are lying on the sand or sitting poolside, summer relaxation often combines sun, water, and a good read. We’re here to give you everything you need to make that happen.
Our June contest winner will receive:
A summer beach tote; an insulated, stainless steel water bottle; Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen; and a beach towel featuring wild horses gamboling through the surf.
But wait. There’s more. The winner will also receive a stack of escape-worthy stories by your favorite Filly authors. Each of these books loosely fits the beach theme by either having a plot point that centers around water or using a “fish-out-of-water” romance trope.
To enter for a chance to win, please use the form below.
The contest ends on Saturday, June 8, and the winner will be posted on Sunday, June 9.
Do you remember what it was like to put your foot into the wrong shoe? Young children do this all the time. I still remember how uncomfortable it felt when I got in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention. Shoot, sometimes I still do this! It feels horrible.
But did you know that up until as late as 1850 shoemakers didn’t differentiate between the left and the right? They made both shoes straight with no curve in them. I can only imagine how awful they were to wear.
Change came with the invention of machinery for making shoes and they were finally able to produce left and right shoes.
I had so much fun writing SAVING THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE that releases in two weeks. Nora and Jack are so funny. Nora has a real problem with her shoes and the pair she wears coming West to marry are very worn. The heels are shaky and the shoes are too narrow.
The book opens with a stagecoach carrying her and an outlaw who’d just been arrested. Everything is so new to her.
Complication #1. He’s attached to a marshal by manacles (which are two handcuffs separated by a six-inch chain.) When the stagecoach wrecks and kills the marshal, Jack Bowdre asks Nora to get the key from the dead lawman’s pocket.
Complication #2. The second Nora unlocks the cuffs she slaps them around her own wrist and tosses the key away because she’s terrified Jack’ll leave her at the mercy of the man who’s following her.
To put it mildly, Jack is furious. Now he’s handcuffed to a woman he’s never seen and he’s about to lose his one chance of escape.
Before leaving the wreck, he removes the marshal’s boots, thinking they might come in handy. He and Nora spend a little time searching for the key but can’t find it and he hears riders up above the ravine, so he rushes her away.
Complication #3. Nora can’t keep up because of her shoes. He stops and yanks them off, wraps her feet in one of her petticoats, and puts the dead marshal’s boots on her. They can move much faster. Then later on, she switches those boots for a smaller pair that belong to the man chasing her.
They’re afoot with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a posse close behind. It’s five days to reach the safety of the outlaw town and the rugged terrain is unforgiving. The odds are stacked against them.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Jack didn’t tell her he’s an outlaw—one of several things he left out of his letters. Nora has her trials.
I think you’ll love this fast-paced fun story, the second in my Outlaw Mail Order Brides.
I also have a Spring Sweepstakes going on. Enter to win an e-reader plus 25 historical western romances. Margaret Brownley has hers in this too. Click on the image to enter.
I have a huge problem with shoes myself because my feet and ankles swell. Dressy shoes are the hardest to find. I just can’t find any that fit well, look decent, and are comfortable. Boots really are the best but not with a dress. I’ve finally gone to the Clark’s brand and they work pretty well. Do any of you have a similar problem? What do you wear for everyday and dressy?
I’m giving away an autographed copy of the book to three people who comment.
Did you know that the American Valentine greeting card business was started by a woman in 1847? Not only that, but she ran her extremely profitable business out of her home and employed other women in assembly-line craftsmanship years before Henry Ford made the business model famous.
Esther Howland was a college-educated woman who also happened to be the daughter of a stationer and bookseller. The year she graduated from the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847, she received an English Valentine from one of her father’s associates. At this time, such cards were imported from Europe and very expensive. They would only be available for the wealthy elite. Yet, as she looked at this card, her entrepreneurial mind saw possibilities. Have you ever found something in a store with an outrageous price tag and thought, “I could make that for a fraction of the cost”? Well, Esther not only had that thought, but she created a business plan.
She asked her father to order lace paper, paper flowers, and other supplies from Europe, then she set about creating her own designs. When she had a dozen, she presented them to her brother who reluctantly agreed to take them with him on his next sales trip. She hoped to receive perhaps $200 worth of orders. She received $5,000!
She dedicated a room in her home as her manufacturing shop, recruited her friends to help, and got to work. She would create the patterns for each piece of the valentine, then pass them off to the other girls to duplicate. Each one would be in charge of a certain piece of the multi-layered card. By 1849, the assembly line had been perfected and her business was born. She began to advertise and eventually expanded into the Christmas and birthday card market as well. Her basic cards sold for five cents. Her more elaborate designs containing hidden doors, ribbon trimmings, and gilded lace would sell for as much as one dollar.
In 1870, she incorporated the New England Valentine Company, but she continued running the business out of her home until 1879 when she moved it into a factory. She even allowed customized verse. All of her cards included four lines of poetic verse. However, if you fell in love with a particular card design but didn’t care for the verse, you could purchase The New England Valentine Co.’s Valentine Verse Book and simply cut one you like better from the 131 available in the book and paste it over the verse that didn’t suit. Clever woman!
********** GIVEAWAY **********
In honor of Valentine’s Day and clever women who create romantic masterpieces, I’d like to invite you to a Facebook party and offer a chance to win one of three fantastic Valentine prizes.
Sixteen fabulous historical authors are coming together to celebrate romance on Feb 13-14. We’ll be chatting live with readers during this party, and I’d love to see you there. My time slot is
7:00 pm CST on Feb 14th.