Cast for the Story of Your Life

I thought I’d have a little fun with my post today ~

It’s no secret that I love romantic movies. With a houseful of boys (actually men now) who love everything about sports, this can make for some eye-rolling and snarky comments (in a teasing kind of way) when I choose to watch something like Pride and Prejudice or Crossfire Trail for the umpteenth time on the family room TV. It’s a good thing my husband is the world’s biggest western movie buff. At least with westerns, there is often a love story and so we are both satisfied, although I sure wish they would make some new ones! (I’m looking forward to the DVD of The Longest Ride to be released!)

With the books I write, it helps to “cast” my stories to get a feel for the characters. Often I will change halfway through the writing because I realize the actor or model I’ve chosen no longer fits or portrays the mood of my character.

Here are the ones I used for my latest two stories –

Garrett Hedlund 6
Garrett Hedlund
Julianne Hough-001
Julianne Hough

Dance With a Cowboy in the Wild West Christmas Anthology my hero look-a-like was a sensitive, moody Garrett Hedlund and the fire-cracker heroine was Julianne Hough


Kate Hudson 2
Kate Hudson

Pam's heroThe Gunslinger and the Heiress ~ I felt the Heiress should definitely have Kate Hudson’s spunk. And for the hero, I chose a model from one of Pam Crooks earlier Harlequin books ~ Her Lone Protector. (I wish I could give you his name…I have no idea what it is!)

Looking at these four now, I see that they are very similar in looks so I am glad I made a change for my next story!


Kiera Knightley
Dillon McDermott 2-001
Dylan McDermott

For Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs ~ the story I have just finished rewrites on, my heroine and hero inspirations were Kiera Knightley for the sweet spinster mercantile owner and Dylan McDermott as the world-weary government field agent. (Next time I post, I hope to have a book cover to share with you!)Iron flourish med

If my life were set back in western days, and the story of my life and romance were to go to the big screen (LOL) I would like a young Kate Hudson to play my part and probably Garrett Hedlund to play the part of my husband.

What about you? How many of you who are writers do this type of thing to envision your characters? Which actor/model would you chose to play your movie-star self in a western?

Lest We Forget

American flags on gravesites commemorate Memorial Day at at United States national cemetery.
American flags on gravesites commemorate Memorial Day at at United States national cemetery.

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
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This quote from Mark Twain makes me chuckle. He sure was a man full of sass and attitude. I chose to share it today because it is Memorial Day—a special day set aside to remember and honor those who gave their life in active military service to our country. Here in the USA we call them heroes.

At Petticoats and Pistols we write stories of the west with all types of heroes. The brash, the reluctant, the foolish, the wounded and what we call…the alpha. In romance, we write it with a Happily Ever After Ending and the hero is alive at the end. (YAY!) Although sometimes it is bittersweet and they have lost a lot to get to their HEA.

Merriam-Webster Hero Definition:

  • a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
  • rodeo queens & flagsan illustrious warrior
  • a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
  • one who shows great courage
  • the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work
  • the central figure in an event, period, or movement

No offense to Merriam-Webster’ definition but my heroes and heroines start out a bit more ordinary. It is only when they are caught up in extraordinary circumstances (a range war, a famine, a stampede, a robbery) that they must—through grit, intelligence, and determination—prevail.

Thinking about heroes and Memorial Day it comes to me that the men and women who have given their lives in service to their country are just that. They are you and me—ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Which makes their actions under duress – that much more noble. (Plus the fact some of them actually chose to race into danger!)

                                             ~A few of my favorite quotes on heroes~

Liberty & JusticeCourage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.
Billy Graham

It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.    Norman Schwarzkopf

A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Author Unknown

  Courage is being scared to death ~ and saddling up anyway.
John Wayne

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Don’t forget to take a moment today to remember and honor our fallen heroes!

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What are your thoughts on heroes and Memorial Day?

Pint. R&LThe Rebel and the Lady, has my favorite kind of hero. For one lucky commenter I will rush a print copy to your doorstep. Make sure to check back tomorrow to see if you won!

Here is the back blurb ~

Victoria Ruiz is on the run. Fleeing Santa Anna’s army, which is invading Texas. But Victoria is a lady of aristocratic descent. And this is no place for a lady.

Jake Dumont is a rebel. A loner. And a crack shot. He’s never stayed in one place for long. Never let anyone close enough to break through his guarded heart. Until now…

When Jake lays eyes on stunning Victoria, he’s rocked to the core. Here is a woman who will lay her life on the line for what she believes. Finally he’s found something worth fight for. The lady has stolen his heart. But can a rebel gunslinger claim an aristocrat as his bride?


Have you ever made candy cane reindeer?  The first time I ever got to do this fun project was when my daughter, Jessica, was young.

Having her Girl Scout troop dumped in my lap the night before our first meeting was an experience in itself.  I’d volunteered to be a co-leader.  The lady who was the leader suddenly decided she couldn’t commit, so it fell to me.  I knew nothing about Girl Scouts.  Thankfully, another very “Girl Scout savvy” mom stepped into help.

Scrambling for Christmas projects for the girls, this was one of the first ones we came up with.  Back “in the day,” we had to purchase all the needed items separately.  Now, they come in a kit—candy canes, red “Rudolph” puff-ball noses, google eyes, and green pipe cleaners.

Although this is a simple project, it is tons of fun, and the finished reindeer can be hung over the tree branches for decoration, given as party favors, or distributed as “tray favors” at local nursing homes.

Many years have passed since I put together my first candy cane reindeer.  Many changes have taken place in my life over the last fifteen years.

Last December, I found myself once again scrambling for an idea—this time for low-budget presents for my sister’s aides and nurses at the nursing home where she had been since October.  Annette is my “way older” sister—twelve years older than I.  She suffered a major stroke—her third—in January 2009 while she was in New York visiting her younger daughter for Christmas.  The very next month, in February, her older daughter died of breast cancer at age 39.  Annette was not able to see her or say good-bye as she would have liked to, since the stroke drastically affected her speech.

Those first months after her stroke were a series of ups and downs, the worst thing being that she was in New York with no way to get back to Oklahoma.  Flying was impossible with her medical conditions, so we raised money to bring her home via non-emergency medical transport.  Now with Christmas coming, we needed gifts—cheap gifts!

Oddly enough, those candy cane reindeer flew into my brain and wouldn’t leave me alone.  Annette only has the use of one hand, but she remains fiercely independent, as much as possible.  I remembered those Girl Scout days, and how the younger siblings of some of the girls wanted to “help” make the reindeer; the patience of the older girls as they guided little hands in gluing on the eyes and noses, twisting the pipe cleaner around the curved part of the candy cane to form the antlers. 

But that was truly no “gift”—better than nothing, but not quite the ticket.  Still, I bought one of the kits, and some “curly ribbon” and tiny ornaments to tie under the reindeers’ neck to embellish them a bit.  Then, I saw the answer to my dilemma in the Bath and Body Works ad!  Small, purse-size hand sanitizers in the most wonderful scents imaginable for $1 each!  I ordered 20 of them in a variety of scents.  Taping the candy cane reindeer to the small bottle of hand sanitizer would allow the reindeer to “stand.”  The tape could be easily removed, and the reindeer could serve as a tree ornament once it got to its new  “gift home.”

Annette was thrilled!  We spent two hours one Sunday making the reindeer together.  Once again, I found myself dabbing on the glue, holding the reindeer for other hands to put on the nose.  Then she held it while I put on the eyes, as they were hard for her to manage.  I tied the ornament and bow under the “neck” and twisted the pipe cleaner antlers on top.  We bent the antlers into all kinds of crazy shapes and laughed like we were kids.  Then I taped on the “legs”—the hand sanitizer—and the reindeer went to their “stall” to await being given away.

I couldn’t help but remember when I was little, how Annette was the one who had helped me do those kinds of crafts.  Now, everything is turned around, and I can enjoy this time together in a way that is far different than when I was a child.  I find myself in service to her, in a kind of odd role reversal. 

You wouldn’t think that candy cane reindeer could look much different from one another, but somehow, they do.  When I looked at them all lined up in their cardboard box stable, I thought of the fun we had making them, and the laughter we shared over simple things—a nose that wouldn’t stay on, crooked eyes, bent antlers.  I knew she had enjoyed it as much or more than I had by the look on her face, the way she kept straightening them up, re-bending the antlers on this one or that.  I watched her for a few seconds, and she turned to me with a smile—one of true happiness.  I hadn’t seen that for a long time. 

“I love you.”  She took my hand and held it for a moment.  “I love you,” she repeated; which means what she is saying, but was also her way of saying “thank you.” 

“I love you, too.”  Silently, I thanked her in my heart for still fighting, for still trying. For being my hero.

During this holiday time, I would love to hear about everyday heroes in your lives—people who wouldn’t think of themselves as anything special.  Maybe there’s someone you know who has given you a very precious gift that they don’t even realize or think of? Tell us about it! Everyday heroes are the very best!