Tag: Jeannie Watt

Sneak Preview ~ Montana Homecoming by Jeannie Watt

Have you ever had a nemesis? Someone who challenged you, brought out your best and worst in the heat of battle? That’s what Cassie Callahan is dealing with in my latest sweet romance, MONTANA HOMECOMING, which is being released in July. Here’s a quick sneak peek:

NEVER GIVE THE opening bid.

Cassie Callahan gripped her auction paddle, determined to keep it on her lap until the proper moment. She was, after all, the queen of self-control. The embodiment of coolness under fire. As an assistant school district superintendent, she dealt with unpredictable school boards, principals, teachers and students by calmly addressing facts, laying out pros and cons, refusing to budge unless a decent compromise presented itself. And then she became a master negotiator. She loved it—or at least she used to love it. Lately she’d had the nagging feeling that she was putting more into her job than she was getting out of it.

Burnout, pure and simple, so it made sense that if she had something to occupy her time when she wasn’t on the job, she’d once again feel the thrill of battle as she headed out to work each morning. Thus, the auction paddle.

“Sold!” the auctioneer bawled as a nice palomino gelding was led out of the auction ring, and Cassie shifted in her seat. Showtime.

The palomino had sold for a lower price than Cassie had expected, as had the two horses before. Maybe she’d be able to buy McHenry’s Gold for a reasonable price; maybe the people attending the semiannual Gavin, Montana, horse auction didn’t understand the bloodlines the mare represented. Or perhaps they didn’t care.

Unlikely. McHenry horses were legendary, but that wasn’t why Cassie was bidding. This particular McHenry mare was a daughter of the mare that had seen her through her turbulent teen years. The last daughter. The mother, McHenry’s Rebel, had died the previous year.

“The next mare up is something of a gem, folks.”

No. Don’t make her look good. Just start the bidding.

Cassie clenched her teeth together, then instantly relaxed her jaw. No more of that. She’d promised her dentist.

The auctioneer continued singing the praises of McHenry’s Gold and Cassie had to fight to not stand up and tell him to just shut up and get on with the bidding.

Of course, she didn’t, because that was what old Cassie would have done, back before she’d had a couple thousand classes in management and psychology. Back before she realized that direct confrontation didn’t always work.

“We’ll open the bidding at ten thousand. Do I hear ten? Ten? Ten?”

Ten? The last horse had opened at three.

The ring steward led the mare in a circle. She had excellent conformation but wasn’t flashy otherwise. A bay with a broad white blaze and one white hind foot—a carbon copy of her mother, and Cassie wanted her. She practically had to sit on her paddle.

The auctioneer continued his patter. The guy in front of Cassie leaned forward as if to get a better view of the mare. His paddle hand twitched when the auctioneer lowered the opening bid to five thousand dollars and suddenly Cassie’s paddle was in the air.

The spotter pointed at her. “I have five,” the auctioneer announced. “Do I hear six? Six?”

No six. No six.

“Five and a half? Five and a—I have five and a half.”

Cassie leaned forward as she searched the crowd on the opposite side of the sale ring to see who had the temerity to bid against her. She couldn’t see who’d bid in the sea of cowboy hats. Well, she’d spot him next time if he dared do it again. She raised her paddle for a bid of six thousand, then narrowed her eyes as she spotted the man who bid six and a half.

No.

Really?

Her dentist would have hated what she did to her teeth when Travis McGuire met her gaze across the distance that separated them, looking very much the smug know-it-all she knew him to be.

She was in trouble, because when Travis wore that expression, it meant game on. She searched her memory, trying to remember who had won their last confrontation years ago.

Maybe it had been a draw.

This one would not be a draw. Or a loss.

No one appeared interested in bidding higher than six thousand five hundred. The auctioneer worked the crowd, then began intoning, “Seven? Seven? Six and three-quarters… No? Going…going…”

Cassie thrust her paddle in the air just after the second going. She didn’t look at Travis, because she told herself she was beyond their old rivalry. She’d thought he would be, too. They were never going to be friends, but after so many years, surely they could be civil?

“I have a bid of six and three-quarters,” the auctioneer announced.

Cassie could go to seven. That was her limit. But when Travis raised his paddle at seven thousand, she knew that she was going over budget. She wanted that horse.

“Seven and a half? Anyone? Sev—”

Up went her paddle.

“Eight?” He pointed at Travis, who sat motionless, giving Cassie a flicker of hope. “Seven and three quarters?”

Travis nodded and Cassie’s stomach fell.

The auctioneer pointed at Cassie. “Eight?”

She hesitated, then lifted the paddle. After that things became a blur as Travis continued to meet every bid and her blood pressure continued to rise. The seesaw continued until the auctioneer reached ten thousand five hundred. He pointed at Travis, who grimly shook his head. Cassie’s chest swelled. Unless someone had been waiting in the wings for just this moment…

“Sold to number 325.”

Only then, when the heat of battle began to ebb, did she fully process what she’d just done. Ten thousand five hundred dollars. Three thousand five hundred more than she’d allotted. She never got carried away like that. Her gaze strayed across the auction ring to where Travis sat with his forearms resting on his thighs, staring at the ground between his boots. She hadn’t seen the man in over five years, and he still had the power to bring out the worst in her.

And there you have it, the beginning of a new challenge for both Travis and Cassie as she temporarily returns to her home ranch before beginning a sabbatical. I wonder what’s going to happen with Travis and Cass?

AMAZON 

Have a great day!

Jeannie

Jeannie Watt’s Winners!

My two winners are Trudy and Joye! I want to thank everyone who responded. I loved reading  your responses and I got so many great ideas! 

Trudy and Joye, please email me at jeanniewites @ gmail .com (no spaces). All I need is your email address and I’ll send you each a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

Thanks again, everyone!

Camp Cooking and a Give Away!

First I’d like to thank everyone for stopping by today. I hope you are all staying safe during these difficult times!

If you are like me, you’re cooking more than usual, and probably being more careful with ingredients. I have to admit that over the years (as in since college and the early days of my marriage when money was sooo tight) I’ve become more wasteful. If the lettuce is rusting, chances were that I’d toss the rest of the head and buy a new one rather than salvaging what could be salvaged. Leftovers often disappeared in the fridge, only to be found when it was “too late”.

But you know what? I know better. And I’ve done better.

This is camp during the summer. The big strip is the landing strip. If you look to the middle left, you’ll see the trailers the crew lived in and the larger building which was my domain–the cookhouse.

Before I started college, I helped cook in a remote Alaska mining camp. It was in the Arctic, 250 air miles north of Fairbanks during the pipeline construction days. I actually spent three summers at camp, but only cooked during one of those summers. I was the bull cook, known in politer circles as the sous chef. I  helped the head cook, who just happened to be my mom.

As you can imagine, fresh ingredients were rare. We got them when the grocery order came in by air. Sometimes my mom and dad would travel to Fairbanks and buy the groceries, but often we’d put in an order and the grocer would send the stuff on a plane heading our way. Sometimes, believe it or not, we got the worst produce they had to offer. We weren’t exactly in a position to complain, so I learned a lot about salvaging ingredients.

We only got salads right after the plane came, and after weeks of canned and skillet fried food, salads were pretty darned tasty. If I could save half or even a quarter of a going-bad tomato, I did. Lettuce was often peeled back to less than half its original size.

Potatoes and onions usually came in better condition and kept longer, but there was still a lot of salvaging going on. Anything was better than eating only canned food. Speaking of cans, the pantry was left intact when we left for the winter months and of course the cans froze solid. What does canned food look like after a good solid Arctic freeze? Well, creamed corn looks pretty scary. When my folks were in Fairbanks and I was in charge of feeding the crew, one of the crew members and I dyed the cream corn purple using food coloring to distract from its grayish-yellow appearance.  The crew was definitely distracted. (We did practice safety measures with the canned goods and only used those that had an intact seal and showed no signs of damage from freezing.)

Milk was a challenge. We froze it, but it separated upon thawing. It was still fine for cooking, but not so much for drinking. I discovered the reconstituted evaporated milk was far superior to dried milk for drinking. In fact, I kind of developed a taste for it.

I’ve been thinking about my Alaska days as I’m working my way through my pantry and putting my camp cooking skills to work. If it can be salvaged, I’m eating it. Leftovers will not be pushed to the back of the fridge. Milk in cartons will be savored and when it’s gone, I’ll break out the evaporated. My prima dona food ways are going by the wayside and I’m interested in hearing about your kitchen experiences.

If you would like to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards, please tell me a quick tip you’ve used when ingredients were scarce or missing. Winners will be announced on Friday, April 3.

Stay safe everyone! Sending love and blessings,

Jeannie

Movin’ Cattle

How do you move a herd of cattle from one place to another?

This is a cattle drive near our house that we passed on the way to work one morning. This drive lasted several days.

When I lived in Nevada, most of my neighbors did it the old fashioned way–they had a cattle drive. Sometimes the cows were driven many miles. It wasn’t unusual for it to take two or three days to move the cattle from the home ranch to their summer pasture. At the the end of the grazing season, the cattle would then be driven back to the home ranch.

Cattle tend to stick together, which is a blessing, but it seems there’s always a few who want to go somewhere other than where they’re supposed to. This is why there are riding positions during a cattle drive. The point rider rides near the front, choosing the

direction the head will go. Swing or flank riders ride beside the cattle on both sides, the swing rider toward the front of the herd and the flank riders toward the read. The very worst position to ride is drag–at the the rear of the herd. The drag riders are often choked  with dust, and may wear bandannas over their nose and mouths.

Dogs are often essential partners during a drive, keeping cows together and making sure that there are no laggers.

There are other ways to move cattle. On our ranch, where we never move the cattle off the property, we open gates and chase them where they need to go. There’s always a lead cow. In our case it’s an older cow named 5X. She’s the one who charges to the front and tells the rest of the girls where to go. If we can get 5X pointed in the direction we want her to take everyone, all is well.

Another way to move cattle is to lure them along. We got stopped on our way to town the other day by a neighbor driving a tractor with a round hay bale on the back, and around 400 cows following him. The front cows were nibbling on the bale and the ones in the rear were following along because 

that’s what herds do–they stick together. There were a couple of guys on 4-wheelers riding drag. It was fun to watch.

Of course there’s always the option of loading the cattle into a truck and driving them to their pasture. That’s the fastest way to go a distance, but it’s also expensive, which is why so many people stick with the tried and true and drive their cattle the old fashioned way.

 

Montana Dad by Jeannie Watt and a Give Away!

I’m so excited that my next book will be out on February 1st, three short days from now!

Montana Dad is the second of my Sweet Home Montana series about the Callahan family, which is part of the wholesome Harlequin Heartwarming line. 

Before I tell you about the story, I want to mention that Harlequin has updated their covers starting this month, and Montana Dad is among the first in the re-brand. I’m thrilled with this cover, which really speaks to the special relationship Nick Callahan has with his two little girls.

Nick Callahan is a widowed dad who recently moved back home to the Callahan ranch so that his daughters will be closer to his mom and sister. Alexandra Ryan has moved across the country to live in her aunt’s isolated house next to the Callahan ranch because she believes she’s being stalked by associates of her former boss, who absconded with a great deal of money. Things come to head when Nick asks for access across her land while his bridge is being repaired. Alex says no, then discovers that the locals don’t take it well when someone messes with their neighbors.

Here is an excerpt:

Alex Ryan climbed out of her car and stalked toward Nick with murder in her eyes. Apparently he had something to answer for, which was odd, because wasn’t he the one getting screwed over in this deal? Wasn’t he the one who quite literally had to traverse ten miles of bad road to get home?

She came to a stop a few feet away and pointed a finger at him. “You had me blackballed at the lumber store.”

“Cooper’s Building Supply?”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t.”

She gave him a puh-leeze look as her green gaze burned into him. “I’ll drive to Missoula to get what I need. And you can enjoy the fact that you’re putting me out, but remember this—petty revenge is bad for the soul.”

“I’ll remember that when I take the ten-mile detour to my ranch.” He folded his arms over his chest and looked down at her. Steam was practically coming out of her ears. “And if I engaged in vengeful behavior, it’d be a lot more creative than having someone blackballed at Cooper’s.” His voice was little more than a growl, but it must have carried, because he heard the wheels of a grocery cart come to an abrupt halt behind him, then start moving again.

“People are looking,” Alex said in a hissing whisper.

“Of course they’re looking. Wouldn’t you?” He glanced over to see Mary Watkins and her three kids staring at them as they loaded their SUV with groceries. And the cart that had stopped so abruptly behind him was being pushed by Lester Granger, who would totally enjoy spreading this tale at the co-op coffee klatch. Nick smiled tightly and raised a hand at his neighbors.

Nothing to see here, folks.

Mary waved back.

When Nick shifted his attention back to Alex, she let out a breath that seemed to come from her toes. “I need to go.”

The expression she’d worn when he’d come to her ranch that first day was back. Half cautious, half defiant. Fully self-protective. What was this woman running from? Was she a criminal? An abused wife on the run? His gaze strayed to her ring finger, which was bare and showed no signs of a ring having been recently removed. Okay, probably not married, but one didn’t need to be married to be abused, and she was as jumpy as he would expect an abuse victim to be. She’d asked him not to judge until he knew her circumstances. Fair enough. Of course, it’d be nice if she explained her circumstances, but he didn’t see that happening anytime soon.

“I’ll talk to Emmie at the building-supply store.”

“I…” She swallowed, obviously not expecting the gesture. “Thank you.” It was as if politeness was so deeply engrained in her that now that her anger had faded, she couldn’t simply get in the car and slam the door like she so obviously wanted to.

“You’re welcome,” he replied. She was there, living on the property he’d wanted, and avoiding her wasn’t going to change the situation. “What did you need at the building supply?”

“A hinge. I’m fostering a dog. I have to have a secure enclosure.”

If you would like to win a copy–print or digital–of the first book in the series A RANCH BETWEEN THEM, just let me know in the comments. I’ll announce a winner on Friday.

Game Day — the Western TV Trivia Edition

Welcome to the first Game Day of 2020!

Today we’re playing for a $10 Amazon gift certificate. I love trivia, so my game is a 1950/1960’s western television game.

I have five sets of clues. At the end of the clues I ask you to name an actor or a character and perhaps one more bit of information. To play, number your responses from 1 to 5 in your comment and give the answers only.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so stay turned!

And here we go:

THE CLUES

1) I played a character named Rowdy Yates, who was a ramrod on a cattle drive. Who am I and what it the name of the show?

2) I hosted a year of the popular TV series Death Valley Days in the 1960s, then went on to be elected president of the United States. Who am I?

3) I played the Marshall of Dodge City for 20 year on the longest running TV western. What is my character’s name and what is the show?

4) I rode a pinto horse name Cochise and lived with my father and brothers on a ranch named after a type of pine tree. Who am I and what it the name of our ranch?

5) I’m an actual historic figure and in my TV show I “wore a cane and derby hat”. What is my name?

Feel free to look things up if necessary. I’m looking forward to your answers!

 

Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch…

Hello everyone!

The holidays are fast approaching and, as usual, I’m wondering where the time went between harvesting tomatoes and calculating how long it takes to thaw a turkey in the fridge. 

This is my favorite time on the ranch. The cows are on winter pasture, so we don’t have to feed them everyday. Likewise with the horses. If the weather cooperates, the horses and cows might be on pasture until spring. We get a lot of wind where we live, so the snow blows into drifts, scrubbing the pastures and allowing the cows, horses, deer and antelope to continue to graze. We have a herd of close to 30 antelope that winter with the cows.

The only guy we have to feed is the bull, and he’s on a diet. His bedding is edible, and his weight kind of got out of control, so now we have him on rations. 

That said we did have a bit of early snow. This is my sweetie and I feeding in September! 

And here are the cows waiting to be fed…in September.

Thankfully the weather has calmed down, the snow melted and we were able to do some last minute fence fixing. Fencing-fixing is like laundry–it never ends.

And a young  moose came to visit. He’s actually larger than he looks in the picture. He’s about as big as a horse–and totally fearless. Thankfully, he took exception to the riding lawnmower and decided to settle in a place with a little less noise.

Now that winter is almost here, I’m looking forward to spending my free time writing (so many ideas!), sewing and reading.  I have some history books I want to read and a lot of western romances to catch up on.

How do you plan to spend your time as the holidays approach?

 

Jeannie Watt New Release and Give Away!

I am so pleased to announce the release of the first book of my Sweet Home, Montana series, A Ranch Between Them.

This is the story of Katie Callahan and Brady O’Neil. Brady and Katie’s brother were best friends in high school and Katie had a mad crush on Brady. Brady’s home life wasn’t the best and he didn’t feel like he was worthy of Katie, so he kept his distance. Time passed, as it does, and they went their separate ways–Katie to a corporate career in the city, and Brady to the rodeo circuit.

When the story opens, Brady’s suffered a career-ending injury and and has signed on to manage the Callahan Ranch while he heals, unaware that Katie, tired of city life, is coming home to stay. (I just love doing things like this to my characters.)

This scene is from the first chapter of the book, after Katie has rescued Brady from an ATV accident–something he would have been able to do himself had he not been inured. 

After parking the truck next to the main house, Katie half expected Brady to bolt—or to come as close to bolting as he could with his injuries, both old and new—but instead he turned toward her and regarded her for a long moment from under the brim of his ball cap, giving her a moment to study him back.

He’d been good-looking in high school, but now he bordered on spectacular with his dark hair and green eyes. The planes of his face had become more pronounced with age, as had the laugh lines around his eyes. She doubted that Brady had laughed a lot lately, but the lines made her realize how much time had passed since they’d seen one another. They’d both aged, changed. They weren’t the people they’d once been.

“I’m hurting, Katie.”

The candid admission startled her. Brady O’Neil admitting weakness. Brady, who’d refused to go to the clinic. Brady, who’d never let on that his parents were not the loving parents they appeared to be. Nick had clued her in on that small fact.

“Hurting inside or out?” She half expected him to pull into himself after she asked the question, refuse to answer or deflect the question. He didn’t.

“Out.” His jaw shifted sideways, and he sucked in a breath before saying, “Both. Which is why I need my space. Maybe, before I go, I can explain everything. But for now…” He made a frustrated gesture. “Like I said, I need my space.”

“Do you think I’m going to try to mother you, or smother you or something to that effect? Because that isn’t the case. I’m here to sort my life out, too.”

There was color in his cheeks. This wasn’t easy for him, but now that he knew she was going to be sharing his domain, he was establishing boundaries. Like she would encroach where she wasn’t wanted. Although perhaps he had cause to think that. She hadn’t exactly taken the hint when he’d tried to shut her out when they were teens.

“What makes you think I’m going to insinuate myself into your life?” she added.

“You’re a helper, Katie, and I don’t want help. I want to find out what I’m capable of alone.”

“Well, we now know your capabilities in the wrecked four-wheeler department.” Katie instantly held up her hand. “Low blow. Sorry. But what makes you think I’m going to pay any attention to you at all?”

“Katie,” he said softly, “you rescue things. Puppies, kittens, leppie calves.”

Okay. So, she’d rescued a few orphan calves. Some abandoned puppies. A few kittens. Big deal. She propped a hand on her hip. “And that’s your big fear? That I’m going to try to rescue you?” She lifted her eyebrows in a speaking expression. “Like I did today?”

Brady didn’t bite.

Katie let out a frustrated huff of breath. “Fine. We’ll make a no-rescue pact. I won’t rescue you, again, and you won’t rescue me.” She lifted her chin. “Not that I would need rescued.”

He cocked an eyebrow and the color rose in her cheeks as she got his point. “I can now change a tire by myself, and if I get stranded after midnight, I have a cell phone.” And a lot more street smarts than she’d had back in the day.

“How about instead of a pact, you treat me like Ed Cordell? An employee of the ranch.”

Ed, the former ranch manager, had kept to himself, did his job and did it well. He’d been all business, and Katie had never been able to warm up to the man. But he’d kept the ranch running smoothly, she’d give him that.

“If you’re asking me to treat you like Ed, you’re serious about this leave-you-alone thing.”

“It’s not personal, Katie,” he repeated. “It’s what I need right now.”

Katie lifted her chin. “If you need to be left alone, I’ll respect your wishes. Believe it or not, I no longer need to tag along where I’m not wanted. I’ve changed over the past decade.”

“I noticed.”

She frowned at the unexpected remark, but before she could come up with a comeback or a question, Brady held out a hand. Katie stared at it for a second, feeling as if she was teetering on the brink of something dangerous, which was crazy because how dangerous could it be shaking hands with a guy who didn’t want her—or anyone for that matter—around? She resolutely put her hand in his, her nerves jumping as his warm, work-roughened palm made contact with hers and his fingers closed.

“Deal?”

Katie nodded briskly before pulling her fingers free. “Deal.” She felt as if she’d just gotten a slow-motion electrical shock. That was the only way she could describe the tingle that gripped her body when they made contact, ultimately making her stomach tumble.

The vestiges of a crush from the distant past. That was all it was.

She reached for her door handle, her heart beating harder than before, and still feeling the warmth of his fingers on hers. She pushed her hands into her back pockets and met Brady’s gaze. “This is where we go our separate ways, living our parallel lives on the Callahan Ranch?”

He gave his head a slow shake, those mossy green eyes full of an emotion she couldn’t quite read as he said, “I doubt we’ll be able to do that, but when we do meet—”

“You’re Ed to me.”

THE GIVE AWAY!  If you’d like to win a copy of A Ranch Between Them, all you have to do is to tell me in the comments if you had a mad crush in high school.  🙂 

The winner will be announced on Thursday afternoon, so stay tuned!