The Charms of a Historic Hotel–Including a Ghost

 I’ve wanted to blog about the historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming for a several months now.  My husband and I stayed there last September when we traveled to Wyoming for research and then on to Denver for my brother’s birthday.  October got away from me with my oldest son’s wedding, then I had a December first deadline. Christmas came, then The Outlaw’s Return released in February.  There’s been lots of stuff to talk about, so I put the Plains Hotel on hold.  The time has come to give this quaint old hotel a bit of attention.  

In its day, it was quite extraordinary. Built in 1911, the hotel came into existence just a few decades after Cheyenne’s rambunctious beginnings. The idea for a luxury hotel was first arose at a meeting of the Industrial Club in December 1909.   By February of the next year, financing had been arranged and William DuBois was hired as the architect, and in March a contract was awarded. Construction began in June 1910 and it was completed in March 2011 for $250,000.

Those are the dry details. The fun begins with the hotel’s grand opening. It was attended by oil tycoons, cattle barons, Army officers in dress uniform, and women in the finest fashions of the day. A good time was no doubt had by all . . . except the man who married a bride named Rosie.  The story alleges that Rosie caught her new husband with a prostitute, shot them both dead and then turned the gun on herself.  Rumor has it Rosie’s ghost walks about the second floor.

I wish I’d known the story when my husband and I checked in. We were on the second floor and I’d have kept my eyes out for her!  

Rosie would have provided an interesting memory, but the hotel didn’t need ghosts to grab my attention. I was focused on the beautiful stained glass ceiling, the sweeping stairs and a host of things that reminded me of a scene in Wyoming Lawman that takes place in a fictional Cheyenne hotel.  I could picture my characters seated just as I described in the second chapter.  Deputy Wiley and Pearl Oliver felt alive as we walked around the lobby. It was almost the same as seeing Rosie.

Over the years, many celebrities have stayed at the Plains. Hollywood has visited while making movies, and so have Presidents.  Among the famous visitors were Presidents Truman, Nixon and Reagan, and actors Jimmy Stewart, Karl Malden and Ricardo Montalban. I can’t hear Ricardo Montalban’s name without thinking of Fantasy Island, and in a way that’s where I was . . . my own island of the past, though it wasn’t a historically pure experience. Instead of the gentle clop of horses on cobblestone streets, we heard car horns and ambulance sirens through the open window.  And instead of reading by lamplight, we turned on the TV and munched on microwave popcorn.

We had a wonderful time.  I hope to go back sometime!

Available Now from Amazon . . . The Outlaw’s Return

Valerie Hansen – Rescuing the Heiress


I told you the last time I visited that there was going to be an earthquake and terrible fire in San Francisco in April of 1906. See? I was right.

RESCUING THE HEIRESS is a book I’ve wanted to write since I began researching early California history. By the time of the devastating, historical quake, electric lights were beginning to replace gas flames in the more affluent neighborhoods and quite a few motorcars had joined the countless horse-drawn carriages, wagons and streetcars crowding the busy streets.

Rigid class distinctions still existed and so did the chasm between the rights of men versus women. It was high time for the suffragette movement to blossom and wealthy, sheltered women like Tess Clark were more than ready to take part. High society insisted that Tess associate with only those born to her elite class, so the heroic man who made her heart beat faster was definitely off-limits. Then, the ground began to tremble and literal walls weren’t the only kind that collapsed.

Not surprisingly, underhanded political dealings also played a part in the much of the ultimate destruction. Many details only came to light years later but there was a power struggle going on at the same time that innocent people were fighting for their lives and their city was collapsing around them.

One of the pictures I’ve included is of me when my church was having an old-fashioned day with “dinner on the ground”. My long, blue skirt had a bustle but I quickly realized that I couldn’t even fit behind the wheel of my car while wearing it! No wonder fancy-dressed ladies had to be helped into carriages. 🙂 I would have been a prime candidate for bloomers if I’d had to dress this way all the time.

I know firsthand about earthquakes because I spent many years in Southern California and experienced some quakes that were so strong it was impossible to even stand, let alone walk. We lived in the foothills and, like Tess’s house, ours was built on more solid ground. That didn’t keep it from shaking but it did change the way the vibrations affected the structure.

I also identify strongly with Tess because my husband was a firefighter. Loving a fireman can be scary but there are also plenty of laughs. Like the time he rescued a basket of kittens from a burning building and was still being teased about it years later. Or the time my kids, both volunteer firefighters, collided in the hallway at home while responding to a nighttime alarm and their father jumped over their prone bodies and kept on going! He beat them to the fire station, too. 🙂

Until we meet again, you’ll find me getting into trouble in contemporary times because I write suspense and romance for Love Inspired as well as historical novels. I’ll be giving away two autographed copies of RESCUING THE HEIRESS plus two of my previous Western historical titles so be sure to enter to win one of them while you’re here! 

Thanks to Petticoats and Pistols for inviting me to blog.

What Would Our Characters Say?

When I told my best friend I’d received a Kindle for Christmas, she called me a traitor. I don’t blame her. A few months ago I’d have called me a traitor, too.  An e-reader? Me?  NO. THANK. YOU. I wanted to feel the book in my hands.  I wanted the pleasure of shelves filled with pages, both read and unread.  Books are my friends!  I like being with them.

And then I started hearing rave reviews for Kindles and Nooks. I wasn’t ready to make the leap, but my husband saw the glint in my eye and got me a Kindle for Christmas.

Traitor or not, I love it.  It’s easy on the eyes. I can enlarge the font, which means I can read without my eyes getting fatigued. Best of all, it’s easy to hold.  After a day at the computer, thick paperbacks are hard on my wrists.  The Kindle gets propped on a pillow and that’s it.  I can read more, read faster and read comfortably. With the built-in light in the cover, I can also read in the dark.

My friend had a good point, though. What about power outages?  What if I can’t charge the battery?  The battery lasts a long time, but my mind flashed to that old Twilight Zone episode where Burgess Meredith plays the sole survivor of some sort of global devastation. He’s actually happy, because at last he can read all the books in the world . . . and then his eyeglasses break.  That episode terrified me as a child and it still does!   

As an author, I see other benefits to e-readers.  My backlist is easily available. That’s a real plus when an author does a series and the publishing schedule isn’t as tight as she would have liked.  That happened with “The Women of Swan’s Nest” series.  It’s made up of four books:

The Maverick Preacher, February 2009

Wyoming Lawman, October 2010

The Outlaw’s Return, February 2011

Marrying the Major, October 2011

I’m glad readers who pick up The Outlaw’s Return will have access to the first two books in the series.  The original “Swan’s Nest” print schedule got juggled when I did Kansas Courtship for a continuity. My first Love Inspired Historical, The Bounty Hunter’s Bride, is a prequel to the series and is also available for download.

So what do you all think?  Have you tried a Kindle or a Nook?  What do you like best? What do you dislike?  And last, can you imagine the reaction of our Old West heroes and heroines who owned very few books and treasured the ones they had?  I can just imagine Mary Larue, the heroine in The Outlaw’s Return, staring in shock at a Kindle and saying, “What in the world!”

Coming February 8th — The Outlaw’s Return

J.T. Quinn would know Mary Larue’s beautiful voice anywhere. He just never expected to hear her singing in a Denver church. The gunslinger comes to town to reunite with the only woman he’s ever loved . . . but the actress he left behind two years ago is gone. In her place is a deeply Christian woman with a successful restaurant, the town’s respect and a pair of younger siblings in her care. J.T. doubts he’ll ever be worthy of Mary again, but he can protect her and her siblings from the threats of a local ne-er-do-well. And with courage and faith, perhaps even an outlaw can find redemption . . . and love.


The Outlaw’s Return is available from Amazon in both print and Kindle formats. Click here to see my full backlist on Amazon.