It’s Yee-Haw Day!

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Karen Witemeyer

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. YeeHaw! I’m so blessed to be living out my happily ever after with my very own Texas hero. My cowboy is disguised as a computer nerd, but I love him through and through.

Not only are we hitting a milestone anniversary this year, but my son Wyatt just got married two weeks ago. So we have an abundance of wedding love to celebrate!

Winnie Griggs

I received some really fun news in mid-May – the reissue of my book Texas Cinderella hit the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List in Religious Fiction!! A great big thanks to all of you readers who support the authors here at Petticoats & Pistols – you mean the world to us!

Cathy McDavid

I received a small piece of good news the other day. I was selected (I’m told out of hundreds of applicants) to be one of 25 local authors featured by the Greater Phoenix Library. I wasn’t expecting the committee to pick a romance author. Or, if they were going to pick a romance author, to choose someone more famous than me. But I’m thrilled! I, along with the other authors, will be featured  in the library’s catalog, on their web page, in their branches, and in their newsletters. And while many of my books are already available through the library, they asked for my backlist and have purchased copies of the books they didn’t have. Very cool!

Karen Kay

 

Start The Wild West Series for $.99.

The Eagle and the Flame is on sale for $.99.

This is book #1 of The Wild West series.

Amazon:  https://tinyurl.com/bdz579x6

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y2bedgt3

ITUNES:  https://tinyurl.com/y38zy5h4

KOBO: https://tinyurl.com/yyeqoe72

GooglePlay:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Karen_Kay_The_Eagle_and_the_Flame?id=ta0LEAAAQBAJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book #2, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE

https://tinyurl.com/2s36p7dy

Book #3, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER

https://tinyurl.com/4k6ahyfr

 

 

 

Winnie’s Winners!!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat with me about quilts, quilting and other self-taught accomplishments!
I had a lot of fun reading all the responses and even learned a few things.  I tossed all the names in a cyber hat and drew out the following six names:

Charlene Whitehouse
debbiejpruss
Jcp
Megan
Rhonda Pierce
Sarah Taylor

Congratulations to all of you. You can go to the books page on my website HERE to make your selection from any book in my backlist and then email me from the contact page with the title and your mailing info. Looking forward to hearing from each of you!

Quilts, Both Fictional and Real

Hi, everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope you all are having a great start to 2022.

Today I want to talk about my first foray into the world of Amish Romance, Her Amish Wedding Quilt and then segue into recounting a few personal tidbits.
The book opens on the morning of Jan 1, the first day of a new year, and Greta Eicher is filled with thoughts of the bright and hopeful future she pictures for herself. She’s positive it will all come about in this new year. Of course, since this is a romance novel, things don’t work out quite as Greta imagined—in fact the whole New Years day ends in disaster for her.

Greta has an avocation to fall back on, though, while she licks her wounds—she’s not only the co-owner of a quilt shop but she is also an artist who creates breathtaking quilting designs. And it is in focusing in on her craft that she is able to heal, move forward and eventually open herself up to real love. I got so into her story that I actually created Greta’s heart & dove stitch design that plays a part in the big resolution of the story.

While I’m not nearly as talented as Greta, I did actually make a quilt once myself. It was over 40 years ago, back before I had the happy distractions of kids and a writing career. I don’t even remember what triggered the urge but I decided I would teach myself how to make a quilt and that, once I completed my first one, I would gift the masterpiece to my mother for her birthday.

So I bought a bunch of how to books (this was before the internet and YouTube videos) and carefully selected a pattern and methodology. Back then I was making most of my clothes and had a large pile of fabric scraps. So one of the things that went into my selection of a pattern was to find something that would allow me to use those and not require that I go out and purchase a lot of new material. When I came across the Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern I knew I’d found just the thing. And a bonus was finding a version that allowed me to tackle it in a ‘quilt as you go’ method.

I did go on to make that quilt and give it to my mother who still uses it in one of her guest rooms to this day. But I’d waaaaayyy underestimated the amount of time it would take me to finish it.  Instead of giving it to her for her birthday (October) that year it became a Mother’s Day gift the following year. I’ve included a photo of the finished product. I folded it over so you can see the actual Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern on the front, and the mixed hexagon pattern on the back.

As it turns out, that was the one and only quilt I ever made (remember those ‘happy distractions’ I mentioned? Well they came along soon after).

My mom, who was a very talented seamstress (she made ALL of our clothes when I was growing up), was not a quilter at the time. But in a funny happenstance she made friends with some ladies who were part of a quilting group a few years later. She joined them and started quilting herself. She became both talented and proficient in the art. In addition to quilts the group made for charity auctions, she made quilts as gifts for many friends and family members, including her 5 kids and 13 grandchildren. Each of us cherish them for the treasures they are. Here are a few shots of some of her creations, including a quilted tree skirt she made for me that I use every year.

Unfortunately, like me, Mom has put up her quilting supplies. But the body of work she created is marvelous and treasured by those who received pieces of it.

Have you ever challenged yourself to learn a new skill that was outside your wheelhouse? What was it and how did it turn out? Leave a comment concerning that or on what you thought of my post to be entered in a drawing for a copy of any book from my backlist.

 

Phoebe Couzins – First Female U.S. Marshal

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last month I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. January’s post focused on Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Agent. (If you missed it, you can read it HERE)

This month I want to talk about Phoebe Couzins, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Marshall service.

Growing up, Phoebe’s parents taught her to view public service as something to be valued. They were a couple who truly walked the walk. For instance, when Phoebe was about six years old, St. Louis was devastated by a terrible cholera epidemic where thousands of residents perished. John and Adaline Couzins stepped forward and headed up the local relief organization that was responsible for helping the victims.

And that was only one instance of many. Among other things, John Couzins, was an architect and builder, served as a Union Major during the Civil War, and became Chief of Police in St. Louis. Adaline Couzins, was also quite active. She served as a nurse during the Civil War, tending soldiers on the battlefield at Wilson Creek, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. During the course of this, she herself was actually wounded at Vicksburg.

Which may be why, as she grew, Phoebe pushed against the boundaries imposed on nineteenth century women in a BIG way.

In 1869, she became a delegate to the American Equal Rights Association Convention in N.Y. That same year, Phoebe spoke on behalf of women suffrage to a joint meeting in the Missouri State General Assembly. She advocated the passage of State legislation granting women the right to vote. Unfortunately the proposal was ultimately rejected by a vote of 89-5.

Later that year, Phoebe was one of the first women to enter Washington University in St. Louis law school when they opened admission to women, and in 1871 she became the second woman in the nation to graduate with an L.L.B. degree. A big proponent of equality for women, once she graduated she stated that she primarily pursued a law degree in order to “open new paths for women, enlarge her usefulness, widen her responsibilities and to plead her case in a struggle which [she] believed surely was coming. . . . I trust the day is not far distant when men and women shall be recognized as equal administrators of that great bulwark of civilization, law.”  After graduating, she went on to become the second licensed attorney in her home state of Missouri and the third licensed attorney in the entire United States. Eventually she was also admitted to the bar associations of Arkansas, Utah, and Kansas, as well as the Dakota Territory federal courts.

In 1884, Phoebe’s father was appointed as the U.S. Marshal in eastern Missouri. Her father then named her a deputy U.S. Marshal, which placed her among the first women to hold that position. When John Couzins died in 1887, President Grover Cleveland asked Phoebe to step into the position temporarily, making her the first woman U.S. Marshal. She only held the position for two months, however, leaving the service altogether when she was replaced by a male.

As I mentioned above, Phoebe was a strong proponent of women’s rights. She was active in the suffrage movement for many years, as had been her mother. In the early days of the twentieth century she made the following statement: ”… today we round out the first century of a professed republic,—with woman figuratively representing freedom—and yet all free, save woman.” And she also stated “Until we are large enough to think of mind, of genius, of ability without the consciousness of sex, we are yet in the infancy of our development, we belong in kindergarten.” 

Unfortunately, Phoebe’s life did not end well. As the years passed, her strong personality and outspoken ways rubbed her associates and fellow suffragists the wrong way, eventually leaving her with few friends. At the age of sixty-eight, she found herself in a dire situation – destitute, in failing health, and unable to work – so she returned to St. Louis. She died there in December of 1913.

Phoebe was buried with her U.S. marshal’s badge pinned to her chest in an unmarked grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Only six people, including her brother, attended her funeral. It was a sad ending to a remarkable life.

However, in more recent years, Phoebe’s life and groundbreaking accomplishments have received more appropriate recognition.

In 1950 Phoebe Couzin’s final resting place received a marker. In that year, to acknowledge Phoebe’s many groundbreaking accomplishments, the members of the Women’s Bar Association of St. Louis placed a simple stone monument on her final grave.

And in 2000 , Phoebe, as well as Lemma Barkeloo (another early female lawyer) were honored by the establishment of the Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law Chair at the Washington University school of law.

There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of yet another brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.

 

 

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE ~ Day 2

 

November 26 – 29

Margaret Brownley

                              Old West Christmas Brides Collection

Margaret’s Story:

A Pony Express Christmas

Stranded alone in Nebraska Territory in 1862 with a broken wagon and two stubborn mules, Ellie-Mae Myers has no way to continue searching for her twin brother along the deserted Pony Express route or of returning home to Kentucky. Could a man on the verge of being hanged be the answer to her prayers?

B&N

iTunes

   Amazon

 

 

The Nutcracker Bride

A Novella

When Texas ranger, Chad Prescott, wakes up from a gunshot injury in Kansas, he finds himself surrounded by German nutcrackers and nursed by the feisty Lucy Langdon. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship or just a bad dream?

Amazon

B&N

iTunes

 

 

I’m giving away a $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD! 

***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!*** 

Karen Witemeyer

 

My latest release is a novella collection called The Christmas Heirloom which contains a collection of stories that are connected by a luckenbooth brooch that is handed down from mother to daughter across the generations, bringing true love to whomever possesses it. In my particular story, Gift of the Heart, I played with the biblical motif of Ruth and Boaz and added a dose of Beauty and the Beast along with a matchmaking cat. A widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs 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?

My Facebook fan group The Posse played an integral role in plotting this story, and I dedicated it to them in thanks for their help. They were the ones to spark the idea of Bo suffering residual pain from a childhood injury and needing to take the waters himself as well as creating Theodore, our matchmaking cat. The story would not have been the same without them.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book

I’m giving away a $10 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON to one lucky reader today!
***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***
Hope you win!

 

Winnie Griggs

I don’t have a Christmas novella, so instead I want to showcasethe re-release of one of my Christmas novels, The Christmas Journey, which is bundled with two other Christmas stories for a festive read.

ABOUT THE STORY:
Philadelphia lawyer Ryland Lassiter is everything Josephine Wylie wants – for a brother-in-law!  As the sole supporter of her family, Josie’s plans for herself have always had to wait.  But Ryland will be ideal as the new head of the Wylie clan…once he finally realizes how perfect he is for her sister.

Ry knows its time to settle down.  The newly appointed guardian to a friend’s daughter, he’s ready for a home and family.  All he needs is a bride…and Josie’s sister is not the Wylie who has caught his eye.  If only Josie would see the truth – that the only Christmas present he needs is her love.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

I’m giving away a $10 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON to one lucky reader!
***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!*** 

Easy-peasy!  
Good Luck!

Winners will be verified and announced on Sunday, December 2nd.

Be sure to check back to see if you won!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Re-releases and a Giveaway

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  For various reasons that I won’t go into here, I haven’t had a new release out this year, so I was doubly happy to learn Love Inspired was re-releasing two of my earlier novels as part of their two-in-one program. And both of the books they chose are very special to me (of course I feel that way about most of my books).

Late October saw the release of an anthology that included The Christmas Journey and two novellas, Christmas Bells for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad and The Christmas Secret by Sara Mitchell. This book is special to me because it was the first book of my 3 book and a novella Knotty Pines series.  It was also based on a premise I’d been mulling over for a number of years, that of a heroine who longs to travel and have adventures but is held back by family obligations. Her solution is to try to find a husband for her widowed sister so she can transfer those responsibilities to him and chase her dreams guilt-free.

Here is an excerpt:

Jo resisted the urge to stomp her foot.

It wasn’t fair that Ry had everything she wanted and seemed so discontent.  Yet he judged her for daring to set her sights beyond Knotty Pine.  He wouldn’t think her life was so rosy if he were the one living it.  Too bad they couldn’t up and change places.  If he had all her family responsibilities…

She stilled.  What if he did have her responsibilities?  It was obvious the family already liked him.  And he seemed equally taken with them.  If she could somehow make him an actual part of the family, he was the sort of man who’d do everything he could to provide for and protect those in his care.

Cora Beth admired him.  Jo could see he liked her too.  As for the rest of the family, after that ruckus in the livery Danny practically hero-worshipped him.  Ry had shown he could deal with her nieces – why, he even got along with Uncle Grover.  They’d all be in good hands.

As for Ry’s part, what man wouldn’t be attracted to Cora Beth?  She had that sweet domestic air about her that drew men looking for a wife like bees to honey.

If Ry and Cora Beth were to get hitched, she would be free to leave Knotty Pine knowing the family was well cared for.

So what if she’d been doing a bit of daydreaming over him herself?  It was just because he’d been so all-fired heroic the other day and, to be honest, handsome as all get out.  But, even if the thought stung a bit, she was realistic enough to know a man like Ryland Lassiter wouldn’t fall for a girl like her.

Besides, she didn’t need a man to tie her down.  Just the opposite – she wanted to cut her tightly-knotted bonds to this place so she could fly free.

In that respect, Ry was the answer to her prayers.  God’s hand had been in the timing of his trip through Knotty Pine, she was certain of it. 

Jo lifted her chin.  If this tug of attraction she felt for him was a way of testing her resolve, she was more than up to the challenge.  All she needed for her plan to work would be for someone to give Ry and Cora Beth a little push. 

And no matter how much her silly heart protested, she was just the person to do it.

My second book on the 2018 re-release list The Hand-Me-Down Family will come out in December and it’s paired with Victoria Bylin’s The Maverick Preacher. This book was the very first one I published with Love Inspired Historical and it is based on a premise I’d been trying to develop for several years – that of a mail order bride that married her husband by proxy before she left home and then arrived in her new home to discover she was already a widow. It wasn’t until I married this with another tidbit from my ‘idea file’, that of a hero who left home to get out from under his ‘perfect’ brother’s shadow, that the story finally came together.

Here is an excerpt:

The minutes drew out as the driver unloaded luggage and parcels from the back of the stagecoach.  It was hotter here in Texas than it had been in Ohio.  Callie longed to loosen her tight-fitting bonnet, or better yet, take it off altogether, but she dare not.  Not until she was away from prying eyes and safely inside her new home.

A number of townsfolk stopped to speak to her fellow passenger, Jack, but though she received a friendly nod or two, and more than one curious glance, no one stepped forward to greet her.  

Finally, the last of the baggage and cargo was unloaded and the driver stepped inside the hotel with a mail sack.  The man Jack lifted two of the bags, easily hefting the larger one up to his shoulder. 

Callie couldn’t help but wonder – would her new husband be as fine and strong a figure of a man as this Jack? 

As if feeling her eyes on him, the man paused and met her gaze.  His expression was gruff and a muscle twitched at the corner of his mouth.  “Is someone meeting you?”

She smiled, grateful for his show of concern, reluctant though it might be.  “Yes, thank you.  I’m certain my husband will be along soon.”

Something akin to surprise flashed across his features at the word husband, but it was gone in an instant.

“Good.”  He nodded and allowed his friend to take one of his bags.  “If you’re sure you don’t need any help…”

But as Callie watched him walk away, it was as if the last link to her old life were being severed.  A foolish notion since she really didn’t know this man at all.  But before she could stop herself, she took a small step forward. “Excuse me.” 

Both men turned, facing her with questioning glances. 

“Ma’am?” Jack prompted.

“I was wondering if perhaps either of you know a Mr. Leland Tyler?  He was sup…”  Her voice tapered off as she saw their startled reactions. 

Jack’s jaw tightened visibly.  “Why would you be looking for Lanny?”

Callie noticed his familiar use of her husband’s name.  “So you do know him.”

That tic near the corner of his mouth made another appearance.  “Yes.”  He didn’t expand on his one-word answer, and his expression remained closed, unreadable.  “But you didn’t answer my question.  How do you know Leland?”

Callie offered up a quick prayer that Mr. Tyler would arrive soon.  He should be the one making the introductions to his neighbors and friends.  “I’m Callista Johnson Tyler, his wife.”

“Wife!”  Jack set his bag down with a loud thump and sent a sharp look his companion’s way.  “You know what she’s talking about, Virgil?”

The other man shook his head.  “Lanny never said anything about a new wife.”

They certainly were reacting strongly to her news.  She knew Julia had only been gone about four months, but it wasn’t unusual for a widower to remarry so soon, especially when he had a young child to care for.

For that matter, why didn’t they already know about her?  Surely Leland wouldn’t have kept such momentous news from his friends and neighbors?  Unless he’d worried she wouldn’t show up. 

Or was there another, more disturbing reason?  Her heart beat faster as possibilities whirled through her mind.

Realizing the men were watching her, Callie tried to hide her confusion behind a confident air.  “I’m not certain why Mr. Tyler chose to keep this a secret.  Perhaps he was planning to surprise everyone.  But be that as it may, I assure you, I am indeed Mrs. Leland Tyler.  If you’ll be so good as to tell me where my husband can be found, I’m certain he’ll verify my identity.”

Jack took another step forward.  “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves first.”  He swept an arm toward his companion.  “This is Virgil Wilson.” 

She smiled and nodded acknowledgement. “Mr. Wilson.” 

The farmer touched the brim of his hat, ducking his head respectfully.  “Ma’am.”

When she turned back to Jack he was studying her intently, as if trying to read something from her countenance.  Holding her gaze, he extended his hand.  “And I’m Leland’s brother Jack.”

 

 

So what do you think? Did one of these two stories pique your interest more than the other? If so, let me know why.  I’m going to select two names from those responding and give each their choice of one of these two books.

 

 

10 Favorite Western Songs and Ballads

Hi!  Linda Broday and Winnie Griggs here. We’re very happy to kick off this 10 year Anniversary celebration for Petticoats and Pistols! It’s so exciting to reach this milestone.

Cowboys on the American Frontier loved to sing, no two ways about it. They sang to the cows, to the moon, to their fair ladies. Cowboys today still sing–probably more than they ever did. And others love to sing ABOUT cowboys. So, in honor of our tenth anniversary, we thought we’d share with you some of our favorites, both old and new.

So we put our heads together and came up with the list below. And if you have a yearning to listen to any of them, turn up your volume and click on the name.

Here are some old favorites that Winnie selected:

  1. High Noon
  2. The Streets Of Laredo
  3. Big Bad John
  4. Ringo
  5. Big Iron

And here a some newer favorites courtesy of Linda:

The Last Cowboy Song – Ed Bruce

Amarillo By Morning –  George Strait

This Cowboy’s Hat – Chris Ledoux

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys –  By Willie Nelson

Should’ve Been a Cowboy by Toby Keith

 

What songs do you sing to? Did we miss some of your favorites? Let us know.

Linda is giving away a pair of cowboy boot earrings to someone who comments.

And Winnie is giving away choice of any of her books plus a fun  ‘shhh…I’m hunting cowboys’ necklace

 

 

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giant birthday bash giveaway (separate from this daily giveaway). You can find all the details along with the entry form HERE.

My Beautiful Daughter’s Beautiful Wedding

WG Logo 2015-04

Hi!  Winnie Griggs here.  Three weeks ago we had one of those milestone events happen in our family – my youngest daughter got married.  Although there were the requisite number of bumps in the road as far as executing ‘the plan’ for the wedding, the ceremony itself was absolutely beautiful. As the proud mother of the bride, I thought I’d share a few pictures from the big day with you.

White SpacerThese first two are before-and-after shots of the bridesmaids

MW-Bmaids

Here’s a shot of me and my husband with the bride.  Remember me mentioning there were a few bumps in the road?  You can see the evidence of one of those ‘bumps’ in this shot.  Just before the wedding, I had an allergic reaction to either my make-up or hair spray or both.  As a result, my right eye was swollen almost shut for the whole ceremony and reception.  Needless to say, I tried to duck out of as many photos as possible!

MW-Bride & parents

Here is a shot of all four of my children just before the ceremony started.

MW-4 kids

The next two are of my husband escorting the bride down the aisle.  I especially like the second shot – the two bridesmaids visible over my husband’s shoulder are our other two daughters and to the right of the bride are me and my mother.

MW-Bride & father

And here’s the happy couple!

MW-Bride & groom

Here’s one last shot to show you the cake

MW-Cutting the cake

I hope you enjoyed this little peak into what was a very special day for our family.

divider002

And to celebrate the release this month of Second Chance Hero, the sixth book in my Texas Grooms series, I will be giving a copy to one person who leaves a comment on this post today.

18 SCH medium

SECOND CHANCE HERO

Winning the Widow’s Heart 

To help his dying sister, Nate Cooper once broke the law and paid a heavy price for his actions. Now the ex-con turned saddler hopes for a quiet life and new beginning in Turnabout, Texas. Being declared a hero for saving a child’s life, however,  leaves Nate feeling like a fraud.

Since the violent death of her husband, single mom Verity Leggett has attempted to lead a safe life, avoiding danger and excitement at all costs. And her daughter’s handsome rescuer Mr. Cooper seems like a perfectly responsible man, one she can finally rely on.

When his secrets come to light, however, will Verity be able to get over his past and see Nate for the caring man he’s become?

Retro Week: Day Three – A Texas Bonanza by Karen Witemeyer

My choice for retro week is a post I wrote back in April 2012. Since both of my Archer brother books are set in the Piney Woods of Texas, I thought it would be fun to look back at the history of Texas’s lumber industry.

What was the leading industry in Texas at the turn of the 20th century?

Oil? – No, that came later.

Cattle? Cotton?

The answer: Lumber.

 

Lumber? Are you kidding? I live in Texas. There are no trees. Oh, we’ve got some scrubby little mesquite and an occasional oak, but nothing that this California native would call a tree. So how in the world did the lumber industry out-perform cattle and cotton, two Texas staples?

A virgin stand of longleaf pine in the East Texas Piney Woods region, 1908.

Well, as anyone who has ever driven across this great state can tell you, Texas is a big place. Yes we have desert regions and prairie and grassland and hill country, but over in the southeast is a lovely section called the Piney Woods. And as the railroad worked it’s way west in the 1870’s and 1880’s, lumber men from Pennsylvania like Henry Lutcher and G. Bedell Moore saw the virgin forests of east Texas as a gold mine. Local boys like John Henry Kirby got in on the action, too, buying up and consolidating individual sawmills into complete lumber manufacturing plants. Kirby rose to success so quickly, he became known as the “Prince of the Pines,” having become the largest lumber manufacturer in the state by combining 14 sawmills into the Kirby Lumber Company in 1901.

Not only did the railroad boom make travel to the Texas woods easier, it was also one of the biggest sources of demand for timber. Railroads needed lumber to construct rail cars, stations, fences, and cross ties in addition to the massive amounts of wood they burned for fuel. Each year railroads needed some 73 million ties for the construction of new rail lines and the maintenance of old ones, estimated by the magazine Scientific American in 1890. From the 1870s to 1900, railroads used as much as a fourth of national timber production.

This combination of supply and demand fueled a “bonanza era” for the Texas lumber industry that lasted 50 years, from 1880 until the Great Depression. During this time, Texas became the third largest lumber-producing state in the nation.

Northern investors swooped in to buy up land, sometimes even taking advantage of “use and possession laws” to seize property from families who had owned it for generations. Corruption abounded as logging companies controlled their workers, paying them only in vouchers for the company store despite the incredibly hazardous working conditions. These “cut and get out” operations left acres of land decimated.

Today if you travel through east Texas, you can still see the pine forests, however the trees are younger and more slender compared to the giants that grew there back in the 1880s. Maybe in another 100 years, we’ll find a return of the true Piney Woods of Texas.

Now for the big treat…

Winnie Griggs is giving away a copy of her brand new release, The Bride Next Door, along with a sparkly “I Love To Read” pin. What could be better than a free book and a little book-lover’s bling?

To be entered to win, leave a comment about what you most like about forests.

Happy Summer!!!

Cheryl St.John: Irish Brides Set Sail

When Harlequin does a continuity series, a group of editors come up with a concept and invite the authors they want to participate. The authors are given what is termed ‘the bible,’ a two or three page synopsis of each story and a brief sketch of each character. An overall concept is included, explaining how the threads connect the stories.

After that, it’s up to the authors to put their heads together and collectively figure out how they’re going to make this idea work—and how they will create their individual stories to keep the plots logical and the stories exciting enough to carry them through however many pages.

I’ve participated in several Montana Mavericks continuities, both historical and contemporary, as well as a contemporary continuity about a fertility clinic. One of the most critical parts of this whole process is the brainstorming and chemistry between the participating authors. A good group makes all the difference, so I was delighted after Love Inspired Historical asked me to write the first book in the Irish Brides trilogy I learned Renee Ryan and Winnie Griggs were the other two authors.

I’m fortunate that Winnie is my sister Filly here at Wildflower Junction and Renee is a member of my RWA chapter, so the three of us already knew each other. Working with them was a joy, and I can only hope they feel the same way about my participation. We plotted and shared and wrangled plot points until each of us had a great story to write.

The premise and setting set me back for only a few minutes. Three orphaned Irish sisters leave their homeland and travel to America in hopes of finding a man they discover loved their mother. They need a place to live as well as a new start. I’d only ever written American-set stories and only a couple set as early as 1850. As soon as I began my research I was hooked. The history of these sisters came to life for me, and I had the privilege of setting up each character—with Renee and Winnie’s guidance of course.

I prepared myself for the narrative and dialogue by watching every Irish movie I could fit into my schedule. Quite a hardship I assure you. My favorite is always Far and Away, but there are other great ones.

I enjoyed populating the sailing vessel, the Annie McGee with colorful sojourners and creating conflicts for my character, Maeve Murphy. I slipped in one cowboy, who is traveling back home–couldn’t resist. The tale of The Wedding Journey unfolds onboard the ship, as Maeve is given a position as the physician’s assistant, and their trip is underway. Renee and Winnie have written the stories of Bridget and Nora, Maeve’s older sisters, whose tales begin once the ship docks in Boston Harbor.

Once my story was finished, Harlequin asked me to write a free online serial for their website, and gave me free license to come up with a prequel to the Irish Brides. Again I dove into research for something to snag my interest and found stories of the poor starving Irish being sent to penitentiaries for stealing food or not paying their landowners. The story sprang to life from there.

In 1850 Ireland, Darcy Keegan secretly plans to escape the drudgery of the prison where her father is warden to start a life elsewhere. Her plans are thwarted by a young boy who’s been imprisoned and whom she can’t bring herself to leave until she knows he will be safe.

Vaughn Donnelly has recently returned to Castleville to add a wing to the penitentiary, and is captivated by the young lass he observes in the prison yard. His job prevents him from staying, so love and marriage are out of the question–or are they? When he intervenes on behalf of a lad being mistreated, he wins the admiration of the Irish lass he admires.

Their shared concern for the laddie quickly turns into something more–read Donnelly’s Promise FREE on the Harlequin website: CLICK HERE

By the time I finished with these two stories I thought and dreamed everything with an Irish accent! I had so much fun with these characters and their tales of love that I can’t wait for readers to discover them.

The Wedding Journey is available for pre-order.

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