Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SPRING AND A SNEAK PEAK

Has spring arrived in your neighborhood? Right now, we have spring temperatures, but this is Texas. The saying is true, “If you don’t like Texas weather, wait three days.”


Still, I’m hopeful. Perhaps you noticed I’ve put the spring redbud photo back as my header. My friend Celia Yeary said the snow scene made her cold and she requested I put the redbud photo back up so she wouldn't freeze when she visited the blog.


Daffodils are in bloom, and the redbud’s buds are swelling. Unfortunately, the elm and cedar are pollinating. Ahhhhchoo! Cough!

Hero and I watch our bird feeders
and bird houses from our breakfast table
Spring is my favorite time of year. It holds such promise! The blue birds are nesting in our birdhouses. Baby bunnies are appearing. Our grass has greened up (and the weeds) and early flowers are blooming. Dandelions and vetch do count as flowers, right?


Darling Daughter 1 brought me a
starter plant of this wild rose
from her wild rose hedge.

Several rosebuds are on my Earthkind roses. Roses are my favorite flower. All in all, I’m a happy gal all spring.

Farmer's Market = Work!
This year, Hero and I plan a small raised-bed vegetable garden, about four feet by eight feet. A few years ago, we planted several acres of vegetables and melons for us and to sell to the farmer’s market. We don’t want to sell produce now. Yikes, is that ever work! What we want is food for our table. Good, fresh, organic food.

Similar to my blue ribbons
In past years I won blue ribbons at the State Fair of Texas for my canned jams, jellies, and veggies. Okay, only one blue ribbon for green beans, but several for peach jam, grape jelly, cinnamon crabapple jelly, and blackberry jelly. Seeing my jars on display with a blue ribbon was exciting.

My worst experience was the year we had a bumper crop of pomegranates. My sister in Fresno puts the juice in ice trays to use with a sprite or seven up. She also uses it in pumch. Hero and I decided that was a great idea and we'd  extract the juice for jelly and to drink. Bad, bad idea. We had no idea how that juice stains! And it sticks to everything! We cleaned our shoe soles and mopped the kitchen four or five times, but our shoes still made sticky whop whop sounds when we walked. I think my sister only works with a few pomegranates at a time. We went way overboard. 

Better than winning a blue ribbon at the fair is seeing my books for sale. I love writing, and love having people tell me they enjoyed my books. It’s an addiction but there is no Writers Anonymous or 12-Step program. So, I’m hooked on writing. I’m only a week or ten days away from publishing a new western historical romance on Amazon Kindle. Here’s a sneak peak at the cover.




Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s from Jimmy Thomas and Novel Romance Covers. He’s a very popular cover model and I’m sure you recognize him from many book covers. Both independent publishers like me who publish on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords as well as large publishing houses use his work.

Obviously, the book is titled BRAZOS BRIDE and it's the first of the MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN series. BRAZOS BRIDE is the first of a trilogy of three brothers and is set in 1870 North Central Texas on a ranch beside the Brazos River. Stay tuned for the launch date.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, February 27, 2012

BOOK REVIEW FOR HORSE LOVERS

GROUND MANNERS: A Novel
By Cynthia D’Errico
Xlibris
Soft Cover, 2011, $19.99
Hard Cover, 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 978-1-4568-2394-8

Available at: www.groundmannersnovel.com or on Amazon

                               Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

Learning that horses were butchered for meat left many people feeling raw and lied to, like suddenly finding out that your neighbour had barbecued your retriever or microwaved your cat. Like so many others, Yanne was clearly unaware that, whether for meat or other reasons, horses were slaughtered at all. ~ Part Three, Chapter Four, p. 116



GROUND MANNERS: A Novel is an innovative synthesis of adventure, romance and animal advocacy. Cynthia D’Errico has produced a compelling tale based on true stories about Canada’s horse slaughter industry, the dangers of continuing to ignore coastline erosion, and which features an especially intriguing thread on how le Canadien became both Quebec’s heritage breed and the National Horse of Canada.

Through the thoughts of Ausencia, a slaughter-bound polo horse, the opening pages introduce us to the horse refuge run by animal communicator Skye Spahro and her daughter on Isle-Saint-Jean- Baptiste. The Institute of Nature Communications, like many horse rescues across the country, is dedicated to the care and rehoming of abused horses, including the rescue of those slated for slaughter.

The horses narrate a good part of the story as D’Errico performs skillful shifts from the human to the animal point of view. These shifts are reminiscent of those in other classics like Babe and Black Beauty, with that same brilliant seamlessness that keeps the reader fully engaged. The character of each horse is carefully delineated so that when Ulric, the eternally calm Belgian draft says: “I don’t like the look of things, Tessa,” his ominous tone ushers the reader into the darkness of the book’s last half.

The themes in this book require the reader to confront the moral dilemmas often present in horse ownership and attempt to expand the reader’s vision of horses. Yet the darkness is never overdone.

The storyline is simultaneously about love, heroes and hope for lasting change in our treatment of animals and the planet – indeed of the very ground we walk on. D’Errico’s writing style intimately involves readers in the lives of her characters, human and animal, in such a way that their world becomes difficult to leave as the book nears its gripping finale.

GROUND MANNERS is the tale that horse lovers have waited for, but also essential reading for anyone intent on creating a more harmonious relationship with our planet. It will definitely raise public consciousness and is sure to spark debate.


Cynthia give a big kiss
to Fern Rigg's Ladies Man
of Canoe, British Columbia
 A former ESL teacher and business editor, Cynthia has always felt a special empathy toward horses with whom she was raised. She continues to promote animals' rights to live in whatever is left of their natural environments free of cruelty and neglect. Visit Cynthia at www.groundmannersnovel.com or on her Blog at: www.cynthiaderrico.com


Thanks to Carol for sharing her review.

Readers, I hope you noticed that winter's snow-covered tree has been replaced by spring's redbud tree photo in the header. Our redbud is beginning to bud out, and soon we'll have lovely dark pink blooms again. Cab spring be far away?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 24, 2012

SHERRY GLOAG WISHES AND DREAMS

     WISHES AND DREAMS TO REALITY

What is the difference between a dream and a wish? To paraphrase Harry Nilsson lyrics in his “The Puppy Song”...


But dreams are nothing more than wishes

And a wish's just a dream you wish to come true

Dreams are nothing more than wishes you wish will come true...

So how do you "make your dreams and wishes happen?" Do you shout out about them to everyone you know in order to spur you forward in achieving those dreams and making those wishes come true?



Do you, perhaps simply "put your *wish/dream* out there" and then let it gestate on its own and hope it will come to fruition?



Or do you, like me, go silent, afraid that if you verbalize it, it will vanish into thin air, or be tainted in some inexplicable way? Do you fear that the very verbalization of your dream is enough to put the cob-wash on it? I mean who else, but me, would be such a wimp? ;-)



And yet...



For many years I have had this dream. This goal, this *wish*, this *dream* to have one of my stories published and 'out there' before a certain birthday.



When it happened, and THE BRAT, published by The Wild Rose Press in October 2010, and I quit "happy dancing" all over the place, I reset my goal/dream/wish and vowed to have another one published, no not before that same birthday, by now it was so close I didn't believe it could be achieved - Oh me of little faith! Because it happened; and DUTY CALLS, was published by Black Opal Books, in February 2011. Not only did my second novel come out before my next birthday, but my first Valentine novella, THE WRONG TARGET, published by eTreasures came out days before my second book and so also released before my birthday. Three books published before my next birthday!


And then, for the first time, I discovered I had a "twelve-month plan" in front of me. That said; you have to understand, plans and I do not normally make good bed-fellows! Those plans usually take a hike when they discover who made them!



Not this time!



So could I wish, dream upon another dream and make it five within the coming twelve months?


Yes.



Those wishes and dreams just kept on coming. And all the while I maintained my policy of silence. :-)

The British royal wedding in 2011 inspired my next story, FROM NOW UNTIL FOREVER, published by Astraea Press in December 2011. I assumed this would be a stand-alone story when I wrote it, and until after publication had no reason to believe otherwise; and then a secondary character demanded his own story and FROM NOW UNTIL FOREVER became the first in a four book series. Henri's Valentine story, HIS CHOSEN BRIDE, released on the 14th February 2012, also by Astraea Press, completed my first attempt at long-term 'dreaming/wishes'. I have five stories published before this fast approaching, and significant, birthday number.

 But dreams are nothing more than wishes

And a wish's just a dream you wish to come true


This time my dreams and my wishes melded and became one in their reality. I no longer have to wish for those dreams to come true. They already have and I still have time to anticipate my next birthday.


So, I've achieved my dream, what next?



Now I have plenty more and new dreams. I have two more Gasquet Princes' stories to tell to complete the series, and an experimental Regency to finalize to mention just a few of my newest dreams that I wish to become reality.


Dreams that are nothing more than wishes I wish will come true.






Blurb for FROM NOW UNTIL FOREVER:


For Prince Liam, families meant bad news, unwanted commitments, and the loss of his personal freedom. Love spawned white picket fences, slippers at the hearth with a wife and kids making demands, so why did those images disappear when he met Melanie Babcot?


Melanie Babcot fought hard to escape the horrors of her youth and vowed to remain single and free, so when paid to protect Prince Liam from insurgents why did her personal pledge fly out the window?



FROM NOW UNTIL FOREVER Excerpt:


Liam Fitzwilliam Gasquet stared in amazement at the blooming patch of red milliseconds before the pain exploded in his arm. Some trigger-happy idiot had fired in his direction. Indignation didn’t have time to take root before another bullet kicked the dust at his feet. Not ‘trigger-happy’. Intentional. The rebels had found the fourth and youngest son of Jean-Phillipe Gasquet, ruler of the tiny kingdom adjacent to the Swiss border. When had they discovered his whereabouts? With a reluctant sigh, he faced the truth of it. They hadn’t ‘found’ him at all. They’d followed him.
Astracea Press
http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=7105194
Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/From-Now-Until-Forever-ebook/dp/B006GYAV44/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322854797&sr=1-1-spell
Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/From-Now-Until-Forever-ebook/dp/B006GYAV44/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322854884&sr=8-1-spell
Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/sherry-gloag-from-now-until-forever?keyword=sherry+gloag+from+now+until+forever&store=book
Nook:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/sherry-gloag-from-now-until-forever?keyword=sherry+gloag+from+now+until+forever&store=ebook




Blurb for HIS CHOSEN BRIDE:

Prince Henri Gasquet is happy to let his father, the king, choose his bride for him until he meets Monica Latimer.



Monica Latimer is not prepared to risk letting any man close enough to learn about her Gift. A gift that normally has men running for the hills when they find out about it.



HIS CHOSEN BRIDE Excerpt:



She lost track of time until the flames caught her attention once more. They flickered from orange to gold, to silver, to white.



A flurry of snowflakes masked the flames and for a second Monica watched the most beautiful, pristine snow-scene she’d ever seen. Her lips curved in longing. How she’d love to get a toboggan and slide down that slope. She knew where it was, and had done just that many times in her childhood, first with her parents and then, in clandestine manner, with her brother. Sneaking an old tin tray from the back of her mother’s walk-in pantry, she’d then grabbed Billy’s hand and they’d rushed out the back gate, heading for the lakeside track that led up into the hills.



Darkness, dense and thick with grief dropped over the scene. Startled and disconcerted by the strength of emotion emanating from the vision Monica shifted to her knees, ready to stand, when a voice, a deep male voice, sharp with fear called out her name. “Monica!”



She knew she’d never heard the voice before, and yet—it was as familiar to her as the image she saw in her mirror each morning.



“Help me, Monica.”



Desperate for more clues, she searched the darkness within the flames until it sputtered and faded. With a curse she jumped up and ran for the phone. With her outstretched hand hovering over it she halted and let her hand drop to her side once more. What could she say? What would the police or rescue team think of her if she called them and told them she’d seen a vision of a man in distress?



They’d laugh in her face and classify her as a lunatic. Well, maybe not. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d contacted them with positive information but something—an instinctive gut reaction told her what she’d seen this time hadn’t happened yet.



http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=1651593&mode=product&product=9472803


http://www.amazon.com/His-Chosen-Bride-ebook/dp/B0079A7V9W/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_6/190-6871302-0103505

http://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Chosen-Bride-ebook/dp/B0079A7V9W



Multi-published author, Sherry Gloag is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England. She considers the surrounding countryside as extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs "thinking time" and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel. While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there are no other walkers close by.

Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office. She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic. You can find Sherry on the web at these places:


Website: http://www.sherrygloag.com
Blog: http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/
FB: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/sherry.gloag
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SherryGloag

 


Sherry, thank you so much for sharing your wishes and dreams with us today. Here's wishing you continued success with your writing.

Thanks for stopping by! And while you're here, why not surf over to our team blog, Sweethearts of the West at
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com Normally, I post there on the 26th of each month, but due to my earlier goof, my friend Elysa Hendricks is posting in my place this month. Please stop by if you can.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ROMANCING THE WEST AND MORE!


The RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS GIVEAWAY HOP has ended. My giveaway is a copy of one of my e-books, winner's choice, and this is open worldwide. In fact, I am feeling very happy because we thought Darling Daughter 2 had a serious health issue that a CTScan proved she did not have. So, instead of one winner, everyone who commented on the Dime Novels post wins! Those people are: Mary, Andrea, Mitzi, Filia, Vinci, Stephanie, Tiffany, Laurie, Pragya, Sarah, and Childrensbook. I will contact the winners by email to learn which e-book each wishes.

              ROMANCING THE WEST

What began my personal love of the West? In the evenings, my dad often told stories of his family coming to Texas after the Civil War. I couldn’t hear enough of those tales. Even after I’d memorized them, I urged him to retell each one.


Roy Rogers and Trigger
Next came the movies: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lone Ranger, Hoppalong Cassidy. Have I forgotten any? Personally, I wanted to ride the range with Roy, saving the West from the bank robbers and rustlers I was certain plagued the land. We watched television cowboys on Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Rifleman, Maverick, and others and never tired of them. Then life intervened, as it did for all would-be cowgirls and cowboys.


Louis L'Amour
As an adult, I discovered Louis L’Amour. Among others, I also love the books of Jodi Thomas, Maggie Osborne, and the westerns Lorraine Heath wrote several years ago! However, Louis L’Amour is my author hero. I’ve read each of his books at least twice, and several of them too many times to count. FALLON is my personal favorite: what woman can resist a man who thinks he’s bad but is actually a good, hard working, clever man protective of others?



I usually choose to write about 1870-1890 and the time of the Texas cattle drives. Yes, I also write contemporary cowboys (including sheriffs and detectives), but none are more appealing to me than those of the late 19th century. So many things fascinate me about this time period. Would I have wanted to live then instead of now? Not on your life. I'm eccentric, but not crazy! I like my current creature comforts, thank you, but I love reading and writing about that earlier time. In that time period, the Civil War and Reconstruction were over, yet law and order was far from established. Men--and women--were often isolated and had to defend themselves and their families. If there was an area lawman, he was often too far away to offer immediate help.

When the Civil War was over, men returned home (if they still had one). In Texas and a few other states, many unbranded cattle had bred during the war and ran wild. An industrious man could gather these beeves and place his own brand on them, then drive them to market in Kansas. According to T. H. Fehrenback in his book LONE STAR: A HISTORY OF TEXAS AND THE TEXANS, cattle sold for two dollars a head in Texas in 1875, but brought ten dollars a head in Kansas. Since cowboys made the same wage per month and received the same food regardless of where they rode, it cost no more for a rancher to have his ranch hands drive cattle to market in Kansas. Fortunes were built during this time!



Comanche Warriors
 The wealth didn’t come without cost. Danger lurked everywhere in the West, but on the trail hazards multiplied. Indians, rustlers posing as Indians, rustlers posing as law men, and a plethora of bad men wanted the benefit of others’ hard work.

Lightning on the prairie
could stampede cattle
Then there were the natural disasters: swollen rivers, lightning storms, and stampedes. Plus Texas cattle carried tick fever, to which they were immune, and threatened to infect cattle in other states. Cattlemen from the intervening states crusaded to block Texas cattle from crossing into their area, and it’s no wonder, is it? The astonishing fact is that any cattle made it to market.


Availabe on
Amazon Kindle
Yes, you say, but how can it be a romance when there were no women on cattle drives?  Cowboys are a superstitious lot, and they believed women on a drive brought bad luck. In that way, cattle drives are far from romantic. If you’ve read my book THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE (available for 99 cents from Amazon Kindle), you learn that wives are NOT invited on a cattle drive. No, it’s not the actual cattle drive that appeals to me, but the era. A young man with nothing could homestead land, gather unbranded cattle or buy a few head, and create a small ranch. With hard work and perseverance, he could expand. Of course, then he’d need a wife to share his life. They’d face trouble--it always came--and stand side by side to triumph. Well, that’s the way it happens in my novels.


HEARTS WEST
by Chris Enss
Women from areas where most young men had died in the Civil War didn’t have to remain spinsters. They could travel West and marry, sometimes via mail-order arrangements. How many mail-order western romances have your read? I’ve read too many to count, but I still love them. There were wagon trains heading West (love those wagon train romances, too!), then stages and locomotives. By heading West, a single woman had an opportunity for a family of her own. I think I’d have risked it, wouldn’t you? Chris Enss has a great book, HEARTS WEST, of accounts by mail order brides if that subject interests you.



Reading about people who adapt to new circumstances, meet obstacles they’d never imagined, and triumph while finding a soul mate is very romantic. Who wouldn’t love a tale like that?

Thanks for stopping by today!

By the way, I'm Sky Purington's guest the 22nd at
http://www.skypuringtonwrites.blogspot.com/ 

Please stop by an visit her beautiful blog if you can.

Monday, February 20, 2012

STETSON®: THE BOSS OF THE PLAINS AND MORE

Continuing our RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS BLOG HOP today, please let me remind you to leave your email address with your comment. If you follow my blog, please let me know in your comment, as that counts as a second entry. I'm giving away one of my e-books, winners choice, and my giveaway is open worldwide. The organizers of the hop and location of the participants may be found at http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com and http://readforyourfuture.blogspot.com At either location, you'll find the 173 blog urls of participants. Please, also remember to commit a random act of kindness today!

Now on to my scheduled guest, Gini Rifkin:

STETSON®: THE BOSS OF THE PLAINS
By Gini Rifkin

Gini Rifkin, Author

I was delighted when Caroline invited me to quest blog on her site and when I realized it had a Western flavor, I thought it prophetic. Although I have published two Medievals and one Victorian, my first western novella, Special Delivery, will be released in May. I’m thrilled to be heading into cowboy country.

Brushing up on history of the American West, I felt it was essential to study the Stetson phenomenon. I needed to know if geographically my hero would have access to purchasing one of these hats and if they were common or even in existence in the time period I chose for my story. I’m a stickler for detail regardless of the era, spend hours researching, and hope the end result is a story that feels real and offers a painless subliminal learning experience.


Here’s what I discovered about……..


THE HAT THAT WON THE WEST

A cowboy without his hat
is simply a man on a horse.
The concept of a broad-brimmed hat with a high crown worn by a rider on horseback can be seen as far back as the Mongolian horsemen of the 13th century. A tall crown provided insulation, the wide brim, shade. In hot, sunny climates, hats evolved to have extremely wide brims, such as the sombrero of Mexico.

Before John Batterson Stetson created the “The Boss of the Plains”, men who drove cattle and worked the range sported any number of hat styles. They generally wore whatever headgear was required at their previous profession so it wasn’t unusual to see them in a sailor hat, a beret, derbies, Civil War paraphernalia, and even top hats. None of these were very useful out on the prairie. And luckily this was soon to change and a legend was about to be born.



John Batterson Stetson started his life in East Orange, New Jersey in 1830. His father, Stephen Stetson, was a successful hatter and taught his children the hatting trade. But having developed tuberculosis as a young man, a doctor advised John B. to move west and in 1859 he struck out for St. Joseph, Missouri.

While there, he tried to join the Union Army in the early 1860’s but was rejected do to his poor health. Undefeated, he worked as a bricklayer, which went fairly well until the river flooded and washed his business away. At loose ends, he joined a group heading west to the gold fields of Colorado.



This didn’t “pan” out but during his stay in the mountains, he fashioned a head covering from beaver hides. After a mule driver paid him a $5 gold piece for the hat right off his head, Mr. Stetson, being no fool, decided to refine, manufacture and sell this type of product.



By 1865, he was back in Philadelphia working in the hat manufacturing trade. A year later the “Boss of the Plains” came into being, and after that, came the front creased Carlsbad, destined to become “the” cowboy style. The Stetson® hat has captured the essence of the west, has become an American icon, and is now an indelible part of western history.


The rugged individualism of the West was perfectly represented by a hat that could be shaped differently by each wearer—a punched-in crown, a bended brim, a braided leather band—all were different ways to make a Stetson® one’s own.



Stetson's hat factory


By 1886, Stetson owned the world’s biggest hat factory. Situated in Philadelphia, it employed nearly 4,000 workers. And by 1906, the factory was putting out about 2 million hats a year. John B. transformed hat making from a manual to a mechanized industry by introducing iron cutting and shaping machines, and by improving quality control. He was also among the first U.S. tycoons to offer benefits to reward workers for hard work. He dispensed free health care to employees and gave shares in his company to valued workers. As a philanthropist, he founded Stetson University in Deland, Florida, and built a Philadelphia hospital.

Inside the cowboy hat is a memorial bow to past hatters, who developed brain damage from treating felt with toxic mercury (which gave rise to the expression "Mad as a Hatter"). The bow on the inside hatband at the rear of the hat resembles a Skull and crossbones. Early hatters used mercury in the making of their felt. Their bodies absorbed mercury, and after several years of making hats, the hatters developed violent and uncontrollable muscle twitching. The ignorance of the times caused people to attribute these strange gyrations to madness, not mercury.


SINGING COWBOYS IN TEN GALLON HATS

In the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, a hat was an indispensable item in every man’s wardrobe. Stetson focused on expensive, high-quality hats that represented both a real investment for the working cowboy and statement of success for the city dweller.


Early on, Stetson® hats became associated with legends of the West, including “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, and Annie Oakley. It is said that George Custer rode into the Battle of Little Big Horn wearing a Stetson®. Later on, Western movie cowboys were quick to adopt the Stetson®. Many were drawn to the largest most flamboyant styles available. Tom Mix, an early-20th century movie star, wore a ten gallon hat (my Mom rode in his car).



Tom Mix in a Stetson


Texans were known for their preference for the "Ten Gallon," model, possibly so named for its enormous crown which at least appeared to be able to hold ten gallons were it to be dipped into a stream and used as a pail. An early Stetson® advertising image, a painting of a cowboy dipping his hat into a stream to provide water for his horse symbolized the Cowboy hat as an essential part of a stockman’s gear.


Straw Stetson for hot summer wear



According to Win Blevins' Dictionary of the American West (p388), the term "ten-gallon" has nothing to do with the hat’s liquid capacity, but derives from the Spanish word gal√≥n (braid), ten indicating the number of braids used as a hat band.

The first American law-enforcement agency to adopt Stetson’s western hat as part of their uniform was the Texas Rangers. In the Second Boer War, the flat brimmed Stetson® became the standard issue of the second Canadian Contingent, becoming recognized throughout the British Empire as a symbol of Canada. Canadian police, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Red Serge dress uniform includes a Stetson® with a flat brim.



Royal Canadian Mounted Police



 John B. created not only a hat but an image, a daydream inducing piece of clothing that has survived into the 21st century. A cowboy today might carry a GPS gizmo on his belt rather than an 1851 Colt Navy, but the hat is still the same. Tonight I'll be dreaming of Stetsons® and the men who wear them!


Don't know if this is a
Stetson...don't care!

My late husband Gary and I spent many years re-enacting the Mountain Man Era, attending rendezvous and making our own clothes accouterments, and foofaraws. It was a brilliant learning experience for my writer’s treasure trove of sights, sounds, smells, and just plain old tales of adventures.


Gary and Gini in their
Mountain costumes

Then while living alone in the middle of 73 acres of Colorado prairie, a barrage of western sagas began forming in the back of my mind. It was an eye-opening atmosphere which lent itself to imagining what a woman’s life must have been like out there on the edge of nowhere, or what the daily struggles must have been for the Plains Indians. I had all the modern conveniences and yet there were days I was overwhelmed and daunted by the effort it took to withstand draught, hail, flash floods, mountains of snow, and blistering heat. At present, I have a little patch of land not far from the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where I care for a Noah’s Ark of abandoned farm animals.

For me, the road to publication has been long and arduous, yet well worth the tears and effort. My best advice, if I dare presume to give any, would be to rise out of the ashes of your rejection letters and like the heroines in your books, don’t give up. And write not only what you know, but what you love, and that for which you have an innate and sometimes inexplicable attraction. Never let age determine your dreams. My first romance was released one month before my 60th birthday.

Please visit www.ginirifkin.com and http://ginirifkin.blogspot.com


SPECIAL DELIVERY
(Release date, May 2012)


Clover City, Colorado—1888

A mysterious letter and the drop-dead handsome town marshal, are the last things Mariah expects to find making rounds as a midwife.

Mariah McAllister plans to be married before her next birthday. Too bad Marshal Virgil Kincaid barely knows she’s alive. Not one to give up easily, she’s determined to show him she has an abiding passion for more than her work.

Virgil Kincaid loved a woman once—after she broke his heart, he spent three years in prison. Women can’t be trusted, no matter how good they look. He’s sworn off relationships in favor of Saturday night poker games. Life is simple—the way he wants it…until a stranger turns up dead in the road.

Forced to work side by side with Mariah, Virgil begins to wonder if she might be his second chance at love. As they trade kisses and oh so much more, he’s willing to take the gamble. But when a killer threatens their once peaceful town, all bets are off.

SPECIAL DELIVERY Excerpt:

Virgil Kincaid was a prime cut of man. Over six feet tall, he made Mariah’s five-foot seven height seem less gawky and awkward. And he was built for action, long and lean with broad shoulders—shoulders she hankered to hold onto—and with narrow hips—hips she could easily envision pressed up against her own.

And then there were his eyes. Gray as the sky in winter, full of secrets, revealing nothing. Virgil had been the town Marshal for nearly three years, yet no one knew where he’d come from or how long he intended to stay. What would it take to light a fire in those eyes and put settling down in his thoughts?

Her gaze drifted lower and latched onto the front of his Levi’s. A picture of what he might look like naked skittered across her mind and her cheeks grew hot at the imagining.

“You done lookin?” he asked.

Her gaze snapped up to meet his and the heat of humiliation replaced the lustful warmth.

"Yes,” she babbled, “there doesn’t seem to be anything of interest here.”

“Really?” he challenged, with a cocky grin and a raised brow.

He stepped closer and stood so near she could smell the man scent of him as she tried to ratchet her breathing down to a more normal rate.

“You’re a very unusual woman, Miss McAllister.”

“Is that good or bad?” she dared to ask.

“I’m not sure yet.”
----------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks to Gini for sharing her life and her story with us.

Thanks, readers, for stopping by!


Boss of the Plains

Friday, February 17, 2012

DIME NOVELS LEAD THE WAY WEST


Welcome to  the Random Acts of Kindness Blog Tour sponsored by the reading friendly blogst http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/ and
http://readforyourfuture.blogspot.com/ At the first, you'll find the sites for the 173 blogs participating with giveaways. My giveaway is an e-copy of one of my books (winner's choice) to someone who leaves a comment today through February 22nd. If you follow my blog on the sidebar, that counts as a second entry, so be sure to tell me if you follow me. If you're already a follower, let me know that as it counts, too. Please leave your email address with your comment. And by the way, please commit a random act of kindness today! Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog:

     DIME NOVELS LEAD THE WAY WEST

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard about dime novels all your reading life. Originally I believed there was only one form of dime novel, but I’ve learned that is far from the case.


Various forms of so-called
dime novels
The term dime novel, though it has a specific meaning, has also become a catch-all term for several different (but related) forms of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. popular fiction, including supposedly true (yeah, right) dime novels, story papers, five- and ten-cent weekly libraries, “thick book” reprints, and sometimes even early pulp magazines. The term was being used as late as 1940, in the short-lived pulp Western Dime Novels. In spirit, dime novels are the antecedent of today’s mass-market paperbacks, comic books, and even television shows and movies based on the dime novel genres. "Dime novel" has become a term to describe any quickly written, lurid potboiler and as such is generally used as derisive term to describe a sensationalized yet superficial piece of written work. Call them what you wish, I yearn to own a few of the genuine old dime novels.

Generally, historians agree that the term "dime novel" originated with the first book in Beadle & Adam's Beadle’s Dime Novel series, MALEASKA, THE INDIAN WIFE OF THE WHITE HUNTER, by Ann S. Stephens, dated June 9, 1860. Aha! A female author breaking in a new tradition! I’m pleased to know that. The novel was essentially a reprint of Stephens's earlier serial that appeared in the Ladies' Companion Magazine in February, March, and April 1839. The dime novels varied in size, even within this first Beadle series, but were roughly 6.5 by 4.25 inches, with 100 pages. The first 28 were published without a cover illustration, in a salmon colored paper wrapper, but a woodblock print was added with issue 29, and reprints of the first 28 had an illustration added to the cover. The books actually were priced at ten cents.



This series ran for 321 issues, and established almost all the conventions of the genre, from the lurid and outlandish story to the melodramatic double titling that was used right up to the very end in the 1920s. Most of the stories were frontier tales reprinted from the vast backlog of serials in the story papers and other sources, as well as many originals.



Beadle’s Dime Novels were immediately popular among young, working-class audiences, owing to an increased literacy rate around the time of the American Civil War. By the War’s end, there were numerous competitors like George Munro and Robert DeWitt crowding the field, distinguishing their product only by title and the color choice of the paper wrappers. As a whole, the quality of the fiction was derided by higher brow critics and the term 'dime novel' quickly came to represent any form of cheap, sensational fiction, rather than the specific format.



Although the larger part of the stories stood alone, in the late 1880s series characters began to appear and quickly grew in popularity. The original Frank Reade stories first appeared in Boys of New York. Old Sleuth, appearing in The Fireside Companion story paper beginning in 1872, was the first dime novel detective and began the trend away from the western and frontier stories that dominated the story papers and dime novels up to that time. He was the first character to use the word “sleuth” to denote a detective, the word’s original definition being that of a bloodhound trained to track. Hooray for Frank Reade! I love reading mysteries with an amateur sleuth - a human sleuth, not a bloodhound.


By 1873, frontier stories, evolving into westerns (Hooray!), were still popular, but the new vogue tended to urban crime stories. One of the most successful titles, Frank Tousey’s New York Detective Library eventually came to alternate stories of the James Gang with stories of Old King Brady, detective.


Dime novels endeared western lore to the nation, even spreading throughout the world, as you’ll learn when you read Julie Garwood’s PRINCE CHARMING. (By now you know that book is one of my all-time favorites.) City people followed the exploits of legendary heroes in the West. Talk about literary license? The fact that most of the tales were pure drivel didn’t matter a whit to their eager audience. The lure was cast, and many took the bait and headed to America’s West.



Has a novel ever influenced you to try something new? 


Don't forget our Random Acts of Kindness Blog Hop. Each participating blog has a prize to offer.

Thanks for stopping by!

 



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

LINDA BANCHE SHARES REGENCY WEATHER


“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” MARK TWAIN, editorial in the Hartford Courant, Aug. 24, 1897


Whether or not this quote is accurate, and there’s some doubt about its validity, the weather confounds us all.




Love it or hate it, the weather is always with us. My latest Regency comedy novella, AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS, is set in England. Rainy, chilly England. Cold, damp England.


Well, not necessarily.


 England's climate is both colder and warmer than that of the United States. The Gulf Stream crosses the Atlantic to brush by the southern and western coasts of the island, creating milder weather than in New England, where I live. Palm trees grow in Cornwall, England’s southwestern most county. Snow is rare, especially in the south, as well as blazing hot temperatures. In 1818 London, according to the Royal Society’s Meteorological Journal, the temperature range for the year was 24 degrees F to 80 degrees F. Compare that to the Boston Massachusetts range of 6 F to 103 F from February 2011 to January 2012.

 But where there is weather, there are extremes. The summer of 1818 in England was one of the hottest on record to that time, with June and July the warmest. According to the Royal Society’s observations, the average London temperature for June was 66.1F, with a high of 78 F and a low of 57 F. For July, the average was 68.9F (high 80 F, low 61 F). Compare those readings, again according to the Royal Society’s London records, to the more typical year of 1817: June range 81 F - 47 F, average 62.8 F, and July range 70 F - 54 F, average 60.8 F.



The summer of 1818 was not pleasant in London. The River Thames, which, for all practical purposes was an open sewer, reeked more than usual. The streets, full of horses and their manure, reeked as well. With no air-conditioning, deodorants or running water, the people, dressed in their year-round woolens, did, too. The ever-present pall of coal smoke from thousands of chimneys added to the miasma.

In AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS, my hero, Kit, abides in noxious London when he receives the letter from his late great aunt's solicitor informing him of a possible inheritance. In order to win her estate in Somersetshire, he must compete with her former companion. Their task: Make her pet ducks happy.



Idiotic the contest may be, but the prospect of a sizeable inheritance is enough to make him accept. Another lure is the trip to the country, where, although the temperatures may not be lower, at least the air will be cleaner.



BLURB:


Make the ducks happy and win an estate!



Mr. Christopher "Kit" Winnington can't believe the letter from his late great-aunt's solicitor. In order to inherit her estate, he must win a contest against her companion, Miss Angela Stratton. Whoever makes his great-aunt's pet ducks happy wins.

A contest: What a cork-brained idea. This Miss Stratton is probably a sly spinster who camouflaged her grasping nature from his good-natured relative. There is no way he will let the estate go to a usurper.



Angela never expected her former employer to name her in her will. Most likely, this Mr. Winnington is a trumped-up jackanapes who expects her to give up without a fight. Well, she is made of sterner stuff.



The ducks quack in avian bliss while Kit and Angela dance a duet of desire as they do their utmost to make the ducks--and themselves--happy.



EXCERPT:


Yawning, he shut the door behind him. Enough ducks and prickly ladies for one day. After dropping his satchel by the bed, he dragged off his clothes and draped them over the chair back. He dug a nightshirt from the valise and donned the garment before he blew out both candles.



Bates had already drawn back the bedclothes. The counterpane was soft under Kit's palm, and covered a featherbed. He grinned. By any chance, had they used the down from the pet ducks to stuff the mattress and pillows?



After tying the bed curtains back, he settled into the soft cocoon and laced his fingers behind his head. Tomorrow, he would have it out with Miss Stratton about the steward's residence, but that was tomorrow. He fluffed up his pillow and turned onto his side…



"QUACK!"



A bundle of flapping, squawking feathers exploded from the depths of the covers and attacked him. Throwing his arms over his head for protection, Kit fell out of bed. He scrambled to his feet and bolted for the door, the thrashing, quacking explosion battering him. A serrated knife edge scraped over his upper arm. "Ow!" Batting at the avian attacker with one hand, he groped for the latch with the other.



The door swung open. Miss Stratton, her candle flame flickering, dashed into the chamber. "Esmeralda, you stop that right now!"



The feathered windstorm quacked once more and, in a graceful arc, fluttered to the floor.



Kit lowered his arms and gave a mental groan. A duck. He should have known.



AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS, part of The Wild Rose Press’s Love Letters series, is available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other places ebooks are sold.

Thank you all,


Linda


Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com
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Thanks to Linda for her post. Her stories are fun to read, and I'm eager to read AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS.


Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 13, 2012

HEAT UP VALENTINE'S DAY WITH SNOWFIRES

Happy Valentine’s Day! What’s better on a wintry day than curling up with the one you love? I’m so happy you asked. Whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful, snuggle with your sweetie, your favorite beverage, and a sizzling book. And I have a book to suggest, just as you knew I would!



But first, here's the story of how I came to write SNOWFIRES. My husband and I were traveling from visiting our family in West Texas back to our North Central Texas home. Three days before, a deep snow had postponed our return. When there's a blizzard or freezing weather, Texans often joke that there's nothing but a barbed wire fence between us and the North Pole. Brrr, that trip I certainly believed that saying.

As Hero and I drove home, I once again commented on the isolation of the homes in countryside dedicated to ranching. That kernel grew into the story, SNOWFIRES.

We passed many isolated areas, and I wondered what would happen if someone had car trouble or became marooned in a storm. Even in good weather, cell phone service is often spotty in the ranching areas of West Texas. In bad weather, it’s non-existent. Rural electric and telephone lines fail under heavy snow and ice. Better and better, right? By that, I mean worse and worse for the characters. The more I thought about it, the more appeal the idea held.


 The barbed wire fence between
us and the North Pole
By Steve Shames
 For you city readers, if you're driving in a rural area and see a bluish light shining from the barn or garage or a pole in the yard, that's a mercury vapor light similar to city street lights. Hero and I have one of these lights by our garage. We had often joked about the mercury vapor light salesman having made his way through the area because most ranch homes had at least one of the lights.


Writers spin stories with “what if.” What if there were a blizzard and one those mercury vapor lights acted as a lighthouse does to ships? What if the hero and heroine were at odds and became snowbound at one of these ranches? Better, what if the ranch owners weren’t home and the hero and heroine were isolated alone? Would they work through their differences or call a temporary truce?


The heroine who spoke to me was Holly Tucker, a lovely and determined woman of twenty-nine. A nurturer, Holly cared for her family and for the employees of her firm. Thirty-six-year-old Trent Mcleod began life with nothing and built his fortune through hard work and good investments. Now he is part of Holly’s formerly family-only company. That would be bad enough, but he wants to change the rules established by her late father, Walter Tucker.


Once they returned to Dallas, I forced them to endure still working together. Writers love to make their characters suffer. After all, we want them to earn their happiness, don’t we?


The SNOWFIRES cover reminds me of the late January night my husband and I were married. That night there were a couple of feet of snow on the ground and a bright, full moon. Of course it was gorgeous and memorable, and we still mention it today when we see an especially bright full moon. But then, we are both romantics at heart.






Here’s the blurb for SNOWFIRES:



A blizzard can’t quench the fiery heat of passionate attraction. Holly only intended to get a little of her own back from Trent, not get them lost in the worst blizzard in decades. A snowstorm can’t keep them apart once their passions ignite. Holly Tucker believes Trent Macleod will ruin her family’s business now that he’s acquired her late father’s shares. Not only that, she fears he’s responsible for her father’s fatal heart attack. She’ll stop this corporate pirate any way she can. If only she could tame her hormones when he was around. He believes she’s a spoiled and pampered woman. Little does he know how wrong he is. Pampered by her grandparents, yes, but she carries all the responsibility for her stepmother and two stepsisters. Only Holly’s constant juggling of family finances covers her stepmother’s excessive spending. That and the fact Holly actually works in the family business.



Trent started with nothing and saved most of his life for this one big chance. Holly’s trick to delay their return to Dallas for an important meeting almost cost him his dream. After battling all his life against bad foster parents, crooks, and the press, he is determined no one will defeat him, not even Holly. How can she still believe her father was such a great guy? Trent doesn’t know why she is so opposed to every thing he suggests for the company. Thank heavens she is not so stand offish when they’re alone. She even invited him around her country club friends. Does a guy from nowhere stand a chance with a society princess like Holly? He prays he does, because he can’t get her out of his dreams, day or night. What will it take for him to achieve happily ever after with Holly?


Here’s the excerpt from the first night they’re marooned in the freezing, tiny ranch house. You might like to know that Grayson is her maternal grandfather: 


Trent smiled as he recalled her shocked expression when he mentioned shared body heat. At least he got a little of his own back then. She turned toward him in her sleep, snuggling up to him with her palms against his chest, one leg thrown over his.


He fought the instinct to pull her even closer and make passionate love to her. They fit so well together. He wondered how she would be as a lover, then mentally kicked himself for that line of thought.


Now he knew why the young Martin family had children so close in age. On this sagging mattress, which forced their bodies into intimate contact, a man and woman who loved one another would be drawn naturally into frequent lovemaking. Even with this ice princess with whom he had nothing in common, his mind and body cried out for their coupling.


He had no idea why she so resented him. It was more than their differences in business theory, because she had hated him at their first meeting two months ago. He racked his brain for a possible reason, but nothing came to him.


Maybe she just resented his buying the shares lost through her father's gambling. Why hold him responsible for her father’s stupidity? From all accounts, Walter Tucker was charming and glib but an absolute loser in all the ways that counted.


Grayson skirted the issue, but made it clear he hadn’t approved of his late son-in-law's management of Marvel, his ostentatious lifestyle, or his choice of Holly’s stepmother. So, why had Grayson stayed in the background? Buying into what had previously been solely a family-owned business left Trent an outsider with insufficient information.


If only Walter Tucker had stopped ranting long enough that day to listen to him...but why even go there? He would figure it all out eventually, but so far hadn't discovered how all the pieces fit. Trying to unravel the puzzle, Trent drifted softly to sleep.


***


The pirate returned to Holly's dreams. They were in the cabin of his ship, snug together in his bunk. This time his caresses inflamed her beyond her wildest imagination. Her fingers traced the line of the scar on his chest, her lips trailed kisses along the jagged ridge.


His mouth scorched a path down her neck and across her shoulders. Strong hands pushed her bra aside. Warm lips found her breast and his tongue laved her rigid nipple. The calluses of his fingers scintillated her skin as they moved to the elastic of her panties. His hand slid gently inside to touch her—


Her eyes flew open. "Hey! Stop it right now." Holly pounded Trent on his shoulders. "Get off of me."





I hope you’ll want to read SNOWFIRES. This is NOT erotica, but is probably the hottest book I have written or will write because I seem to be moving toward sweet and/or slightly sensual.


The Amazon Kindle buy link is


http://www.amazon.com/SNOWFIRES-ebook/dp/B004LROUH2/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329016651&sr=1-7

Smashwords is http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/36055?ref=CarolineClemmons








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