Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Rose bushI love this time of year when everything is in bloom. I was so happy to have several rose bushes already establishing when we moved into our house a year ago.

This spring I planted two new roses by our patio, where we love to spend our mornings, drinking coffee and enjoying the geckos, bunnies, quail, and roadrunners.Roses multi colored

My husband is color-blind, so he loves yellow roses that he can see against the green leaves. My mother loved roses too, and she struggled to keep them alive with the harsh winters of eastern Montana. Roses seem to flourish here in north-central Arizona.Yellow roses2

I like the low-maintenance of our desert landscaping, but one of these days I’m going to plant a small lawn in our back yard–I just need a little spot of green!

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Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 6:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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May Round Robin: Romantic Setting

This month’s Round Robin topic is: What is the most inspiring, romantic, or dangerous setting you ever read or written?

 Mine is an unusual and (maybe a little dangerous) romantic setting. An excerpt from Cowgirl Dreams:

Lightning slashed through the murky sky. A thunderclap rattled Nettie’s teeth. The horses shied and tugged at the reins. Barely able to breathe, Nettie could no longer feel her hands. Her whole body was numb. She felt the saddle slip. They wouldn’t make it. She was going to fall. They’d both be hit by lightning. Dear Lord, help us, please.

 “Hang on, we’re almost there.” Jake shifted the heavy saddle to take more of the weight himself. “It’s okay. You can do it. Come on. Just a few more steps.” Together they staggered the last few yards to the old shack. Jake dropped the saddle on the refuse-strewn porch and tethered the horses under the roof overhang on the lee side. Then he pushed the door open and helped Nettie through the opening. She nearly fell into the room, relief flooding over her.

He pushed the door shut against the gusts of wind and rain and struggled to latch it. Then he knelt beside her, his wide eyes examining her face. “Are you all right? Are you hurt? Anything broken?”

“I’m okay.” Nettie looked up at him, gulped and blinked. “Oh, my gosh, your eye.” She sat upright and reached up to caress the rapidly swelling bump.

“I’m just fine.”

CowgirlDreams Front Cover“Jake, we coulda been killed.” She shuddered as the realization washed over her, then broke into great hiccupping sobs. He encircled her with his long arms and drew her face to his chest. He smelled like horsehair and tobacco. It didn’t matter that his sodden denim shirt stuck to her cheek. She closed her eyes and snuggled close inside his embrace as he stroked her wet hair.

The rain beat a vicious tattoo on the roof. Just like those hailstones on her head and back. Her skin still stung, and her hands were raw and tingling. She shivered again. The ice seemed to have penetrated her blood. Her teeth chattered. Never in her life had she been so scared. They were lucky to be alive. Safe in his arms now, her sobs gradually subsided.

Jake hugged her closer, his face only inches from hers. She felt his warm breath on her cheek.

He rubbed a hand up and down her back, sending warm shivers through her body. “I have to let you go for a minute and see if I can get a fire going.”

Nettie clutched at him. She didn’t want him to go, even a few feet away.

Murmuring in her ear as if soothing a skittish colt, he eased out of the embrace and off the floor. He picked up an old horse blanket from one corner of the nearly empty room and shook the dust off. Gently, he wrapped the worn, dirty wool pad around her shoulders.

Nettie glanced around the room, wallpaper peeling in strips, cobwebs strung over the windows, the floor rotted and splintered. Wonder what happened to the people who lived here? A wooden chair slumped on its side, a leg missing. Jake stomped on the remaining legs to break them, then the rungs and the back, into pieces. He pried up a loose floorboard to add to the pile of firewood.

Nettie watched him squat before the fireplace, moving with such confidence. Gosh, he knows just what to do. He whittled shavings from the wood, then struck a match from a little tin canister in his pocket. He’s so handy. And so caring. He protected me.

Jake blew on the flame, coaxed it to catch. Above the sunburned line on his forehead where his hat usually rode, his skin was fair. His reddish blond hair shone softly. The flame caught and grew, its flicker kindling a spark of hope in her. She heard the snap as it spread to the other shavings and sticks of wood.

Jake added more fuel to the fire. He coughed as it smoked, but then the smoke drew up into the chimney. He sat next to her again, cradling her in the curve of his arm. He took out a small flask from his pocket. “Here, have a slug of this. It’ll help warm you.”

She coughed at the harsh fire that ran down her throat. But it did warm her, and her shivers diminished as her clothes dried.

“Thank you for saving my life.” Nettie raised her face to his and kissed the corner of his mouth. Then, to hide her blush, she leaned against his strong body. He tightened his arm around her shoulders.

They’d made it. Together. They were together, and that was all that mattered right now.Dare Cover Final

Cowgirl Dreams is the first of the “Dreams” trilogy. The second novel is Follow the Dream and the third is the newly released Dare to Dream.

 

Now hop on over to check out these blog offerings!

Lynn Crain at http://lynncrain.blogspot.co.at/
Anne Stenhouse at http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
Geeta Kakade at http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
Margaret Fieland at http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog
Fiona McGier at http://www.fionamcgier.com
Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com

A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

 

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (7)  
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How Do I Write?

Today I am taking part in a blog post relay after an invitation from Shirley Corder http://shirleycorder.com/ who lives and writes inspirational books in South Africa. She has published Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer and is currently working on two projects: Out of the Shadows:Reflections of Lesser-known Women in the Bible and Naomi’s Long Road Home:Living with Heartbreak and Shattered Dreams. In addition to beingan author, Shirley is a registered nurse and cancer survivor (1997), and a pastor’s wife. She was born in Scotland, grew up in Rhodesia, and now lives on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

To participate in this blog tour, I have to answer four specific questions, then pass on the baton to three more writers you can read about at the end.

3 book covers1. What am I working on? My first three novels are based on my rodeo cowgirl grandmother. The next novel will be the next generation, and based on my mother who immigrated to America from Germany after WWII. I’m calling it An American Dream.

 2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? This is always a difficult question to answer. I think it is different because it does follow my grandmother’s and mother’s lives. All of my books feature strong, independent women who have done something a bit unusual for a woman in their generation. In my “Dreams” trilogy, I tell the story of the growth of women’s competition on the same bucking stock as men and then how it gradually declined, ending in the early 1940s due to the wars’ influence and an all-male rodeo association.

3. Why do I write what I do? I grew up riding horses on a ranch and I did ride with my grandmother. I just wanted to tell her story. A lot of family history gets lost because nobody writes it down. I chose to fictionalize my family history because it gives me more freedom to develop characters and create a storyline, and sometimes to give a story the ending it should’ve had.

4. How does my writing process work? I’m a “pantser” rather than an outliner. Because of my background in journalism, I tend to write spare first drafts, so that draft is really my outline. Then, with the help of my critique group partners, I go back and flesh it out. I may do several rewrites before I’m ready to submit to a publisher.

And now, I pass the relay baton on to Tammy Hinton, Janet Oakley and Libi Astaire. Their posts will be up on May 26. Please visit them as well!

Tammy HintonAward winning author Tammy Hinton has accumulated a Will Rogers Medallion Award, Spur Finalist from Western Writers of America, Willa Finalist from Women Writing the West, and a Finalist from the Western Fictioneers group. She refers to her genre as women’s historical fiction. Her novels include: Unbridled and Retribution. Devoted to Antiquing appeals to those bitten by the collecting bug. Her short story, “She Devil Justice”, will be published in an anthology, date undetermined as of this writing. She and her husband, Herb, love the red dirt of Oklahoma.

Check out Tammy’s blog!

Janet OakleyJanet Oakley is an award winning writer of historical fiction. Tree Soldier won the 2012 EPIC ebook award for historical fiction and as well as the grand prize for Chanticleer Books Reviews. Currently, the novel is a quarter finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. It’s prequel, Timber Rose, launched on April 6, 2014. Another novel, The Jossing Affair, won first place in the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction for 2013.

In addition to writing novels, her published essays and articles appear in the Cup of Comfort, The Seachest, Historylink.org and the Mount Baker Experience. “Dry Wall in the Time of Grief” was the top winner in non-fiction at Surrey International Writers in 2006.

An historian and educator, she teaches hands-on history at museums, schools and historical parks. In addition to writing and historical pursuits, she loves gardening. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, loves its history and writes every day. No matter what. Janet blogs at Historyweaver.

Libi AstaireLibi Astaire is the author of the award-winning Ezra Melamed Mystery Series, which is set in England during the Regency era and follows wealthy-widower-turned-sleuth Ezra Melamed as he solves a series of “white cravat” crimes affecting members of London’s Jewish community.  Here’s Libi’s blog.

 

Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 6:08 am  Comments (1)  
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Dare to Dream Blog Tour, Week Two

Dare Cover FinalBack by popular demand! I had so many kind and supportive people offer to host my Dare to Dream blog tour that I’m extending it to a second week. I will be drawing names from comments for giveaways, from books to coffee mugs to cowgirl and dreams-related items.

Here’s my itinerary for this week:

May 19: Linda Weaver Clark, http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/ Author interview. Book giveaway–your choice of Cowgirl Dreams, Follow the Dream or Dare to Dream.

May 20: Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Sharing With Writers http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-family-history-can-be-used-in.html “How Family History Can be Used in Fiction.”

May 21: C.M. Mayo’s Madam Mayo http://madammayo.blogspot.com/ “A Roundup of 5 Things to Know About Old-Time Rodeo Cowgirls”

May 22: Beverly Bateman’s Five Secrets, http://beverleybateman.blogspot.com/Five secrets about me and my “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy

May 23: M.K. McClintock http://www.booksandbenches.com/  “A Sense of Place”

May 24: Shanna Hatfield http://shannahatfield.com/ An interview with Nettie Moser

Can an Angel Survive Hell on Wheels?

by Alethea Williams

WallsfortheWindcover4My dad’s uncle wrote a little family history booklet called Our Home on the Prairie. His parents, who lived near Liberty, married in 1887 and moved to western Kansas in 1906. At that time they had adopted a boy named Johnie, who was about three years old when they went to live in their soddy on the Kansas prairie. There was no explanation of where they got this boy.

When I first started writing Walls for the Wind, there wasn’t much on the Internet or elsewhere about orphan trains. In the years between the writing of the book and its sale, there has been an explosion of interest in these children, who were scooped off the streets and shipped out in the hundreds of thousands between 1854 and 1929. There are now many pages of books on orphan trains on Amazon, a PBS documentary available online, and a museum and research center devoted to them at the National Orphan Train Complex in Concordia, Kansas. The first to organize orphan trains to alleviate the problem of untended immigrant children roaming the streets of big Eastern cities was the founder of the Children’s Aid Society, Charles Loring Brace. But soon many religious organizations were following his example. I would be willing to bet that poor Johnie, who died of a rattlesnake bite at twelve years old, was an orphan placed by the nuns of a New York religious society with a devout German Catholic immigrant family residing on the Kansas plains.

I write about Wyoming, so that’s where my fictional orphan train headed. The building of the transcontinental railroad has always fascinated me, as has the ephemeral nature of the Hell on Wheels town that followed the building of the road. My fictional orphans make it all the way to Cheyenne, Dakota Territory, although few actual orphan train children ended up in Wyoming.

Here is a short synopsis of Walls for the Wind:

Can an angel survive Hell on Wheels? When Kit Calhoun leaves New York City with a train car full of foundlings from the Immigrant Children’s Home, she has no clue she might end up as adoptive mother to four of them in rip-roaring Cheyenne, Wyoming. Kit has spent her life in the Children’s Home and now she rides the Orphan Trains, distributing homeless children to the young nation’s farmers as fast as the rails are laid.

The first time handsome Patrick Kelley spies Kit in Julesburg, Colorado Territory, he wants her. But circumstances, and a spectral-looking demented gambler as well as Kit’s certainty no one in his right mind would want her cobbled-together family, conspire to keep them apart. As Patrick and Kit and her brood ride Hell on Wheels into their destiny, they’re all forced to leave behind everything they knew and forge new lives in the raw American West.

Buy links:

Whiskey Creek Press
Kindle
Nook

Author bio:author photo

Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I’ve lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I’m always open to reader response to my writing.

Website: http://aletheawilliams.weebly.com/

Blog: http://www.actuallyalethea.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AletheaWilliams.author

Google+: google.com/+AletheaWilliams

Twitter: @ActuallyAlethea https://twitter.com/actuallyalethea

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5753104.Alethea_Williams

LinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/by89znA

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Alethea-Williams/e/B0077CD2HW/

The Romance Reviews author page: http://www.theromancereviews.com/ActuallyAlethea

Dare to Dream Blog Tour Itinerary

Dare Cover FinalThis week I will be armchair traveling to a different blog each day on my Dare to Dream tour. Please follow me as I talk about how my books came about, answer questions, relate some history from 1940s Montana, and introduce you to my characters.

If you leave a comment, you will be entered in a drawing for some fun cowgirl or dreams related prizes.

May 5: Althea Williams, Actually Althea  http://www.actuallyalethea.blogspot.com/ An Interview with the Author Win a copy of your choice of one of my books!

May 6: Janet Fisher http://janetfisherbooks.wordpress.com/ How did the “Dreams” Series Come About? Win a “Cowgirl Up!” T-Shirt!

May 7: Brenda Whiteside http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com Dare to Dream Excerpt

May 8: J.D. Squires http://janetsquires.blogspot.com/ Meet the Cowgirl Behind the Dreams Series

May 9: Marsha Ward  Fresh Book Friday http://marshaward.blogspot.com/ Spotlight on  Dare to Dream

May 10: Jean Henry Mead http://writersofthewest.blogspot.com/ 1940s Montana

May 11: Carolyn Howard-Johnson http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/ Using Family History in Novels

 Cowgirl Up! copyAwesome Prizes!Prizes

A cowgirl print purse, a Dare to Dream angel ornament, Cowgirl magnets, denim potholder, books, bookmarks, T-shirts and more!

Published in: on May 4, 2014 at 6:09 am  Leave a Comment  

The Art of Love & Murder Book Launch

I’m excited to welcome friend and critique partner, Brenda Whiteside, whose first book in a romantic suspense series is launching TODAY!

by Brenda Whiteside

perf5.000x8.000.inddI’m so pleased to be here today for the release of The Art of Love and Murder, book one in my Love and Murder series. Thank you, Heidi.

Blurb: Lacy Dahl never questioned her past until the deaths of her adoptive parents and her husband. A husband who wasn’t what he seemed. Her research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life.

Sheriff Chance Meadowlark is still haunted by the murder of his wife and the revenge he unleashed in the name of justice. When he meets Lacy he is determined not to become involved, but their pasts may make that impossible. As they move closer to the truth, saving Lacy may be his only salvation.

Lacy begins to think the present is more important than her past…until Chance’s connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love. Will the truth destroy Lacy and Chance or will it be the answer that frees them?

Most often when I come up with a story, I start with the main characters. The Art of Love and Murder was no exception. This time I encountered a little bump, more of a giant speed bump, in my writing process.

My heroine, Lacy Dahl has been with me from day one – forty-three, widowed, half Hopi Indian and half Austrian, with a mystery in her past. She’d been adopted as an infant when her birth parents were killed in a plane crash, a crash she survived. I knew she’d go in search of her past, but that took some brainstorming to figure out. In her search, she’d meet Sheriff Lance Meadowlark.

Lance – my son’s name. When I imagined the sheriff of Flagstaff, Arizona, a man similar to my son came to mind. NOT my son, but someone of equal stature and rugged good looks. Lance Meadowlark had a good ring to it, so I ran with it…until the first intimate scene. My fingers twitched, I bit my lip and my writing came to a halt. There was no way I could write love scenes using my son’s name. What to do? Lance became Chance. And my pace picked up again.

EXCERPT:

Momentarily struck dumb by his eye color, she stared back. Why hadn’t she noticed until now? Although not as light as hers or her father’s, the professor’s eyes were a startling green shade.

His hand nudged her arm. “Lacy?”

She jumped. “Oh, yes.” She slipped the tissue from the half-carved wolf. Another glance at his eyes and goose bumps riddled her arms.

He lifted the wood close to his face, using both hands as if handling a delicate hummingbird. His thumb traced the neck of the creature to the juncture of where it emerged from the wood. When he brought the piece to his nose, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, Lacy wanted to turn away from the oddly erotic gesture.

He swallowed, opened his eyes and set the wolf back on the tissue. His attention shifted to the photograph of the chest. He touched the photo, a smile on his lips. “Where is the chest?”

The chest. Like he knew it, had seen it before. “I’m having it sent. You’ve seen it before?”

He didn’t move, stared out the window as if deep in thought. “I’d like to show you something, Lacy.”

“All right.” She waited, watching his profile.

He turned and stared into her face a moment. “You’re so very lovely. A creation full of life and passion, surpassing any art form.”

His hypnotic voice floated on the classical strains drifting from the living room. She couldn’t speak. Didn’t know what to say. She’d been lifted upon a pedestal of admiration. With any other man, she might consider his words a means to a sexual end. The professor’s intentions, however, were crystal. He admired her like a work of art.

You can purchase The Art of Love and Murder at Amazon and through the publisher Wild Rose Press.

author photoBrenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States – multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or suspense, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.

Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/brendawhitesid2

She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com

She blogs about writing and prairie life at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

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