Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Welcome my guest, Lena Nelson Dooley

Note:  Lena is sponsoring presenting a copy of Maggie's Journey to one lucky commenter.  Don't miss out!

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

Her 2010 release was Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, from Summerside Press which recently won the Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western literature. Lena is currently under two 3-book contracts with Charisma House/Realms. The first book released in October 2011. It’s Maggie’s Journey, book one of her McKenna’s Daughters series.

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally.

Lena has an active web presence on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books.

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me:
1.  I once interviewed one of the strippers from Jack Ruby’s night club after she became a Christian.
2.  I was a guest on the set of the movie JFK for one day.
3.  My husband taught me to drive before we were married.
4.  I was the assistant producer/director of a TV movie. (A glorified go-fer)
5.  The first time I rode a horse, it ran away with me. My father made me get right back on and ride home. At least it didn’t drag me when I fell out of the saddle.

Right now I’m in a season of writing romantic fiction set in the west in the late 1800s. I love that era. I’m featuring two books in this post. My latest is Maggie’s Journey, book one of my McKenna’s Daughters series. I am giving away one free copy of the book to someone who leaves a comment.

Maggie's Journey grabs you on page one with characters and events that reflect real-life joys and heartaches that change the characters forever. Make room on your "keepers" shelf! —Loree Lough, best-selling author of 80 award-winning books, including From Ashes to Honor.

A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.
Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn't fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.
When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?

The second book is Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico. This book released in 2010, then received the Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in western media in 2011. I’m also offering one free copy of this book to one of the people who leaves a comment on the blog.

All that glitters is not gold.

It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah. Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeline Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her reputation beyond redemption.

"Two strangers are presented with a 'golden' opportunity for love in this quintessential East meets West tale by well-loved author Lena Nelson Dooley. I found myself swept away by the beautiful writing and enmeshed in the lives of the players, who face many twists and turns in their journey toward the ultimate happily-ever-after. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico is truly one of the loveliest historical romances I've read in ages. Highly recommended." -- Janice Hanna Thompson, author of Love Me Tender and Swinging on a Star

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Western Erotica?

Do the two genres mesh well?  Writing historical fiction is a tricky mix, and when you add in sub genres, you face a more difficult dilemma.  Historical buffs are sticklers for accuracy.  Facts have to be true for the period, and even though the author may 'fictionalize' names, places, and events, the writer had better not stick a microwave in the middle of the old west or even refer to children as 'kids." I personally believe the those who read historical do so with the most critical eye of all.

Penning novels set in the old west remains my favorite pastime, but I often wonder why since so much research is involved.  When you write contemporary, anything goes, but you can't say the same for language, dress, or implements that may not have been invented or used yet during the eighteenth century...any century for that matter if you're dealing with historical facts.

This leads me to the blog title.  Sexuality during the eighteenth century was not nearly as promiscuous as today, or even in the twentieth century.  Employment opportunities for women were extremely limited, and women who worked in saloons or whorehouses were usually there out of needs not associated with their sexual prowess.  These women were considered "lowlifes" and snubbed by their own gender...those fortunate enough to marry and not depend upon themselves for survival.  For the larger part of the century, men even dominated teaching positions.  Most businesses were family oriented, so boarding houses, restaurants, and the like were staffed by kin.  Lord protect the women who lost their husbands, had to fend for themselves, and didn't have a prosperous family member upon whom to rely.  There weren't many choices to be had otherwise.

Daughters were taught that flirting openly was scandalous, even making eye contact with a stranger caused wagging tongues, and not in the sexual sense.  (smile.)  In the old west,  virtuous women rarely exposed their bodies  Showing cleavage, or God forbid, an ankle, put a woman at risk of unfavorable gossip or rejection by their peers.  So, how do we accurately portray a sexual female in a time where sex was taboo before marriage, and even then, rarely discussed.  Shows of affection were rarely seen outside the home.

Yes, in fiction, we can stretch the truth a bit, but if we adhere to historical accuracy, can we truly find a woman with a sexual appetite who wasn't afraid to display it?  Comments welcome.  I've not strayed far beyond a kiss in my stories, except in the privacy of the ranch house or tepee, so I'm anxious to hear from those who have.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Cowboy Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to Cowboy Kisses, my new western blog.  Last week, I added this site, along with my other one, and neither were linked.  Guess I did something wrong.  This week, I used a different email so we'll see what happens.  Today, I'm going to share another six sentences from Sarah's Journey.  This is one of my favorite books and I hope it will be yours, too.  Sarah and her half-breed hero, Wolf, share a campfire.  He has no idea that earlier, she'd discovered him on the ground, where he'd fallen after being gored by an angry buffalo, and then tried to steal his horse. Her plan didn't exactly work.  :)

Guilt washed over Sarah like pouring rain.  How could she ever admit she left him for dead?  And stole his horse, to boot?  She'd been a fool for even mentioning trying to mount one.  Surely, now that they prepared to travel, the question was going to arise again--where was her horse?  She took a deep breath and smiled nervously across the campfire at him.

Sarah's Journey is available at Eternal Press and on Amazon, and a myraid of other places you might Google.  Now head back to Six Sentence Sunday and follow some more links.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Makes Cowboys So Sexy?

Now I ask you...take a gander at the picture to your left and tell me whether or not you suspect this person has B.O.  If that's the first thing that comes to your mind, you might be a man.  *lol*

While having a short discussion with a male western author, I started to question why so many of woman (me included) have a fascination for cowboys.  According to the person with whom I conversed, and I quote, "The idea of cowboy kisses strikes me as a little dubious.  Cowboys reeked of sweat, smoke, cow manure and chewed tobacco.  You'd have to hold your nose to get close enough for a kiss. Ha."

I quickly pointed out, "Therein lies the difference in male and female western authors. Women look at the 'fictional' romance aspect.  Our heros may smell of musk, leather, and tobacco, but it's a heady, sexual aroma. lol  Trust me...our heroes will never stink."

I further added that when I picture a cowboy, I see Sam Elliott in the Sacketts.  Wooeeee...I'd kiss him if he had a cow turd hanging on his hat.  rofl.

Thanks to yummy cover models who stimulate our senses rather than our sensibility, women can view our fictional heroes in the way the author intended them.  I'm pretty sure everyone who lived in the 1800s smelled less like a rose and more like a full days work.  Bathing, hair washing, and shaving were weekly habits, if that.

We're spoiled.  We have access to water on a daily basis where those traveling on wagon trains, working on ranches, and riding miles and miles in the hot sun via horseback didn't always have the luxury we've grown used to. No air conditioned houses and cars back then.  Sadly, there are still some countries in this modern day and age that treat their water as sacred because of droughts in their homelands.  Smelling good isn't a life guarantee, but believe it not, some people find natural body odor sexy. But for those who don't... here's a hint...if you're walking in the grocery store, pass the fish market, and your spouse eyes you with suspicion.  Take a bath.  *lol*

BTW, I "borrowed" the picture from Madeline Baker's site. After reading all of her historical westerns, I came away inspired to write my own.  She's been instrumental in helping me realize a dream and I was honored a few years back when she contacted me and asked if I would like to exchange links.  Wow...  Anyhow, she's seeking the identity of the model because she'd love to have him on a cover of one of her books.  Anyone know who this hunky guy is?  If you haven't read any of Mandy's books, you need to.

You can check out my western novels on my website.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the past Thanksgivings I've shared with my love ones, I also picture a family in the 1800s, huddled around a table perhaps not nearly as well-stocked as those we're used to.  This led me to research the origin of the holiday, and I stumbled upon President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation that established this special Thursday in history.  Enjoy, as you celebrate today, giving thanks for all your blessings, and remembering those less fortunate and offering a prayer for them. 

A Proclamation.

The Year that is drawing to a close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke the aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascription's justly due to Him for such singular deliverance's and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Borrowed from Abraham Lindoln Online.

Wishing you a bounty of love,


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yep...I'm an author!

I recently did a book signing (of sorts) at the Sparta, TN street fair.  I'm always amazed at how many people ask me if I know the author???  Do people really sit at a table at places like that and sign and sell the work of others?  I tried not to giggle when I announced, "I am the author."

And I am...a real author with more books published than I ever imagined...and I look at them every single day and thank my lucky stars for the publishers who took a chance on me.  Okay, so I'm not published with Harlequin or Avon, but with the popularity of e-readers, more and more folks are discovering me, and I can finally buy a Big Mac instead of just a Happy Meal with one of my royalty checks  :)

 Why was I in Sparta?  I used to live in the area, and I love the beauty of the countryside and the rich historical facts born there.  One of my novels, Sparta Rose, although not a legitimate "western" because it's set on the wrong side of the Mississippi, is filled with the same twangs, hats, and tight jeans that give me goosebumps.

My hero, Ty Bishop, is my epitome of a cowboy, and Ellie Fountain keeps his gut in a knot with her mood swings.  One day she likes him, and hates him the next.  Of course, she thinks he's the son her father always wanted, and Roselle (a name she hates) is bound and determined to show both of them she can do anything a man can do, only better.

One of my favorite scenes is where Ellie has challenged Ty to a "shoot off" to demonstrate her new found skills.  She's been practicing in secret with a gun she bought on the sly, and now she's ready to prove a point.  They're on their way to a place away from the house, but is she getting cold feet?  The book is available from Eternal Press and sold on many sites, including Amazon for your Kindle or I-Pad.  Woot!

Ellie had no doubt her admiration of nature's beauty posed a stall for time.  A definite winter threat iced the air, but the grass around them was just as fresh as the first day of spring.  A few evergreen trees dotted the countryside, but the majority of other had lost their leaves, stretching naked branches skyward.  An occasional rabbit skittered to escape the horses' hooves, and in the distance, a hungry hawk circled over his intended prey.

Ellie turned back to TY and made a sweeping gesture of the landscape.  "Isn't this the most breathtaking sight?"

H nodded, but his gaze never left her face.

They continued to ride, and before long, Ty pointed out a stand of trees.  "Over there.  We should be far enough from the house so w don't disturb your pa."

Disturbing her father was the least of her concerns at the moment.  What had she been thinking, challenging Ty to a contest?  Pas was doing better, but maybe she should use him as an excuse to postpone the match.  She nibbled her bottom lip and sighed.  Ty would see right through that excuse.

Ellie halted Chessie next to the nearest tree, dismounted and secured her reins to a branch low enough to allow the animal to graze.  Suddenly her palms dampened with perspiration.  She bragged about her abilities, and now she had to deliver.  True, her skills had improved, but could she live up to her boasting?

Here again she faced the consequences of using her mouth instead of her brain.  She took a deep breath, turned and braced herself.

Ty had already tethered his horse and busied himself setting up a line of cans along a fallen log.  Ellie found a stump and sat, her heartbeat sounding in her ears.

Ty straightened from his task and glanced over at her.  "You ready?"

She stood on wobbly legs. "I...I guess."

"You don't sound too convincing.  We can call the whole thing off if you aren't feeling sure of yourself."

Oh, that irritating tone in his voice.  Call if off?  Not a chance.  She could do this--she had to do this.  Besides, his attitude was downright insulting.  "I'm quite confident of my abilities, thank you."  Ellie spoke through clenched teeth.

She brush by him and walked to the target area.  With a glance over her shoulder, she feigned confidence.  "So how are we going to do this?"

Ty came and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her.  "We'll take turns.  I've set up the first six targets.  I'll go first so you get the idea."

Ellie stepped to the side to give him room.

Ty's gaze focused on the cans lined atop the log.  Beneath the brim of his dusty hat, determination knit his two brows into one.  He widened his stance and rested a hand on the butt of his revolver.

As soon as his gun cleared leather, a blaze of gunfire ensued.  With lightning precision, Ty masterfully downed five of the six cans, and re-holstered his weapon.  Flashing a cocky smile, he turned to Ellie.  "Well, I must have been distracted on that last one, but five out of six is pretty good, seeing as how it probably only took ten seconds or so."

Ellie exhaled.  There was no denying he'd done a good job.  Her heart really started to pound.  What is she wasn't as skilled as she thought?  While watching Ty set up new cans, she mentally pictured her makeshift target filled with holes made by expertly placed shots.  The whole time she fought rising nausea.

Ty strolled back.  "It's your turn."

Her stomach clenched.

"Thanks.  I kinda figured that," she snapped, surprised by her snippiness.  This was her idea, not his.  She swallowed hard.  "Could you do me a favor?"


"Can you please stand back a little ways?"  She motioned over her shoulder.  "It distracts me to see you out of the corner of my eye."

"Sure, no problem."  He backed up a few paces.

It didn't help.  He was distracting anywhere, anytime.  Oh, if only her mouth didn't get her into these messes.

Ellie swiped beads of perspiration from her brow.  Despite the brisk air, the pressure of the moment burned beneath her skin.  She wiped the offending moisture on her pant leg, broadened the distance between her feet, and readied herself.  She briskly rubbed her palms together, and since they were in the perfect position, she took a brief second to mutter a silent prayer.  Please God, don't let me make a fool of myself.

With determination, she eyed the cans and locked her fingers around the rosewood grips.  Recalling exactly how she'd riddled the floral material at the old mine, Ellie drew her weapon and fired.  One after another the first four rounds found their mark, but the last two dug deep into the earth beyond the log.  Two cans remained.  Ellie's jaw tightened as she shoved her weapon back into its leather restraint.

"Not bad, not bad at all. I'm impressed," Ty said, with a smug grin.

Perhaps it was his attempt at a compliment, but it sounded more like taunting.  She turned and gave him a forced smile.  "You don't have to rub it in.  You won, I lost.  It's as simple as that."

"I'm not rubbing anything in.  I thought you did a good job under the circumstances."

"And what circumstances are those?"

"You-me...a shoot-off for the first time.  I didn't expect you to hit anything."

"Well, thanks for the confidence.  I am only a woman, after all."  Ellie seethed inside.

"Ah, Ellie, don't get mad.  That's not what I meant.  You wanna try again?"

Her mind screamed no, but her mouth overrode the warning. 

"Sure, set 'em up.  Why not shoot at the same time this round?"

Okay...If I didn't have to type the whole dang thing, I'd show you what happens the second time, but, let me share another tidbit with you...use more than one backup.  When I changed computers, I transferred everything onto a thumb drive, thinking I'd be safe.  Somehow, the darn thing broke, and I lost all my PDF copies.  :(  Picture me pouting.  I have them on my Kindle, but that doesn't help when I need to cut and paste an excerpt.  Oh well...another example of live and learn.  Hope to see you back. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Pioneer Thanksgiving

As I was looking for something to share about Thanksgiving, I came across this very moving story that gives wonderful insight into our ancestry.  I'm pretty sure the owner won't mind since I'm giving them full credit as well as sharing the link where I found this step back into history.  Enjoy.  I certainly did.

Taken from a story written by:
Joseph Wallace Thompson

As told to his daughter, Eleh T. Shumway Lazenby

My grandmother, Lucy Simmons Groves, who was one of the pioneers in Utah’s Southland, lived in a fort called Fort Harmony. It was late in the fall [about 1854], and people had gathered in their meager harvest, and it was very meager too. The men folks had a very busy season, with clearing the brush from a few acres of land, plowing, planting, digging a canal to irrigate their crops, and guarding the colony from the unfriendly Indians, and building a fort for protection, they were unable to raise much more than would be needed for man, and beast through the long winter months before another harvest.

Each family had a few sheep on which they depended for wool to make clothing. They carded, spun, and wove the wool into cloth. The people, true to the traditions which they had inherited from their pilgrim fathers, my grandparents (Elisha Hurd Groves and Lucy Simmons) were wondering just what they had to be thankful for. True, they had been delivered from those bloodthirsty wretches which had so cruelly murdered their beloved prophet and his equally loved brother, (Joseph and Hyrum Smith) and had mercilessly driven the people from their beautiful city of Nauvoo, and the comfortable homes they had only begun to enjoy. All this in the dead of a cold cruel winter, so cold the people crossed the great Mississippi River on the ice, a thing that seldom happened. Yes, they were out of the power of the mobs, but it had cost them those dear homes, and the long, long journey of a thousand miles or more through a wilderness infested by
wild beasts, and equally wild Indians. They had left behind almost everything that gave comfort and happiness, but they had a priceless heritage handed down to them from their Pilgrim parents. A strong will, and resolute determination that no trials could weaken or discourage, above all a faith in God that could not be shaken. So, they thought, even after all they had endured, and the present dark prospects, they had much to be thankful for.

Their little daughter, my mother [Lucy Maria Groves], who was born during the cold days when they were out on the prairie before coming to Utah, was then a little barefoot girl and was lonely and wished for a little chum to play with. As the day of Thanksgiving arrived, cold and stormy, they were huddled around the fireplace. Grandfather said, “Well, we have no apples to toast on the hearth. We have some corn, and I will parch some, and we have a nice fat deer hung up so we will roast some of it, and we will still have a Thanksgiving. We’ll not regret the past. It has given us a wonderful experience, so we will not long for nor wish for those things nowimpossible to obtain, but be thankful for what we have.”

The day was far along and night would soon be approaching, wrapping its dark shadowsover all the land. He said, “I will go out and take care of the stock, and then we will enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner.” As darkness came on, the snow began to fall. A real winter storm was on. The wind moaned and roared outside, and as if to accompany the elements from the hills nearby, and from every direction came the mournful howl of wolves. Grandfather remarked that he would surely feel sorry for any human being who happened to be out there tonight. As the night drew on, the storm increased in violence, until it seemed to shake even the adobe and stone walls of the fort. The man who had charge of the gate said, “For fear someone may be out tonight, I will not fasten the gate. I will leave it slightly ajar.”

The night grew wilder, and they all decided to go to bed. Grandfather was just starting to bank the fire, when there came a hard bang on the door like something heavy had fallen against it. He hurried over to open the door, and as he raised the latch, the door flew open and in fell an Indian. He was almost naked and so near frozen he could hardly speak. He held a bundle in his arms wrapped in a rabbit skin robe, which he had had to keep him warm in winter. As he fell on the floor, the bundle slid from his cold nerveless arms, and a faint cry came from the depths of the robe. It was the cry of a baby. Grandmother sprang up and hastily picked it up in her arms and unwrapped it, and lo, a tiny Indian baby, warm and cozy, came into view. “Father,” she said, “Thank God we are here to save these people.”

The baby was all right except for being hungry, but the man had nearly frozen to death. The sun had risen on another day before he recovered enough to tell his experience. He then told the story. His tribe [Shebitt],1 not a large one, had been out on their annual hunt to get a supply of venison for winter, and had killed plenty of deer, but a large band of bad Indians from another tribe had surprised them and killed them all including his wife. They took all their meat and ponies. They had struck him down and left him for dead. He had no idea how long he lay unconscious, but when he came to, all his friends and his wife were lying there cold and stiff. When he turned her over, the little one was lying there beneath the mother in a little depression in the ground, cold but still alive, and unhurt. The robbers had stripped all the good robes but had left this one, he thought because it wasn’t much good. He wrapped his baby in it, and came many days to the white man’s lodges to save his baby, and if the white man had not opened the door, he could not have done so. He was too sick, too cold, too hungry to go one step farther. He said, “If white squaw take baby, and raise up like white baby, she may have it for her own.”

He said, “Me now happy. Me want to die. You take care of baby. You good white mans. Me say goodbye.” And although he lingered a few days, he had fully decided not to live. Grandfather gave him good care, but he died and was laid to rest as if he were a white man.

Grandfather and Grandmother raised the baby, who grew to be a beautiful woman, bright, intelligent and a lovely girl. They loved the dusky little girl as if she were their own. They named her Evelyn. She was a real playmate to little barefooted Lucy, their own daughter. She grew to womanhood and married a good, honorable white man. My grandparents often said that of all the Thanksgiving days, the day on which little Evelyn came to them was the best of all.
----- Murland Packer

Monday, November 21, 2011

Two names, One Author...

Yep, that's part of Whatshername's catchy signature tag: Two name, one author, thousands of stories.  Today, she's here as Larion, but that's fine with me, I like both of her.  :)  Here's a little about my special guest:

 Larion Wills also known as Larriane Wills, writes in multi-genres to entertain you with strong characters and intriguing plots laced with mystery and suspense to tempt you into genres you don’t think you like. Her fast-paced stories will keep you reading with her story telling abilities.

When she isn’t writing for your enjoyment, she putters in her yard, plays with her dogs, and spends time with her family in the high desert of Arizona where many of her stories take place. A fascination with history and antiques lend authenticity to her historicals, while a love of science fiction, ghost and witch stores, and the great ‘what if’ feeds her imagination for others.

Today, I'm treating you to her newest release coming from Muse It Up Publishing this week, and I'm proud to have her here on Cowboy Kisses.

Tag: Some men who carry a badge are no better than those they hunt. Words enough to frighten Susan into letting Tarbet die?

Blurb: Forced to run the ranch like a man after her father’s death, whispers ran wild that Susan was less than a lady. William coming to call caused tongues to wag more. Taking care of a wounded man with only Blazer to help would totally ruin her reputation, but she couldn’t leave a dying man in the hands of delicate Angela or her bungling father no matter what the gossips said about him. How was she to know how much more was behind the attempt on his life? How was she to know she would have to take up a gun, as less than a lady, and fight to save herself and the man she loved?

Excerpt One:

The pain brought Tarbet halfway up, yelling, too garbled to make sense, and fighting blindly. They both held him, putting all their weight on his arms and shoulders. He twisted and rolled, shouted and groaned, only to drop like a rock when he passed out again.
Blazer asked, “Did it finish ‘em?”

Susan laid a hand on his chest to be sure. “He’s still breathing,” she said, finding it hard to believe. “What do I do now?”

“Muck it out and iffen the bullet is still in thar, cut it out.”

With a grimace, she began unbuttoning the shirt. “It’s sickening,” she murmured when she folded the shirt back.

“Still want to do it yar own self?”

The look she gave him told him it was time to shut his mouth. He held his tongue and watched her cut the undershirt away, exposing the wound.

Susan moaned despite her efforts not to, fighting to keep down a surge of nausea. An angry furrow cut between two of Tarbet’s ribs, deepening toward the end where a hole seeped pus and blood. With another inch, the bullet would have passed through and out. Instead it left a section of closed wound she had to force herself to begin cleaning, dabbing at first but gaining confidence as Tarbet remained quiet and still.

Sitting back on his heels, Blazer said. “Been thinkin’ on what I heared time an’ again ‘bout ‘em.”

 “I’ve heard them,” she answered in preoccupation.

“They say he’ll grin at ya whilst he shoots ya.”

“The bullet is still in there.”

“I’ll heat up a knife, but thar’s something ya ought’a think on.”

“Blazer, I don’t care what they say.”

“Say he ain’t above takin’ what ain’t his, too. Says he robbed a bank and let an innocent man go to prison fer it.”

“They say I’m a tramp,” she snapped

Blazer jumped to his feet. “Don’t ya go sayin’ such things. Ya done been raised better.”

“So have you. You’ve never turned your back on me because of gossip. Don’t on him without giving him a chance.”

“I ain’t sayin’ we should. Onliest thing I’m tellin’ ya is ya best know what ya got har.”

“The next time I find a dying man, I’ll ask first if they say he’s worth saving. Now go get me a knife. The way Hatfield’s taking over the town, we don’t dare send for the doctor. We’re all he’s got, and I don’t intend to let you talk him to death.”

Shaking a finger at her, he shouted, “Just so’s ya know what ya got, and don’t ya go bad mouthin’ yar own self no more.”

“Tell them, damn it, not me.”

 And, what's better than one excerpt?  Two.  Hey, she has two names, what the heck.  :)

Excerpt Two:

She didn’t make it before the rain. Once it started, they were both soaked to the skin in no more than a few minutes. In the same short time, he shook with chills. Susan tempered her fear of what the conditions were doing to him and a desire to ride straight in to the ranch house porch with caution. She didn’t want to waste a second getting him dry and warm, but a light showed in the bunkhouse windows. As far as she knew, Horace had no hired hands, and Niles had not been with the men at her place. He and more of Hatfield’s men could be there, a possibility to terrify her.

She tied the horse in the trees on the far side of the house. Walking the last distance, she made sure no one was in the house with Horace and Angela before tapping on the window. Angela gasped with her hand flying to her mouth. Horace went straight to the window and pushed it open.

“Miss Flaggen, what are you doing out there in the rain?”

“I had to bring him here. They stayed at my place,” she explained through chattering teeth, knowing it wouldn’t be hard for him to know how bad Tarbet was by looking at her. Her arms wrapped around her in a useless effort to find warmth. “He’s soaked through, shaking with chills and fever again.”

He told her quickly, “Bring him in.”

“What about…” She pointed in the general direction of the bunkhouse with a shaking hand.

“He can’t see this side from there. Hurry, child.” He turned from the window, telling Angela, “Prepare Niles’ room, light a fire, and take in some towels.”
“Papa, we can’t keep him here.”

“Do as you’re told.”

Susan didn’t wait to see if Angela obeyed her father.

Horace waited at the edge of the porch, still under the roof when she led the horse up.  Her hands, numb with cold and shaking, could not work knots free in the wet rope. “I can’t get them loose,” she exclaimed in frustration.

“I’ll get a knife.” He turned and nearly blundered into a bulky, slicker covered man coming up behind him without a sound. “Hopkins!”

“Yep,” the man said cheerfully, stepping into the light coming from a window. “If you’re needing a knife, I got one.”

“I don’t need anything from you. Go back to the bunkhouse and forget what you’ve seen.”
 “I don’t guess so.” The cheerfulness disappeared from his voice. He lifted the slicker, folding the front to hook behind the holster tied down at his thigh. “He the hard case they been looking for?”

The man could see no more than Tarbet’s back and left leg the way Tarbet hung limply on the horse. A look of hatred came to his face, plainly visible. He meant Tarbet harm.
Susan knew she would lose her possession of Tarbet when she took him to the Norman’s. She accepted that, but she would not give him up to a stranger who meant to kill him.

When Hopkins stepped off the porch, she ducked under the horse’s neck after her rifle. She almost had it free of the boot when he reached her. For his bulk, he moved quickly, twisting her hands to let the rifle slide back into the boot. He shoved her toward the porch.
“I won’t let you kill him,” she warned coldly, prepared to attack him with her bare hands if she had to, despite the man’s bulk.


Want to find out more about my guest?  Here's some links where she hangs her hat(s):           

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to Cowboy first six Sunday on a blog I've specifically created for western historical romance.  I've only just started, but I plan to share some of my best "sixes" with you, and on my blog, I'll be hosting some of my amazing peers, sharing their links, and their talents.  Hope you'll "mosy" on by when you find time.

Setting the scene:
Sarah's Journey cover artSarah Collins is on her way to California, via wagon train.  When the unimaginable happens, Indians attack and she's the sole survivor.  Next week, I'll continue on, with her trying to find her way back to civilization--a nightmare of it's own.  There's always a handsome hero to ride in for the rescue...and this one happens to be a hunky halfbreed named Wolf.  :)  He doesn't exactly ride in, but you'll understand more later. *shifty grin*

Here's my six:

Anger whitened Sarah’s knuckles as she clutched the deadly arrow and cursed those who had killed such a beautiful young person. Tears that had earlier been denied now
fell in rivulets down Sarah’s face as she gave in to her grief and mourned her friend and
the other innocent people now lying dead and cold. Guilt tore at her soul. She’d cheated
death, not once, but twice. Again, she questioned why God had spared her and no one
else. Maybe he had a plan for her.

Hmmp, don't we always continue to learn?  If I wrote this today, I would have altered a few things. Gripped by grief, she mourned her friend and the other innocent people lying dead and cold around camp. Tears she'd earlier denied streamed down her cheeks.

Oh, live and learn...and in writing, it's an ongoing process.  Now, head back to Six Sentence Sunday and follows more links to delicious reads.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Childbirth in the Old West

We've Come A Long Way, Baby...on having one.

Childbirth in the old west often resulted in death of the mother due to complications, and often the baby as well.  Doctor's were spread thin, and pioneers usually lived miles from the nearest town on any plot of land they could homestead.  If a mother-to-be was lucky, she knew another woman who considered herself a midwife based on the amount of babies she'd assisted in bringing into the world.  Often the criteria was how many she'd had of her own.  It didn't take much to be an authority in those days.

Had I lived during that time, my son and I would surely have died.  Although my first son, close to 10 pounds, was a normal delivery, my second son turned sideways and lodged his hand in the birth canal.  The resulting emergency c-section saved us.  In those days, we just wouldn't have survived, period.  On a side-note, his position was a predictor of things to come.  He's had his hand out ever since.  *smile*

In the old west, there was nothing akin to what we have to ease the "agony" of labor.  No epidurals, no spinals, no Lamaze training to help prepare the mother... nothing.  Women went through grueling hours of pain to bring a child into the world, and many babies died in infancy because of widespread diseases and unsanitary living conditions. More than a few mothers died too, from the inability to stem bleeding or from infections passed during delivery.  It wasn't at all uncommon to see a family cemetery started behind a homesteaders shack, with crosses marking the names of babies and mothers lost during childbirth.

Imagine giving birth in the back of a Conestoga wagon, often while the wheels bumped over a rutted trail in the middle of nowhere.  It took something major to halt the wagon train before day's end, and something as commonplace as birthing wasn't a reason.

What I can't understand because I'm such a wimp is why women today want to suffer through childbirth without drugs.  I respect their right to feel every cramp and consuming pain, but having a child is when "just say no to drugs," doesn't make sense to me.*smile* Had I survived, I might have parented one child, but that would have been my limit.

Pregnancy wasn't reason enough for pioneer women to take it easy.  They still met the responsibilities of their households; some even plowing fields and sowing seeds for the very crops on which their futures depended.  I doubt that a complaint of swollen ankles went very far to shirk their duties.

Let's consider the Indian women of the time period.  Warriors believed that a bleeding woman was possessed by evil and could zap their strength, so during a woman's menstrual cycle, she was isolated the entire time--usually in a specially built place deemed the 'women's lodge.'

This same tepee or structure was used for birthing children, and taboo for the men.  When a woman's labor began, she and the tribe's medicine woman along with a few female relatives retired to the lodge for the birthing ceremony.  Most tribes were very superstitious and took great care to pray and chant over the mother and the babe she  carried.  The Plains Indians, specifically, cherished their children, considering them a gift from Waken Taken, their heavenly father.  If you think a visit to your modern delivery room is scary, read on, my friend.

Usually in the women's lodge, a long narrow trough was dug in the dirt floor and a pole sunk deep into the earth.  The laboring mother squatted over the indention, grasped the pole, and pushed until the baby was delivered.  The afterbirth was caught in the trough, while the baby was swaddled in soft pelts and dried with moss.  The child's umbilical cord was kept in a specially beaded pouch.  Lakota Sioux tribe used two pouches; one to hold the real cord and the other to fool the evil spirits.  The one containing the cord was hidden in the baby's cradleboard until he/she was old enough to wear clothing and then hidden within their attire. This was done to protect the little one from harm.

So ladies, consider the advantages we've shared and the leaps and bounds the medical field has taken to make childbirth a safer and less painful process.  I'm grateful every day that I live in an era that made it possible for both of my children to be born, safe and healthy.  I also pay special homage to the person who created the epidural and the medication administered during my cesarean so I didn't have to be awake while someone dug around in my insides.  *lol* Hey...for those of you who stayed awake during your surgery...Kudos.  When they asked me if I wanted to remain alert during the delivery, I didn't just say no...I said, Hell No!

Given a choice, would you choose squatting over a trough or giving birth in a nice, clean hospital room?  That should be a no brainer.  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some Fascinating Historical Facts...

We've Got It Easy, Even When We Think We Don't...

A good friend reminded me today that blogging sometimes needs to be about more than book excerpts and competitions.  I was honored when Mirella Patzer, an author of significant historical knowledge cited me as an authority on the old west.  I stopped and thought about it, and realized I really am.  I've spent countless hours reading about the Lakota Sioux, researching their tribal traditions and rituals, and studying the trials and tribulations pioneer men and women faced.  For Sparta Rose, I researched the area, to familiarize myself with historical landmarks, schools, banks, and hotels from the past.  I may not be a "true" authority, but I sure know a lot more now than I did when I began writing historical novels.  For those who don't think your credibility as an historical author is important, you couldn't be further from the truth.  If you make a mistake with regard to the era of which you write, someone will let you know about it.  *smile*  In my debut novel, someone took issue with the fact that my Indian hero made coffee on the prairie.  I guess that person missed the part of the book where he stayed with the white heroine for months and developed a taste for the "white man's" brew.  Of course, that wasn't the only thing he grew to like.   Okay...that was yesterday's book. I digress.

This morning, I bemoaned the fact that I needed to change our bedding.  While I slipped on clean sheets then stuffed the "used" ones (I started to type "soiled" but that conjured up a big ewwww) into the washing machine, I realized how very spoiled our generation is.

 Had I lived in the old west, I might not have owned anything that resembled a mattress.  Although by the 1800s, beds raised off the ground were commonplace to avoid insects and rodents, poor pioneers often slept on straw covered with quilts or blankets. If they were lucky, rough wooden frames with crisscrossed rope created the foundation. Feather beds were common only among those wealthy enough to have access to down feathers. In some cases, straw was sewn into a bag, and cleaning the bedding meant dragging the heavy sack outside and beating the dust from it. Same for anything that covered the wood or dirt flooring.  No Hoovers or Dust Devils then!

As I added detergent to my washing machine, I thought about the women of the old west who at one time beat their clothing clean on rocks, and later marveled at the invention of a scrub board and a wringing device.  Oh, talk about thanking God for my life.  Do you know that in some third world countries, women still do laundry this way?  Don't you feel lucky?

I promise more of these types of posts.  I love western history, don't you?

Note from Ging:  If this look familiar, it's because it appeared on my other blog, Dishin' It Out in 2010.  Now that I have a place to share "western" themes, I thought this fit the bill, although I did tweak it a bit.   I'm loving this blog.  :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome to Cowboy Kisses

Welcome to the debut of Cowboy Kisses, home of western romance, and a place to showcase the genre I love the best.  For the next several days, I'll be posting blurbs/ excerpts from my own historical western novels, and eventually, I'll be sharing the spotlight with some very talented friends who also write passionate and exciting western romance.  I hope you'll follow my blog or plan to come back often.  Without further ado, I'm starting with my 2003 debut novel, since re-worked and re-recontracted with Eternal Press.  The original Prairie Peace earned a 4-star review from Romantic Times.  This, back when ebooks were new and not highly thought of.  I was so stoked, and I still am every time someone expresses their pleasure in reading my work.

Let me introduce you to Cecile, Walt, and Lone Eagle.  If you love cowboys and're in for a treat:

In the 1860's, Cecile Palmer is the envy of the single girls of Spring City and the object of every young man's fancy-until she experiences love at first sight. She meets and weds Walt Williams in less than a week. The newlyweds journey to her husband's newly-purchased ranch and a life for which this naive and pampered only child is ill-equipped. A series of events turns her life upside-down. An injured Indian brave stumbles into her doorway while her husband is away. Destiny changes Cecile's life in a way she could never have imagined. She discovers she's pregnant, and when her husband doesn't return with the winter supplies, Lone Eagle offers to take her to winter with his people. She accepts his offer, knowing her chance of surviving the winter on her own is not good. Then a trader comes to the village with evidence Walt may still be alive. Cecile now faces a difficult decision. Self-sacrifice, betrayal and lasting love lay on the rocky road ahead.