Saturday, August 30, 2014

Nez Perce Culture by Paty Jager

I’ve told many that my paranormal historical trilogy, Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky were the books of my heart. I just didn’t realize how long my interest and admiration for the Wallowa Nez Perce has been inside of me. While helping clean up my dad’s house, I found paintings of Native American people that I'd painted in my early teens. These books are a re-release with new covers and refreshed writing.

My Spirit Trilogy is about a trio of Nez Perce siblings from a band that lived far north and who had blond hair and blue eyes. In my research I discovered there was such a band of Nimiipuu (the name the Nez Perce call themselves). And there were members of this band in the Wallowa band. The Creator made these siblings into spirits after their father had caused the warriors in their band to die.Their duties were to oversee the Lake Nimiipuu or the band of Nez Perce who spent their winters and summers in the NE corner of Oregon in the Wallowa country. The area where I grew up.

To write the books I did a lot of research. I devoted many hours to reading books about the Nez Perce customs and social living aspects to learn all I could about family life, pregnancy, and child birth.

The Nez Perce women had specific jobs. They gathered roots, berries and herbs as well as the firewood. It was their job to keep the fire going all night during the winter months. They were the cooks; the ones who dried and stored the meat, fish, berries, and roots. From a young age they learned to tan hides, make clothing, weave baskets, and construct the dwellings. They did everything needed to sustain a family other than hunt, prepare weapons, and fight. If need be, they could hunt for small animals, fight, and take care of weapons though it was not one of their jobs. You could say the women were more well-rounded than the men in their duties. The villages could continue to thrive when the men went on hunts that kept them away for months at a time. 

During battles, the women provided fresh horses, food, and water for the warriors, tended the wounded, warned others of danger, directed children and the old people where to hide, and how to leave when their encampments were attacked. If a husband was shot, they could pick up his gun and fight. They also cooked and gathered wood during attacks, keeping the children, old people, and warriors fed during the battles.

Pregnant women still did most of the chores right up until they started labor. Some would have miscarriages from long periods of riding horses in the last months of pregnancy—usually during campaigns of fighting.

If a woman was pregnant they believed their man would have bad luck hunting. She was also not allowed to see any part of a kill—blood, skinning. They feared her child would be born deformed. They also didn't touch, view, or ridicule any deformed animals or humans, fearing it would cause their child the same misfortune. They didn't tie knots or do things symbolic of obstructing the birth.

A wide strip of buckskin was tied around their bellies. This was believed to protect the child. After the birth, this strip was burned or buried, giving the child a healthy, strong body. They did everything to keep the baby safe. The Nez Perce wanted to build a large, strong tribe.

When a woman started labor she was isolated in a small dwelling with either an older family member or a mid-wife. If there were complications the Ti-wet (medicine man) was called in. The dwelling had a hole dug in the middle of the structure. The blood and afterbirth were put in this hole and buried. The umbilical cord was kept in a small, leather pouch attached to the cradle board. It is believed to be bad luck to destroy such an intimate part of the baby.

The cradle board was made by a relative. The baby was transported and tended in the board until ready to walk. Children were breast fed for several years. This was one of their ways to contribute to birth control. Other ways were with herbs.

I used all of this information in the three books. It was essential to me to show the culture and lives of this interesting group of people.

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain
Evil spirits, star-crossed lovers, and duty…which will prevail?

Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, loves the mountain and her people—the Lake Nimmipuu.  When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, she knows it is how she must fulfill her vision quest. But she is torn between duty and her breaking heart.

Himiin, as spirit of the mountain, watches over all the creatures on his mountain, including the Nimiipuu. When Wren shows no fear of him as a white wolf, he listens to her secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he must watch her leave the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin rushes to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…

Buy Links:  Windtree Press / Kindle / Nook / Apple / Kobo  

Blurb for Spirit of the Lake

Can a spirit set upon this earth to see to the good of the Nimiipuu stay true to justice when revenge burns in his heart?

Wewukiye, the lake spirit, saves a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and bringing shame to herself and her family. Learning her people ignored her accusations against a White man who took her body, leaving her pregnant,Wewukiye vows to help her through the birth and to prove the White man’s deceit.

Dove slowly heals her heart and her distrust as Wewukiye, the warrior with hair the color of the sun, believes in her and helps her restore her faith in her people and herself.  

On their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But will these abilities seal their future or tear them apart?

Buy Links: Windtree Press / Kindle / Nook / Apple

Blurb Spirit of the Sky
Can enemies not only work for peace but find love?
Sa-qan, a Nimiipuu eagle spirit, must take a human form to save her mortal niece when the Nimiipuu are forced from their land by the U.S. Army. Sa-qan strives to remain true to her spirit world and her people, but finding an ally in a Cavalry Officer has unraveled her beliefs.
During battle with the Nimiipuu, Lt. Wade Watts finds a blonde woman hiding a Nez Perce child.  He believes she is a captive when her intelligent eyes reveal she understands his language. Yet she refuses his help. Their paths cross several times during the skirmishes, and she becomes his savior when renegade warriors wound him.

Buy Links:  Kindle / Nook / Apple

These books will be out in print format in a month.

About Paty:
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon.  On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

Her first book was published in 2006 by Wild Rose Press since then she has published seventeen novels, two anthologies, and five novellas. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.

You can learn more about Paty at her blog; Writing into the Sunset  her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager , Goodreads  and twitter;  @patyjag.

Sources: Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990- Caroline James
 NeeMePoo – Allen P. Slickpoo Sr. and Deward E. Walker Jr.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Rules Apply to Westerns, too. #writingtips

Whether or not we write western novels or any other genre, there are certain rules to follow that make us better writers/authors.  I've done a lot of reading lately, and also re-edited a couple of my previously published booked in order to add in the things I've learned since they were published the first time.  How many times have you read something you've written and said, "oh, I wish I had known that then?"

I decided to share a few common "unnecessary" faux pas I see, AND WRITE out of habit.

If you read a sentence containing "that" without the word and the meaning is still perfectly clear, take out the word.  I was a big offender when I first started writing but now I catch myself, and also do a search before I submit a manuscript for publication..

Example:  His declaration that he was innocent fell on deaf ears.
Better:  His declaration of innocence fell on deaf ears.

Note:  did you know "was" is passive? (I normally would have said 'did you know that "was"....I'm trying hard to minimize how many times I use the word.  Be sure to watch your tenses and stay in the present.  I'm not a big fan of "to" phrases, except in the case above because trying is something I intend...  in my mind using 'to see' and similar combinations shows intent rather than action.  It's important to have the story unfold as if the events are taking place in the moment.

How tired do you get of reading "he watched, she heard, she knew, or similar sentence lead-ins?"  We generally write from one person's point-of-view, and if we are doing a good job and not hopping from one head to another, then the reader will know who is watching, hearing, knowing or seeing. Of course there are time you will use a pronoun, but here's an example of how much more smoothly your novel will read if you adhere to this rule of thumb:

Bad:  She heard the doorbell and knew it was probably Michael.  She heard a muted whistling sound outside, opened the door, and found she was right.  
Better:  The doorbell sliced the silence and Greta placed her eye against the peephole.  Michael stood on the porch.. His puckered lips sent the muted melody he whistled  beneath the door. His handsome profile made her heart flutter. She opened the door and invited him inside.

Okay...maybe a little much, but I think you get the idea.

How about tags.  They can get very tiresome, and we forget how smart our readers are. If only two people are in the room. If you feel the need to identify the person speaking, have them do something...that's called an action tag.

Example:  "Nice day, isn't it? John said
Better:  "Nice day, isn't it?"  John stood at the window overlooking the garden.

Okay, so I used an "ing" word, and we've been beaten into submission about why to avoid them.  I think rules are made to be broken sometimes, especially ones that don't make sense.  I could have said  "that overlooked," but why?  I try to use them sparingly, but there are just times when nothing works as well as an "ing or an ly."  If there is a stronger verb to be used, I use those to SHOW more than tell, which brings me to another rule.

Show rather than tell!  I learned with my debut novel that there is a real difference between telling a story and showing a novel.  Strong verbs that SHOW the emotions, emphasize aromas, and put the reader in the character's shoes are signs you've done a good job.

"I'm so angry I could spit."  Jane left the room.  (Tells the reader Jane's angry.)
"I'm so angry I could spit."  Jane spun around and stomped out. (Shows the anger)

Oh...I should also mention that dialogue is really important, especially if you want to describe the person whose POV you're in. Normally a person would not describe themselves, such as long, brown hair, or eye color.  When you think or talk do you refer to your characteristics?  Probably not.  I'm sure not going to mention the size of my butt, and I hope no one else does, but you never know.

"I love the sparkle in your green eyes and the way the sunlight deepens the red in your long curls."  John brushed her lips with a kiss.

Last but not least...cause before affect.  In other words...something has to happen before someone can react.

Bad:  Susie started at the slamming door.
Better: The door slammed and Susie jumped.

Okay, I could go on and on, but I won't.  If you think of something to add, please feel free to use comments.  What bothers you most when you read?  Inquiring minds NEED to know.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Those of us who live in Texas are continually embarrassed by the state's politicians. Adding to that sad reputation, I'm sharing this article on our state's first woman governor, Ma Ferguson.

Miriam Amanda (Ma) Ferguson, first woman governor of Texas, daughter of Joseph L. and Eliza (Garrison) Wallace, was born in Bell County, Texas, on June 13, 1875. She attended Salado College and Baylor Female College at Belton. In 1899, at the age of twenty-four, she married James Edward Ferguson, also of Bell County. Mrs. Ferguson served as the first lady of Texas during the gubernatorial terms of her husband (1915–17), who was impeached during his second administration.

Early photo of Miriam Wallace Ferguson

When James Ferguson failed to get his name on the ballot in 1924, Miriam entered the race for the Texas governorship. Before announcing for office, she had devoted her energies almost exclusively to her husband and two daughters. This fact, and the combination of her first and middle initials, led her supporters to call her "Ma" Ferguson. She quickly assured Texans that if elected she would follow the advice of her husband and that Texas thus would gain "two governors for the price of one."

Ma and Pa Ferguson

Her campaign sought vindication for the Ferguson name, promised extensive cuts in state appropriations, condemned the Ku Klux Klan, and opposed passing new liquor legislation. After trailing the Klan-supported prohibitionist candidate, Felix D. Robertson, in the July primary, she easily defeated him in the August run-off to become the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. In November 1924 she handily defeated the Republican nominee, George C. Butte, a former dean of the University of Texas law school. Inaugurated fifteen days after Wyoming's Nellie Ross, Miriam Ferguson became the second woman governor in United States history.

Political strife and controversy characterized her first administration. Although she did fulfill a campaign promise to secure an antimask law against the Ku Klux Klan, the courts overturned it. State expenditures were slightly increased, despite a campaign pledge to cut the budget by $15 million. The focal point of discontent centered upon irregularities both in the granting of pardons and paroles and in the letting of road contracts by the state highway department.

Campaign Poster

Ma Ferguson pardoned an average of 100 convicts a month, and she and "Pa" were accused by critics of accepting bribes of land and cash payments. Critics also charged that the Ferguson-appointed state highway commission granted road contracts to Ferguson friends and political supporters in return for lucrative kickbacks. Though a threat to impeach Miriam Ferguson failed, these controversies helped Attorney General Daniel James Moody defeat Mrs. Ferguson for renomination in 1926 and win the governorship.

Miriam Ferguson did not seek office in 1928. However, after the Texas Supreme Court again rejected her husband's petition to place his name on the ballot in 1930, she entered the gubernatorial race. In the May primary she led Ross Sterling, who then defeated her in the August runoff. Her defeat proved fortuitous politically because Sterling, rather than she, was blamed by the voters when Texas began to feel the full impact of the Great Depression. In February 1932 she again declared for the governorship; she promised to lower taxes and cut state expenditures, and condemned alleged waste, graft, and political favoritism by the Sterling-controlled highway commission. After leading Sterling in the May primary by over 100,000 votes, Ma Ferguson narrowly won the Democratic nomination in the August primary. She then defeated the Republican nominee, Orville Bullington, in November to secure her second term as governor.

In the 1924 gubernatorial race in Texas, the Klan suffered a decisive setback. The hooded order campaigned actively for Judge Robertson. One of his opponents was Miriam A. Ferguson. Her husband, James E. Ferguson, was prohibited from running because he had been impeached as governor in 1917 and declared permanently ineligible to hold a state office. He remained the idol of the dirt farmers, the "boys at the forks of the creeks," and other rural voters. Mrs. Ferguson was his proxy. She based her campaign in part on a fight for the vindication of her husband at the hands of Texas voters and in part on opposition to the Klan.

No candidate received a majority in the first primary, and Robertson, who had a large plurality, and Mrs. Ferguson contended against each other in the runoff. In the offing was one of the most heated political campaigns in Texas history. The group supporting Mrs. Ferguson adopted as campaign slogans "Me for Ma, and I aint got a durn thing against Pa," "A bonnet and not a hood," and "Two governors for the price of one." 

The Robertson camp countered with, "Not Ma for me. Too much Pa." Ferguson directed his wife's campaign and made the most of her political addresses.  Throughout the state large numbers of politicians and voters flocked to Mrs. Ferguson's support in the second primary, not because they were for her, but because they were against Robertson, the Klan-backed candidate. Robertson was defeated in the second primary by nearly 100,000 votes—413,751 to 316,019. At the state Democratic convention in Austin on September 2–3, the Klan was given a merciless political drubbing. The convention inserted in its platform an anti-Klan plank that began: "The Democratic party emphatically condemns and denounces what is known as the Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan as an un-democratic, un-Christian and un-American organization."

According to the New York Times, the November 4 election signified "the greatest political revolution that ever took place in Texas." Tens of thousands of rock-ribbed Democrats cast a ballot for a Republican candidate for the first time. Klansmen deserted wholesale to Butte, who was not in sympathy with the organization, as did a number of anti-Ferguson Democrats, outraged that Ferguson should return to power through his wife. Under the leadership of Tom Love they formed an association called the Good Government Democratic League of Texas, the purpose of which was to defeat the Fergusons. However, Butte was defeated by more than 127,000 votes—422,558 to 294,970. These developments signaled the demise of the Klan as a force in Texas politics.

"It was all over," recalled a former Klansman. "After Robertson was beaten the prominent men left the Klan. The Klan's standing went with them." By the end of 1924 Texas was no longer the number-one state in Klandom. The following year Ferguson persuaded the legislature to pass a bill making it unlawful for any secret society to allow its members to be masked or disguised in public.

Her second administration did not engender as much controversy as the first, despite dire predictions to the contrary by her political opponents. The fiscally conservative governor held the line on state expenditures and even advocated a state sales tax and corporate income tax, although the state legislature did not act on these proposals. Mrs. Ferguson continued her liberal pardoning and parole policies, but even that action did not stir as much controversy as in her first administration since every convict paroled or pardoned represented that much less fiscal strain on the state during the depression.

"Fergusonism," as the Fergusons' brand of populism was called, is still a controversial subject in Texas. As governor, she tackled some of the tougher issues of the day. Though a teetotaler like her husband, she aligned herself with the "wets" in the battle over prohibition and took a firm stand against the Ku Klux Klan. She has been described as a fiscal conservative, but also pushed for a state sales tax and corporate income tax.

Mrs. Ferguson's infamously generous granting of pardons was her way of relieving the overcrowded conditions in Texas prisons. During two non-consecutive terms in office, Mrs. Ferguson issued almost 4,000 pardons, many of them to free those convicted of violating prohibition laws. Though never proven, rumors persisted that pardons were available in exchange for cash payments to the governor’s husband. In 1936, voters passed an amendment to the state constitution stripping the governor of the power to issue pardons and granting that power to a politically independent Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

Official Portrait

In 1934 the Fergusons temporarily retired from direct involvement in politics and also refused to seek office in 1936 and 1938. However, Ma Ferguson did declare for governor once again in 1940. Although sixty-five years old, she alleged that she could not resist a "popular draft" for the nomination and joined a field of prominent Democrats that included incumbent governor W. Lee O'Daniel. Ma's platform advocated a 25 percent cut in state appropriations, a gross-receipts tax of .5 percent to raise social security funds for the elderly, support for organized labor, and liberal funding for secondary and higher education. O'Daniel proved to be too popular to unseat, but the Ferguson name was still strong enough to poll more than 100,000 votes.

After her husband's death from a stroke in 1944, Miriam Ferguson retired to private life in Austin. She died of congestive heart failure at the age of eighty-six on June 25, 1961, and was buried alongside her husband in the State Cemetery in Austin. Ferguson Cut Off, between Hwy. 290 East and the old Manor Road, in Austin, Texas, is named after Ma Ferguson.

Photos from Google Commons
Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas Online

Friday, August 22, 2014

Getting Places

"I call shotgun!"
By  Alison Bruce

As a single mother of two, I hear this phrase every time we head for the car. Now that they are both old enough to sit up front, I have the job of Solomon making sure that each gets they're turn in the choice spot. Since I'm also a history buff and author, I also know that drivers for centuries have had the same task.

The best seat on the coach is beside the driver. That and other useful advice was attributed to the Omaha Herald, 1877. Other advice includes:
  • Never ride in cold weather with tight boots or shoes, nor close-fitting gloves.
  • When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling. He will not request it unless absolutely necessary. If a team runs away, sit still and take your chances; if you jump, nine times out of ten you will be hurt.
  • In very cold weather, abstain entirely from liquor while on the road; a man will freeze twice as quick while under its influence.
 Further down the list...
  • If you have anything to take in a bottle, pass it around; a man who drinks by himself in such a case is lost to all human feeling. Provide stimulants before starting; ranch whisky is not always nectar.
Mark Twain described his overland journey from St. Jo to Carson City in Roughing It. Today the journey would take twenty-two hours by car.  Mark Twain's journey took just under nine days... and that was unusually fast for the times.
"We changed horses every ten miles, all day long, and fairly flew over the hard, level road. We jumped out and stretched our legs every time the coach stopped, and so the night found us still vivacious and unfatigued."
This wouldn't last. There were only three people on the coach, two of which were Samuel Clemons and his brother. All other available space was taken up by mail bags. Usually passengers were cheek and jowl with other passengers.
 "We began to get into country, now, threaded here and there with little streams. These had high, steep banks on each side, and every time we flew down one bank and scrambled up the other, our party inside got mixed somewhat. First we would all lie down in a pile at the forward end of the stage, nearly in a sitting posture, and in a second we would shoot to the other end and stand on our heads."
Having, as a child, been packed into a car with three adults, two children, luggage and Christmas gifts for a ten hour drive to visit family, I can sympathize.

Highways are smoother. Distances seem shorter. Regardless, when hitting the road, the concluding words of the Omaha Herald article still hold true:
 "...expect annoyance, discomfort and some hardships. If you are disappointed, thank heaven"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Welcome to my first post for the Cowboy Kisses Blog and thank you Ginger for the invite.
As I’m Australian (although I write American based Westerns) I thought I would start with the Aussie outback.

In Australia a stockman (plural stockmen) is a person who looks after the livestock on a large property known as a station.
Stockmen who work with cattle in the Northern Territory are known as ringers and are often only employed for the dry season which lasts from April to October. A station hand is an employee, who is involved in routine duties on a rural property or station and this may also involve caring for livestock. Young women from the cities are becoming a common sight on outback stations, often attracted by the chance to work with horses. Some stations are now making changes for the employment of women by building female living quarters and installing hydraulic cattle crushes. A station trainee is known as a jackaroo (male) or jillaroo (female), and does much the same work as a stockman while under supervision.

Cattle Station in NT

A drover in Australia is a person, typically an experienced stockman, who moves livestock, usually cattle or sheep, "on the hoof" over long distances. Reasons for droving are usually delivering animals to a new owner's property, taking animals to market, or moving animals during a drought in search of better feed and/or water. Moving a small mob of quiet cattle is relatively easy, but moving several hundred head of wild station cattle over long distances is a completely different matter.


A muster (roundup in the US) is the process of gathering livestock. Musters usually involve cattle, sheep or horses, but may also include other animals. Mustering may be conducted for a variety of reasons including routine livestock health checks and treatments, branding, shearing, lamb marking, sale, feeding and transport or droving to another location. Mustering is a long, difficult and sometimes dangerous job, especially on the vast Australian cattle stations of the Northern Territory and 'The Falls' (gorge) country of the Great Dividing Range. The group of animals gathered in a muster is referred to as a "mob" in Australia.
Mustering can be carried out on horseback, with utes, quad bikes or helicopters. It usually depends on the terrain and the type of animals being mustered as to which method is used.

Mustering by helicopter.

My sister-in-law is an employee at an outback station, Fossil Downs. It is located about 50 kilometres (31 mi) North East of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It consists of 800,000 acres. Certainly not huge by our standards, the largest in Australia is Anna Creek in South Australia at 9,140 square miles. Fossil Downs is also renowned for its very talented Performance Horses.

 Fossil Downs Cattle Station

.                                            My husband’s sister is the lady with the dog
                                                      in her arms at the front.
Fitzroy Crossing 31 miles from                                       
              Fossil Downs  Station

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the Aussie Outback. In coming months I will enlighten you about our peculiar, native animals and plants.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wood Stoves by Lauri Robinson

Although we have a propane furnace, we primarily heat our Minnesota home with wood. The furnace is usually only used in the spring and fall when we just need to take the ‘chill’ out. During the summer months my husband spends hours upon hours cutting, hauling, splitting and stacking the six to seven cords of wood it will take to heat our home from October to April. A cord is approximately four feet high, by four feet wide, by eight feet long. Most wood takes at least a year to ‘season’ before it’s dry enough to burn efficiently. Ideally it should be stacked off the ground, (on some kind of platform) in rows far enough part to get good airflow and in an area where wind and the sun can dry it out, but out of the rain and/or snow. The wood he is gathering now we won’t use until next year, or the year after—oak takes longer to season than other wood and that is his favorite type to use. He’ll often stack the logs for one year and then split it the next year. That wood is then stacked in cords in the woodshed for use the next year. It’s a lot of work and messy, but we prefer the warmth of wood heat. However, we appreciate the fact we have options. 

Pioneers didn’t—other than coal in some areas, which is a lot of work as well—and having enough wood to heat their homes and cook was a time consuming task.

Wood stoves were much more efficient and used less wood (and coal) than fireplaces, but until the railroad they were not readily available. Pioneers knew this when heading west and the stove was often the first thing loaded, however it was also, because of their weight, the first things tossed aside when the going got rough. Six plate stoves were called such because they were usually made of six heavy cast iron plates that were bolted together.They were also called box stoves, because that’s what they looked like. A box. The design was very popular because they could be used for cooking and heat.

One type of single "Canada" stove, also called a "box stove," made in Norfolk County, Ontario, about 1820. (From Jefferys, The Picture Gallery of Canadian History, II, 115.)
Old school in Wyoming with stove in corner
Kitchen in S. Dakota museum
Once the railroad crossed the nation, stoves became much more available. Parlor stoves, used for heat, not cooking, came in many shapes and sizes.  The next evolution was the cook stove, designed for cooking, heating with it was a secondary benefit. If a family was fortunate enough, they built a summer kitchen. A separate building from their home for cooking during the summer months. A very fortunate family would have two cooking stoves—one in the home and one in the summer kitchen. Other families would move the stove to and fro. 

We’ve had several wood stoves over the years. When we purchased our current home, the wood heat was a major selling point for us, however, from the day we moved in the woodstove and I never saw eye to eye. In our old house we had a ‘box’ stove I could build a fire in blindfolded. That soon became a thing of the past. The stove in this house and I fought constantly over getting a fire started and in keeping one going. I honestly have too many stories about that old stove to retell. I’ll suffice by saying I have a scar over one eye from when the door mysteriously swung shut, hitting me on the head. Mysteriously because I was the only one home.  I am glad to say that stove never got the best of me—not  completely—and  that we replaced it years ago with one that has served us very, very well.

In my book, The Wrong Cowboy, which will be released November 1st, I took the opportunity to incorporate an inanimate object that drove the heroine to her wits end. And yes, it’s a stove. Unfortunately, it does get the best of Marie or maybe it doesn’t considering she then had to move into Stafford’s home. 

One mail-order bride in need of rescue! 
All the rigorous training in the world could not have prepared nursemaid Marie Hall for trailing the wilds of Dakota with six orphans. Especially when her ingenious plan—to pose as the mail-order bride of the children's next of kin—leads Marie to the wrong cowboy!

Proud and stubborn, Stafford Burleson is everything Marie's been taught to avoid. But with her fate and that of the children in his capable hands, Marie soon feels there's something incredibly right about this rugged rancher and his brooding charm….

Here’s a snippet: 

“What were you trying to do?” he shouted. “Burn the place down?”

“Of course not,” she yelled in return. The smoke filling her nose and mouth made her cough before she could finish. “I was cooking lunch for the children.”

“You don’t know how to cook,” he yelled, grabbing her arm and pulling her toward the door.

“I’m learning,” she shouted back.

“Well, learn how to build a fire first.”

They were outside now, in fresh air, which got her lungs working again. “Shorty told me to leave the door open so the fire would take off.”

Stafford had a hold of both her upper arms. “You also have to open the damper so the smoke goes up the chimney,” he shouted inches from her face.

Over the noise of his voice she heard the trampling of footsteps on the wooden bridge and turned, a multitude of thoughts vying for space in her mind. Number one being that, even though he was shouting at her, she was rather delighted by the sight of him. It was like seeing the first robin in spring, when it made a person happy, even if there was still snow on the ground. Then again, maybe she was happy because she’d been right. He had come to the rescue.

“Everything all right, boss?”

It was one of the ranch hands asking the question. She hadn’t been introduced to anyone besides Shorty, but the children had, and by the descriptions they’d provided, she assumed this man was the one named Red. The children had asked how that could be when Red had black hair and a rather comical-looking black mustache.

“Yes,” Stafford said. “She just forgot to open the damper.”

“All right, then.” The other man tipped the brim of his hat and gave a little nod. “Ma’am.”

She gave a slight nod in return. Her mind was still racing, and still in one direction. Stafford. It had only been a few days, but she’d forgotten how handsome he was, and how tall. Right now, if she stared straight ahead, her eyes landed on the buttons of his shirt. She had to tip her head to see his face, which she was afraid to do again. A moment ago, while gazing up at him, her heart had started beating so frantically it hurt to breathe.

The hold he had on her arms softened and his hands rubbed the area instead. The action caused a multitude of feelings inside her, and she could no longer keep from glancing up.

His expression was no longer hard and fierce, and she couldn’t find a way to describe how he was looking at her. The tenderness in his gaze, though, made her gulp. It seemed as if time stopped, as they stood simply looking at each other.

He was still rubbing her upper arms and the commotion inside her was growing stronger. She had an undeniable urge to step closer and stretch her neck so—

The realization was startling, and Marie stepped back. Stafford moved at the same instant, separating them further. While she pressed a hand over her racing heart, he took off his hat and glanced around before replacing it.

She’d never, ever thought of kissing a man before.

“Make sure you open that damper,” he said gruffly.

Her meek reply of, “I will,” caused her cheeks to grow even hotter. What was it about him that left her completely out of sorts? She didn’t have a lot of experience around men, but one hadn’t intimidated her for a very long time. That thought triggered a response.

“I wasn’t trying to burn the cabin down,” she shouted at his back, needing to show him he hadn’t frightened her and never would.

He spun around, frowning. A moment later, he nodded, “Good, see that you don’t.”

“I won’t,” she insisted, marching toward the table and the eggs that still needed to be cooked.

Marie did cook the eggs, and did so several more times, until a week later, when she burned down the cabin.

One final note, I recently created an author page on facebook, if you'd care to stop by, I'd appreciate it!