Tuesday, September 19, 2017

But Now for the REST of the Story--The Facts Behind One of the BIGGEST Gold Nuggets Ever found in California

by Heather Blanton

She has a list of qualifications for her groom.
He doesn't measure up.
But sometimes, a good man comes around.
In my new book, A Good Man Comes Around, the hero Oliver Martin is a shiftless, mischievous no-account. But he wasn’t always. Jilted at the altar, he takes nothing seriously anymore and now spends his days looking for a drink or trouble, whichever comes first. John Fowler, Oliver’s friend, and business partner spends his time trying to keep Oliver out of trouble. Tired of rescuing the young man, Fowler decides a wife might bring back the old, steady Oliver. He applies for a mail order bride for the lad—but secretly.  

The aforementioned story is fiction, but it is based heavily on fact. I stumbled across the true story of Oliver Martin and was really impacted how a single, amazingly fortuitous and, yet, tragic event changed his life forever.

Oliver Martin and John Fowler were indeed best friends who hit the gold fields in California in the 1850’s. Oliver was a good-for-nothing slacker, though, who didn’t even own a pan. History says his friend John wasn’t much better. The two knocked around gold rush towns such as El Dorado and Yuba, panning, drinking, doing odd jobs, but mostly, drinking.

On the night of November 7, 1854, the two were meandering drunkenly from one mining camp to the next when a storm hit. They managed to hole up in an abandoned miners shack on Grizzly Mountain.

They couldn’t have picked a worse spot.

The peculiarly heavy rain triggered a flash flood and a sudden, roaring wall of water hit, washing both men down river. Oliver managed to lodge himself in a stand of oak trees till morning. John was not so fortunate.

The next day, Oliver was obliged to bury his friend. He had not dug down two feet when he found a nugget of gold that weighed in at over eighty-five pounds. One of the largest ever found in California. Oliver sold it for nearly $650,000 (in twenty-first-century dollars).
Not Oliver's nugget, but it gives you an idea of the size of what he DID find.

The nugget made him more than rich. It made him responsible. Convinced the Almighty expected him to do something with his life, Oliver sobered up, invested in various mining businesses, became a philanthropic citizen, and died in New Orleans, a millionaire several times over.

He was always quick to tell people his good fortune had come from God... and his best friend.

If you're curious about I fictionalized this account, please pick up a copy of A Good Man Comes Around, book 8 in the Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs collection here: http://amzn.to/2wmFQV4 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Taming the West, One Hero at a Time

How are you able to write so many different stories?
Where does your inspiration come from? Why Do I write romance?

I get these questions all the time and each time I reply with a different answer. The stories are in my head.  They appear without notice and definitely without prompting.  Sometimes the last thing I need is a new story idea when I'm already writing one and have another one waiting in the wings.

The muse however will not be silenced.  The heroes are impatient men who want to talk and tell me what to write.  Good thing they are so hunky, or I'd tell them where to go!  It's a crazy life.

How about my inspiration.  It comes from many different places.  Usually my surroundings.

I remember the day I drove from Billings, Montana to Casper, Wyoming.  There were long stretches of road with the most breathtaking views I'd seen in a long time.  The landscape that up until that day had only existed in my mind came to life and I had to pull over so many times to take it all in.

There was a specific spot where two hills formed a valley.  There just at the crest of the hill on the left was a perfect spot.  Beside a small pond was a cusp of trees and several cows meandered nearby.  (And yes I can't find that picture! Ugh!!)

A story unfolded of a woman who moved west to find love and finds herself living there, in that beautiful valley.  With water readily available and the land so lush, it was the perfect place for a home and small ranch or farm.

Why Do I write Romance?

I write romance because I am in love with love.  I write the stories of the west because I am married to man from Montana and I grew up in California.  So you see I am a western girl, who cannot help but want every woman to have the opportunity to met a handsome cowboy and find her happily ever after.

My latest release!

In my book, Jaded: Luke.  Luke Hamilton returns to Montana in an effort to start over.  He is a man jaded by life.  Not only having gone to war as an Army soldier, but the aftermath that came back with him.  Suffering PTSD and the loss of his marriage, Luke is not handing things well at all.  I hope you have a chance to read this story and fall in love with this broken hero.  I certainly did.

Leave a comment, one person will get a free copy of Jaded!

Blurb for Jaded

Jaded: Luke, Laurel Creek Series

He’s Jaded...

Haunted by PTSD and a failed marriage, Luke Hamilton returns home to Laurel, Montana. Going home isn’t an easy fix, but it beats ending up in prison or dead. At first the familiar surroundings and open land seem to set things right, but soon his old demons rear their ugly heads and he realizes it's the wrong time to enter any relationship.

Leah Morgan’s experience in the corporate world has prepared her to prosper her father’s ranch in Montana. She knows everyone expects her to fail, but nothing will stop her from turning the ranch around and selling it to the highest bidder – especially not a rancher. The quicker she closes the deal, the sooner she can get out of Laurel and move on with her career.

But when Luke and Leah cross paths, they both discover that starting over can be a complicated business.

Nothing much scares Luke Hamilton these days, except maybe hope...

About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling author Hildie McQueen loves unusual situations and getting into interesting adventures, which is what her characters do as well. She writes romance because she is in love with love! Author of Romance in Highland historical, Western Historical and contemporary, she writes something every reader can enjoy.

Most days she can be found in her pajamas hiding from deliverymen while drinking tea from her David Gandy coffee mug. In the afternoons she browses the Internet for semi-nude men to post on Facebook.

Hildie's favorite past-times are romance conventions, traveling, shopping and reading.

She resides in beautiful small town Georgia with her super-hero husband Kurt and three doggies.

Visit her website at www.hildiemcqueen.com
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/hildiemcqueenwriter/

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11th

I had another post prepared for this blog today.  It was all set and ready to go. But somehow the fact that I was blogging on September 11th didn't register until I started to upload what I'd written.

 I'll save that post for later. September 11th doesn't seem like a day to talk about an upcoming book, or even a topic related to it.

This day means different things to different people. I recognize that. I see posts on social media reminding us that there are many other tragedies currently happening that we should keep our focus on. I see posts that get very political, because September 11th events eventually lead to wars that some Americans think were a poor choice. And I see posts that remind us of the innocent citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan who died as a result of those wars.

I understand that those other issues matter too. I do my best to support people currently affected by hurricanes, earthquakes and other recent tragedies. And of course war, and its innocent victims, wrenches my heart.

But for me, September 11th is not a day to get political.

For me, today is a day to remember innocent lives lost. To remember our fellow citizens, people just like you and me, who went to work and, instead of being allowed to fulfill all of their promise and potential in this world, became victims of terrorism. Today is a day where I can honor their lives, and deaths, by being especially grateful for all that I have. All the things I get to experience that were stolen from them. To hold my loved ones close, and tell them how much I care. To be aware of every breath, the butterfly that just flew by my window, the way my fingers feel on the keys of my laptop. To appreciate all the moments we get, however small.

And for me, today is a day to remember the heroes. So many of them, the people we've heard of and the heroes whose acts of bravery and compassion we'll never know. Every September 11th, I listen to a Bruce Springsteen song called Into the Fire. He wrote it with the heroic citizens and emergency responders in mind. The chorus, which he repeats over and over, is my September 11th prayer.  "May your strength give us strength, May your faith give us faith, May your hope give us hope, May your love give us love."

This song reminds me that those people who went so far above and beyond, at the Pentagon, at the World Trade Center, on Flight 93, who rushed into the fire, literally or figuratively, didn't just show us what heroism is. They also taught us how to live. When they rushed toward danger, knowing their own death was likely imminent, they embodied strength, faith, hope, love and courage. They gave us examples of how to rise up in the face of absolute terror and be our very best, most courageous selves.

Today I dedicate this blog to the victims and heroes of September 11th. May we be heroes in our own lives, however we can. May we remember to be grateful for all that we have. And may our nation never be faced with such a tragedy again.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Divine Gamble by Charlene Raddon

Thanks to Cowboy Kisses for hosting me. I’m thrilled to talk about my latest release, Divine Gamble. This book has been a labor of love. Back when I was writing for Kensington Books, I sent a proposal for Divine Gamble to my editor. He rejected it and asked for a story about a widow with a couple of kids and a drifter. That’s how To Have and To Hold came into being. But I loved Divine Gamble, so I dragged it out now and then and worked on it, always laying it aside because something else demanded my attention.
Finally, my chance to finish the book came this year, and I’m excited to say it is published and doing well.

DIVINE GAMBLEa gritty, sensual American historical western romance.



The air shifted, and a breeze fanned the back of her neck. Someone had entered the saloon. Seeing Marshal Jake Harker look behind her and frown, she stuffed the bank draft into her pocket. The hair on her neck rose. She turned slowly, expecting to see death staring her in the eye.
A new stranger, built like a freight wagon, stood just inside. Small eyes squinted out from under bushy brows. Dirt and grime smeared his square, pugnacious jaw. He reminded her of Quasimodo, minus the hunchback, but with an ugly scar angled from the corner of his nose, and down across a fat-lipped, down-turned mouth, exposing a jagged tooth. Her father had played Quasimodo once on a beer-soaked stage in Wichita, frightening a five-year-old Maisy near to death. Did he seem familiar to her because he reminded her of that unnerving experience?
The newcomer gave her a bold once-over. He took what looked like a photograph out of his pocket, glanced at it, at Maisy, and, wearing a grisly smile, started toward her. Something behind Maisy caught his attention, and he stopped. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Harker staring at the stranger. The Quasimodo look alike cursed under his breath, spun about and left.
Maisy laid one hand over her heart and pressed the other to her lips as if that would keep her from falling apart. The man had gone but might be waiting for her when she left at quitting time. He must have seen Harker's badge and figured now wasn't the time to grab her. Maisy's heart raced. She closed her eyes and reminded herself of the other times she'd survived Gold's henchmen. She would survive this time, too.
A sudden urge to leave town assailed her. But the stage had left. The ore train from Telluride wouldn't arrive until morning. Why had she ever thought she'd be safe in a dead-end canyon like Pandora occupied? Yes, she had friends here, but she couldn't risk endangering them.
She discreetly closed her bag to hide the card box inside. "Snake eyes! I forgot my card box. Would you keep an eye on things, Jake, while I go back to the boarding house for it?"
"Let Delilah do it. I'd better go with you. You never know what gun-happy drunk might—"
She forced a laugh. "I'm a big girl, Marshal. I've been walking dark streets, storm or no storm, all by myself for a long time now, and I have my Deringer in my reticule. I don't need anyone holding my hand. Besides, Delilah's busy."
"Still, I think..."
"Don't be silly. I'll take Hock. He won't let anything happen to me."
As if comprehending her words, the dog rose and swiped a wet tongue over the back of her clenched hand.
"All right." Harker bent to pet the dog. "I think he'll make you a good guard dog. He knows you saved him. Get back here soon, though."
"I only need ten minutes, I promise. I'll take the back way, and no one will even see me." Slinging her cloak around her shoulders, she took up the bag and headed for the rear door of the saloon, the dog at her heels. The rest of her faro gear would have to remain here. Replacing it all would be expensive, but, if she took it, Harker would know she didn't plan to return and demand to know why.
Every instinct screamed for her to leave Pandora now. But she had to hang onto her wits, had to make plans. One choice would mean a steep and dangerous trek over a trail that zigzagged up the cliff and over the mountain. No, the train remained her best bet. She could only hope she'd be safe in her room until departure time. At least she had her reticule, the bank draft Harker had given her, and her Derringer. She'd managed before; she could do it again.
She had to.


An avid reader, Charlene Raddon never planned to be a writer. A vivid dream changed that. She dragged out a portable typewriter and began to put her dream on paper. Originally published by Kensington Books, Charlene is now an Indie author. All her books have received high accolades, contest wins, and awards. When not writing, she designs historical book covers at her site, http://silversagebookcovers.com where she specializes in westerns.

Charlene’s website: http://charleneraddon.com

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Recipes From the 'Old West'

We all love to eat. Some of us love to cook, and some of us only have a favorite dish or two we enjoying making. Two things I like to cook are lasagna and the Thanksgiving turkey. And I like to have the kitchen to myself when I’m cooking. Another thing I like to do is scour old west towns in search of old west cookbooks. One that I found years ago has become a favorite. Sections include Sauces and Gravies, Desserts, Breads and Biscuits, and Everyday Cooking. From the “Original Cowboy Cookbook” by “Wild Wes” Medley, Rodeo Champion, I have prepared a few of the everyday meals, more often than not incorporating my own spin on the dish. And met with excellent results. Below are a few of the one I like best, in their original format.

Rodeo Pork with Onions:
2 1 lb pork tenderloins cut into julienne strips
6 medium onions, chopped
½ cup cooking oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp paprika
¾ tsp pepper
¼ tsp crushed red chilies
1-2 sweet red peppers cut into long strips
Feta cheese (optional)

Sauté onions in ¼ cup oil in warm skillet, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in spices. Place on low heat to keep warm. In separate skillet, brown pork in remaining oil. Cover over medium heat and cook 15-20 minutes. Top with pepper strips. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir onion mixture into poke. Garnish with Feta cheese and serve.

Julie’s version: (I’m not one for spicy food so I cut out the red chilies and I don’t add the peppers.)
Onions, cut lengthwise. Simmer in skillet and add paprika and chili powder to taste.

Coat pork strips in flour and cook in separate skillet, add more paprika to taste. Mix with onions and Serve.

Pot Roast & Sour Cream Gravy:
1 4 lb beef pot roast
3 Tbsp. cooking fat
1 beef bouillon cube
1 cup boiling water
4 Tbsp. catsup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. onion, minced
½ clove garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
½ tsp black pepper
1 small can mushrooms
4 Tbsp. flour
1 cup dairy sour cream

Brown pot roast in fat in Dutch oven. Pour off drippings. Dissolve bouillon cube in 1 cup boiling water, add to roast. Add catsup, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, celery seed and pepper. Cover and cook over low fire 2 ½- 3 hours, or until meat is tender. Remove meat from kettle. Blend in flour and mushroom liquid and stir into remaining beef liquid to make gravy. Add mushrooms. Remove kettle from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve slices of beef with gravy
*** I have made this (substituting cooking oil for fat) and it is yummy!

Station Pot Roast:   

3 lb pot or rump roast
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup flour
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp. parsley
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 cups sliced onions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups hot beef broth
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Combine seasonings and flour. Rub roast with this mixture. Heat oil in ovenproof casserole pan. Brown beef. Add onions and garlic, stirring until soft. Add remaining ingredients and bake covered at 325 degrees until tender, about 3 hours (or on stope top over low heat).   

*** I have also made this on the stove top. Very tasty.

The ‘Original Cowboy Cookbook is available on Amazon. 
Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mounted Patrol Officer

by Shanna Hatfield

Months ago, I was chatting with my beloved Captain Cavedweller, bouncing around ideas for a holiday novella I needed to write. I wanted the hero to be a cowboy, but he needed to work in a city. What job would bring a cowboy to downtown Portland where he'd run into the heroine?

Captain Cavedweller suggested the hero be a mounted police officer and I loved the idea.

I dug into my research on Mounted Patrols, particularly those in Portland.  In the Rose City, Mounted Patrol Units served as an effective deterrent to crime because of the high visibility of the mounted officers and their ability to quickly respond to problems in congested areas.

MPUs are used to enforce any number of laws and ordinances including everything from drug offenses and assaults to petty thefts and pedestrian violations. During the years of their peak staffing in the 1980s, the MPU made thirty percent of all the misdemeanor arrests in Portland.

Another perk of the MPU was the visibility in and interaction with the community. The equine officers created a sense of approachable accessibility in the public, generating rapport between the citizenry and the mounted officers.

Officers worked 10-hour days, four days a week and handled preparing and tacking up their four-legged partners.

The MPU used only geldings (of various breeds) and normally selected those in the eight to twelve years of age range. The horses had to meet weight and height specifications and pass a rigorous entry test.

Riders used Australian stock saddles with saddlebags. (And every time I see an Australian stock saddle my mind flashes to The Man From Snowy River scene when he's riding down the side of the mountain.)

Sadly, after I started writing my story, I discovered Portland disbanded their MPU  in July after decades of continuous and successful service.

In spite of that unexpected news, I left my hero as a Mounted Patrol Officer. The officers (both human and animal) work so hard to keep the peace, keep people safe, and extend a gentle hand of friendship to the area they serve. They have my admiration and appreciation for their service.

Saving Mistletoe releases Sept. 26 as part of the Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 boxed set of 14 new heartwarming and wholesome romances.

Hotshot attorney Ellen Meade seems to have it all: a powerful position with her firm, a posh downtown apartment, and a bright future ahead of her. But for Ellen, the future grows dimmer with each passing day. Her apartment is lonely without her best friend, and the demands of her job are slowly killing her soul. She’s simply surviving until she bumps into a police officer who changes everything.

Burke Tipton loves his job as a Mounted Patrol Officer in downtown Portland.  The life he’s built away from his family’s ranch is simple and uncomplicated. At least it was until a beautiful woman bumps into him and turns his world upside down.

Add in Burke’s partner Sugar Bear, Lovey the dog, and a child named Mistletoe in need of a Christmas miracle, and you get a heartwarming, holiday romance.

Here's a little excerpt from the story:

In the distance, he could see two men arguing and gave Bear a little pressure from his knees, urging him forward. Before he could reach them, a woman darted around the corner of a building and slammed into his leg. The force knocked her backward and she fell to the sidewalk. The files she carried flapped open and papers scattered in the breeze like jumbo-sized snowflakes.

Burke jumped out of the saddle and knelt beside her as she looked at him with a dazed expression. He held back a groan as recognition set in. The last thing he needed was to have the snippy, beautiful attorney who willingly defended crooks bump into him, again.

What was it with her blindly walking into him and Bear? Maybe the woman needed glasses, although he’d hate to see anything cover up those mesmerizing whiskey-colored eyes.

Small of stature, it wasn’t any wonder she’d landed on her backside as hard as she hit his leg. The tidy knot of hair pinned up on her head listed to one side, giving her a comical appearance. He tamped down his urge to laugh and gave her a questioning glance.

 “Are you hurt, miss?” he asked, keeping his voice low and soothing.

“I… I don’t think so.” All at once, she snapped out of her trance and noticed the papers from her files floating all around them. “Oh, my files!” she gasped, struggling to rise.

Burke took her hand in his and stood, pulling her upright. Together, they quickly gathered the papers and she stuffed them back into a folder.

He offered her a stern glare as he handed her the last few wayward sheets. “I ought to write you a ticket, Miss Meade. If you don’t start paying attention to where you’re going, you could really hurt yourself or someone else.”

Surprised at his gruff tone and sharp words, she lifted a curious gaze to his. “What, exactly, would you write on the ticket, Officer Tipton?”

The fact she recalled his name pleased him more than it should have. He mustered a fierce scowl, but then he looked into her face. Dang, she sure had gorgeous eyes. And her skin appeared silky smooth. Then there were those soft pink lips just begging for a kiss.

Man, he needed to get his head on straight, at least where this woman was concerned. “You’re a public menace. This is the second time you’ve run into me. I could haul you in for assaulting not one but two officers if I wanted to,” he warned. “Do you make it a habit of plowing into people, objects, and animals?”

You can find the boxed set for only 99 cents at these retailers:

 After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.

Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.

When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at: