Sunday, December 27, 2020

Excitement skyrockets with the dawning of a New Year! 2021

 




How many of you are just plain done with 2020? I know I am. Sadly the pandemic has touched all of us in one way or another. On December 19th after a month long battle with COVID, it’s with a sad heart I say, my cousin Kimmie has passed away. She will be missed by many, and her legacy of kindness, and generosity, will be passed on through generations to come.


On a happier note, thank God and many scientists there’s a vaccine on its way! I can’t wait to get mine. It gives me hope for less deaths and more living in 2021. 


Moving to the future. I’m hoping within the ‘New Year’ life can get back to some sort of normality.  Less cases of COVID, businesses opening back up, children back in school, and so much more. I missed the Farmer’s Markets, Street Fairs, Holiday Bazaars this year where I usually meet lots of nice folks, and sell, and sign many books. 


‘Tucker,’ the cover up above is my latest release and second book in The Chasing Time series. In the story Tucker Clark a nineteenth century Tombstone Marshall saw a chance to go to the future, and, well, jumped right on it! He too wanted a brighter future for himself, his family, and the Arizona Territory. Now tell me, If you had a chance to jump into the future, would you take it? I sure would. 


Until then, why don’t you take a seat and read ‘Tucker!’ Watch as he discovers all the new inventions and marvels at the way the world has changed in over a hundred years time. And then, warm up with Tucker as he opens his heart falling head over heals in love with a beautiful, strong willed, sickly woman named Lucy, and proves love can cure all.


For your convenience here’s the link:  https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Time-Ruthie-L-Manier-ebook/dp/B08KFN8GWZ

You can find all of my books on Kindle Unlimited and read them for free or buy them on Amazon.


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and the happiest of New Years! 


Here’s a few pictures from mine.


Early Christmas morning.


My eldest daughter Mandy (Amanda Jo) with my youngest son Kyle (Jon Kyle)


Nat (Natalie Monroe) my youngest of seven grandchildren.


King (Kingston) aka Sonic the Hedgehog. Lol


King with his new Sonic fleece wrapped around him.



My lovely daughters Mandy on the the left and Holls (Hollie) on the right.


I’d love to hear from you. Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Cowboy Kisses. Much love❤️❤️


Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas in the Old West by Zina Abbott

 

Merry Christmas!

Solve this CHRISTMAS OUT WEST puzzle and enjoy an old Western Christmas.

CLICK HERE

 

Today might be Christmas, but Christmas romance reading season for 2020 lasts until the end of the year. I published two books for Christmas this year. One is more reflective, one is a fun romance with an interfering aunt and a rascally little boy. Please click on the book titles for the book descriptions.


 

Gift of Restitution: A Story for Christmas

 

 

 


 

A Shopkeeper for Christmas 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Past, Present, and Future

by Dorothy Wiley
Storyteller of Love and Heroes on the American Frontier
Author of the American Wilderness, Wilderness Hearts, and 
Wilderness Dawning Series


Remembering Christmases of years past brings me so much joy. Decades of family, Christmas trees, decorations, cookies, food, and joyous times. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and my attic is full of tubs of Christmas decorations. It's always fun to bring down these decorations and find the perfect spot in my home for them. And I love finding and giving gifts. 


As I reflect on Christmas present, I admit I am struggling. I am sure many of you are too. It's so hard to choose personal safety over family closeness. For reasons I won't get into, my husband and I both need to really avoid contracting the virus. So this Christmas we won't be seeing family. I'll miss hugs most of all. But I know God is still in control and is teaching us all patience. 

We will be gathering by Zoom. I just sent out our Christmas Eve Zoom Before Christmas invitation, which included this little poem I wrote (inspired by The Night Before Christmas):

'Twill be the day before Christmas, when all through our houses
Not a creature will be stirring, except our computer mouses;

The masks will be hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Corona will never be there!

The family will be nestled all snug in their homes;
While visions of future get togethers thrill them to their bones.

And GrandD on her laptop and GW in his hat,
Have just settled their hearts for a long Zoom chat.

And there we’ll exclaim, with merry delight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

And as I look forward to Christmas futures, especially 2021, I do so with the faith that all will be well or at least much better. When we can gather with family again, we will enjoy those hugs and smiles even more. Christmas music will sound especially cheerful and beautiful. I will decorate from the roof to the floor. I will bake enough treats and make enough good food to feed all of Santa's elves. And I will find a meaningful or special gift for everyone I love. Most of all, I will treasure the gift of Jesus, my savior, and Lord.

God bless us, every one!






Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas Scene by Paty Jager



Ever wonder what happens to scenes in a book when a writer decides they aren't necessary to the story?  You're about to find out! 

When I was writing a short story to give away at Christmas to hopefully intrigue readers enough to check out my Isabella Mumphrey series, I started the story with the excerpt below. But after finishing the story, I decided the excerpt wasn't essential to the story and took it out. Today, you get to read the thrown away excerpt and will find a link at the bottom to download the short story for FREE from your choice of ebook vendor. Merry Christmas!

REMOVED EXCERPT

This was the first time in over twenty years she would have a real Christmas. She’d purchased a fresh, well, fresh for Arizona, evergreen tree. The five-foot noble fir stood in the small living room waiting for Tino, her sexy Venezuelan boyfriend, to return from his latest DEA mission.

During the Thanksgiving shopping crush, she and Tino had braved the throngs of bargain shoppers to find ornaments for the tree she talked about buying. Three days from Christmas and Tino was on his way home. She couldn’t wait for tonight. They’d decorate the tree, sip wine, and enjoy the first family Christmas either of them had had in years.

Once she’d discovered there wasn’t a real Santa Claus, her parents had stopped making Christmas a magical time. Her seventh Christmas she’d come home from the boarding school and found only the housekeeper at the apartment. They’d watched Christmas specials on TV and the next morning there were two packages under the tree; a bright colored scarf from the housekeeper and a new coat from her parents. Once she became a teenage, her Christmas presents from her parents were their voices in a phone call.

Christmas wasn’t about material things. It never had been, but the more her parents drifted away, the more she mourned the way her family had celebrated those first six Christmases. The three of them putting out cookies for Santa and on Christmas morning gathering around a Christmas tree her mother had delivered from a department store to see what Santa had brought. And the Christmas day brunch. One of the few occasions throughout the year when they all sat down together as a family and had a meal.

Isabella shook off her melancholy thoughts.

This year was different. She had Tino. This was the first Christmas since he’d lost his family that he’d felt like celebrating. He’d told her how he always took the assignments that would last through the holidays because he’d rather forget there was a family holiday he was missing.

Isabella pulled the last pan of cookies from the oven and walked into the living room. There may not be snow and blustery weather outside, but she’d set up a winter wonderland inside with a small village scene, pine-scented warming oil, and mistletoe dangling in front of every doorway. She didn’t want to miss any chances to capture a kiss from Tino.

They were only three months off the last assignment they’d more or less worked together. As a WIA operative, she’d discovered how and where Aztec treasures were being sold on the black market, and Tino had cracked a notorious Columbian drug ring as a DEA agent. They’d fulfilled their missions, but Tino was still lamenting the fact he didn’t shoot the drug lord responsible for his family’s deaths and that a crooked DEA agent got away. Her heart was heavy from knowing a young man was killed because she involved him in her operation.

They both deserved a wonderful Christmas.

“Querida, this apartment looks like a Christmas postcard.” Tino stood in the apartment doorway. His dark gaze drifted around the room and stopped on her. His handsome face lit up with a heated smile. He dropped his duffle bag to the side and closed the door.

A shiver of delight danced up her spine as it always did hearing Tino’s accent and knowing he loved her. As an awkward, genius-level kid growing up among jeers and fears from the older males in her academic life, she’d shied away from men. Never did she dream of being able to capture the attention of such a handsome, charismatic man.

She rushed across the room before he stepped out from under the mistletoe and wrapped her arms around his neck. “This is going to be the best Christmas ever,” she said, pressing her lips to his and falling into a kiss that made her knees weak and her body hum.

His hands cradled her head as he took the kiss even deeper, turning his face, melding their mouths, and gliding his tongue over hers in an intimate dance.

Her body sagged, and he caught her before she melted into a puddle of desire on the ceramic floor.

“Querida, the way you melt from my kisses gives me a big head.”

The sultry words registered in her euphoric mind. “Which head?”

Tino’s deep hearty laugh echoed through the apartment and reverberated in her heart.

“Your quick mind is one of the many things I love about you.” He kissed her nose. “We have much to do. Christmas is only three days away.” He released her and picked up his duffle bag.

“You need help with that,” Isabella asked, following him to the bedroom door.

He hustled through the door and out from under the mistletoe before she caught up to him. “I can manage fine. It smells as if you are baking, no?”

“You wouldn’t happen to have presents?” She hadn’t received a present from anyone for years. She always gave to charities and helped at the soup kitchen on Christmas Eve.

“If I do, they are a surprise. Go bake.” He shot her a mischievous grin and closed the door.

The click of the lock made her giggle. If she really wanted in, that lock was easy to pick. Isabella wandered into the kitchen. Tino had told her of a Venezuelan tradition he missed. She’d scoured the internet and found a recipe for Hallaca, a plantain-leaf-wrapped food that required days to prepare.

“Might as well get started.”


SECRETS OF A CHRISTMAS BOX


FREE!!

I’m pleased to have my short story, Secrets of a Christmas Box FREE to introduce you to Dr. Isabella Mumphrey, a female MacGyver/Indiana Jones character.

Isabella’s plans of a wonderful Christmas are thwarted when her father hands her a World Intelligence Agency mission.

Download link- https://books2read.com/u/m2E8k3

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year!!

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 48 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest   / Bookbub


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Fifteen Native American Thoughts for Christmas and the New Year


 

By Andrea Downing

 

Wisdom is universal, whether it comes from a Judeo-Christian background or one that embraces Nature and Mother Earth. Here are fifteen proverbs and sayings from Native Americans that we’d all be well to consider this holiday season.

 

1. Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a Truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.

 

2. The hardest journey is the one you take from your head to your heart.  The healing journey is found in the path leading back from heart to your head.

 

3. Be strong when you are weak, be brave when you are scared, be humble when you are victorious.

 

4. We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

 

5. We can only be what we give ourselves the Power to be.

 

6.  The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.

 

7. It does not require many words to speak the truth. (Chief Joseph, Nez Perce)


 

8.  Take care when you speak in judgment.  Words are powerful weapons.

 

9. Do not pray when it is raining if you do not pray when the sun is shining.

 

10. Be selective in your battles; sometimes peace is better than being right.

 

11. The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.

 

12. Thoughts are like arrows. Once released, they strike their mark.  Guard them well or one day you may be your own victim.

 

13.  Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.

 

14. May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.


 

15. Oh Great Spirit who made all races, look kindly upon the whole human family and take away the arrogance and hatred which separates us. (Cherokee prayer)





And if you’re looking for some Holiday reading…



Available at https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Carole-Dickens-Romance-ebook/dp/B08BT1MC76/


Carrie Matheson is happy to start a new life at the Wyoming ranch she has inherited, but her six-year-old son wants to return to New York. As Christmas approaches and his pleas to Santa receive replies, it’s alarm bells, not sleigh bells that start ringing.
Tate Schrugge is amused by his new neighbor when she jogs over with some mis- delivered mail, but after she calls him Scrooge, she’s definitely not on his Christmas list.
If these two can get together, it might be the Dickens of a romance.

 

WHY WE CALL THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS BOXING DAY By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

 

Here in Canada, as well as Australia and other commonwealth countries, the day after Christmas is known as ‘Boxing Day’.  The holiday originated with Queen Victoria in the 1700’s, when the wealthy boxed up gifts to give to the poor. The servants went home with their boxes of treats to spend the day with their families, having worked Christmas day.  Those of us who work appreciate having the day after Christmas to recover or to shop.  Until Canada recently adopted 'Black Friday', Boxing Day was traditionally the biggest, busiest sale day of the year.  

 


With that in mind, it seemed an excellent time to have a BOXING DAY SALE for one of my boxed sets.  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Volume 2 contains a not-for-sale bonus novella, and will be reduced from $9.99 to only 99 cents.  In Books 4-7 you see each unmarried Mason Brother eventually make his way to the altar.  Each book starts with a wedding.  Here is a snippet from Book 4, BLAKE'S BRIDE, setting the scene for Blake and Storm to find their way to HEA.

 

          It was a perfect day for a wedding.  The park’s gazebo was decked in yards and yards of ribbon, while the shiny white posts were adorned with sprays of wild flowers.  Rows of benches next to chairs borrowed from the café offered guests a spot to sit.  Smack in the center of the gazebo, the seven Mason brothers waited in a straight line.

          Storm, alongside her fellow bridesmaid, Amanda, wiped her sweaty palm on the skirt of her frock and clutched her nosegay tightly.  This was her first time being a bridesmaid.  It was also her first time in such a fancy dress, edged in lace and all, crafted by her own hand. 

          From her vantage point, Storm watched Henrietta, the bride, appear on the arm of her long-time friend Percival Bloom.  Slowly, the duo made their way across the park to the gazebo where Braydon Mason, the groom, waited along with the reverend and the wedding party.  Before today, Storm had never seen the normally confident Braydon Mason look nervous. 

          As the ceremony got underway, Storm snuck a subtle glance at Blake Mason, flanked by his brothers.  Laura, the first Mason Bride, had confided that Blake had a secret.  Storm could relate to secrets.  She had a few of her own.  If only her “big” secret was as innocent as Blake’s.  Lots of folks out west couldn’t read.  As a librarian, she was no stranger to witnessing their struggles, and happy when she was able to help. 

          Blake’s situation was a bit different, and Storm didn’t know if she could help him or not, but she had promised Laura she would try.

 

Learn more about Blake and the entire Mason clan in this set of four full length sweet and clean romances for only 99 cents, starting December 26th for a limited few days.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08M9L1V2F

 


As the year winds to a close, I’m excited to be part of a new, top secret western historical series coming your way in 2021.   Happy Holidays Everyone!  See you next year.

Kathleen Lawless

Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Group to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers.    http://eepurl.com/bV0sb1

 

AMAZON | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BOOKBUB

          

Friday, December 11, 2020

Finding the Christmas Spirit in Robyn: A Christmas Bride

Christmas Inspiration in Noelle, Colorado, 1877

By Jacqui Nelson

When I first started pondering a plot for my second Christmas story, Robyn: A Christmas Bride, my first questions were... 

What should the theme be? Is there a classic Christmas tale with an uplifting spiritual theme that many people might recognize or at least relate to? 

The Gift of the Magi - my first inspiration when writing Robyn: A Christmas Bride

The Gift of Love is Priceless

The Gift of the Magi (written by O. Henry and published in 1905) features the themes of selfless gift-giving and how the gift of love is priceless. In that story, a husband and wife each sell their most valuable possession, but they are items that can be grown again (hair) or can be bought back again (a watch). 

I wondered what if the thing you valued most was sustaining a way of life that you’d struggled a long time to create and that now defined your entire self-worth? Could you give that up if it meant ensuring the happiness of a loved one? That might be the ultimate selfless gift to give.

My next thought was having a heroine who was a trouser-wearing tomboy who loved driving wagons in a time, 1877, when society wasn’t very accommodating about women’s appearances and occupations that strayed from the norm. 

So…what if my heroine decided she needed to do something drastic to win the heart of the man she loved? Changing yourself to please another person (even if they haven’t asked you to) might be considered another selfless gift. So…what is a classic transformation story? 

My Fair Lady and its heroine Eliza Doolittle were my next inspiration

My Fair Lady (released in 1964 as a movie starring Audrey Hepburn) focuses on speech lessons, but Eliza’s transform also includes her appearance—her clothing, hair, the way she carries herself, and more. It’s a life-changing transformation that is difficult for Eliza and takes hard work and sacrifice—for her own good (a chance at better job prospects) but also, as time goes on, to please her instructors.

So…selfless giving and self-sacrifice. Ready. Set. Go. Write a Christmas story!

I hope you enjoy Robyn: A Christmas Bride as much as I enjoyed not only writing the story but also giving Robyn Llewellyn and Max Peregrine their hard-won and well-deserved Christmas gifts.

Here’s a teaser graphic from Robyn: A Christmas Bride about gift-giving and friendship because the man whose heart Robyn wishes to win is her best friend, Max.

Some friendships were doomed from the start. But even if friendships couldn’t last,  they could still be enjoyed—in the moment.  Happiness was a gift.  One that could be received or given… or even better shared.

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Robyn: A Christmas Bride.

Or CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from my 1st Christmas story The Calling Birds - which happens also in the small mountain mining town of Noelle, Colorado, but one year earlier during Christmas 1876. 

Spend Christmas in Noelle, Colorado, 1876 & 1877

Wishing you the best Christmas possible during the challenging year of 2020! 


I hope we all find - and give - an abundance of love in our real and virtual stockings this year ❤️🎁 

~ * ~

Jacqui's author photo
Download MY FREE STORY Rescuing Raven (Raven & Charlie's story in Deadwood 1876) 

Read more of my 
Join me on 
Follow me on 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A Christmas Story by Rhonda Frankhouser

Christmas is that time of year when togetherness means the most. The memory of generations of family members gathered around my Grandparents huge Christmas tree, brings a sense of calmness and love like no other. For me, as a writer, getting that full-hearted, safe, loved feeling down on paper is the hardest emotion to capture. 


🎄   ðŸŽ„   ðŸŽ„   ðŸŽ„   ðŸŽ„   ðŸŽ„   ðŸŽ„   ðŸŽ„

The Ruby's Ranch Series was borne of my trying to recapture the importance of family, even if that family happens to be haunted by secrets, scandal, and sadness. When Ruby inherits her grandmother's ranch, she is motivated by the desire to return to the only true home she's ever known so she can recapture that sense of belonging. Creating Ruby and her journey was my own way of trying to bring back those wonderful, innocent feelings of safety and unconditional love from my childhood.

Meet Ruby in Return to Ruby's Ranch - Book 1

Through the journey of writing each matriarch's story in the subsequent books in the Ruby's Ranch Series, I was able to (in one small way or another) awaken many of my old family traditions. I'm not sure if my readers feel the same when they read the story's of Ruby, Katherine, Rube and soon, Emma, but I pray they feel my desperation to create that true sense of togetherness and longing for home.

Meet Katherine in Escape from Ruby's Ranch - Book 2

Meet Rube in Legacy of Ruby's Ranch - Book 3

Christmas at Ruby's Ranch was never part of the series plan. I was to stay focused on the task at hand - to solve the mystery of the legacy that follows the matriarchs of this family. But one day, I stalled in the middle of writing Emma's story, and opened a brand new manuscript. It was time to stop torturing my characters and let them enjoy the happiness of finding one another again - if only for a moment. As it turns out, I too needed to give them a little break so they could laugh, and dance, and plan for a brighter future.

Join the Celebration for FREE #KindleUnlimited or On Sale through the Holidays!

The secret to writing my Christmas story? I'm not sure how others do it, but I pulled all the sentimental, tear-jerker moments from the story line and toyed with them until they came together in a beautiful family reunion. This story has mother-daughter healing, true love blossoming, and a long-overdue, sentimental reckoning for my most beloved character, Stan. 

Christmas at Ruby's Ranch also pays special homage to the horse characters and their undying connection to their riders. The relationship between the horses and their Ruby's Ranch matriarch strummed one of the most sensitive chords, so naturally a HUGE part of this story revolved around one amazing gift. You see, to a cowgirl, there's very few men who can compete with a trustworthy horse. It's no different in this family. These women relied on their horses for friendship, partnership, freedom and most of all, complete and absolute dedication. 

🐎  🐎  🐎  🐎  🐎  🐎  🐎  🐎

I wasn't sure how the Christmas story would be received in a series founded on dangerous secrets, but I am proud to say, it's been accepted with open arms. Christmas at Ruby's Ranch won the 2020 Uncaged Raven Award for Best Novella. Not too bad for a little spark of light that came from no where.

I hope you and yours have an amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you 2021!

Follow me at www.rhondafrankhouserbooks.com

Watch for Revenge at Ruby's Ranch - Emma's Story - Coming in 2021!!!

Legacy - Giving

 Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

As this year 2020 winds to an end my mind reflects on endings. The long-running show 'Supernatural' came to an end in November. Now you may ask what a television show has to do with endings, with legacies. There was a line in one of the early shows in which the writer, Chuck, says "No doubt endings are hard, but then again, nothing ever really ends." after which the character disappears from the screen.

The end of that line "...nothing ever really ends." is what brought the thought of legacies to the forefront.

So what is a legacy? The online dictionary has among its definitions: a thing handed down by a predecessor.

For a look at part 1 - Legacy - The Beginning?

This time I am looking at Dr. B.P. Anderson and the Sisters of St. Francis. This doctor and nurses gave of their time to bring the first hospital, St. Francis, to Colorado Springs. 

B.P. Anderson gravesite 
Photo by Ron West

The hospital was established in 1887, however, the story begins before that. Dr. Anderson was the physician/surgeon for the Midland Railroad. Dr. Anderson was in Colorado Springs, according to the newspapers, in 1878 and he could have been here earlier. 

The Sisters of St. Francis were part of the beginning of the hospital and remained so through its early years and beyond. 

So what prompted the building of the hospital? Prior to the building of the hospital, Dr. Anderson had brought four Sisters of St. Francis from Layfette, Indiana. According to articles, Anderson had become acquainted with their work as nurses during the War. The Sisters and Dr. Anderson had a clinic for the workers who were building the Midland Railroad Line to Leadville. 

St. Francis Hospital 1925

After an accident in which a number of workers were injured near Leadville of which sixty were brought to Colorado Springs for treatment. The incident showed the need for a larger facility to care for the sick and injured. Through door to door and other means, they found the funds to build their hospital.

This hospital grew over the years from a place that could handle fifty patients to being a part of the Penrose-St. Francis Hospital that we know today. I quote you from an article from February 20, 1916, in the local paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette:

"Charity — that is, real charity — goes on quietly and unobtrusively. Consider that St. Francis handles more than 300 charitable cases annually, ...Take this charitable work away from Colorado Springs and what would the community do? Taking these facts into consideration, it is not amiss to say that Colorado Springs cannot get along without St. Francis. The larger part of these cases are of an emergency sort, of which the public knows little. All this is done without cost to the city at a heavy expense to the St. Francis management."

This is just a brief overview of the giving that became the St. Francis Hospital. This came at a time when Colorado Springs was also a haven for those suffering from consumption, which at the time was defined as any wasting disease. The legacy of this giving of time and service is a legacy that lives on today.

Sometimes we forget what happened that has made our lives easier and those who did so did it selflessly. 

What is our legacy as we move forward into 2021 and beyond? I don't believe we need to become nuns or doctors unless called to do so, but we can be a friend to those in need. Our words can be a comfort to those shut-in or ill. We can choose and the world will be a better place.


Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet


Monday, December 7, 2020

Christmas Goodies

By Kristy McCaffrey

As 2020 comes to a close, I wanted to say thank you to all the wonderful readers, fans, and friends out there. I've spent the last few years working on a romantic suspense adventure series, but in 2021 I'll be going back to my historical western romances with new books in my Wings of the West series. I hadn't thought I would add more of the bird books, but I've been working on new story ideas starring the second generation. While there are plenty of boys, these new novels will focus on the daughters (2 from Matt and Molly from THE WREN, and 3 from Logan and Claire from THE DOVE). Look for the first one in the spring!


**************

But now, a few thank you's!

I've got a fun giveaway at my website this month. Click here to enter to win my Christmas Prize Pack!


***************

I’d love to send you a Christmas card. Drop your info here and I’ll add you to my list.


***************

A bunch of historical romance authors came together to create Season’s Sweetings, a pdf digital book of our favorite cookie recipes. It features recipes from Glynnis Campbell, Kathryn Le Veque, Tanya Anne Crosby, Kimberly Cates, and more! Click here to grab your copy today.

***************

I’m excited to share that I now have an Etsy shop where you can purchase autographed copies of my books. If you’re interested, please stop over and have a look.

***************
Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday! Be well, be safe, and see you in 2021!

Kristy
xoxo



Friday, December 4, 2020

That Old Literary Trope, the Doppelganger Switcharoo

  By Patti Sherry-Crews


Look-a-likes trading places. I’ve been hooked on that trope since as a child I watched the 1930’s classic Prince and the Pauper starring Errol Flynn. The movie about a poor boy trading places with the Tudor prince was based on the novel by Mark Twain. It was Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction.

In fact, I was raised with this idea. Who's old enough to remember the Patty Duke Show?  But they're cousins, identical cousins all the way. One pair of matching bookends, different as night and day. And then there was the Parent Trap. Even if you're too young to have seen the Hayley Mills version, there was a remake with Lindsay Lohan.






Other favorite novels of mine employing this device are A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier, and more recently the Likeness by Tana French. The idea of switching lives with someone so alike you that you fool everyone, but then have to navigate a new social circle and pretend familiarity events not of your experience is ripe with anxiety, adventure, and unintentional humor.

When I wrote my historical western romance, Den of Thieves, I gave this plot device a shot. Wynne Palmatier is a mild-mannered shopkeeper, but when his notorious outlaw twin brother, Ennis, is captured, the Pinkerton Agency seize this opportunity by sending Wynne into the den of thieves to infiltrate the gang. 




Before setting off, Wynne has a long jail-side chat with Ennis. He learns the lay of the land and details of the other gang members. He learns everything he needs to know about his brother to successfully insert himself into the outlaw gang. Or does he? 

Bad twin, Ennis, can’t help but set traps to trip up his always perfect twin. What would happen if he left out crucial information such as there are also two women living at the hideout—and one of them is his wife.

We read as Wynne scrapes by, faking his way, having to do things that go against this law-abiding nature, and even falls in love. The experience alters our hero, who discovers his inner alpha male.

The story, full of twists and turns, is set against the aftermath of two major events that transformed the west: the Civil War and the great blizzard of 1887. People drifted west, including battle-scarred men. The Great Blizzard changed ranching from open range to enclosed fields, and as a consequence many a cowboy found himself out of work and in desperate circumstances. This soup of hard men was a recipe for the formation of outlaw gangs. 

Den of Thieves takes place in the waning days of the outlaw gangs. Newspapers, the telegraph system, and the railroad made a life on the run less desirable. My outlaw gang has seen better days by the time Wynne joins them.


Excerpt from Den of Thieves in which Wynne, who has managed to put names to faces of all the men, describes how he got out of jail to the gang. Except who are these two women?


He took in his surroundings with quick glances. Two room cabin. Rough log walls with chinking, a cast iron stove in the corner with a basket of what looked like dried cow or buffalo chips and some kindling for fuel, coats and hats hung from pegs near the door, a bear skin hung across one wall with traps hanging near it, a crudely made bench stood under the window, and the sturdy table with mismatched chairs they sat at, standing in the center of the room. Assorted crockery, tins, and mason jars lined wooden shelves set in the wall near the stove. Everything out in the open, which was good, as he didn’t want to give away how strange the surroundings were to him.

The woman at the stove, turned to face him full on. “What happened to you?”

“I just started to tell the others. I was thrown in jail. I managed to escape out a window, but I injured my—”

“That’s not what I mean,” she snapped.

“What do you mean?”

She studied him through eyelids narrowed to slits. “You’re not the same man who left here.”

His stomach flip-flopped. He put both hands on the table and stared back at her, any thoughts having flown out his head.

She waved a ladle in his direction. “You put on some weight, I notice.”

Cord snickered. “That’s what it is! A little more of Ennis came back than the one that left. I knew something wasn’t right.” He pulled out a chair across from him and sat down.

Wynne’s chest expanded, taking in the air he’d forgotten to breathe. “You know how it is. Weeks spent eating the sheriff’s wife’s food—which is not as fine as the grub I get here, by the way—laying around in a bunk all day and night. I guess it shows in my middle.”

She turned away and said under her breath, “You keep right on and somebody’s going to need to make some alterations to their clothing.”

“I expect now I’m out of jail that won’t be somebody’s concern.” That remark of hers was needlessly mean, he thought, sucking in his gut even though it was hidden under the table at the moment.

Fritzy leaned across the table, an eager expression on his face. “How’d you escape? Did you kill the sheriff?”

The tall blonde ladled out stew into blue enamel plates as the other woman placed them on the table in front of the men. He studied her again. A slip of a girl. Her mint green dress, trimmed with ribbon and lace was of good quality and accented her fine figure. Her hands trembled when she put the food before him. He smiled at her and was pleased when she returned his with a shy one of her own that faded almost as soon as it appeared.

“No, I didn’t kill anyone, Fritzy. The guard was a young greenhorn. He forgot to lock the cell—”

Cord sat up straight. “What damn fool forgets to lock the cell?”

“Like I said he was green. I don’t even think he was a regular guard. Maybe just filling in for the regular one. I never saw him before that day as a matter of fact. Anyway, he picked up my empty dinner dishes, and I guess with his hands full—and he was real nervous! You could see how scared he was of me—anyway, between one thing and another he didn’t turn the key proper in the lock.”

“But you said you got injured in the escape,” Cord said around a mouthful of stew. “Sounds like you just walked out. What’dya do trip over the door jamb and stub your toe?”

That got a snort of laughter out of the big blonde.

“I walked out of the cell, but then I had to get down from the second floor of the jail, and there was another guard posted outside—”

Cord knitted his brows. “How’d you know that?”

Distrustful sonofagun. “I knew that because I’d seen him sitting there and heard the other guard talking to him when he brought my meals to me. Now, if I can continue my story without interruption...I couldn’t take the chance there wasn’t a guard sitting there, so I jumped out a window into an alley.”

The pretty brunette, forgetting her shyness, looked at him with her big, saucer eyes. “Did you get hurt bad?”

“It did hurt some. I think I broke a rib or two when I half landed on a barrel.”

Her hand flew to her mouth, a gesture that warmed his heart.

“That seems unlikely to me,” said Cord.

“What part exactly sounds unlikely to you, Cord?” He could feel beads of sweat breaking out above his lips. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the Captain regarding him with his chin tilted back, looking down his nose at him.

Cord squinted one eye. “Well, it just seems to me that a second story window is quite a height to jump from.”

He made a fist under the table to try and steady his nerves. “Did I say jump? I meant it was more like I lowered myself down. I was aiming to land on the barrel below but missed my mark some.”

Cord seemed satisfied with that answer but pointed over at him with his fork. “Where’d you get them guns?”

Somehow after the arrest Ennis’ guns had gone missing, so the sheriff provided him with a pair of Colt revolvers. Nothing fancy, but the Peacemaker was a reliable choice.

He patted his holster. “Stole them. I went to the livery to get my horse back, and I had to knock the feller there on the head.”

“Did you kill him?” Fritzy asked in a voice straining with excitement.

“No, I didn’t kill him. I expect he recovered just fine, but I did relieve him of his guns.”

The little brunette twisted her hands in her apron. “You were very daring!”

A loud thwack got his attention. The other woman had slammed down a cutting board with a loaf of bread on it, and she was looking daggers at him.

“Ah, bread! That smells good,” he said.

The blonde inclined her head toward the brunette. “Don’t set your expectations too high. Lucy baked it. Little Miss Lucy with her head in the clouds all the time.”

The brunette’s face fell. Lucy. I want to know more about you, sweetheart. She dropped her head and from lowered eyes looked from man to man as if waiting for support.

He broke off a hunk of bread and stuffed it in his mouth. It was doughy and undercooked on the inside and the crust was overdone. “Hmmm, that’s good bread. Thank you, Lucy.” Next time he’d dunk it in his stew first. Bread’s a tricky thing, he understood. Hard to get the heat right in these old stoves. His grandma had one like that.

The big blonde looked like she wanted to slap someone. Lucy took a step away into the shadows.

Fortunately, Asa changed the subject. “What I’m wondering is didn’t the law come after you the minute they saw you missing?”

Unfortunately, the subject had returned back to the story of his escape, which he hoped to leave off telling. “I expect they did, but I assure you I was long gone by the time they figured it out.”

Asa persisted. “How do you know that? They could have followed you and might be at our door before this stew is cold.”

The Captain’s eyes went wide and he began to tremble.

Asa turned to him. “Don’t fret Captain. I’m just saying that, that’s all. Nobody’s at the door... Yet. But, if you led the law to us, I swear—”

 He laid down his fork for emphasis. “Have you ever known me for a fool?”

“Well, no, I….” Asa looked away and tugged at his long mustache.

“But, he’s got a point,” said the Captain, still shaken. “If they’ve got a good tracker….”

“They don’t. And I was very careful to not leave a trail.”

Fritzy leaned in all keen, curls quivering. “I bet you were. What kind of things did you do to put them off your trail.”

Wynne popped a hunk of bread in his mouth to buy some time. All eyes were trained on him. What the heck do trackers look for?

“Well, to start off I headed west out of town instead of the direction I needed to go and stayed on a well-traveled road where there were many tracks coming and going. Then I circled back riding down a stream bed. When I could I followed in the footsteps of others, and—”

“Enough!” Everyone jumped when the blonde pounded her fist on the table, brown eyes flashing. “It’s like listening to a child recount his day. Ennis got himself out of trouble the way he always manages to escape the consequences of his actions. It’s in his nature to wiggle out of a fix. No need to make a hero out of him. You don’t tell a hen how clever she is every time it lays an egg, because it’s just what it does by nature.”


Den of Thieves is available as a single title, or you can find it and in the collection Gambling on a Cowboy, featuring six full length novels for only $0.99.