Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Characters...Choosing names to Suit ~ Lorraine Nelson

Do you struggle with naming your characters? Believe it or not, I don't. A name is sometimes the first thing that strikes in Zakia and the Cowboy.

I worked at a call center in town until my health got the best of me. One night, while I was answering phones, a caller named Zakia came on the line. The name stuck in my head long after the call ended and I found myself jotting quick notes to go with the name.

Zakia, exotic name, needs a hero with simple name, ergo, Luke.

Zakia, long blond hair, emerald green eyes, 5'8" tall

Zakia, banker's daughter, wealthy family, used to socializing, partying, and having attention

Zakia, interests include, cooking, baking, gardening, and charity work

Zakia and Luke, married young, divorced young

Luke, third generation rancher in Alberta

Luke, collar length blond hair, sapphire blue eyes, 6'4"

Luke, rancher/cowboy, thinks Zakia left him because she got bored with ranch life, when in truth she hated competing with the ranch for his attention.

All of this I jotted down between calls that same night and Zakia and the Cowboy was born.

Daydreams & Night Scenes

In this story, I needed a name for the heroine that could double as a man's name. She became Miranda, Randi to her friends. The hero is a rich playboy and I decided on Alexander, a strong name the hero has to live up to by the end of the book.

Her Unlikely Bodyguard

Jemma Leigh is the name of the heroine in this story. Why? Because it popped into my head at the right time. :) It was a distinctly feminine name for a strong woman, proving that a woman could be both. Theodore, her Teddy Bear from high school, had graduated and joined the army. Years later, Jemma Leigh and Ted are both back in their hometown and second chances just might be possible as they reunite and he appoints himself her bodyguard against the stalker who's threatened her.

Still undecided? Pick a name, any name, and go with it. If it’s not a good fit, your character will eventually change it for you. Happy Writing!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Horse Apples & Osage Oranges by Zina Abbott

I suspect many of you are aware of the expression that it is like comparing apples to oranges. As part of my research for Joshua’s Bride, set partially in the old Cherokee Outlet of what is now Oklahoma, I found a fruit that is both neither and both.

My adventure began when I needed a quarter section of property in the Outlet for my heroine, Rose Calloway, to claim. You see, she did not intend to claim land during the 1893 land run. However, her sister, Marigold, did. Marigold wanted a town plot in the Ponca City Township being formed along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe rail line that already ran through the Cherokee Outlet. Since the sisters had a little money set aside, Marigold insisted Rose register for a certificate so the two of them could stay together. Marigold also decided they would ride the train.

Cattle cars full of land seekers behind locomotive

All well and good, except when the sisters prepared to board the train, they discovered the seats in the passenger coaches were already full—not with others running for land, but gawkers.


You see, life in the 1890s must have been rather dull. Events such that this land run were high excitement. Sitting in the comfort of railroad passenger coaches while watching the idiots running, racing their horses, driving their wagons to the point many animals stumbled and wagons crashed – people getting run over –people and animals getting injured or killed, that was fun. Then, there were those who shot and killed to take land claimed by others. Some were burned to death by those who set prairie fires to burn out legitimate claimants—all so they could claim the land themselves. For those spectators in the passenger cars merely along for the ride, it was like watching a fast-moving video game or the block-buster action-packed adventure movie of the century. The difference was, there were no stunt actors – it all happened to real people.

So, by the time those, like my two sisters, prepared to board the train to find land to claim, they could either climb on top of the passenger cars and ride up there, or get into the open-air cattle pen cars the rail line had so considerately provided.

The sisters ended up in a cattle car. To keep the run “fair” for those on horseback, the rules forbade the trains to travel over fifteen miles per hour. The trains were  to slow occasionally to allow those who wished to leave to get off. All well and good until Rose, pinned against the fence next to the gate, was accidentally pushed off the train by one of the men who wished to exit. Some who jumped from the train were injured. Rose temporarily had the wind knocked out of her. Through the tumult she heard her sister yell, “Run for land.”

Rose was on the wrong side of the train to run to the Arkansas River to the east. Instead, she saw a line of trees in the distance to the west. Trees meant there was water close by. She took off running.

Here is my journey for finding her creek. 

On an 1890 map of the region, I found an unnamed creek running north to south just to the west of the railroad tracks. I searched Google Maps. Changing it to terrain mode and bringing it in close, I found a creek about two miles west of what is today Ponca City. I found a quarter section of land for Rose. (Google Maps very considerately takes its images so that it shows the quarter sections blocked off when viewing the map.) Her quarter section included the creek and had a thick band of foliage growing on each bank. The creek was named the name:  Bois d’ Arc.

Never heard of it.

What does Bois d’ Arc mean?

And, what in the midst of all that flat grassland of Oklahoma was that dark border of foliage that followed the creek?

Hop – hop –  jump! Down the research rabbit hole.

Bois d’ Arc is a name given to the tree by French trappers because they learned the native tribes used the tough wood to make their bows.  

Other names for this tree are Osage Orange, Bow Wood, Bodark, Hedge Apple, and Horse Apple. It is now found across the United States. Originally, this tree’s range was largely restricted to the southern Great Plains of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. It is a small to medium-sized dioecious tree, meaning male and female flowers occur on separate trees.

The trees that bear the large, green, round fruits are female. Both male and female plants have thorny branches, pointed, ovate leaves, very hard wood, and white, milky sap.


The tree is a member of the mulberry family. When immature, it is covered with inch-long thorns. It bears a round fruit that looks similar to an orange without a rind. The first tree that Lewis and Clark sent from St. Louis to the East was the “Osage Apple,” which the French trader, Pierre Chouteau, obtained from the Osage Indians three hundred miles to the south and west. Thomas Nuttall, a philanthropist and printer who was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science, was the first botanist to explore Arkansas. He gave the tree its scientific name.


In the 1840s, the time before barbed wire, the idea of hedge row plantings as a living fence became popular. The thorny Horse Apple/Osage Orange tree was an obvious choice. Closely-planted Bois d’ Arc trees created a hedge that kept cattle in an unwanted persons out.

 In his 1858 book, "Hedges and Evergreens," John Warden writes from Cincinnati that "It is no longer a matter of experiment, whether the Osage Orange will make a fence or not. It is a proved fact that ... a hedge can be grown in four years, so compact that no kind of stock can pass it."

 In 1855, 1, 000 bushels of seeds of Osage Orange seeds were shipped from Texas and Arkansas to Illinois for as much as $50 per bushel.

Bois d' Arc Tree in Autumn

The hedging movement became less popular with the increased use of barbed wire. However the wire still needed posts, and the trees were used for that.


In Joshua’s Bride, I wrote under the assumption that the Bois d’ Arc tree that gave the creek its name was the plant that crowded both sides of its banks. This book, the first in the Land Run Mail Order Brides, is available. Please find the book description and purchase options by CLICKING HERE.








Tuesday, July 19, 2022

New Cowboy by Rhonda Lee Carver

Interesting slang terms from the old west... 

Wheel-horse--a good friend
Acock-- knocked over
California Widow-- a woman whose husband is away
Fancy woman-- high dollar whore
Half Seas over-- someone who is drunk
Whacker-- anything large
What do you think Wipe your chin means? (Scroll to the bottom of the page and find out...)

Pre-order Here!

Blue Dawson has been in love with Maggie March for as long as he can remember. When her father is arrested and asks Blue to watch over her and the farm, he jumps at the opportunity. Maybe he can finally confess his feelings to her.

The only way Maggie can save her father is to hire the best attorney, but her savings is depleted, and the farm is in trouble. She sees a chance in raising the funds, while keeping her father’s predicament a secret from the townsfolk of Dove Grey. However, she needs a dance partner. She thinks she has found the perfect match…

Blue isn’t a dancer. He actually hates dancing, but he’s made a promise and now he’s stuck. When things start to heat up, on and off the dance floor, he’ll do just about anything to keep the music playing. How will he transition from protector to boyfriend material? Or will he always be in the friend zone?

Maggie might have a few secrets that’ll turn Blue inside out, but nothing ever comes easy, especially not in Dove Grey.

Have you read the other books in the series?
All Cowboy and Charm is FREE!

Wipe your chin means "shut up" :)

And one of my faves... Wrinkled his spine (a horse bucking)

They Really Like Me! I hope. By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

 Most writers, by nature, are hideously insecure. Think about it. We work alone, trusting only our fickle imagination. If we’re pursuing an agent or a deal with a big publishing house, chances are good we will be rejected time and again.
In my case, years.

Self-publishing gives writers another avenue to reach readers, but the self-doubt continues. A 1* review bruises any ego we have left after we hit publish. And if no one buys our work, there’s another low blow to the self-esteem. What made us think we could write a book readers would pay good money for? Who do we think we are, anyway?

We try to pump ourselves.  Convince ourselves we’re in good company. After all, the best of the best also had their share of criticism and rejection.  

 -Rudyard Kipling: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.

-Emily Dickinson: [Your poems] are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.

-Ernest Hemingway (regarding The Torrents of Spring): It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.

But even if we’re lucky enough to taste a modicum of success, self-doubt continues to rear its taunting head. We’re a fake. An imposter. That book was a fluke. The next one will never be as good. Fans will hate it.

And thus continues the writer’s roller coaster of fear and loathing, celebration and success. Through it all, we keep writing, living for the crumbs of praise and validation to come our way.

Then, out of the blue, you get a letter like this:

“Thanks so much for sharing your talent with us. I enjoy your books so much.”

And this happens.

5* "This set of books was simply captivating. They were the perfect blend of romance and adventure." Booksprout Review

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

The fact that they like me gets backed up by sales. Right now I’m on a peak. No doubt the next release will cut me down to size really fast.

If you enjoy box sets about Mail Order Brides in the Old West, Here Come the Brides Volume 1 and 2 are also in KU.

And if you happen to be hankering after a way to cool down during summer's heat, here's a selection of Christmas in July Sweet Christmas Reads.  Mail Order Noelle has been discounted this week for the sale.

USA Today Bestselling Author Kathleen Lawless blames a misspent youth watching Rawhide, Maverick and Bonanza for her fascination with cowboys, which doesn’t stop her from creating a wide variety of interests and occupations for her many alpha male heroes.   

With nearly 50 published novels to her credit, she enjoys pushing the boundaries of traditional romance into historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense and women’s fiction.     

She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest and loves to hear from her readers.

Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Newsletter to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers.



Monday, July 18, 2022

For the love of Romance

Once upon a time.....
That is how it all begins. We first fall in love with fairy tales and happily ever after. Our love for story telling grows into "it was a dark and stormy night". 
From fairy tales we branch out to our favorite genre. Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, and more. I fell in love with romance. Western romance specifically.

The very first romance book I read was Apachee Caress when I was about 12. Took it from my mom's shelf and snuck to my room to read it. Loved it. And I read the rest of Georgina Genty's Panorama of the West Series.

  Do you remember your first romance book? Share in the comments.

Then came Betty Brooks. I loved her books as well and read them all. (Exept one that I am searching for)

Then I discovered Victotia Thompson and Jodi Thomas. And my own desire to write took over. I was passionate about telling stories of strong people in the Wild West.


What I loved most about these authors and the way they wrote their books is that they all tie together in some way. Characters from other books appear throughout the series. Each title is a stand alone but reading them in order gives the sense of knowing the characters on a deeper level. Several authors added Paranormal elements to their books and I loved it. My books all tie together and many have paranormal elements.
    These amazing authors were my inspiration to start my own writing.
    I've read many, many books since those teenage years, but those books published over 30 years ago are still my favorite ones. I have every book of every series (except that one elusive Betty Brooks book) on my shelves in my office. A constant reminder of my original inspiration. 

      Outlaw’s Redemption is the first book in the Wild Love Series. The second generation of my Rimrock characters. The families of the Rimrock Series span three generations so far. I love the familiarity of the characters I’ve spent the last 25ish years writing about.