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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Calling - Christian Western - Coming from PRP April 1, 2014

Hello everyone!

Well my name is Sara Barnard and I have been writing for publication since my husband's last deployment to Afghanistan in 2009-2010. During that time, I relied on my BA in history and wrote my debut novel -- A Heart on Hold.

Top 3 Finalist for the 2012 Best of American Historical Fiction RONE award

I began this book in Texas, wrote on it through our PCS to Fort Carson, Colorado, and finally finished it when we arrived at our last duty station in Fort Sill, OK. Now, he is out of the military we live back in Odessa, Texas with our four beautiful, smart, silly children ... with our slew of rescue animals. As we navigated the Army lifestyle, we adopted two dogs from the pound in Italy, one from a high-kill shelter in Texas, then another adopted us this Christmas here in Odessa. Our cat, Belle, we adopted from a military family who was tired of her in Colorado and Tom, a stray Oklahoma tomcat, adopted us at Fort Sill.

Contender for the 2013 Best of American Historical Fiction RONE award

As we were acquiring all of our animals and babies, A Heart on Hold turned into book 1 of An Everlasting Heart series from 5 Prince Publishing. Since then, A Heart Broken and A Heart at Home(books 2 and 3) have been published and book 4, A Heart Forever Wild, will release April 2.

Reader's Choice Medalist
In addition to writing historical military romance books, I have an Amish Romance available, too.Rebekah's Quilt was "born" in November 2013.

Contender for Best of 2013 Inspirational Fiction RONE award

Reader's Choice Medalist
I also write for children. Two of my children books are published through 5 Prince Kids -- Chunky Sugars and Little Spoon. Chunky Sugars was written at a stoplight for my youngest, and chunkiest, son, Lil' Bit. Little Spoon was written for my oldest son, Logan, who wants to be a chef and an Indian when he grows up.

Reader's Choice Medalist

#1 Nature Book for Kids
Reader's Choice Medalist
#1 Wolf Book for Kids
Reader's Choice Medalist
Back before I was a wife and a mommy and an author, I volunteered my summers with the Park Service and Forest Service through the Student Conservation Association. In doing this, I was privileged enough to live in some of the most beautiful places in the country ... I cut trail through northern New Mexico; counted bats, tracked mountain lions, and relocated rattlesnakes in Carlsbad, New Mexico; and learned to fly small planes in Eagle River, Alaska. A wonderful way to combine a love of the outdoors with parenthood, at least for me, is to write about it. So I began writing a nonfiction series of books for children, designed to get them out from in front of the TV and discovering nature. So, after I partnered with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for the photos and my ABC's of America's Plants books were born. (My love of wolves inspired my Big Bad Wolf book.)
#1 Plant and Flower Book for Kids
Reader's Choice Medalist

Some of my forthcoming works include: 

Rebekah's Dress (Rebekah's Saga, #2) from 5 Prince Publishing

The Calling (Christian Western) from Prairie Rose Publications, April 1

Desperado from 5 Prince Publishing

The ABC's of Arkansas Plants

The ABC's of Really Cool Dinosaurs


I am working toward my Masters of Arts in Medieval European History and am 12 hours in. I also work as an editor for 5 Prince Publishing. It's nice to meet you!! Leave a comment for  a chance to win an autographed copy of my bestselling Amish romance, Rebekah's Quilt!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stagecoaches: Forging the Way West

A stagecoach outside the Twin Falls News
office in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Celia Valentine Yancey, the heroine in Jacquie Rogers’s short story “A Flare of the Heart,” is no half-starved, delicate flower of womanhood. A spinster blessed with a built-in bustle, she heads to Idaho to marry a preacher she’s never met. The journey, by stagecoach, isn't exactly a pleasant introduction to life in the west:

She finally had the stagecoach to herself on the last leg, which was a vast improvement over the fourteen passengers crowded inside and on top of the stage that left from the train station in Winnemucca, Nevada. Unfortunately, this coach also carried luggage and several bags of mail, one of which she had to hold on her lap, along with her own valise. Her trunks had been loaded onto a freight wagon and wouldn’t arrive in Silver City for a week.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The coach lurched, hurtling down the rutted road, and Celia could barely keep herself upright. Gunshots! She dropped in a heap onto the floorboards, praying the driver and messenger fared well.

The coach clattered and rumbled as it lurched about. Bags of mail thudded on her back and mashed her face into the buckle on her valise. She grasped the leg of the center bench, the only thing that was stable, and hung on for dear life. The coach veered side to side, bouncing violently over ruts and washouts.

More gunshots, the horses’ neighs sounding like screams. She gripped the bench leg even tighter as the coach veered around, and heard the loud crack of wood splintering as it tipped, flinging her onto the window, which was now scraping the ground. With another crash just beside her head, boards poked through the coach wall. Piglets squealed and as their box broke, they scrambled into the coach on top of her.

Celia heard more shots, this time much louder and closer. Her heart raced and she felt hot, like she wanted to run, but she was trapped under mail pouches and squealing pigs. They stepped on her head and one of them caught its leg in her bonnet.

Reverend Cheasbro’s mine better be rich. If she lived to see it.

The piglets belong to an incorrigible farmer named Ross Flaherty, who puts an even bigger crimp in Celia’s plans.

A stagecoach in front of the Idaho Hotel in Silver City, Idaho.
Imagine being trapped in an overturned stagecoach with a dozen hungry piglets. As odd as it seems, a shipment of piglets very well might have traveled by stagecoach. Stagecoaches carried not only passengers, but also mail, money, and cargo of all kinds. Drivers often delivered packages much as a modern mail carrier might. They also transacted business for important clients of the stagecoach line.

A few stagecoach facts:

  • The first Concord stagecoach was built in 1827 by the Abbot Downing Company, which improved earlier coach designs by using leather strap braces instead of a spring suspension. The coaches were so sturdy, they usually wore out before they broke down. The company built more than 700 Concord coaches in the twenty years of its existence, selling its products not only to lines in the U.S., but also in Australia, South America, and Africa.

  • In 1827, Boston served as a hub for 77 stagecoach lines. By 1832, the number had grown to 106.

  • The U.S. government authorized the first transcontinental overland mail route in 1857. By federal law, the stagecoaches that ran the route were required to transport supplies, mail, and passengers from the Mississippi River to San Francisco, safely, in twenty-five or fewer days.

  • The Butterfield Overland Express won the first federal contract for transcontinental stagecoach delivery: a six-year, $600,000 job. In 1858, John Butterfield established two starting points: Tipton, Missouri (near St. Louis) and Memphis, Tennessee. The trails converged at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and then proceeded through Arkansas, Texas, and the New Mexico Territory to California. Covering approximately 2,812 miles, the Butterfield Trail was the longest stagecoach line in history. The service ran only until the Civil War began in 1861.

  • Charley Parkhurst may have been the most famous stagecoach driver in history. So tough that bandits would not attack his stages, he became a legend in his own lifetime. But Charley had a secret: He was born a woman. After living as a man for 55 years (from the age of 12), he died of cancer in December 1879. Only when friends laid out his body after his death was his genetic identity discovered.
Concord stage with military guard riding on top, ca. 1869.
(U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

 Piglets, outlaws, and a farmer who’s much more than he seems beset poor Celia all the way through “A Flare of the Heart.” She gives as good as she gets. Read her story and eight other western historical romances in Hearts and Spurs, available in print and ebook at your favorite online bookstore.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Show Me Your Badge: Texas Ranger ID

In Livia J. Washburn’s short story “Guarding Her Heart,” hero Grant Stafford is a shotgun guard on a stagecoach. Grant is no ordinary guard, though:
The driver said, “Are you nervous about your first trip ridin’ shotgun, son?”

“No, not really,” Grant replied. His gaze roamed constantly over the landscape as he searched for signs of danger.

What he saw was a wide sweep of mostly ranching country, cut through with stretches of badlands and dotted with low mesas. At this time of year, the middle of February, it was drab and gloomy, but in a few months, once the weather started to warm up and the wildflowers popped out, it would be a sea of color, beautiful for a time…before the heat of summer set in and turned much of the vegetation sere and brown.

But the really important thing, Grant thought, was that the rugged terrain offered plenty of hiding places for outlaws to lie in wait for a passing stagecoach. Such holdups had occurred all too often on this run in recent months.

And that was why he’d been sent here by the Texas Rangers—to put a stop to it.

Later on, Grant is required to prove who he is, so he whips out an iconic badge.

If you had been in the crowd, would you have recognized Grant’s badge? Test your knowledge: Which of the alleged Texas Ranger badges below are genuine? Pick one from each set. (All images are ©Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas, and are used with permission. All Rights Reserved.)

Set 1

©TRHFM, Waco, TX
©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: The right-hand badge, dated 1889, is the earliest authenticated Texas Ranger badge in the collection of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Badges weren’t standard issue for Rangers until 1935, although from 1874 onward, individual Rangers sometimes commissioned badges from jewelers or gunsmiths, who made them from Mexican coins. Relatively few Rangers wore a badge out in the open. As for the item on the left? There’s no such thing as a “Texas Ranger Special Agent.”

Set 2

©TRHFM, Waco, TX
©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: On the left is an official shield-type badge issued between 1938 and 1957. Ranger captains received gold badges; the shields issued to lower ranks were silver. The badge on the right is a fake, though similar authentic badges exist.

Set 3

©TRHFM, Waco, TX
©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: The left-hand badge was the official badge of the Rangers from July 1957 to October 1962. Called the “blue bottle cap badge,” the solid, “modernized” design was universally reviled. The right-hand badge is a fake. According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, “No genuine Texas Ranger badges are known to exist with ‘Frontier Battalion’ engraved on them.”

Set 4

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: The badge on the right, called the “wagon wheel badge,” has been the official Texas Ranger badge since October 1962. Each is made from a Mexican five-peso silver coin. The badge on the left is a “fantasy badge.” According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the most common designation on such badges is “Co. A.”

How did you do? Don’t feel badly if you couldn’t tell the legitimate badges from the fakes. Texas Ranger badges are a hot commodity in the collectibles market. The problem? The vast majority of items marketed as genuine Texas Ranger badges are reproductions, facsimiles, or toys. Very few legitimate badges exist outside museums and family collections, and those that do hardly ever are sold. There’s a very good reason for that: Manufacturing, possessing, or selling Texas Ranger insignia, even fakes that are “deceptively similar” to the real thing, can violate Texas law except in specific circumstances.

According to Byron A. Johnson, executive director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum (the official historical center of the Texas Ranger law-enforcement agency), “Spurious badges and fraudulent representation or transactions connected with them date back to the 1950s and are increasing. We receive anywhere from 10 to 30 inquiries a month on badges, the majority connected with sales on eBay.”

For more information about the Texas Rangers—including the history of the organization, biographical sketches of individual Rangers, and all kinds of information about badges and other insignia—visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum online at The museum and its staff have our utmost gratitude for their assistance with this post.

To see how fictional Texas Ranger Grant Stafford and his heroine, Julia Courtland, get themselves out of one heckuva mess involving outlaws, lawmen, and a stagecoach wreck, read “Guarding Her Heart” in Hearts and Spurs. The collection of nine Valentine’s Day tales by nine western romance authors is available in print and ebook at your favorite online bookstore.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Telling the Villain's Story

 By Kathleen Rice Adams

Bad boys of the Old West — they’re endlessly fascinating. Why is that? Maybe it’s because they lived such bold, flash-in-the-pan lives, as untamed as the land they roamed. Some have become such mythic figures, it’s difficult to tell fact from fiction. True or not, their legends live on ... and in some cases, so do the last or near-last words that — in strange, sad ways — defined their short, reckless lives.

Bits and pieces like the ones below bring real-life villains to life and sometimes provide insight into the men behind the myths. Still, I often find myself wondering “who were these guys?” Had I been a contemporary, would I have seen the same life historians recorded? Or would the real person have been astoundingly different from what we think we know 100 years later?

All of the bad guys below had parents, grandparents, siblings. Some had wives and children. One, “Deacon Jim” Miller (also known as “Killer Jim Miller”) was a pillar of the church and his community ... when he wasn’t eliminating someone for money. I’ve written about several of them, and I provided links to those posts for those who are interested in learning more.

As an author of historical fiction, part of my job is to entertain, but I believe there’s another, equally important part, as well: getting the facts straight — or as close to straight as I’m able. Of course, fiction isn’t fact, and no fiction author worth his or her salt lets facts get in the way of a good story. Nevertheless, studying the past and the kinds of people about whom we write is almost a sacred trust for many of us who write historical fiction. Only by familiarizing ourselves with the larger-than-life and the mundane can we give any authority or verisimilitude to the lives we create.

As the writerly saying goes, “Even the villain is the hero of his own life story.” Maybe that’s why I spend so much time researching bad boys ... and why the heroes in my stories so often are outlaws, even when they wear badges. After all, somebody has to tell the villains’ life stories, right?

I deserve this fate. It is a debt I owe for my wild, reckless life.
Wild Bill Longley, age 27; hanged for the murder of a childhood friend in Giddings, Texas, Oct. 11, 1878

Aw, go to Hell you long-legged son-of-a-bitch.
—Tom O’Folliard (rustler and best friend of Billy the Kid), age 22, to Sheriff Pat Garrett shortly after Garrett mortally wounded him during a manhunt near Fort Sumner, New Mexico, Dec. 19, 1880

I'm not afraid to die like a man fighting, but I would not like to be killed like a dog unarmed.
—Billy the Kid, age 21, in a March 1879 letter to New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace (the Kid was shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, July 14, 1881)

Can’t you hurry this up a bit? I hear they eat dinner in Hades at twelve sharp, and I don’t aim to be late.
Black Jack Ketchum, age 37, decapitated during hanging for train robbery, Clayton, New Mexico, April 26, 1901

Killing men is my specialty. I look at it as a business proposition, and I think I have a corner on the market.
—Tom Horn (Pinkerton detective turned assassin), one day shy of 43; hanged for the murder of a 14-year-old boy in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Nov. 20, 1903

Let the record show I’ve killed 51 men. Let ’er rip.
“Deacon Jim” Miller, age 42, professional assassin, lynched for the contract killing of a former U.S. marshal in Ada, Oklahoma, April 19, 1909

I love it [the bandit life]. It is wild with adventure.
—Henry Starr, age 53, shortly before he was shot during an attempted bank robbery in Harrison, Arkansas, on Feb. 18, 1921 (He died four days later.)

Image credits
Black Jack Ketchum: University of New Mexico
Tom Horn at the Cheyenne Jail, 1902: Wyoming State Archives
Henry Starr: University of Arkansas, Little Rock

Bad boys, good guys, and everything in between line the pages of Prairie Rose Publications' two anthologies, Hearts and Spurs and Wishing for a Cowboy. Both are available in print and ebook at your favorite online bookstore.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Painted Pony Books Presents A 'New Adult' Novel - Fly Away Heart by Sarah J. McNeal

Lilith Wilding can't remember a time when she didn't love the English born Robin Pierpont, but she knows he loves another so she hides her feelings beneath a hard veneer of self-protection.

Robin Pierpont dreams of flying airplanes and winning the heart of the one he loves, but when he gets involved in illegal rum running to help a friend, those dreams seem to turn into just a fantasy. When he is called upon to face his worst fear to save Lilith's life, his fate may be sealed in death.

About the author:
Sarah McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western, contemporary and historical fiction. Sarah is a retired critical care/ER nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily and Liberty. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery, Victory Tales Press, Western Trail Blazer and Prairie Rose Publications. She welcomes you to her website at 

Amazon Trade Paperback Link $8.99 on sale today $8.03

Amazon Kindle $2.99

B&N Nook $2.99

Smashwords  $2.99

Friday, January 24, 2014


We’ve talked some in the past about backstory, but I thought it would be interesting to look at why we choose the backstory we do to create our “front story”—or what the main thrust of the novel is about. A backstory does lots of things for our setting, plot and characters.

Why do we choose the particular backstory we decide to use to create our setting? For me, the backstory must bring the setting to life to show why the characters were so affected by what has happened in their pasts.

A male character, our protagonist, that is “tall, dark, and handsome,” could be one of any type of characters in any time period—until we create his backstory. Of course, the backstory shapes his character in the plot of the book, but the setting is such an integral part of the equation that it would be hard to say what’s more important to your character’s development: where he came from, or where he’s going.

Here’s an example of what I mean. In my novel, Fire Eyes, the hero, Kaed Turner, has been denied a family by one twist of fate or another since he was a small boy. His parents were killed when he was eight by the Apache, and though he was kept with his sister and brother by first the Apache, then the Choctaw, they were so much younger than he that they quickly forgot what he felt compelled to remember—the deaths of their parents, and their lives before.

He loses his young Choctaw wife and their two children, ironically, to a group of white men who don’t want Indians to settle in the community where he’s built his house.

So, there is no room in his heart to totally embrace the ways of the Indians, but he is being shown physically that he is unwelcome now in the white world. This is further illustrated when Fallon’s band captures him and tries to kill him, but he is saved by the Choctaws. Where does he belong?

Could Fire Eyes have happened the way it did if Kaed’s backstory hadn’t included these incidents? No. The entire feel of the character would have been changed if he had not had these experiences. And to show his growth in the frontstory, we have to show what happened to him before. The setting is indispensable in shaping all the other elements of the story, in this case. Kaed has come from rough beginnings due to the things that happened to him that were beyond his control. Now, what kind of man will it make him?

Could these things have happened to him in any other setting? No. When we begin to delve into the history that is pertinent to a particular area and/or time period, there are certain events that have happened that are unique to both time and place. Just as the events of history shape the setting your story takes place in, those same happenings also shape your characters both directly and indirectly.

How much description of the setting do we need in the backstory to set the scene? And how do we deliver it?

In Fire Eyes, we know none of the facts about Kaed’s upbringing at the beginning of the story. In chapter one, when he sees he must give himself up to save the two Choctaw girls, we begin to realize that he knows them, and therefore, has an affiliation with the Choctaws. It isn’t until later, even after the Choctaws rescue him, that it comes out as to why he knows Standing Bear, the chief, and what happened to him as a child. Even later in the story, we learn of the tragedy that happened to his own young family ten years past.

In creating a world we are not familiar with, such as in science fiction or fantasy writing, more of the backstory must be told in the beginning. The stage must be set, and in order to let us know about the world that has been created, more description has to be given toward the front part of the book rather than waiting.

Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series would have made no sense without some description of the world and customs, the people and landscape he created. The same with Tolkien’s world, and even the Harry Potter books, which are a mix of a created world and one we are familiar with.

Letting the setting affect your character is easier than you might think—it’s really inevitable. Even if your novel is set in contemporary times, the city, state or country and even the matter of picking a rural or urban setting will make a huge difference in your characters and your story overall. Was your hero raised on a ranch or was he a city boy? This will definitely determine his reactions the first time his new love interest suggests they go riding next weekend.

(I know, it's contemporary, but this novel really illustrates tying backstory to the setting and boy, is there a "tall, dark and handsome" Indian undercover detective in it, tough as they come, with a saucy heroine.)

How much should your reader know? Not as much as you, the author, does. The art of backstory and description of the setting is in doing it interestingly and seamlessly. Dumping all the information on the reader at once will prove overwhelming.

The saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” Blending your setting, characters, and plot successfully in the backstory of your novel proves the truth of that statement!

In the excerpt below, Kaed talks to Jessica about what happened to his parents and his brother and sister. He is showing us why he feels like he does now, his fears at trying to hold on to family of any kind, after what happened. What we don’t know yet, is the rest of the story about what happened ten years ago, to his wife and children. This is a kind of turning point for Kaed. Will he let events, the setting of his life in the past, shape him? Or will he try again—will he be strong enough to risk everything one more time and shape the setting that is yet to come, the future?


“Family seems to be a hard thing for me to hold on to.” He shifted, and Jessica moved to lay her head on his shoulder. Her long hair trailed across his bare chest, and he felt her breathe slowly, relaxing in his embrace. “I lost my parents when I was eight.”

“It still hurts, doesn’t it?” Jessica laid her hand across his side, tracing his ribs.

He drew a long breath, and spoke quietly. “Yeah. I guess it does.”

“What happened?”

“My father was determined to have some bottom land to farm. Never mind that the place he selected was unprotected, away from the rest of the small settlement there in Cale Switch. The land was good, and it was what he wanted. But the Apache saw an easy target. They came in the night and took us. My younger brother, Kevin; my sister, Marissa; and me.”

“They killed your parents?” Her voice was hesitant, and Kaed was silent for a moment before he responded.

“My father tried to stop them. He just couldn’t defend us against so many. They killed him, then my mother, and took their scalps.”

At her sharp intake of breath, Kaed stroked Jessica’s long hair. “Barbaric?” he asked, reading her thoughts easily.

She nodded her head against him. “I’ve been afraid of the Indians ever since we came here.”

Kaed smiled at this admission. “Standing Bear won’t hurt you, sweetheart. The Choctaws aren’t as—”


“Taking scalps was a practice the Indians learned from the Europeans, Jess. Barbaric, cruel—yes. But remember, they only fought back using the methods the white men used first.” He cupped her chin and she raised her eyes to his. “You can trust Standing Bear.”

“That’s what he told me about you.”

Kaed grinned. “He knows me pretty well. After the Apache had had us for a year or so, he bartered for the three of us. We lived with the Choctaw after that. I left when I was seventeen. Kevin and Marissa were so young, the way of the People is all they knew.”

“They stayed with the tribe? Even when they had a choice?”

“It’s how they were raised. Kevin was only five when we were taken; Marissa was two.” He was silent a moment. “I was the only one old enough to remember.”

“Do you ever see them?”

“I walk in both worlds, Jessi. I come and go freely in the Choctaw camp. Kevin and Marissa are married and have families. They’re both more Choctaw than white by the way they’ve been raised. I lost them to a way of life I couldn’t fully embrace. I guess it’s harder for me, because I remember our parents, our home.” He shook his head and felt her fingers moving gently, absently, over his bronze skin.

“I wondered how he knew you. Standing Bear, I mean.” Jessica lifted her head and met his eyes. “You’re like a son to him, aren’t you?”

“I’ll never think of him as my father, but he saved us from the Apache.” He smiled caustically. “They’re a pretty rough bunch. The Choctaws are reasonable, at least. I owe him for what he did. Can’t ever repay that.”

“He’s a good man. He raised a good man.” She kissed his side. “Whether you want to think of him as your father or not, it seems he did what he could to do right for you.”

I will be giving away a print copy of FIRE EYES to one lucky commenter today! Please be sure to leave your contact information in your comment! Thanks so much for coming by.

If you just can't wait to see if you won, here's the Amazon KINDLE link:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cowboys and...Nuns?

By Kathleen Rice Adams

An early re-enactment of the 1869 journey from
Galveston to San Antonio undertaken by three Sisters of
Charity of the Incarnate Word. The journey resulted
in the formation of what is today the largest congregation
of women religious in Texas.
What's the first mental image you snag when someone mentions the Old West? I'll bet nuns aren't even in your mental-image library.

Perhaps they should be. Nuns played a surprisingly large role in civilizing the frontier. In fact, one congregation of women religious built orphanages, hospitals, and schools from Texas to California. The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, founded in 1866 in Galveston, Texas, by three French nuns invited to America by the Catholic bishop of Texas's only diocese, suffered hardship, disease, and a devastating hurricane. They persevered, though, taming the West with faith instead of guns. Today, the San Antonio congregation is the largest in the state. In addition to Texas, the sisters operate benevolent missions across the U.S. and in Ireland, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Kenya.

I admire the fortitude of these women. Imagine braving Indians, outlaws, and all sorts of natural hazards to spread healthcare, education, and comfort in big cities and remote outposts across an untamed land. Would you have had the backbone for such an adventure? I'm not sure I would have.

Two postulants from the Congregation of the Incarnate Word
in San Antonio, Texas, ca. 1890. (courtesy University of
Texas at San Antonio’s Institute of Texan Cultures)
Available in print and
most e-formats at an
online bookstore near you.
As it turned out, neither did Sister María Tomás, who thought she wanted to become a nun only to discover dreams and reality sometimes diverge. Her decision to leave the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word proved fortunate for ex-Texas Ranger Quinn Barclay, a man of violence with a shattered dream of his own. Together, they forge a new reality among the ashes of a burned-out border town in "The Second-Best Ranger in Texas," my contribution to the Prairie Rose anthology Hearts and Spurs. Eight other authors contributed heart-warming stories, too. Brimming with charm and historical research, each tale leaves no doubt Cupid is a cowboy, and he's playing for keeps.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Writers Are A Dotty Lot by @JacquieRogers #historicalromance

Writers are a dotty lot. Even the ones who try to act cool. I bet not one single Prairie Rose author will disagree.

You see, we have these people living in our brains and they do the darnedest things. Whether we have the authorly bent or not, we’re forced to write their stories, else the men in white coats would whisk us away. Some days, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

Did you ever wonder how characters come out of our heads and make stories? Most of us have no idea—they’re just there.

I’m in the early process of creating three stories right now—a novel, the fifth in my Hearts of Owyhee series, a short story for Prairie Rose Press, and a novella for my Muleskinners series. Of the three, I’m acquainted with the characters in the Muleskinners best, so they’re the quietest. In a manner of speaking.

Okay, so that’s not true. The first story, Muleskinners: Judge Not, was published in Wolf Creek, Book 6: Hell on the Prairie. It’s in Elsie’s first-person point of view. The second story is her brother Zeb’s. He wants to tell it in his first-person point of view, but Elsie thinks it should stay in hers, since she’s the star of the show. Zeb says the only reason she’s the star is because she hogs the stage, and points out that he has the gift of gab, not her. She then says that if he tells the story, it’ll be a full-blown novel and not a novella.

I’m not sure who’s going to win that argument, but at least that story has some semblance of a plot. No title yet, though. Look for Zeb’s story, however it’s told, sometime in May—unless they stop arguing and I can get to it now.

The short story for Prairie Rose Publications’ Lassoing the Groom is nebulous at best. I have four or five female characters who all insist they should get the lead part. If they knew who I had in mind for the male lead, there’d be a dozen of ’em lined up, so I’m not saying. But he’s a bad boy. A very, very baaaad boy.

He’s been yammering in my ear, too. Frankly, I’m gonna have to lasso him myself because he isn’t a bit interested in starring in this story or any other. He has places to go and trains to... well, never mind, and he’s not keen on a high profile. But man-oh-man, you should see the shoulders on that fellow. Sigh.

I’m also in the process of defining the characters for my next novel, Much Ado About Mustangs. The hero is no stranger—Josh McKinnon is Kade’s (Much Ado About Miners) brother. So he’s been around, and he got shot in the arm the last book, so he’s still recovering at the beginning of this one. Josh is a great guy, which means I’ll have to throw a few obstacles in his way. One of them is Lady Pearl Montford. Yes, methinks a good time will be had by all, except maybe Josh and Pearl—but hey, it’s a romance.

My story in Hearts and Spurs, A Flare of the Heart, began when I saw a picture of an 1880s woman boarding a stagecoach. Hmmm, that bustle. Wouldn’t it get in the way? And wouldn’t those of us with oversized cabooses love it if bustles were the rage today? Because I wouldn’t need one at all. And what if the heroine got stuck?

I’m not kidding—the whole story came from that one thought, right along with the hero, Ross Flaherty. He’s sworn off women because they’re too delicate. Celia Yancey and her bustle come along, bringing a passel of trouble with her. Yes, we had fun. I hope you do, too.

What is it about a character that makes you remember her/him long after you’re finished with a book? Comment and win a Kindle copy of Sleight of Heart. No, I haven’t mentioned it, but it also has a bunch of characters that kept me hopping.

I'll also be giving away a copy of Much Ado About Miners to a subscriber of my newsletter, The Pickle Barrel Gazette.  And for a good time, join the crazy crowd at Pickle Barrel Bar & Books on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bad Boys and The Women They Love

Hi, I'm Linda Broday! Very happy to blog here today. 

I’ve never written anything except alpha heroes and I’m quite content. I guess that’s because I prefer alpha men in real life. Both of my husbands were alphas. They've since left this earth. They didn’t take too much off anyone but inside were gentle men with big hearts. They loved their children and animals.

Bad boy heroes are all alpha. They’re always going to be in the thick of things, not standing on the sidelines watching. They have definite ideas about what is right and fair and just. They’re not afraid to say what they think. And if they say something, you can take it to the bank.

They’re usually slow to anger. When they do, you’d better watch out because it’ll erupt with a fury.

Strangely, these men not afraid to show love. Just don’t expect them to wait around on some woman to catch them though. They have places to go and things to see. They’re quite independent because that’s how they roll.

A bad boy hero lives for danger. In fact you can say he thrives on it. He's tough both mentally and physically.

In my story The Widow’s Heart in the Hearts and Spurs anthology, Cade Coltrain is a bad boy hero. He went West looking for adventure. He wound up a hired gun then through no fault of his own became a wanted man on the run. Though he’s had to kill to survive, he abhors taking a human life. He’s a wounded hero with plenty of demons. He’s so weary of it all but doesn’t see any way of changing it. When he meets up with Skye O’Rourke he begins to think of the permanence of a family. He wants to share a life with her and raise a crop of kids.

Skye carries a weariness all the way down to her bones. She wants to be a woman again, someone cherished. To feel the touch of a hand running over her body. When Cade emerges from the shimmering desert heat, she thinks she’s going mad. Yet when she discovers he’s flesh and bone, she struggles with the thought that he might abandon her again like he’d done before. Trusting him isn’t easy. Not even when he says all the right words. 

When I was asked to write this short story for Prairie Rose Publications, I was thrilled. Skye's story immediately came to me and it was so compelling I wasn't able to sleep. She wouldn't let me sleep until I got the biggest part of it down on paper. Quite a slave-driver, I tell you. And she even introduced Cade to me, for which I'm very grateful.

I'm giving away a $25 Amazon e-gift card to one commenter.

For those who don't know me, I'm a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author. I've published three full-length western historical romance novels, one of which won the National Readers' Choice Award. I've also published seven short stories. I've been contracted to write three full-length books with Sourcebooks Publishing that I'm calling my Bachelors of Battle Creek series. The first one, The Texas Mail-Order Bride, will release in January 2015. Be watching for it.

In the meantime, I'd love it if you'd content yourself with HEARTS AND SPURS. Then sit back and enjoy "The Widow's Heart" all these other wonderful stories. 

For more information about me or my books visit: