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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Painted Pony Books Presents Duster by Frank Roderus

Duster Dorword's adventure of being part of a cattle drive is almost the death of him. Will he survive the harsh trail life, Mexican bandits, and a kidnapping? Rescue comes from the most unlikely place--but will it come in time?

Set in Texas after the Civil War, this is an unpretentious, leisurely western about a callow young rancher's first cattle drive. Though discursive and overlong, Duster creeps up on the reader's affections, and the story ends in a violent, gripping climax. Especially effective are Duster's encounters with bandits, traders and farmers, and his droll accounts of his many foolish predicaments. The author's sympathies for Mexicans and "gringos," as well as for both experience and youth, are gracefully balanced; but it's his knowledge of the country and ranching life that distinguish the book. 


BY A COUPLE of years after the war was over, most everybody had come straggling back home; and by that time, we just had to figure Pa wasn't coming back. We hadn't had word of him since Tim Jenkins came back from Vicksburg in '63 with a chunk tore out of his back end by a Yankee minie ball—one of them that was rigged to blow up after it hit. That Yankee ball had lit in Tim's hind end and then cut loose. Tim always did sit a horse funny after that.
Anyway, Pa had sent us a howdy by way of Tim and a wad of grayback scrip that he hadn't found any takers for out east and that he figured we might be able to spend back home in Texas. That was the last word we had.
Not that I'm complaining. We'd been used to making do for a long while, and we always figured we would make out the best we could with whatever tools the good Lord laid up at our doorstep. That was the way Pa had always done—showing us more than telling us but making it stick just the same.
It wasn't that we didn't love Pa or didn't want him back. We did. But Ma said that wanting wasn't getting and we had best plan on doing for ourselves instead of waiting around and letting the home place run down.
I had been doing what I could all along since early in '62 when Pa went off with his blanket and brush knife and that big old Walker Colt that he favored.
At the time, I was just nine years old and not even able to hold up that Walker with one hand. But since I was the oldest and the biggest, Pa give me a pert little grulla gelding for my own and give me a man's rope to work with. The grulla was nice, but us kids could most always find a horse of some sort to crawl up on. What really made me feel growed was that rope.
It was a grown man's rope, not just a piece of cast-off leavings like I'd played with from the time I could make a fist around a solid hunk of something. It was Pa's own rope, braided up for him out of four-strand rawhide by Pico Menendez, all of twenty-five feet long like the brush poppers preferred, and with a metal ring honda.
I had worked that rope until I was a pretty fair hand with it. By the time 1868 rolled in on us I could throw a mangana most every time, and I was able to slip a peal onto a calf maybe one time in three. I'd been bringing calves in to home ever since Pa left so we could gentle down those ornery brush cow mamas and steal a little milk for the small fry.
I had grown considerable in that time, too. Like Pa, I never will be what you'd call tall, but I had strung out some and was showing his kind of stringy, slung-together muscle that marks us Dorword men. I guess I looked a sight then in my homespun shirt and britches and the big straw hat Ma had made herself out of stuff we had on hand. The only store-bought things I owned was a pocketknife and my bandanna, and even that was black since the red and the blue ones was in more demand and could be got rid of easier. Mr. James, the storekeeper in Dog Town, let me have my black bandanna cheap since they weren't popular. Even my galluses were made at home, and I'd carved the buttons for my britches out of some wood scraps. I had a ragtag sort of coat made out of an old blanket, too, though I never liked to wear it when there were other folks about.
To top it all off, my hair stayed pretty much down toward the bottom of my ears no matter how much Ma prodded at me to let her cut on it, and my face still run some to freckles.
It was about that time, though, that I figured I oughta quit strutting in front of the little kids in our own family and set out to being the boss of our place for sure.

Buy Now: Amazon Kindle,  Trade Paperback,  B&N Nook,  Smashwords

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pets & People--It Takes a Village to Make a Story by @JacquieRogers

Animals as Chararacters
by Jacquie Rogers

Humans have domesticated animals to have as pets around the campfire for thousands of years.  The tame wolf made a fine watchdog.  Not sure who was brave enough to tame the first cat, though.

The first interaction between humans an animals was purely for food (yes, they ate each other) and skins (only humans skinned their prey and wore them).  Later, people learned they could raise a herd of cattle and not have to go hunting for them.  And bonus!  Milk.  If you've ever seen wild cow milking contest at a rodeo, you'd think the first brave soul who milked a cow must have been a bit on the barmy side.  You notice not a whole lot of people milk pigs.  They bite.  Goats are smaller so more manageable.  And so it goes--milk the girls and eat the boys.

And then there are the transportation animals, camels, burros, and horses.  Plus the working animals--yaks, water buffalo, oxen, horses, donkeys, and mules.  
Until the late 1800s, animals provided for most of our needs.  These days, many people have pets but have no idea what a working animal is all about.  One thing we haven't lost, though, is that connection.

And that's why there are animals in nearly all my books and stories.  It all started off with my first novel, Down Home Ever Lovin' Mule Blues.  I tried to write a book for Harlequin but the story bored me.  One night, I dreamed Socrates the mule, and now he's the star of that book.  Socrates knows what's right for his human, Brody Alexander, and in collusion with the other animals--an Australian Shepherd named Perseus and a skunk named Guinnevere, sets out to bring Rita into Brody's life whether he wants it to happen or not.

Then there's Much Ado About Marshals, where Daisy's little brother's dog, Periwinkle, gets into all sorts of trouble.  In Much Ado About Mavericks, the heroine collects strays--both kids and dogs, and in Much Ado about Miners, the hero has an attack cat, Duke.

In my Muleskinners series (not a series yet because only one story is written, but still...) the eight draft mules steal the show.  There's a bossy chicken in A Gift for Rhoda, a story in Prairie Rose Publication's Wishing for a Cowboy, and of course in A Flare of the Heart (Hearts and Spurs), Celia has to contend with a dozen baby pigs.  

So that's what you'll find in my stories--dogs, cats, and any number of barnyard animals.  Stories are a slice of life and I grew up on a farm, so animals are a part of my world.  And that's why they're in my stories.

I've read several times that writers use animals to show character.  My animals are characters.

What's your favorite story animal?  I'm rather partial to Puss 'n Boots in Shrek. 

Hearts of Owyhee series, ♦♣ Sleight of Heart ♠♥
'Twas the Fight Before Christmas (Wolf Creek, Book 9: A Wolf Creek Christmas)
A Gift for Rhoda (Wishing for a Cowboy) | A Flare of the Heart (Hearts and Spurs)

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Calling coming April 2014

Hi everyone! Thanks for having me back to the blog :-)

I wanted to talk a little bit about my forthcoming Christian western titled THE CALLING.

Esau Fitzpatrick is bad at being good and even worse at being bad. While he waits for his sweetheart, Ella Allen, inside the little white church in Paisley Settlement, Texas, Esau has no idea that the events about to transpire will forever shape his life on this earth . . . and beyond. Upon hearing tale that Ella and her parents are late to services due to a stuck wagon, Esau fingers the golden wedding band in his pocket and decides to brave the brewing storm in order to help the woman he loves – and whom he plans to propose that very day. Before he can exit the church, the storm erupts and lightning strikes, setting the church aflame. Ella and her parents pull Esau from the fire, but not before his parents succumb to the blazing inferno.

Thank you Livia for the beautiful cover
Angry at God and distrustful of His plan, Esau flees Paisley Settlement and all he holds dear only to fall in with the first group of people he meets -- notorious Covington-Jones Gang. To them, stickup’s, bank robberies, and parlor houses aren't sins, they’re a way of life. As he journeys down the path that leads only to destruction,  Esau is forced to relive the hellish fire in his nightmares for nights on end, driving him deeper into darkness.

Meanwhile, Ella is left clinging to the golden ring that should have been her engagement band and the prayer that Esau will find his way back to a godly path – and to her. However Ella learns that it is always hard to wait, even when it’s God’s own will, especially with her parents and society pressuring  her to move on to a more appropriate partner. With Esau gone and her world falling to pieces, Ella must lean on God in a way she’s never had to before as she follows her heart against everyone’s wishes.

When Esau’s tumultuous  way of life comes to a head during an epic cattle rustle, he is forced to choose between eternal hell fire and the rocky path of the Lord, without knowing if Ella will still be there waiting for him or not. God reaches out to Esau again in the form of lightening, but will it be too late – or just in time?


Not only have I been a fan of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood since I was a youngster, but Marty Robbins has played a significant role in my upbringing as well. My good ole dad bought me the cd Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs when I was 13 . . . then there was no going back. 

After all, I was already a die-hard Lonesome Dove fan who had done her 6th grade book report on Larry McMurtry's epic novel and who preferred to play shoot-out at pretend wanted posters sketched with a likeness of Blue Duck in the backyard more than just about anything else. But as much as I liked the song The Master's Call, I found myself skipping over it more than listening to it. It gave me chills and that was unnerving. 

It wasn't until my four beautiful babies were born that I opened the window of our home in Oklahoma one morning and something was different on the breeze. It was early summer, the wind was whistling along some of the most historic land of the United States . . . the coffee was hot and it was time to get ready for the day. But there was one thing I had to do first, and I put on my Marty Robbins' cd. I changed the track to The Master's Call and listened to it with my four precious children -- and my entire heart. Here, if you didn't catch it up above, here it is again. 

As we went on about our day, I had my spiral and pen in hand and began work on my novel inspired by the song . . .The Calling. That was almost three years ago. Finally, this April, The Calling is destined to come to life, from my heart to yours.

I hope you enjoy The Calling when it releases April 1st. I have certainly enjoyed writing it for you. It's been a lifetime in the making.

Thanks for stopping by! Comment telling us of a song that has been inspiring for YOU for your chance to win a digital copy of your choice of my books. A selection is available on my website at 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS is open for submissions for stories for our summer anthologies in the historical western romance genre. As of now, two of the anthologies, LASSOING A BRIDE and COWBOY CRAVINGS have both been filled.


LASSOING A BRIDE: This collection of stories will be sweet/sensual. The stories selected for this anthology will have to do with a summer wedding, or courtship leading up to a wedding—by a bride who might not be so willing in the beginning. How is her intended going to “lasso” her and woo her to be his bride? That’s what we want to know, too! Word count for each selection will be around 12K, more or less. We want you to tell a good story and not worry if you run over the word count by a few words. Spots are limited! ALL OPENINGS ARE FILLED IN THIS ANTHOLOGY.

LASSOING A GROOM: This collection of stories will be sweet/sensual. The stories selected for this anthology will have to do with a summer wedding, or courtship leading up to a wedding—by a groom who might not be so willing in the beginning. But as women all know, there’s more than one way to romance a man! Silken bonds and words of love can be just as binding as any lasso. Word count for each selection will be around 12K, more or less. We want you to tell a good story and not worry if you run over the word count by a few words. Spots are limited! OPENINGS ARE STILL AVAILABLE IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!

LASSOING A MAIL-ORDER BRIDE: This collection of stories will be sweet/sensual. The stories selected for this anthology will have to do with a summer wedding, or courtship leading up to a wedding—by a groom who needs a bride and is willing to order one by mail! What circumstances could lead to a man advertising for a bride, sight unseen—and a woman in such dire straits that she travels from her home and everything familiar to marry a man she doesn’t know? There are any number of situations that “might be”—and we’re waiting to see what can happen when love blossoms in the most unlikely circumstances! Word count for each selection will be around 12K, more or less. We want you to tell a good story and not worry if you run over the word count by a few words. Spots are limited! OPENINGS ARE AVAILABLE IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!

COWBOY CRAVINGS: This collection of stories will be spicy/hot. The stories selected for this anthology will definitely take place in the heat of the summer and will feature some hot western men—cowboys, outlaws, lawmen—who will make not only the heroine but the reader crave the happily-ever-after outcome that’s sure to happen! What’s not to love about these strong, tough heroes or bad boys finally getting what THEY crave—a good woman to love! Word count for each selection will be around 12K, more or less. We want you to tell a good story and not worry if you run over the word count by a few words. Spots are limited! ALL OPENINGS ARE FILLED IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!

If you think you might have a story that would fit, please contact Cheryl at:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Past Perfect: Llano, Texas

The Llano County courthouse, built in 1893 and still in use.
By Kathleen Rice Adams

One of the reasons I write western historical fiction is a deep-seated fascination with the people, places, and events that have made the world what it is today. I can spend hours lost in reference books, libraries, museums, out-of-the-way internet sites ... and simply walking the streets of Small Town America, communing with the spirits of the past.

As big as Texas is, people like me can't swing a dead cat without hitting a thoroughly engaging historical tidbit. While researching locations for future stories, I stumble across all sorts of tiny Texas towns that by all rights should have disappeared, yet they soldier on. Llano, Texas, is one such place.

Llano (pronounced LAN-oh) is located in the Texas Hill Country about an hour north of Austin, very near the geographic center of Texas. Founded in response to a legislative act creating Llano County in February 1856, the town was established June 14 of the same year. A public vote under a live oak tree on the south side of the Llano River chose the town's location: a tract of 250 acres donated by a local rancher.

The area boomed from 1886-1893 after iron ore deposits were discovered in nearby Iron Mountain. With high hopes for the future, the Llano Improvement and Furnace Company embarked upon a mission to build an iron furnace and foundry. Land speculators from Dallas and northern states poured into the area with investment money, wanting to be part of "the Pittsburgh of the West." The population soared to 7,000 in 1890, encouraging the Austin and Northwestern Railroad to extend its line to a terminal on the north side of what promised to be a thriving metropolis. Increased access to transportation attracted granite quarrying and finishing companies intent on profiting from the abundance of granite in the surrounding hills.

Then the bubble burst: The iron ore deposits proved insufficient for commercial exploitation, and the Llano Improvement and Furnace Company abandoned its project. The company's withdrawal threw the town's big plans into disarray. Although charters had been sold to construct a dam, an electric power plant, a streetcar system, and electric streetlights, only a small dam and the streetlights were completed. Speculators and local businesses lost fortunes as a result.

A wagon hauls a slab of granite through the streets
of Llano in this undated postcard photo.
A series of fires in the early 1890s, probably set to collect insurance money, destroyed much of the town; consequently, insurance companies refused to provide any coverage in the area for a number of years.

The granite processors remained. Today, Llano's primary industries are farming, ranching, and granite quarrying and finishing. The town's population is roughly 3,000 people except during November and December, when the undisputed "Deer Capital of Texas" overflows with hunters.

Do y'all ever find yourselves swept away by the history of a place? Ever wish you could travel back in time for just a few hours to witness the glory days of a thriving Old West town? Tell us about your favorite spots in the comments!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Do you believe in love at first sight? Can it happen? More importantly, can it last over the long haul of the ups and downs of a relationship?

Throw in a few obstacles from the very first meeting of the hero/heroine, and the relationship becomes even more intriguing.

In my novella, EVERY GIRL’S DREAM, that’s just what happens. (Every Girl's Dream was previously published with Victory Tales Press, and has recently been re-released with Prairie Rose Publications!)

Sheena McTavish, a young Irish girl, has been raped by the son of her father’s employer. Now, with a baby on the way, Sheena is given an unthinkable choice: give her baby to the father’s wealthy family to raise, or travel to New Mexico Territory by stagecoach to live with her aunt and uncle until her child is born. At that point, she will have to place it in a nearby orphanage.

Desperate to buy some time and protect her baby from its father, she chooses to travel west. Alone and afraid, she starts on the journey that will change her life forever. Before Sheena’s stage leaves, she meets handsome Army scout Callen Chandler. The attraction is there, even under difficult conditions.

As the story progresses, Sheena must learn to trust again, and Cal begins to realize he doesn’t have to live the solitary existence he’s endured up to now. Being half Comanche has left him with no place in either world—white or Indian. When Sheena comes along, everything changes…for both of them.



To check out the rest of my work, click here:

I’ll leave you with an excerpt of EVERY GIRL’S DREAM, available now for only $1.99.

Cal is a half-breed U.S. Army scout, who has just rescued Sheena, the heroine, from a Kiowa attack on the stagecoach she was in. They had met briefly the morning before, and as luck would have it, Cal comes upon the stage after the Kiowas have attacked and are getting ready to ride away with Sheena. He tells them he and Sheena are married and the Kiowas reluctantly let him take Sheena, but then…

Cal felt…something. His back tingled as he waited for the stinging burn of a shale arrowhead. He risked a glance backward, and saw the Kiowa leader’s stare heavy upon him.

“Sheena, hold on tight.”

“The baby—”

“I know, sweetheart. We won’t ride hard any longer’n we have to. Lowell’s Ridge is only about four miles away.” A very long four miles.

She nodded in understanding. “I’m sorry, Callen.”

“No call for that.”

“You came for me.”

He smiled at that. There was a small amount of disbelief in her tone, overshadowed by a huge amount of wonder. Who wouldn’t come for her?

“You could be killed because of me,” she said softly, as if she had only just realized it. She laid her hand over his, and in that moment, he wondered if dying for her would be worth the twenty-seven years he’d lived so far.

His heart jumped at her touch, then steadied. But as he risked another glance back, he saw exactly what he’d feared. Two of the braves were mounting up, and they weren’t riding the opposite way. “That still might happen,” he murmured.

He leaned forward, trying to protect Sheena with his body as he slapped the reins against the horse’s side, urging him into a lope, then a full-out run.

The Kiowas were close behind them. There must have been dissension among them. The leader had seemed content to let him take Sheena and ride away. One of the others must have disagreed with that decision.

Cal reached to pull his revolver from his holster.

They were strangely quiet, he thought.

The first bullet cracked from behind them, and Cal reflexively bent lower. The bullet whined past his ear like an angry bee.

Sheena gasped. He fired off a shot and got lucky. One of the warriors screamed in agony and fell from his saddle. But the other rode low, hanging onto the side of his mount. And he kept right on coming.

The next bullet sang over Cal’s head. He concentrated on eating up the miles to Lowell’s Ridge. Riding double was slowing them down considerably. Sheena’s body was tense beneath the shelter of his own. Fragile, but strong. Delicate, but determined. His hand splayed over her stomach, holding her close, cradling her from the jarring of their wild ride.

A whoop from behind them accompanied the crack of a rifle, and this time, the Kiowa warrior’s bullet found its mark. A bolt of fire seared through Cal’s right shoulder, and for a minute, the pain was so strong he almost sawed back on the reins. But at his harsh curse, Sheena glanced up at him, her hand instantly clamping tightly over his. The reins were still wrapped in his fingers, but Sheena kept her hand on his, reminding him to let the horse have his head and continue their flight for freedom.

“Hang on, Cal!”

The pain was so breathtaking he could do nothing but nod his understanding.

“Dammit!” she cursed. That almost made him smile, but the agony in his shoulder surged up and stole his breath again as the horse’s hooves pounded the ground below.

The road was not much more than a trail, and where it narrowed, branches reached out to scrape and snarl in hair and clothing, scratching their faces as they blindly rode toward safety.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Open Hearts...break the Law! ~Tanya Hanson

How can a woman living a lie open her heart to an honest lawman?...

Women in the 19th century faced obstacles we can’t imagine. Once married, a woman’s rights almost ceased to exist. Adult women were usually lumped along with children as needing a man to take care of them. 

And women who sought professional careers outside the home faced derision as well as tremendous challenges. Female physicians at least had a chance; women founded their own all-women medical schools and hospitals.

But if she wanted to be a lawyer, well. Courts, bar associations, law schools and firms were composed entirely of men.

The first woman to graduate from an American law school was Ada Kepley, in 1869, from Union College of Law in Chicago. (It merged into Northwestern University in 1891). But other colleges admitted women only by court order. After admitting its first woman in 1885, Yale Law went right back to excluding women. Harvard Law decreed it wasn’t proper or women to use the Law Library at the same time as men.

But women fought to enter the legal profession as hard as suffragettes demanded the vote. The challenge didn’t end there. Once admitted to a law school, a woman agonized over speaking out in the lecture hall, something men did freely...or sitting quietly as befit a proper lady. After achieving her degree, she had almost the same choice: an “undignified” public courtroom or a calm private office practice, out of sight and behind the scenes.

Prevailing attitudes--among both genders--debated whether a woman lawyer was physically and mentally equal to her male counterpart. What if she--gasp--wanted marriage and kids, too?

In the 19th century, women were almost completely sealed off from the legal profession. Even into the 1920’s, women accounted for only 1.4 per cent of all lawyers.

It was this ready-made conflict that sparked my story, Open Hearts, for the brand-new Valentine anthology, Hearts and Spurs, from Prairie Rose Publications. Since I had to condense my usual babbling into about 10,000 words, I have heroine and Union College alumna Barbara Audiss in disguise as a man, a judge, therefore making it difficult for her to give her heart to handsome sheriff Keith Rakestraw.

And when Keith does find out...what to do? “Badge” Audiss is a good judge. Should he reveal her true identity and therefore invalidate all her verdicts? Besides, he’s eager to give her his heart...but he is first and foremost a lawman, and she’s broken it. Colorado says no female lawyers or judges.

I hope you fall in love with Keith and Barbara as they “open their hearts” to all the possibilities, as well as our entire collection of Valentine romances!

To honor her brother Badge’s last request, Barbara Audiss takes on his identity, and letting loose her secret will get her arrested. But keeping it prevents her from giving her heart to handsome sheriff Keith Rakestraw.

Furious at “Judge Audiss’” latest verdict, Keith discovers she’s a fake and consequences seem easy: toss her in jail. But he finds himself eager to give her his heart.

Thanks to Women in the Criminal Justice System, by Clarice Feinman.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


When a lot of men came West one of the first things they did was change their name. As Philip Ashton Rollins said in his book THE COWBOY, “Many a real name had been bucked from the saddle.” Men of the West recognized this common practice and therefore didn’t question it. If a man stated his name as John Smith it was just that. Sometimes a man only volunteered a first name and if he did it was widely accepted that he didn’t want to be known by any other.

They changed their names for a variety of reasons. If he wanted to disappear and leave no trace, a quick name change made it easy.

Hmmm…I’m wondering how many men had multiple wives under different names? And what about their kids? Lordy, what a mess!

Sometimes a man’s name, especially if he was an immigrant, was difficult to spell and pronounce. People in the West liked to keep things short and to the point. Short names just made things easier and didn’t muddy the water. A man could blend in better.

More often than not, a newcomer to the West was running from the law. A name change helped him hide in plain sight. He might change his name five or six times, adopting a new name for each section of the country.

Or a man simply might not have liked his name. Maybe it was too sissified or something. In my story in the Give Me an Outlaw anthology, my hero’s birth name was Marion Applebaum. He decides that no self-respecting outlaw would be caught dead with that name wrapped around him so he changes it to Johnny Diamond. He thinks that suits him much better and I happen to agree. Johnny Diamond is a much better fit.

Same thing in THE WIDOW’S HEART (the Hearts and Spurs anthology.) My hero changed his name to Cade Coltrain because he was a wanted man on the run.

*side note* John Wayne was sooooo much better than Marion Morrison.

A new name meant freedom and a fresh start. The slate was wiped clean.

A man could be whoever he wanted to be, especially in the vastness of the old West.

I can certainly understand this. My last name of Broday (pronounced as Bro-dee) is a made-up name. When my husband’s paternal grandfather emigrated from Germany during WWI, he changed Broka to Broday so that folks wouldn’t know where he came from. He wanted to protect his wife and kids from the harsh realities of war. He also shortened his first name from Albert to Bert. And the name change worked. They blended in and had a peaceful existence in America.

My husband’s maternal great grandfather also changed his name. He was born in Germany as Johann Louis Freese. Shortly after he arrived in America in the late 1800’s, he became Louis Walter. I never heard the reason behind his name change. I assume it was to be able to assimilate into American culture better.

Names were much easier to change back then. Today it would be near impossible with Social Security numbers, the Internet, and law enforcement capabilities.

These are just two true instances that I know happen to have taken place within the same family. It’s only a drop in the bucket to the thousands of people who changed their identities.

Maybe you have a similar story in your past? If not, tell me what you think of name changes. 

Monday, February 17, 2014


Living in the mountains of Northern California our seasons are shorter than most, and though many people think that California is all sun and sand, we live in a rugged environment with four seasons. In the end, however, that works out to our benefit as cow/calf operators/ranchers because this creates a higher nutrient content for the alfalfa-grass hay we raise in the summer and feed our cows in the winter. In the summer our cows remain on the ranch with beautiful grass pasture, much of which is actually native grass, never having been farmed at all. The cattle live their entire lives on this ranch, never leaving at all until time for sale. What grain our cattle do eat prior to sale is primarily seed that is reused from year to year. We raise “natural” beef; Natural Certification verifies there is no antibiotic or hormones added to the meat.

            All summer long is spent working; I love the old saying, “Make hay while the sun shines!” That’s definitely summer for us! There are six men (3 generations) doing the swathing (hay), raking, baling 1-ton bales, stacking on a truck, and hauling to the barns to be stored in the barn for wintertime. And there is no air conditioning for these guys – with temperatures often in the high 90s

            In the fall, we calve – that means watching the young cows (and first time heifers) and often pulling calves. OBs hold nothing over these guys on some nights!! We work cattle during these months, too – but this is a fun time, too! Riding horses and moving cattle is a time that I enjoy immensely.

            In wintertime the primary focus is feeding cattle – and      mechanicing or working on equipment for spring and summer. Sometimes the temperatures drop below zero but most of the time it’s in the teens and 20s for daytime temperatures. One of the family benefits that comes with this time of year is evening “family time!” While we eat late during the summer, sometimes after nine o’clock, in wintertime we get to eat early! 

            Many people suggest farmers and ranchers work smarter not harder. But smarter for us is employing the entire family and a quality of life that requires sacrifice and dedication.

            The women play a big role on the ranch too.  We help where it is needed, hauling hay if the need arises, working cattle, providing daily lunches to the crew, which has also gone on for generations. We are now in our 5th generation with the grandchildren being the 6th generation.

 For more about life on a ranch or related topics, visit my blog:

Sunday, February 16, 2014



Hello everyone! As some of you may know, I am the first British writer to be signed by Prairie Rose Publishing. (And I thank you very much ladies!) This blog is simply a way of introducing myself to you all, and letting you get to know a little about this tangerine haired 'foreigner' in your ranks!

This is my very first blog post for PRP and I have to admit, I am nervous. Mainly because, as a ‘foreigner’ who has never set foot in America, my impressions of the country have been colored by the Western films and series I watched avidly as a youngster. Of course, I have many reference books, and the Internet is full of information, but it can’t compare with going to a place, and soaking up the atmosphere. Therefore, I do hope you will forgive me if there are any obvious errors in my work, and better still, I hope you will let me know if you do spot any glaring mistakes. With your help, my work will improve. Also, should any of you want to know anything about UK for any reason, please don’t hesitate to ask, and I will do my very best to help you.  

Bye the way, please note that I might not be able to post a reply to you immediately, My 87 year old Mother is unwell and I am going to her house for the nights, there is no signal for Wi-fi where she lives, but I will certainly pick you all up when I get home, and due to our time differences that might be immediate, might be a day or two, but rest assured I will answer you all. Back to the blog!

PRP are publishing my book ‘Saint or Sinner’, under the pen name of Gil McDonald, and they are possibly taking one of my short stories for their Summer anthology entitled ‘Cowboy Cravings’ later this year.
I have two hard back Westerns already out here in England, with a publisher named Robert Hale, (their Western imprint is ‘Black Horse’, and my author name with them is Amos Carr), those two are also out in large print world-wide this year. I am one of only four or five female Western writers in UK for Hale. 

Unfortunately Hale don’t put new works onto Kindle, only works from their back catalog. Also unfortunately, they tend to concentrate more on the ‘old style’ Westerns, rough, tough, shoot ‘em up stories, with very little Romance. It works well for Hale, they actually publish around twelve new Westerns a month now, so I was very lucky to be chosen by them. However, I consider myself to be even more lucky to be signed by Prairie Rose, after all, what is a cowboy without his horse, his gun, and his True Love?

I have only recently realized that I really enjoy writing ‘real’ Romance. How delighted I was when I found out about PRP! I can run away with my Romantic side at last! Since coming across this startling revelation about myself, I have also written two Contemporary Romance novels, (one is out with an agent at present).  I am also working on my next book for Hale, another one for PRP,  a Teen Fantasy trilogy, and a couple of other projects. I really don’t think it hurts to have a few irons in the fire!

Previously I have written articles for papers and magazines, and lots of poetry, some of which has been in magazines and anthologies. I have a ton of short stories in lever files on my shelves, one of which won me the ‘Writer of the Year’ trophy from the prestigious Lancashire Authors Association’ way back in 1999 (the association is over 100 years old). One of my shorts, ‘Eddie and the Devil’ is now on a website called Alfie dog fiction, where readers pay a small amount to download and read the stories.

Most of the authors who have appeared on this blog have exciting tales to tell about their lives and adventures. Sadly, I don’t think I ever had a ‘real adventure’ (unless you count a day trip to France, where I lost my passport, and spent half the day in a French Police Station trying to make them understand me!) My life has been filled to bursting with animals and birds of many kinds though; and, along with all my other projects, I have a huge amount of paperwork with stories of my family, and our animal friends, I would dearly love to have an animal autobiography published one day! In fact I have enough to be able to fill two, or even three books.

Animals are so important in all our lives. I know that, for a variety of reasons there are many people who live without them. Fair enough, they have jobs, families, busy lives, and that is their choice. But for me, and from what I have seen, many of the PRP authors, animals are a big part of life. Although I was born in the city of Liverpool, my parents moved from there when I was a baby, and we traveled a lot. During our travels, we lived on farms, and in flats above pet shops and dog grooming parlors. My Mother has worked with animals, and bred dogs since she was 13, she’s now 87, and breeds rabbits! She also used to breed and show Samoyeds (Big fluffy white Husky looking dogs) and did so well with them that she got to the famous Crufts Dog Show in London, with one of them.

Of course, being surrounded by animals of so many kinds from birth, it was obvious I would be an animal person. Since I married, I have kept many different kinds of animals and birds. I ran a small animal rescue center when we lived in Kent, we were there ten years, and had a smallholding, with a large collection of animals, and from which we sold fruit and vegetables. I started to ride horses from the age of four, (after riding cows for a couple of years!) I gave up horse riding in my twenties, but recently went back to it, in my 60s, although I can’t go very often, due to health problems, and the fact that I now spend most of my time writing of course. Right now, I just have two lovely Miniature Schnauzer girls, litter sisters, Poppy and Pepper, who between them have had 11 puppies for me. I do miss all the hens and ducks and other creatures who used to fill my life and time, but the girls keep me amused, and are very good company.

As I said at the start, everything I know about ‘Cowboys’ came from television series and films. I was an avid cinema goer in my teens, every Saturday would see me at the matinee with my bag of sweets, engrossed in the adventures of The Lone Ranger, whilst my evenings were filled with ‘Rawhide’ Wagon Train’ ‘Stagecoach West’ and Laramie’(among others!) I don’t really know what attracted me to Westerns in the first place, but I know none of the real boys who I met ever matched up to those rugged, wind-blown, handsome men!  

I have relied on my still quite vivid memories of those films and series, to set my novels. I do hope they work.
I am often asked how I got into writing Westerns, they are not an obvious choice for an English Rose! Any of you who have been to my website will have read the story. But for those of you who haven’t, here goes – Take your pick. A ghost made me do it! It came to me in a dream! Actually both are true. Bear with me, I’m not as crazy as I sound, honest! I have had a keen interest in Native Americans since being very young, I watched Cowboys all the time, and I was a horse rider, so why this genre hadn’t occurred to me way before it did I shall never know. One morning, I woke up from a vivid dream, with the title, and almost the whole story for my first Western running through my head like a film. I started writing it straight onto the computer, until then I had always hand written everything, then transferred it later, but there was a real sense of urgency about this, so I skipped a step, and all of my work since then has been done this way.  A few months later, I sent it off to Robert Hale. They accepted it straight away, and with very little alteration ‘The Ghosts of Poynter’ under the author name Amos Carr, was published in June 2012.

When I told my mother I was going to be published at last and told her the genre, she gasped. It turned out that her father, (who had died before I was old enough to know much about him) only ever read Westerns! There were no other books in the house, and until that moment, I had no idea what he had read of course. Now I think Grandad Harold was the one who ‘gave’ me that story! He also gave me my second Western, ‘Crazy Man Cade’ which ‘came’ in the same way, and was again published by Hale, in October 2012. He has given me the ideas for three more for the same publisher. I have almost finished my third for them.  So I think I must be called a real ‘ghost writer’!  I do like that!

Grandad Harold however, did not have anything to do with the works I am now producing for PRP, these are all mine! And the heroes are all men of my dreams, rather than from my dreams! I suppose it often happens to writers, but I fall in love with all my heroes! There is always something about them which attracts me, and I hope that my readers can feel a similar attraction for them.

Okay, that’s it for now folks. If you want to find out more about this mad English woman who listens to ghosts, do go to my website and please leave me a comment there. I look forward to getting to know you all in the future. (By the way, the website name comes from my given Indian name. But that’s another story!)

You can also get me on Twitter, -  JillMcDC  and on Facebook – Jill McDonald-Constable. (I am also on LinkedIn under this name.)

‘The Ghosts of Poynter’ by Amos Carr.  Pub. – Robert Hale, London.
‘Crazy Man Cade’  by Amos Carr.          Pub.- Robert Hale, London.
‘Saint or Sinner’ by Gil McDonald         Pub. – Prairie Rose Publications. Launch date TBA.


Thursday, February 13, 2014


If you’re like me, you have a few rules for writing–and for reading. In my writing there are some things I would “never” do. Here’s a list of the top three:

Rule #1 – I never write in first person.
Rule #2 – I never write from a child’s point of view.
Rule #3 – I always have romance somewhere in my stories.

Well…one out of three ain’t bad.

I threw Rule #1 out the window when I picked up my pen and started RED EAGLE'S WAR. (This book was published previously with another company under the title Kane's Redemption.) I wrote it in first person. It’s the first work of fiction I’ve ever written from this perspective, and after I wrote it, I knew there would be two more of these novellas to follow. There was no better way to tell this story of young Will Green and Jacobi Kane – and the secret that stands between them.

Will is a child when the story begins, but a young man by the conclusion. So, I guess you could say I broke my own “Rule #2” as well. But there are some stories that have to be told by the child, to take hold of the innocence that only a child possesses and manages to hold on to in the face of reality. Who could have told Scout’s story better than Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird? No one. She was the perfect character to tell us what was happening and the perfect filter for us to see for ourselves those things she couldn’t put into words. Through her eyes, we saw everything. I knew that Will had to tell the story of what happened to him and how Jacobi Kane rescued him…and what happened afterward.

Growing up in the 1800’s on the prairie of the southwest would make an adult of you quickly; even quicker if you watched your entire family murdered in the space of five minutes. This story is not just about Will, though – it’s also about Jacobi Kane, who has some secrets of his own. Although he rescues Will, he wrestles with demons that can’t be fought alone – but how can Will help? In the end, who is the true rescuer – Will, or Jacobi Kane?

Romance? Well, there’s a bit of that. But it’s the romance that comes with new beginnings and the kiss of forgiveness–sweet, touching and straight from the heart. Come to think of it, the romance in RED EAGLE'S WAR is a bit different from anything else I’ve ever written, too.

This story came from somewhere deep; a place I didn’t know existed. It’s a gift I hope you will take as much pleasure in reading as I did in writing. These stories are not just for the younger set--they're stories that adults will enjoy, too!

Book 2 in the trilogy, RED EAGLE'S REVENGE, and book 3, TEXAS FOREVER, were both re-released at the same time RED EAGLE'S WAR was -- just this week. (They were previously released as Kane's Promise and Kane's Destiny with another company.)

RED EAGLE'S WAR is #24 of the Kindle top 100 list for Children's Westerns. This is a realistic trilogy that is a "coming of age" story you will not forget. At $1.99 each, these stories are perfect for the 10+ age group--and not just for boys.

I will be giving away a copy of RED EAGLE'S WAR today! All you have to do is leave a comment, and please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you! I will leave you with the blurb and an excerpt. Hope you enjoy!

A ten-year-old boy fights for his life when he is taken prisoner by a band of raiding Apache. Steeling himself for death, Will Green is shocked when a lone man walks into the Apache camp to rescue him several days later.

Driven by the secret he carries, Jacobi Kane has followed the Indians for days and needs to make his move to save the boy. With the odds stacked eight against one, his chances for success look pretty slim. But even if he’s able to rescue the boy and they get out alive, what then?

Tonight would be my night to die. Red Eagle and his men had kept me alive to their own end, for the last several days. Now, they argued, and though I didn’t speak Apache, it wasn’t hard to tell what they meant. We had ridden across endless miles of desert, populated only by saguaro cactus and rattlesnakes for days. I wasn’t sure how many. The men talked amongst themselves, their faces smeared with war paint. Garish and frightening, they had seemed to me from the moment they took me. Now, they seemed hideous, almost laughable.

Red Eagle moved back just as fast as before and I felt my cheek burning. Blood dripped off his blade and that was it. I went after that red devil like I had lost my wits. I guess, truthfully, I had – because I don’t remember anything about it, except how good the first smash of my fist in his face felt.

Blood ran from Red Eagle’s nose and he cried out in a snarl of anger and pain...and surprise.

I felt a pulse of energy rush through me, and I wrapped my fingers around his throat like he’d done to Mama. I tightened them and his blood streamed warm and slick over my grip. His eyes began to bulge, and I thought in another minute, maybe I could have the vengeance I had wanted so badly for the past week.

Papa always said a man’s quick wits are sometimes his only defense. I was exultant. I may have been foolish for what I did, and I felt sure Papa and I would disagree sharply on the use of my wits. But I did what I had to do.

Suddenly, rough hands were upon me, pulling at me. But I was like a mad dog, snarling, and foaming at the mouth in my pent up anger and hatred that was finally spilling out. What a glorious opportunity! Even if I died for it, I knew I couldn’t have passed it up – whether Papa might have approved, or not.

The Indians were all speaking at once, yelling, calling out, laughing. The moon was full, providing even more light than what the fire gave, making the night seem even hotter, as if the sun still shone on us. From somewhere in the distance of the woods beyond, I heard the call of the owls, and I knew enough Injun to know what that meant to them.

Someone was going to die. It might be me, but I was doing my best to take Red Eagle with me.

A gunshot split the night air. “Stop it!” Hands like steel bands wrapped around my shoulders and jerked me off of Red Eagle. “Stop it!”

I couldn’t answer. I was breathing too hard, panting like the mad dog I had become. My hands balled into fists and flexed open again and again, and my fingers were sticky with Red Eagle’s blood. My own pulse sang through my veins in a triumph I had never experienced before.

“Boy, straighten up or you’re gonna get us both killed.” The voice was calm. I stopped struggling and looked up into the face of a white man. A white man had walked right into Red Eagle’s camp. I figured, now, those owls would have plenty more to tell – at least one more death.

But he didn’t seem worried. He held his rifle at the ready, pointed in the general direction of the group of eight Indians that rode in Red Eagle’s band. I glanced around the half-circle of painted faces, and I couldn’t help gloating. They all looked as if they’d met up with some kind of spirit or demon more wicked than they were. And that was going some.

“Can you ride bareback?”

I nodded. I guessed I could, I wanted to tell him. Been doin’ it for a dang week.

“Need help getting on?”

I shook my head and he let me go real slow. “Pick the one you can manage best and get settled on him. Take Red Eagle’s rifle and bullets.”

“Wait!” Red Eagle challenged. He rolled onto his side, wiping the blood from his nose. It pleased me greatly to hear that he wheezed when he spoke. “You take our horses, our weapons—”

“I ain’t takin’ your lives. And I ain’t takin’ all your weapons,” the big man answered in a slow drawl. “Only yours. Pitch that knife over this way, and do it easy. My trigger finger is mighty nervous tonight.”

For RED EAGLE'S WAR, RED EAGLE'S REVENGE, and TEXAS FOREVER as well as all my other work, click here:

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a pdf copy of RED EAGLE'S WAR!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Intuitive Process Of Writing

Post by Kristy McCaffrey

I didn’t begin my writing career until I was 33 years old, when I decided to write a book (called a manuscript until it’s published—I knew so little). I’d been writing all my life, but at that moment I made a conscious decision to refine the process. The difference between a published and an unpublished writer is really the desire to trim, tighten, and tuck that mash of creativity into something coherent. Working with a story, I believe, involves a great deal of intuition. As a writer, I’ve had to learn how to trust the process, and it’s not always easy. This element of faith is not unlike a religious leaning—you simply don’t have all the answers. If you’re lucky, they come at the end of the work, but sometimes they don’t. Writing is nothing if not a learning process.

My first book (yay, it was published so went from ‘manuscript’ to ‘book’) took four years to write. The Wren, a historical western romance, features a Texas Ranger reunited with a woman he thought was murdered by Comanche as a child. The seeds of this story came to me when I was 15 years old. There wasn’t much—just a girl who knew two brothers, and a ranch (which I assumed was in Arizona since that’s where I’ve lived most of my life). The characters became Molly and Matt, and his brother Logan, but when I decided to refine the story I had to become more specific. I soon realized the setting wasn’t Arizona, and after reading an entire tome on the history of Texas (Lone Star: A History of Texas by T.R. Fehrenbach), I knew I’d found the locale. It continued to be a back-and-forth process, however, between research and following the inherent thread of the story, a thread I wasn’t always aware of. (Often this becomes the underlying theme of a work. In The Wren it was the idea of home, and the many ways we define that.) But I trusted, and this book is still the most well-received of any of my stories.

My second book, The Dove, was a bear to write, which is probably why it’s the shortest novel I’ve published. In this story, Logan, the brother, decides to track down Claire Waters, who, it turns out, lives in a brothel but hopes to become a doctor one day. Looking back, I didn’t trust my intuition enough, which I think is why I ran out of story. I tried to manhandle my characters too much, of which I had too many to begin with. I struggled to keep them all straight, along with motivations and what each of them might know from moment to moment. My editor had her work cut out for her, but helped tremendously in fixing the many problems.

My third book, The Sparrow, follows Emma Hart (sister to Molly) and her desire to enter Grand Canyon, an audacious endeavor considering the year is 1877. A Texas Ranger joins her and off they go. I wrote the first half of this story entirely on intuition. After the struggle with my last book, I knew I needed to trust the inner workings of my imagination. Unfortunately, it led me to a dead-end at the halfway point—ugh, the
vagaries and whims of creativity. It took me several years to figure my way out of this one. (I did raise my children at the same time, so wasn’t writing full-time.) The problem was that the journey Emma undertook wasn’t just physical, and I didn’t understand it until I found a book on shamanism. The light bulb went off, and I spent over two years delving into the subject. It turned out my intuition had been spot on (isn’t it always?), and I was finally able to complete Emma’s pilgrimage. As a side note, this book has received a mixed reception. Following one’s inspiration doesn’t always result in far-reaching connections with readers. However, I believe that an adherence to intuition draws an authentic voice from the author, a commitment that is important to the writer herself.

With my fourth book, Into The Land Of Shadows, recently published here at Prairie Rose, I think I finally found a balance between trusting the creative hits alongside the nuts-and-bolts research. I certainly had the most fun writing this one. Perhaps that’s what experience bestows—knowing that those dark spots during the writing of a project won’t always remain. While it’s difficult to trust those whispers nudging you in a certain direction, there’s always a bigger picture, in life as well as in stories, and a writer needs to learn to have faith and become the channel for that narrative to be born.

Be sure to stop by my website and enter my February contest!
  Happy Valentine’s Day!