Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Minnesota Yankee with Southern Roots

By: Lyn Horner
Writing about myself is not my favorite thing to do. I'd much rather write about the characters running around in my head, but September is "Talk About Yourself" month, so here's my story.

George, Sylvia & baby Me

I was born in San Francisco, California. My parents met there during the war -- the Big One. Daddy was a cook and Mama was a waitress in the same restaurant. They dated only three months before marrying. Both had been married once before. My mother was eight years older than my dad. They both grew up on a farm, she in Minnesota, he in North Texas.

As a young woman, Mama worked as a housemaid in Minneapolis. Later, she contracted TB and spent three years in a sanatorium. She was a beautiful woman but grew up in a very old-country atmosphere. (Her grandparents emigrated from Bohemia in the later half of the 19th century.) She only had an eighth grade education and was rather unworldly. Even so, she packed up and headed west with a friend after her first marriage broke up. I think she had a taste from adventure.

My dad was definitely an adventurer. A Texan with southern roots that trace back to colonial times, he was one of thirteen siblings. He left home during the Great Depression at the age of seventeen to get away from his dictatorial father. Despite being handicapped with a neuromuscular disorder, he traveled all over the American West, working as a page in the Texas Legislature, picking fruit in Arizona, cooking and working as a door-to-door salesman in California and the Northwest. He could not join the armed services during WWII because of his handicap, but did do one stint in the Merchant Marines as a cook. Later, he worked at the Dixon Gun Plant in Texas, before returning to California.

Lyn, age 4 -- in Minnesota

When I was four years old, we moved to Minnesota so Mama could be near her family. We settled in Minneapolis, where I grew up. My dad worked for the University of Minnesota as an office supervisor in the alumni department for several years. After that, he floated from one job to another, sometimes working in sales, other times as a cook. Once I was in school, Mama went back to waitressing.

My childhood was not the greatest, mainly because my parents had serious marital problems. Mama was clinically paranoid. She thought everyone was talking about her behind her back and accused my dad of cheating on her -- constantly. He had her committed to a mental hospital twice. It did no good. When I was a senior in high school, he finally moved out.

Meanwhile, I was diagnosed at age nine with the same hereditary disorder my dad suffered from. It runs back several generations in his mother's family. By the time I was in junior high my ankles had grown weak and I walked with a noticeable limp. Other kids teased me and I became more and more introverted. My only escape was in schoolwork, at which I excelled, and in books and TV. Daddy got me hooked on westerns early. He also fostered my interest in art, giving me a beginner's oil painting kit when I was in fifth grade.

When high school came along, I had no friends and thought no boy would ever want to date me. Thank God, my dad got me some counselling. I forced myself to reach out to a few other girls and started to attend football, basketball and hockey games with them. In my senior year, one of my girlfriends egged me into asking her boyfriend's best friend to a girl ask boy dance. It was called the Sweetheart Swirl. The guy said yes! That same night he invited me to be his date for the senior prom. I was in seventh heaven! And that's how I started dating my future husband, Ken.

Ken and me at the Como Zoo Conservatory, Staint Paul, MN, about 1966

We dated all the way through college. I attended the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Mpls. College of Art and Design) majoring in fashion design, mainly because I wanted to study fashion illustration, a small part of the course. Ken went to the U of M and business college. We got married about six weeks after I graduated. The next day, my dad headed home to Texas, where he lived the rest of his life. He and my mother never legally divorced.

Wedding day, cutting the cake

After we returned from our honeymoon in the Grand Tetons, Ken returned to college for a few more months while I went job hunting. Over the next few years, I worked at two different department stores in their advertising departments. I was a finishing artist, drawing fashion accessories, clothes and toiletries. After that, I worked as an art instructor for Art Instruction Schools. Do you remember their "Draw Me" heads? They used to run in TV Guide.

Mama, me & one of many cats to occupy our home(s.) Purple anyone?

Ken worked first for a CPA firm and later for a large corporation in accounting and management. He would be transferred three times from location to location in the central time zone, eventually bringing us to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where we have lived since December, 1986. I quit work when we made our first move, to the Chicago area, and stayed home to raise our two children. Shortly before that move, my dad drove up from Texas to visit us.

Daddy with me & the children, Dan and Carrie

Once Dan and Carrie were both in school, I got more serious about writing, a hobby I took up when they were small, needing a creative outlet. Around the mid-90s I finished a rough draft of my first novel. It was very rough and went through many revisions. I joined Romance Writers of America and North Texas Romance Writers, and signed on with two different agents (not at the same time.) Sadly, neither managed to sell my "masterpiece."

For the next several years I became involved with my children's extracurricular activities, particularly the band parents club. Probably too involved. I mean, it became like a full time job! But, oh, how Ken and I loved riding the buses with the band kids and cheering for them during their halftime shows. We also made dear friends we've remained close to ever since.

As you can imagine, writing took a back seat during that period. I did manage to write a memoir titled Six Cats In My Kitchen, now available for Kindle. It's full of family photos and offers a candid view of life with a half dozen feisty felines -- and a disability.

In 2010, I published Darlin' Irish (originally Darlin' Druid) -- the first in my western/paranormal Texas Devlins series. Since then I have written and published three more books in that series, plus two combo sets. Now I am at work on a romantic suspense series with my trademark touch of psychic phenomena.

Just a few days ago I republished White Witch, Texas Devlins Book One (the prequel novella) with a bit more content and a dramatic new cover created by Charlene Raddon. You can see more of her work at .

Book Excerpt: 

Chicago; August 1871
Jessie hiked up her skirts and stepped into the cool water of Lake Michigan, wading out until the gentle waves lapped at her knees. It felt wonderful on her sweaty skin. She wished she could immerse her whole body but didn’t relish walking home in sopping wet clothes.
“Jess, you’d best be careful,” her brother Tye called from a few feet away. “There could be a drop-off.”
“I know. I’ll not go any farther out. And take your own advice, brother dear.” She glanced at him enviously. Having stripped away his shirt and rolled up his pant legs, he was splashing water on his chest, not the least bit concerned about getting his trousers wet.
“Aye, I will, although I’m a fair swimmer, unlike you.” He grinned at her mischievously. “In case ye haven’t noticed, I’m not burdened by a skirt and petticoats either.”
“Humph! Go ahead and get your trousers soaked. Doubtless you’ll enjoy being ogled by every woman we pass on our way home, ye wicked devil.”
He laughed and sliced the water with the edge of his hand, sending a small geyser her way. It caught her in the face, causing her to shriek and duck away as droplets dampened the bodice of her worn gray gown.
“Don’t do that!” she scolded. “I don’t want to get all wet.” Wiping water from her eyes, she blinked several times to clear them. Once she was able to keep them open, she happened to glance into the distance across the lake . . . and froze.
The lake disappeared before her eyes, replaced by a burst of fire that soared high overhead, wringing a strangled cry from her lips. The fire turned into a hellish scene of flames leaping from building to building along a familiar street, a street filled with people running for their lives before the monstrous fire. It licked at the wooden paving block underfoot and at the walkways lining the thoroughfare.
Her view of the event shifted abruptly. Now she saw her family’s cottage going up in flames behind her as she was being whisked away.

“Nay, not our home!” she wailed without realizing she’d spoken. Then the scene changed again. Now she was looking toward the city from far across the lake, and what she saw made her scream in horror.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Unconventional Family

Sarah McNeal is a multi-published author of time travel, paranormal, western, contemporary and historical fiction. Her stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Prairie Rose Publications. Her website:  

My Unconventional Family
This month we were asked to write our blogs about ourselves. I’m not used to blabbing on about myself, but I do like to talk about the people who raised me and helped mold me into the person I am today—my parents.

   This is my great-grandmother, Sarah Jane Barnhart for whom I was named.

(My grandmother and grandfather McNeal. My grandfather always wore this hat. He was born the year after the Civil War ended. That just astounds me.)

(My mom and me. Looks like a Steinbeck novel)

My parents had some very different notions of how to raise children. For the most part, I’m grateful for it. My dad was the Thomas Jefferson of the family constitution. We were allowed a great deal in the way of freedom, but we also learned early on that there were consequences for our actions. I suppose that’s always true of freedom, in that it required responsibility for one’s own actions.
My older sister, Mary, and me on our first Christmas in North Carolina

We were never forced to share our toys. Now you might think not sharing would make us guarded and selfish, but that was not the case. Because we knew we didn’t have to share, we didn’t feel the need to guard our toys. No one was going to snatch them away from us. We did learn an important life lesson, too. We could negotiate using toys as a tool. It went sort of like this: I’ll let you play with my Betsy Wetsy (there really was a doll named that who did that) if you will let me play with your tea set. We were actually quite generous with our stuff most of the time. We even gave some toys away when the church asked for donations for kids without Christmas.

(I'm crying because Mary was invited to a party and I wasn't. She's all dressed up and I'm in my crappy dress. This picture was taken on the Naval base at Virginia Beach when Pop worked ocean weather on a coast guard cutter.)

My parents did not hang over our shoulders demanding that we do our school work. I hated homework. I found many ways to procrastinate about getting it done. Since there were no rules regarding a time or place for doing homework, I, in my infinite wisdom, decided I could just skip it. Well, I found out there is a consequence to not doing homework that has nothing to do with grades (a thing I also didn’t care much about.) After suffering the deep humiliation of not having a report to give when it came to my turn, I became mortified. After several humiliating episodes before my schoolmates, I did do homework, but I can’t really say I studied. It was fortunate for me that I was a great listener and note taker, or I may not have passed a single grade. The first time I seriously studied was my senior year in high school, and of all things, it was in English. College changed my errant study habits forever.

We didn’t have censorship in what we read. If the book was in our house, we were allowed to read it. The only time the lack of censorship in reading material came to be tested was when I started reading my mother’s True Detective magazines when I was around ten. The horror of these supposedly true stories were told in graphic detail and gave me nightmares. They never told me to stop reading these stories, but the secret stash of these magazines suddenly dried up. I can only assume in retrospect, that Mom no longer bought them, or else she found a really good place to hide them. Although fascinated by these horrific stories, I was glad to get back to my Little Lulu and Casper the Ghost comics. And, by the way, comic books were encouraged in our house. It was Pop’s sneaky way of getting us to read.

We weren’t allowed to roam the neighborhood, but we were allowed to roam the woods. When I think of it now, it’s hard to decide which of these places were the most dangerous for little kids. We spent hours building teepees out of limbs and pretending to be explorers unfettered by parental rules.

This is Pop on our birthday back in 1975. He wore it on TV where he was doing his weatherman gig on the news. That same day, Jimmy Carter was on the show campaigning for president. In Pop's sock was a skindu (a traditional dagger) that security must not have noticed. 

I was a firebug. My older sister was the perfect accomplice.  We planned a very long time how we would put a candle in a papier-mâché Halloween pumpkin. Our plan unfolded one morning in the hall closet. It was difficult to get that darn match to light, but we finally accomplished it and, voila, a very exciting flame ensued.  When we grew tired of sitting in the closet watching the candle burn, we left…and we left the candle burning. After the fire department left, we did receive one of the rare spankings from Pop. I had a total of three, and each one involved a life-threatening action on my part.  After the fire spanking, I declared I was leaving home and packed up my toys in my wagon. My clever parents said I would have to wait until after dark so I wouldn’t embarrass them in front of the neighbors. A good bluff; they knew I was afraid of the dark. Later, after they thought we were asleep, they were in the kitchen which was close to our room, talking about our escapades and, amazingly, were laughing about it.

While being punished for something, I think it was sticking bubble gum under the chair, I sat facing the wall in the chair of shame. Bored and angry, I decided it was a good idea to tear the wallpaper off the wall. The consequences could have been great, but I was fearless. They laughed about my actions because, as it turned out, I was helping them since they planned to remove the wall paper and paint. Well, who knew?

As teenagers, my sister and I were grounded for wrecking Mom’s car and lying about it. Lying was one of those things that had automatic punishment added to it. We weren’t supposed to use the phone for a week. Pop disabled our phone upstairs, so it was dead. We made it through 24 hours of silence before we decided to hunt for the phone box and figure out how to fix it. We found it, replaced the wire Pop disconnected, and, in victory, called the inside phone from our room. When Pop answered and he knew we fixed our phone, he took us off our no-call grounding and commended us for finding how he had disabled our phone. See what I mean? We were allowed so much freedom. But don’t think there weren’t some rules. A big one was not to smart-mouth our mother. Another rule was no skipping school and, finally, no lying. We could do just about anything else, but those three had dire consequences. I never skipped school in my life. I did smart-mouth my mother—once only, and I did tell a few lies when my back was to the wall, but the truth proved to be the easier way out of a situation. Sometimes my parents had difficulty discerning my "stories" for lies, but they got good at telling the difference.

We didn’t have a bedtime after we reached the age of twelve. I spent a few days at school miserably trying to stay awake and learned the lesson on this particular freedom. Weekends and summer were my glory days when I stayed up all hours, but I ditched the idea of staying up on school nights. I’m not one for misery.

You might wonder how my sister and I managed to graduate from school without failing a grade and get into college. It seems we had so much freedom to do what we wanted, you might think we would be undisciplined and unruly, but we weren’t. We respected our parents and we had the satisfying knowledge that we could take care of ourselves. Our parents took a big risk allowing us so much freedom.  The worst consequence was to disappoint them. I just couldn’t take that look on their faces when I lost their respect.

My parents led by example, teaching us things about life, love, and family. As much as my mother had chronic depression and battled heart disease from my early childhood, she didn’t complain about it. She faced it with dignity, perseverance, and courage in the face of adversity. Mom taught us how to sew and improvise when we wanted something there was no pattern for, and how to cook even when all the ingredients weren’t in the pantry. She could make a tasty meal out of sawdust.

(This is Pop releasing a squirrel who managed to get into the bird trap Pop used for catching birds to ban.)
Pop took us on walks in the woods and showed us all he knew including a reverence for all God’s creation. He made math into a game and never criticized me for never being good at it. We learned how to garden using compose heaps and soap instead of commercial fertilizers and poisonous chemicals. He was a feminist long before the notion became popular. He believed women were smart and needed to be educated. He once told me that I should always be self-reliant because, you never know when you might end up needing to support your family. He was a dedicated conservationist and banned birds for the Fish and Wildlife Service from the time he was a kid. I’m glad now that he didn’t allow us to have a TV even though I resented it when I was a kid. My sister and I spent our days reading, going on adventures, and cooking up outrageous schemes. We were never bored.

Even though they made their fair share of mistakes, my parents made us feel safe, secure, and loved. They gave me the strength, courage and freedom to be who I really am. My parents were a gift. Because of their wisdom and guidance, I have been able to face some very difficult times in my life without giving up or feeling sorry for myself. They believed in me. I couldn't ask more than that.

A Bit About Me Today 
I have been married—twice, actually. Although I never had children of my own, I have fur babies I love very much, Liberty the cat and Lily, the golden retriever. On September 11, 2001, Liberty was hit by a car and, after she was treated for her injuries, my vet put her up for adoption. I saw her when I brought my dog in for her yearly exam. She was the sweetest little kitten. We bonded and I adopted her. Lily was a rescue dog. I got her when she was 4 months old. She had been dumped in a high kill shelter by a couple who said they couldn’t love her. They had recently lost their previous golden and probably tried to fill the void too soon. I had lost my previous golden, Kate, due to cancer, but Lily and I healed each other through all the sadness we had experienced.

Lily, my Golden Retriever
Liberty sleeping under her "sun lamp" on my desk
I became a practical nurse and worked just about every department in my early years. But I wanted to work in critical care, especially coronary care, so I went back to school to become a registered nurse to qualify for critical care. It was hard to do. I worked full time and had to drive an hour each way to get to and from college. After 3 years, I finally succeeded and worked 21 years in coronary care, and then transferred to the emergency department and worked the last 17 years of my career there.
I'm standing in front of the CCU monitors. I know. The frog is weird. I made it for the Christmas tree when I was about 16. I wore it to cheer up the patients.

I’ve been writing most of my life. It took a long time and many classes in creative writing before I finally became published in 1999. I didn’t write romance in the beginning. I was more into sci-fi and fantasy fiction. On the suggestion of one of my writing instructors, I tried writing romance, and loved it. Although I write mostly western romance now, I also write paranormal, time travel, and a few contemporary stories and novels. My western romances take place in Wyoming in the fictional town of Hazard and involve the Wilding family first introduced in my time travel western, Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. In my short story in the Christmas anthology, WISHING FOR A COWBOY, I wrote, A Husband for Christmas, about Jane and her son, survivors of the Titanic and rescued from a fire by Banjo Wilding. Just when it seems Jane and Robin will spend their lives alone, Banjo’s uncle, a half Lakota named Teekonka, shows them there just might be a brighter future than they ever imagined, in spite of all their emotional pain.  It’s now out as a single.

A BOOK GIVE AWAY!! I'm giving away a copy of A Husband For Christmas to someone who comments today. Include your email address in your comment for a chance to win.

  A HUSBAND FOR CHRISTMAS is now being offered as a single. It first appeared in the Christmas Anthology, WISHING FOR A COWBOY. I'll be giving away a copy of this story to someone who comments today.

A night of horror… a wish for a new life...and a secret love


Jane Pierpont and her son, Robin, survived the Titanic, but her husband went down with the ship and the emotional scars of that night have kept her and her son locked into that frightening event years later . Robin is terrified of deep water and Jane has nightmares and survivor’s guilt. She yearns for a family, a loving husband and maybe another child, but she feels disloyal to Michael’s memory whenever Teekonka RedSky comes near her.

Teekonka RedSky loves Jane and her son, but all his efforts to help them past their painful memories of the night Michael Pierpont died have been unsuccessful. Unwilling to give up, can his Lakota beliefs help him bring peace to Robin and free Jane to love again?  

Teekonka let go of the latch and stepped back into the room. He took Jane’s hand in his, its warmth radiating into her chest. “I wondered if you and Rob would attend the festival with me.”
Jane felt confused. “The hotel is just down the street from here. We can manage to get there quite well on our own.”

He shook his head and squeezed her hand. “You don’t understand, Jane. I’m asking you and your son to go with me because I want to court you.”

Jane pulled her hand free. Self-reproach engulfed her. Before her stood a handsome, strong man who wanted to court her and include her son, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t right. Surely, Michael’s spirit was close by, and he would never approve. He couldn’t help dying. “I…I’m flattered that you should ask, but I can’t. My husband—”

Teekonka’s jaw clenched. “Your husband is dead. He’s been dead for seven years.” He stepped back from her. A frown turned his firm lips down. After he walked to the door and lifted the latch, he turned to her again. “I’m sorry. I apologize for reacting so angrily.  You still love your husband. I understand.” The door closed, and he was gone.

Jane stood alone in a room that had suddenly grown cold and dim. 

BUY LINKS: 99 cents in e-book formats


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Things You Probably Don't Know About Me...AND A GIVEAWAY! ~Tanya Hanson

These are the basics. I had a very happy childhood with two brothers in suburban Los Angeles but now live on the central coast on a nice little cul de sac surrounded by strawberry fields.

Married 40 years to my personal son and daughter are the best thing I have ever done. Ever. And now I’m gramma to two darling little boys, my new favorite thing. I taught English forever at the local Catholic school and now enjoy traveling with Hubs and volunteering at the local horse rescue.
This isn't me at the horse rescue but at one of my favorite wineries!
Hubs and me at Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta, last fall.
Now are some non basics I had fun thinking up. It was hard because I truly am the most boring person on the planet.

1. My husband and I went to high school together but were not sweethearts. In fact, he was Football Team Captain/Boyfriend of the Homecoming Queen/Head Cheerleader. I was a dork.

2. When we re-met at a Christmas party right after college. I picked "Deliverance" for our first date. He married me anyway. Sheesh.

3. I rarely wear lipstick but am pretty much addicted to lip balm.

4. I have a pathological terror of stepping on a down escalator without somebody in front of me.

5. I love and subscribe to Vogue and possibly would have gone Into fashion had I thought about it soon enough.

6. Hubs and I went to Disneyland for our honeymoon and now get season passes for the fam.

7. Hubs is a survivor of testicular cancer. Ladies, make sure your menfolk check themselves regularly!

8. My son is 6'6" and his two year old nephew wants him to dress up as a giraffe for Halloween.

9. I'm still bestest friends with Tina...since we were five years old!

10. I majored in Art in college. My favorite medium is oil painting. My favorite genre is Abstract Expressionism.

This is one of my paintings. Well, the only one on display at home. If you check out Kandinsky and Gorky, you might see their influence.
11. I have a fantasy football team named Wild Thang.

12. I am obsessed with the movie Frozen.  My grandsons and I all cuddle up with their Olaf dolls and watch and do the singalong.

13. I love Fall best of all, but hope to get my little guys to real snow this Christmas, what else? To build a snowman. With our niece living near Lake’s gonna happen. 

14.  Louisa May Alcott's Jack and Jill is my go-to book when I need a hit of emotion. The chapter, A Sweet Memory--when the kids’ friend Ed dies suddenly, takes my breath away with its simplicity and spare beauty.

15.  Visiting her home, Orchard House, in Concord MA was awesome!

That’s pretty much it...other than the third book in my Lawmen and Outlaws Trilogy just got released! Outlaw in Love! Although the first two books are sensual, this is a sweet romance because...outlaw Ahab Perkins fancies himself in love with a...wait for it. Nun. A nun with a a price on her head. What? Throw in an abandoned little girl and a kindly sheriff and, well, you’ll be head over heels just like not-Sister Teresa.

In case you wanna find out, I’m giving away either a pdf or Kindle copy today so PLEASE leave a comment.

Thanks for setting a spell with me today!

Ahab came to sit beside her, and Teresa suddenly realized how she’d missed him at her side. Just these last few minutes. Her, a nun who should have no such thoughts. Even it was all pretense. Besides, he was an outlaw with a price on his head. Same as her. Whoever found him would find her, too.

The thought brought on a sudden tear.

And a sudden fear. How much was her head worth these days?

His chest still plunged into itself once in a while like he hadn’t yet recovered all the air he needed. Some of the breathlessness, she reckoned, might be the remains of getting shot at this morning but likely he’d lived through such antics before. Her own heart still danced macabre when she thought about their circumstance just an hour ago.

“I’m thinking...” He started slow and didn’t look at her, kept his eyes on the shrinking flickers of the fire. “Found a saddle in the barn. Spade, too. Think I might take one of those horses--“ He pointed to the corral. “--and head over to....” He paused for a long while. “Head over to Nitro and bury him proper. Get the rest of my own gear. Reckon I could leave a pearl or two at this place for purchase. Maybe some food, too. Saw a smoke house.”

“You’d leave me here alone?” Teresa all but shrieked. Dread drenched her. She might have lived in Arizona these past years, but she was foremost a city girl. Her heart sank when the truth hit her. “Oh, I get it. You’re leaving me behind. Like your gang leaves folks behind when they’re too much trouble.”

His face turned that handsome purple she’d seen before. “Not doing any such thing. Reckoned you could wait for me here and rest up some. It’s been a hard trudge. Reckon you’re ankle’s a tad sore.” His voice turned so low she could barely hear him. “I know how to treat a lady.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Air Force Brat

Anna Kathryn Lanier

One thing a writer needs to know about her characters is their backstory.  Most of the time, the readers won’t know all of the backstory, but a good character will have a strong, well-thought out backstory. So, here’s my backstory….or at least part of it.

My parents married young. Mom was only 15 and dad barely 18.  A few months earlier, dad had joined the Air Force (he would not have been 18 at that time).  Mom flew to Denver, Colorado where he was stationed at the time and they married in a Baptist Church.  Nine months later (to the day), my sister was born in California, where both my parents grew up.  Dad was then stationed in Topeka, Kansas. That’s where I was born.  When I was 18 months old the family moved back to California, close family, for a few years.  My earliest memories, probably helped by old home movies, are from then.  One is deciding to walk to my sister’s school while my mom took a nap.  Luckily, a very nice lady found me walking down the road toward the highway and took me home.  She was driving a big, black car and embarrassed the heck out of my mom, who was in her nightgown, while the lady was dressed to the nines. I would have been 3 or 4 at the time. 

We lived in California until I was six years old. Then Dad was stationed to Guam.  He flew out six months before we did, so mom was left in the states for that time with three children (by this time, my grandmother had died, leaving my aunt an orphan.  My aunt is only 3 months older than me and came to live with us for several years). I started kindergarten here, where I went to two different schools, because we moved during the school year. I don’t recall my first teacher at all, but I do my second one.  She was a young black woman…probably the first black person I had a personal interaction with and she was a wonderful teacher!  I recall playing Farmer in the Dell and taking the bus to school (the only time in my school career I did.)
Dad and my brother...Guam

My brother was born on Guam and I attended first and second grade there.  Memories there revolve around walking to school, going to the beach, my brother’s birth, learning Santa Claus is…well, you know, losing my front teeth when my aunt accidently kicked me in the mouth, girl scouts, and being locked in the bathroom at school one day and missing recess. That incident left me traumatized for at least an afternoon.

After two years dad was then stationed in North Carolina.  The Air Force base didn’t have housing, so we had to live in the teeny tiny town of Freemont, population 300.  I don’t know how my mom did it, but she told the school there that my aunt and I were twins (I think she was embarrassed for people to know she had a sister and daughter the same age).  Third grade was done in Freemont.  A few years ago, I was visiting a friend in Durham and we drove out to Freemont. I have found memories of the ‘one main street town.’  The three-story, red brick 1st -12th grade still stands. I am pretty sure I found the house we lived in, and the town still just has one main street.  The elderly lady at the drug store wanted to know why I was walking up and down the street taking pictures.  Her son, now the pharmacist is pretty sure he remembers my sister being in his class, since we had such an odd last name.  It was a great trip down memory lane.

Toward the end of the school year, a house was available on base and we moved about 20 miles away to Goldsboro.

My sister, me and brother (1974ish)

During the time at Goldsboro, I did fourth grade, one and half times.  I think of my memories from that time.  I learned about Clara Barton, I walked to school, my mom ran over our cat and I discovered her. I was home alone when the phone rang. The man wanted to talk to my parents (I don’t recall why), but because I was on the phone in the kitchen, I missed seeing which curtain was the big deal on Let’s Make a Deal.  Really, I remember that to this day. How stupid is that? Oh, there was this big field behind our house and the neighborhood kids and my siblings would play war out there. 

Want to know why I have an aversion to running, or exercise in general? While in Goldsboro, mom made a comment after we saw some guy out jogging.  “He’ll go home and drink a coke, and all get back all those calories he burned.”  See, what’s the point? I was probably about 10 when she said that.

In the middle of my second year of fourth grade, dad was transferred again, to Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, Texas.  The very last day we were at our house, on the way home from the last day of school before Christmas break, I tripped and landed on a rock, cutting me knee.  My sister and I were taken to the hospital by an young airman.  I had to get stitches and wear a brace on my leg….on the entire drive from North Carolina to Galveston, TX, where we would spend Christmas with family.

It was the end of 1970, beginning of 1971, and mom and dad bought their very first house in Fort Worth.  Up until this time, Fort Worth would be the longest we stayed anywhere.  I finished up the second year of fourth grade, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and part of tenth grades.  Dad, who all this time had been a technician on flight simulators, cross-trained to be a tail-gunner in a B-52 and was sent to Vietnam for temporary duty over several years. (He was awarded the Distinguished Flyer Cross for one mission) Mom maintained the household, while working, too.  In 1975 or so, she started working at Village Inn Pancake House.  I started working there, too. First as a busgirl, then as a waitress.

By the way, who remembers the nuclear war drills in school?  The fallout shelters?  My elementary school in Fort Worth was a fallout shelter, with barrels of water stockpiled in the basement (where the cafeteria was).  So, for nuclear war drills, we would all duck under our desks with our hands over our heads, because THAT would save us from an A-bomb being dropped on Carswell 15 miles away.....

In 1976, dad retired from the Air Force, after having served for over 20 years.  Mom was offered a managership at Village Inn in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  So, the family moved once again. It was the middle of my tenth grade when we moved.  When I started in the middle of the year, I met up with an exchange student from Australia, who had also just arrived at the school.  She and I became good friends and she encouraged me to apply via Rotary International to be an exchange student too.

My mom told me once that she allowed me to apply because I was a C+ student and she figured my grades were not good enough to make it.  Well, lo and behold, I was accepted into the program and was sent to Finland for the year between my junior and senior years of high school.  That was a great experience! I was able to visit Leningrad, Sweden and parts of Finland, including being within 300 miles of the Arctic Circle.

When I returned to Las Cruces, I finished out my senior year and met up with an exchange student from Finland.  Needless to say, we became friends (and a few years ago, Annika found me on Facebook!).  I also met my first husband during my senior year.  Because of having to redo fourth grade and losing a year while in Finland, I was 20 years old when I graduated.  Instead of going to college, I got married.

My parents had by this time gone into the restaurant business themselves, opening a sub sandwich shop. Right after my graduation, the family moved from Las Cruces to Albuquerque.  A year later, I married Randy Rose and we moved to Denver, Colorado.  Less than a year later our daughter Tiffany was born.  When she was 18 months old, we moved back to Albuquerque.  Aside from a book I started in high school, it was during my time in Albuquerque that I really started writing, Harlequin-type books, longhand in notebooks. I wrote several at that time.

 In 1985, my parents sold their restaurant and we all moved to Gonzales, Louisiana. I got a computer while here; you know the kind, where you had to put in a floppy disk to load the ‘word’ program every time you used it.  My stories were also saved on floppy disks.  The one and only story I sent into Harlequin was rejected…I mean, who knew about query letters, synopsis, and agents? 

Randy and I divorced and I met my current husband, Jim. Right after we married, we moved to Charleston, WV.

My second child, Holly, was born in Charleston.  Jim, I and the girls spent six years in Charleston (the longest I lived anywhere up to that time).  Jim was then transferred back to Gonzales, LA, where my parents still lived.  Jim and I bought our first house and lived there for eight years.  He then got a job outside Houston, Texas and we moved in 2001.  Now, this is the longest I have lived anywhere in my life, thirteen years!

Jim and me

I put my writing pretty much on hold for 20 years. It wasn’t until after we were settled here that I sat down to write again. I wrote two 110,000 word novels in six months.  Needless to say, they are not well-written.  After I wrote them, though, I signed up for a creative writing class at the local community college.  That’s where I learned I didn’t know how to write a novel.  But my professor is the one who told me about Romance Writers of America and got me started in the right direction for being published.

In the meantime, my daughters grew up, graduated high school, married and had children.  I now have three grandchildren, a boy and two girls.  I finally went to college when I was 45-years-old and got an Associate of Arts degree in history and education.  Had I gone to college out of high school, I would have gotten that very same degree.  I am now a substitute teacher with the local school district.  I help care for one of my grandchildren (the other two live in Louisiana and I see them as often as I can).

Oh, and very recently, I learned all about geocaching.  I’m going to write a blog about that, even though, it’s not really a ‘western’ thing.   It’s really fun!

Geocaching fun with the grandkids

As backstories go, this one is pretty bland, I know.  There is no angst or drama given here.  My childhood was good, but not perfect.  I, unlike my sister, did not mind the frequent moves.  I still don’t mind moving to a new place.  My sister, after a short stint in the Air Force and marriage, settled in Fort Worth, where she graduated high school.  She’s been there since 1985 and is happy (and is now a retired Fort Worth Police Officer).  My father, when he was TDY in Vietnam, started drinking heavily and the family had to deal with his alcoholism for the rest of his life. My parents, after 35 years of marriage, divorced.  If I were to use my life story as a character’s backstory, I would need to dig deeper and, maybe, fictionalize some things….

So, have you been keeping track?  How many states did I live in?  Don’t include Guam, which is a U.S. Territory or Finland. And don’t count the fact I lived in three of those states twice.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of my books…winner’s choice.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Author, A Gift Beyond All Measure
www. aklanier. com
Never let your memories be greater than your dreams. ~Doug Ivester 

Friday, September 12, 2014


Thanks to Kathleen Rice Adams for donating her post slot to fellow author D'Ann Lindun.. We here on Sweethearts of the West always suspected our Outlaw was actually soft-hearted in spite of that Houston wanted poster.☺

by D'Ann Lindun

The word chaps is a shortened version of chaparejos or chaparreras, Mexican or Spanish words for this garment, ultimately derived from Spanish chaparro. They are prounounced “Shaps” by western riders and “Chaps” by Eastern riders.

The earliest form of protective leather garment used by mounted riders who herded cattle in Spain and Mexico were called armas which meant shields.

Style variations adapted as vaqueros and later, cowboys, moved up from Mexico into the Pacific coast and northern Rockies of what today is the United States and Canada. Mountain men also copied them from leggings worn by Native Americans.

There are several variations:

Shotgun: As the name implies, straight legged.

Batwing: cut wide with a flare at the bottom.

Zamorros resemble batwing chaps, in that the leggings are closely fitted at the thigh and flare out below the knee, but unlike batwings, the leggings extend far below the boot with a distinctive triangular flare.

Chinks: half-length chaps that stop two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) below the knee, with very long fringe at the bottom and along the sides.

Armitas: short legging with completely closed legs that have to be put on in a manner similar to pants.

Woolies are a variation on shotgun chaps, made with fleece, angora or with hair-on cowhide, often lined with canvas on the inside.

Zamorros resemble batwing chaps, in that the leggings are closely fitted at the thigh and flare out below the knee, but unlike batwings, the leggings extend far below the boot with a distinctive triangular flare.

Modern day cowboys still wear chaps to protect their legs from, livestock, weather and brush. The flashiest chaps will be seen in horse show rings and rodeo arenas. Farriers use them to protect their legs when shoeing a horse. Non-equestrian users include motorcycle riders, loggers and some are popular in BDSM culture.

Figure 1 My pop (L) wearing batwing style and his friend Jim (R) wearing chinks on a rainy day.

Figure 2 A friend wears chinks

In Cowboy Bred, Cowboy Born Gentry wears chaps…
Struggling to his feet wearing heavy chaps wasn’t easy. As he floundered around, he drank in a nose and mouthful of the churned up water. He gagged, spit out dirty water. Suddenly, a hand reached out for his.          
She had ridden the gray mare into the pond and was holding out her hand to him.
He grabbed hold, and she dragged him to shore. Once there, he dropped to his knees and coughed up mud. Alannah dismounted and pounded him on the back.
He waved her off. “I’m okay.”
She leaned close to his face. “You scared the crap out of me.”
 “Sorry.” He flopped over on his ass. “Damn. Horse took me by surprise.”
 “Me, too.”
He began unbuckling his chaps. Dry, they weighed a lot; wet, they felt like boulders on his legs. Once free, he was still soaked from his hat to boots. Struggling to his feet, he finally noticed Alannah had hold of the horses.

Seven men as tough as the west…
          Seven women who know how to...
Cowboy Up

A boxed set of seven romantic novellas by seven award-winning authors experienced with writing about the men of the West.

Always, Cowboy by Allison Merritt
The past is better left behind, unless it offers a brighter future.
Brody Longtree's first love was bull riding, but he loved beauty queen Libby Dempsey equally as hard. When she turned down his marriage proposal, everything from his rodeo career to his love life went to hell. His love ran too deep for blame, so he made the best of what life threw at him. Things finally get back on track...and then she almost runs over his dog.
When her pageant dreams died in an embarrassing display of nerves, Libby made a new, cowboy-free life for herself. One where she could train other girls who want to be pageant princesses. One that doesn't give her any reason to dwell on what might have been with Brody until his dog bounds into her heart. And she bounds into Brody's bed.
Despite the differences in their lives, they mesh together, the way Brody always knew they would. No matter what, he's waiting until he's certain Libby is ready to get married before he asks again, but their relationship comes under fire when one of her friends reveals a secret about a little girl Libby is awfully attached to—a girl who's the right age to be Brody's daughter.
Under that snap front western shirt, did he still sport six-pack abs? She couldn't count the number of times she'd helped him out of a similar shirt and put ice on his bruises after a ride. Or how often they'd parked at the lake and explored one another under the stars.
“Hot?” Brody asked.
“You're flushed. We could go sit in the stands, maybe catch a breeze.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Can I ask you something, Lib?” Brody rose. His dark eyes were serious and a few lines bracketed his mouth. “Why'd you come tonight?”
Libby swallowed hard. “You asked me.”
“I only live an hour away and I didn't have anything else to do tonight.” Tell him you miss him.
“You used to be more honest.” He slipped his hand around her wrist. “You missed me.”
“I—” Electricity buzzed through her from his touch. “Maybe a little.”
“Maybe a lot.” He pulled her into his arms. “You wouldn't be here otherwise.”
Seven men as tough as the west…
          Seven women who know how to...
Cowboy Up

A boxed set of seven romantic novellas by seven award-winning authors experienced with writing about the men of the West.

Always, Cowboy by Allison Merritt
The past is better left behind, unless it offers a brighter future.
Brody Longtree's first love was bull riding, but he loved beauty queen Libby Dempsey equally as hard. When she turned down his marriage proposal, everything from his rodeo career to his love life went to hell. His love ran too deep for blame, so he made the best of what life threw at him. Things finally get back on track...and then she almost runs over his dog.
When her pageant dreams died in an embarrassing display of nerves, Libby made a new, cowboy-free life for herself. One where she could train other girls who want to be pageant princesses. One that doesn't give her any reason to dwell on what might have been with Brody until his dog bounds into her heart. And she bounds into Brody's bed.
Despite the differences in their lives, they mesh together, the way Brody always knew they would. No matter what, he's waiting until he's certain Libby is ready to get married before he asks again, but their relationship comes under fire when one of her friends reveals a secret about a little girl Libby is awfully attached to—a girl who's the right age to be Brody's daughter.
Under that snap front western shirt, did he still sport six-pack abs? She couldn't count the number of times she'd helped him out of a similar shirt and put ice on his bruises after a ride. Or how often they'd parked at the lake and explored one another under the stars.
“Hot?” Brody asked.
“You're flushed. We could go sit in the stands, maybe catch a breeze.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Can I ask you something, Lib?” Brody rose. His dark eyes were serious and a few lines bracketed his mouth. “Why'd you come tonight?”
Libby swallowed hard. “You asked me.”
“I only live an hour away and I didn't have anything else to do tonight.” Tell him you miss him.
“You used to be more honest.” He slipped his hand around her wrist. “You missed me.”
“I—” Electricity buzzed through her from his touch. “Maybe a little.”
“Maybe a lot.” He pulled her into his arms. “You wouldn't be here otherwise.”
About Allison Merritt:
A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town  in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she's not writing or reading, she hikes in  national parks and conservation areas.
Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that's gathering dust after it was determined that she's better at writing fluff than hard news.
Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Google+  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest


Cowboys Don’t Cry by Vickie Taylor
A broken cowboy with nothing left to lose…except his heart.
Dash Connaway is hell-bent down a highway to nowhere. But he can’t outrun fate. Just a few months ago, he’d had a new album shooting up the country music charts, a luxury tour bus prepped for gigs in 39 cities, and a live-in girl friend he’d been thinking of asking to marry him. Now he’s just another drifter with an old guitar, a beat-up pickup, and a dog named Bill for a bed mate…until he meets Maggie McCain.
Maggie isn’t your ordinary Oregon rancher. She’s more into organic gardening and hand-spinning yarn from the fleece of her prized alpacas than breeding stinky old cattle. She’s a nurturer, a giver, so when Dash steps into her life from nowhere, she’s ready to trade in her solitary existence on the farm in favor of a husband to grow old with and a passel of children to care for.
But when she learns the real reason for Dash’s commitment to life on the road, she’s faced with a difficult choice and a lesson in the fallacy behind the old saying “Cowboys don’t cry.” Only time will tell just how potent the healing power of love can really be.
“It’s a girl,” he pronounced cradling the newborn alpaca in his arms.
The woman wiped her grimy chin with the back of her grimier hand. Tears tracked through the dirt on her cheeks. “You did it.” She pushed to her feet, but her legs looked none too steady. She picked up the rifle and leaned on it like a crutch.
Dash went to her, ready to catch her if she fell. “We did it,” he corrected.
“Yes, we did.”
He smiled and reached out to her free arm. It was meant to be a celebratory brush, a comfort…but it lingered a moment too long. The air changed.
Without warning, she swung her rifle up and rested the barrel against his chest. “Now who the hell are you, and what are you doing on my land?”
About Vickie Taylor:
Vickie Taylor published her first book in 1999 and quickly rose to the ranks of national best-selling and award-winning author. She enjoys all types of books, but especially paranormal, suspense, and western contemporary with the unifying theme being romance. Vickie always enjoys a good love story. She is the author of sixteen published novels and is a four-time nominee for the Oscar of the romance world, the Romance Writers of America Rita award. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s usually out riding horses, training search and rescue dogs, or volunteering with her local humane society. She is an avid supporter of the campaign to preserve America’s wild horses, and her latest release, Cowboys Don’t Cry is the first book in a new series featuring her beloved mustangs. Sign up for her newsletter to be notified when the next book in the series, The Horseman’s Widow, coming October, 2014, is available. Vickie loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via the methods below:
Website  (where you can also sign up for her newsletter announcing new releases.)  |  Facebook  |   Twitter 


A Cowboy’s Heart by Leslie Garcia
Teenage lovers torn apart by betrayal. Have seventeen years changed everything—or nothing?
Star-crossed lovers in their south Texas hill country high school, torn apart by a best friend’s lie, a mother’s cold hatred, and a father’s lack of trust…
High school junior Illy Kingston turns to varsity football star and cowboy in training Gil Salas when her father, a Border Patrol agent, is killed under suspicious circumstances.
Their hormone-fueled, all or nothing affair ends when betrayal tears them apart.
Years, later, Illy returns home, at loose ends after her disastrous marriage to a reality show rock star ends with an embarrassing photo gone viral and a divorce.
When Gil and his mounted Border Patrol make an unannounced civic call at a local elementary school, Gil is shocked to see Illy lurking in the shadows, threatening to upend his existence once again.
The old passion still burns—but neither can go back to the innocence of their high school affair. Illy swore never to love a man wearing a uniform that didn’t involve jeans, a western hat, and boots. Gil has a price on his head.
And star-crossed love doesn’t usually work for cowboys, either.
He stopped abruptly. Illy had told him to stop, and he hadn’t thought she meant it. The memory of her reacting to him, caressing him, wanting him, stormed back. And then, when Emma called, she’d turned off and fled in a fury.
Did she think he’d seen the picture? He’d seen it online, like the entire world had, according to all the social media. What if she thought he was just acting out what he’d seen? No matter how much the photo enraged and sickened him, he could only imagine her horror that her marriage was over, but that episode never would be.
Did she feel strange at all, being in his arms after that very public display with her ex-husband? His heart thudded dully. She must know he’d seen the picture, but what would it do to her if she knew the truth?
He closed his eyes. She was out of his life, and that was best for him. Because truth be told, he didn’t know if he could take her again and not remember the second most painful night of his life. The night he’d happened on Illy making love to her rock-star husband in public.
About Leslie Garcia:
Leslie P. García grew up lost among a crowd of six siblings and a menagerie that included more than twenty horses and ponies, uncounted dogs and cats, possums, raccoons—even a lion and monkeys. Then she moved to Texas, fell in love, was disowned—and embarked on her real adventures, raising 4 children, teaching hundreds, and loving 9 grandkids through forty years of marriage. The fabric of that colorful life has always been writing. In A Cowboy Heart, Leslie celebrates two of her passions—cowboys and the ever present chance at redemption in spite of past mistakes. Leslie loves hearing from readers and can be found all over cyber space, including these places:


The Heartsong Cowboy by Melissa Keir
Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl?
Angela French blames herself for her daughter’s lack of voice. Determined to do anything to correct the situation, she seeks out Jake Kyncade, the owner of The Heartsong Ranch.
Jake Kyncade hides his own sorrows behind his no-nonsense demeanor. Helping children becomes one way to correct his past. Using equine therapy, he sets out to make a difference.
Can Jake help Angela’s dreams come true or will Jake’s past bring more heartache? Will love save them all?
With Taylor asleep on the couch, Angela snuck the magazine out of her daughter’s sleeping hands before carrying her to her bed. After making sure her baby was tucked in, she turned out the lights and went to the kitchen. She sat down at the table to study the article about the horse whisperer. The photos gave off a peaceful feeling—so much so, she longed to jump into the images. Along with the horses, there were shots of children laughing and petting the animals. The article mentioned a little boy with Down’s Syndrome whose language increased after a week of animal therapy. The Heartsong Ranch. Even the name sounds encouraging. Dare I get my hopes up?
One photo in particular captured her attention. The owner, Jake Kyncade, wore jeans and a cowboy hat as he stood next to the ranch sign. She took a deep breath as butterflies circled in her abdomen. He’s sexy. Very different from Mike. Mr. Kyncade has this wounded look in his eyes. I wonder what his trauma was. I’ve gotten better at noticing it in others. Still, he’s good looking. Probably married with his own children.
About Melissa Keir:
Melissa Keir has always wanted to be an author when she wasn’t hoping for a career as a race car driver. Her love of books was instilled by her mother and grandparents who were avid readers. She’d often sneak books away from them so that she could fantasize about those strong alpha males and plucky heroines. In middle school and high school, Melissa used to write sappy love poems and shared them with her friends and still has those poems today! In college her writing changed to sarcastic musings on life as well as poems with a modern twist on fairy tales and won awards for her writing. You can find many of these musings along with her latest releases on her website and blog.
As a writer, Melissa likes to keep current on topics of interest in the world of writing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America, Mid-Michigan RWA Chapter, and EPIC. She is always interested in improving her writing through classes and seminars. 
Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a movie reviewer, an owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story.
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  | Facebook Page  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads


Cowboy Trouble by Autumn Piper
She’s decided to make some bad choices this weekend.
Susie Howell has always done what her family expects of her, but they don’t know about the divorce papers she’s just signed, or the secret torch she carries for sexy ranch hand Cash. When keeping the secret gets to her, she flees her brother’s wedding reception. Determined to live a little, she swipes the nearest truck from the ranch and heads to Sin City.
Cash Acosta has worked hard for everything he has, and nobody is taking off with his truck. When he sees it driving away, he jumps in—and becomes the unwilling passenger of a ready and willing woman he’s forbidden to touch. Hell-bent for trouble, the boss’s sister has already earmarked him as one of her “bad choices”.
And Susie intends to get what she wants.
“So that’s why you’re runnin’.” Under the parking lot lights, his eyes were pitch black. He thumbed a tear from her cheek.
She tried for a more ladylike sniffle, blinked away her tears. Nodded, for lack of a better reply.
“When I hear a beautiful woman wants to make some mistakes, my gut instinct is to help her out with that.” His thumb brushed her lower lip. “Hearin’ she’s single…that’s another checkmark in the pros column.” Hypnotized, she barely breathed as he cupped her jaw in his fingers and that gaze riveted on hers. “Seein’ her cry? What choice do I have?” He bent to her, his lips hot and strong, skilled as they teased hers apart, his tongue waking feelings she’d forgotten. And Lord, it may be too soon, it may be wrong, but she wanted. Wanted Cash, his hands, his mouth, his… She grabbed onto his hard shoulders, slipped her hands up his neck, buried her fingers in that thatch of hair. And kissed him like there was no tomorrow. Of course there was. Sexy, brooding, womanizing Cash wanted her, and he’d be hers, at least for this trip.
About Autumn Piper:
Born and raised in itty-bitty Rifle, Colorado, Autumn Piper studiously avoided trouble…but is now inclined toward it, particularly in her novels. She thinks the best things in life are funny, and the runners-up, romantic.
An admitted carb addict, Autumn writes, edits, manages two teenagers, two cats, a box turtle with a huge personality, one husband and many supersize houseplants, and does the cooking and cleaning when forced to.
To sign up for Autumn’s occasional newsletter:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon Page 


Chasing a Cowboy by Sara Walter Ellwood
He’s running from heartbreak. She’s chasing after love… Their hearts will never be the same.
Paige Morgan has lived her entire life in the glare of her fraternal twin sister’s star. Although the sisters are as different as sun is from the moon, Paige fell in love with the same man as her famous swimsuit model sister. When country superstar Chase Jordan is dumped at the altar by her twin, Paige sees an opportunity to go after the one thing of her sister’s she’s always wanted. She finds Chase in Cabo San Lucas nursing his broken heart in the true country song fashion—with a bottle of Jose Cuervo—and reminds him of the desire he once felt for her. Will this singing cowboy change his tune as they set the tropical nights on fire? Or will Paige be the one singing the blues when her sister shows up wanting her man back?
All of his hopes and dreams shattered on what should have been the happiest day of his life. Today, instead of settling in for their two-week vacation and only getting out of bed to eat, he was nursing a bottle of Jose Cuervo. Why had he come here? His brother was right; he could have easily eaten the cost of the trip. Chase had insisted that he had to escape for a little while, lick his wounds and come up with a plan before he had to go back on tour in a few weeks. Jack accused him of wanting to punish himself. Why else would he go to the place he and Kayla were to have their honeymoon? Had he come here to remind himself of what should have been? He shook his head, hoping to dislodge the thoughts, and turned to gaze out the other side of the bar.
A woman stood on the walkway staring at him through a pair of Aviators. Her long blonde ponytail shimmered in the sun like spun gold. He narrowed his eyes. Was he now hallucinating?
She entered the bar and headed toward him. Sitting on the stool beside him, she removed her sunglasses to reveal a pair of expressive hazel eyes. “Surprise.”
“Paige? What the hell are you doing here?”
About Sara Walter Ellwood:
Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published author and publishes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.


Cowboy Bred, Cowboy Born by D’Ann Lindun
Freedom or family?  Only love can make the choice.
Photographer Alannah Murphy refuses to be tied down. She watched her parents struggle to hold onto their dairy farm until it killed them. The mere thought of the same fate makes her shudder. When she meets rancher Sterling Gentry she has to face her fears, or lose him.
Sterling Gentry longs for someone to hand his ranch down to. Like his father before him, he has sacrificed everything to hold onto the land his ancestors settled. But finding Ms. Right proves harder than he imagined. Then he meets Alannah Murphy with her big city ways. How he can ever take a chance with a woman exactly like his mother, who abandoned him when he was a child?
Despite their determination to stay the course they’ve each chosen, attraction pulls them together as steadily as a nail to a magnet. Can these two find a way to mesh Alannah’s need for freedom and Gentry’s desire to hold onto his land?
Still snapping photos, the woman approached him. When she came within speaking distance, she waved. “Hello.”
“Who the hell are you? And what are you doing in the middle of the road? Don’t you know better than to stand in the way when somebody’s herding stock?”
Her mouth opened and closed a couple times. “I didn’t think—”
“Hell no, you didn’t think,” Gentry shouted. “Damn it anyway.”
“I’m sorry,” she said in a small voice. “The shot was just so good…”
The shot? She’d ruined hours upon hours of exhausting work because she’d wanted a picture? Who the hell would do something so stupid?
Only a damn greenhorn.
For the first time he noticed her get-up. A straw hat only a city girl would wear, floaty pink top with tiny straps that left her bare shoulders exposed to the unforgiving Arizona sun, cut-off jean shorts and red cowboy boots. Daisy Duke personified. He shook his head in disgust.
Reality crashed over him.
The New York photographer his mother had enticed out here, hoping an article in The Cowboy magazine would bring attention to the Santa Gertrudis cattle they raised.
About D’Ann Lindun:
Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Romance appeals to her because there's just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. D’Ann’s particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them. This is probably because she draws inspiration from the area where she lives, Western Colorado, her husband of twenty-nine years and their daughter. Composites of their small farm, herd of horses, five Australian shepherds, a Queensland heeler, two ducks and cats of every shape and color often show up in her stories!
D’Ann loves to hear from readers! Please contact her at:


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