Friday, April 4, 2014

An Introduction, and an Invitation, to Willow Creek, Montana

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be posting today. For those of you who have never heard of me, I'm Lily Graison, and I'm the newest member here at Sweethearts of the West!

I've been writing since 2002, and sold my first book to Linden Bay Romance in 2005. That debut story won a Reviewer's Choice Award from eCata Romance and turned my hobby into a budding new career. I sold my second story to Whiskey Creek Press in 2006 before settling in at Alinar Publishing the following year. When the economy took a turn for the worse, the company I worked for shut its doors. It was a blessing in disguise. I converted my daughters old bedroom into an office and have been writing full time ever since.

I believe in love at first sight and happily ever afters that last forever. My first serious crush was at the ripe young age of thirteen and five years later, that same boy asked me to marry him. We just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. We have two grown children, two grandbabies (both boys, one a special needs child) and our first granddaughter will be here April 26th.

My love for the "old west" came about in an odd sort of way. My husband worked with a young man who was getting into civil war reenacting and like any man interested in guns, my husband wanted to join. I let him go do his thing but once I started hearing his stories of camp life, while I sat at home alone every other weekend, I decided to slip on period garments and join him.

Here we are in camp. This is a typical 'work dress' the women wore. I don't like wearing 'bonnets' so I always had my straw hat on when outside, along with my haversack for essentials.

Inside our home away from home. Despite portraying a couple in the 1800's we're still creatures of habit so we can't rough it like they did. I still need a few essentials. I'm too old to sleep on the ground! 

It didn't take long to get into the 'part' and a few months after joining, I decided to slip into a corset (grunt, tug and re-learn how to breath is more like it) and become a true Southern Belle. Unfortunately no one told me how expensive those dresses were! After searching the internet and not coming up with anything remotely affordable, I decided to create my own. I'd never sewn anything other than doll dresses but I bought a pattern and material and started my first project. 

It took a month to complete my dress. I had to re-cut and sew the jacket twice (my stripes didn't line up) and the ribbon on the jacket was handmade out of 92" strips of coordinating fabrics, hand gathered. After much frustration, I managed to finish the dress and wear it at one of our events! Here I am in the finished project. 

These two pictures were taken 2 years apart. The first with a traditional 'straw' hat and the second with a fancier, feathered hat I made. I'd lost 65 pounds between the time those photos were taken, and even though I tried to alter the dress, it just didn't hang right, which is why the dress is dragging the ground in the second photo. There just wasn't enough of me to fill it all out, not that I'm complaining! *wink*

After tackling that first dress, I jumped head first into more projects, this coat being the most time consuming. The piping along the edges was a bear to sew into place. 

Here's a close up of the hat, modeled by the lovely, Josie. This is actually the first hat I made. And yes, they are as fun to wear as they look!

During those nights sitting around a campfire, watching men in civil war uniforms walk along the tents, the first seeds of my Willow Creek Series began to form. I loved the smell of burning firewood and of food cooked over an open flame. The idea of a life, although hard compared to the ease in which we do things now, was so much more appealing. Things were simple compared to our hectic schedules and I wanted that feeling to last beyond our make-believe battle fields. I wanted to immerse myself in it daily and relive it again and again.

I get my wish in Willow Creek, Montana. My sleepy little frontier town is filled with friendly faces and down-home goodness. There's six books in the series so far, although each one can be read as a stand alone story.

The first in the series, The Lawman, introduces the reader to the town and the Avery family, the backbone of the community. Morgan Avery, the town marshal, is the oldest of four brothers and the most ornery of the bunch.

The Lawman
by Lily Graison
Book 1 in the Willow Creek Series

Historical Western Romance
Format: eBook/Paperback
Length: Novella
Released: Nov. 2011

On the run from her ex-lover...
Jilted by a no-show husband...
And now mistaken for a whore in the Diamond Back Saloon...

Abigail Thornton doesn’t think things can get any worse. That is until a single slap to a man’s face starts a barroom brawl that lands her in the last place she expected to be.

Town Marshal Morgan Avery wants nothing more than to wash away the trail-dust and sleep for a week, preferably with a soft, willing woman by his side. Instead, he gets Abigail Thornton – all one hundred pounds of her thrust at him seconds before a fist connects with his face. Breaking up the fight takes more effort than he wants to admit and when the last man falls he finds Abigail still standing and not looking the least bit contrite.

Throwing her into the town jail for the night would salve his wounded pride and then he will let her go. Or that was the plan. When morning comes he finds himself oddly reluctant to do so. Miss Thornton is hiding something and he aims to find out what, even if he has to bed her to do so. But will one night in her bed be enough?

The Lawman is currently FREE at most online retailers. Grab your copy at the following links.

Amazon.Com US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | IN | CA | BR
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBook Store

If you'd like to learn more about the other books in the Willow Creek Series, head over to my website and check out the Western Books page. You can also see the rest of my period clothing, including the period wedding dress I made for my daughter, over on my Pinterest page.

About Lily Graison

Lily Graison lives in the foothills of North Carolina with her husband, two high-strung Yorkies, more cats than she can count and the neighbors chicken who thinks he’s part of her family. First published in 2005, she is the author of over a dozen published books in the Western, Contemporary and Paranormal Romance genres.

When not writing, Lily can be found at her sewing machine creating 1800’s period clothing or participating in civil war reenactments and area living history events. When not portraying a Southern Belle, you can find her at a nearby store feeding her obsession for all things resembling office supplies.

To see the dresses Lily has created, visit her Pinterest page.

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  1. What a great post, Lily. You are very industrious to be able to jump into sewing with period costumes. Welcome to Sweethearts of the West!

    P.S. I'm reading one of your books now.

  2. Thanks, Caroline! The only thing that saved me in the dress making is the fact I can follow sewing directions well. Thats not to say my seam ripper didn't get a work out, though. LOL

  3. You sew beautifully, Lily. Looks like fun and it's a neat thing that you and your husband share the hobby. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lily, I look forward to reading your series. What an interesting post - and person you are. Thanks, Caroline, for introducing her!

  5. Welcome, welcome, Lily! I'm so pleased you're among us now. I read the Lawman..very good book!
    I admire people who can do these reenactments, and I know some others even though I cannot recall the names. I admire you even more for many those costumes. I once sewed a lot, made many of my own clothing and my kids. But when I quit, I quit..forever, and ever and ever.
    One day I'm going to watch a reenactment somewhere!
    Excellent post--you're on track, for sure.

  6. Oh, to be so talented at sewing! I admire you tremendously, Lily, for undertaking such complex period costumes. You are also a whiz at website design and I have no doubt you're a terrific writer. We're very lucky to have you as our newest Sweetheart.

  7. I really enjoyed reading about your re-enactment activities. I'm with you on the not sleeping on the ground bit...not me. It actually sounded like fun and I see why you were so inspired by it.
    I can sew, but those dresses looked might complicated.
    Welcome to Sweethearts if the West, Lily. It's going to be so much fun getting to know you.

  8. Absolutely love the dresses. I used to sew a lot in my younger days and I kinda miss it. But wow, you did an amazing job. And how fun to be a part of the reenactment adventures. Makes me want to join. Welcome to Sweethearts. I've been sorta out of the loop for a bit while school took over my life but my work load is finally lessening some so hopefully I can play more.

  9. Wow, Lily what an undertaking. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post. I really enjoy your Willow Creek series. Can't wait til your next release.

    I got to learn of your books because I follow Caroline Clemmons. I love her books and she recommended your series.

    Thanks again for taking the time to blog about your interesting hobby.

    Aloha, Michele H


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