Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Yee-haw! It’s finally here: Prairie Rose Publications’ second-annual Christmas in July. All of the Roses have been a mite excited for weeks now. The event stirred up the corral something fierce, not least because twenty of us wrote the short stories, novellas, and novels that are part of the event. We were sworn to secrecy until yesterday, when the corral gate opened and the herd spilled out a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’.

Do you know how hard it is to keep a secret like that? PRP founders Cheryl Pierson and Livia Washburn Reasoner had their hands full muzzling the herd.

The first Christmas in July around these parts contained only six Christmas short stories written by the six original Prairie Roses. This year’s special sale contains a total of twenty-five heart-warming volumes overflowing with tales about love all year round, plus two additional collections of traditional westerns. Most are priced at 99 cents; five of the ebooks are $1.99 because they contain two stories each.

Is that a deal, or what?

Here’s a quick look at the twenty-one ebooks that released today. Aren’t the covers fantastic? After creating every single one of them all by her lonesome, Livia deserves a break, don’t you think?

Many of this year’s Christmas in July short stories were published last year in one of PRP’s popular anthologies. If you’ve been waiting to try a story by a writer whose work you haven’t read, now is a great time to curl up with a heart-melting tale that will sweep you away to the Wild West. At 99 cents, how can you go wrong? And who knows? You may discover a new favorite author.

Six of the novels on sale for 99 cents have been available for a few months and are some of PRP’s most popular offerings.

More than a few of the Christmas in July stories were written by award-winning and best-selling authors, including James Reasoner and Livia Washburn Reasoner, two of the western genre’s enduring favorites. Some of the ebooks made Amazon’s Top 100 lists during the pre-sale period. (Thank you, early birds!)

You can find more information about all of these extra-special releases on a special page at the PRP website. Take a look. We bet you’ll find something you like.

Because we’re always looking for an excuse to kick up our heels with readers and friends, the Prairie Rose family will host one of our infamous Facebook Fandangos on July 27 and 28. Twenty-one authors will be there to stir things up. RSVP by clicking on the image.


Come join the festivities! The Roses will be giving away lots and lots of prizes, including ebooks and autographed print books, jewelry, Amazon gift cards, cowboy gift bags, and other western gear anyone would love to win.

As a heartfelt thank you for joining us in this celebration of PRP authors and their work, we’ll gift an ebook to several of today’s blog visitors. Simply comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winners will be picked at random and will get to choose their prize from the list of today’s twenty-one new releases.

Thanks for stopping by, and merry Christmas in July!

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Saturday was the Facebook party for the National Cowboy Day. Great bits of cowboy wisdom were shared and it reminded me of a collection I have by Texas Bix Bender titled DON’T SQUAT WITH YER SPURS ON! A Cowboy’s Guide to Life http://amzn.com/B00V5ML7F4

Here are some of the pearls from that book:

Don’t never interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none.

Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.

Don’t worry about bitin’ off more ‘n you can chew. Your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger than you think.

Makin’ it in life is kinda like bustin’ broncs: you’re gonna get thrown a lot. The simple secret is to keep getting’ back on.

You can just about always stand more ‘n you think you can.

There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.

A woman’s heart is like a campfire. If you don’t tend to it regular, you’ll soon lose it.

Control your generosity when you’re dealin’ with a chronic borrower.

Too much debt doubles the weight on your horse and puts another in control of the reins.

Don’t let so much reality into your life that there’s no room left for dreamin’.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Nobody ever drowned himself in his own sweat.

Honesty is not something you should flirt with—you should be married to it.

Cowboys are always a welcome subject, aren’t they? In fact, I love reading anything about the West, which is why I write and read western romances. My latest release is the historical romance, McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, book three of the McClintock series. Didn't Skhye Moncrief do a fabulous job designing the cover?

Here’s the blurb:

Nettie Clayton’s well-planned life is stolen in a few moments. All she wants is a better life for her family in McClintock Falls, Texas where her father can recover from years spent coal mining. Her teacher’s salary is slated toward saving for her younger brother to attend medical school. Her dreams are dashed when Josh McClintock mistakes her window for that of her neighbor. She wants to resist her parents’ decree, but there’s no way to win.

Josh McClintock’s free-wheeling life comes to an abrupt end after his birthday celebration. He works hard by day on the family ranch; he plays just as hard on weekends. He loves being single to play the field of willing females and has no plan to marry for five or six years. One drunken mistake alters his life and Nettie’s forever.

While Nettie and Josh struggle to deal with an unwanted marriage, a crazed villain planning his revenge against the McClintock family targets Josh and Nettie.  What happens when the villain attacks?

Here are buy links:
Amazon in Deutschland  http://www.amazon.de/dp/B011LGDP8U

And why not sign up for my newsletter to stay informed of new releases, contests, and events? Here’s the link: http://carolineclemmons.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=0a24664c906875718d975ad7b&id=7c2e488a51

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cowboys, Cowboys and More Cowboys!

I enjoy books from many different genres and eras, but must admit, cowboy heroes are my favorite. It might be because I grew up watching westerns on TV (with a house full of brothers, I didn’t get control of the TV very often—not that I would have changed the channel). Just like many other girls my first boyfriend was Little Joe Cartwright—he just never knew it.

To me, a cowboy isn’t just a man wearing boots and a Stetson. It’s his way of life, and he’s a breed all his own.

Here’s a list of a few traits cowboys are portray:

They respect women. Throwing their coats over mud puddles and opening doors for a lady is embedded in them. Cursing in front of women is a no-no, too.

Faith, in God, the land, animals, and other people runs deep. They expect other to respect that, too.

Humility runs strong in cowboys. The limelight isn’t for them.

They are spendthrifts, until it comes to their horse and gear. Conservative, too, and not just with money. This includes words, deeds, beliefs, and politics,

Protectiveness runs strong in them—over their loved ones, animals, and the land. Don’t mess with a cowboy because he will fight to the death.

Music. Aw, yes, a cowboy loves his music. To play it, to dance to it, to sing. There’s always a song in a cowboy’s heart.

Speaking of his heart—he wears it on his sleeves, although he’d never admit it. His heart is often as well used as his hands, full of scars and covered with calluses, but when he gives it away, it’s for a lifetime.

The strong silent type. Yep, that’s a cowboy. John Wayne meant it when he said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say much.” Prying words out of them can be impossible. They’d rather communicate through actions. A cowboy doesn’t throw words around, especially ones he doesn’t mean.

Critters—they have to have more than one. Horses are a must, but so are dogs. They like other animals, too, but expect each one to have a purpose.

Cowboys are simple men, down to earth, and utterly loveable—when they want to be. A heroine, lucky enough to have a cowboy fall in love with her, needs to understand these things. If she tries to change him, she’s changing who he is, and they’ll both be miserable.

If you love cowboys as much as I do, you are in luck because Harlequin is having a great sale on books with cowboy heroes! For the month of July the following titles are on sale for just 99¢!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SISTERS by Tanya Hanson

I am so excited to be back in the corral here at Sweethearts of the West. Thanks for inviting me, cowgirls.

Anyway, anybody who knows me knows that reading Little Women when I was eight set my goal to be a writer. Someday, somehow.

And it’s all about a set of sisters. So with my new release, Sisters, out July 24, I simply must regale you with trivia about those March sisters and their stories. See how well you do. (Answers appear at the very end...no peeking now.)

1. Who is the oldest March sister:
a) Amy;
b) Jo;
c) Meg;
d) Beth.

2. Jo works for:
a) Aunt March;
b) The Boston Beacon;
c) the Weekly Volcano;
d) Mr. Laurence.

3.  When Amy burns Joe’s treasured manuscript (Horrors! No back-up or Dropbox...) what melts Jo’s fury?
a) Amy marries Laurie so Jo doesn’t have to.
b) Amy contracts scarlet fever.
c) Aunt March threatens to send Amy to art school in Paris.
d) Amy falls through the ice on a frozen pond.

4.  Beth becomes ill with:
a) consumption;
b) scarlet fever;
c) influenza;
d) appendicitis.

Little Women author Louisa May Alcott
5. Meg marries:
a) Ned Moffat;
b) John Brooke;
c) Friedrich Bhaer;
d) No, she doesn’t. She remains single.

6. Beth dies at age:
a) 19;
b) 18;
c) 17;
d) 16.

7. Originally a two-parter, the second half of Little Women (Part 2 today) was called:
a) Good Wives;
b) Army Wives (this was, after all, Civil War times.)
c) Little Children;
d) The Last March.

8. Aunt March’s home is called:
a) Fruitlands;
b) Orchard House;
c) Apple Farm;
d) Plumfield.

9. Meg’s children are officially christened:
a) Jack and Jill;
b) Jack and Daisy;
c) John and Jane;
d) John and Margaret.

10.  Little Women led to two sequels:
a) Little Men, and Little Children;
b) Joe’s Boys, and Meg’s Twins;
c) The Finale March, and The Final Chapter;
d) Little Men, and Jo’s Boys.

So, what’s with Sisters? Specially since I never had one. Well, when I answered the call to write a mail-order-bride story, hmmm, I wanted a new angle. So debutante Elspeth Maroney leaves her stinkin’, cheatin’ bridegroom at the altar. Problem solved except...prim and proper—and curious—Ellie has had a quickie indiscretion with Said Bridegroom and now, ahem. Needs a mail-order-husband just for a month.  Until she knows for sure she isn’t, you know. But if she is, then, she’s covered.

But her intended, handsome Colorado rancher Hezekiah wants a wife for life. Ellie’s conscience prickles and her heart flutters upon meeting the gorgeous cowboy. Read all about it in Her Hurry-up Husband.

Anyway, my editor (the talented, ever-patient and most excellent Cheryl Pierson) flat out said...Elspeth’s sister Judith has GOT to get away from their awful mama. Hence...(this is an important word in the story)...Judith has her own set of adventures and romance in Her Thief of Hearts. Beautiful socialite (her). Darling orphan and...An outlaw! Bad-boy “Black Ankles” holds up a speeding train, and she’s on it. Along with Elspeth’s spurned bridegroom! Oh no. Can her beloved Tremaine rescue her in time?

And now, both stories are releasing in one set. Isn’t the cover dreamy?  What fun, two-for-one.

(To make it more fun, Tremaine’s brother Ronnie has his own love story coming out at Christmas...)

Anyway, Sisters is joined by another two-fer by my friend Tracy Garrett. A River’s Bend Duo. I wanted to share it with you today.

Wanted: The Sheriff
Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only weeks away, Martha decides to announce her intentions — and declares the sheriff a wanted man.

Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore — until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.

No Less Than Forever
Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birth. He has good friends and enough income to provide him with a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.

Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have...a love that will last forever.

Sisters and A River's Bend Duo are two of the twenty-one ebooks that are part of Prairie Rose Publications' Christmas in July event, which starts July 24. All of the stories are priced 99 cents or $1.99. Prairie Rose will be hosting a fandango on Facebook to celebrate the event. All of the authors who have books in the sale will be there, and I hope you'll join us, too. You can find more information about the party—including the nice prizes we'll be giving away—and sign up here.

All right. Here are the answers!
1-c; 2-a; 3-d; 4-b; 5-b; 6-a; 7-a; 8-d; 9-d; 10-d

A native Californian, Tanya Hanson lives on the central coast with her firefighter husband and considers their son and daughter the best thing she’s ever done. After a career teaching high school English, her life is blessed with a happy home, exciting travels, good health, and best of all--two little grandsons. Volunteering at the local horse rescue and recent trips to the Rockies of Colorado and Alberta prove the West is where she wants to write! Visit her at her website, TanyaHanson.com.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Canyon de Chelly, Home of the Navaho

This month, I’m going to talk about Canyon de Chelly National Monument and the part it plays in my newest release, Decoding Michaela
By Yoopernewsman real name Greg Peterson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de Shay) National Monument was established on April 1, 1931. The canyon is located in northeastern Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation and is wholly owned by the Navaho Tribal Trust of the Navajo Nation. It is the only National Park Service unit jointly managed with a Native American tribe.
One of the longest continuously inhabited places in North America, Canyon de Chelly contains ruins of early inhabitants, the Ancient Pueblo People (also called Anasazi.) The monument covers 83,840 acres and encompasses the floors and rims of three canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. These canyons were cut by streams originating in the Chuska Mountains just to the east.
White House Ruins by Hydrargyrum at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
The name Chelly (or Chelley) is a Spanish rendering of the Navajo word Tséyiʼ, meaning "canyon" or "inside the rock". The Spanish pronunciation de’tʃeʎi was adapted into English: de shā.
Canyon de Chelly had long been home for the Navajo people before it was invaded by Mexican forces led by Lt. Antonio Narbona in 1805. Later, in 1863, Col. Kit Carson and U.S. troops defeated the Navajo within the canyon, resulting in their removal to the Bosque Redondo reservation in New Mexico. Due to poor water and lack of fire wood, they were allowed to return to their native land in May 1868.
Navajo Woman & Child, near Canyon de Chelly, by Ansel Adams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Today, approximately forty Navajo families live in the park. Most park visitors view Canyon de Chelly from the rim, following North Rim Drive and South Rim Drive. Ancient ruins and geologic structures, such as the towering Spider Rock, are visible in the distance from turnoffs along the routes. Visitors are allowed into the canyon only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. The only exception to this rule is the White House Ruin Trail.
Canyon de Chelly - Spider Rock
Spider Rock by Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 25, 1970. In 2009 it was recognized as one of the most-visited national monuments in the United States. 
Canyon de Chelly is the setting for the final portion of Decoding Michaela (Romancing the Guardians, Book Two). It will also be featured in upcoming books in this continuing series, and will play a major role in the final book, when the Guardians of Danu come together to battle their enemies.
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]
Now here’s a look at the canyon through Michaela’s eyes. Her guide is Josie Tseda, who stars in the next book, Capturing Gabriel.

Josie drove them into the canyon the next morning in her Jeep. It was a rough, dusty ride but even without the promise of seeing Lara, the scenery was worth any discomfort. The sheer rock walls and fantastic formations were painted in amber, crimson, burnt umber and orange hues that took Michaela’s breath away. Carved out of the walls were caves, some small, some large enough to hold the ruins of apartment-like stone structures.

Pointing to one such cave, Josie said, “See those pueblo ruins? They were built by the ancient ones who lived here in prehistoric times. Canyon de Chelly is a national monument because of those ruins. They’re guarded by Park Rangers. Tourists are allowed to hike only on one self-guided trail. If they want to see more of the canyon, they have to hire a licensed Navajo tour guide.”

Obviously proud of her heritage, she added, “The canyon lies within the Navaho Nation and a number of families live here. They mostly farm and ranch either sheep or cattle, or both. My dad has a small place up ahead. He grows peaches and herds a few sheep for their wool, which he weaves into blankets.” She chuckled. “Tourist love Navajo blankets.”

As they wound through the canyon, Michaela admired the narrow valley dotted with fruit orchards and pastures where cattle and sheep grazed. Among the green patches stood farm houses or domed, multi-sided hogans, the traditional Navajo shelter, Josie explained. She turned onto a bumpy path leading to one of the latter. As they stopped outside the entrance, an older man with long graying hair walked outside. His dark copper face was lined with age but he stood straight, head erect. He smiled broadly when Josie jumped out of the Jeep.

“Yá'át'ééh, daughter.”

“Yá'át'ééh, Father,” she replied, rushing to give him a hug. “I have brought you more guests.”

Decoding Michael is available on these sites:



Barnes & Noble


Saturday, July 18, 2015

An Old West Serial Killer by Sarah J. McNeal


Nothing scares me more than a serial killer. I don’t mean a gunfighter who kills a lot of people; I mean the kind of killer who stalks people like prey, even children, and finds ways to torture them, or rape them before they finally kill them. Some serial killers even do horrible things to their victims after death. These are sick people with deeply disturbing psychological defects. They’re the kind of killer even the psychopaths would fear.

In my naive thinking, I believed this kind of killer existed only in modern times. What was I thinking? You would think I didn’t get the memos about Jack the Ripper or Mad Vlad the Impaler. When we think of the old west, we know there were plenty of gunfighters, bank robbers and that criminal sort, but what about those opportunistic killers who lurk in the shadows and prey on their victims for some sort of sadistic pleasure? I get chills just thinking about it. 

Herman W. Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, was just that sort of devious, evil killer. He started out his career as a scammer for insurance until he moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1893 just before the World’s Fair opened there. Like any wicked spider, he built his “castle”, a three story inn, in which he secretly added a gruesome torture chamber. He constructed some of the rooms with hidden peepholes, trap doors, special gas lines, and padding to soundproof them. Other rooms had secret passages, ladders, and hallways that led to dead ends. Holmes created a greased chute that led to the basement where he installed a surgical table, a convenient furnace, and even a medieval rack just for fun.

Holmes "Castle"

How clever to have an inn where ladies might spend the night believing they are perfectly safe while they make their plans to visit the World’s Fair. Even before the World’s Fair opened, Holmes was already leading his victims to his lovely “castle” where he asphyxiated them with poisoned gas before he took them to his basement for his gruesome experiments. Some bodies went straight to the furnace. Those that didn’t go to the furnace were skinned and their skeletons sold to medical schools. Holmes was eventually convicted of the murders of four people, but he confessed to at least 27 more killings before they hanged him in 1896. “Holmes’ Horror Castle” was later turned into a grotesque museum, but the building burned down before it could be opened. I can only believe there was Devine justice at work with that fire.

After recent news in my area near Charlotte, North Carolina of a couple, a registered nurse with whom I used to work, and, of all things, a supervisor for social services in Monroe, N.C., who fostered young children and who tortured the children in their care shook me to my core. That I could know someone so well who could do such a thing haunted me so much it led me to write
Unexpected Blessings in the anthology, Lassoing A Cowboy.

A broken dream…a cancelled wedding…and an unexpected blessing 

When Juliet Wilding’s dreams are crushed, she cancels her wedding plans to Harry O’Connor. But Harry is not about to give up on the only woman he has ever loved.  What neither of them expects is the event that will forever change both their lives.

Lassoing A Bride, from Prairie Rose Publications. Unexpected Blessings will be released as a single and so will my story, When Love Comes Knocking from the 2014 Christmas anthology, A Present For A Cowboy.

A lonely widow…an indiscretion…a gift for redemption

Penelope Witherspoon was charmed into marriage by Evan Thoroughgood only to learn she loved a philanderer, who gambled away his inheritance and drank too heavily. It came as no surprise that four months after their marriage, Evan was shot dead for cheating at cards. Since his death, Penelope has come to depend on his older brother, Gil. In fact, she has come to love and respect him. No two men could be further apart in character. But, if Gil learns of her secret indiscretion, he will want nothing further to do with her. What is Penelope to do? 

I will be giving away digital copies of these two singles and print copies (in the United States) of  The Violin and Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride at the Prairie Rose 2 day event on Facebook coming up July 27-28. 

    Author, Sarah J. McNeal

To find out more about my western novels about the Wilding family, click on "The Wildings" link in the above link..

Thursday, July 16, 2015

History of Fort Wallace, Kansas by Linda K. Hubalek

I'm currently writing Sarah Snares a Soldier, Book 5 in the Brides with Grit series. This book mentions Fort Wallace in western Kansas so here's some of its history and a photo from FtWallace.com

    "First used in 1865, the Butterfield Overland Despatch (BOD) was touted as the best mail route from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado by its owner.  You could cross this great expanse of land for just $100. Stations were approximately 15 miles apart and were given different jobs.  One station would be a "home" station that would feed the travelers while "cattle" stations provided hay and "swing" stations provided fresh mules and horses.  The Smoky Hill Trail and the BOD greatly aided settlers in traveling over hostile Indian country. However, Indian raids became too frequent and there came a time when every wagon train had at least 22 wagons and 30 armed men.  Many of the stage stops along the BOD route were connected to a fort for the safety and security that the military provided.  

    Wallace County, Kansas had several BOD Stage Stops of its own. The most prominent, namely the Pond Creek Stage Station, was situated 1 1/2 miles west of present day Wallace.  A "home" station renowned for its food, this little stage stop saw so many Indian attacks that Camp Pond Creek, a military encampment, was situated right next to it.  When the BOD was sold to another company in 1866 (the Indian raids were so numerous by this time that the business had become unprofitable), Camp Pond Creek moved a few miles east to the Smoky Hill river and was renamed Fort Wallace in honor of W.H.L. Wallace, a general who died at the Battle of Shiloh.  

Fort Wallace as it stood in 1867

     Although Fort Wallace was no longer attached to the Butterfield Overland Despatch, soldiers stationed at Fort Wallace still had their hands full trying to protect those settlers who were moving through on their way west.  Many of the most prominent trails that pioneers used cut straight through the best buffalo hunting grounds. Indians, whose livelihood depended on the buffalo, did not treat the trespassers lightly. Instead, as buffalo began to scatter and become scarce, Indians began to view their new neighbors with something less than friendly eyes. This made the presence of Fort Wallace an absolute necessity. 

Although according to official counts the number of men stationed at the Fort never exceeded 350, these soldiers saw more encounters with Indians than any other Fort, rightfully earning Fort Wallace the distinction of being the "Fightin'est Fort in the West."  General George Armstrong Custer was stationed at Fort Wallace and saw his first battle with the Indians not far from the fort.  Other great frontier men, such as George Forsyth, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Wild Bill Hickok, were also stationed at Fort Wallace at various times."

Because I'm from Kansas and been through Wallace County, it easy to imagine the fort out in the middle of nowhere, because it's still open land today. The soldiers stationed there were a part of history, good and bad, even if they didn't know it at the time.

Could you have lived in this time and place? I'd love to hear from you readers "why" or "why not"!

The first books in the Brides with Grit series are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This clean, sweet western romance series features strong women finding love on the Kansas frontier.

Thanks for stopping by today at the Sweethearts of the West blog.
Linda Hubalek