Monday, September 22, 2014

A German Girl Writes Historical Western Romance

By: Peggy L Henderson

This month, we’re supposed to talk about ourselves. This is probably my least favorite thing to do, but I’ll give it a try. At least it’s in a blog post and not in front of a live audience. I’ve been painfully shy all my life, and after my first child was born, along with post partum depression, was also diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, and years later with Panic Attacks. I hated what the medication the doctors prescribed did to me, so I don’t take them. I just live with my fear of social situations as best as I can. My husband tries to be supportive, but as an extremely outgoing person, it’s often very difficult for him to understand why I’d rather stay home than mingle with family and friends.

I was born and raised in Germany for the first twelve years of my life. My mother is German and my dad was Canadian, working for an American company in Germany. I knew a little English when my dad decided to relocate to the U.S., but boy, was it a cultural shock to me! Growing up in a small farming town in Germany, moving to the big city just outside of Los Angeles, California, was quite the move. My mother didn’t adjust very well to the move, and spent many years in bouts of depression. Like me, my dad was an introvert, so I didn’t get much help from him, either, as I tried to navigate the new and completely different school system from what I was accustomed to.
I've been drawn to Cowboys and Indians from a very young age

I met my future husband when I was 15 years old, working at the “ground level” – literally – at a large veterinary clinic, cleaning kennels. I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I worked my way up from kennel attendant to veterinary assistant to surgical assistant while in high school and throughout college, sometimes working at three different clinics while going to school full time. I think that’s why I finally burned out on vet school during my senior year at college. It’s also when I got married, and veterinary school seemed less important. My husband and I bought a house, and I was finally able to make another life-long dream a reality; keep horses on my own property.

All my life, I loved horses, and begged my parents for a horse of my own. Neither one of them would budge. They wouldn’t even let me take riding lessons. With the money I earned from after-school jobs in high school, I bought my first horse and paid for his upkeep at the local boarding stable. A few years later, I bought a second horse, and started showing. I fell in love with dressage, and that’s the discipline I pursued with my second, and then with my third horse.   

When my sons were born, a year apart from each other, I stopped working to become a stay-at-home mom. In the back of my mind, I know I kept wondering when my "vacation" would be over, but I stayed home to raise my boys until they were ten. During those years, to relieve some of my boredom (not that being at home and raising little kids is boring, but I needed something else to do besides watching the children), I went back to school, and I also taught myself to draw and paint. This led to a part-time, at-home business of drawing and painting animal portraits.  

Three months after my father suffered a fatal heart attack while he and my mother came for their weekly visit at my house, I had my first panic attack. I don’t know to this day whether it was brought about by my dad’s death and that I couldn’t save him, or the fact that I had suffered an inner-ear infection that, before it was diagnosed, made me think I was dying. Since then, I've struggled with panic attacks along with the ongoing depression and social anxiety.

After my dad’s passing, my husband and I made the decision to move in with my mom to help her out. She didn’t want to move to our house, and she couldn’t live on her own due to advancing rheumatoid arthritis. So, we packed up, moved the horses and kids, and into the house in which I spent my teenage years. It was during that time that I also decided I wanted to return to work. Boarding horses rather than having them in the backyard was going to be more expensive. I met my future boss at the boarding stable where I moved my horses, and have been working the graveyard shift as a laboratory technologist at a leading veterinary reference lab ever since.

So, what led me to become a writer? I always enjoyed writing, and even wrote a “novel” when I was 14 years old, about a racehorse that came from outer space, and I always enjoyed reading romance novels.

When my husband and I graduated from high school, we went on a camping trip together to Yellowstone National Park. I absolutely fell in love with the place. We’ve been back almost every year since then. One summer, my husband was committed to taking a group of boy scouts camping in the high Sierras, and couldn’t go on the Yellowstone trip, so I asked my boss if she’d like to go on a “girls only” trip with me. It was one of those life-changing adventures for me, because I proved to myself that I “could do this.”

It was also on the drive home (covering over 1000 miles) that my mind had time to wander, and the story that would become my first novel, Yellowstone Heart Song, was born in my head. I don’t know where the story came from. It just formed in my mind, and it wouldn’t leave me alone for over a year. After another trip to Yellowstone with my husband and kids, the story became even more vivid, and the day after we got home, I started writing. I spent a year or more writing the book, not telling anyone, and I had no plans to publish it. I entered a few RWA chapter writing contests, and finaled in one, after which I found a critique partner through an online search. She helped me with beginner writer mistakes (head-hopping, anyone?) and with so much more, and finally urged me to publish. I decided to go the independent route because I was afraid that a publisher (if my story was even accepted anywhere) would make me change it so much that it would no longer by my story.

My lone story, which I titled Yellowstone Heart Song after I couldn’t come up with a title for over a year, turned into the Yellowstone Romance Series - 5 full-length novels and two novellas to date, consistent best-sellers in the time travel and western historical romance genre.

I did everything wrong when I published Yellowstone Heart Song, but I’ve learned a lot in the last three years. I now have a wonderful editor and beta reader support team, and I’ve since written another trilogy, the Teton Romance Trilogy, and I am currently finalizing the third book in my Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series. I continue to work nights while pursuing my writing career during the day.

Blurb and Excerpt from Come Home to Me (Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, Book 1)

Jake Owens is tired of life on his parents' Montana ranch, catering to city folk who want a taste of old-fashioned country living. He enjoys life in the fast lane, with fast cars and even faster women. When he falls in with the wrong crowd and is accused of murder, a stranger's bizarre offer at a second chance might be his only hope to clear his name.

Rachel Parker is highly devoted to her family. A tragedy prompts a daring move to the Oregon Territory for a fresh start in a new land. After meeting the wagon train's scout, the meaning of a fresh start may be more than she ever imagined.

Jake can't believe he's been sent back in time to act as scout for a wagon train headed for Oregon, and given the added burden of keeping one emigrant woman safe during the journey. He and Rachel are confused by their attraction to each other. Jake's ill-mannered, unconventional ways are overshadowed only by his notorious reputation. Rachel's traditional values and quiet, responsible character are the complete opposite of what attracts Jake to a woman. When their forbidden attraction turns to love, what will happen at the end of the trail?


Jake swiped the back of his hand across his forehead, but droplets of sweat still managed to sting his eyes. He blinked to dispel the burn, then dumped the last shovel full of dirt onto the mound of freshly dug earth. He stuck the simple wooden cross he’d fashioned from two sticks he’d tied together with twine into the ground, and peered over his shoulder. Rachel stood quietly behind him, her hands clasped tightly in front of her, her solemn eyes on the grave. She’d barely spoken a word since yesterday afternoon, after Thomas had breathed his last breath.
Jake’s heart went out to her. From the moment he’d seen Thomas sick that morning, he’d known that it didn’t look good for Rachel’s brother. He’d already vomited so much by the time Rachel had found him, his body had been dehydrated beyond recovery without intravenous fluids.  The little bit of water he’d managed to keep down hadn’t been enough.
Rachel’s stoic behavior in the wake of her brother’s death unnerved him. She hadn’t cried. She’d walked away from the dead body, and gone about fixing a supper of rice, beans, biscuits, and leftover buffalo meat. When she’d barely touched her food, Jake had set his own plate aside, and tried to pull her into his arms. She’d pushed him away, and disappeared in the wagon for the rest of the night.
Jake decided to leave her alone with her grief. It had to be quite a shock to her. She was suddenly all alone on a trek across the country to a foreign land. What must be going through her mind? She had three little kids to worry about now, and no man to take care of her.
This journey might test her like nothing before. Reverend Johnson’s words haunted him now. The old man hadn’t been kidding. Jake wondered again how much the reverend knew. Had he foreseen Thomas’ death? That’s why the reverend gave her to you to protect.  If he’d known all that, he would have also known that Jake would fall in love with her.
How would Rachel react if he told her he was from the future? He couldn’t possibly say anything to her yet. Shortly before Thomas’ death, he’d almost asked her to come with him to Montana. She needed time to mourn her brother before he even thought to bring it up.
Jake gripped the shovel, and turned to face Rachel. He touched his hand to her shoulder and stepped closer. Her head snapped up; her eyes wide and shimmering. A slight breeze lifted strands of her hair that had come loose of its braid, and blew into her face. Jake wiped at her cheek and tucked the tendrils behind her ear.
“Would you like to say something?” he asked gently.
Rachel’s unfocused gaze darted from him to the grave, and back again. Her body shivered slightly. Her eyes suddenly filled with the tears she’d suppressed since yesterday. Jake expelled his breath, and pulled her into his arms. For a second, he thought she might object, but then her body went limp. She wrapped her arms around his middle, and buried her face in his shirt. Sobbing quietly, her body shook and quivered, and Jake held her in a tight embrace. He stroked the back of her head, and ran his hand up and down her back.
“Let it out, sweetheart. It’s okay to cry,” he whispered.
“He was all I had,” she rasped into his shirt. “All that was left of my family.”
Jake lifted her head from his chest. Her eyes glistened, and tears streamed down her face. “You still have the boys,” he offered, knowing it was probably not what she needed to hear. And you have me, he desperately wanted to add. This was not the time to bring it up. He still hadn’t worked it out in his own mind what to do about her once he reached the end of the trail in Oregon.
Rachel nodded slowly. “How am I going to tell them their papa is gone?”
Jake held her face between his hands, and swiped at her tears with his thumbs. “We’ll figure it out.” He eased her head against his chest, and simply held her. Consoling a grief-stricken woman was unfamiliar territory.
It would be so easy to tell her right now that he wanted her to come to Montana with him. But that meant he also had to tell her he was from the future. He couldn’t possibly drop such a bomb on her. Not yet, anyway. He could simply tell her he’d stay with her in Oregon, but he didn’t want to lie to her. One way or another, he’d figure out a way to keep her, whether in this time or in the twenty-first century.  Would she even want to stay with him? She obviously had feelings for him, but did she love him?
Thomas had told him she had no experience with men, and thought she was simply infatuated with him. She herself had told him she’d surrendered to him, that she was tired of running from his pursuit of her. Jake’s jaw clenched, and he cursed silently.  He didn’t want her surrender. He wanted her love. The innocent ways she’d kissed him told him she was unsure of herself. He had to tread lightly, and go slow.
The late afternoon breeze whooshed gently around them, cooling Jake’s face. Crickets and other evening bugs grew louder amongst the sage and grasses. Coyotes yipped in the far-off distance, and one of the mules brayed along the river. Jake’s mare pinned her ears at the annoying beast, and lumbered away towards the banks of the Platte, sticking her nose in the water for a drink. She swooshed her tail in an agitated manner, evening bugs swarming around her rump.
How long he stood there in the open, flat expanse of the Nebraska prairie, holding Rachel in his arms, Jake had no idea. The evening sun slowly sank in the western horizon, painting the sky different shades of orange, red, and purple.  She’d stopped sobbing some time ago, and her body had stilled as if she’d fallen asleep. He eased his upper body away from her, and she moaned softly.
“Don’t let go of me.” Her soft request was almost inaudible. Jake’s heart ignited in his chest.  I’ll never let you go.

Peggy L Henderson is a laboratory technologist by night, and best-selling western historical and time travel romance author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and Teton Romance Trilogy. When she’s not writing about Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the old west, she’s out hiking the trails, spending time with her family and pets, or catching up on much-needed sleep. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California.

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.