Six Short Western Romances
ANGELS HIGH: A woman who makes her living by winning at a man’s game learns to expect trouble, especially when the stakes are high. But when trouble finds her this time, Angelica Durant gets more than she bargained for.
THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE'S CHOICE: Looking to improve her circumstances, an indigent woman travels across the country as a mail order bride to meet a fiancé who has plans for her other than marriage.
COMING HOME: Life is hard. No one knows this better than Dessie Humphrey who’s trying to hold onto the family farm. When aid comes in the form of a wanted gunslinger, she’s in no position to refuse.
PRIDE AND PEACE: It’s an open secret on the Lazy Five that Jessie North is a woman, but that doesn’t stop Daniel Harper from reacting badly when he learns about it. Can he overcome his prejudice when the proud half-breed saves his life?
RESURRECTION: Undertakers bury the dead; they don’t resurrect bodies left for dead. But that’s exactly what Antonio DiCarlo does when a lovely Swedish immigrant lands on his doorstep.
THE RANCHER'S FIRST LOVE: When a gravely wounded Chinese woman collapses on Clint Cheswick’s front porch, he doesn’t expect to compete with his half-breed foreman for her affection.
Disappointed in the paltry selection of reading material, Angelica looked up at the handsome gambler and gave him a polite smile, an empty smile that meant absolutely nothing. “Why, Mr. Cordoba, it’s delightful to make your acquaintance again. What brings you to this fine establishment this beautiful morning?”
He held up a tin of tobacco. “Replenishing my supplies.”
She peered at it and recognized the brand. “Ah, my Cousin Horace favors that particular blend.”
“Whenever I stay in a location for more than a few weeks, I have it shipped to me from New Orleans,” he said.
“New Orleans is a fascinating city. I consider it my home,” she replied and reached for a book on the shelf. It was dusty. She glanced at the cover and flipped through the first few pages. She murmured, “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” She looked at Jesse and asked, “Have you read any of his work?”
“No, I can’t say as I have,” Jesse admitted, looking haughty and superior, a man who did not sully his mind with such frivolous things as fiction.
She turned that polite, empty smile on him again. “Well, I suppose I’ll just have to take a chance.” She glanced at the eight other books languishing on the shelf. “I’ve already read Rudyard Kipling’s work. Immensely entertaining.”
Jesse accompanied her as she headed toward the counter to pay for the book. He said, “I am surprised at your choice of purchase. You look like the kind of woman to take great interest in ribbons and lace.”
Expression turning frosty, she turned toward him and asked, “Do I look like I need further embellishment, sir?”
The corners of the man’s mouth curled upward a tiny bit as he leaned toward her and whispered into her ear, “You are quite aware that your beauty needs no improvement, madam. I should like to see it unfettered by cloth.”
Cheeks flushing at his effrontery, Angelica leaned away from him. “Sir, you are impertinent. You should not say such things to me.”
He chuckled, a dark, sensual sound. “Madam, you cannot expect me to think you untouched. You sat in a saloon for over an hour and watched our game before summoning the brass courage to join us. You’re no delicate lady.”
Angelica’s expression congealed into icy disdain. “Nor am I a prostitute.”
He chuckled again and ran a finger down her cheek before she could avoid the touch. “Oh, I’m sure you don’t charge for it and I know I never pay for it.”
Angelica’s hand whipped out and slapped him in offense. “Sir! You are insulting.”
A shadow loomed over them and a heavy hand settled over Jesse’s right shoulder.
“Don’t insult the lady,” a baritone voice growled.
Work in progress: I am committed to finishing a fifth book this year, tentatively titled Hogtied. It brings together a big, badass retired Marine who's living the biker life and a new college graduate who's lived all her life on the farm: cowgirl meets biker. Look for that to come out either the last week of December or the first week of January. It's not even close to being finished, so I need to get my rear end in gear.
Speaking of works in progress, Diva is making visible progress. Visiting with her and her trainer, Maine Fout, Diva is now longing (not "lunging," that's different) in both directions at all three gaits and without fuss. Hurrah! Going clockwise produces more anxiety than counter-clockwise, but the progress makes me confident that I'll have a good trail horse to ride next spring.
If you're looking for a trainer for a young horse or a mature, "problem" horse, look up Maine Fout in Defiance, Ohio. She's no-nonsense and insightful: an excellent trainer if you want a good "using" horse. The fiery chestnut in her Facebook cover photo is Diva. And if you're looking for a been there-done that, all-purpose horse, the 18-year old, registered, black Quarter Horse mare she's selling is a great buy at $1200, even with the calcified knee.
Time away from the computer: My good friend Cindra keeps two horses, so she can invite a friend to ride with her, even if that friend doesn't have a horse. I have two horses, neither of which is suitable: the lovely Lady Anastasia who, at 34 years old, is retired and Diva, aka "the monster," who lives 100 miles away with a trainer. Most weekends this summer, I have ridden Cindra's steady, practically bombproof gelding Henry (see photo).
I've developed a habit of shutting down the computer on Friday and not turning it back on until Monday morning. Despite knowing that business opportunities are posted over the weekend, this break from being constantly connected lets my brain relax.
Update on the latest release: Since its release on October 1, Satin Boots has acquired three reader reviews. I'm impressed, even if you're not. The first review came from my mother, who left a 5-star review without comment on Goodreads. Since Mom generally doesn't like the stories I write, this warmed the cockles of my cold, hard heart. (Fantasy and paranormal romances just aren't to her taste.) My editor, Cindy Draughon, also posted a review on Amazon. No, I didn't request that she do so, so her initiative in leaving another 5-star review blew me away. Warm fuzzies all around, folks. Next, erotic romance author Dee S. Knight posted another 5-star review. Wow! To get such a glowing review from a fellow author just makes my heart go pitter-patter. Her review also shows that even writers of explicit content don't always wallow in explicit content: they take breaks and read other stuff, too.
I've written at length about the value of critical--even negative--reviews. They point out deficiencies that help one improve one's writing. However, positive reviews such as those received thus far for Satin Boots provide the validation and encouragement authors need to keep writing.
Of course, thanks go to Russ Towne, for nudging me to write in the western genre. I think I may have found a new niche in which to dabble.
Um ... no.
I'm not doing it. I've never done that. I won't ever do that.
My reasons for not doing so have nothing to do with whether the challenge is stressful or too challenging. It's simply that I don't work that way. I know my creative process (which isn't really a process) and I know how I best work. Forcing myself to write results in the generation of garbage content.
For a plotter, this type of challenge might work. I can see how it would work. After all, you've got the outline and character descriptions ready to guide your path. For a diehard pantser like me, that doesn't work.
Speaking of pantsers, at the Imadjinn Book Fair & Expo, a young woman wandered among the authors asking if they were plotters or pantsers. "I'm a pantser, why?" I replied. She said the event organizers needed to fill a slot in the program and thought a panel discussion of pantsing and plotting would interest attendees. Then she asked me to serve on the panel as the token pantser. I agreed.
She wandered by several minutes later to ask about great opening lines in novels. Apparently, the organizers were setting up another panel on that topic. I replied that I thought the first line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice the best one: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." It sets the tone for an entire genre.
She opined that the use of an adverb was a hideous flaw in Auten's iconic sentence, then informed me that the session on pantsers and plotters had been canceled. Nice to be in the loop. Among the authors in the room, only three were pantsers, so the discussion probably wouldn't have gotten much of an audience.
Ah, well, easy come, easy go.
Anyway, I think she's wrong about the adverb in that opening line.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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